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How To Make Millions Off Crushing Poverty

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From Dollars & Sense:

Greg Palast continues to follow the story of debt vultures who “buy up the loans of poor governments, wait for them to win debt relief from the international community, and then use courts to pursue the countries for assets,” for BBC TV Newsnight and an article in the Guardian. Palast wrote about debt vultures for D&S back in 2007 (George Bush’s Favorite Vultures).

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Written by Aaron Nee

March 19, 2010 at 1:34 am

More From The Dark Side Of Charity

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From McClatchy:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — At an encampment on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital, physicians from three international aid agencies provide identical services. On a charter flight to Miami, competing doctors get into a shouting match before takeoff.  And at a search-and-rescue operation, one international team claiming ownership of the effort asks another to leave — although the departing group has the equipment to do the job…

The battle includes aid groups known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and U.N. agencies that want to be the chief humanitarian agencies, countries that are lobbying for a seat at the decision table, and leaders from around the world who fly in frequently making promises that have yet to be met.

“Every country is out to get a piece of the action,” Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia. “Did the earthquake release something that we don’t know anything about?”

The answer, according to experts: a grab for cash.

“It’s the biggest source of money,” Mark Turner, a spokesman with the International Organization for Migration, said of the Haiti earthquake, considered to be the deadliest disaster to beset any single nation in the modern era. “The world is pumping in money here and everyone wants in on the action.”

You can find the rest of Jacqueline Charles’ article at McClatchy.

Written by Aaron Nee

March 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Shipbreaking in Bangladesh

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Bellow is an excerpt from an email the National Labor Committee sent out recently.  The stories sketched out in the email gave added perspective to my recent job hunting.  I’ve never been wealthy (by North American Standards), but stories like those bellow remind me that I’ve never been poor either.  What do you think the chances are of getting Mike Rowe to do an episode of Dirty Jobs in Bangladesh?

FROM:    Charlie Kernaghan

RE:        Four more workers killed in Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards

Dear Friends,

Workers continue to be maimed and killed in Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards.  Just last week we wrote you of three workers who were crushed to death at the Crystal shipbreaking yard on October 8 when a huge steel plate fell on them.  (The ship they were dismantling carried the International Maritime Organizationregistry number 7435474.)

Since then, four more workers have been needlessly killed.  At the Pakija shipbreaking yard, on the morning of October 13, three workers died after inhaling poisonous gas fumes.  The young men-including a 17-year-old boy-were cutting up a gas tank on the ship when they were overcome by the fumes.  The three dead workers are Mr. Mamun, 17 years old, Mr. Embram Hossain and Mr. Nasir Uddin, both 25.  (The ship the workers were breaking apart carried the International Maritime Organization registry number 7913 816.)  To date, the dead workers’ families have not received a single cent in compensation from the shipyard owner.

On the very next day, October 14, another worker was killed at 12:30 p.m. at the Habib shipbreaking yard.  Twenty-eight year old Mr. Jahangir Alam was crushed when a large iron plate fell on him.  There are currently two ships being dismantled in the Habib yard, La Forge Nassau and BW Rachel Stavan.  The dead man’s family has not received any compensation from the wealthy shipyard owner. (In February 2009, two workers were killed at the Habib shipyard, Mr. Sakhowat and 20 year old Mr. Tipu, when they were crushed by falling metal.)

To date, this brings the death toll to 17 workers in 2009, meaning on average a worker is being killed every two weeks in the shipbreaking yards, while at least one worker is seriously maimed every single day.

The three burned workers who survived the fire at the Kabir shipyard-which killed two of their colleagues on September 5-have been released from the hospital.  It will be months of bed rest before it will be known if the workers can resume a normal life and whether they will be able to work again.  Management paid the severely burned workers $43.50 each and sent them on their way!

Here is a link to an earlier NLC report on shipbreaking.

Written by Aaron Nee

October 20, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Does charity do more harm than good?

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This is something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time, but particularly after my trip to Haiti.  Out of all of the experiences I had there, the one that effected me the most was the impact “child sponsorship” seemed to have on the culture, or at least the behavior, of the villagers we were aiding.  The kids were adorable, pitiful, manipulative beggars.  I’m not saying that’s their entire identity, but it’s how they’ve learned to interact with “rich” Americans.  And with good reason.  As soon as we walked into their villages, their homes, we were handing out candy and balloons and pens and I’m sure my group wasn’t unique in this ritual. haiticandygiveaway Of course, the mission we were visiting was doing important things like establishing schools and clinics with indigenous teachers and doctors and giving food and clothes and establishing real and long-term relationships, with good results.  What was distressing to me was that the children were the commodity – they are the big
attraction to draw in the missionary “tourists” aka short-term missions.  They are what sells, what brings in the money, and they understand that.  And that is just a little bit disturbing to me.  What are we doing to entire generations of people?  What does living in this continuously dependent relationship do to their psyches?  Obviously there is need and we shouldn’t sit back and do nothing, but I wonder if there is a better way than continuous charitable donations.  My feeling is that an investment in an impoverished person’s or group of peoples’ skills, talents, ideas and passions might go farther in changing a person’s/community’s view of herself/himself/itself in relation to the wider world and make a larger, longer-lasting, and (I’m sorry, I have to use this word) sustainable impact.

Here’s a link to an article on this subject that I found interesting:

http://charitychamps.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/does-foreign-aid-to-africa-do-more-harm-than-good-how-about-microfinance/

Thoughts, ideas, or criticisms anyone?

Written by Hannah

July 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm

U.S. Military Prepares for Civil Unrest and Economic Riots

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us-army-war-college-report1Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal writes, “The economy is in recession. Consumer spending is down, foreclosures are up and a host of businesses are laying off workers and struggling with tight credit and the troubled housing and financial markets. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Treasury Department have pumped more than $8.5 trillion into the economy via equity purchases of bank stocks, liquidity infusions, Wall Street and bank bailouts and taxpayer rebates. U.S. automakers are seeking more than $14 billion in federal loans with fears they could fall into bankruptcy without a bailout. The U.S. housing and subprime lending-induced recession also has hit economies in Europe, Japan and China.”

In light of this he mentions how a new report by the U.S. Army War College, which came out this past month, talks about “the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crises lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.”

The War College Report states that “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

The Full 51 Page War College Report Known Unknowns: Unconventional “Strategic Shocks” in Defense Strategy Development can be downloaded.  It is authored by Mr. Nathan P. Freier, a Visiting Professor of Strategy, Policy and Risk Assessment at the U.S. Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and a Senior Fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Mr. Freier joined CSIS in April 2008 after retiring from the U.S. Army after 20 years as a lieutenant colonel.

The report “is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States, Section 101.  As such, it is in the public domain, and under the provisions of Title 17, United States Code, Section 105, it may not be copyrighted.  It should be noted that Mr. Freier states that  “The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This report is cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.”

Written by subversiveunveiler

December 26, 2008 at 12:31 pm