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jerryking : embargoes   5

You can’t stop Ebola at airports - The Globe and Mail
ANDRÉ PICARD
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Oct. 07 2014

Ebola is spread by direct contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids – meaning saliva, feces, urine, blood, vomit or semen....For the past 600 years, quarantine has been used with varying degrees of success, and it has an unhappy history. It raises myriad political, ethical and socioeconomic issues.

Quarantine derives from the Italian word quaranta (forty); its origins date back to 1348, when Venice ruled that ships must lay anchor for 40 days to avoid spread of the plague. (Forty days was arbitrary; it was inspired by the biblical 40 days of travails of Jesus.) Draconian measures didn’t stop the Black Plague, or smallpox, or tuberculosis or SARS or successive waves of pandemic influenza, and it won’t stop Ebola. Quarantine has some public health benefits, but it has been used, throughout history, to repress and stigmatize minorities, and to quash political dissent.

What works most effectively for quelling outbreaks of disease like Ebola is not quarantining huge populations, but isolating those who are sick and those in direct contact with them and at risk of infection....The lesson there is that disease containment requires swift, decisive action. It means focusing on the sick and those at high-risk.

Casting a too wide net, such as invoking travel bans and treating everyone who has travelled to or lives in West Africa as a modern-day Typhoid Mary, does not make us safer.

On the contrary, it only provides an illusion of security, and an excuse for prejudice to come bubbling to the surface.
Ebola  airports  Africa  public_health  travel  quarantines  André_Picard  dangers  false_confidence  viruses  illusions  embargoes  biblical  arbitrariness 
october 2014 by jerryking
Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Day - NYTimes.com
APRIL 12, 2014

Continue reading the main story
[Thomas L. Friedman]

check out Opower, which just went public. Opower works with utilities and consumers to lower electricity usage and bills using behavioral economics, explained Alex Laskey, the company’s co-founder, at their Arlington, Va., office. They do it by giving people personalized communications that display in simple, clear terms how their own energy usage compares with that of their neighbors. Once people understand where they are wasting energy — and how they compare with their neighbors — many start consuming less. And, as their consumption falls, utilities can meet their customers’ demand without having to build new power plants to handle peak loads a few days of the year. Everybody wins. Opower just signed up the Tokyo Electric Power Company and its 20 million homes.

Putting all its customers together since it was founded in 2007, said Laskey, Opower has already saved about “4 terawatt hours of energy” and expects to be soon saving that annually. The Hoover Dam produces about 4 terawatts hours of energy a year. So we just got a new Hoover Dam — for free — in Arlington, Va.

Thomas L. Friedman
Vladimir_Putin  natural_gas  climate_change  Ukraine  pipelines  Tom_Friedman  embargoes  behavioural_economics 
april 2014 by jerryking
African Art Is Under Threat in Djenne-Djenno - NYTimes.com
August 2, 2012 | NYT | By HOLLAND COTTER.

Ethical battles surrounding the ownership of, and right to control and dispose of, art from the past rage on in Africa, as in other parts of the world....the wars over art as cultural property take many forms: material, political and ideological. On the surface the dynamics may seem clear cut, the good guys and bad guys easy to identify. In reality the conflicts are multifaceted, questions of innocence and guilt often — though not always — hard to nail down. In many accounts Africa is presented as the acted-upon party to the drama, the loser in the heritage fight, though such is not necessarily the case, and it certainly doesn’t have to be, and won’t be if we acknowledge Africa as the determining voice in every conversation...finding sculptures in situ, in their historical context...unauthorized trade in such art had been illegal since 1970, when Unesco drew up its Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. But the digging went on, and getting art out of the country — through porous borders, with a payment of bribes — was (and still is) easy. ...Certain archaeologists, the McIntoshes among them, were aghast at the ruinous plundering and took action. They were convinced that any Western attention paid to Malian antiquities increased the market value and encouraged looting. With this in mind they proposed an information blackout on any and all “orphaned“ Inland Niger Delta objects, meaning any that had not been scientifically excavated — most of those in circulation... The antiquities wars were not easy on dealers, collectors and museum administrators. Not only were their jobs threatened and acquisitive passions blocked, but they acquired unfortunate reputations. Once esteemed as cultural benefactors, they came to be seen, in some quarters, as hoarders and thieves.

Where does Africa itself stand in all of this? Is it merely the battleground on which science and commerce clash, a passive stretch of turf to be either righteously conserved or carved up and parceled out? Or is it — could it be — an active, gainful partner in cultural exchange?

It could. Art-alert countries like Nigeria and Mali have stockpiles of objects in storage. Selections of them could be leased out to Western institutions, or even swapped for temporary loans of Western art. The idea that Africa would not be receptive to such exchanges is wrong. It has fine museums (in Bamako, in Lagos), impressive private collections (one is documented in Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie’s superb book “Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art“), and at least a few sharp critics (check out Kwame Opoku at modernghana.com).

There’s no reason to think that concepts of art in Africa and the West — I use these generalities for convenience only — have to jibe. But clearly a sense of the complex value of patrimony is strong and can be pushed further. The time is long past due to be compiling comprehensive digital databases not just of art from Africa, but also of art that’s still there. Not only would this be an invaluable, promotional resource for international study, it would also be a lasting record of types of ephemeral art, or of things too fragile to move, or of objects that have, in the event of political instability, a good chance of being lost.
Africa  art  collectors  collectibles  Mali  ethics  museums  books  embargoes  contraband  archeological  dealerships  art_galleries  art_history  Nigeria  threats  Islamists  antiquities  Timbuktu  sub-Saharan_Africa  heritage  history  stockpiles 
august 2012 by jerryking
Review & Outlook: Africa and 'Obama's Embargo' - WSJ.com
July 18, 2011|WSJ | editorials

The world is in the midst of a commodity boom, but in a mineral-rich and desperately poor corner of Africa exports of tin, tantalum and tungsten have fallen by more than 70% since last summer. These are not the effects of war or natural disaster—although the region suffers from all of that and more—but rather of what local small-time miners are calling "Obama's embargo."

The African miners are basically right about the source of their troubles, though if they want to be more specific with the blame they might also call it the McDermott embargo, after the Democratic Congressman from Washington state. Jim McDermott is one of the architects of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill's Section 1502, which is supposed to ensure that tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold sourced from central Africa is "conflict-free," the latest trendy cause supported by those who claim to care about the welfare of ordinary Africans...the logistics of guaranteeing this on a large-scale are daunting, and many suppliers find it easier to leave central Africa entirely. A case in point is the procurement policy of the H.C. Starck group, which affirms that it rejects all raw materials from the region, "even if we are offered material with allegedly official certifications from other state authorities."
Africa  embargoes  mining  atrocities  editorials  commodities 
july 2012 by jerryking

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