Clean Water

h/t to Flowingdata

Africa+Chinese=Your Future

Chinese in Africa: The Chinese are coming…to Africa | The Economist.

Trade between the two surpassed $120 billion in 2010, and in the past two years China has given more loans to poor, mainly African countries than the World Bank.

Many people are not happy about this, as the piece points out, but it is what it is. China needs resources, and Africa has them. China has money to burn, and Africa needs it.  It may be a Faustian bargain, but Africa doesn’t have much choice – they are so poor they feel like they have to take what they can get.

On his first trip three years ago Mr Zhu filled a whole notebook with orders and was surprised that Africans not only wanted to trade with him but also enjoyed his company.

But now:

… African attitudes have changed. His partners say he is ripping them off. Chinese goods are held up as examples of shoddy work. Politics has crept into encounters. The word “colonial” is bandied about. Children jeer and their parents whisper about street dogs disappearing into cooking pots.

Partly to blame are Chinese business practices, born in communist systems with little public input:

Chinese expatriates in Africa come from a rough-and-tumble, anything-goes business culture that cares little about rules and regulations. Local sensitivities are routinely ignored at home, and so abroad. Sinopec, an oil firm, has explored in a Gabonese national park. Another state oil company has created lakes of spilled crude in Sudan. Zimbabwe’s environment minister said Chinese multinationals were “operating like makorokoza miners”, a scornful term for illegal gold-panners.

Chinese built projects were so poorly contructed that the roads washed away in the rains, and buildings cracked and had to be closed.

Africans claim Chinese are paying less than minimum wage, are unfair competition, and are paying bribes.  Some of that is true.  But tens of thousands of Chinese businessmen have spread themselves across the continent.  they are committed to building the new Africa.

Many dream of a new life. Miners and builders see business opportunities in Africa, and greater freedom (to be their own bosses and speak their minds, but also to pollute). A Chinese government survey of 1,600 companies shows the growing use of Africa as an industrial base. Manufacturing’s share of total Chinese investment (22%) is catching up fast with mining (29%)

Chinese are using Africa to practice on:

In Africa they can learn the ropes in a region where competition is weak. The continent—soon to be ringed with Chinese free-trade ports—is a stepping stone to a commercial presence around the globe.

Will what they learn here eventually be used against us?

Immigrants are Everywhere

In Defense of Dubai |

The Indian child above works in a quarry carrying bricks for about $4 (US) per day.  In 4 years, when he turns 18, he can go to the UAE, specifically Dubai, and make much more, plus housing.   The money will mostly be sent home to support the family he left behind.  He might get a week  off every year or 2 to go home and see his family in India, Nepal, or another poor South Asian country.

But recent reports suggest all is not well with immigrants in Dubai – non-payment of wages owed them, and mistreatment at the hands of their employers, among other allegations.

So the question is – should he move, or not?  Will he?  What push and pull factors are at work here?  What effect will his moving have on the Indian and Dubai economies? Will these immigrants change the culture of Dubai?  Will the culture of S Asia change when these immigrants return home?  What do you think?

Evolutionary Fast Track

via Sweet Potato Whitefly on the Evolutionary Fast Track –

It appears to be a case of high-speed evolution.

Many arthropods — the large group of invertebrates that includes insects and crustaceans — are hosts of symbiotic bacteria inherited through the maternal line. The sweet potato whitefly, an agricultural pest, has acquired a new one.

The bacterium enhances the fly’s ability to survive and reproduce.

Compared with uninfected whiteflies, infected insects develop faster, are more likely to survive to adulthood and lay more eggs. Moreover, the bacterium induces the insects to produce a larger number of daughters, advantageous for a bacterium that is passed to the next generation only by the females.

How does the bacterium do this?  Will it create a ‘super-pest’?   Can we use this?


via Gbagbo being held by Ouattara forces – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

Cote d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to the forces of presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara and is being held by them, the UN has said.


Reminder – Due Monday

From the whiteboard at the front of the room.  Get it done, no excuses, you’ve had 8 weeks.

Indigenous People Fight Amazon Dam

Activists say mega-projects in the Amazon often confront indigenous communities with disease, loss of food and clean water sources, cultural disintegration and human rights abuses [GALLO/GETTY]


via Tensions escalate over Amazon mega dam – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

In early March, while boisterous Carnival celebrations filled the streets of Rio de Janiero, bulldozers began clearing away Amazonian jungle for roads leading to the construction site of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in northeast Brazil.

The dam, roads, and lakes will destroy over 100,000 acres of land, and bring more people into the forest.  Indigenous people are fighting to prevent the destruction of their way of life.

Plans for the Belo Monte dam began in the 1980s under a military government, but its construction was delayed largely due to environmental concerns and resistance from activists.

Now, three months after new president Dilma Rousseff has taken office, the stand-off has escalated.  People familiar with President Rousseff say they are not surprised by her move to put the economy before the environment.

Gustavo Faleiros, a Brazilian environmental journalist and editor, said that even going back to the days when Rousseff held the position of minister of mining and energy under the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration, she was seen “as a leader with an old-fashioned view of development”. This view prioritised economic growth over environmental concerns.

Economic development will not help the situation of the farmers and fishermen who depend on the Amazon and its tributaries for their sustenance.

“By pushing forward with this dam, the Dilma government is trampling on our rights. This is not just about defending the Xingu River, it’s about the health of the Amazon rainforest and our planet.”

Sheyla Juruna,  indigenous leader 



Whoop! Gig ’em Aggie Women

Texas A&M Beats Notre Dame to Take Women’s Title –


Way to go, ladies!


Worst-Case Scenario Comes True

via Ivory Coast: Massacre in the West, Siege in the East | FP Passport.

War has returned to the Ivory Coast in the shape of massacres, mercenaries, a besieged capital, and a humanitarian nightmare. Over the last week, a political deadlock that was by all accounts frozen has become a heated contest on the battlefield. Make no mistake: This was the worst-case scenario mapped out for the Ivory Coast back in November when this crisis began.

Caritas, the Catholic charity, estimates over 1,000 people were massacred in Duékoué, possibly by Ouattara’s men.  This includes children according to the only Westerner in the town:

the BBC’s Andrew Harding  writes that he counted 20 corpses in just one city block, children among them.

Now reports from Abidjan indicate that Gbagbo is using human shields to protect the presidential palace.

Even more worrisome is the fact that residents of thst city are trapped in their homes, unable to buy food and necessities.

Residents of Abidjan today warned that they were running out of phone credit. Water has been cut off to parts of the city, so young women and children are often visible on the streets, scurrying with buckets to fill.

So what happens next?  It’s likely that Gbagbo will be forced out, but that doesn’t mean peace.  The election was close, so if Ouatarra is vengeful, his supporters and opponents could continue the fight.

This is about more than two men’s egos at this point. It’s about a country, back in civil war. And if we’d like to prevent a protracted armed conflict, maybe it’s time to start plotting out options if it comes to that.

Update: from the BBC

UN troops and French helicopter warships have attacked 2 of Gbagbo’s military bases in Abidjan.  According to the news sources the bases were being used to fire mortars and other heavy artillery that was hitting civilian neighborhoods.

7 Billion

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