Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for November 19th, 2008

US aid stingy, not genuinely humanitarian

Posted by Charles II on November 19, 2008

Colum Lynch, WashPost (via t/o)

The Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA) Humanitarian Response Index 2008 measures how effectively the world’s 23 largest donors deliver aid. The United States ranked 15th in overall effectiveness and only 13th in the level of generosity measured by the size of its economy.

But it ranked near the bottom, 22nd, when it came to adherence to principles and guidelines established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to ensure that political considerations don’t exclude worthy recipients of aid.

If Afghanistan, aid flows through military Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

During the past decade, the Pentagon’s share of the U.S. overseas development assistance budget has grown from 3.5 percent to 18 percent, said George Rupp, the president of the International Rescue Committee.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Fisk on Afghanistan

Posted by Charles II on November 19, 2008

Mr. Robert has a heartbreaking account of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, some caused by Taliban, some caused by Americans, and much caused by hunger that stalks the land:

There is a little girl in the Meir Wais hospital with livid scars and dead skin across her face, an obscene map of brown and pink tissue. Then there is another girl, a beautiful child, Khorea Horay, grimacing in pain, her leg amputated, her life destroyed after her foot was torn to pieces. In another ward, two girls lie on their backs, a tent above their limbs. One has lost an arm, another – a 16-year-old – a leg…
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Value-based Medicare?

Posted by Charles II on November 19, 2008

Senators Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) have released to the media a draft bill that, according to the release:

….would take steps to link Medicare payments to the quality of care patients receive rather than just the number of services a hospital provides. Under the current payment system, Medicare payments to hospitals are based solely on the number of surgeries, procedures and services provided, regardless of the quality or health outcomes of the care provided.

[Grassley said] “Medicare’s payment system is set up to reward volume rather than quality. The value-based purchasing initiative we’ve been pursuing would reverse those incentives in order to improve quality and reduce costs. …

The Senators’ proposal would initiate the value-based purchasing program in FY 2012. The program would be phased in over the course of five years, with full implementation beginning in FY 2016. Payment levels would gradually increase from one percent in FY 2012 to two percent by FY 2016. …

Copies of the bipartisan staff discussion draft will be available in 219 Dirksen Senate Office Building and on the Finance Committee website. Comments should be submitted no later than December 15, 2008. Public comment can be submitted by email to or in writing to Neleen Eisinger or Michael Park, at the Senate Finance Committee, 219 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.

As Ritholtz would say, What say ye?

Posted in health care | 8 Comments »

Somali pirates nab supertanker with Iranian wheat/updated

Posted by Charles II on November 19, 2008

Xan Rice and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian:

Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden seized a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship carrying 36,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran yesterday in the latest of the near-daily attacks threatening one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The Delight, with 25 crew on board, was captured off Yemen, the seventh successful hijacking in the past 12 days. The US navy, whose patrols along Somalia’s coast appear to be having little effect on the pirates, said the ship belonged to Iran’s state shipping line.

A British tanker also came under attack yesterday, but the pirates were thwarted when the German frigate Karlsruhe launched a helicopter to intercept them. Eight or nine speedboats of heavily armed bandits attacked the British tanker Trafalgar, which radioed the German ship for help. It sent a Sea King and the pirates fled, the German navy said.

MEC reminds me to post another story, this one in The Independent, by Kim Sengupta:

The American security company Blackwater is planning to cash in on the rising threat of piracy on the high seas by launching a flotilla of gunboats for hire by the shipping companies….

Several security companies are rushing to the region despite the presence of British, American, Russian and Indian naval warships, among others, sent to protect ships. For fees ranging from £8,000 to £12,000 for transits of three and five days, companies are offering teams of unarmed guards, “non-lethal deck security personnel”.

Posted in Africa, terrorism | 4 Comments »

Japanese economists urge Obama to put a financial gun to America’s head

Posted by Charles II on November 19, 2008

Kosuke Takahashi, ATimes:

Japanese economists, increasingly concerned that the United States might seek to pay its enormous and growing debt obligations in a weakened US dollar, are looking to the possibility of US Treasuries being issued in yen….

“There is no wonder the dollar will weaken,” said Eisuke Sakakibara, Japan’s former top currency official and now a professor at Waseda University. “The dollar now looks strong for a technical reason. The money the US financial firms had invested in the world is being repatriated into the homeland, causing dollar-buying. But once this conversion into the dollars is done, the currency will head south,” Sakakibara said at a forum in Tokyo on Sunday….
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Posted in China, economy, Japan | 1 Comment »

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