Grammar fascism; 287m tonnes; development impact bonds; kickstriker.com; Germany 4 FTT; latest on aid, inequality; protectionism v regulation; 'I will never be cut': links I liked

June 25, 2012 13 By admin

DFID minister Alan Duncan admits to ‘grammar fascism’ and orders staff to stop using words like ‘leverage’, ‘going forward’ or mainstream’. Wonderful. NGOs next? Time to start compiling a list of top offenders? [h/t Ben Phillips]

Update: see comments for candidates and keep ’em coming, tho not sure how much will actually be left of any of our documents if we ban this lot……

OK, this is a bit weird (and the answer has real ‘ew’ factor) – how much does humanity weigh? ‘the researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculate the weight of the global population at 287 million tonnes. They estimate that 15 million tonnes of this mass is due to people being overweight, and 3.5 million tonnes due to obesity. Using World Health Organization data from 2005, the scientists worked out that the average global body weight was 62kg (137lb). But there were huge regional differences. In North America, the average was 80.7kg (178lb), while in Asia it was 57.7kg (127lb). “If every country in the world had the same level of fatness that we see in the USA, in weight terms that would be like an extra billion people of world average body mass.” More on the BBC.

Development Impact Bonds’: CGD’s latest big idea – a private sector twist to cash on delivery

‘100% of your donation will go toward hiring private military contractors from Academi (formerly Blackwater), who will be immediately deployed to central Africa. Their mission: to capture Joseph Kony, dead or alive. To be clear, 100% of your donation will go toward the mission and none will be used for Invisible Children’s general operating expenses.’ Great satirical site inspired by kickstarter.com and Kony2012 offers ‘a funding platform to resolve global conflicts’. $50,000 gets you one of Kony’s teeth; $1m his skull, minus teeth already allocated. Other options include funding drones and warrior monks [h/t Wronging Rights]

Germany says 10 countries are ready for coalition of the willing on a Financial Transactions Tax

A spate of aid updates. The ONE campaign finds eurozone austerity cutting European aid by €700m in 2011; Chloe Stirk at the Global Humanitarian Assistance site summarizes further cuts (and some increases) in 2012. And according to the Guardian, a pan-EU Aid Watch report due out tomorrow finds 11 countries cutting assistance in 2011 and nine planning further reductions in 2012 and highlights Germany and France as the big backsliders. (Ignore the link on the Guardian site, which is to Bill Easterly’s now defunct AidWatch sceptisite).

The World Bank’s top number cruncher, Martin Ravallion, has been deciphering the regional trends in within-country inequality  

‘• Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has persistently been the region with highest average inequality within countries. Over 90% of LAC’s inequality is within countries. As others have noted, inequality has been falling noticeably in LAC since around 2000.
• Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the region with the second-highest average inequality, though with no clear trend in either direction.
• South Asia has generally been a region of low inequality in incomes, though rising since the early 1990s.
• East Asia started out as the region with lowest inequality within countries, but has seen a steady rise in inequality (side-by-side with a trend reduction in inequality between countries).
• Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) saw a sharp rise in average inequality in the 1990s (coming with the transition to a market economy) but has seen generally falling inequality since then.
• The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has seen steadily falling average inequality.(Think again if you had thought rising inequality led to the Arab Spring—though inequalities of opportunity may well have played a role.) ‘

So last week the G20 and B20 (its business shadow) came out strongly against protectionism. That’s good, right? Well, perhaps not when its definition of protectionism includes pretty much anything involving regulation, including ‘national defense (Italy), imposing a financial transactions tax (FTT) (Brazil), requiring government approval of brownfield Foreign Direct Investment in pharmaceutical sectors (rather than automatically granting it), restricting foreign ownership of radio broadcasting (Russia), Argentina’s expropriation of assets in a company exploiting strategic natural resources, and an agreement among the BRICS to provide local currency loans to the business community of other treaty partners.’

‘I will never be cut’ – a Guardian/Christian Aid documentary about teenage girls resisting FGM, won a Webby this year (‘the Oscars of the internet’). It’s got some phenomenal mother-daughter dialogue (‘you can milk an education more than a cow’ – girl to mother who wants her to be cut so she can be married and get a dowry)