US elections: killer facts, what happens now? And Palin the poet

The December issue of my favourite current affairs magazine, Prospect, has some great analysis (laced with whimsy) of the election and transition. Top billing goes to an insightful assessment of Obama’s likely direction by Michael Lind. Lind cautions against euphoria, drawing on the already over-used comparison with FDR in predicting that Obama’s first term will mostly have…

By admin December 26, 2008 Off

The Rights and Wrongs of Food Miles

Professor Tim Lang, who invented the term ‘food miles’, is a gifted campaigner – it’s memorable, immediate and challenges consumers to take action to curb the environmental destruction caused by daft practices like shipping bottled water to markets on the other side of the world. But what if you’re one of the 1.5 million African…

By admin December 26, 2008 Off

How did the book go down in Obamerica?

Just got back exhausted from an intense two week tour of the US organized by the hyper-efficient Kristen Prince at Oxfam America. Highlights included an afternoon on Capitol Hill in West Wing Wonderland discussing the book with Congressional staffers, big and enthusiastic turnouts at the Gates Foundation, Northeastern, Georgetown and Brandeis Universities and the World…

By admin December 25, 2008 Off

Climate Wrongs, Human Rights and Female Condoms

A belated plug for a couple of top notch recent Oxfam policy papers. My colleague Kate Raworth has written an important paper on the relationship between human rights and climate change. By exploring the impact of climate change on a number of rights within international law (eg to food, life and security, subsistence and health),…

By admin December 25, 2008 Off

World Health Report 2008 – getting back to basics

My thanks to colleague Tom Noel for sending over a handy summary of the World Health Organization’s latest overview. 30 years after the Alma Ata declaration on Primary Health Care, the WHO is reaffirming the importance of PHC in guaranteeing universal access, social protection and health systems designed around people’s needs and participation.

By admin December 24, 2008 Off

Is Daewoo the new East India Company?

Last week the South Korean multinational Daewoo announced it had secured a 99-year lease (i.e. more or less bought) for 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of Madagascar’s land, mostly in the Indian Ocean island’s arid west. Daewoo aims to grow 5m tonnes of corn (maize) a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from…

By admin December 24, 2008 Off

New UN update on the Least Developed Countries

UNCTAD’s 2008 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Report, was published last week. Given 7% average annual growth rates in the 50 LDCs over the last 3 years, the report is surprisingly downbeat, arguing that even these levels of growth are failing to make a dent on poverty (as of 2005, 36% of the LDC population lived…

By admin December 24, 2008 Off

Publication day

That was a long day. Oxfam launched the book on Monday, so I head off for BBC radio’s Today programme at 6.15 in the morning, and finish with Al Jazeera TV news at past 10pm. The interviews are interspersed with interminable debates with the London media’s wonderfully globalized (and opinionated) cab drivers: the BBC guy…

By admin December 24, 2008 Off