China v US; an end to gendercide?; Yes we know it’s Christmas (stupid); China in Ethiopia; ipaidabribe.com in Kenya; educational polemics; good news on forests; top pics for 2011: links I liked
The Economist kicks off 2012 with a neat breakdown of the year in which China already has/will overtake the US on everything from steel consumption (1999) to car sales (2010) to defence spending (2037) – see chart (red means China is already in the lead). It also finds a glimmer of hope that India may be turning the corner on gendercide (selective abortion of girls).
‘Yes we know it’s Christmas’: ‘Speaking at the launch of their song, the musicians praised Geldof’s relentless quest for an answer and said they hoped their collaboration would free the Irishman and his friends to start looking for solutions to new and more important questions. “Like Do they know about climate change in America? Or did Kim Jong-il have time to write down the abort codes for the nukes before he died? Or perhaps he can revert to the time-honoured classic – ‘Tell me why I don’t like Mondays.”’ Delightful riposte to Band Aid paternalism from South Africa’s answer to The Onion. [h/t Chris Blattman]
‘To the west, Ethiopia typically conjures up images of drought and starving children; we want to save Ethiopia. To the Chinese, Ethiopia, with a fast growing economy and 90 million consumers, looks like good business…… Ethiopia is clearly in charge in this engagement.’ China in Africa guru Deborah Brautigam explains.
An everyday story of petty corruption, the difference is it’s in public, as India’s Ipaidabribe.com spreads to Kenya: ‘After getting car jacked and the car being declared a write-off after a Police shootout, needed the Police Abstract. Kept making several trips to Parklands Police Station and each time being told abstract was not ready, awaited this signature and that. Each time the responsible for Abstracts kept asking for money shamelessly, directly and each time I refused & said get my work done first. I could not keep skipping work. I then asked a friend who had contacts to handle it and push it for me, but he too had to part with 2,000/= before I got the abstract released. I hate paying bribes and very much against it, but sadly you can’t get your own rights, what you are entitled to from these hungry thieves. Its as though I had committed an offence to get out of, rather than being a car-jack victim!’ [h/t Evan Lieberman]
Harvard’s Lant Pritchett at his polemical best/worst suggesting that the best way to improve education is to replace state teachers with private ones on a third of the wage, and scrap conditional cash transfers, which he characterizes as ‘threatening the mother’.
Some seasonal good news from the world’s tropical forests: overall, large-scale clearing appears to have dropped sharply since 2005, according to a new global database (there’s a graph, so it must be true….)
Top 50 pictures of 2011 from The Sifter photosite. Here are two contrast pics – Shanghai 1990 v 2010, and the Mexican-US border [h/t Grandiloquent Bloviator]