Posts about News

Davos07: Gates, Wolfowitz, and the world

Next session is on scaling innovation in foreign aid with Bill Gates, Paul Wolfowitz, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman president elected in Africa, Bill Easterly ex of the World Bank, and Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, as moderator.

Gates says that the amount spent on invested in foreign aid over the last n years is equivalent to the amount invested by venture capital: about $500 billion. He talks about aid and charity from the perspective of investment. He says that that saved about 100 million lives and that works out to $23,000 per life. Is that a lot? We spend a lot more to save lives in the West, he says. He also says that revolutions save lives.

Wolfowitz says the VC model works in some areas but not others. He says a small percentage of that U.S. aid went to Mobutu in Zaire and did more than just failed as an investment; it destroyed the country. But education is an example of strong investment; he points to South Korea. He also says the best-practices of good use of aid is consistent with the VC model. Wolfowitz says there is good news in Africa that doesn’t make news: a third of countries with a third of the population growing economically at 4 percent a year, a rate Europe would envy. Zakaria adds that that’s because in part of of high commodity prices.

Easterly says that when VC companies screw up, they die. Aid agencies don’t die. He goes on to criticize aid effort.

Gates gives a wonderfully passionate screed against that, arguing that it is wrong to judge aid based on GDP. Saving lives may not raise GDP but Gates says that saving lives in itself is of value. Asked about a Foreign Affairs story that warned of attention going heavily to sexy diseases, Gates says he is delighted that these diseases have become sexy.

National crocodile tears

I’m sorry, but it’s absolutely ridiculous that financial markets and government services are being shut down in observance of Gerald Ford’s funeral. What, our mailmen and stockbrokers and garbagemen are all off crying over Ford? It’s a waste.

All Iraq, all the time

Eason Jordan, former president of CNN, has opened the curtains on his new venture, IraqSlogger. His description:

What’s the goal of IraqSlogger?
To be the world’s premier Iraq-focused information source. To provide original, exclusive reporting and analysis as well as links to, and critiques of, third party reporting and commentary. To be engaging, distinctive, candid. To provide stories and perspectives you cannot find elsewhere. On rare occasion, we’ll even provide humor. . . .

Who produces IraqSlogger?
The founding team includes Eason Jordan, Robert Young Pelton, Nir Rosen, Zeyad, Amer Mohsen, Anna Shen, and Christina Davidson. Our contributors include 50 Iraq-based correspondents, experts, and tipsters; and reporters and Iraq analysts in the U.S. and elsewhere.

It’s already an impressive resource. One might wonder how many people want more news about Iraq but right now, we need it.

Giving the President the thumb

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson uses his Blackberry to liveblog a presidential press conference — about getting the presidential evil eye there — and Robin Hamman gives the backstory.

Reason No. 479 not to fly

Radioactive jets.

Blogging BBC exec Richard Sambrook finds himself on one of them.