FORWARD BASE B

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Category Archives: Africa

How Fleeing Ancestral Parasites Enabled Civilization

“The extraordinary variety of human parasites that exist in Africa suggests that Africa was the principal cradle for humankind, for nowhere else did the adjustment between human and nonhuman forms of life achieve anything like the same biological elaboration.

Many of the parasitic worms and protozoa that abound in Africa do not provoke immune reactions.
Opportunities for transfer from one host to another multiply with increased human density…when a critical threshold is surpassed, infection can suddenly develop into runaway hyperinfection.  Such epidemic situations seriously interfere with normal activity…

This…can soon reduce a population until the local density sinks safely below the threshold necessary for hyperinfection.

The establishment of human hunters at the top of the food chain…did not…do much to alter these age-old ecological relations.  In triumphantly claiming a new niche, humanity did not, therefore, transform the system as a whole.

Until relatively recent times (say five thousand years ago), human communities in Africa played a comparatively modest role amid the abundance of other life forms.  Humans were the chief predators, to be sure, but remained relatively rare in the balance of nature.
It is…mainly because sleeping sickness…remains so devastating to human populations that the ungulate herds of the African savanna have survived to the present.   Without modern prophylaxis, humans simply cannot live in regions where the tsetse fly abounds…Within the tsetse’s range, something resembling a pre-human ecological balance survives to the present.

In leaving tropical environments behind, our ancestors also escaped many of the parasites and disease organisms to which their predecessors and tropical contemporaries were accustomed.

Humanity’s place within the balance of nature in tropical regions differed fundamentally from what developed in temperate and Arctic climatic zones.
The array…of infections and infestations was vastly diminished from what had thriven in the tropical luxuriance of humanity’s oldest habitat.

Thus humankind’s biological dominion in temperate climes assumed a different order of magnitude from the start.
Humanity was in a situation like rabbits met when introduced into Australia.  Lacking both natural predators and natural parasites in the new environment…

Food production permitted a vast and rapid increase in the number of people, and so sustained the rise of cities and civilizations.”

Plagues and Peoples
William H McNeill

Excerpts taken from pages, 19-30 in no exact order so long as I put the main idea out there as succinctly as possible.
This guy is brilliant, but he really needed an editor.

M23 & Congo – 4GW In Action

gomavolcano

For a period of about 2 weeks, the rebel M23s occupied the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The government forces didn’t fight back, instead choosing to flee the city for secure government compounds. The U.N. forces concentrated themselves there, leaving the city to be plundered by the rebel forces. This isn’t a surprise as most of the Army officers had already been bought off by the rebels. Any political supporters of the government in the city could then be killed on a whim by the rebel forces. After the 2 weeks, M23 pulled out before international resistance could be formed. Both the US and UK pulled their aid from bordering Rwanda, who were likely supporting the rebels so that they could destabilize the Congo government, making it easier to gain access to the mineral rich area.

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In other words, the rebels pulled out on their own terms after they had taken everything worth taking. As is standard operating procedure, many rebels simply took of their uniform and stayed behind to disrupt government infrastructure and programs, thereby further reducing the support and legitimacy of the government. The lesson is fairly simple, pay very close attention to the loyalties and self interest of everyone in a conflict region if you want to understand how it will develop. Look at the extended social networks, friends of friends.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/12/2012122134149848784.html
“The soldiers we see here are the ones that took over this city? Is that it?” the 78-year-old said. “I think they are still here in hiding.”

Many residents are convinced that M23 soldiers swapped their military fatigues for civilian clothing and will remain in the city as “infiltrators”.

“Look, I am a Congolese. I am from this place. I can tell the difference between a civilian and a soldier. And, for sure, they are here,” 33-year-old mechanic Thierry Bisimwa told Al Jazeera. “Taking off their uniform and putting on civilian dress is a strategy.”

“We have a situation where army officials, in the middle of a war, were selling weapons to the M23 … what is going on?”

He was referring to General Gabriel Amisi, the DRC’s chief of land forces, who was suspended on November 23 when the UN alleged he had been “smuggling arms” to multiple rebel groups in the region.

According to people here, he was not the only military official playing both sides.

“We have an army with high-level officers selling arms and information to the other side. This is why they are so incompetent,” Bisimwa said.

There is a smouldering disdain for the United Nations here, as well as rage directed towards neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda for their roles in the crisis.

UN calls for ‘billionaires tax’ to help world’s poor

UN backed programs have a very poor track record. They have never taken the time to develop the distribution infrastructure needed to make development work. They also haven’t focused on the right programs, people think Africans need computers more than diarrhea medication (which kills them more than the diseases they are getting vaccinated against).

The UN Army & Police force are primarily composed of poorly trained 2nd and 3rd world soldiers. Their track record is so legendarily horrible that I won’t bother to cite it. Mercenaries that work for cash are a welcome relief from the incompetence of undisciplined troops who will abandon you and your family to be senselessly slaughtered by ruthless murderers because a bureaucrat is afraid of jeopardizing his or her political career because of a single bad press release. Which particular instance am I talking about? Pick one of dozens.

A mandate written by the UN is toilet paper. If you want to help people, work with people like Vinay Gupta. Look at the environment of the people you are helping and figure out what they really need, whatever solution organizations like the UN create is more likely to destroy the economic ecosystem of a given country rather than help it.

The annual World Economic and Social Survey says it is critical to find new ways to help the world’s poor as pledged cash fails to flow.

The report estimates that the number of people around the globe worth at least $1 billion rose to 1,226 in 2012.

There are an estimated 425 billionaires in the United States, 315 in the Asia-Pacific region, 310 in Europe, 90 in other North and South American countries and 86 in Africa and the Middle East.

Together they own an estimated $4.6 trillion so a one percent tax on their wealth would raise more than $46 billion, according to the report.

The document gives other ideas for international taxes, including:

— a tax of $25 per tonne on carbon dioxide emissions would raise about $250 billion. It could be collected by national governments, but allocated to international cooperation.

— a tax of 0.005 percent on all currency transactions in the dollar, yen, euro and pound sterling could raise $40 billion a year.

— taking a portion of a proposed European Union tax on financial transactions for international cooperation. The tax is expected to raise more than $70 billion a year.

It also suggests expanding a levy on air tickets that a number of nations already impose to raise money for drugs for poor states through UNITAID, a UN initiative.

The report says more than $1 billion has been handed over to UNITAID since the levy started in 2006. Link

By US law, 75% of US food aid must be bought from US sources and processed, bagged and shipped by US companies. Most of the contracts, therefore, go to the big US-based grain traders who bid for them.

Prices have in recent years been, on average, 11% above market rates.

Nearly 40% of total US food aid costs is paid to US shipping companies, where restricted bidding again limits competition, so prices tend to be higher than on the open market, according to Oxfam.

Link

US Expanding Intelligence Operations In Africa

Why Do Africans Use A Staple Food That Can Cause Cyanide Poisoning?

Built in theft protection – from both animals and humans.

Cassava(native to the new world) comes in ‘sweet’ non-poisonous and ‘bitter’ varieties containing cyanide-like compounds that require lengthy processing to remove.

In a perfect world, there’s little reason to grow the bitter varietals. Processing the root into secondary products such as tapioca starch is lengthy and labor intensive.

Some Examples of International Social Entrepreneurship That Worked

  1. Hippo Roller Making the task of collecting water easier
  2. Hexyurt A safe affordable shelter for refugees and disaster victims (hippies are using it for burning man)
  3. Solar Powered Lamps This radio interview has a lot of good stuff about it, including distribution channels – though I think it could use a hand-crank
  4. Grameen Bank For The Poor A microcredit bank
  5. Kiva  Another microcredit organization – doubles as a hilarious social network where you can talk to guys from Tajikistan about their goats
  6. Anti-Diarrhea Treatment  A simple, effective, and generally under-used method compared to most of the aid-with-strings-attached programs
  7. Teach For America One of the many education non-profits in the US

Peter Thiel mentioned in one of his classes that every start-up must be able to answer 10 questions:

markets

mimesis and competition

secrets

incrementalism

durability

teams

distribution

timing

financing

luck

As I mentioned before, one of the more serious hurdles tends to be distribution. Corruption and tribalism is rife in most of these countries, so it’s extremely hard to get a solution out to everyone equally without empowering local tyrants. The financing problem isn’t that serious as long as you create something that can pay for itself. The rest of the factors will vary highly depending on what good or service you are launching. Make sure it is super durable while still being in the price range of the customer.

“Enjoy Poverty” – Why African Aid Is A Sick Joke

Project Prevention has long paid poor, addicted women not to procreate. Now the far right is helping it go global

Diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined

Technology has fixed this problem. Intelligence fixed the problem. But the fix has not, and it seems will not, spread throughout the majority of the world. There is no written guarantee that technology or solutions to problems will filter throughout the entirety of society or the world.

http://www.unicefusa.org/news/releases/unicef-and-who-launch-report.html

NEW YORK (October 14, 2009) — Despite the existence of inexpensive and efficient means of treatment, diarrhea kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined, according to a report issued today by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“In the developing world, 24,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes like diarrhea contracted from unclean water,” said Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “It is truly a tragedy that these deaths take place since inexpensive and effective treatments for diarrhea already exist. It is our mission to reduce these unnecessary deaths to zero… we are calling on the American public to join our campaign to believe in zero.”

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