links for 2010-03-08

  • "Ex-World Bank staffer Leila Janah (below, training a worker) founded Samasource in 2008 after realizing the talents of many Africans "weren't being tapped simply because they live in poor countries." Refugee-camp residents are especially marginalized, though some have enough education to perform skilled tasks — and to do work for clients including Google and Stanford University Library.

    Samasource booked $300,000 worth of work last year. It now helps hundreds of people in Asia as well as Africa. In doing so, it has pioneered something once thought impossible: outsourcing with no losers."

  • "And yes, you see it in the comparable circumstances our communities have faced as we've woven ourselves into the social fabric of this nation: We both know what it means to be alternately held up as examples of the American dream, scaling the generational ladder from poverty to professional success, and as major players in the American nightmare — labeled as "parasites," libeled as insular and self-serving, dismissed or demonized as exotic aliens and permanent outsiders."
  • "Democracy might bring freedom, but it could also bring chaos. In China and Brazil, which have fared well through the financial crisis, there's a growing sense that they don't need outside advice on how to structure their societies, thank you. "The Asian crisis was a turning point in that sense," says Brookings Institution senior fellow Homi Kharas, who studies the new global middle class. "These countries began pursuing liberalization in their own way, at their own pace, and they've done well. Now they see their success as the fruit of their own efforts," even though it was attained under global systems of free trade and finance set up by the West."
  • Some mullahs in Afghanistan are distributing condoms. Others are quoting the Quran to encourage longer breaks between births. Health experts say contraception is starting to catch on in a country with the world's second highest maternal death rate. Afghanistan has one of the world's highest fertility rates, averaging more than six babies per woman despite years of war and a severe lack of medical care. Awareness of, and access to, contraceptives remains low among many couples, with UNICEF estimating 10 percent of women using some form of birth control. But use of the pill, condoms and injected forms of birth control rose to 27 percent over eight months in three rural areas – up to half the woman in one area – once the benefits were explained one-on-one by health workers, according to the report published Monday in Bulletin, the World Health Organization's journal.