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Assessing Locally Focused Stability Operations

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Assessing Locally Focused Stability Operations
Source: RAND Corporation

This report describes how the Army and other services can better measure and assess the progress and outcomes of locally focused stability operations (LFSO), which are defined as the missions, tasks, and activities that build security, governance, and development by, with, and through the directly affected community, in order to increase stability at the local level. A number of issues related to assessing LFSO are identified, along with foundational challenges that include an inherently complex operational environment, limited doctrinal guidance, competing visions of stability, untested assumptions, and redundant or excessive reporting requirements. The report offers solutions to these and other challenges, and provides concrete recommendations and implementation-related guidance for designing and conducting assessments of LFSO. The report concludes with an assessment plan for a notional African LFSO scenario that illustrates the practical application of those insights.

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The Dead Hand of Socialism: State Ownership in the Arab World

September 12, 2014 Comments off

The Dead Hand of Socialism: State Ownership in the Arab World
Source: Cato Institute

Extensive government ownership in the economy is a source of inefficiency and a barrier to economic development. Although precise measures of government ownership across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are hard to come by, the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen all operate sizeable segments of their economies—in some cases accounting for more than two-thirds of the GDP.

International experience suggests that private ownership tends to outperform public ownership. Yet MENA countries have made only modest progress toward reducing the share of government ownership in their economies and are seen as unlikely candidates for wholesale privatization in the near future.

MENA countries need to implement privatization in order to sustain their transitions toward more representative political systems and inclusive economic institutions. Three main lessons emerge from the experience of countries that have undergone large privatization programs in the past. First, the form of privatization matters for its economic outcomes and for popular acceptance of the reform. Transparent privatization, using open and competitive bidding, produces significantly better results than privatization by insiders, without public scrutiny. Second, private ownership and governance of the financial sector is crucial to the success of restructuring. Third, privatization needs to be a part of a broader reform package that would liberalize and open MENA economies to competition.

The Check is in the Mail: Monetization of Craigslist Buyer Scams

September 10, 2014 Comments off

The Check is in the Mail: Monetization of Craigslist Buyer Scams (PDF)
Source: George Mason University, Department of Computer Science

Nigerian or advance fee fraud scams continue to gain prevelance within the world of online classified advertisements. As law enforcement, user training, and website technologies improve to thwart known techniques, scammers continue to evolve their methods of targeting victims and monetizing their scam methods. As our understanding of the underground scammer community and their methods grows, we gain a greater insight about the critical points of disruption to interrupt the scammers ability to succeed. In this paper we extend on previous works about fake payment scams targeting Craigslist. To grow our understanding of scammer methods and how they monetize these scams, we utilize a data collection system posting ”honeypot advertisements” on Craigslist offering products for sale and interact with scammers gathering information on their payment methods. We then conduct an analysis of 75 days worth of data to better understand the scammer’s patterns, supporting agents, geolocations, and methods used to perpetuate fraudulent payments. Our analysis shows that 5 groups are responsible for over 50% of the scam payments received. These groups operate primarily out of Nigeria, but use the services of agents within the United States to facilitate the sending and receiving of payments and shipping of products to addresses both in Nigeria and the United States. This small number of scammer organizations combined with the necessity of support agents within the United States indicate areas for potential targeting and disruption of the key scammer groups.

Hat tip: ResearchBuzz

See also: Scambaiter: Understanding Targeted Nigerian Scams on Craigslist (PDF)

Sentencing Guidelines — Australia • England and Wales • India South Africa • Uganda

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Sentencing Guidelines — Australia • England and Wales • India South Africa • Uganda (PDF)
Source: Law Library of Congress

Sentencing guidelines in the common law countries of Australia, England and Wales, India, South Africa, and Uganda vary significantly. England and Wales have a Sentencing Council that develops offense-specific guidelines that the courts must follow, while Uganda’s Supreme Court has developed guidelines that are advisory only. In India and Australia, no formal guidelines exist and judges retain wide discretion in sentencing, but both countries have mechanisms in place to provide general guidance—in Australia through state legislation and in India through a series of court decisions that identify relevant sentencing factors.

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan

September 5, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan
Source: Energy Information Administration

Sudan and South Sudan, both located in northeastern Africa, became independent countries in July 2011, following a referendum in South Sudan where the people overwhelmingly voted for independence. Prior to the split, the unified Sudan was the second-largest oil producer in Africa in 2010, outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Since the split, Sudan and South Sudan’s production has declined, and together they ranked as the fourth-largest non-OPEC African oil producer in 2013. Disagreements over oil revenue sharing and armed conflict have curtailed oil production from both countries over the past few years.

Heart Failure Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

September 1, 2014 Comments off

Heart Failure Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Source: PLoS Medicine

Background
Heart failure places a significant burden on patients and health systems in high-income countries. However, information about its burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is scant. We thus set out to review both published and unpublished information on the presentation, causes, management, and outcomes of heart failure in LMICs.

Methods and Findings
Medline, Embase, Global Health Database, and World Health Organization regional databases were searched for studies from LMICs published between 1 January 1995 and 30 March 2014. Additional unpublished data were requested from investigators and international heart failure experts. We identified 42 studies that provided relevant information on acute hospital care (25 LMICs; 232,550 patients) and 11 studies on the management of chronic heart failure in primary care or outpatient settings (14 LMICs; 5,358 patients). The mean age of patients studied ranged from 42 y in Cameroon and Ghana to 75 y in Argentina, and mean age in studies largely correlated with the human development index of the country in which they were conducted (r = 0.71, p<0.001). Overall, ischaemic heart disease was the main reported cause of heart failure in all regions except Africa and the Americas, where hypertension was predominant. Taking both those managed acutely in hospital and those in non-acute outpatient or community settings together, 57% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 49%–64%) of patients were treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, 34% (95% CI: 28%–41%) with beta-blockers, and 32% (95% CI: 25%–39%) with mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. Mean inpatient stay was 10 d, ranging from 3 d in India to 23 d in China. Acute heart failure accounted for 2.2% (range: 0.3%–7.7%) of total hospital admissions, and mean in-hospital mortality was 8% (95% CI: 6%–10%). There was substantial variation between studies (p<0.001 across all variables), and most data were from urban tertiary referral centres. Only one population-based study assessing incidence and/or prevalence of heart failure was identified.

Conclusions
The presentation, underlying causes, management, and outcomes of heart failure vary substantially across LMICs. On average, the use of evidence-based medications tends to be suboptimal. Better strategies for heart failure surveillance and management in LMICs are needed.

See: Heart failure is a substantial health burden in low- and middle-income countries (EurekAlert!)

CDC Digital Press Kit: Ebola Outbreak – 2014

August 27, 2014 Comments off

CDC Digital Press Kit: Ebola Outbreak – 2014
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC is rapidly increasing its ongoing efforts to curb the expanding West African Ebola outbreak and deploying staff to four African nations currently affected: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.

This is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. The outbreak in West Africa is worsening, but CDC, along with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, is taking active steps to respond to this rapidly changing situation.

CDC elevated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to a Level 1 activation, its highest level, because of the significance of the outbreak in West Africa.
CDC is surging our response with the current challenges that we are facing. CDC is sending additional CDC disease control specialists into the four countries.

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