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The economic impact of the 2014 Ebola epidemic : short and medium term estimates for West Africa

October 9, 2014 Comments off

The economic impact of the 2014 Ebola epidemic : short and medium term estimates for West Africa
Source: World Bank

The 2014 outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa has taken a devastating human toll. Although the outbreak originated in rural Guinea, it has hit hardest in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in part because it has reached urban areas in these two countries, a factor that distinguishes this outbreak from previous episodes elsewhere. As of October 3, 2014, there had been 3,431 recorded deaths out of 7,470 probable, suspected, or confirmed cases of Ebola. This report informs the response to the epidemic by presenting best-effort estimates of its macroeconomic and fiscal effects. Any such exercise is necessarily highly imprecise due to limited data and many uncertain factors, but it is still necessary in order to plan the economic assistance that must accompany the immediate humanitarian response. The goal is to help affected countries to recover and return to the robust economic growth they had experienced until the onset of this crisis. This document presents the World Bank’s preliminary estimates of the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa for 2014 (short term impact) and 2015 (medium term impact). Section 2 presents a single set of 2014 estimates for Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, based on available data on current economic activity as well as assumptions about the short-term impact. It also presents current data on the limited current impacts on other countries in the region.

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African-Born Population in U.S. Roughly Doubled Every Decade Since 1970, Census Bureau Reports

October 7, 2014 Comments off

African-Born Population in U.S. Roughly Doubled Every Decade Since 1970, Census Bureau Reports
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The foreign-born population from Africa has grown rapidly in the United States during the last 40 years, increasing from about 80,000 in 1970 to about 1.6 million in the period from 2008 to 2012, according to a U.S. Census Bureau brief released today. The population has roughly doubled each decade since 1970, with the largest increase happening from 2000 to 2008-2012.

The Foreign-Born Population from Africa: 2008-2012, a brief based on American Community Survey statistics, shows that the African foreign-born population accounts for 4 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population. No African country makes up the majority of these immigrants, but four countries — Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Ghana — make up 41 percent of the African-born total.

CRS — Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response, CRS Insights (September 17, 2014)

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Increased Department of Defense Role in U.S. Ebola Response, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On September 16, 2014, President Obama announced a major increase in the United States response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted requests to Congress to make excess Overseas Contingency Operations funds appropriated for FY2014 available to support this effort. The requested funds would be used to provide humanitarian assistance, including:

  • transportation of DOD and non-DOD personnel and supplies;
  • coordination delivery of supplies from both DOD and non-DOD sources such as isolation units, personnel protective equipment and medical supplies;
  • construction of 27 planned Ebola treatment units; and,
  • training and education in support of sanitation and mortuary affairs functions to limit the spread of the Ebola outbreak.

DOD officials have stated that DOD personnel will not provide direct medical care to Ebola victims, but that non-governmental organizations are submitting proposals to the World Health Organization and other entities to provide health care workers.

The European Union’s response to Ebola

September 24, 2014 Comments off

The European Union’s response to Ebola
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

A number of West African countries are currently experiencing the worst Ebola epidemic in history. As the situation continues to deteriorate rapidly, the European Commission has stepped up its response since March 2014 and is now pledging more than €147 million in response to the devastating human, sanitary, economic and political effects of this crisis for the region. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the European Parliament has shown its concern as regards this critical situation.

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.

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)

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