April Fools

In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, [...]

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Race For Results

In this policy report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation explores the intersection of kids, race and opportunity. The report features the new Race for Results index, which compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level. The index is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood, in the areas of early childhood; education and early work; family supports; and neighborhood context. The report also makes four policy recommendations to help ensure that all children and their families achieve their full potential.

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens

A paper by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, comparing each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – and analysing which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government
policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In other words, the unrestrained flow of money has distorted our political process to the point where we can no longer consider ourselves a functioning democracy.

So You Have An Education. Now What?

This week at Media Voices, we’ve been thinking about what happens once African children have succeeded in gaining an education, something which increasing numbers of them have managed to do. According to the World Bank, the number of African children graduating from secondary school has increased fivefold since 1970, from 7% to 38%. I found [...]

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Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Development Forum report for the World Bank on employment prospects for youth in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as how best to maximize the energy and promise of the youth bulge.
If this is hard to read as is, go to the following link to download a pdf file:

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Inclusion Matters

The new World Bank Group report “Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity” is one of the most comprehensive reviews of social inclusion available.
The report uses evidence to bring home the message that inclusion can be advanced in myriad ways, that many countries have moved forward, and that change is within our reach.

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Harvard Field Study on Syrian Refugees in Jordan January 2014

The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region. Because of the economic desperation, an NGO has estimated that 16% of Syrian refugee children in Jordan are working – a fourfold increase.

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EMMA Toolkit

Oxfam Emergency Market Mapping Analysis toolkit by Mike Albu. In recent years, international humanitarian agencies have been adapting their responses to emergencies. Many have begun using cash-based initiatives, alongside or in place of conventional relief distributions of food and non-food items. Local procurement is also being encouraged, and opportunities for other innovative responses explored. These changes in practice draw attention to the need for better analysis of markets. There is a growing realization that the best opportunities for assisting women and men may be missed unless emergency responses are designed with a good understanding of critical market systems. Moreover, lack of this market analysis in humanitarian programmes may be damaging the livelihoods, jobs, and businesses upon which people’s long-term security depends.

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The Impact of Winter on Syria’s Refugees

Lebanon is now home to nearly a million refugees from the conflict in Syria and the majority of them are living in makeshift shelters with little access to basic facilities. Concern Worldwide’s Crystal Wells, who has just returned from ten weeks in the northern district of Akkar, speaks to Al Jazeera America’s Antonio Mora.
It is hard to overstate the misery of their situation, an open-ended exile in deliberately impermanent structures in a tiny country that finds itself completely overwhelmed. If you’re casting about for a gift, consider a donation to Concern or to Unicef to help ameliorate the situation of the Syrian refugees.

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Urban Cash Transfers – Concern’s Work in Kenya

Concern Worldwide, an Irish NGO, has this video explaining how the urban cash transfer works. Michael, father of five, has started a small business as a butcher with the help of the cash transfers that come in to a SIM card on his cellphone. The poor need money – the cash transfer assumes that they will know where best to put the available resources. It is far more empowering than dumping surplus food in the slums of the world, and has the additional benefit of stimulating the local economy.

Turning the Ship

This week at Media Voices, we have two videos from the Global March Against Child Labour (known in India as Bachpan Bachao Andolan), Not Made by Children and #dontlookaway. Not Made by Children is a toolkit for individuals and NGOs and government to use in pressing for change on the issue of child labor. The [...]

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Not Made By Children

“A tool kit for understanding the realities, responses and responsibilities of stakeholders” – A Film by Global March Against Child Labour

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From Deprivation to Liberty

A report on alternatives to detention for immigrant families and unaccompanied minors by the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe. The report focuses on better approaches in Belgium, Germany and the UK.

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Captured Childhood

Report on children detained in immigration centers issued by The International Detention Coalition

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The Math of Immigration Detention

report issued by The National Immigration Forum analyzing the relative cost of imprisoning immigrants in detention centers.

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ICE’s Parental Interests Directive

Report from the Women’s Refugee Commission on a new directive helping parents caught between the immigration and the child welfare systems in the United States.

© U.R. Romano
Can We Afford Not to Reform Our Immigration Policy?

The temper tantrums of the Party of Me have pushed other issues to one side, issues that desperately need to be addressed. Last weekend saw rallies demanding immigration reform – again – but most journalists were preoccupied with the government shutdown and that story slipped below the fold. It shouldn’t. Immigration, legal and otherwise, is [...]

© U.R. Romano
Letter to Marie Antoinette – The Scars of Poverty

As we enter the third week of the farce being enacted in Washington – may the shutdown be over by the time this is published, please God! – we’re thinking of the casual interruption of essential nutrition assistance programs like WIC, and the lasting damage it is doing to infants and young children. It is [...]

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The New Normal

The UNHCR recently marked a grim milestone in the Syrian refugee crisis. The number of refugees and internally displaced people fleeing the civil war has reached 2 million. Unicef estimates that 1 million of those refugees are children. This is putting significant strain on neighboring countries. Take Lebanon, for example, where Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently [...]

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Numbers

Animated film by The Guardian on the sheer scale of the refugee crisis in Syria (June 2013). The numbers are even higher now.

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Education Without Borders

A new report commissioned by A World at School and authored by the Overseas Development Institute‘s Kevin Watkins makes plain the desperate plight of Syria’s child refugees in Lebanon. – See more at:

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Uzbek NGOs Letter of Complaint to the Inspection Panel at the World Bank

The text of the complaint sent to the World Bank Inspection Panel demanding an investigation into the World Bank Rural Enterprise Support Project – Phase II, which failed to address the systemic nature of forced labor in the cotton sector in Uzbekistan, thus paving the way for additional support and making the World Bank complicit in the coerced exploitation of Uzbek civil servants, medical personnel and teachers and their students, whose backs support the cotton industry.

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A Systemic Problem: State-Sponsored Forced Labor in Uzbekistan Cotton Sector 2012

Report by the Uzbek German Forum and the Cotton Campaign on the ongoing systemic problem of forced labor in the Uzbekistan cotton sector in 2012

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Uzbekistan – Report from the Cotton Fields Spring 2013

Reports from local human rights researchers on forced labor in various regions of Uzbekistan; civil servants, medical personnel and teachers and students alike forced to weed and clear the fields for planting cotton for the profit of a small group of high government officials. Students yanked out of class just ahead of final exams were assured that their work in the fields would be rewarded with good grades. Whew! Had me worried there, for a moment.