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Opinions: Japan Nuclear Concerns; Cash On Delivery; G20’s Role In Ensuring Global Food Security

U.S. Officials Should Speak Carefully About Japan’s Nuclear Situation

“What we are learning in the age of globalization is that frightening and tragic events in any part of the world can trigger amygdala responses in people thousands of miles away. The amygdala, a tiny almond-shaped body inside the human brain, controls fearfulness and, more importantly, anxiety,” Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in a CNN opinion piece. Garrett takes issue with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s recent testimony before Congress about Japan’s nuclear situation.

“Today, government authorities in Japan and, frankly, Washington, Beijing and capitals across the planet, have the advantage of knowing a great deal more about the dangers of radiation, partly as a result of Chernobyl. But they face the disadvantage of an instantly globalized chain of images, information and misinformation assaulting the amygdala centers of their populations’ collective and individual brains,” she writes, adding, “I do not know what exclusive information Jaczko possesses that leads him to signal to the people of Japan that they cannot trust their prime minister, that their government is lying to them, and that in the nation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the citizenry should reject the voice of Tokyo in favor of the cries from Washington.”

“If the NRC has unique information or scientific analysis that exceeds available Japanese wisdom, it is unfortunate they could not share that urgency in a more discreet fashion with Tokyo. Instead, the NRC has succeeded in further distancing the Japanese people from their own government, raising their amygdala-driven anxiety levels to new highs, and dragging people all over the globalized world into a collective moment of acute fear,” according to Garrett (3/18).

Projects Show Cash On Delivery Model Could Be Effective

In a piece on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, journalist Tina Rosenberg focuses on how potential foreign aid reform could apply to U.S. development aid. Rosenberg follows up on a discussion that arose from an earlier piece about the “cash on delivery” model.

“My most serious reservation about the [cash on delivery] program was echoed by many readers: cash on delivery should only be tried if a government can collect good data about how it is doing, and that information can be accurately verified by a third party. If there is room for the government to manipulate the numbers, the program will fail,” Rosenberg writes. “So where can this go? The Center for Global Development has started with education, but it envisions using it to improve health as well: rewarding governments, for example, for increasing rates of AIDS treatment or access to drinkable water. To promote sustainable solutions, payments could be increased for each year a household continues to have water (incentive to keep the pump in working condition) or the patient remains under treatment,” she suggests.

She also notes that several projects have been “responsive to a pay-for-results model,” which shows “the potential versatility of cash on delivery. But it also shows how the idea of paying for results has permeated the way we help poor countries and the way these countries help themselves,” Rosenberg writes. “It is a heartening development for everyone who cares about making aid effective — and about getting more for our money,” she concludes (3/17).

G20, Partners Have A ‘Moral Responsibility To Ensure Global Food Security’

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece – Bruno Le Maire, the minister of agriculture in France, which holds the presidency of the G20 – outlines the challenges facing global food price stability before describing France’s proposals for addressing these issues.

“First, we propose that the G20 prioritize a reinvestment in global agriculture, a move that will have an exponential effect in fighting poverty in developing countries. In this regard, official development assistance in agriculture plays a key role,” Le Maire writes. “Our second proposal is to expand market regulation. … Regulating the market means improving the way it operates so that wealth is more fairly shared.” He then notes four areas that the G20 needs to work on: market transparency, international coordination, commodity derivatives market regulation, and support for those countries that are most vulnerable to price spikes.

“We had an economic responsibility to master the financial markets in 2008. We have a moral responsibility to ensure global food security in 2011. We drew lessons from the financial crisis to avoid a global collapse of the financial system. In this same spirit of responsibility, we must act today to save ourselves from urgently having to manage a food crisis with uncontrollable geopolitical consequences. We know what the problems are, and solutions are available. We can’t say we didn’t know,” he concludes (3/14).

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