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Public-private rail in China?

Two businessmen from Philadelphia, Pa., have launched a bold project to develop and run a mass transit system with the local Chinese government in Fuzhou… If successful, it would be the country's first public-private railway system. Yet the road from idea to implementation can be especially challenging, say a number of observers, especially when dealing with Chinese officials on a transaction that involves buying real estate alongside transit lines.

Via [email protected].

Telephone ladies connect Bangladesh

In case any readers of this blog haven't heard the story of Grameen Bank and the telephone ladies, the BBC have a nice write-up:

Mohammed Abul Kashem runs a fish farm of 10 man-made ponds. He uses the phone service to order food and other supplies from the capital.

"If the phone wasn't here then I'd have to travel to Dhaka," he says. "It's a very long and unpleasant journey. "Now I can use the phone I am saving time and it makes my business more competitive."

Fight AIDS with your screensaver

The World Community Grid team has announced the [email protected] project. By downloading their screensaver you donate your computer’s idle processing power to the project. The increased processing power will hopefully allow researchers to more aggressively and quickly screen possible HIV-fighting drugs. (Ht to AidsMatters)

When too much aid is a problem

Aid agencies have pledged too many boats to victims of last year’s tsunami disaster in the Indonesian province of Aceh, threatening over-fishing in its waters, the Red Cross warned on Tuesday… The province now [faces] a situation where, if all the pledges were kept, it would have more boats than it had before the tsunami.

Cheap money to Mexico

This extract from the Stanford Social Education Review is a nice overview of microfinance in action in Mexico. One idea: allowing migrant workers to transfer money directly to ATM cards of their relatives back home. The real point, of course, is that it doesn't matter how you do it as long as the transaction costs keep coming down.

What does an unemployed cobra-charmer do?

A survey has declared that the snake-charmer is no longer a relevant profession in India. Apparently the government agrees and now aims to outplace charmers. Government proposed career changes include: barefoot conservation educator, health care provider (especially if you have been bitten by a snake) and wedding entertainer (since they already play the flute). 17 government-funded microloans have already been extended to former-charmers to start such small businesses.