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Aceh Diary: First impressions

The drive from the airport to the city of Banda Aceh is a picturesque one. It is only once you near the city center marked by the main mosque that signs of the devastation wreaked by the tsunami become apparent, among them the mangled metal frames of bridges, several crumbling buildings –some of them popular hotels once upon a time – and large gaping holes in the concrete base of a lone massive water tower which once supplied much of the city.

New guest blogger: Shaela Rahman

When we recently heard that Shaela was moving from D.C. to Aceh to help set up the new Private Enterprise Partnership for Aceh and Nias – we immediately knew she had to come aboard. She has now finally arrived in Aceh and, internet connection permitting, will be coming to you with her ‘Aceh Diary’ a few times a month.

MasterCard launches microfinance foundation

MasterCard has announced plans to launch the MasterCard Foundation next year - initially to be worth 10% of the company’s stock (once they go public). The foundation’s mission will be to improve the job skills of young people around the world and to provide microfinance programs for local entrepreneurs.

Live avian flu discussion

Live online discussion on Monday at 10AM EST (15:00 UTC/GMT). Milan Brahmbhatt, senior economist with the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific region, and Fadia Sadaah, World Bank sector manager for health in East Asia, will be taking your questions. Submit your comments in advance. In the meantime, see the WB avian flu page or the Avian Flu blog.

Minimum wages

South Africa blogger Fodder thinks the minimum wage is too low:

It is a blight on our new democracy that our government says a person can live on such a minute amount of money every month, if one wants to go the minimum wage route then at least ensure the minimum is a livable amount of money.