Tom Paulson

Humanosphere Blogger

The host of the Humanosphere community is Tom Paulson, who spent 22 years reporting on science and medicine at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Tom was one of the first daily news reporters to cover the topic of “global health” (a much-debated label which he discusses the merits of on the Humanosphere website).

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Humanosphere
12:25 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

PATH named world’s 6th best NGO; Gates doesn’t make the list

All those magazine rankings out there — of the best hospitals, best doctors or best sushi bars — are popular but often highly suspect if not downright absurd due to organizations manipulating the evaluation process, weird and arbitrary criteria or just plain old sloppiness.

Nevertheless, the Global Journal, a Geneva-based magazine aimed at becoming the insider’s guide to what it describes as the “global issues” scene, published its own rankings.

It says Seattle's PATH is the 6th best NGO in the world, but left the Gates Foundation off the list. What gives?

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
3:19 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Land grabs in Africa adding to chaos and death

Displacement action enforced by soldiers.
IRIN Flickr

Aid organizations are trying to call attention to a little-noticed but massive plague spreading across Africa that is destroying communities, throwing many deeper into poverty and perhaps causing the deaths of many thousands.

Not AIDS or malaria.

It’s an outbreak of property seizures and community displacements known as the land grab.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
4:34 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Update: Seattle man accused of helping fund Sudan massacre calls it defense

Law and order in South Sudan
babasteve Flickr

The Seattle man who helped fund a massacre in South Sudan says the militia-style attack was a defensive action against a tribe that had attacked his tribe without warning.

Gai Bol Thong, a member of the Nuer tribe, recently gained international attention for raising funding to support local militia groups that have killed thousands of members of the Murle tribe. The attacks were in retaliation for the Murle attacks that have killed hundreds of Nuer, including women and children.

“The Murle made genocide on us. We do not kill old people, women and children,” he said.

But somebody did, according to the news reports.

(Listen to Tom's interview with Gai Bol Thong, click the audio link above.)

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
11:50 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Technophilia Seattle swimming hard against the e-waste stream

A young e-waste scavenger in Lagos, Nigeria.
Basel Action Network

Americans like to buy the latest devices and that makes us happy ... but it also makes us the biggest contributor to the global problem of electronic waste.

However, Seattle is home to two entreprenuers who are effectively swimming against the e-waste stream: Charles Brennick of Interconnection and Craig Lorch of Total Reclaim.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
3:02 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

The desire for the latest e-gizmo is poisoning the poor worldwide

Chinese woman sorts electronic waste.
Basel Action Network

“This is against international law but not against the law in the U.S.”

The media love-fest with digital gizmos is moving from the high-pitched holiday phase (electronic devices are always the top gifts for Christmas) into a smaller, but more intense hysterical phase this week with the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday.

When we buy new gizmos, we usually want to get rid of the old ones. Electronic waste (aka e-waste) is a surprisingly large, toxic and growing burden inflicted, like many such afflictions, mostly on poor people in poor countries.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
5:00 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

BBC looks at 'secretive' and powerful Gates Foundation

Bill and Melinda Gates speak at Malaria Forum, with moderator ABC News' Richard Besser
Tom Paulson KPLU

The BBC report is a nice overview of how the Seattle philanthropy, in the last decade-and-a-half, has emerged to dominate the humanitarian arena. But it doesn’t really break much new ground and follows on a number of similar, or harder-hitting reports, such as this much-cited series done last fall by Alliance magazine called Living with the Gates Foundation.

“What we think is global health, how we define this mission, is increasingly decided by a relatively small number of Americans living in Seattle, Washington,” Laurie Garrett, with the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
4:51 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

NW entrepreneurs focus on saving lives with better stoves

Women in India using an Envirofit clean cookstove to reduce indoor air pollution.
Associated Press

More than a century after the discovery of electricity, billions – yes, billions – of people still heat and cook with wood fires. In the developing world, indoor air pollution from smoke is blamed for nearly 2 million deaths per year.

Burning wood, crop waste, charcoal or dung does the damage, filling homes with smoke and blackening walls. It’s women and children who suffer the most, because they are the ones tending the fires.

But it’s not an easy a problem to fix.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
4:34 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Feds fret over publication of virus information, but should they?

As grim as it sounds, there are lots of horrifically deadly bugs out there — like Ebola — that never seem to get very far due to poor transmission and that's something to keep in mind in this debate.
Flikr

The U.S. government is opposing full publication by scientists of methods used to create a mutant form of bird influenza based on the fear it could be used by terrorists to launch a deadly pandemic.

There are a few reasons why, as reasonable as this may sound, many see the government’s position as unworkable and inappropriate.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
11:58 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Why are so many young Americans (more than 1 in 3) being arrested?

Around the world, governments that arrest large portions of their citizens point their finger at the United State's rate of incarceration. Now, it looks like we're becoming a leader in arresting young people as well.
Andrew Bossi Flickr

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. That detail gives our country a bad reputation around the globe.

Now, it seems our reputation for incarceration won't be helped by this new fact: "By age 23, up to 41 percent of American adolescents and young adults have been arrested at least once for something other than a minor traffic violation," according to a report by ABC News.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere in Rwanda
10:09 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Rwanda dispatches: A land known for genocide, gorillas and promise

(In November, KPLU's Humanosphere writer Tom Paulson traveled to Rwanda on a grant from the International Reporting Project to explore how that African country has risen above its troubled past to become an economic bright spot on the continent. Below is Tom's wrapup and links to the stories he wrote about Rwanda.)

Traveling with a dozen or so other journalists on a fact-finding visit to Africa’s “success story” – Rwanda – we took time out to go visit the famous mountain gorillas.

Read more
Humanosphere: Rwanda Special Coverage
11:41 am
Wed November 16, 2011

KPLU's Tom Paulson up close and personal with gorillas in Rwanda

No visit to Rwanda is complete without seeing the mountain gorillas. Here’s one who came to have a closer look at us.

After a whirlwind week of meeting with Rwandan officials, business leaders, local journalists, activists and others in the capital city of Kigali, we took off for a few days to journey high up into the Birunga mountain range to the northern town of Kinigi, near the Congo and Uganda borders.

I’m traveling with a group of American journalists sponsored by the International Reporting Project. Our aim is to gain perspective on this country so many associate only with its genocidal past – but which many others today dub an “African success story.”

Read more on Humanosphere.org

Global Health
4:12 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Rwanda is empowering girls, with a little help from Seattle

The students at Gashora Academy, first class of the Rwanda Girls Initiative.
RGI

It has become a mantra in aid and development circles today to say that empowering girls is the single most effective means of fighting poverty, inequity and any number of ills in poor countries.

And in Rwanda, Paul Kagame’s government is clearly walking the talk on girls and women — and a number of Seattle organizations are assisting in the gender revolution happening here.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Global Health
10:16 am
Fri November 4, 2011

Bill Gates hands in his foreign aid report to G20

Bill Gates.
Associated Press

Bill Gates, who according to Forbes is the fifth most powerful person in the world, has made his case for boosting foreign aid and development to the G20 meeting of the world’s richest countries, which is held in France this year

It’s a compelling case. Unfortunately, it may be Greek to the rest of the world’s powerful.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Global Health
2:46 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

Head of Seattle's PATH heading over to Gates Foundation

Chris Elias, head of Seattle-based PATH, announced today that he is leaving, after a decade, to take over as head of the global development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Global Health
1:32 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

World population soon to hit the 7 billion mark ... will we survive?

Pretty soon, joining the crowd may not be an option – it'll be crowds everywhere.
Stefano Corso Flickr

Sometime around Halloween, we’re told, the world’s 7th billion living person will be born.

Whether you should celebrate this milestone, recoil in horror or shrug depends upon your perspective regarding global population growth.

Read more on Humanosphere.

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