NYT Why Did Uganda Send Troops Into DRC
The Allied Democratic Forces, considered a deadly armed outfit, committed attacks in the Ugandan capital. Uganda claims it operates from DRC soil and hence attacks them there, together will official DRC forces. In the past ADF got backing from Sudan and DRC. Later it adopted an Islamist pretext. Many DRC citizens see other motives of Uganda: their commodity riches. Also Rwanda is worried.
FT China loans deter poor nations from seeking debt relief, says Paris Club
Just 42 out of 73 eligible countries have applied for support from the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) organized by the G20. It is said that this is due to fear of losing the opportunity of loans from China. However China is by far the biggest contributor to DSSI.
FT South Korea points to ‘fundamental shift’ in global trade policies
There should be renewed attention to securing access to next-generation technology. Digitalization, supply chain vulnerability and developing the rules of the road for emerging technologies are the new challenges. This was made clear by the pandemic, the trade and geopolitical issues.
TT In Afghanistan Taliban order beheading of shop mannequins
The Taliban have ordered a series of mannequin beheadings, telling clothes shops to remove the heads of dummies that offend Islam. The claim is that the mannequins are being worshiped.
FT Somalia chaos emboldens Islamist militants
The US departure has contributed to a deterioration in the security situation, say analysts, and a planned pullout of the African Union mission to Somalia could exacerbate the situation. The AU withdrawal has now been delayed for three more months. But there is serious doubt the government is able to hold on to territory liberated from the militants. Delayed elections and political differences fuel bitter conflict. The militants also benefit from attention to other conflicts, like in Ethiopia.
FT Israel and Palestinian Authority agree deal to counter Hamas
The PA spokesman said the talks were about the “importance of creating a political horizon” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas denounced the agreement as “obscene” and an affront “to the Palestinian spirit” in televised remarks.
FT Hong Kong news site shuts after police raid
Colonial-era laws were used in swoop on platforms critical of government policies. The police said the critical news site articles “incited hatred” of the city government and “stirred up dissatisfaction among residents”. Free media are deteriorating while the authorities are considering proposals for a “fake news” regulation that many worry will further curb tolerance of critical reporting.
FT Turkish lira slide fuels virtual remote-working brain drain
Earning in hard currency and spending in liras is more appealing compared to living and spending abroad. Remote working has offered exciting opportunities for outward-looking young people but is causing problems for Turkish businesses. The pandemic increases the options of skilled workforce in this digitalized era.
FT A decent boss can make the world of difference at work
The author cites two economists originating from Turkey. The one (from Harvard) emphasizes that the market economy has a fundamental problem creating good (stable) jobs. The other (from MIT) argues that “it is good jobs, not redistribution [of wealth], that provide people with purpose and meaning in life”. Research confirms the importance of good line management. The human and relational touch is important.
TT No more tattoos, China tells national football teams
In an extraordinary measure of social engineering the Chinese sports administration said in a statement that China internationals are “strictly prohibited” from getting new tattoos, and should remove any existing ones. This is for the sake of the image of public figures. Previously players were already told to cover tattoos. The entertainment industry was already told to ban artists that contravene “ethical values”, reined in the “over-promotion” of celebrities and obsessive fan behavior, and told broadcasters to stop featuring “vulgar influencers” in a bid to protect the well-being of China’s youth.
FT UAE seeks to end merchant families’ monopoly on import sales
The proposed reform would tear up the social contract between the government and influential merchant families, replacing decades of protection for local interests. Regional economic rivalry has contributed to these proposed changes, in addition to the drive for post-carbon economic opportunity.
FT BioNTech billions of pandemic medicine development give city of Mainz in Germany a shot in the arm
Being in the center of Europe has benefited the town from the Roman times. Also the first printing press was invented here 500 years ago. The central role of the pharmaceutical company established in the town in 2008 brought new wealth. BioNTech was very successful in pandemic medicine development. Local tax revenue doubled 6 times from 2020 to 2021. There is a broad political consensus to spend that amount on debt repayment, as the town was on a debt relief program before the pandemic.
FT When behavioral science was engaged as part of the pandemic response, the results were positive.
The UK government had a Behavioral Insights Team (BIT), the so-called nudge unit, already in 2010. Other countries showed creativity in tackling the pandemic. In Bangladesh, masks were given away freely in mosques, markets and direct to households. Promotional videos and brochures were accompanied by endorsements from religious leaders, with health workers in public places to remind people to use masks. “Nudging” is simple, cheap, and effective. Conventional government programs should take better use of behavioral science.
NYT India seeks to bring tap water to every home as supplies shrink
The country is halfway through an ambitious drive to provide clean tap water by 2024 to all the roughly 192 million households across its 600,000 villages. The scheme involves 2,5 million miles of water pipes. Red tape was slashed to kick start the program, a telling tale of the government’s popularity. Maintenance is organized on a local level. There is worry about the enormous agricultural use of water, allegedly more ground water is extracted in India than in China and the U.S.A. put together.
TT Vatican City – Isolated’ Pope lambasts his enemies within the church
There is a bruising ideological battle going on against conservative enemies within the clerical structure. The pope referred to the humility of Jesus, a tiny, vulnerable creature born into poverty and sees the conservatives as a “tremendous corruption disguised as a good”. The pope’s supporters tend to be silent, increasing the sense of isolation. There is also a paradox: the pope according to one comment “calls for a synodal style of government but he is not very synodal himself”.
TT China and Japan to set up Cold War-style hotline amid territory disputes
This was agreed during a video conference of its defense ministers. Both parties made concealing remarks over disputed territorial issues. Beijing has yet to formally acknowledge that the subject was discussed. There are concerns that an accidental collision between Chinese and Japanese ships or aircraft could prompt an escalation of the dispute.
TT India blocks foreign funding to Mother Teresa’s charity after extremist attacks on churches
In a decision made on Christmas Day, the Home Ministry said it had rejected the request from the Missionaries of Charity to receive funds from donors based abroad. The ministry said “adverse inputs” had come to light. John Dayal, secretary-general of the All India Christian Council, accused the government of “throttling all Christian groups in India”. The sisters will work on resolving the matter.
NYT President of Somalia suspends PM over corruption allegations
The PM in a televised address called the move “a blatant attempt to overthrow the government, the Constitution and the laws of the land.” The president is a returnee to the country after a career abroad and wants to modernize the election system, which is still geared towards the clan system. Both parties have military backing and the fear is an escalation into a civil war. The corruption charges relate to appropriating government land.
TT In Myanmar villagers shot and burnt in massacre by army
The villagers belong to an ethnic minority and are Christians. The army claims the killing happened when they tried to stop vehicles. The bodies were burnt beyond recognition. Among them was a young child. The tribal group also has a resistance movement which claims the victims mostly do not belong to their movement. A traveling team of relief workers was killed in the same incident.
TT Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931 – 2021) obituary
The South African ranks among religious leaders with a global stature. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. At the time the South African apartheid regime had imprisoned its political adversaries. Tutu stepped in the void, propagating non-violent but prolific means to counter injustice. The fore last apartheid president called him public enemy no. 1. Custody was too tricky for them, considering Tutu’s international profile, but they subjected him to a hate campaign. Tutu was known for praying for his enemies and was color blind when addressing injustice.
FT India seeks to quell prices with agriculture futures trading ban
The country sees a surge in food prices. A relationship of price rises with futures trading is not proven. The ban was introduced ahead of polls in several agricultural states.
FT Mali turns to Russia after France fails jihadi test
Mali accuses France for a failed strategy and halving its presence and France says the Mali government after two coups d’état lacks legitimacy. And also that the Russian mercenaries now claimed to be coming in are responsible for war crimes. Violence in the north of Mali has reduced but turned south and also across the Sahel to other countries. France was involved in several security incidents. But according to an former Malian politician France is a “convenient bogeyman for the Mali junta that, like its predecessors, had no plan to fight terrorism”.
FT Libya poll expected to be put back by a month
Disputes are still going on over who is eligible to run. Yesterday rival militias staged a protest in southern Tripoli but they later stood down after the government agreed to postpone a decision to replace the army commander of the Tripoli region. There are also factions who want to appoint a new government to replace the government of national unity appointed under international pressure with the sole purpose to stage the election.
FT Ethiopia is a tragedy for the whole of Africa
The “security operation” was meant to be over by Christmas 2020. Instead an ethnic civil war developed with changing fortunes, disrupting a social growth model that seemed to promise middle income status to the country. Calls for negotiations so far were neglected. FT in an editorial: “If there is one winner from all this, it is Isaias Afwerki, the wiley Eritrean dictator”.
FT Ugandan deal leaves NSO on brink of collapse
It’s spyware was found spying on U.S.A. diplomats of the embassy in Uganda. This triggered a complete blockade of business with U.S.A. business and institutions for the Israeli company.
FT Egyptian regime critic and activist handed a further 5-year jail sentence
The charge was “spreading fake news that undermines national security” for retweeting. Earlier the IT expert spent in jail from 2013 – 19 for organizing a demonstration. One of his lawyers and a blogger got 4 years from the same emergency court. They were already in jail without trial from 2019.
FT Exodus of Iranian talent and money gains pace
Sanctions and little prospect for reforms drives people abroad. Iranians have been the biggest foreign buyers of Turkish property in 2021. Visa for that country is not required for Iranians. 900 University professors left in 2019 alone. Every year 3000 medical doctors leave. A student confronted the president with the brain drain during his visit to Sharif university. Last month encouraging youth to leave “treason to the country” by the Supreme Leader. In reality university students focus on scientific publications that make emigration easier. The newspaper also interviewed a carpenter that considers emigration.
FT Japan tightens scrutiny of foreign researchers
This is done in response to growing technology nationalism among foreign competitors and heightened concerns that Japanese research is flowing too easily abroad. The new administration has also appointed an economic security minister.
FT Hong Kong election marred by low turnout
30 % of the 4,5 eligible voters turned out to vote for a collection of mostly China approved candidates during the legislative elections. 90 seats were at stake. The lowest turnout during earlier elections was 44 % and the last election turnout was 58 %. A political science professor from Hong Kong Baptist University attributed the low turn out to voter dissatisfaction. Only one out of ten independent candidates was voted in.
FT Chile’s leftward shift calls for a balancing act
Investors loved the previous economic model. Citizens thought differently. Beneath the impressive macroeconomic statistics on growth and inflation, they saw an economy that delivered for the wealthy and the well-connected but left too many citizens behind. The left wing candidate moderated his stance before the election. He also has to deal with a congress that is evenly divided between left and right. Both the outgoing president and the main opponent of the newly elected gave credit to the elect, showing the strength of a democratic system for change.
FT Businesses exposed by pandemic shortages and shipping bottlenecks are being forced to rethink their operations
The shift is from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’. A lot of the operating models in the supply chains broken today, were cemented 20 years ago on what at the time was a universal truth: going after low-cost suppliers. Risks like we see them today were not considered. Companies are not entirely abandoning existing supply chain policies, but they are revamping previous ones to build additional resilience. The old model will likely not return, despite its (lower) working capital advantage.
NYT Pope Francis says high number of domestic violence cases of women is ‘almost satanic’
The pope appeared on an Italian TV channel. He said it is almost satanic, because it is taking advantage of the weakness of those who cannot defend themselves. This remark comes after several other times the pope dealt with the issue. In February he called domestic violence of all kinds “acts of cowardice and a degradation of all humanity.”
NYT Foreign drones tip the balance in Ethiopia’s civil war
They have done so several times, the first time stopped by U.S.A. intervention with their supplier UAE. Now the effect probably of Turkish drones seems to be so devastating that the Tigray rebels withdrew to their region and appealed to the U.N. SG that they are ready for peace talks. Meanwhile federal PM Abiy arrived in Turkey on Friday for an Turkey-Africa summit with 39 countries. One analyst said “drones are a game changer but Afghanistan shows that human will is what determines the outcome of war”.
FT UN accuses South Africa over Rwanda suspects
The hunt for the Rwandan fugitives was boosted with the arrest of an alleged financier of the killings in France last year. The prosecutor complained to the UN Security Council this week that South Africa makes no progress with requests for cooperation. He gave positive signs about Zimbabwe, where another suspect is thought to have taken refuge.
FT China’s push for ‘prosperity’ offers lessons
China’s “common prosperity” message has filtered through mainstream television shows in the U.S.A. and the author thinks that without forgetting all the problematic aspects of China’s governance, the U.S.A. can learn from the qualitative Chinese approach to economic growth. Apart from exports the country puts a second focus on greater self-reliance and “indigenous innovation”, with the aim of raising productivity and wages. Taking business to account for mistakes is a down side for both countries. China bypasses due process but the U.S.A. does not seem to punish at all. For China, the Communist party itself remains the biggest risk.
FT Ambitious China juggles roles on global stage
No one doubts China’s determination to make its mark on the multilateral institutions. It has a unique place, both as a developing economy and as a donating country. If blocked it has proven to develop its own initiatives, has changed names (Belt and Road Initiative became Global Development Initiative) and steps up UN funding (now 12 % compared to the U.S.A. 22 %) and governance roles (heading four UN institutions, at a par with the U.S.A.).
FT Europe has rediscovered the social market economy
The EU is recovering from libertarian market economy to a social market economy. The pandemic helps governments to find new ways to sustain people through smart state intervention, to manage the health crisis and to support livelihoods. It allows Europe to embrace the social market economy again. Britain and the U.S.A. follow that example.
FT In Afghanistan economic ruin leaves millions on brink of famine
Western enforced sanctions after the Taliban swept through the country and seized control brought despair. Some humanitarian aid has restarted, but the economy and financial system remain frozen. “It’s mind-boggling to say that we’ll sacrifice 15m women in order to defend women’s rights,” said one foreign official.
FT In South Africa Omicron infection rate slows
The latest wave sees lesser hospitalization. South African scientists are cautiously ascribing this “decoupling” to the country’s high rates of prior infection from earlier waves and a vaccination program that has inoculated relatively high numbers of older people.
FT EU pushes for German region to become chipmaking hub to support European independence
Governments across the world are pushing for chip factories after the recent shortages in the supply chain. The German region of Saxony which accounts for one in every three EU made chips, hopes to be in the limelight. Twenty years ago Taiwan invested heavily in the chip industry which pushed the Germans out of business. Now the problem is different: it is difficult to find qualified staff in Germany. “Most of our applicants are from India and Pakistan”, says one director. Global recruitment is key to Silicon Saxony’s aim to increase the number of workers.
FT Taiwan opposition struggles for relevance
The opposition party ruled China before the Communist revolution. It’s goal for one China is losing support as the public rejects unification. Local referenda are currently at stake but mainland China is watching carefully for the results. The opposition seems to be unable to challenge the ruling party. In the long run the assumption is that mainland China will attack Taiwan if reunification is rejected.
FT Tunisia president promises elections at the end of next year
These elections would be preceded by a popular consultation in the first half of 2022, followed by a referendum over a new constitution in July. The president has made it no secret that he opposes the parliamentary system of the past decade and wants to change to direct democracy (referenda) and a presidential system.
FT In Japan female union boss tells of opposition from men
The new leader’s rise was helped by many female members and her appointment transformed frustration among women into expectation. The annual wage negotiations have for many years delivered disappointment to workers and to government administrations alike. The government hoped larger wage increases would induce a broader economic recovery. It remains to be seen how the next negotiations with the new union leader will make a difference.
FT For the west to deny that the rest of the world has a mind of its own is to live in a self-flattering delirium
“How the west invited China to eat its lunch” was the title of a recent broadcast. Not from Fox news but from the BBC. The author, FT’s political columnist, laments that left and right in the west have their own ways to do the same and that is to deny the capabilities of the rest. If China’s abilities were differently judged back in 1949 it would have reaped better results for a fraction of the cost. And this applies to the approach of the west to other parts of the world too.
FT South Africa maverick emerges as power broker
A breakaway from the main opposition party gained in the municipal elections with his ActionSA party, saying the party beliefs in free markets, but also in social justice in a society that had grown more unequal since apartheid. Critics say the strategy to gain support includes populism and stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment. He liaised with the left wing breakaway of the ruling party to vote his former party into a minority government depending on their vote to avoid the ruling party from winning. His declared goal is unseating the ruling party, which he calls a “criminal enterprise”.
FT The U.S.A. is getting serious about tackling corruption
The Treasury Secretary bluntly stated: “There’s a good argument that, right now, the best place to hide and launder ill-gotten gains is actually the United States”. The drive against corruption is the most meaningful manifestation that the country is making the economy work for ordinary Americans. Allies of the country should encourage this. Corruption at the top eliminates respect for rules and institutions throughout society. It is a vicious cycle.
FT In the U.S.A. people of color are still financially discriminated against
After the murder of George Floyd banks pledged to become inclusive, but the situation is still wanting. Controversially the small scale of financial needs is working against improvement. The model of Community Development Financial Institutions has been pursued. They add to the costs and hence higher interest is calculated. The situation also attracts predatory lenders to “hover around like vultures”.
FT In Ireland ideological opposition party champions real need and prospers in the polls
The issue is not typically working class and united Ireland but affordable and available housing. This has been brought to the fore with much more professionalism than before. One analyst: “They’re very effective opposition and they’re offering a message of hope, a Nirvana-like future”. Traditionally the party is kept out of government but its present popularity may change the situation.
FT In France supply chain woes and elections fuel drive to bring production back home
This has become a hot-issue ahead of next year’s presidential election. The president believes Europe should reclaim its economic sovereignty. From the late 20th century offshore manufacturing was the rule. Costs abroad are lower and regulations less stringent. Reshoring through protectionism will not solve that.
FT Germany must become an ecological social market economy
According to the author, an official of the Green party that just joined the new government, the government has the potential to set a global standard in tackling the climate crisis. The idea is to get 80 % of energy supply from renewables by 2030. This means wind farms on 2 % of Germany’s soil and solar panels on nearly all roofs. Unlike other European countries, nuclear solutions are excluded. But the change goes beyond energy supply. After WWII the country became a social market economy. Now ecological facets need to be added. Social compensation and the democratic inclusion of citizens in the transformation will be key to avoiding populism.
FT North Korea guards against threat from China
The regime has used the pandemic and great power struggle to strengthen its survival. Their prime threat is China, while that country needs the Korean peninsula for stability, division and denuclearization. Opening up the economy to China means handing the keys to the neighbors. The regime has not forgotten that China normalized ties with South Korea in 1992.
NYT Tech entrepreneur’s latest innovation: troll philanthropy
Most wealth is accumulated because the world economy is now globalized, but to sustain a globalized world economy we need to have more inclusive growth. This motive is connected by billionaires to their desire or need to burnish their image or distract the public from business practices. The Tesla founder does it differently. He specializes in controversial statements and actions. He asked the World Food Program how to end world hunger and he would then sell some of his stock to finance it. He started an online poll who thought he should sell 10 % of his stock to pay taxes. Etc.
FT Early South Africa data show fewer severe Omicron cases
Jabbing is believed to have contributed to reducing the threat but the symptoms of the variant may also be milder. It is too early to be complacent but the news is encouraging.
FT President of China faces the dilemma of China’s imperial rulers
Historical analysis of 49 dynasties that ruled China during the last 2000 years shows that their greatest threat was not internal strife or foreign wars but the elite families. Controlling them was the “sovereign’s dilemma”. The coherence of their social structure was broken to prolong the grip of the ruler “but it also gradually weakened the capacity of the state to get things done”.
FT China fashion brand storms U.S.A. fast fashion market
Its entirely export based business is built around the fast-fashion model pioneered by others, but through use of automation, artificial intelligence and a well-drilled supply chain, the brand has found a way to do it both cheaper and faster. Its competitors say it relies on tax loopholes, a flexible attitude to intellectual property and scant regard for corporate and social responsibility, but young U.S.A. customers seem to care little. In the process shopping is turned into a form of online entertainment.
FT China and Russia are deluded if they think America has gone soft
The other large countries may rightfully think the U.S.A. has turned inward after the MENA disaster, but history shows the mood among the population can change quickly. Not that interventionism through the last decades was a path tread with wisdom but “the point is that Moscow and Beijing could easily confuse American sullenness today for permanent resignation”. “Contested hegemons rarely go quietly into the night”.
FT ‘Erratic’ vaccine donations slow Africa rollout
The EU says it aims to share 700m doses by mid-2022, while the Biden administration has pledged to share more than 1.1bn doses. Health officials complain about the uncoordinated effort of the donors, leading to wasted opportunity in terms of product quality, supply chain problems and perceived feelings Africa gets the leftovers.
FT Africa is being punished by richer nations over Covid
The author, co-chair of the AU, laments vaccine apartheid and the consequences of the Covid pandemic in economic and societal terms. They will increase global inequality. The pandemic needs to be seen as a defining moment in history: “Just as multilateralism was forged in the aftermath of world war two, Covid-19 requires a deconstruction of old ways of thinking and a new perspective on our future.”
FT Facing competition from China and Russia, the U.S.A. tries to promote democracy in a two day digital summit
111 countries worldwide are invited. It includes India, Pakistan, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Iraq, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Freedom house head: “The risk is that it is seen as a talking shop which could deepen cynicism about democracy.” It could also bolster the U.S.A. competitors in the big power race, who actually call its organizing is in the spirit of a “new cold war”.
FT In Venezuela opposition project branded a flop by former participant
From his home in exile in Bogotá, Columbia, the former foreign envoy declared his resignation to the “quick fix, regime-change agenda” backed by western nations. His announcement can be seen as maneuvering ahead of a decision date of the governing vehicle of the opposition on January 5, which could affect arrangements over assets that the west allotted to the opposition.
FT UAE to rest on Sundays and adopt west’s working week to lure expats
The country will adopt a four-and-a-half working week from Monday until Friday noon. The government said Friday sermons and prayers, an important day of collective Islamic worship and family gathering, would start at 1.15pm across all seven emirates.
FT Peru social democratic experiment on the brink after shaky start
The chaotic leftwing government stumbles from one crisis to another. A two-thirds majority in congress would be necessary to remove the president. This is unlikely but the constitution makes an impeachment relatively easy. The president hails from a grassroots background and had no experience of public office when he won election in June.
NYT Sri Lankaʼs plunge into organic farming brings disaster
The president has portrayed the sudden shift to organic farming as a health move but financial reserves seem to be a more likely cause. Farmers suffer from lack of revenue and the population from rising food prices in access to the global pandemic induced trend.
FT South Africa is edging towards post-ANC future
But it should be kept in mind that the opposition is as divided and seemingly lacking in coherent ideas as the ruling party. ANC claims it can recover from recent local elections defeat as it “learns quickly”, according to its leader. History suggests otherwise.
FT Governments are increasingly using displaced people as a weapon
The strategy has been more successful than other types of coercion in Europe. Helping or allowing refugees to cross borders exploits European differences and anxiety over immigration. The ruler of Belarus has been most vocal about it, but others have used the tactic before. EU foreign chief calls it a hybrid type of conflict: “The classic distinction between war and peace has been diminishing.”
FT Private company is being left to make up rules for space economy, says European space agency head.
He urges the political leaders to take action about space rules. The private company has applications and grants for 70,000 satellite launches to create Low Earth Orbits constellations to provide broadband to places that are hard to reach by cable. This noble goal should not be left to private companies or deregulation. In addition space is having a limited number of slots available.
FT China is faltering, but the world is not feeling the effects
This development reaches farther back than the pandemic and the decoupling efforts of the U.S.A. Competitors across Asia and Mexico are catching up and other than before do not feel the backlash that was usual from China developments. Mobile internet technology is transforming the economies of larger, less-advanced markets too.
FT In Myanmar military junta sentences former State Counselor of Myanmar (= PM) to prison
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate got four years which was later on the day reduced to two years. More charges are being made against her. She was allowed only limited legal access since her arrest. The deposed former president was also sentenced.
FT Iraq’s largest province Anbar rebuilds five years after defeat of Isis
Improved security has finally allowed people in Anbar to rebuild their lives, homes and businesses. 1,5 million displaced have returned and allegedly there was no terrorist attack for two years. The man many credit is the governor from 2017 until 2018. After that he became parliamentary speaker — the most senior post assigned to a Sunni within Iraq’s executive branch under its community power-sharing system.
FT UAE security adviser visits Iran in effort to mend ties
The visit was the first in almost a decade as the two countries seek a de-escalation of tensions. The Iranian host expressed hope the visit would smooth the way for better relationships.
FT India and Russia hold their annual meeting just ahead of the call between the U.S.A. and Russia
The Russian president flew to Delhi to meet the Indian PM and sign business deals.
FT Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, FT Woman of the Year
The newspaper invited the European Central Bank president to pay tribute to the new WTO SG. She calls the Nigerian “fierce and talented a competitor as she is a caring friend” and as such a natural fit for the global watchdog in these trying times. She predicts that Ngozi is “a force to be reckoned with”.
FT Sudan PM defends pact with military
After the coup on October 25 the soft-spoken economist was on November 21 reinstated through what he in an interview with the newspaper calls a “workable agreement” with the army to avoid “a catastrophic situation”. His former assistant chief of staff claims shedding blood on either side is criminal, while the military that pull the strings emphasize that peaceful protests are constitutional and security personnel has strict instructions. The recent agreement dispossesses the political class; it remains to be seen if that will last. Even the PM sounds skeptical.
FT Russia’s anti-satellite test is a wake-up call to humanity
The test of the Russians contributes to turning the earth’s celestial neighborhood into a junkyard. This would ground mankind while at the moment plans are put up to launch perhaps even hundreds of thousands of satellites, known as mega-constellations. The space rules are out of date and Europe should step in to improve this, being the only superpower that has not yet done a test similar to the recent Russian test.
FT U.S.A. has the chance to lift its standing by jabbing world’s poor
Swift and generous action would be a fitting and rare geopolitical chance for the country to rebrand itself. This would be a better chance than the self-proclaimed battle between democracy and autocracy. In poverty people “pay little attention to such abstractions”. Domestic issues take center ground. The global pandemic approach, while financially minor compared to the cost of other policies, does influence the domestic economic outlook, also in the U.S.A. itself.
TT Gaddafi son back in the race to be president of Libya
This happened through a ruling by a court in the southern city of Sebha. It followed a week of uncertainty and a military stand-off. The latter was an attempt to prevent the court ruling by militias saying to be loyal to another 78 year old candidate from Libya’s east.
NYT Germany’s Chancellor has a message after 16 successful years as a country and regional leader: trust one another
The daughter of a Lutheran pastor received a military parade where the band on her request played the 18th-century hymn “Großer Gott, wir loben dich” (“Holy God, Thy Name we bless”). Her father chose to be a minister in former communist East Germany. His daughter now parted under general worldwide praise for her effective politics with the words: “Democracy depends on solidarity and trust, including the trust in facts.”
FT U.S.A. Supreme Court justices indicate support for abortion curbs
These curbs are put up by states. At the center of the case is a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. A ruling is expected in June 2022. If could overturn Roe vs Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the country.
FT Economic woes, not only China, lie behind Solomon Islands riots
The riots target ethnic Chinese and are triggered by local political disagreements over the geopolitical maneuvering of the PM. He changed position over Taiwan. The deeper background of the riots is based on grievances over lack of development, the failure to address poverty and inequality. In the past this also surfaced in unrest.
FT Floating nuclear plant fuels Arctic vision of Russia
The plant is planned to be fully operational in 2023. It is a facility to back two projects: a northern sea route between Asia and Europe and the exploration of vast deposits of commodities in the eastern part of Siberia. Both are becoming more viable through gradual climate change.
FT What South Africa and its discovery of Omicron tell us about inequality
The reward for the scientists’ skill, speed and honesty has been a crippling travel ban for the country. The reaction in South Africa has been understandably furious. The columnist (FT’s Africa editor) also states that globally politicians and pharmaceutical companies “have conspired” to keep “huge swaths of the world’s population unvaccinated”. Also he puts forward the risk of a hybrid society as South Africa is. The rich travel with its infection risks and the poor are often unvaccinated.
FT South Africa falls under global scrutiny
There are a lot of things we don’t know about Omicron. Real world clinical data from South Africa will provide some of the first answers. Indication is that the symptoms with Omicron are relatively mild. Immunity is thought to be at a very high level in South Africa, with the large majority of the population estimated to have been infected with Covid since the pandemic began.
FT China reduces finance pledge to Africa by a third
In a video address at the triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation being held in Senegal, Chinese president Xi Jinping reduced his pledge from the previous event to $ 40 billion. He emphasized the commitment to a “win-win” relationship. He also pledges 1 billion doses of vaccine, without mentioning a timeframe. China remains the biggest bilateral lender to African countries.
FT In the U.S.A. abortion returns to the Supreme Court
The 1973 decision that legalized abortion, said states could not ban abortions before a fetus is “viable”, or able to survive outside the womb. In defending a new 2018 law, Mississippi is asking the court to reject the viability rule, which it says is “baseless”. The state argues abortion is not a federal issue. It is not mentioned in the constitution. In recent years the Supreme Court is perceived as being more “pro-life” and hence a overruling of the 1973 decision is considered possible.
FT Leading scientist issues fresh warning on use of AI weapons
The computer expert has a stark warning: building artificial intelligence into weapons could wipe out humanity. The expert who wrote a seminal textbook on AI 25 years ago has already communicated the same warning without success for the last decade. He lobbies for a worldwide ban of automated killing of humans. Governments have ignored his pleas. According to the U.N. a Turkish AI weapon was used in Libya.
FT EU plans €300bn global infrastructure push
The bloc wants to spend that amount by 2027 in coalition with public investment and also seeking “to mobilize private sector finance and expertise and support access to sustainable finance”. It can be seen as inspired by the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. It prioritizes investment in digitalization, health, climate, energy and transport as well as education and research.
FT In Honduras female anti-graft champion heads for big presidential poll win
With half the ballots counted the wife of a former president deposed in a 2009 coup took a big lead over the ruling party candidate with promises to tackle corruption and inequality. The incumbent president’s brother was jailed for life this year in a case where the president was alleged an co-conspirator. No. 3 in the polls recently served a three year money laundering sentence in the U.S.A. Honduras is the poorest country in Central America.
FT Sweden’s has the same PM for the second time in a week
She is the first female PM of the country (FT reminds its readers that this is more than 6 decades after Sri Lanka was an early example of a country with a female PM) and served for 7 years as finance minister. Her turned down budget last week is replaced by a budget from the opposition. The new PM will lead a minority government and argues: “Somebody needs to do the job”. Priorities are social welfare, climate change and fighting gang crime.
FT Sudan’s PM defends deal with coup leaders
The PM says the deal is necessary for advancing the transition from military to civilian rule. He claims the freezing of aid helped to create the deal. He wants to avoid the slippery path to chaos and civil war. He risks losing support as the military wants technocrats in the government, not politicians. The PM claims it is a fantasy to think military participation can be avoided as Sudan had military rule for 52 of the 65 years since liberation from colonization.
FT Tunisians keep faith with populist leader
The country has seen a decade of weak coalition government until the elected president put aside institutions to rule by decree. He has yet to articulate an economic policy and instead boosted ideas to handle corrupt businessmen. For the time the mood is positive for him. Many agree that nothing much changed in the poorest regions during the last decade.
FT Omicron, a new variant of Covid19 virus, sparks a flurry of travel restrictions around the globe.
The World Health Organization has designated Omicron a “variant of concern” but also called for “balance” in the global response. Many countries scaled up travel measures quickly.
FT Shell exit to Britain as its headquarter deals blow to Dutch pro-business credentials
The company decision sheds light on shifts in public mood to tighter tax rules and climate action. Shell follows Unilever, who did the same some time ago.
FT South Africa travel bans over new Covid variant criticized
The country has significant laboratory infrastructure, established during the HIV peak periods. This now produces effective information on the Covid19 pandemic, but the foreign response with selected travel bans provides the impression the country is being punished for its scientific transparency. Yet it does what other countries should also be doing: complete transparency. The selective travel bans will not stop the virus.
FT Ties between France and Britain take turn for the worse over Channel boat crossings
The president of France accused the PM of Britain of “his failure to act seriously” in handling the migrant crossings of the Channel. This responds to the letter from Britain with a call on France to mutual border control and taking back the refugees that crossed in order to create an incentive to quell the stream. The letter was published on social media. The president of France is offended to the style of communication: “Politicians are not whistleblowers”.
FT Ukraine alleges proof of Russian-backed coup plot
The president of Ukraine claims the plotters are trying to lure an Ukrainian oligarch in with assets in the Russia bordering revolting regions. He challenges the president of Russia to distance himself from the alleged coup plans. On its part Russia responds to the coup claims that it “never does things like this”. Of late the U.S.A. warned about Russian troop concentration along the border. The Russia president warned the west of “passing red lines” in integrating Ukraine in their sphere.
FT Gaddafi barred from Libya presidential poll
The electoral body cites convictions for crimes as the reason. He is among 25 other candidates to be barred and can appeal. An analyst expects no instability triggered by the decision for the reason Gaddafi has no armed base. The election still faces lots of insecurity as the country remains awash with powerful militias and myriad foreign mercenaries.
FT We must not miss this chance to reform the WTO
The author, a European Commission official, considers that the WTO rules book is not up to date and the trade dispute function in fact paralyzed. Yet, rule based international trade is an enormous job creator for countries that join. The planned WTO convention is a chance to move forward. The EU has submitted a proposal for renewal.
FT Asia is the global inflation exception
Asian countries are depending on fossil fuel like other parts of the globe, but experience less inflation (except Sri Lanka & Pakistan). The reason is most likely a better handling of the Covid-19 pandemic than the rest of the world. Extreme responses have been avoided and discipline in keeping measures pay themselves out.
FT Venezuela’s opposition licks wounds after electoral defeat
For once the opposition has not boycotted the elections and this results in a defeat. The EU had sent observers and concluded that the elections were “organized under better electoral conditions compared with previous processes”. The opposition is very divided with over 100 parties and 70,000 candidates running for 3,000 public posts on offer.
FT Swedes tire of ‘political circus’ after day of chaos in Stockholm
Last year Peru had three governments in a week, but now Sweden had a PM for only seven hours. The social democrat was appointed as her opponents could not reach a majority but a few hours later lost a vote on the spending plans that she put together when still the finance minister in the previous government. This exposes the differences being covered for years as the right is on the rise. Now all parties position themselves for maximum benefit in the upcoming national election.
TT Interpol elects Emirati general accused of torture as president
The candidate won 69 per cent of the vote from 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 countries. Criminal complaints about him have been made in France and Turkey. The vote follows the disappearance in 2018 during a home visit of his Chinese predecessor. The only other candidate was a Czech.
TT Egypt reopens its Grand Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor
The 1.7-mile ancient road will be officially reopened with a grand procession to rival those witnessed by the pharaohs up to 3,500 years ago. Originally built in Luxor, then Thebes, by a female pharaoh it lasted for 1000 years. The restoration is meant to support tourism and national pride. Other efforts in the country include several new museums but also the relocation of the administrative capital of the country.
NYT Abuses Under Gambia’s Ex-Ruler Should Be Prosecuted, Inquiry Says
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission did not make public either its report or the names of people it had recommended for prosecution. The commission reported the deaths of 240 to 250 people in the custody of the state or its agents, as well as rape, torture, disappearances and witch hunts. The panel held 871 days of hearings, streaming them live online in an unusually public airing of human rights abuses. The report was handed to the president, now working with segments of the former rulers party. He is supposed to hand it to parliament and the U.N. SG.
FT The race to harness the power of the sun hots up
Advances in technology and funding have sparked optimism that nuclear fusion — an area that has promised much but delivered little in six decades — could yet provide clean, limitless electricity from a source that is most abundant in Africa.
FT Green transition must not mean energy redlining for Africa
The ban of investment in fossil fuel condemns Africa to continued energy poverty. This has been called “environmental racism”. The columnist compares this to the past practice in the U.S.A. of systematic denial of mortgages to potential black homebuyers. This condemned them to poverty in their society. The proposed fossil fuel ban would have the same effect on a global scale. African leaders must demand that rich countries use their wealth — acquired in part through colonial exploitation — to find a rapid way of reducing their own share of carbon emissions.
FT Sudan coup leader vows to restore democratic rule in 2023
The general is barred from elections under the 2019 transitional deal, has said he will quit politics in 2023 and also leave the army. But the planned handing over of chairing the civilian-military council to the PM this month does not happen. He points to political parties as the reason to step up the control over society. According to the general, his move was not a coup. On their part a former minister denied that and said “the coup is a betrayal of the Sudanese people”.
FT UAE’s de facto ruler journey to Ankara for talks with Turkey signal thaw
Turkey seeks to repair regional ties amid clashes with western powers. The UAE visit made good two thirds of the Turkey currency free fall the day before. Many of the issues at the core of their dispute remain. Relations became strained when Turkey and Qatar, its Gulf ally, backed the Arab uprisings in 2011 and Turkey backed Qatar in an Arab conflict in 2017. In the months since, Turkey has reached out to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel as well as the UAE. One analyst: “Realpolitik outweighed idealpolitik”.
FT EU targets social media political ads
A draft of new legislation requires tech groups to share data used to select citizens. The documentation of the draft warns of the negative effects of big data methods on freedom of opinion and information. The European Commission vice-president for values and transparency called political digital advertising ‘the unchecked race of dirty and opaque methods”. With so-called issues-based advertising political parties are to be required to clearly identify who is funding an ad.
NYT Wealthy Nations Wage Global Battle for Migrants
In Germany officials claim they need at least 400,000 new immigrants each year. Canada plans to allow 1,2 m residency permits in 2023. Israel struck a deal to bring in health workers from Nepal. A global drive to attract foreigners with skills is waged. New approaches to the mismatch of median age across nations could influence the worldwide debate over immigration.
FT EU’s war over sovereignty is just beginning
The EU Brexit negotiator turned French presidential candidate suddenly champions issues he once brought about against the Brits. The supremacy of EU law, often considered important for the European project, is increasingly under challenge. One key reason is that the EU has expanded its powers into policy areas that used to be at the heart of the nation state. The strategic and economic arguments for deeper European integration remain powerful. But for politics the nation state is on the rise within the EU context. In other words, states want to remain in the EU but retain powers the Brits fought for.
TT Ethiopian PM vows to lead troops in rebel war
He called out in a statement: “Meet me at the front.” The defense minister signaled a different approach to the conflict. This comes after rebels claimed to have captured Shewa Robit, a town about 125 miles from Addis Ababa. They claim to be trying to secure an aid corridor to Tigray. So far both sides have publicly refused to enter negotiations by the AU or the U.S.A.
FT Sudan PM reinstated after deal with military
All political prisoners detained since the October 25 coup are to be released. The planned hand over of civilian chairmanship does not happen. The reinstated PM declared he was acting in the interest of preventing a lockdown, while the military leader reassured that the new agreement “will pave the way for a total and complete transitional period”. In the streets protests are reportedly continuing.
FT Iran’s new president meet-the-people trips struggle to calm rising anger
The hallmark of the president’s first 100 days in office has been his weekly visits to provinces to communicate with the working class base, but the economic worries of his audience remain. Reformists say sanctions need to be lifted, while hardliners resort to import substitution as a way forward. Meanwhile the president pledges big plans (houses, jobs) but parliamentarians complain about his absence.
FT There is no easy escape from the global debt trap
Over the past four decades, total debt more than tripled to 350 per cent of global gross domestic product. It looks like affluent countries are entering an era like the 1970s, with inflation becoming embedded in the system and people’s psyches. The financial system is so sensitive to rate increases that any significant rise is just not sustainable. Hence long term rate rises to stem inflation do not seem likely.
FT The coming capital war between the U.S.A. and China
The U.S.A. financial sector wants to exploit the largest pool of new international investors, and China needs capital. Hence a continued willful blindness remains about the “one world, two systems” paradigm. The annual US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, started 20 years ago to monitor China’s opening up, now recommends a host of new limits on business between the two countries. One of them is tackling China’s companies route to evade global compliance of rules. The columnist bets that capital will become the next front in US-China economic decoupling.
FT Libya’s yearning for stability gives Gaddafi son chance to rule with support of disaffected youth
Sought by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity he submitted his candidacy papers for the December 24 presidential elections in the southern town of Sebha. The electoral commission has yet to decide which candidates qualify and the poll remains uncertain.
FT Government of India abandons unpopular farm reforms after protests
This happened after 14 months of highway sit-in protests in which more than 600 protesters died. The farmers were to lose the right to sell their crops at a fixed rate to the government. The PM reaffirmed his conviction that the reforms would have benefited farmers. But he also prepares for state elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, agricultural states where resistance to the laws has been fierce.
FT Shipping costs to push up inflation, UN warns
UNCTAD warns that this will disproportionately hit developing nations’ economies. Small island states are even hit harder. The cost rise is pandemic induced but also related to direct interruptions of the supply chain, like the Suez Canal blockade.
FT EU strikes competition deal aimed at reining in Big Tech
The main political parties in the European parliament agreed to target companies with a market capitalization of at least €80bn that offer at least one internet service. If the vote next week is successful the plans would then have to be agreed with EU member states before becoming law. The law answers the fundamental question of how the modern internet should be regulated.
FT Western brands aim for the sky in reforming China
China’s drive for an “olive-shaped” distribution of wealth looks to be an opportunity for western brands. The biggest opportunities, companies say, lie at the mass affluence level. Products for the super-rich are vulnerable for the communist party crackdown. The opposite seems to be true for products destined for the middle class. Branding creates identity selling factors. Influencing consumer behavior and geopolitical struggles (Hong Kong, Taiwan) remain a challenge in the nationalist Chinese culture.
FT Easing US-China strains requires more dialogue
Almost a year after the swearing in of the U.S.A. president he finally had a meeting with his counterpart in China. According to the newspaper this should be the first of many more. The rivalry between the US and China remains wide-ranging and dangerous. Two expressions of commitment (on climate and nuclear armament) are a modest start. The stark exchange on Taiwan is more troublesome. Also, there is no progress on trade disagreements. Hopefully the positive points spill over to the contested issues. Both nations need global peace and prosperity.
TT World Tennis Association demands proof as Chinese state media publish withdrawal of sex assault claims of top tennis player against a 75 year old former vice-premier
The tennis star has not appeared outside China since March 2020. Her whereabouts cannot be verified. She posted the accusation two weeks ago and it was withdrawn 20 minutes later. In the disclaimer published by state media she asks to be contacted but the WTA claims it is unable to reach her.
TT Refugees fear Syrian state may use Interpol to hunt them
The appeal comes after Interpol announced that restrictions on Syria would be lifted for the first time in nearly ten years. Governments can misuse the so called red notice mechanism of the international police network seeking to detain or harass dissenters. Other states have done that before.
FT U.S.A. and China hold virtual summit and agree to hold talks on nuclear arsenals
For many years China has refused to talk about this as the U.S.A. arsenal is much bigger. The plan to talk about nuclear arms is seen as a proof that both countries want to reduce tensions. Talks about nuclear arms have been going on for decades between the U.S.A. and Russia. The latter country holds the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.
FT Bulgaria election winner seeks reform through anti-graft push
The caretaker economy minister together with his friend and finance minister founded a political party in a rush. The declared goal is change the direction of the country. Their aim is to offer a new nucleus around how to organize the opposition. The opposition so far won elections but failed to form a government. The election winner: “I want in the next four years to be a success story of how one small country eradicated corruption in a super short time.”
FT Deadly bomb attacks in Uganda blamed on jihadi group
The coordinated attacks are by a “radicalized” group believed to be linked to Isis: Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF. The attacks follow a string of explosions in October. The most lethal Kampala attack was in 2010 with 70 killed. Thinktanks suggest a regional trend, also pointing to Mozambique.
FT South Africa’s ruling party struggles to keep political control of big cities
Parties have until November 23 to form coalitions and elect mayors in 66 hung municipalities, out of 250, or face rerunning elections in those areas. Durban and Gauteng are among the contested. Coalition forming is normal in South Africa but the main opposition party so far has out ruled joining ANC again. That happened in 2016 and faltered. A radical breakaway party has put up demands for deals on national issues if they would join local coalitions. Its support base is stable but minor.
FT Real estate still dominates modern wealth and consequently inequality
Are real estate prices today the equivalent of bread prices in the past? It’s a question that was recently asked by a trade union leader in Germany. South Korea’s ruling party took an election beating for failing to stop a steep real estate price rise. China has made affordable housing a core goal. The president said houses are “for living in, not speculation”. A McKinsey study found a strong inverse correlation between net worth relative to gross domestic product and five-year rolling averages of nominal long-term interest rates. The problem also reduces investment in productive sectors which could ultimately bring wealth and growth back into alignment.
FT COP26 made history but has still fallen short.
This outcome was largely inevitable, considering how many countries arrived in Glasgow with weak or substandard plans to cut their emissions. Yet COP26 was not pointless. On the plus side are bolstering the 1,5C goal, more scientific agreement and the exemplary deal with South Africa for a clean transition. Egypt will host COP27 next year. Governments must ensure it does better than COP26.
FT In Africa spate of coups put democracy in the spotlight
The failure of democracy to deliver development has pushed Africans to welcome coups d’état’. An opposition leader in CAR: “In a country where you have no water, no electricity, every day you are asking, what is government doing to solve my problem?” Since August 2020 there were five coups in Africa. The U.N. SG spoke of “an epidemic of coups d’état”, but the perpetrators have been subject to few or very few consequences from the U.N. and A.U. Former colonizer France responded to coups incoherently. There is also a tendency to personalization of power.
FT In Libya the son of the former dictator is to run for presidency
Political forces in the east and west of the country are in dispute over the legal framework governing the poll — something that could signal the losing side will refuse to accept the results. The son of the former ruler declared his candidacy despite arrest warrants issued by the ICC and the Libyan prosecution. He has a constituency among his own tribal group and others that sided with his father. Nostalgic feelings about the past can also come into play.
FT The U.N. climate process is designed to fail
The UN climate process has been running for almost 30 years and over that time, carbon-dioxide emissions have continued to rise. The political pressures on politicians are actually a recipe for inaction. Idealistic calls for politicians to “embrace a global consciousness” cannot wave away the fact that most politics remains national. The columnist ponders to resort to geo-engineering to be more effective, though he admits its risks and similar sovereignty problems. He considers them lower than remaining to rely on the current U.N. process.
FT Citizens in Tunisia await next step in interrupted revolution
The first measures of the current leader were considered a necessary shock. Unlike traditional dictators often from the military, he is an austere former professor of constitutional law with a distrust of political parties. However he has turned to harsh language that has fueled a hate and threat atmosphere. Talks with the powerful labor union have yet to start, as well as announcing an election date. There is no economic or pandemic plan.
Swedish architect of no-lockdown strategy defends record
Sweden was less strict in measures to fight Covid19. The chief epidemiologist is under critique, but defends himself as cases in neighboring countries are rising. His claim is that only vaccination can do the job and the draconian measures in other countries have yielded unconvincing results. Comparison of Sweden to other Scandinavian countries to him is unfair as Sweden has more migrants from outside the EU and more poorer people.
NYT Who has the most historical responsibility for climate change
Affluent nations account for just 12 percent of the global population today but are responsible for 50 percent of all the planet-warming greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels and industry over the past 170 years. Looking at a year level developing nations are catching up. China is today by far the most emitting country.
FT Zambia leader embarks on anti-corruption drive in bid to slash debt
The former government has overspent heavily. The new government has slashed the budget, fights corruption but also declared to go for devolution in spending. This all is meant to convince the IMF for funding. The windfall in the situation is the rising copper price. The president declares he will not embark on a vengeance campaign against his predecessors. “We want to restore the rule of law”.
FT Swedish Oil bosses charged in their country over Sudan war crimes
Both men, now living in Switzerland, are considered complicit in war crimes committed by the then Sudanese regime of Omar al-Bashir. They knew that the military would need to break a local peace agreement and take control of a region (now South Sudan) by force. It sparked a civil war with thousands of deaths. “It is important that these serious crimes are not forgotten,” said the Swedish public prosecutor who heads the investigation.
FT Afrikaner president who oversaw end of apartheid dies at 85
F.W. de Klerk presided over one of the most extraordinary political events of the late 20th century: the voluntary handover of power by the white minority regime in conditions of remarkable peace. De Klerk’s hopes of maintaining Afrikaner influence post-apartheid may have been largely futile. But South Africa could not have escaped from the cruel vortex of its history without him.
FT President of China warns Asia-Pacific leaders of ‘cold war’ divisions as U.S.A. seeks ties with them
He addressed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in a virtual summit. This comes ahead of his virtual summit with the U.S.A. president and shortly after his climate envoy struck a deal with the U.S.A. counterpart.
FT Belarus is fomenting a tragedy on its border
The country has escalated its contemptible tactic of “instrumentalizing” migrants to press the EU to ease sanctions issued to fight repression of Belarus citizens. The Belarus government cleverly presses the EU as the bloc is engaged in a legal dispute with Poland, the country that the migrants try to enter. In an editorial the newspaper invokes Christian values of Polish leaders for safeguarding the human life of refugees as guiding principle, while keeping the pressure on Belarus.
FT U.S.A. and China issue rare joint pledge to fight climate change
The China climate envoy yesterday stressed the urgency of climate change. By working together the world’s biggest economies would “bring more benefit to our two peoples”. This statement comes as nations dig in to avoid setting tighter targets. Developing countries say the draft text for the conference focuses too much on cutting emissions, and not enough on funding for adaptation to climate change.
FT Government of Brazil puts faith in improved social welfare program
The program called Auxílio Brasil, which replaces the 18 years long-running Bolsa Família scheme, is an enhanced social welfare program for the nation’s poorest citizens. The timing of the launch comes ahead of next year’s election and at a low in government approval ratings. It intends to raise the cash payment to the more vulnerable. Markets are afraid fiscal discipline will be neglected.
NYT The world needs to quit oil and gas. Africa has an idea: rich countries first
Africa is heating up much faster than the rest of the world. In Glasgow at COP26, some African leaders are for the first time vocally opposing a speedier pivot to renewables for their countries. Instead, they are pressing for a slower transition, one that would embrace a continued reliance on fossil fuels. Let the rich countries quit carbon energy first. Sub-Saharan Africa contributes about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, among the lowest of the world’s regions.
FT Ethiopia risks becoming a new Yugoslavia
The U.N. Security Council has finally woken up and called for a ceasefire and an end to “inflammatory hate speech”. An interim government is probably the only way out for the increasingly isolated central government. As a matter of urgency the issue that has eaten away at Ethiopia since the fall of the emperor in 1974 has to be settled: How to reconcile the claims for autonomy by different ethnic nationalities within the structure of an Ethiopian state.
FT Emissions from food system rise almost a fifth in 30 years
“From deforestation to the destruction of tropical peatland and production and logistics in the supply chain, the whole process needs to be accounted for,” says the FAO. The agency calculated that the whole sector accounts for a total of one third of the greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Burps from cows create a big part of the production emissions. 30 countries pledged a big fund to accelerate innovation in the food sector.
FT Poland accuses Belarus of attempting to stoke border clashes over migrants
Belarus uses trafficking methods to fight EU sanctions over the political situation in the country. It organizes refugee groups to cross the border with EU countries. Russia seems to be quietly endorsing Belarus actions. Its spokesperson: “We have no doubt here that the Belarusian migration services are taking all necessary measures to keep the situation in the legal field.”
FT Nigerians sign up for Africa’s first digital currency but critics raise doubts over wider adoption
Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have opened digital wallets to hold the eNaira, Africa’s first digital currency. With its launch the country is leapfrogging many other central banks around the world. The G7 last month issued guidelines that digital currencies will “support and do no harm” to the traditional monetary and financial system. The point is to prevent unregulated digital currency getting greater traction. The eNaira is not a cryptocurrency. The goals are: lowering transaction costs, boosting cross-border flows including inward remittances, bringing more people into the financial system, and allowing for more targeted social and welfare spending. A concern: government power over a digital system is larger.
FT Surge in global food prices hits emerging nations hardest
Poor weather and supply chain woes lead to uneven rises. The FAO food price index rose at an annual rate of 31 per cent in October. This captures the wholesale price paid to producers. Prices in the shop are depending on more factors. Higher food prices hit harder where food is a larger part of the total budget of consumers.
FT President who first rose to power in 1979 is on course to win Nicaragua election after jailing rivals
With his wife as vice-president he started a second stint as president in 2007. The evidence for honest elections is not available. The government primarily communicates that it is not bowing to pressure over the elections credibility.
FT Quest for the perfect measure of human progress is distracting
All alternatives to replace GDP as a measure want to enhance it with social or environmental factors, but disagree on the factors. An interim fix is at hand: replace GDP with per capita GDP as the main target of policymakers and the key measure of progress. But this is also insufficient. Critics of per capita GDP focus on what it misses. The main advantage is that per capita GDP is available in real time for most countries, and it’s more telling.
NYT In Iraq fears of wider instability rise after attack on PM home
The house in the fortified Green Zone was targeted by three armed drones. The president described the attack as a prelude to a coup. On Friday tensions over the results of the October 10 election led to a clash at the site of Saddam Hussein’s former palace grounds.
FT Ethiopia risks descent into full-blown war.
A group of nine opposition rebel groups yesterday formed a “United Front”, a political alliance — with armed units on the ground —aimed at establishing a transitional government. The fighting in the country is the culmination of a bitter feud between the TPLF and the present central government, who took office in 2018 at the expense of the Tigrayans. The PM and the central government during the conflict have consistently underestimated their opponents.
FT China’s splendid isolation.
In 2017 the Chinese president came to the world summit in Davos offering leadership in the globalized economic world order. A year later he cemented his position with this program in the political arena at home. Now the president is nowhere abroad. Is he responding to acute domestic pressures and mounting hostility abroad? And is the reflex to be turning inward? “The pandemic has been a facilitator to move inward and partly decouple with the west,” says a scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University. It suits to better protect the country from foreign hostile forces or ideas. Also, there is a trend to favor domestic products. The government wants to lessen its reliance on foreign technology and make its economy less dependent on outside markets.
FT More hot air than progress at COP26.
In an editorial the newspaper accuses the biggest polluters of lack of leadership. This is hampering decisive action. The Chinese president decided not to come and the U.S.A. president did not sign the coal pact, being pressured by a swing vote senator. A major problem is also that agreements cannot be enforced and past experience proves that this resulted in non-compliance.
FT Ethiopia rebels gain ground
They have reached places 300 km from the capital. Originally the conflict started as a law enforcement operation after an rebel assault on a military base in the region of the rebels.
FT In South Africa ruling party suffers worst electoral performance.
With less than half the voters turning out, the ruling party scored 46 % of the vote, which is historically low. The opposition did not do well either and political instability is looming.
FT Venezuela faces landmark human rights probe.
The International Criminal Court is to investigate Venezuela’s socialist government for alleged crimes against humanity over accusations of torture, rape and extrajudicial killings by the country’s security forces. This is the first ICC inquiry into a case in South America. The Venezuela president said he would respect a ruling. HRW sees the ICC action as a major wake up call to abusers.
FT Ethiopia’s year of living recklessly has come to a bitter conclusion.
The FT Africa editor considers the “spectacular implosion of Africa’s second most populous nation”. The would be modernizer PM for some years liberalized the political landscape after a 27 year long authoritarian economic boom, led by the TPLF that represents a region with only 6 % of the population. This has all come to an end since late 2020. The fighting has unleashed obscene violence. The ethnically charged hate speech is at levels reminiscent of pre-genocide Rwanda. The PM alienated his own Oromo base, which feared he would roll back regional autonomy in pursuit of his national vision. That perception has spelt disaster. Groups from his region joined TPLF.
NYT Crackdown sweeps Ethiopia’s capital as war draws near.
House-to-house searches. Arbitrary arrests. The government aims at Tigrayans living in Addis who sympathize with the rebels who proceed towards the capital. A deleted posting by Facebook of the PM was followed up by a similarly harsh posting of his government. The president of Kenya urged to end the fighting. Unofficial information from the Tigrayans say they want to sign an agreement with 8 opposition groups on Friday for a safe transition if the current government is ousted.
FT Myanmar military accused of burning down homes and churches in Chin.
They have set alight more than 100 homes and two churches in the country’s restive north-west Chin state. The Chin, a majority Christian people, are one of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities that has suffered violence under the country’s successive military regimes. The military have stepped up their efforts to crush resistance, coinciding with the end of the rainy season.
FT Climate finance: where does the money go?
Everyone agrees there should be more money for climate finance. But that is where the consensus ends. Only three affluent nations have reached the long promised targets. Even less is done on measures to effectively spend the funds. According to the OXFAM Novib lobbyist there is no real answer to the question — what is climate finance? One of the challenges with the $100bn target is simply how to define it, and who gets to decide what “counts” and what doesn’t.
FT Ethiopia calls state of emergency over unrest.
The government prepares for an assault of the capital by the Tigray rebels. The Tigrayans on their part assured that they would create an “interim arrangement” if they succeed. The conflict involves a propaganda war of both parties to justify themselves.
FT Accord aims to hasten end of South Africa’s coal industry.
Under the deal with the US, EU, UK, France and Germany, South Africa will close its coal plants more quickly than scheduled while according to the U.S.A. president “supporting an equitable, inclusive transition” to renewables. The South African president said he hoped the long term partnership would pose a example for other developing nations how to engage in climate change with the affluent nations.
FT Government in China tells citizens to store food as Covid restrictions bite.
The very strict policies on COVID19 prevention could be deployed at short notice and the citizens are told to prepare. The Chinese president did not travel outside the country since January 2020 and was missing at the G20 and COP26 summits. For the latter he sent a written statement.
FT Industry and government in South Korea plot the next blockbuster.
The rise of the Korean entertainment industry bears many of the hallmarks of the country’s success stories in manufacturing sectors like cars and consumer electronics: active state protection, a willingness to absorb and finesse foreign influences, and a near-pathological export-oriented mindset. A music executive said it took him by surprise that abroad he bumped into fans he did not even knew existed.
FT Co-operation of nations is essential if the world is to provide the necessary global public goods for humanity.
The FT chief economic commentator raises the question: “Is it possible for a divided humanity to provide essential global public goods?” “No global state exists. Instead, global public goods must be provided by agreement among some 200 sovereign nations”. Abandoning the global co-operation system and its development will be detrimental for world peace and prosperity.
FT England – France rivalry puts the west at risk.
Every incident is ending in a row that according to the columnist “is becoming a serious international problem”. The reason is Brexit that “put simply” the French need to see fail and the Britons need to make a success. The columnist suggests this is an opportunity for the U.S.A. to stage an intervention.
FT In South Africa ruling party fears loosing municipal election in largest city.
The ruling party lost control of Johannesburg and other big South African cities to opposition parties in the last local elections in 2016, at the peak of the anger over perceived corruption. But it took Johannesburg back two years ago after the collapse of a fragile pact to run the city led by the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). Services and infrastructure in the city crumble and municipal taxes rise. In South Africa’s system coalition politics seems to be the future.
TT Ethiopian PM urges citizens to fight as rebels advance towards capital.
Last month the government launched an offensive involving tens of thousands of soldiers and militiamen aimed at dislodging the rebels and pushing them back into Tigray. However, the offensive appears to have faltered and the rebels have claimed major gains, prompting the PM; to call on citizens on Facebook to take up arms against the rebels.
TT Head of Anglican church sorry for mentioning the Nazis in COP26 context.
He suggested that climate change would lead to “a genocide on an infinitely greater scale” than the Holocaust. The archbishop elaborated this suggestion and concluded that politicians would be judged on these two weeks of COP26. A Jewish leader present at the conference in Glasgow did not comment but emphasized that the U.N. erroneously excluded the religious stream from involving despite the chance this offers to influence many millions of people.
FT Sudan female activists lead resistance to coup.
“This is a fully fledged military coup and we’re resisting all the way,” said the foreign minister in the dissolved government and daughter of a former PM. “Nothing will deter the women of Sudan, who are fighting for democratic transformation.”
TT Land of our fathers: how Japanese politics is a family affair.
Political dynasties are found all over the world. But few parliaments are so dominated by them as Japan’s parliament. Roughly a third of the seats are occupied by people who have more family members in politics.
FT South Africa energy monopolist eyes COP26 deal to drop coal.
The chief executive of the company that generates nearly all the electricity in Africa’s most industrial economy wants to borrow more than $30bn in concessional lending to help close its ageing coal plants and make the switch to renewables. The EU confirmed that along with other western nations the bloc was planning to help South Africa with the transition.
FT COP26 summit is a pivotal moment for the future of the planet.
In an editorial the newspaper argues that the costs of averting climate disaster are less than dealing with its effects. The newspaper reminds that targets set in the previous conference were not reached, the pandemic delayed the conference with a year and created logistical misery. And China had to increase coal production to meet energy demands. The G20 countries are meeting ahead of the COP26 summit and might be helpful to produce positive results at the COP26 climate conference.
FT Sudan’s latest military coup reopens wounds that had barely healed.
The author, a media professional, notes that since liberation from the colonizers the country has seen three revolutions and five military takeovers including the two coup d’etats in the last three years. “Sovereignty, whether in the face of colonizers or our own despotic rulers, is an ideal that has been fought for and stolen back, time and again”. “Our attempts at self-governance are routinely thwarted by military men being swayed by influence from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt”.
FT Isis-K jeopardizes Taliban grip on Afghanistan.
Islamic militants attract disaffected fighters and carry out murderous attacks in pursuit of a cross-border caliphate of Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India and Iran. One of their targets is the Afghanistan’s Shia minority. India intelligence sees inter Taliban rivalry contributing to the insecurity.
FT Sudan’s hopes of freedom must not be snuffed out.
In an editorial the newspaper deals with the newest edition of “military assisted transitions”. It argues the military have never really disappeared and the former dictator was treated by his own henchmen. They were awarded relief of sanctions, while progress for civilians in the streets was delayed by IMF insistence on stopping fuel subsidies. The newspaper suggests to reach the ordinary through their mobile phones, using the so-called M-Pesa technology pioneered in Kenya.
FT Sudan ‘coup’ planned weeks ago, claims PM aide.
The same people that arrested the dictator in 2019 now arrested the civilian government. The coup was presided by an attempted coup in September and accusations and demands from both sides and it happened shortly before the military was supposed to hand over chairmanship of the Sovereign Council to the civilian side.
FT China accused of cancelling events for German book on Chinese president.
The book, Xi Jinping — The Most Powerful Man in the World by Adrian Geiges, Stern magazine’s China correspondent, and Stefan Aust, former editor-in-chief of news magazine Der Spiegel was supposed to be presented at German universities through events of the Confucius Institute run by an arm of the Chinese education ministry. The events were cancelled at short notice, apparently after Chinese diplomatic pressure.
FT Turkey courts foe Armenia in push for Caucasus sway.
The Turkish president suggests to reestablish ties. Armenia declared to be open for talks despite Turkish support for Azerbaijan in the conflict about Nagorno-Karabakh. Since then Russia has sidelined Turkey. Inserting Turkey into a regional peace initiative may help Azerbaijan counterbalance Russia, which maintains a military base in Armenia. Turkey and Russia act on the same Great Power conception and could be able to act constructively in the interest of regional economic benefit.
FT Japanese royal defends marrying commoner.
On what the imperial agency said were doctor’s orders, the couple read out a nine-minute statement in which it was stated that the union was critical to the couple’s mental health and “necessary for our survival”. The notion was rejected that the engagement was scandalous. “What I would like is just to lead a peaceful life in my new environment.” Japanese media after the marriage instantly altered the term with which they referred to the princess.
NYT Gangs run much of Haiti.
Not only American and Canadian missionaries are held hostage for ransom. Citizens in impoverished neighborhoods suffer from criminals every day. Gangs have long been powerful in Haiti, often serving as muscle for politicians who, in turn, provided them with weapons and vehicles. This has worsened since the last president took over and after his assassination in July. On the other side police is underpaid and underequipped.
FT Military in Sudan dissolves government.
The state of emergency is declared. The army would appoint a technocratic government as well as a constitutional court and a legislative council. The military would prepare the country for elections in July 2023. The PM issued a statement that he was kidnapped and called for peaceful demonstrations. The coup happened shortly after the U.S.A. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa left. The U.S.A. condemned the development. The AU called for a resumption of consultations between civilians and military.
FT AU chair: We are tired of waiting — Africa must be a priority for COP26.
The author, also president of DRC, reminds the wealthy nations of their previous pledges. The AU boosts its own plan for tackling climate change. The continent will embark on digital agricultural advice and financial services. It is also emphasized that the continent’s ecosystems work as natural carbon sinks.
NYT Egypt ends State of Emergency, says it’s no longer needed.
Apart from a few months in 2011 the country has been under the State of Emergency since the assassination of the president in 1981. Critics see the recent cancellation as a cosmetic move. Thousands are still in prison for political reasons. The country is under pressure from the U.S.A. to improve its human rights record.
FT EU plans to reopen its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan.
The bloc plans to reopen its mission in an effort to deepen its limited engagement with the Taliban regime. It responds to China, Russia and Turkey who did not leave. The Taliban has refused to allow private security. The foreign representations need to be guarded by Taliban security. The EU stresses progress does not mean recognition of the Taliban.
FT Syrian regime comes in from the cold as Arab nations defy the U.S.A. and rebuild ties with Syria.
Fear for Iranian and Turkish influence spur creeping re-engagement with the Syrian regime, that controls most of the country. The countries defy the U.S.A. 2020 Caesar Act, that wants to put sanctions in place for those who work with the Syrian regime. The Jordanian king: “The regime is there and so we have to be mature in our thinking”. Some Arab Gulf policymakers think the disengagement from Syria was a strategic mistake.
FT Central African Republic counts cost of Russian mercenaries.
According to the PM the troops are on a contract with the Russian state. The newspaper adds that they have succeeded to beat “back rebels and saved his government, according to security, humanitarian, diplomatic and opposition sources”. Allegations of severe misconduct have popped up, also the CAR government acknowledged them. The Russian are seen by analysts as using CAR as a test bed for other countries. Also they are claimed to involve in economic activities.
FT U.S.A. warns business over China links
The country’s intelligence agencies warns business that China is harvesting tech and data in legal and illegal ways. The effort targets five sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.
FT Avoiding the next nuclear arms race. China and the U.S.A. must find a framework to managing tensions.
In an editorial the newspaper revealed China is testing of a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle and considers “the risk of a nuclear arms race greater than it has been for decades. China has some reason to travel this path as the U.S. and Russians keep enormous stocks of nuclear arms. The newspaper laments as most concerning “the lack of transparency or any framework in which to manage nuclear tensions.”
FT Angola nearing end of recession, says finance minister.
The 37 year old is one of the new technocrat generation in MPLA, the party that governed the country since liberation from the Portuguese in 1975, for most part dominated by one family clan that was toppled in 2017. The finance minister wants to diversify the extremely oil dependent economy and hopes the recent IMF backed reforms will attract investment.
FT In Sudan citizens demand civilian rule.
Some former rebel groups and political parties have aligned with the military in the demand for the civilian government to step down. Protesters took to the streets in several Sudanese cities to demand a fully civilian government.
FT German chancellor tries to defuse Poland-EU dispute about judicial independence.
With the EU and some member states listing measures to take on Poland the German veteran politician struck a more conciliatory note: “A cascade of legal disputes brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is not a solution to the problem.” Poland itself remarked that they are ready for dialogue but argued “that EU institutions and the ECJ had exceeded their [sovereign] powers”.
FT Afghan women resist return of segregation under Taliban.
Across Afghanistan, women’s lives are being severely circumscribed as the Taliban move to reimpose the segregation that marked their rule in the 1990s. Local moods show some differences, but apart from health workers, primary school teachers en jobs involving contact with women, females in public sector jobs are sent home. Chaperone and dress rules have not yet been enforced. Protesters risk severe violence on the side of authorities.
TT South Korea fights corruption of its language.
South Korea’s prime minister promised this month to reduce the use of foreign words and idioms in a country whose pride in its national language is closely tied up with its history of being colonized. King Sejong introduced unique Hangul script, seen as crucial to the purity of the Korean language, in 1446. The peninsula’s history of domination by great powers gives a nationalist edge to efforts to purify its language, which has been threatened over the years.
FT Riding out Angola’s economic ‘storm’.
Oil production of the ageing wells plummeted with 30 % since 2015 with the price of oil doing the rest for the oil dependent country. The handpicked successor by the president for 40 years did his best to achieve an anti-corruption profile, including dealing with family members of his predecessor. At home his credentials are not as positively judged. The opposition has plans to take on the ruling MPLA in next years planned elections.
FT Saudi Arabia relent on role of women in the workplace.
Despite cultural pressures a growing number of women is working. It is said that the de facto ruler and crown prince also needs them as a constituency. The Saudi’s prefer working in the public sector. Quota’s for hiring nationals in the private sector are not always workable as the right skilled labor is hard to find.
FT Rule of law is disintegrating in Central America.
The CEO of Human Rights Watch documents authoritarianism on the rise in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Checks and balances are reducing.
FT Algeria and Morocco tensions rise over gas, separatists and Western Sahara.
Algeria arrested members of a pro-autonomy group of a region, claiming they were planning an attack and were aided by a “Zionist entity [Israel] and a North African country”. The group, based in Paris, maintains they only use peaceful means. Algeria threatened not to renew a gas pipeline contract with Morocco and closed the airspace for Moroccan flights. Relations between the arch rivals have broken down completely due to renewed strains over the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Both countries are not interested in full scale conflict but analysts fear escalation. At play is the recognition of Morocco’s claim of Western Sahara by the previous U.S.A. administration and the subsequent normalization of relations with Israel by Morocco.
FT Bangladesh PM: We need a global climate prosperity plan, not empty pledges.
Earlier the government cancelled plans for 10 coal-fired power plants and now has developed a “climate prosperity plan” to enhance resilience, grow the economy, create jobs and expand opportunities for citizens, using action on climate change as the catalyst. The Bangladesh PM urges the world to do the same. He also remarked that the big polluting nations do not reach their pledges.
FT Why the world needs a Bill of Rights on AI.
In an editorial the newspaper argues that the present U.S.A. proposal to protect its citizens in the face of the transformative technology of artificial intelligence should be followed globally. AI decisions about humans should not emerge from an unfathomable black box, but be “explainable”. A bill ought to guarantee an individual’s right to know when an algorithm is taking decisions, how it works, and what data are being used. The newspaper pleads for a U.N. based initiative for a global AI charter.
FT Colin Powell (1937 – 2021), black soldier and U.S.A. top diplomat who was able to ponder mistakes.
Powell earned a reputation for being both honorable and effective — a level of respect in Washington that often caused him to be thought of as a possible presidential candidate. Raised in a Democrat home he became a moderate Republican and later backed Democrat presidencies. His legacy will forever be linked to a speech he delivered to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003 on Iraq. It was based on wrong intelligence. When that became clear he admitted it.
TT Two people killed in ‘ritual sacrifice’ at Pentecostal church in Jamaica.
The two congregants were fatally stabbed in an alleged “cult-like ritual sacrifice”. A third person was killed by the police who arrived on the scene and came under fire. The church leader describes himself on Facebook as “Jamaica’s eminent international ambassador Israel god King 999”. He had ordered his members to the church with an eschatological drive.
FT China’s leap in hypersonic missile technology shakes U.S.A. intelligence.
The US, Russia and China are all developing hypersonic weapons, including glide vehicles that are launched into space on a rocket but orbit the earth under their own momentum. The new China test took the U.S.A. intelligence by surprise.
FT Saudi Arabia seeks to reset relations with Iran.
The Saudi foreign minister describes recent talks as “exploratory” and “cordial”. He claimed the country strives for regional stability to enable the prosperity drive of the Vision 2030 plan. Relations with Iran were severed in 2016 after a Shia cleric was executed in Saudi Arabia. What followed was a number of incidents and the effects of administration changes in the U.S.A.
TT In Swaziland Africa’s last reigning king takes revenge on rebel pupils.
The absolute monarchy has banned political parties from elections since 1973. The unrest first flared in June after the death of a law student which was blamed on police brutality. Now students protested the arrest of two reformist MP’s. The death toll of the protests is thought to be 80 – 100.
FT Poland court judgment fuels EU exit fears.
The Polish court explicitly rejects key parts of EU law as incompatible with the country’s constitution. The ruling party declares the idea that Poland would leave the EU “nonsense”. The PM declared that both for the country and for the EU the entry of Central Europe in the EU is a success. Some western EU members maintain that Poland could face financial consequences.
TT Head Anglican Church challenges Ethiopia to prove the electric power dam will not threaten the Nile.
Egypt and Sudan fear their water supply is threatened. The archbishop spoke before a service in Cairo for the new Episcopal Province of Alexandria, which covers ten African countries that were previously administered from Jerusalem. They are Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Eritrea, Somalia, Mauritania, Chad and Djibouti. The new province holds 40,000 practicing Anglicans.
NYT Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two journalists.
The occasion marks the bravery of journalists to uphold “their courageous fight for freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” The prize is shared by a female from Philippines (also Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018) and a male from Russia. It is the third time in the 120 year history of the prize it goes to journalists. The previous occasions were 1907 (an Italian) and 1935 (a German).
FT Can African countries prosper by going green?
An affluent world citizen uses more electricity to boil his tea water than the average Malian in total. Yet Africa is also asked to deliver at the upcoming U.N. climate change conference COP26. The fair question is: what about countries that have missed the industrialization boat? Is there such a thing as a green industrial revolution? A McKinsey report says it is possible. FT: “If McKinsey is wrong, then the global enforcement of net zero may be an intolerable imposition on poorer countries”.
FT Ireland signs up to global corporate tax deal.
I line with a plan of most affluent nations the country wants to contribute to prevent false competition by raising the tax rate for big multinationals to the agreed level of 15 %. The country until now was known as an industrial tax haven.
FT Scottish nationalist leader pursues de coupling from Britain.
After a union with Britain of over 200 years and a failed referendum in 2014 the national Scottish leader claims the democratic right for another referendum, very much due to the Brexit disappearance of freedom of movement. The sparsely populated country needs outside labor. She warns the British PM to play the waiting game with refusing a second referendum. The fiscal position has worsened since 2014 and the polls show a less conclusive result than in 2020, but the young voters increasingly support independence.
FT WHO backs use of malaria jab in children.
WHO wants the new vaccine to be widely used in children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions at risk. This could be a huge health improvement. Malaria in 2019 only killed 400,000, two third of them children under five. 94 % of malaria cases that year happened in Africa. The vaccine is called a “supplemental tool”.
FT Mali has summoned the French ambassador.
The decision deepens the relationship between the two countries deepens. First the French announced to withdraw part of its troops in the region. Mali then worked toward hiring a private Russian group. The French president then stated that would destroy the cooperation of Mali with France.
FT U.S.A. central bank trading scandal undermines public trust.
Three senior central bankers are accused of trading with foreknowledge. The banks code has been proven unfit for purpose. This all comes at a time of the so-called Pandora Papers, revealing the hidden off shore wealth of world leaders. FT: “It suggest one set of rules for the powerful and connected, and another for everyone else”. Legislation is in preparation to outlaw lawmakers from stock trading. This should go for central bankers too.
FT IMF chief tells country leaders to ‘build trust’.
She emphasized to step up coronavirus vaccination rates and economic reforms to accelerate a balanced global recovery. She did not mention the accusations aired about her, see October 4.
FT Genocide denial ban stirs Bosnian ghosts.
Passions run high decades after the conflict. The Office of the High Representative (OHR), an international institution to oversee the situation in the ethnically divided country issued a ban on denying genocide in the Srebrenica atrocities. Thereafter the Serbian parts of the unity government left and Russia and China put the need for the OHR in question. Russia calls it a “humiliating external protectorate” that “creates problems and undermines peace”.
NYT Over 200,000 minors abused by Roman Catholic clergy in France since 1950, an independent committee set up by the church estimates.
The 2,500 pages report after 3 years of work also concludes that responsible leadership repeatedly covered up and failed to discipline committers (estimated 2,900). The victims are mostly boys from 10 – 13 years of age. If the cases of lay staff would be added the number of victims will rise 50 %. The committee called the churches canon law overseeing the 1,3 million Catholics “totally ill adapted” to deal with sexual abuse cases.
FT Incursions in Taiwan air buffer zone stepped up by China.
Following a naval exercise of the US, Japan, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand China made a record number of incursions into the Taiwan air buffer zone for three days in a row, including simulated attacks of the ships participating in the naval exercise.
FT North Korea reopens hotlines to South Korea.
The North Korean ruler: “South Korea should quickly get out of the wild dream that it must deter North Korea’s provocations and of its serious crisis consciousness and victim mentality.” The country checks South Korea’s appetite to divert from its alliance with the U.S.A. Policy changes in its communication reflect the regional (in)stability.
FT Algeria closes airspace to French military flights as diplomatic row intensifies.
The French president criticized the historical narrative Algeria promotes and at the same time tightening the visa regulation to accommodate right wing domestic worries. The French maintain that the closure of airspace does not influence their anti-terrorism mission in the Sahel.
FT Rwanda flexes muscles in Mozambique conflict.
Rwanda appears to be successful where earlier domestic forces and foreign mercenaries were not. The Islamist insurgency seems to have been defeated in a matter of weeks by 1,000 Rwandan forces. Their commander points to the U.N. strategy “Responsibility to Protect” to defend their presence. Rwanda has a 30,000 head army of which a further 2,000 are deployed in South Sudan and CAR. An anthropologist claims there are no reports of misconduct on the part of the Rwandans.
FT IMF to quiz chief over China bias claims.
In a report commissioned by the World Bank, her former employer, she is accused of doctoring China parameters. This would have improved the countries ranking in the annual “Doing Business” report of the bank. A group of 331 former employees in a letter to the board warned of the “reputation damage” the report causes.
FT U.N. Secretary General shocked at Ethiopia expulsions.
Seven senior UN staff are expelled this week after the U.S. voiced concerns about a blockade of aid to the war-torn region of Tigray. The government says the U.N. exaggerates the situation and is swallowing propaganda of the rebellious group. The government considers this “meddling in the internal affairs”.
FT Afghanistan de facto rulers tested by shortage of cash and responsibility that comes with power.
The new regime inherited a society that has developed rapidly while they waged holy war. Also donors are holding back and freezing foreign assets. One service that is popular is speedy justice. Even their critics concede that crime has been driven down by its practice of on-the-spot punishment and ritual humiliation of offenders. One analyst assumes that the whole situation will not last for more than six months.
FT Ivory Coast warns Mali against hiring Russian mercenaries.
The Ivory president who himself began a controversial third term in office last year, warned that Mali would be on its own if it hired the Russians. Russia foreign minister has said that Mali has shown interest in hiring the private Russian company Wagner. Mali complains that France is withdrawing but the French claim they are merely reducing. The Ivory Coast president urges regional cooperation to address security concerns.
FT The west is the author of its own weakness.
Wrongs policies and wrong wars have discredited the west’s clout. It considered itself superior and created financial chaos in a financial crisis. Now it focusses on China, while its own faults are not properly addressed. This looks like another wrong idea.
FT Tunisians’ unease grows as president attempts to tighten grip.
The president announced last week that he would rule by decree while he amended the constitution with the help of a handpicked committee. The moderate Islamist party staged protests but also the powerful trade union voiced unease. The president is accused of going slow and not in the interest of economic growth.
FT WHO workers face sexual abuse allegations during their work in Democratic Republic of Congo.
More than 80 individuals, including 21 World Health Organization workers, were allegedly involved in incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation as the central African nation battled the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak on record between 2018 and 2020. Among them national and international staff. Four contracts have been ended. The WHO SG apologized to the victims.
FT Switzerland unveils new federal prosecutor.
This is done to restore faith in one of the world’s most important white-collar crime fighting authorities amid allegations of incompetence, Russian influence and abuse of office. The new prosecutor has had a 30 year police career It is unclear what kind of reforms may be possible under Switzerland’s highly conservative political structure. Switzerland is a hub for private banking and home to international organizations. The former prosecutor started with a drive for reform but was later accused of misconduct. To date no charges have been brought.
FT Somaliland in 30-year fight for recognition.
The self-declared state has its own currency, army and passport but no recognition internationally. After three decades now democratic elections have also be held, where two opposition parties achieved a majority, and investment is drawn for the harbor of Berbera. Some countries have representations but official recognition will not come anytime soon.
FT China ramps up abortion controls as population crisis looms.
Birth rates in the world’s most populous country are now among the lowest in the world at about 1.3 children per woman. The population is rapidly ageing. In the past the government practiced policies of “birth prevention”. New legislation seems to completely alter that.
FT Europe needs strategic autonomy in the quest of world powers.
Unlike the other world powers it has a structure of independent countries and armies. Also there is a lack of political will inside those countries to spend on more defense. The recent deal between the U.S.A., Australia and Britain has really only stirred the anger of France, who lost a defense deal with Australia.
FT Political renovation is a German strength.
The biggest party was beaten by the second biggest party but the smaller parties hold the key to power as the big two need them. For the first time half the Germans give their vote to one of the smaller parties. Germany’s political culture is in good shape. Even when traditional parties seem exhausted, German voters resisted nationalism and populism. The far-left and far-right lost support.
FT South Africa moves closer to basic income.
TT Afghanistan new rulers Taliban vie for place on world stage with UN ambassador which is pitted against the still acting ambassador of the former regime.
NYT Sudan Leaders Say They Thwarted Coup Attempt by Loyalists of Former Dictator.
FT Obituary Abdelaziz Bouteflika Former president of Algeria, 1937-2021.
A veteran of the colonial liberation war he rescued the country again after 1999, establishing peace after a ten year war between Islamists and the military. Critics say the atrocities of military in the insurgency were put under the carpet and indeed a constitutional amendment prevents criticism of the military. Another amendment allowed Bouteflika to stay on after two terms, benefitting from the oil market advantages. When they plummeted along with his health he was ousted in 2019 and an insider took over.
FT Rwanda trial, genocide hero given 25 years for ‘terrorism’.
An acclaimed hero but also a critic of the president of the country, he was arrested while en route from Dubai to Burundi. He is accused of membership of the National Liberation Front, which is accused of carrying out attacks. Supporters and his lawyers considers the law case a show trial.
TT Egyptian president pleads with his citizens to have fewer children.
The president claims security problems do not harm most. Population growth is outgrowing economic potential. He does not believe in legislation, which would clash with religious beliefs and prove impossible to enforce. The Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, one of the biggest charities working in Egypt, claims the government could do more. Campaigns in the past were “notable”.
FT Women will redefine the labour market.
In industrialized countries labor markets are adapting to offer the flexibility females need and the other sex benefits too. The result is profitable as the market benefits from the high work performance of females.
FT Colombia’s elusive search for peace.
Five years after an historic peace accord the civil war is far from ended. What began as an ideological insurgency in the 1960s evolved into something far darker and more complex, pitting guerrillas, drug cartels, rightwing paramilitaries and the armed forces against one another in often sadistic violence. 182 Community leaders were killed in 2020 alone. A security mandate is at stake. The rebels withdrew and the government did not move quickly enough to fill the void.
FT In Afghanistan hardline youth put Taliban vow of moderation to the test.
Raised in a conflict these young men have a radical view of political community. The need for international recognition is understood but the demand for Islamic rule is the red line. This will fuel the discussions with the aging leadership that arrives back from exile.
TT If France won’t guard Mali the Russian Wagner group can, junta declares.
The Mali leadership threatens to find other solutions now the Europeans are reducing their help. Sources confirm that a 10 million per month contract is well underway with the Russian group “to train troops and protect senior figures in the west African state”.
NYT Fighting a Pandemic, While Launching Africa’s Health Revolution.
Dr. John Nkengasong, the first head of Africa’s new Centers for Disease Control in Addis Ababa wants to decolonize public health on the continent. Born and raised in Cameroon he returned to Africa after a career in the U.S.A. His main target is reducing dependency on non-African solutions. The Covax global campaign to make pandemic response inclusive is a case to point. It failed.
FT U.S.A. set to tighten curbs on Ethiopia and warring parties.
There is growing frustration at the lack of efforts to bring the devastating 10-month conflict to an end. Among the targeted groups are the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Amhara regional government. The U.S.A. trade representative raised the human rights situation with her Ethiopian counterpart. The country may lose its Agoa (African Growth and Opportunity Act) trade benefits.
FT Nigeria businesses at risk of double taxation, both from the state and federation.
Two of the richer states (Lagos & Rivers) claim the right to tax VAT. This creates uncertainty and confusion for business. The conflict is part of a conflict about deepening federalism. States claim that more state autonomy will reduce insecurity and corruption.
FT France kills leader of Isis group in west Africa.
The claim came days after Paris warned Mali against a possible deal with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group, after France announced halving its mission. Wagner is officially deployed in CAR, accused by the west of abuses there and reportedly also present in Libya, Sudan and Mozambique. The west claims the deployment of the private group would put in question UN and EU missions.
NYT U.S.A. brings Egypt to improve its human rights record.
For the first time the U.S.A. refused to put a formal national security waiver in place to provide aid. Recently dozens of already built church buildings have been recognized. This week Egypt presented a human rights strategy document of 78 pages and the president announced: “2022 is the year of civil society”. It is greeted with skepticism among activists. One day after the launch a researcher was indicted on charges of spreading false news for publishing an article accusing the state of discriminating against Egypt’s Christian minority.
FT U.S.A. builds bulwark against China with Britain-Australia security pact.
The group dubbed AUKUS was formed a week before Biden is set to host the leaders of Japan, India and Australia for the first in-person summit of the “Quad”, a security alliance. Australia buys nuclear submarines from the U.S.A. and abandons its plan to buy conventional submarines from France.
FT EU eyes greater world influence with project spending plans.
It’s a rival to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The EU aims to offer lower-income countries “transparent and values-based” financing, going beyond the infrastructure projects that are a BRI mainstay. After Afghanistan the EU aims to be more independent from the U.S.A. The EU wants to strengthen the global supply chains but also work on a ban of forced labor.
FT Gunshots reported near parliament in Haiti.
The shooting happens at a time rumors spread that a leading senator was to be sworn in as interim replacement for the assassinated president. Three men so far staked a claim to either the job of president or premier. A senior Haitian prosecutor said there was enough evidence to charge prime minister Ariel Henry in connection with the assassination. Since the killing of the president a devastating earthquake hit the country.
TT Asian arms build-up goes way beyond North Korea’s missiles.
This is not only about the news grabbing the headlines. In Asia the military balance in the region is transformed and, many believe, plunging it into a new arms race. All the important countries around the pacific are involved and also India. At the root of it is the global shift — political, economic and military — that is taking place from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Considering the economic wealth and political tension former powerful countries elsewhere also play their part.
NYT Activists in Russia push to make domestic violence a voting issue.
An activist calculated that there are more than 16.5 million victims of domestic violence per year. More than 12,200 women, or two thirds of those murdered in Russia between 2011 and 2019, were killed by partners or relatives, according to a study. A 2020 poll conducted by the independent Levada Center found that almost 80 percent of respondents believe legislation to curb domestic violence is necessary. Yet the contrary is happening and the ruling party stopped a MP that championed the cause from a second term.
NYT Pope criticizes political use of Christianity.
“The cross is not a flag to wave, but the pure source of a new way of living,” said the pope and he added that a Christian “views no one as an enemy, but everyone as a brother or sister.” He addressed a question to his audience on his journey to Slovakia: “How often do we long for a Christianity of winners, a triumphalist Christianity that is important and influential, that receives glory and honor?” What is the value, he asked, of hanging a crucifix from a rearview mirror or one’s neck if a person has no meaningful relationship with Jesus? “What good is this,” he said, “unless we stop to look at the crucified Jesus and open our hearts to him?” After the mass he travelled to meet with the country’s Roma, a discriminated minority group.
FT Filipino citizens suspect Duterte scion will throw her hat in the ring.
The Philippines has seen its share of political dynasties. Now something new could occur: the president becoming vice-president after term completion and his daughter taking over the presidency. The daughter, already a town major, has not yet announced candidacy but polls show it would be popular.
FT Pope warns Slovakians during his visit to the country.
The pontiff argued that too much focus on individual rights and culture wars could be at the expense of the common good. Like in Hungary the day before he deplored a defensive mentality and reminded that not long ago another single thought system (communism) stifled freedom. Capitalism can reduce progress to profit and rights only to individual needs.
FT We are creeping towards a continuous working week.
The Soviet Union from 1929 for 11 years organized a continuous working week. It used five day periods and proved unpopular as it did not coincide with family activities, for instance school. Today, society’s shared rhythms of daytime work and weekend rest are disintegrating before our eyes. While shift work suits some people, the evidence suggests it damages health and family life. “Asynchronous work” is the new buzzword in HR and management circles. Regulators think about measures to tackle disadvantages.
FT The personality cult around the president is a danger to China.
Soon the China president philosophy will be curriculum subject and his tenure without term meant to be of a “good emperor” — a wise leader, who is making all the right moves to modernize the country. We know this from other single system countries and China’s past. Will it avoid the pitfalls? China has performed enormously in the past decades but this was based on avoiding these tactics. Some of the president’s policies are commendable, but some may be disastrous, also as checks and balances fail or are replaced by adherence stimulus.
FT South Africa battles to boost waning take-up of Covid vaccine.
17,5 per cent of the country is now fully vaccinated, while for Africa overall this is under 3 per cent. In South Africa problems occur for poor people who simply have to devote all their time making a living. The infrastructure for jabbing is there. In other countries logistics is a greater problem.
FT Ecuador’s president fulfils vow to vaccinate 50% of population in first 100 days.
This is remarkable feat for someone who unexpectantly won the elections after failing previous attempts. How did he do it: vaccine diplomacy, a competent health minister and involving business in the jab infrastructure. The country also records other improvements like working towards involvement in the region’s free trade zone.
FT The rise of eastern Europe is a forgotten development success story.
The IMF definition of “advanced” includes the quality of institutions and other subjective factors. The group counts just 39 of the 195 economies is has on record. Only 18 countries reached that stage after 1945, often in regions. Most sizable countries among them are manufacturing and export hubs. None of them are countries that have export of commodities as their main business. The recent additions are from eastern Europe.
FT Guinea coup leaders seek to ease fears over mine projects.
Their main partner in mining, China, issued a rare warning on the domestic situation, while otherwise always refraining from open political involvement in other countries. The aluminum price rose to the highest in a decade. The coup leader, 42 years younger than the ousted president, reassured business that there would be no obstacles for them. Under the old president Bauxite export rose by 500 % but the ranking of the country in UN’s Human Development Index barely changed.
FT Lebanon forms government after 13-month deadlock.
The new ministers are mostly technocrats who have not previously held political power. But key ministries are shared between Lebanon’s community based political parties. Hizbollah supports the PM, a Telecom billionaire. Financial restoration is paramount and the PM stressed that Lebanon needs the Arab world, normally important for the country’s funding. The forming of a government also helps the relationship with the IMF.
FT Lessons from the two decades since 9/11.
The U.S.A. has successfully triggered terrorist expansion by responding in a way that helped their adversaries in a victim role, thus dramatically promoting their advance of their franchise. First, by using them to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, then to overrespond to the 9/11 attack and dictatorships. Also the treatment of their prisoners in Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib helped in this way and tainted democracy. Not to mention the support of autocratic regimes that promote fundamentalistic versions of the Islam. In this editorial the newspaper concludes: Failing and failed states, with societies sunk in despair, need strategic patience.
FT Russia and Belarus seek closer embrace.
The deal to struck is primarily military in character and avoids symbols of economic integration. It is scaring the European neighbors of the two countries.
FT Morocco Islamists trounced in parliamentary elections.
A party backed by a wealthy oil importer close to the monarchy swept to victory. A recent election law makes it harder for big parties to gain votes. Economic dissatisfaction also seems in play. The country operates as close to an absolute kingdom, with the PM having limited power.
FT Pakistan begins ‘awkward dance’ with Afghanistan government as regional tensions increase.
There are two worries: a flood of refugees and the encouragement the Afghan political changes will further Pakistan extremist groups. The new rulers in Afghanistan so far refused to condemn actions of the Pakistan Taliban, TTP.
FT There is still time to talk to the Taliban about education.
Will the country dubbed the “graveyard of empires” become a graveyard for the hopes and aspirations of its children, asks the former CEO of Save the Children UK? His answer depends on the Taliban education approach and if western governments have the resolve to stay engaged. He considers the “nation-building enterprise of western governments” a case study in hubris, proven by the expansion of educational opportunity. The Taliban is considered an “armed insurgency” but not monolithic: a general embrace of Islamic principles is coupled to aspirational promises of “modern education” for all Afghan children.
FT Gaddafi’s death still haunts the neighboring states of Libya.
The toppling of the dictator created a chaos in which human trafficking rose. But the pool of Europe to poor Africans was there before and Gaddafi’s only temporarily suppressed it. What did increase is the insurgency risks in the entire Sahel region, which is hard to stop due to its vastness. Governments have not been able to stop them, with or without western help. It’s a set of crises.
FT In Japan a hardliner nationalist aims to be first woman PM.
Still considered an outsider in her party leadership elections but she is endorsed by the second-last PM Abe. She is controversial for frequently visiting the contentious war shrine and pushing for constitutional reform to enable military capabilities of the country.
FT Guinea’s coup stems from crisis of legitimacy.
Where minerals are abundant, legitimacy is often in short supply. The elites in countries are to be blamed, but so is international business that is prepared to strike shady deals. The newspaper reminds of the sentence in a Swiss court of a foreign businessman bribing the wife of a former Guinean dictator. While the military coup is on the rise in the region, there are also peaceful changes of power, handing a warning to overstayers in African politics.
FT El Salvador’s dangerous gamble on bitcoin maybe for electoral reasons.
In recent decades the country had low inflation under the dollar. Bitcoin’s huge value changes are a threat to that. The IMF and the World Bank have refused to facilitate the move. Central bank digital currencies and fin tech neo banks hold better promise if carefully implemented.
FT South Korea breaks debt taboo to tackle inequality.
The country with an aging population has almost a majority of the over 66 living in poverty, a record for a wealthy country. The prime-minister: “We are looking at the issue with a sense of crisis.” Hence the administration is now comfortable extending the national debt beyond the 40 per cent of gross domestic product threshold that policymakers kept for the past decade.
FT Guinea junta to form unity government.
The military claim it will be set up to lead the transition to civilian rule. Ports in the world’s second-biggest bauxite producer (a quarter of the world’s production) would remain open for export and a curfew in mining areas had been lifted “to ensure continuity of production”. The African Union, UN and regional bloc Ecowas all issued statements condemning the coup.
FT Nigerian oil reforms show little sign of progress.
The country still depends on subsidies on imported oil, which stops the refinery industry from attracting investment. A bill for complete reform, including benefits for the surrounding areas of production fields, does not materialize under the present old minister, the 78 old president himself.
FT Belarus activists receive decade long sentence for leading peaceful protests.
The protest movement assembled around the elections of mid-2020 and was large scale and peaceful. Neighboring Russia and the Belarus ruler, whose relationship had hitherto been frosty, have met five times since the protests.
TT Adopted sons tipped to stave off Japan’s imperial succession crisis
Under Japan’s Imperial Household Law, only a male child descended from a male emperor can accede to the throne, believed to preserve something considered precious — a male line of succession unbroken for 2,000 years, which in mythology goes back to Jimmu, the first emperor. Female participation in succession is opposed by conservatives, because they would not carry the male Y chromosome inherited from the mythical Jimmu. The adoption of an adult male would be from former royals, excluded under American post WWII occupation in 1947. This would buy time for the male child of the current emperor’s brother.
FT Soldiers in mineral-rich Guinea claim overthrow of new president.
The president himself was the first democratically elected, after dictatorship ended in 2010. He managed to change the constitution for a third term in office and. Protests were violently suppressed. The country has vast mineral deposits but the population remains largely impoverished.
FT Jailed former president of South Africa to be paroled on medical grounds.
He is taken to hospital and “will complete the remainder of his sentence in the system of community corrections.” In the background the ruling party struggles to field candidates in the local elections to be held on November 1 at the latest.
FT Montenegro church ceremony sparks clashes.
The disturbances began around the inauguration of a new church head. The country separated from Serbia in 2006 but the church did not. Hence it is subordinated to the Serbia Orthodox church. One third of the country’s population is ethnically Serbian.
FT Abortion wars shake the U.S.A. to its foundations.
A move in conservative direction in the state of Texas is not stopped by the federal Supreme Court. The situation reflects a public mood in favor of avoiding abortion. Political tensions also surface as the Supreme Court turned more conservative during the previous government.
FT Emerging markets take a punt on crypto.
The development reflects lack of trust in the national currency. It is said that the costs for transnational remittances (for workers a market of about half a trillion per year) will be lower. In El Salvador, the government has decided to embrace crypto. This move is being watched with suspicion by the financial markets. Crypto currency can have its own problems: The use of the volatile tokens could undermine “macroeconomic stability”.
FT Book sheds light on China’s party aristocracy.
It is the story of a couple that used their top party connections in their business. It depicts China as a bankrupt state that used economic liberty to regain traction. The female spouse disappeared in one of the anti-corruption campaigns that were used by the state to reimpose itself again.
FT U.S.A. searches for its place in the world.
The president declared: “This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.” It might embolden the adversaries of the country. Also, Nixon exclaimed something similar after Vietnam. NATO needs to redraw its agenda and high risk countries like Taiwan and Ukraine may worry. One analyst: ‘The real question is, does that broader agenda have legs?” An European analyst: “We haven’t known what to do about some of these places now for a long time. We don’t have the answer either, but we need to find it.”
FT Somaliland gears up for ‘healthy’ battle of ports.
The self-declared state aims to compete head to head with Djibouti to serve Ethiopia through a Dubai based investment, regaining its centuries old role lost in the civil war thirty years ago. Djibouti is not amused about this, having itself expropriated an investment of the Dubai group in its own country, arguing the company wants to take control over the country’s coastline and the harbor was not used to its full potential. Arbitration favored the company, but was in vain.
FT Government of China aims to redraw social contract.
New policies aim for “changes unseen in a century”. Some of the moves are to be applauded, some announcements appear simplistic. There are dangers too, some moves could shut down reasoned debate and whip up officials into empty displays of loyalty, damaging the quality of policymaking over time. A campaign-driven approach to policy can easily spill over into radicalism.
FT Venezuelan opposition changes poll strategy.
The bloc will field candidates in November’s regional and local elections for the first time in four years as it prepares to reopen negotiations with President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government. It is tacit acknowledgment that the strategy, backed by the U.S.A. and EU, failed. In the negotiations the opposition will be advised by the Dutch and the government by the Russians.
FT U.S.A. has a chance to reshape America’s relationship with Africa.
The author, a Nigerian-American novelist and medical doctor, advocates Africa as a travel priority for the U.S.A. president in his emphasis on democracy and rule of law and following the end of the nation building campaign of the west. He reminds of the historic role of African slavery in the making of America.
TT I don’t need to be an autocrat, says Zambia’s new president.
The practicing Christian and married father-of-three pulled off a landslide victory that was too big to steal. His losing elections in the past came at a time of prosperity. Now the country is in default and the business man won the trust of many young and women.
NYT Pope criticizes western intervention in Afghanistan.
Wrongly attributing a quote to the German chancellor (it was in fact from the Russian president) the pope stated “it was necessary to put an end to the “irresponsible policy” of intervening from outside and trying to build democracy in other countries”.
NYT Ethiopian rebels looted American aid stores, the U.S.A. reports.
According to an American official Tigrayan fighters leading a military assault on the neighboring Amhara region have destroyed villages and emptied USAID stores. A spokesman for the T.P.L.F. denied the charge and blamed any looting on local groups and individuals in Amhara. The remarks by the Americans reflect a notable shift in tone from their side, after it was criticized by the Ethiopian federal government.
FT The U.S.A. and Europe are going different ways.
The new U.S.A. administration’s dealing with Europe is not only stylistically different from that of the former government. The actions indicate the same considerations. The larger question is whether the U.S.A. thinks it needs Europe. The three declared priorities are Covid, climate and China. The overriding priority however is to pass domestic spending bills and win next year’s midterm elections. In sum, “America is back”, whatever that means in practice. The west is certainly not.
FT World watches to see if Taliban can fulfil pledge of moderation in Afghanistan.
Taliban leaders insist they have since become more moderate. They have yet to unveil a new governance structure and their main policies. The group is in talks with prominent politicians about possible roles in the new government.
FT China media back call to expand clampdown.
A blogger’s tirade endorsed widely by Chinese state media has called for Beijing’s snowballing regulatory overhaul to target the high costs of housing, education and healthcare while also instituting deep reforms to finance and cultural industries. The party’s economic lead person has tried to reassure business that China would not “repeat its ‘extreme left’ policy”, a reference to the chaos of the Mao era.
TT Reporting Jewish sex abuser to “gentile” authorities ‘is a severe sin’, says ultra-Orthodox leader in Britain.
The judge in a Jewish religious court named examples, like when the abuser is married with children, because his family would be “destroyed”, and when the abuser can be treated with “medical methods” to “prevent him from carrying out such acts”. Others in the same environment dismissed the claims.
TT Japan’s Princess Mako refuses £1m state wedding payment and traditional religious betrothal ceremony.
Her partner is civilian and his parents are in a financial scandal. The couple will also skip two marriage rituals: the Nosai-no-Gi betrothal ceremony and the Choken-no-Gi, in which the departing bride offers thanks and a farewell to Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
FT Africa and Latin America offer haven to fleeing Afghans.
Rwanda and Mexico are among developing countries that are offering temporary asylum to hundreds of evacuees from Afghanistan in transit to western nations. The self-declared east African state of Somaliland, which already hosts Yemeni refugees, is in discussions with the west to join in the efforts, a local government official said. Uganda, who according to the U.S.A. also volunteered, calls the newcomers “evacuees and not refugees”.
FT Summit seeks path to easing hostilities between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The foreign ministers from the two nations, which cut diplomatic ties at the beginning of 2016, met in Iraq. Ties were cut due to tensions around Shia believers in Saudi Arabia and the former U.S.A. administration approach of Iran. The conference was framed as a support call for Iraq and several other regional countries were present and also France’s president Macron.
NYT Myanmarʼs monks are divided over the February coup.
Some senior religious leaders of the protest movement accept the military who took over, while lower ranking monks remain in jail. In an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation where monks are seen as the supreme moral authority, the political chaos since the Feb. 1 coup has laid bare deep divisions within Myanmar’s clergy. The top military are known for their displays of religiosity to legitimize its rule. In the past they were more ignorant and neglected the societal role of the religious infrastructure.
FT America’s ‘forever war’ is a long way from over.
The 20-year military entanglement in Afghanistan began with a terrorist attack in which Americans were killed. It ends with one too. The west will rely on the Taliban as local enforcer, a foe it has fought for two decades. The ability of the Taliban is yet to be tested. The same is true for the “over the horizon” counter-terrorism campaign.
FT Lessons on Xi’s political philosophy anger China parents.
The philosophy, which mixes patriotic education with praise for the Chinese Communist party’s general secretary, will become part of the national curriculum, from primary school to university, next month. FT claims to have spoken to more than a dozen parents across the country that oppose to the new curriculum plan, cum personality cult.
FT Will South Sudan live up to peace after a decade of independence turmoil.
FT Afghanistan Shia fear return of persecution under Taliban.
FT Middle East tensions ease as Biden policy unfolds and due to pandemic.
FT Pakistan has much to fear if Afghanistan descends into chaos.
The author, a Pakistani former top diplomat, argues that despite the close relationship Pakistan has maintained with the Taliban over the years, Pakistan was as stunned as the rest of the world about the swift and relatively bloodless seizure of the country by the Taliban. There is relief that there is no fierce civil war and anxiety about how the country will be governed. Leverage over the Taliban to work with the other national stakeholders will be limited. The Extended Troika, comprising the US, China, Russia and Pakistan, remains a useful vehicle to exert joint pressure. If diplomacy is insufficient a grim and uncertain future looms for the country and the region.
FT Tunisia president extends suspension of parliament.
Announced on his facebook page, the move indicates that democracy is in crisis. The retired constitutional law professor is at the height of his popularity. He might be preparing to change to a presidential system. One analyst: “His opponents play a wait and see game in the hope to advance their own agenda”.
FT South Africa jobless total hits record high.
The country is hit by the pandemic and the turmoil over the jailing of the former president. One analyst: “An economy cannot grow when most of the working-age population is not productive. Small businesses and the informal sector are struggling under lockdown restrictions.” And: “In 10 years’ time, this age should be in leadership positions, running companies, government departments and leading universities, but they lack the necessary foundation. Their fate paints a bleak picture of the future of South Africa.”
FT Japan and Taiwan to open talks over China.
The ruling parties of Japan and Taiwan will hold their first bilateral security talks on Friday as the two nations seek to strengthen ties to counter an increasingly belligerent China. The meeting comes as the U.S.A. pointed to “unlawful” activities of China: military infringements of Taiwanese waters. China sees Taiwan as part of China. The talks between party officials are a substitute for ministerial talks since Japan and Taiwan do not have diplomatic relations.
FT Spain’s intensive farms turn land to desert.
Overcultivation and excessive irrigation erode the soil and leave large areas infertile. In Spain, about 20 per cent of land is already desertified, largely for historical reasons such as the destructive mining and overfarming that followed the change of use of land expropriated from the Catholic church in the 18th and 19th centuries.
FT In East Asia an “arms race” is going on in education.
In China even the property market is influenced by parents seeking areas with high quality schools and tutoring. Both developments worry the communist party trying to equalize opportunity. The drive to push children in education is caused by the resulting difference in opportunities. Parents decide to have less children. With Asia countries listing high on OECD education ranking it will be useless if there are no children left. It is better to have a broader entry channel into training.
FT Women face gender emergency, U.N. agency for women’s empowerment warns.
The agency claims a “gender emergency” in Afghanistan as Taliban militants prevent women from leaving home and participating in public life. The agency warned of a gap between public statements from its leadership and the actions of its fighters on the ground.
FT China warns thousands of officials over links with businesses.
The government anti-corruption watchdog said that 25,000 local officials and their family members were the focus of “self-examination and self-correction (the word the Chinese use for corruption)” reviews focused on their relationships with local businesses, including “illegal borrowing”.
FT Taiwan reliance on the U.S.A. feeds complacency.
The government has done little to ready its citizens for the possibility of an attack by China. Still more than 60 % of the population believes a attack by China can be avoided.
TT Former foreign minister Britain claims Africa will make Afghan crisis seem a sideshow.
Africa will add the size of China to the world’s population in the next 30 years. The future of Africa will therefore be one of the decisive factors in world affairs; it will be the region of many tipping points that determine the course of global politics and economics.
FT Anti-Taliban leader urges peace settlement in Afghanistan with militants.
“If there’s an agreement, a peace settlement, everyone will join. But if there’s no agreement . . . it’s not only Panjshir, it’s the women of Afghanistan, civil society, the young generation — it’s all the people of the resistance,” the leader from a resistance region claimed. Analysts are skeptical as the Taliban have surrounded the leaders region and now have U.S.A. armory added to their equipment. The leader also claimed the easy victory of the Taliban was a conspiracy.
FT High-profile rape and sexual assault allegations boost China’s #MeToo movement.
A rock star was arrested and an Alibaba employee accused her boss and business relations of abuse. The question is whether this indicates that the communist party is more open to consider sexual crime. The state media cast the cases on immoral cultural and corporate culture respectively. Public attacks on feminists and the shut down of a blog that raised LGBTI+ issues indicate the contrary.
FT Suspected jihadi militants kill scores in Burkina Faso village massacre.
It comes two months after child militants killed at least 132 people. The area has become the center of a violent insurgency roiling the Sahel region. Amnesty’s head of business security and human rights warned about army weaponry captured by Jihadists. Another analyst said recent attacks reflected the internal dynamics of the groups. They have different objectives.
FT Malaysia new premier is the third in three years.
The royal ruler has largely a ceremonial role but he has the right to appoint a new PM. He did so after the government collapsed, but from the same coalition that has a slim majority in parliament. The other option would have been the opposition leader that formerly served a prison sentence.
FT The west is the latest victim of the ‘graveyard for colonialist, or neocolonialist foreign powers that aim to rule’.
The book ‘Warlord Survival” lists the defeats for over a millennium but also several recent additions. Despite the advent of the global village the result of efforts strikingly stays the same. Does the graveyard strategy eventually come to haunt the Afghans themselves, as one cultural anthropologist dubbed? The author cited above concludes that the foreigners mistakenly believed they could remake the country using force.
NYT With Afghan Collapse, Moscow Takes Charge in Central Asia.
With military exercises at the border the Russians signal to the Taliban that they will be shielding Central Asia from potential violence next door. Ties with the Taliban have been nurtured in recent years. Russia did not just mourn its own defeat in the country thirty years ago but it’s veteran foreign minister now draws his bigger vision as he calls the west “a group of countries that in a very painful and difficult way is giving up on the positions in the world they were used to for many decades.” An analyst calls Central Asia. “a region transforming itself without the United States.”
FT China to clamp down on high incomes.
On a communist party financial meeting the president emphasized the need to “regulate excessively high incomes and encourage high-income groups and enterprises to return more to society”. He said they had allowed some people to “get rich first” in the early decades of China’s reform and opening period but it was now prioritizing “common prosperity for all”. China must create “more inclusive and fair conditions for people, [also] to improve their education levels”.
FT How a country was won without a serious fight – the saga of the Taliban re-entry into prominence in Afghanistan.
They dethroned the president, elected in 2014, himself an author of a book on fixing failed states. The U.S.A. forces left the base in Bagram on July 1 in the middle of the night — without telling the Afghans — which gave the Taliban a perfect propaganda message. Around the country they used intimidation — via targeted killings of civil society figures and threats on social media — but also diplomacy to strike deals with tribal leaders in anticipation of the US withdrawal. Very, very complex local dynamics hard to comprehend for anyone,” Kabul-based Afghan journalist tweeted. “There were multiple rumors that directions not to fight were somehow coming from above,” concluded a senior state official.
FT Digital technology will enable a payments revolution. This challenge to old oligopolies could benefit developing countries.
Fintech start-ups are finally getting traction in their mission to disrupt banking. It is all about scale. Investment capital is flooding into an industry once dismissed as “plumbing” by bankers. At either end of complex webs of financial relationships are expatriate earners. The trick for investors will be distinguishing between businesses building valuable territories and those staking claims to worthless badlands. Technology can at least reduce financial exclusion in poor but relatively populous countries where mobile phone penetration is high. The World Bank Uttamchandani sees similarities between global payments and the airlines industry when the first low-cost carriers emerged: “Back then, scrappy new operators picked off valuable airline routes.
FT The lessons of Israel’s worrying fourth wave.
There are signs of waning immunity from early vaccinations prompt third shots to elderly people. Until more is known about the durability of protection from different jabs, it suggests even highly vaccinated countries should retain some preventive measures, such as mask-wearing in public places until the virus burns itself out.
FT Brazil iron ore rush creates mining boomtown where unemployment is almost unknown.
The boom is also a windfall for the public coffers. The Mayor wants to lessen the town’s dependence on the commodity by boosting tourism and other commerce.
FT China and Russia prepare to take advantage of western departure from Afghanistan.
Early indications suggest that China — potentially supported by Russia, Pakistan and some other governments — will adopt a very different approach, seeking to use diplomatic and economic inducements to coax the Taliban on to a path of peaceful reconstruction. This will be dependent on the uniting ability of the Taliban, leading to a workable political framework. China seems to be willing to extend formal recognition to the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government. In addition, it could work at the UN to seek an end to the designation of the Taliban as a “terrorist” organization. For China everything depends on the Taliban’s adherence to China’s main objectives, among them refrain from support to groups seen by China as terrorists.
FT Zambia opposition leader wins election in a sweeping victory in his sixth attempt.
The incumbent may challenge the result but the winning margin is substantial. The new president is the seventh since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1991. The new administration will have to deal with the struggling economy and debt burden.
FT China vows to ‘respect choices of Afghan people’.
The state’s newspaper spent many words underscoring what is projected as an U.S.A. failure. At the same time China is worried about Taliban ties to Uyghur groups. Afghanistan is important for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
FT Pakistan triumphalism on Taliban masks risks of domestic terrorism and refugee crisis.
Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that Afghans had “broken the shackles of slavery”. The country is a nominal US ally in its “war on terror” that has for decades been accused of covertly providing the Taliban the support needed to withstand the Nato-backed military campaign. Jihadi groups in and around Pakistan, most notably the Pakistani Taliban or TTP, “consider the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan as a larger ideological victory. In the background the U.S.A. strategic partnership with India determines the responses.
TT Tired of lectures from West, UAE made unusual alliance with China.
For a decade now the ruler has seen the West as unreliable. With regard to national security, he sees preservation of the UAE’s absolute monarchy as his foremost project. China gives him blanket support on human rights and is an increasingly more attractive oil market. Its reliability as an ally when the going gets tough is as yet untested. China has shown an ability in the last 20 years to avoid tough situations.
NYT The U.S.A. president remarks on the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The decades-long effort to overcome centuries of history and permanently change and remake Afghanistan was not, and I wrote and believed it never could be. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight and despite spending over a trillion dollars by the U.S.A. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.
FT Zambia opposition leader on course for win as president hints at challenge to poll result.
The incumbent complains that the elections are “not free and fair”. In the past the army was unwilling to prop up the losing incumbent with support and hence the country has a record of peaceful handovers.
FT Myanmar diplomat at UN keeps up fight against regime.
When the UN General Assembly opens a new session next month, it will begin deliberating whether Kyaw Moe Tun can continue acting as Myanmar’s representative or be replaced by a nominee of Min Aung Hlaing’s junta, which would force him to vacate his Manhattan office. , The military government has sacked him, invalidated his passport and charged him with high treason. Kyaw Moe Tun is one of about 30 Myanmar diplomats who have broken with the junta.
FT Peru’s finance minister aims to be ‘modern leftist’.
The former World Bank economist declares to be a leftist who believes that reducing inequality is absolutely fundamental and perfectly compatible with reasonable macroeconomic management. “We have a clear policy of fiscal responsibility.”
FT History repeats itself in Afghanistan.
The Afghan collapse reflects not just a military and intelligence failure but the failure in 20 years to have built a more functional state. The trillion was spent on military capacity; quite different from the post WWII Marshall plan for Europe. The broader effect of the abandonment of Afghanistan are the doubts the withdrawal will raise over the depth and capacity of US commitment to supposed allies.
FT Nigeria president arguest that Africa needs more than U.S.A. military aid to defeat terror.
In an opinion article the Nigerian president argues that the terrorist threat supposed to be addressed in Afghanistan burns fiercely in Africa. The pandemic has been like oxygen for terrorism, allowing it to gain in strength while the world was preoccupied. It should not complacently be assumed that military means alone can defeat the terrorists. More can be done to help with technical assistance, advanced weaponry, intelligence and ordinance. The president proceeds to complement the anti al-Shabaab airstrikes in Somalia. But what Africa needs most from the U.S.A. is a comprehensive partnership to close the disparity between our economic and demographic growth.
FT Opposition thinks Belarus dictatorship is destined to collapse.
The government, accused of nearly 5.000 cases of torture, hijacking a passenger plane to get hold of an opposition leader and organizing illegal migration, is becoming a security threat to the region. The opposition has remained peaceful and has prepared election measures for a peaceful transition. The opposition leader argues that Belarus can and will be a success story of Europe. In 2020, the country is put on the map as a place defined by dignified, daring, peaceful people struggling for democracy.
FT U.S.A becomes more multiracial as number of whites declines.
40 % of population identifies as non-white in new census. Hispanic rose by 23 % in a decade. In California this is the largest group. When only counting the number of children this trend is more markedly.
FT Credibility of the U.S.A. in the world has been shredded in Afghanistan.
The present administration has accelerated the withdrawal from the country. Now the Taliban is taking city after city. The principal justification for the Afghan withdrawal is strategic: the competition with China. The withdrawal fits in the narrative of China and Russia that the U.S.A. is in decline. China can worry the contact between the Taliban and the Uyghurs. In time, China might face a classical superpower’s dilemma. For the U.S.A. the withdrawal from Vietnam may come to mind. This withdrawal from Vietnam in the end turned not Vietnam but on the the relative strengths of the domestic economies and political systems of the superpowers of the time, Russia and the U.S.A.
NYT Latest scandals in Britain show a political system rife with insider ties.
The ruling party is battered by a litany of new accusations of influence-peddling, cronyism and profiteering. Apparently the system has too few checks and balances to prevent such behavior. It is claimed a new structure for party fund-raising was introduced based on an old principle: More cash buys more access. The enormous legislative power of a huge majority and the pandemic stimulates the situation. But the problem is older: One former PM ‘s lobby work was billed “more like stalking than lobbying.” Checks and balances lack in this political culture that prides itself as the oldest democracy.
FT Zambia’s tight election race risks delaying IMF talks.
The country defaulted on $3bn of dollar bonds last year, part of more than $12bn of external debts that turned sour after the government spent heavily on infrastructure projects. But negotiations on restructuring have been on hold ahead of the vote. The opposition leader claims the ruling party has no clue on financial management. At the same time he has a record of loosing against the incumbent and both have different regions of core support.
FT In South Africa president fears corruption threat to his ruling party.
The president was the final substantive witness before the inquiry that for the past three years has been examining the nation’s worst post-apartheid graft scandal. He defended himself for not standing down as vice-president under the former president but to be non-confrontational in order to work with others “to resist abuses”. “For us, it is an existential challenge. For us to continue existing we need to renew ourselves.”
FT Sometimes, thinking of Africa in its entirety can be useful.
Africans speak some 2,000 languages. Most of the continent was brutalized by colonialism, but experiences with the invaders differ. Yet sometimes it can be useful to consider Africa as a continent. Kwame Nkrumah: “The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart.” The continent is rapidly urbanizing and young. It is also entrepreneurial, though that aspect varies greatly from country to country. To look for commonality is not the same as ignoring difference. Yes, Africa is 54 countries, but it is a continent too.
FT China unveils five-year plan to assert control.
The ruling party beefs up rules for strategic sectors to meet ‘people’s ever growing demands for a good life’. The plan’s release followed a series of regulatory measures that have stunned investors in Chinese business and knocked tens of billions of dollars off the value of some of China’s biggest tech groups. An analyst: “Policymakers would like to address and resolve social issues effectively and efficiently to ensure social fairness, justice, equality and national safety as well as preventing risks.” And also: “Reforms would fall into two broad categories: control over information and “common prosperity guidelines”, or ways of “looking after middle-class people both in their role as consumers and in their role as workers”.
FT U.S.A. accused of ‘wishful thinking’ that the Taliban can be tamed.
The U.S.A. insists the country now has to fight for itself., to fight for the nation, for Kabul to “work out a modus vivendi with the Taliban”. Western critics instead argue Washington’s efforts to shepherd such an outcome into existence have relied on a wrongheaded assessment of the Taliban and its ties to the claimed diminished al-Qaeda. In addition, in 2020 Washington struck a deal with the Taliban that circumvented the Kabul government now suffering its consequences. The Taliban has well prepared the withdrawal. Also, the group has access to international legitimacy elsewhere: Taliban leaders recently visited China, Russia and Iran. “The international community created a stage for legitimizing a terrorist group.”
FT Sudan ex-leader to stand trial for genocide.
The government said it decided to extradite those wanted by the International Court of Justice. The decision needs to be given final approval in a meeting between the cabinet and the sovereign council, a hybrid military-civilian body leading Sudan’s transitional period following the fall of Bashir. Although Sudan was not part of the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice when the alleged crimes were said to have taken place, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur allegations to the ICC prosecutor for its investigation.
TT Zambia election: Democracy at risk amid debt disaster.
This week’s general elections in one of Africa’s most stabilizing democracies is experiencing a close race of two candidates and parties and for the first time since liberation from colonial rule military deployment of the streets due to violence. The outcome of the elections is on expected on Sunday.
FT China recalls envoy after Lithuania plan to open Taiwan office.
China claims Taiwan as its territory and threatens to invade it if Taipei refuses to submit to Beijing’s control. Lithuania earlier was the first country to withdraw from the China instigated 17+1 talks, considering it divisive for the EU. China demands that governments deny Taipei any treatment suggesting sovereignty. Lithuania’s foreign ministry said yesterday that while it regretted the decision to recall the envoy and respected the principle of “one China” it was “determined to pursue mutually beneficial ties with Taiwan”.
FT Belarus accused of trying to destabilize EU by facilitating illegal migration as a countermeasure to economic sanctions.
On earlier occasions, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been accused of threatening the EU with further mass migration.
FT Spain-based opposition leader of Venezuela attempts to rally regime’s demoralized opposition against negotiations on country’s future scheduled to be held in Mexico.
The opposition’s credentials have been diminished at home and abroad. Despite the seemingly complete collapse of the economy business men met with the government. Their former foreign backers urge them to participate in the Mexico negotiations.
FT In Germany the city of Berlin is to vote on seizing rental properties from publicly listed landlords.
The referendum vote in September comes corporate landlords are on the rise across Europe in the investor’s hunt for the stable income from rentals. More than half of Germans rent their homes and as house prices rise home ownership becomes less affordable. This expropriation initiative is based on Article 15 of the constitution, which states “land, natural resources, and means of production” can be reclaimed for public ownership, in exchange for compensation; it has never before been tested in practice. Critics argue that expropriation is divisive, economically nonsensical and potentially illegal.
FT China’s power over African debtors raises concerns.
Creditors need to figure out how they can achieve security over debt in a coordinated fashion, so they don’t tie up all the resources of the countries in question before they’ve had a chance to get on their feet. The quest is for balance: Sympathy for the struggles of ordinary people stuck in failing states. Democracy ranks lower in the hierarchy of needs than food, shelter and security.
FT The discontents of Middle East democracy.
The U.S.A. argues that the battle between autocracy and democracy will define this century. By contrast, China is stressing stability and order rather than political freedom. Events in the Middle East are an ominous sign for the democratic cause. The experience of Asian countries and Europe of the 18th century suggests that a period of rapid economic, educational and institutional development under an autocratic regime can establish the conditions that make a transition to democracy more likely to succeed.
FT Turkish Cypriot leader in push for two-state solution.
The hardline leader of breakaway north Cyprus will press his government’s push for a two-state solution at the UN next month, calling for a “reality check” after half a century of failed efforts to reunite the divided Mediterranean island. Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkey invaded its north in response to an Athens-inspired coup that aimed to unite the island with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes the break away administration and keeps tens of thousands of troops on the island. In the background offshore gas exploration by Turkey plays its role.
FT Islamist group Taliban sweeps across northern Afghanistan as western forces leave.
The group (supported by the U.S.A. during the Soviet occupation) has overrun large parts of the Afghan countryside, taking control of more than half of the 400 districts and a number of economically important border crossings as government forces retreated to local cities. Nor urban centers are focused, that were protected under a 2020 agreement with the U.S.A. There are fears for a political meltdown.
FT Uganda pins hopes on nascent oil industry.
Activists fear farms and ecosystems are too hastily being destroyed for pipelines.
FT Tigray conflict in Ethiopia spreads as Unesco site seized.
The rebellious regional state took the town in the neighboring state as militia from that regional state are in Tigray. Responding to calls to withdraw the Tigrayans claim they are not interested in territory of others but action was taken to defend their own. The Unesco site is also a heritage site from their people.
FT South Africa finance minister Mboweni quits.
The finance minister, claimed to have the desire to step down, was praised for effectively and ably steering the economy in difficult times. He is replaced by a long standing official for economic transformation of the ruling party. This comes as the president comes to terms with the fallout of the “attempted insurrection”. Security policy is now directly under the presidency, the defense minister is stepping down and an investigation of the troubles started.
FT Pandemic exposes western democracy’s childish tendencies.
Democracy’s ultimate proof is that societies do best when people take responsibility for their lives. In the pandemic these societies failed in the “marshmallow test”. The fact that western democracies are rarely able to think more than one step ahead augurs badly for their ability to fight global warming, or even plan for the next pandemic. Any system ultimately sinks or swims by two measures. Is it capable of protecting its interests? Does it learn from its mistakes?
FT Africa has been left out of the climate debate.
Africa’s 54 countries have contributed almost nothing to climate change. Today, they account for about 2-3 per cent of global carbon emissions and 1 per cent of cumulative emissions. Yet, most African nations lack the financial clout to deal with the fallout of climate change that affects them more than other regions in the world. Rich countries have long been promising an annual fund of $100bn to help poor countries adapt but they don’t see the money, said a leading African COP26 negotiator. If the expectation is that African nations must stay poor for the good of the planet, then quite rightly they will say No.
FT Mexico’s selective pursuit of justice.
The president organized a referendum on prosecuting his predecessors. Just over 7 per cent of the population turned out to vote. Mexico’s former leaders have been spared the tumbrils of López Obrador’s revolution for now. But the president’s fondness for show over substance conceals a worrying disregard for institutions and the rule of law.
FT Silence over Lebanon’s blast of August 2020.
A year after the devastating explosion that killed 200 people, injured thousands and caused $4bn of physical damage, responsibility has yet to be apportioned. The lack of progress epitomizes the failure of the state.
FT German green opposition avoids scare tactics, but positions climate action as a form of empowerment.
The message is that protecting the climate is protecting freedom. The party tops the social democrats and is close to the ruling Christian democrats ratings.
NYT As Ethiopia’s Civil War Rages, Bodies Float Downriver Into Sudan.
The government’s spokeswoman referred to a government statement from July 22 that accuses Tigrayan forces of dumping in Humera the bodies of 300 people. In western Tigray, tensions have been rising as the pro-government forces that control the area — ethnic militia fighters from the neighboring Amhara region of Ethiopia and allied soldiers from the country of Eritrea, to the north — gird for an expected Tigrayan assault. In recent weeks fighting has raged in Ethiopia’s neighboring Afar region to the east of Tigray, displacing thousands of civilians, as Tigrayan fighters seek to pressure Mr. Abiy’s government by trying to cut off the country’s most important supply route.
FT Rwanda helps Mozambique fight insurgents.
With the Mozambique central government unable to control its energy rich region and insurgents keeping parts for more than a year, SADC (Southern African Development Community) and Rwandan forces are involved to help them. The president reserved most praise for the Rwandan forces. Their payment is a mystery and said to be related to the French company developing the energy field. Coordination between SADC and Rwandan forces is also still in the dark at this “complex counterinsurgency effort that has so far proved beyond Mozambique’s poorly equipped forces”.
FT Belarus of president Lukashenko is a full-blown rogue regime.
The “defection” of an athlete at the Olympics looks like a cold war European scene, yet it happens in front of today’s so called free world, underscoring the options of authoritarian regimes. The athlete had complained about the sport officials of her team. The head of the Belarus Olympic committee is the son of the ruler; both were already barred by the IOC from attending the games after complaints of athletes.
FT Tunisians lend broad support to president’s power grab.
Opponents have accused the president, earlier winner of landslide elections, of bringing back one-man rule. Tunisia’s democratic transition has been experienced by many of its 12m people as a nightmare of failed governance and deepening poverty. People see it as exploitation by politicians. The intentions of the austere 63-year-old former constitutional law professor remain a mystery.
FT In South Africa divides in governing party stir ‘dangerous politics’.
The president labels the crisis an “attempted insurrection” but it exposes party rivalries. The state was absent, failing to stop both the vigilantes and the looting. The danger looms of parallel networks that disengage efficient statehood, a problem recognized as early as 1997 by the governing party itself. This did not prevent a culture of impunity that was allowed to grow at the bottom, as police and other authorities were compromised by their political masters.
FT U.S.A.-Germany deal about Russian gas is a disservice to Ukraine.
This happened days after the Russian president published a 6,900-word article insisting Russians and Ukrainians are “one people”, which appears to open the door to further intervention by Russia in its neighbor. The deal concerns the gas pipeline (“at root a geopolitical project”) to circumvent Ukraine and deprive it from transit fees. The deal is at all levels flawed as a response and seems to park the Russian threat to security to focus on China.
FT China’s military expansion threatens the ‘survival’ of Taiwan, Japan warns.
Japan’s defence minister has called on the international community to pay greater attention to the “survival of Taiwan”. The younger brother to former Japan PM Abe stresses that “international pressure was crucial to preventing Taiwan’s future being decided by military confrontation”. China’s military build up envelopes Taiwan. The defense minister is known for his close relations with politicians in Taiwan.
FT Niger appeals for help to defeat jihadis.
The appeal follows the decision by France to cut half its effort in the region. The country, twice the size of France and bordering 7 countries where Islamist fighters are entrenched, is considered by its allies as well governed. The country solicits to receive support for more aircraft and intelligence.
FT Scientists warn as pandemic enters dangerous new phase.
They say further evolutions of the virus are inevitable because of the way the genetic code can be altered by errors in the copying mechanism during replication. Most mutations are neutral but occasionally one increases the “fitness” of the virus, enabling it to infect human cells more easily. The coronavirus third wave creates fertile breeding grounds for more infectious and potentially vaccine-resistant new variants. The more the virus circulates, the more it will change.
TT Hong Kong worn down by the slow death of freedom.
China’s national security law has taken a heavy toll on democracy. The speed and confidence with which law has been thrust on Hong Kong are signs of China’s growing confidence in asserting itself. The security law is not, for the most part, a crudely brutal change; but ‘one country, two systems’ is effectively stripped away.
FT Climate change is a global threat demanding national solutions.
After the lofty international statements few pay much attention to what happens at national level. At some point the promises will have to be turned into national action. The EU’s recent policy come closest to fill this gap in a fair and practical way.
FT Tunisia president pledges business fraud clampdown.
On his Facebook page the president claims businessmen and officials have stolen about $4.8bn through unpaid taxes and fraud, referring to a list with 460 names compiled by anti-corruption authorities. The president appeals to the accused to avoid penalties by non-profit-making infrastructure investments in Tunisia’s most deprived provinces. The president has been silent on any economic plans.
FT Floods seep through Communist defences of government of China
Just like what happened after the pandemic, criticism of the response to deadly disaster becomes highly sensitive issue for ruling party. China’s one-party state prides itself on leading swift and competent rescue operations following natural disasters, as well as strict disciplinary measures for officials deemed responsible for lapses in preventing damages. In reality, controlling the responses of even the victims in the media is a prime factor in the response.
FT Russia-Ukraine conflict spills over into Crimea ‘water war’
Ukraine blocks a Soviet-built canal that previously provided up to 85 per cent of the Crimea’s water supplies. The country fears Moscow is plotting a military incursion to secure water flows from the nearby Dnipro river.
FT A new autocracy is not the answer for Tunisia
The political parties must recognize they have lost the people’s confidence. A quartet of organizations, including trade unions that mediated when the democratic transition came close to collapse in 2013, received the Nobel Peace Prize 2015 for their effort. They are attempting to do the same now. Tunisia has led the way on democracy in the Arab world more than once. There is still time for it to do so again.
FT China hosts talks with Taliban as U.S.A. troops quit Afghanistan
A Taliban delegation has travelled to China to discuss security issues in Afghanistan. The group refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. China has been given assurance that the country (Afghanistan) would not be used to threaten the security of any state. China foreign affairs minister Wang told the delegation the hurried US and NATA troop withdrawal showed foreign policy had failed and created an “important opportunity for the people of Afghanistan to themselves stabilize and develop their country”. China also warned the group to clearly divide itself from the “East Turkestan Islamic Movement”, the Uyghur militant group. Also concern was raised about a blast linked to the Pakistan Taliban, that killed 9 Chinese.
TT No empress for Japan despite a lack of heirs
A shortage of male heirs threatens to break a succession line that can be traced back two millennia. It is believed that Japan’s emperors are unique in descending from a male line unbroken for 2,000 years, which in mythology goes back to Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Only the younger brother of the current emperor has a male child. Conservatives object the only daughter of the emperor to succeed him in future.
FT President intensifies Tunisia crackdown
A former law professor and political outsider with no party affiliation, his election in 2019 was seen as a rebuke to the self-interest of mainstream politicians. In a meeting with civil society representatives he stated: “I am baffled by those who speak of a coup . I taught law and know what a coup means: violating legitimacy”. He claims his actions comply with the 2014 constitution drafted after the revolution. Civil society maneuvers to be able to act as a go-between for the Islamists and the president.
FT Tunisia’s shaky democracy can still be saved
The president has trampled on the 2013-14 power-sharing agreement based on a tripartite leadership of president, premier and parliament. He claims an emergency as the 2013-14 formula omitted to create a constitutional court to adjudicate, especially on Article 80 of Tunisia’s constitution. Is this a delayed copy of what happened in Egypt in 2013? It is now the time to avoid Tunisia to fall into the debris of autocracy.
FT Cardinal goes on trial in Vatican court for alleged corruption
His legal immunity as a cardinal is lifted by Pope Francis. The Vatican claims that the trial (involving 10 people) shows that internal control works. It concerns the over value sale of commercial property in London and subsequent profit for a company.
FT Chinese government curbs education and thus offers a harsh lesson in party supremacy
The government targets tutoring companies to reassert authority. This 100 bn industry is considered advancing inequality. Education can be done only on a “non-profit” basis. The government ideological determination is that “government, military, society and schools — the party is leader of all”.
TT U.S.A. government declares an end to ‘forever’ wars
The victories in Iraq and Afghanistan were short lived and the changes they brought largely symbolic. Perhaps in Iraq military training bore some fruit. After retreat alterative forces took hold and they are not necessarily as benign. This process may increase if the idea takes hold that the U.S.A. is in a wholesale retreat from the region.
NYT Border clash of two states in India leaves at least 5 dead
Mizoram and Assam officials quickly blamed each other for the bloodshed. The conflict over a strip of land exists since the 1980’s. The clash occurs two days after the central government tried to negotiate a solution to this conflict and others in the country.
FT Mixed race Japanese tennis star Osaka fulfils Olympic mission
Born to an Haitian father and Japanese mother Osaka dedicated much of recent years to playing a key role in the current games. The world’s most well-paid female tennis-star even abandoned the U.S.A. citizenship of her youth to play for Japan. Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron, perhaps the highest symbolic role a host nation can bestow upon one of its citizens. “I feel a little bit out of my body now,” said 23-year-old Osaka on Sunday.
FT Tunisia thrown into turmoil as president fires prime minister and suspended parliament over public anger about the surging pandemic
The speaker of parliament, also the head of the Islamist party, accused the president of a coup “against the revolution and the constitution”. The president threatens to involve the army if violence erupts. Speculation is happening about foreign involvement as the president has no independent powerbase.
FT Israel’s ‘frozen’ coalition government hangs on to power by agreeing to disagree
It failed to secure the renewal of a temporary amendment to the law on citizenship rights that bars Palestinian citizens of Israel from extending citizenship or residency rights to spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza. To the right this indicates the weakness of the coalition that is expected to stick together and avoid new elections, despite their differences.
FT How climate change is reshaping the landscape of global crops
Changing global temperatures are shifting the seasons and the range of crops that farmers can grow. This can have positive and negative effects. Centuries of grape harvesting data make it easy to spot the climatic changes. Big shifts happened during the Medieval Warm Period (950 to 1250AD), and the Little Ice Age that followed, as well as the period after volcanic blasts in Indonesia in the 1800s. But none of those have had the same impact on harvests as the events of the past 40 years. Governments should be focused on minimizing the effects of climate change.
FT UK drive to squeeze out Chinese from nuclear power program following recent incidents in China that frayed the relations
The UK-China collaboration on nuclear power dates back to an agreement in 2015 between David Cameron, the British prime minister at the time, and Xi Jinping, China’s president. The UK government refused to confirm or deny that it no longer the Chinese taking part in the nuclear energy program.
FT Night curfew imposed as Taliban forces make gains in Afghanistan
As the US winds down its 20-year military mission in Afghanistan, the Taliban has made rapid gains across the country, mostly in unpopulated rural territory, while the Afghan security forces have focused on protecting Kabul and provincial capitals. The U.S.A. vowed to support the government against the Taliban, now that the peace talks have failed.
FT South Africa counts cost of civil unrest
The eruption of massive civil unrest, after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for failing to attend an inquiry into corruption, has hit his native province hard. The violence is a disruption to the food supply chain. Having failed to stop the looting, the police have been raiding townships to take back stolen goods – parading fridges for the camera’s.
FT Fears grow of worsening Ethiopia conflict as new front opens
The TPLF claims that Tigrayan forces are in neighboring Afar. The region is a key transit point for goods from landlocked Ethiopia to the sea port in Djibouti. They claim the conflict is not with Amhara, Afar and other oppressed people but with the central government. The war could rip apart the nation of 114m people. In recent weeks, most of Ethiopia’s 10 regions announced they were sending forces to support the federal troops against Tigrayan fighters.
NYT One by one, African countries dismantle colonial-era death penalty laws
In an unanimous vote by lawmakers, Sierra Leone became the 23rd African country to abolish capital punishment. Critics called it an inhumane vestige of colonialism. Human Rights organization Amnesty hails the move. The group compiles statistics on capital punishments. China is solidly on top. Next came Iran in 2020, with 246 people executed. Thereafter Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.A.
FT Delta variant of Covid19 virus deepens crisis for Tunisia’s fragile democracy
The president late on Wednesday put the military in charge of the pandemic response. The decision came a day after the prime minister sacked the health minister. The move is seen as an escalation of a power struggle between the pair.
FT China rejects new phase of WHO Covid probe
At a press conference yesterday the government said it was “shocked” to see the “lab leak” hypothesis had become part of the proposed WHO plan for a second-phase study. China wants the experts to look outside the country for evidence of the first human Covid-19 infections.
FT What crises teach us about innovation
Authorities also need to make sure that their efforts do not deter much needed collaboration to solve the pressing problems and facilitating innovation. Individual companies are critical to producing groundbreaking solutions — witness the advances in cancer treatments and Tesla stealing a march on electric cars. Some problems are too pressing to wait for the inevitable trial-and-error process. Covid-19 has forced some governments to rethink their approach to competition and industrial policy. A pre-clearance process could allow companies that want to collaborate to notify their governments and receive guidance on whether governments would object to their plans.
NYT Hong Kong police arrest 5 over children’s books deemed ‘seditious’
FT The EU wants to double its share of the global chip market by 2030 to prevent supply chain disruptions.
Insulating itself from geopolitical fights might end up in squandering public money. Is this industrial and market logic? The bloc lags far behind Asia when it comes to making the highest-end chips. Advocates of the current model argue that given the global nature of the semiconductor supply chain. It is better to concentrate on core capabilities. Others point to the underinvestment at the time that outsourcing was still the aim. The sector will easily double in the decade to come.
NYT Franceʼs ideals are a harder sell among its multi-culture youth.
France has long sought to create a secular, colorblind republic. But a clash between a government minister and a youth conference shows how those values are being questioned by a new generation. The clash ended with the government side claiming the youth was not properly instructed on national values, while the youth claim the authorities are ethnically biased.
FT Gabon’s well-preserved rainforests are Africa’s green superpower.
Ahead of a key UN summit, the idea of ‘natural capital’ is gaining ground as a tool to avert environmental disaster. With well preserved rainforests, Gabon is seeking markets to boost its role as a carbon absorber. In 2010, Ali Bongo, who was elected president after his father’s death, stunned the foreign timber industry by banning the export of unprocessed logs. Despite incidents this policy remains and gives the countries forests an edge over Cameroon and Congo. The idea that Gabon and other countries should be paid for the carbon they trap is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Prospects for tourism also loom. Uganda and Rwanda have shown the way in that sector.
FT South Africa’s president must act to defend the country.
In an editorial the newspaper remarks the irony that the looting happened in support of the former president accused of state looting. Thankfully the violence seems to come to a halt and also citizens stepped in to clear the damage. Like the president the newspaper takes the violence to be orchestrated. The president should not step down. “If that means forcing an ANC split, so be it.”
FT The time to embrace central bank digital currencies is here — but they have to work for society as a whole.
It is crucial the public good of a payment system does not morph into the private monopoly of businesses. The state must not abandon its role in ensuring the safety and usability of money. The idea that it should is a libertarian fantasy. Cryptocurrencies are speculative assets. The fact remains that digital money gets more important. The aim should be to have faster, safer and cheaper money systems, available to all citizens.
FT Government Egypt targets top Egyptian business over terrorism claims.
The owner family is accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. The saga about the listed company with 4,000 staff epitomizes the unpredictability that the private sector faces. At the same time the military’s footprint across the economy increases and the private sector finds itself competing with the country’s most powerful institution. It casts doubts on the attractiveness of the Egyptian economy, let alone the lost opportunities of the population.
FT Spyware needs more and better oversight.
There is no justification for spying on activists and journalists. The current possibilities with spy software make setting a standard urgent. The spyware makes it possible to completely take over cellphones. No information is safe for it. Typically the article approaches the problem with demanding government imposed rules on the Israeli producer, while borders pose no limit to the software product.
FT Cuba and Haiti must find their own way forward.
Foreign intervention has a long, inglorious history. Political crises erupted in two Caribbean islands this month, exposing failing governments and hungry people. The roots of the problems are different. Both states have depended heavily on donors for much of their recent history, which has impeded reform. The countries need to be encouraged to find a consensus interim government which can hold credible elections and an honest search for peaceful change.
TT Genocide fears after Ethiopian PM vows to crush ‘weeds’ of Tigray.
Abiy Ahmed used words such as “weeds”, “cancer” and “disease” to describe the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which once ruled Ethiopia but was designated a terrorist organization by the central government in May. He also said to “take care the wheat will not be crushed”. His comments may be the precursor to a large-scale offensive against the insurgent group. They have also caused alarm as they mirror the type of rhetoric that is historically used before a genocide.
FT South African president claims unrest and looting are coordinated.
Government ministers have previously pointed to signs of what they have called “economic sabotage” by “sinister elements”. The government is under fire over what analysts have said were failures to act on warnings of unrest after Zuma was jailed last week.
FT French justice minister faces probe for misusing his position.
The minister, a celebrity defence lawyer, was placed under formal investigation yesterday after being questioned by France’s Cour de Justice de la République, a special tribunal that deals with ministerial misconduct. Before his appointment as minister he protested investigation against him, withdrew his complaint after being named justice minister but in mid-September ordered a disciplinary inquiry into two judges.
FT In Russia long distance train upgraded for 21st century global logistics needs.
The 4,300km track is viewed by the Russians as vital for logistics between Europe and Asia. Rail transport is marketed as a faster, safer, more ecologically friendly alternative to shipping. It is twice as quick than the 45 days needed for shipping between Europe and Asia. And it is half the price. Russia faces competition from China which is developing its own Belt-and-Road rail initiative.
FT African start-ups need investors closer to home.
Africa, long defined by fragmentation, is an emerging center for innovation in finance, logistics, health and retail, which will slice the costs of doing business. With a median age of 19, the entrepreneurial energy in enormous. Most established African business leaders prefer traditional sectors such as food-processing, import monopolies, mining and hydrocarbons. Yet, the next Bill Gates could well be an African.
FT South Africa turmoil blamed on ANC failings.
The country has come closer to social breakdown than at any point since the end of apartheid almost three decades ago. This is not only about Zuma but has a longer history. The ruling party has been criticized for presiding over years of institutional decay and its failure to tackle inequality. The lockdown has amplified that.
FT Hariri quits as Lebanon falls further into crisis.
The prime minister-designate has quit after almost 10 months of failed attempts to form a new government. The leaders cannot agree on filling the positions in the executive, that are traditionally carved up between the dominant religious groups.: Sunni Muslim, Shia and Orthodox Christian.
FT EU unveils sweeping plan to cut carbon footprint of its countries.
The bloc wants to become a first mover on sustainable environment and puts carbon trading (producing companies pay for pollution) at the heart of its strategy. Fierce talks can be expected among the EU’s 27 states. The measures will also be examined closely by the bloc’s trading partners as their companies face penalties on exports of carbon-intensive products such as steel and cement.
FT Poland rules against EU on judiciary.
Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that the country does not have to obey orders from the EU’s top court relating to its contested judicial overhaul, escalating a feud between Warsaw and Brussels over the rule of law.
FT Elections fuel Mexico ‘narco state’ fears.
The presidents party won most of the recent elections is accused of links with organized crime, which is rampant in the country.
FT Deadly violence spreads in South Africa after Zuma jailing.
Prison sentence fuels anger about lack of jobs and pandemic hardship. The country’s domestic spy agency is investigating whether former agents have orchestrated the violence. The government is criticized for inability to prevent the violence.
FT Afghanistan warlords rally forces to fight resurgent Taliban.
In 2001, the US teamed up with the Northern Alliance, a coalition of Afghan militia leaders, to drive the Taliban out of Kabul. Two decades later, the warlords are calling for a “second resistance” against the Islamist onslaught. Their political clout increases and outside powers have to deal with them direct.
FT U.S.A. president assumes role as 21st century buster of corporate trust.
The “nuts and bolts of political economy” are tested in a way that reminds of the early 20st century efforts of Theodore Roosevelt. Analysts argue that even when failing to achieve the full objects the presidents set of decisions will change the government business relations for good.
FT Putting rights before profits. The drive to stop financing oppressive politics.
The fact remains that yields of bonds in disputable countries are attractive. The ESG (Environmental Sustainable Governance) criteria are limited in their scope. Investors are looking for yield and see them sometimes in countries with a very bad human rights record. The EU recent rules require fund managers to disclose how they account for the ESG impacts of their investments. And from 2023 they will have to provide details on the human rights records of the countries they lend to, boosting transparency.
TT In Cuba former ruler Raúl Castro (90) brought back to help quell protests.
The state media frame the protest as “provocations organized by counter-revolutionary elements . . . financed by the United States, with destabilizing aims”. The return of the retired ruler suggests unease among the political top over the presidents policies. One decision was to refuse foreign vaccines and handle the Covid crisis in a domestic way.
FT The former South African president and the battle against strongman rule.
The author argues that international politics is currently disfigured by a plague of leaders (“even in the U.S.A.”) who want to govern unconstrained by the law. The difference between successful strongmen and those whose ambitions are thwarted is, more often than not, the strength of the judicial system. Strongman leaders and would-be autocrats understand the danger of independent courts. Losing an independent judiciary makes it impossible to hold leaders to account for corruption or abuse of power.
FT Pragmatism leads smaller EU states to seek ties with Syria.
Cyprus and Serbia are reconnecting diplomatically. The big EU states don’t move on what would be a victory for the Syrian Assad regime, but will face a decision when the situation within the country will continue as it is now. Assad controls 70 % of the country; elsewhere Turkey remains influential. Particularly those who fear Turkey’s influence are most interested in engagement with Assad.
FT Young Palestinians pile pressure for change on Israel and the Palestinian leaders.
They are part of a new Palestinian generation whose calls for justice echo the values of equality that fuel global campaigns such as Black Lives Matter. They make use of social media, gained momentum after the recent Gaza conflict and leave both the new Israeli government as the traditional Palestinian politicians In limbo.
FT Jordan court jails former minister and royal over alleged plot.
After the early April alleged coup attempt a half-brother of the king was forced to sign a pledge of allegiance to the monarch. He was not taken to the court but a distant relative of the king and the kings chief of staff were.
FT South Africa sends in troops to quell unrest following former presidents imprisonment.
Zuma’s foundation last week described the unrest as the “reactive righteous anger of the people . . . which others have characterized as violence”. The political opposition considers ANC to be partly responsible. “This is essentially their internal war being waged on our streets”.
TT How social media warps our perspective.
As humans, we are very bad at perspective. We are very bad, particularly, at comprehending the statistical insignificance of whatever it is that happens to upset, outrage or infuriate us today, in the context of everything else that does not. We have always had this flaw, but social media hacks it, mercilessly. It magnifies the detail over the grand perspective.
FT Abiy’s party wins majority in Ethiopia poll marred by insecurity, opposition boycotts and a looming famine in Tigray.
The victory in the June vote secures Abiy Ahmed a five-year term and the ability to change the constitution. The election board claims a turn out of 90 % of 37 million registered voters.
FT For sustainable finance to work in industrialized societies, we need central planning.
Project-by-project analysis, for instance, is a dead-end. Tackling climate change requires transforming at least five provisioning systems: energy, transport, buildings, industry and agriculture. Market economies have existed throughout history. Only once, the western industrial revolution, did sustainable market gchange happen without push from above.
FT Jailing of former president presents defining moment for ANC political party in South Africa.
While the party retains its prestige as an anti-apartheid institution, it was remade by Zuma into a patronage politics vehicle that enabled measures of state capture. It will not be easy for the present president to insist on independent institutions.
FT Fears of anarchy as Haiti reels from president’s assassination.
With poverty getting worse and government institutions no longer functioning, the country now has to answer the questions raised after the killing of the president. His security operative did not respond to save him. The country has had a continuous history of political mismanagement. The last time a president was killed (1905) the U.S.A. occupied the country for 15 years. Something that is now unlikely.
FT France to halve forces fighting Islamist militants in Sahel.
The operation started in 2013 to prevent Mali falling into the hands of the jihadi’s. It is considered now to have failed and the extremist groups have successfully exploited long standing communal conflict to take hold of large areas despite the French efforts and that of their allies.
FT US withdrawal from Afghanistan endangers my country and the world.
The author, a member of the Afghan government negotiating team, reminds that struggle in Afghanistan never stays within the country. She also reminds of the toppling of the Taliban in 2001. It made the country peaceful until the 2003 invasion in Iraq. So outside struggles also influence Afghan realities. The current withdrawal will benefit the Taliban and its fundamentalism regime.
FT Former president South Africa starts jail term for contempt of court.
The former presidents political party ANC said yesterday: “Without doubt this is a difficult period in the movement, but the supremacy of South Africa’s constitution is respected. Next week, the constitutional court will hear Zuma’s challenge to rescind the sentence, while a judgment is expected today on a separate attempt to interdict the order in a lower court.
FT The G20 must invest in a healthier, greener post-pandemic world.
The author is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization. At the occasion of the G20 finance ministers meeting in Italy, he argues that vaccine solidarity is important but preventive measures for a healthier environment are also important and in fact a budget safer for future occasions. One key measure to fight global warming is the ban of subsidies of fossil fuels.
FT Central banks face tough choices over digital currencies.
Digital currencies are here to come in the next years. Your cell phone becomes your wallet or even your email. Distance becomes irrelevant. But only if the process is safe. Central banks face tough choices there on four points: privacy, logistics (the banking sector losing business) , innovation (new entities like big tech entering), internationalization (will Central Banks back the value of currencies).
FT Haiti declares emergency after leader assassinated.
A gang killed him at home. The former banana exporter turned politician, had been ruling by decree since October 2019 when parliamentary elections were scrapped. His legitimacy was questioned, with the opposition and many legal experts arguing his presidential term had expired. Opinions about the opposition leaders are as bad and the country my enter a new period of political chaos.
FT Ethiopians deserve a future they can be proud of.
The author is chair of the Royal African Society. His grandmother was from the never colonized African country with a millennia old culture of written language and coinage. He recalls the sadness over the present violence and the inability of the PM to advance over the period of minority enforced stability of the previous regime. The PM’s most recent statement about peace gives him “a glimmer of hope”.
FT Jailing former president would send signal against impunity in South Africa.
His conviction would be for a lesser crime, but it draws a line in the send. However, without an overhaul of his political party, judicial action will not be enough.
FT China casts anxious eye over Afghanistan as U.S.A. and its partners withdraw.
Afghanistan, for millennia known as the “graveyard of empires”, saw foreign ambitions and the blood of their soldiers drain into the sand. Will China become the next power to write a chapter? An Indian diplomat commented: “We can vouch that China will fund the rebuilding of Afghanistan through the Taliban via Pakistan. China is Pakistan’s wallet.” The central logistic location of the country is important for safe Belt and Road Initiative investments. Additionally China will require the upcoming Taliban regime to severe ties with Uighur oriented groups.
FT Tigray rebels remain defiant in Ethiopia conflict.
The federal government’s unilateral ceasefire, branded a “joke” by the rebels, might be ineffective at stopping fighting. The rebel organization TPLF demands withdrawal of all troups from outside the region. Also famine looms for all the IPP’s and refugees, in a country where famine is known to be a weapon. “This federal government ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire does not look sincere,” said William Davison, senior Ethiopia analyst at Crisis Group.
FT Swiss grassroots anger stymies green projects.
The country’s complex approval process, which is deeply rooted in Switzerland’s highly devolved political system, grants federal approvals with provincial disapproval. The country committed to close down its 3 nuclear power plants, cancelled the broad cooperation with the rest of Europe, but renewable energy projects are rare. This bodes for future problems.
FT Unleashing China’s household wealth.
Chinese households will have $46.3tn of investable assets by 2025. But fears over a strong renminbi and risks of a bubble in domestic markets mean Beijing is taking a cautious approach to letting assets flow.
FT G20 must rise to the challenge of global crises.
Rich need emerging nations’ trust to advance on pandemic, inclusive economic growth and climate. The G20 was forged to co-ordinate the global response to the Asian and global financial crises. Today’s triple challenge is deeper than both.
FT Former president South Africa launches legal challenges to avoid jail.
Mr. Zuma claims to be physically unable to survive jail. He also calls on his supporters to resist attempts to jail him. The high stakes court case rattles the political establishment in the country.
FT What the current U.S.A. president can learn from the U.S.A. president in 1971.
Back in 1971 the Bretton Woods arrangement was cancelled to enable global competitiveness of the economy. The role of the independent central bank was also reinforced. A start was made with integrating China in the world economy and reducing the Pax America arrangement. Today challenges are far more complex but these issues are the same.
FT Ethiopia PM is a Nobel peace laureate at war.
The newspaper documents the PM’s bio which reflects Ethiopia constraints, laudable initiatives and religious identity politics and concludes that his future is far from clear.
FT Dozens feared dead in Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, following crackdown on dissent.
The ruler since 1986 has medieval prerogatives. Political parties in parliament are also not allowed. Violence erupted after suspicious killings. Government claims that there is no martial law but claims of mass casualties and overcrowded hospitals emerged. Neighbor South Africa called for “total restraint”.
FT Chinese president at centennial of Communist party warns China foes of ‘great wall of steel’.
The president warned of the ‘sanctimonious preaching’ of outsiders. The hour long speech held no innovative plans but stressed that the country “must uphold the firm leadership of the communist party, on which China’s success hinges.” In Taiwan it was observed positively that the speech had no timeline [for unification] or change in rhetorical framing.
FT China free of malaria after decades-long fight.
The World Health Organization calls this a “notable feat” given the high prevalence of the disease in the country 80 years ago. An expert stressed the “resounding message to the heartlands of the disease that eradication is eminently possible”.
FT President of China risks destabilizing China’s Communist party.
Reversal of checks and balances sows seeds of potential instability. Haunting memories of the cultural revolution (1966-76) and the Great Leap Forward (1958-62) — to name but two catastrophes from before the more checks and balances emerged in which tens of millions of people died — should warn Beijing and the wider world of the risks.
FT Former president South Africa hit with 15-month jail term after snubbing corruption inquiry.
FT South Africa and Australia to host giant radio telescope.
FT In Iran the hardline leaders are realizing they must bridge the gulf between the theocratic regime and Iranians’ desire for liberties.
FT The U.S.A. should back a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
FT President places Communist party center stage in China.
FT Chinese women add to demographic struggle with fight to work beyond 50.
FT Sweden government resigns over inability to provide affordable housing.
FT Democracy in European countries adjusts to accommodate the far right.
NYT Ethiopian Forces Retreat in Tigray, and Rebels Enter the regional Capital.
FT Jihadis join the Sahel gold rush.
FT Scandals tarnish image for clean government in the Netherlands.
FT South Africa confident of coping with Covid rate rises.
FT Ethiopia rejects claims of famine in Tigray.
FT How Europe should deal with Russia.
NYT Confident in Its Impunity, the Myanmar Junta Ignores Diplomacy.
FT Japanese emperor breaks protocol by expressing concern about Covid risk of Olympics.
FT Hong Kongers rush to buy final edition of banned Apple Daily newspaper.
FT Estonian PM warns of authoritarian creep during pandemic.
FT Chinese scientists accused of obstruction over Wuhan data.
FT India PM in talks to revive contested province Kashmir democracy.
FT Africa sinks under Covid third wave as inoculation drive stalls.
FT A blueprint for central bank digital currencies.
FT Germany and France propose reset for EU relations with Russia.
FT Russia claims it fired shots at UK war ship.
FT China bolsters ties with Myanmar junta.
NYT Market Airstrike in Tigray Region of Ethiopia Kills Dozens, puts pressure on Ethiopia government.
FT What the parable of Obamacare teaches its opponents in the U.S.A.
NYT Vatican Expresses Deep Reservations Over Gay Rights Bill in Italy.
FT German political leader warns against cold war with China.
FT Spain seeks unity with pardon for jailed separatists from Catalonia province.
FT China lashes out after G7 leaders and NATO criticize ‘assertive behavior’.
TT We need leaders to fight cultural groupthink as appears in the gender ideology discussion.
FT Ethiopian PM faces pivotal test in parliamentary election.
FT Election win give hardliners gain a lock over Iranian politics.
TT Honesty about past will strengthen former colonizer bond with Africa.
FT Nigeria luxury property booms despite economic gloom in the country.
FT US senior general plays down fears China will attack Taiwan.
FT Obituary of Kenneth Kaunda (97), Zambia’s independence leader who helped shape southern Africa.
FT Russia political strategist ‘An overdose of freedom is lethal to a state’.
TT Tycoon takes on £50bn Congo dam project.
FT Iran elections frontrunners are poles apart.
FT Sweden’s government on brink as PM faces vote of no confidence.
FT China farm boss trial viewed as warning to private sector.
FT U.S.A. Supreme Court throws out challenge to more comprehensive health care system.
FT Gangs replace rules in the new global order.
FT African youth vs the gerontocrats.
FT U.S.A. warns Russia of ‘devastating’ repercussions if opposition leader dies in jail.
FT U.S.A. plan to keep China in check relies on Philippines.
FT North Korea raises alarm over food shortages.
FT The graveyard of empires calls to China on extending their Belt and RoadInitiative to Afghanistan.
FT Pandemic pushes Algeria to the brink.
FT Belarus accused of ‘weaponizing’ migration.
FT PwC to add 100,000 staff in five years as Environmental & Sustainable Governance consultancy services bear fruit.
FT Central banks confront digital currency dilemma.
Regulators and central banks are fighting for control of the monetary system as cryptocurrencies become an increasing challenge to fiat currencies, threatening to blunt the levers of monetary policy. There are broadly two options: regulation and competition. Potential benefits include making cross-border payments cheaper and faster and giving access to the monetary system to all individuals. National digital currencies could also trigger a reshuffling of the world’s most dominant currencies. The big concern is privacy in the case of nationally run cryptocurrency.
NYT Vatican Warns U.S. Bishops: Don’t Deny Biden Communion Over Abortion.
“The concern in the Vatican,” said Antonio Spadaro, a Catholic spokesman, “is not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon.” Pope Francis preached this month that communion “is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.” Pope Francis explicitly opposes abortion, which they consider among the gravest sins, and incessantly speaks out against it. But that is not the same as punishing Catholic lawmakers with the denial of communion.
FT Myanmar junta heaps charges on detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The detained leader is reportedly kept at an unknown place and will be trialed by the military leaders for remarkably futile charges. Much of the protest seems to be died out in the country “where the junta has arrested thousands and used deadly force to crush an uprising”.
FT After the elections the president of Mexico can better the lot of most citizens with a return to pragmatism.
The recent elections delivered a mixed bag of results for both sides of the political divide. Neither side delivered a knockout. All of it looks like a convincing reflection of the governments performance since the presidential party took hold 2, 5 years ago. The main problem in the country is rampant criminality. The country also has what the newspaper calls “golden opportunity” due to its strategic geographic location.
TT In Britain class is a bigger social contract problem than race.
“Class” presents the biggest barrier to ambition and talent. Why is it that for successful soccer players, even if articulate and thoughtful but from working-class families, the most likely path to the upper echelons of society still is via sports? The author, former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, had his hand in legislation to tackle the problem. He calls it an attempt of being a meritocratic nation. He argues that family wealth is still a big factor to prevent moving up.
G7 pledge to provide 1bn vaccines for poorer nations branded inadequate.
The pledge is less than half the countries have reserved for their domestic needs. One analyst remarked that a more reliable strategy would be to urgently scale up and diversify production, through technology transfer and clearing intellectual property barriers. There is also concern about the infrastructure needed for distribution from the factory to the arm of the recipient.
FT Twitter’s fight with Nigeria is an omen of things to come.
This is the conflict between the “cloud nation” and the nation state. It is a contest in which many citizens, despite their reservations about extraterritoriality, side with rules set in Silicon Valley over those meted out by their own parliaments and judiciaries. Yet, the prerogatives claimed by the tech supplier (deleting a Nigeria president tweet) should not necessarily be celebrated.
FT BioNTech looks beyond Covid with push into Africa.
The German biotechnology company aims to establish its vaccine production facilities on the continent of Africa as part of a long-term effort to tackle diseases beyond Covid-19. The efforts have the support of the EU. The firm hopes to establish filling facilities within the next 12 months. The company was supported by the Gates Foundation for a tuberculosis vaccine of a similar structure.
FT Germany hit by EU legal action.
Brussels has launched legal action against Germany’s constitutional court after its judges attempted to challenge the supremacy of EU law and a ruling by the EU’s top court over European Central Bank bond buying.
FT Testing times for Israel’s man of the moment.
The new coalition PM abandons his former liaisons for support of the fringe left and the Jewish state’s only Islamist Arab party. As a personality he is considered not calculated, but carefully calibrated. Successful in business but less effective in his former political contributions, based on orthodox Jewish views of statehood. What will evolve seems unclear.
FT El Salvador approves bitcoin as legal tender.
“Historic!” the 39-year-old authoritarian president wrote on Twitter. Analysts were cautious given cryptocurrency’s volatility, and some said it could put a pending IMF program at risk. Venezuela in 2018 unveiled plans for an oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, to skirt US sanctions, but it has flopped.
FT Australia urges G7 support for WTO reform.
Australia underlines that their region is the epicenter of renewed strategic competition. The risks of miscalculation and conflict are growing. WTO reforms would enable the appeals body to be at the heart of its decision-making process. It is the most practical way to address economic coercion and the restoration of the global trading body’s binding dispute settlement system.
TT The culture war over gender, race and language is running out of steam in the U.K. social contract.
A study traces the nearly exponential explosion of newspaper articles about gender issues in the past few years. When will this end? The author has two answers. The first: never. The second: sooner than you might think. Western countries had a centuries long battle over religion. As late as 1829, the government narrowly avoided a constitutional crisis in its attempts to pass the Catholic Emancipation Act. In Europe similar struggles evolved between the power of the state and the church. Unsurprisingly, as secular, individualistic modern society started to dominate in the Sixties, battles over faith were replaced with battles over personal identity. It is significant that, like the Reformation, the moral change of the Sixties arrived at a time of huge change in communications technology. But the personal identity subject seems to be less lasting. A study found that newspaper coverage of trans issues peaked in 2019.
FT Nigerians blame Shell for ‘community problems’ in Niger delta.
The company closes down onshore oil operations on the risk profile of the delta, which has been wracked by communal tensions and criminality for generations. Activists maintain that Shell has a responsibility to solve the problems in the Niger Delta caused by their activities. Others say the core problem is lack of governance. A recent court case in Shell home country the Netherlands ruled that the company needs to do more.
FT German solar company pursues Lesotho debt.
The company has begun seizing Lesotho’s assets abroad in order to enforce €50m in contractual damages after the contract over a 20 Megawatt solar plant was cancelled.
FT UAE shifts focus from muscular foreign policy to economic drive.
Diplomats are tasked to prioritize attracting investment to the oil-dependent nation. One analyst commented that after the decade long engagement in influencing conflict UAE had come to understand there was “no hard win anywhere at the moment”. Part of the effort is to soften tensions with its foes.
FT Nigeria acts on criticism of Twitter ban.
The government ordered a “temporary” ban of Twitter on Saturday after the company deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari that promised the government would crack down separatist protest. Activists see a trend towards authoritarianism by the government of the 78 year old president who ruled the country in the ‘80’s as a military dictatorship.
FT Green companies must convince wavering consumers.
Behavioral shifts are expected to help contribute around 20 per cent — or even closer to 40 per cent in a positive scenario — to meeting international “net zero” goals. To achieve climate change, marketers will need to ensure new habits move beyond “cool” territory.
FT Italian PM sets tone in cooling ties between EU and China.
Draghi’s move marked a decisive Italian shift towards a foreign policy he has described as “strongly pro-European and Atlanticist, in line with Italy’s historical anchors”. The Italian position is important with elections around the corner in the other large EU countries, Germany and France. Former PM Prodi remarked about the unfolding reluctance in EU-China relations “both sides must change their attitude . . . now it’s formally impossible to do anything”.
FT Mali, once hailed as paragon of democratic virtue falls from grace as junta tightens grip.
African Union’s suspension of Mali shows the deterioration of the situation in the country. Strongman Colonel Assimi Goïta staged two coups in a year, which shatters Mail’s foreign image. Foreign allies neglected the tensions on grassroots level. One analyst remarked: “Most of the international actors who would usually condemn power grabs by Mali’s military in the most virulent terms indulged the same in Chad. This . . . makes it difficult for the international community [to] take the moral high ground in Mali.”
FT How Egypt’s army became an economic force.
The new capital east of Cairo is the flagship infrastructure project out of thousands the military has taken charge of. The expansion of the military’s role in the state and the economy is crowding out the private sector and scaring away foreign investors. Its advocates say: “The army can enhance the economy . . . they are very disciplined, less corrupt.” Critics say it is not generating sufficient productive jobs to tackle rampant youth unemployment. Moreover, the military, which controls much of Egypt’s land, can use conscript labor, is exempt from income and real estate taxes and answers only to the president.
FT Global spread of high-security bio labs raises fears of new pandemic.
Lax controls at some locations could lead to another pandemic. At least 59 maximum biosafety level 4 (BSL4) labs are planned, under construction or in operation across the world, spanning 23 countries including the UK, US, China, India, Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire.
FT Making chocolate can give Ghana a taste of success.
Of the $130bn global chocolate industry, less than $2bn goes to Ghana. The country produces 20 % of all raw cacao beans. The obstacles, from shoddy infrastructure to lack of manufacturing and market knowhow, are formidable. Yet unless Ghana can crack the problem, many Ghanaians will be condemned to poverty in perpetuity. The remedy is not to raise the price of cocoa but to process and market it. In Asia, almost no economy of any size clambered out of poverty without manufacturing. Most African economies, as Ghana’s president says, are locked in neocolonial trading relationships. Breaking those patterns is incredibly hard. For countries aspiring to lift their people out of poverty, it is also essential.
FT CEOs should heed difficult activists.
In the early 20th century women campaigned for women’s suffrage and their tactics can be realistically compared to uncompromising activists today. New ideas tend to start on the fringes. The most powerful ideas become mainstream in the end. Executives love to talk about innovation and “first-mover advantage”. If they are serious, they should spend more time thinking about where today’s fringes suggest tomorrow’s mainstream will be.
FT Fears mount for poorer nations as food price rises hit 10-year high.
Global food prices surged 40 per cent in May. The Mideast and west Africa are at risk. It will hit particularly hard in poorer countries that are reliant on imports for staples. Most analysts expect prices to climb further.
FT Genome breakthrough opens door to creating cells unlike anything in nature.
Scientists have re-engineered the genetic code of microbes to create a synthetic cell with capabilities unlike anything in nature, opening up the possibility of new materials for everything from plastics to antibiotics.
FT Twitter removes post by Nigeria’s president.
The tweet threatened a violent crackdown on unrest in the country’s south-east, referencing the civil war of the late 1960s that left more than 1m people dead in the region. Buhari, who campaigned on a new approach to security, has seen his popularity crumble, also due to economic problems.
FT Russia’s elite gathers in yearly global summit with hope of better foreign ties.
The Russian answer to Davos is feeling the effects of the Russian geo-political role. Moreover the mood is more anticipating the June 16 Russia-U.S.A. president meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
FT Global deal nears on climate risk disclosure by listed companies.
The obligation to disclose the risks they face from climate change in a standardized way could be agreed in November’s UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. The governor of France’s central bank claims it is “the most dramatic change he has witnessed in his career”.
TT Xi Jinping plots propaganda war to make China ‘credible, loveable and respectable’.
The world must learn that the “Communist Party is truly striving for the wellbeing of the Chinese people, and understand why Marxism works, and why socialism with Chinese characteristics is good”. Xi: “We must pay attention to have the right tone. We are not only open, confident but also humble and modest.”
FT A windfall for poor countries is within reach by reallocating IMF special drawing rights (SDR’s).
Why should rich nations not lend all of their unneeded SDR assets? That would be $380bn.
FT Top tennis player shows that the game matters and not the PR obligation.
The real value lies in what happens in the stadium, not the press room. The Japanese player, no. 2 worldwide, refused duties that make her nervous. Sports authorities need to recognize the social changes now under way with a new generation more self-conscience taking up the sporting challenges.
FT Spanish court rules leader of Polisario Front free to go home.
The diplomatic rift between Spain and Morocco widened yesterday when a Madrid judge ruled the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement being treated in a Spanish hospital was free to leave the country. Rabat claims sovereignty over the region, roughly the size of the UK. A 30-year ceasefire with Polisario broke down at the end of last year. Ties between Rabat and Berlin have also been strained since Germany called for a closed door UN Security Council meeting after the Trump administration recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in return for normalization of ties with Israel.
FT U.S.A. president pledged to address racial wealth gap.
On a visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, 100 years ago the site of one of the most brutal attacks on a black community in the country’s history, another promise is made to improve on racial relations. The big words of the U.S.A. president contrast with the recent inability to respect black human life and fall short of handling the ongoing election system maneuvering for partisan benefit that has racial effects.
TT Rogue regimes are mastering techno-tyranny.
Some rulers are kept in power for decades, of course, by the use of force, by surveillance, by the threat of reprisal, by state control of the media. But there is another reason for their abnormally long survival rates: the mastery of modern technology. Digital surveillance and cryptocurrencies is part of the new method of repression. Only the hijacking of personal data and the manipulation of individuals will really guarantee the longevity of a techno-tyrant. The old East German Stasi shows where this leads: into a dark corner where the only exit is emigration, exile and a long wait for the system to implode.
FT China’s wolf warriors are at work to ward of blame for Covid.
This style of “wolf warrior” diplomacy is an inevitable product of a domestic system that demands allegiance beyond truth. A lot of aggressive messaging abroad may even be primarily intended for ordinary citizens or bosses back home. The goal is to show that the party/government is standing up for China. Over the past year, China has succeeded in changing the narrative over Covid-19. It benefitted from the past U.S.A. president careless approach. Joe Biden’s more cautious approach is paradoxically more threatening to Beijing.
FT China allows couples to have three children.
In the past a rigid one child per couple rule was maintained that was loosened to 2 per couple in 2015. Demographers have said rising incomes, urbanization and the increased costs of raising children had led to a long-term decline in fertility rates that would be difficult to reverse by regulation.
FT In South Africa Magashule under fire in battle for ANC’s soul.
The former ANC secretary-general is suing the party, after it suspended him for refusing to step down over an investigation into allegations of corruption. At stake is not only competing visions of how to resurrect South Africa’s post-pandemic economy, but also attitudes to post-apartheid institutions battered through so-called “state capture”, or the systematic looting of public resources.
FT Migrant waves reignite debate over Europe’s ageing workforce.
The OECD predicted last week that Spain would by 2050 become the member state with the highest old-age dependency ratio — the proportion of over 65-year-olds to the working age population — after Japan and South Korea. Right wing politics neglects this while the left is afraid to profile it for being unpopular.
FT Germany offers €1bn for Namibia genocide.
German soldiers killed more than 60,000 indigenous Herero and Nama tribes people between 1904 and 1908 amid an uprising against German colonial rule. The announcement comes after six years of talks with Namibia, which came close to foundering last month over whether the funds should be labelled reparations, a term Germany feared could open it up to other legal claims. The deal was rejected by the traditional leaders of the Herero and Nama, who said it was too little to compensate for the suffering of their ancestors, including the taking of the majority of their land. The deal could set a precedent for other countries.
FT Russian hacking groups target 150 global foreign policy bodies.
The U.S.A. government said last month the group was part of the Russian foreign intelligence service. Microsoft commented: “It’s clear that part of play-book is to gain access to trusted technology providers and infect their customers.”
FT France admits French responsibility in Rwandan genocide.
Standing in front of a memorial where 250,000 mainly Tutsi victims of the genocide are buried, French president Macron said the country had “a duty to look history in the face and recognize the part of suffering it inflicted on the Rwandan people by keeping silent for too long”. The statement stopped short of a formal apology. In 2006, Rwanda expelled the French ambassador and in 2008, it switched the national curriculum from French to English. Rwanda joined the British Commonwealth the following year. Rwandan president Kagame said yesterday. “The truth heals.”
FT U.S.A. is right to impose sanctions on Ethiopia.
Atrocities have been committed by Ethiopian troops as well as by fighters from Eritrea, who were given virtual carte blanche by the Addis government to act as they pleased. There are also credible accounts of atrocities perpetrated by forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party now fighting a guerrilla war against the central government. Ending the violence in Tigray is the first step to revive the hope that Ethiopia as a country has shown.
FT Palestinian unity upends Middle East status quo.
Having rejected a two-state solution — an independent Palestine alongside Israel — Israel’s politicians face having to manage a de facto single state. Israel has never been held accountable for keeping the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem after it conquered them in the 1967 six-day war. This month’s rebellion may change that. Trump thought the conflict was about real estate. Netanyahu thought he had changed the region by rallying Arabs against Iran. Today’s events show Israel’s military superiority does not contain the Palestinian determination.
FT Climate pressure rises on Big Oil after setbacks for Shell and Exxon.
Shell is stopped by a court of its home country to deliver on cleaner energy for more results to global climate change and Exxon is told lessons by groups among its shareholders for the same purpose.
FT Switzerland abandons talks on closer ties with EU in a move to defend sovereignty.
The country has long benefitted from 120 bilateral agreements. The EU wanted an overhaul which became more urgent after the U.K. left the EU. The Swiss have now pulled the plug on a new framework agreement for a deeper partnership with the EU, amid unbridgeable differences over wages, subsidies and immigration. The EU warns of the consequences. Some Swiss see it as a victory for direct democracy.
FT Mali leaders arrested in second coup in a year.
The military officer behind an August coup, also interim vice-president, ordered the arrest of the president and prime minister since they did not consult him about a cabinet reshuffle that excluded key junta members. International partners condemned the move and called for immediate release of the arrested.
FT ‘Social explosion’ in Chile lights a fuse under constitution.
The elections to elect a new body to rewrite the country’s constitution are labelled the institutionalization of the 2019 social explosion. 42 % of the elected are independents, while only 40 % of the electorate casted a vote. There was a clear preference for new faces. The forces now successful are not expected to be able to unite for one presidential candidate in the next presidential elections. Hence the center right is expected to continue its hold on government.
FT U.S.A. government self-declared deadline on police reform to be missed.
A new bill would ban police chokeholds, create a national registry to track police misconduct, make it simpler for prosecutors to seek criminal and civil penalties for police abuse, and ban “no-knock” warrants that allow police to enter properties forcibly. The delay in passing reflects lack of political resolve among the law makers.
FT Defiant Aung San Suu Kyi appears in Myanmar court.
This was the first time the arrested democratic leader appeared in public after she was arrested in late January and the military took over on February 1. She declared that her banned National League for Democracy would exist as long as the people supported it. The judge adjourned the case until June 7.
FT China to tighten rules after death of athletes in long distance run.
The Central Committee for Discipline Inspection, which oversees the Chinese Communist party, said the pursuit of quick profits and weak government oversight had created mounting safety concerns for such events.
FT U.S.A. to put sanctions on Ethiopians and Eritreans over war.
Sanctions will affect those “responsible for perpetrating” a war in the Tigray region. Ethiopia criticized the US decision. The foreign ministry said: “The attempt by the US administration to meddle in its internal affairs is not only inappropriate but also completely unacceptable.” The Ethiopian government has said it is committed to investigating human rights abuses carried out during the fighting by an assortment of national, regional and neighboring forces.
FT Kenyan court ruling against state legal overhaul in the making sets the stage for election battle.
Advocates of the overhaul, which Kenya’s parliament had already passed, say it would lessen the chance of ethnic violence at elections by more evenly dividing the spoils of victory. Critics say it is barring the presidents rival (and deputy) from taking over the helm after the president has consumed the maximum of terms.
FT Ethiopia raises $850m in first telecoms auction.
A bid for a second license was rejected as too low and the license will be retendered. According to the PM the awarded license is the biggest foreign direct investment in the country’s history. The result was suppressed due to restrictions put up for mobile money services and infrastructure choices. The current instability in Tigray is also believed to have an effect. Ethiopia runs a double digit economic growth for 20 years, “based on an Asian-inspired, state-led development model that prevented foreign capital from controlling the commanding heights of the economy such as banking and telecoms.”
FT Belarus arrests opposition activist after forcing flight he boarded from Greece to Lithuania to land in Belarus capital.
The president boasts the action as an “irrevocable command to turn the plane around and land it”. All this to arrest a journalist on board who played a senior role in reporting on last year’s protests.
FT Don’t let anyone tell you political sleaze (indifference to misconduct and regulation) doesn’t matter.
That an issue may not matter to voters now does not mean it does not matter at all. Sleaze — as opposed to outright and clear corruption — is unlikely, in itself, to topple a government, but consistent poor conduct erodes faith in an administration and in politics more generally. The less the government believes its conduct is being scrutinized the less it is likely to be careful. In an administration already too careless of the rules, that is in no one’s long-term interest.
FT Better preparing the world for next pandemic, better laws and institutions needed.
Reform of WHO and a new framework of laws and institutions is needed. A WHO GA panel recommends setting up a Global Health Threats Council of world leaders that would co-ordinate emergency responses, with a new treaty providing a stronger legal basis for action. Combined with more autonomous and preventive investigative powers of the WHO this could dramatically reduce the expenses of a next pandemic.
FT Palestinians expose Israel’s illusions.
A fortnight of violence has exposed Benjamin Netanyahu’s illusion that Israel can be at peace without a resolution of the Palestinian conflict. It has also demonstrated the pent-up anger at decades of occupation.
FT U.S.A. government proposes global tax rate of at least 15%, reducing the target by 6 %.
The Biden administration’s latest move takes it closer to the range of about 13 per cent, which was discussed at the OECD before the US launched its proposals last month. Biden hopes the promise of a more stable international tax system will stop the proliferation of national digital taxes and break the mould of tax avoidance and profit shifting.
FT India blames China for 2020 clashes in the Himalaya’s.
India’s foreign minister said the country was “ready to compete” with China for influence in its neighborhood and beyond, citing India’s interests “deep in the Indo-Pacific” as well as west towards Africa and Europe. “The issue is, how do I manage a relationship if the basis of the relationship has been violated by one side?” The foreign minister denied that India would join any formal alliance with the US to contain China. “It is not cold war 2.0”.
NYT Ethiopia Expels New York Times Reporter.
His press credentials had already been canceled since March, one day after he returned from an approved reporting trip in Tigray. The expulsion comes one month before much-delayed Parliamentary elections. In recent days, some of the government’s prominent supporters have called for demonstrations to push back against criticism of Ethiopia’s handling of the war in Tigray, and against what they portray as a campaign of concerted foreign meddling.
FT Spain’s migrant surge is a warning shot for fortress Europe.
Europe has been outsourcing much of the border protection from migrants to countries across its borders. It has also shown to be vulnerable when migrant streams appear to be used politically, Libya 2011, Turkey 2015 and now Morocco. The latter country apparently reacts to Spain hosting medical treatment for an independence leader of Western Sahara. To its credit Spain has done some more sophisticated (= diplomatic) approach of the migration issue. Of late the country moves in the direction of anxieties in other European countries that want to create a fortress of affluence.
FT Urban crime wave threatens U.S.A. government.
Murders are up 25 % in 2020 as compared to 2019. The fall in murders from 1994 until 2014 coincided with a ban on heavy assault weapons. On the negative side the campaigns to “defund the police”, supported by current president Biden, led to increase crime. Social inequalities also add to a surge in crime.
FT Belarus authorities raid independent news outlet Tut.by in crackdown on dissent.
According to the government the crackdown is for tax evasion.
FT Pandemic gives Africa a chance to free itself from aid dependency.
The U.S.A. government’s support for intellectual property waivers has opened up possibilities. This seismic shift in positioning has gathered momentum and support for vaccine manufacturing in Africa. Covid-19 has shown that Africans must move faster towards real self-sufficiency in diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccine production. No one will help us if we do not attempt to help ourselves. It is up to us as Africans to decide if we are to accept mere observer status or be a main player at the table. Africa needs to get rid of the “do-gooder” syndrome. It needs a re-imagining and re-engineering of the international architecture, of how it interacts as people and as systems.
FT EU eases US trade tensions by shelving plans to increase tariffs.
The two sides added that they were ready to “hold countries like China that support trade-distorting policies to account”.
FT US Supreme Court to hear abortion case challenging Roe vs Wade.
The newspaper talks down on activists against abortion as “self-described “pro-life”. The new case will play out by mid-2022. Pro-abortion activists (self-described as “pro-life”) fear that it will affect the Roe vs Wade ruling, which turned the U.S.A. into a pro-abortion environment in the ‘70’s.
FT EU to back African vaccine production.
The EU move comes as the coronavirus crisis adds urgency to longstanding efforts to cut African countries’ dependence on imports of drugs to combat diseases. It argues is a better way to improve poor nations’ access to Covid-19 vaccines than the patent waivers proposed by the US. The Africans see the efforts as complementary.
FT Geopolitics spells the demise of the global chief executive.
The era of borderless enterprise may be past. Geopolitical tensions are rising, leaving business in the line of fire. One CEO: “Can we have peace in the company when the world is in turmoil? All of the confidentiality issues may start to look a bit different.” Decision-makers may have a strong national allegiance that puts them at odds with their company.
FT China’s demographic challenge looms large.
The country’s fertility rate is 1.3, lower than most industrialized nations. Simply relaxing birth control isn’t enough. There isn’t a social safety net that enables women to have children.
NYT Syria’s surprising solar boom: Sunlight powers the night in rebel Idlib.
An unlikely solar revolution of sorts has taken off in an embattled, rebel-controlled pocket of northwestern Syria, cut of by the government from the grid. People have embraced solar panels and batteries because it is the cheapest source of electricity around. One metal workshop made a rotating base to follow the sun for better harvest.
FT What does Scotland’s most eminent historian make of the case for independence?
Sir Tom Devine, author of the 700 page book The Scottish Nation, voted for independence in the 2014 referendum, although he had preferred home rule. “The history of European multinational states shows the rot tends to start from within, and then spreads out to the peripheral nations.”
FT The strange malaise of Europe’s social democrat parties.
The financial crisis over a decade ago seemed an ideal time to reinvent themselves, but it failed. The same is true in the pandemic crisis. The problems are structural. The traditional coalition of industrial working class and urban middle class is more unbalanced in terms of economic interest and social values. These parties are still tied up in choices of the past. And at the same time the new U.S.A. government shows a more social democrat mood in their inventions.
FT McDonald’s in the U.S.A. boosts pay to lure staff as employers struggle to fill vacancies.
The employer has trouble finding enough staff while it intends to hire more. The move puts pressure on other employers to do more. Some have huge plans to hire more staff, signaling the economic take off after the pandemic crisis.
FT U.K. and U.S.A. send joint message to world on rights and corruption.
Both the U.S.A. treasury and foreign minister commend that U.K.’s stand, which is a welcome sign for its government in the absence of a quick trade deal after Brexit and the tensions over the Northern Irish border. It claims that Brexit enabled a more nimble policy approach on sanctions to fight corruption. This does not show up in all moves, like the U.S.A. sanctions on Russia, as an unnamed U.S.A. official told the newspaper.
FT The risk of a new war in the Middle East.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has boiled over once more as Israeli jets pound the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip and this group launches hundreds of rockets into the Jewish state. The new violence roots outside Gaza, in Jerusalem where Israeli police entered the compound that houses al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. The violence is aided by the meek responses of the US and European capitals to the creeping colonization of the West Bank, as well as Gulf states that engaged with Israel, to counter Iran but also under sponsorship of the previous U.S.A. government.
FT Kurdish activists resist Turkey government crackdown.
The HDP political party attracted 5.9 million voters from the 14 million Kurdish minority. It is the latest incarnation of a movement that began in 1990 to push for greater cultural and political rights. The government’s AKP also attracts Kurdish votes but their support among Kurds is decreasing more rapidly than HDP support. It is believed that after banning by the government, the party will reform.
FT Republican party in U.S.A. axe Trump critic from senior role.
The economic and geopolitical conservative congress woman, daughter to former vice-president Cheney, fell in disgrace after she criticized former president Trump’s continued campaign to discredit the legally approved election that he lost. While other Republicans approve of her political position they claim she is “out of the mainstream of the Republican party”. The former president uses the opportunity to continue his public influence campaign with strongly divisive communications.
FT Djibouti thrives amid spying and intrigue.
It’s about location and stability in the tiny African nation, home to just 1 million. A third of the world’s daily shipping passes here and it is surrounded by less stable countries. Foreign powers like to have a base here. The 73 year old president since 1999 recently got a new term with almost unanimous support.
FT Iraqi Kurdistan’s authoritarian turn.
The oil rich region of 5 million has an authoritarian drift of a quasi-state dominated by two families. The semi-autonomous position was carved out through support to Western military intervention and turned more authoritarian in recent times. Independent critics of government have been convicted for security reasons.
FT South Africa to lease floating power stations.
The immediate energy crisis is met with a 20 year contract to a preferred Turkish bidder of floating LNG power plants, Canpowership. Two giant coal pants commissioned over a decade ago remain unfinished while a contract for a Russian nuclear power plant was legally struck down.
FT Transformation is good but has to be managed.
The pandemic is changing business and society practices and there is opportunity in just that. Online activity has its own efficiency in many ways as compared to activity needing physical appearance. It looks like Schumpeterian creative destruction. But it needs to be managed to be sustainably productive. Real-world rules and regulations must be made to apply to the online world as well.
FT The west is in a contest, not a cold war, with China.
The G7 foreign ministers this week produced a communiqué and annexes running to dozens of pages. No corner of the geopolitical landscape escaped their attention. But ‘making multilateralism work’ is not the snappiest of slogans. Conviviality is not a substitute for organizing purpose. The few who take the trouble to wade through the communiqué are unlikely to find a clear route map for the world’s democracies. But today is not a cold war. Economic interchange with the Soviet Union was negligible. For all the recent decoupling, China remains deeply embedded in the global economy. Beijing and Moscow want a return to a 19th-century global order. But the G7 answer to that is still in the dark.
FT Peru Marxist presidential hopeful rattles business community.
Castillo, a 51-year-old school teacher and union leader, emerged from political obscurity to win the first round of the election last month on an unashamedly Marxist ticket and calls former Marxist leaders in the region a select “group of presidents who gave the continent dignity”. He also holds a commanding lead over his rival in next month’s runoff vote. Yet, the parliamentarian situation he will find after winning will still be challenge for major change.
FT Pharma industry fears U.S.A. president COVID19 vaccine patent decision.
His administration’s decision to support a temporary waiver of Covid-19 vaccine patents prompted predictable outrage in the pharmaceutical sector but praise from the WHO chief. The U.S.A. said it still “believes strongly” in intellectual property protections. A waiver is promoted to fight the pandemic.
FT South Africa ANC party bars top Zuma ally.
The party’s SG was suspended after he ignored a call to voluntary step aside for allegations of corruption. The SA president last week admitted the ANC allowed systematic looting over the past decade “under our watch”, the most direct acknowledgment yet of the party’s failings in the so-called state capture era. The broader fight against corruption is a new chapter but the fight is likely to continue.
FT Covid second wave fears rise in Africa as inoculation programs lose pace.
Medical authorities see the situation in India with concern. In addition the supply from that country changed from generous to stand still. Side effects from vaccines and vaccination hesitance are also concerns, as are the spreading of new variants if vaccination is insufficient to stop a new wave.
TT Former British foreign minister Hague argues: for a country to survive, it needs an identity.
Others might equate it with nationalism or xenophobia. In reality, a shared sense of identity is vital for a nation to enjoy internal cohesion and to act effectively. He quotes Fukuyama for six necessary attributes: physical security, quality of governance, the facilitation of economic development, a wide radius of trust, a strong safety net to combat inequality, an atmosphere of reason and acceptance. To achieve that education, save and clean environment and active citizenship are the key tools.
FT In France a dictator legend of 200 years ago is alive and as divisive as ever.
From a historical viewpoint, the recent petition in the country (see April 30) serves as a reminder of the rich tradition of military interventions in French politics, since the legendary Napoleon came to power. It’s the petitioners quest for a larger-than-life savior, capable of transcending divisions and revitalizing the national spirit. Also outside Europe Napoleon’s legend draws some power hopefuls attention. They may be reminded that the present French culture war is as divisive as they think it is uniting.
FT EU and allies renew push to counter China influence.
The West wants to offer alternatives to Belt and Road Initiative of China. A patchwork of separate but coordinated bilateral and multilateral initiatives is most likely emerging while it is questionable if pushing back China is necessary or desirable.
TT 97 year old former foreign minister of the U.S.A. warns of ‘colossal danger’ to world from a US-China cold war.
Henry Kissinger considers the first cold war with Russia as more one dimensional. China is far more economically capable and has significant military clout. The two global powers in his view should seek coexistence rather than competition. The solution is in diplomacy.
FT In England Post Office scandal exposes the risk of automated injustice.
As one of the few institutions in Britain with its own powers of investigation and prosecution the post depended on automated information as sufficient evidence to blame staff, while the IT technology was outsourced, the software not made user friendly and the management found scapegoating easier than investigation. Said the judge about holding technology infallible and ignoring contrary evidence: “It amounts to the 21st-century equivalent of maintaining that the Earth is flat.”
FT Covid wards in India are like scenes from Dante’s ‘Inferno’.
In early January the pandemic seemed retreated. Instead of ramping up vaccination the country allowed for massive political and religious activity and a more dangerous variant of the virus emerged. The country allowed itself to export vaccines to 74 other nations while today only 5 % of the population is vaccinated. Other countries close borders and the hospitals are overcrowded and under sourced.
FT France to punish generals over anti-immigrant call to arms.
Most generals who signed the petition were already retired. There were 18 active military, four of them officers, under the thousands of signatories. Also the main opponent of the current president endorsed the call, fueling worries of the Defense minister that she hardly understands the neutral status of the military.
FT South Africa’s ANC allowed looting, president admits.
The president denied that the party itself is corrupt. He refers to infighting and factionalism that provided fertile ground for state capture.
FT China ties prove double-edged sword for EU.
EU exports to China have grown at a double-digit pace since the pandemic struck a year ago. Yet observers note that: “the tone from China is different, so we have to take a different approach”. Human rights concerns are increasingly coming into view.
FT The difficult quest of the U.S.A. to fund a growing state.
America’s openness to big government is not in doubt. The nation’s willingness to pay for it very much is. The government wants to tax capital gain to equalize the treatment of income tax. The newspaper argues there are better, less symbolic, ways to pay for the growing state, like value added tax and a reversal of the erosion of estate tax.
FT Nigerians suffer at hands of ‘thriving’ kidnapping industry.
Boko Haram is globally identified as violence machine but in fact a tiny minority of increasingly unidentified incidents. A combination of explosive population growth, rampant unemployment, underfunded and incapable security forces, and easy access to small arms has made banditry a booming industry. And not only in the north of the country. The banditry crisis is also exposing raw ethnic tensions which are never far from the surface in Nigeria.
FT Ethiopian telecoms license sell-off falls flat.
The biggest remaining telephone state monopoly was designated to be partly privatized but there only two bids. The intended showcase plan of the government suffers from criticism of the restrictive nature of the bidding and perceived political risks by investors due to the crisis in the north of the country.
FT Italy PM outlines €248 bn vision for recovery.
The former international banker vows to combat ‘corruption and stupidity’ with the deal. He wants to bridge the divide between its wealthy industrialized north and poorer south, improving gender equality and narrowing generational inequality. Thus trying to ward of the traditional advantages of rampant criminality, the Mafia.
FT EU tries to mend border problems in the Balkans.
The seemingly eternal problem retains instability in the region and thus helps to drag in outside powers and sharpen tensions. A contentious and anonymous document is circulating but the fact remains that the region is trapped in a strategic no man’s land. The project to include all of it in the EU “is proceeding so slowly as to render it increasingly irrelevant as an answer to the region’s troubles”.
FT The idea the state has been shrinking in the west for 40 years is a myth.
Government spending has been steady and rose for social security. Government debt and regulation has grown, company bail outs have grown from individual to industry wide (banking crisis) and during the pandemic even normalized for all business. The enormous growth of stock trade is not a sign of government retreat but more of government support. Stock buyers bank on trust in state support.
FT A new deal for the young in affluent countries: fixing the housing crisis.
The newspaper starts an editorial series on a new social contract it “believes” is necessary. The series will deal with housing, pensions, jobs, education, climate and tax. The first on housing examines how house prices became unaffordable for starters without outside help. The main solution is more building and local councils benefiting from site development, while the rent sector should also be reformed to give security to tenants.
FT India flies in emergency medical supplies.
The huge population of the country experiences a surge in Covid cases and appeals to allies to help it deal with the existential crisis.
FT Turkey hits at the U.S.A. for Armenian genocide recognition.
For the majority of Turks, calling the 1915 massacre and pogrom “genocide: would impugn their nation’s founding myths and leaders, and would be tantamount to admitting a historical lie. The U.S.A. action indicates Turkey’s diminishing strategic importance in the region, according to a think tank cited.
FT Germany’s non-ideological left shows appetite for political power.
The new leader stated that she wants to make an offer to the whole of society: an invitation to lead the diverse, strong, wealthy country toward a good future. And added that honestly is needed: “change is necessary”. Originally focused on environmental change, the party is now soliciting government leadership. Its benefits from the stepping down of Merkel as Christian Democratic leader.
FT Death of Chad leader spells uncertainty for Sahel.
Déby was a military tactician through and through and that was a reason Paris and Washington liked him so much. He successfully made himself useful if not indispensable for the global power brokers and change happens shortly after changes in Libya that is also affecting Russia’s Africa policy. The rebels also had ties to deserted Chadian military. What happens to the rest of society does not matter them all much.
FT An ordinary man who became a global symbol, the background of a verdict against a police officer in the U.S.A.
Police brutality became problematic when recorded and spread. It exposed racial prejudice. If this is a way of justice applied, the future of rule of law is uncertain. Still, this case is worth remembering.
FT Chad’s warrior dynasty will do little to end Islamist threat.
Déby’s allies in the west spent generous words for a man who presided over a fearsome security apparatus that suppressed all opposition, whose authority did not go much further than the barrel of the gun. Claimed to be effective in their regional struggle against Islamists the reckoning will now come in a nation four times as big as Germany with 16 m citizens, ranking 187 on the U.N. development list.
FT Is Myanmar on the road to becoming a failed state?
The country half the size of Chad has ethnic groups in conflict with central power for many decades. The military thought they could do away with the popular civil leader in a coup. Peaceful protest started to become violent and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights warns for the echo of Syria 2011. The regional group ASEAN put up a summit but did only invite the coup leader. The civil leaders call on international help but denounce the failed state rhetoric.
TT Chad rebels trained by Russia march on heart of Africa.
The killed president’s funeral is a high stakes event with French president and foreign minister attending. Meanwhile rumors prevail that parts of the army are in revolt. The rebels work from bases in Eastern Libya and are trained under the custody of its power brokers, among them Russians. Said one commentator: “The Russians know how to make sense of chaos”.
NYT U.S.A. Preparing to Declare That Atrocities by Turkey Against Armenia Were Genocide.
This step would be an indication of the government’s human rights objectives. Modern day Turkey has always admitted the bloody character of the conflict but warned that calling it genocide would trigger a response from them. The Armenians welcome the decision and see it as an historical precedent. At least 29 other countries have taken similar steps in the past— mostly in Europe and the Americas, but also Russia and Syria.
FT Verdict in U.S.A. is milestone in the country’s approach on police accountability.
About 1.000 persons are killed by police each year. Since 2005, 140 cases occurred of police being arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter as a result of an on-duty shooting. Of the 97 cases that have concluded, only seven resulted in murder convictions. More than half were dismissed or resulted in acquittals. Some were reduced to lesser offences. While laws vary by state, prosecutions generally crumble on the provision that officers may use deadly force if they reasonably believe themselves to be in imminent danger. In California, the law has been rewritten: “reasonable” became “necessary”.
FT Chad president and ally to west killed ‘on the battlefield’.
Déby, one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers, had extended his 30 years in power by winning a sixth term in elections this month. His army was considered very effective in the struggle against terrorism. The country will go into a 18 months interim period before elections will be held. Déby’s son took over as an interim.
FT Regulators join forces to rein in Big Tech.
Germany, Australia and UK unite to take on likes of Google and Facebook and warn industry that promises will not be enough in the fight against unfair competition. The three regulators said the pandemic had exacerbated dangerous concentration trends, and said they were taking an increasingly skeptical view of the benefits of tie-ups.
FT Corporate America’s woke moment (social justice) won’t last.
The substance of CEO liberalism is civic: it is racial justice and the electoral franchise that most exercise the bosses. Precious causes, but cost less. It is when the definition of virtue expands to matters of tax, wage settlements and union rights that executives will regret making ethics as well as returns the measure of their work.
NYT In a Charged Environment, France Tackles Its Model of Secularism.
The century old compromise how to deal with religious conviction and organization falters due to increased pluralism in society. The minister of citizenship set up a think tank of 6 persons considered experts, four of them known for strict adherence of the French model of secularism. It comes at a moment in which law making is just concluding and not the other way around.
FT The fourth estate needs more active support.
An independent press goes hand in hand with protecting rule of law. In recent years a free press has become threatened in more European countries in cases where power positions were focused.
FT ‘Defund the police’ slogan provokes U.S.A. policy debate.
Previously a fringe concept, the slogan is becoming mainstream due to incidents of colored people mistreated by the police. Polls show that most Americans are against the idea but police budgets are determined locally and that is where changes can happen.
TT Church of England head demands ban on Non-Disclosure Agreements after BBC exposed racist abuse incident.
The church head Justin Welby said: “In every large group of people you’ll find people with racist ideas. But within the church and institutions of the church we have to stamp that out”. Welby wants sinful racist people in church “to come into contact with the God of love and forgiveness who changes them and transforms them”. The TV program interviewed the churches former race relations advisor.
TT President Xi of China put forward his vision for a fairer world order that challenges the “hegemony” of big countries, in a thinly veiled attack on America.
Xi proposed his own concept of global governance by “a community with a shared future for mankind”. “In state-to-state relations, the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual trust must be put front and center,” Xi said. He rejected any foreign intervention with his country’s internal affairs.
NYT ʻFollow the Party Foreverʼ: China Plans a Communist Centenary Bash.
The government pushes pomp and propaganda ahead of the anniversary, but at the same time stepping up efforts to limit dissent. The Ministry of Civil Affairs is leading a nationwide crackdown against “illegal” nonprofit organizations, including religious and social groups, as part of efforts to ensure a “good environment” for the centenary.
FT Egyptian women attack new family laws.
Females are considered to be protected by males and institutions like schools, hospitals and religious institutions insist on male participation in female triggered decision making. It is argued that other Muslim majority countries are more advanced on gender rights. In words the country’s president promotes female rights and the government has 8 female ministers.
FT South Africa recommends restarting J&J shots.
Lifting of the pause should be conditional on “strengthened screening and monitoring of participants who are at high risk of a blood-clotting disorder”. So far J&J shots were the only vaccine provided in the country. To date no blood-clotting incident has been reported among the countries 0,3 m health workers that have been vaccinated.
FT The U.S.A. should invest in human infrastructure.
Does caring for humans count as infrastructure? It’s a big debate in the US right now. The government not only wants to mend transport and facilities but also care systems. Industry is more and more automated but care can use those who lose their job. Done well care jobs can reinforce productivity in other sectors and the health of society. In rich and poor countries alike, investment still focuses primarily on physical capital. It’s time to recognize that, perhaps more than any other form, human capital is the infrastructure of the 21st century.
FT The limits of China’s taming of tech.
The authorities gave tech companies one month to fix anti-competitive practices in order to create a commercially open and competitive internet. But such antitrust measures do not extend to state-owned monopolies. Chinese multinationals are using the advantage of a protected home market to build up resources that they then deploy in competition with western counterparts abroad.
TT Five Eyes on China cut to four as New Zealand puts trade first.
The Anglophone countries partnership on China was recently broadened and began to issue statements as a single entity. The NZ foreign minister declared that bilateral ties with China were put first, invoking traditional symbols to underline the new direction.
FT Allies of jailed Myanmar elected leader set up ‘unity government’ against junta.
The parallel government will include representatives of Myanmar’s ethnic minority groups in senior roles. However, the formation of the civilian unity government coincides with escalating violence by the junta, a deteriorating economy and a widening of the conflict into more states.
NYT Hong Kong Court Sentences Jimmy Lai and Other Pro-Democracy Leaders to Prison.
A Hong Kong court on Friday sentenced Mr. Lai to 12 months in prison for his role in a peaceful demonstration in 2019 against Beijing’s encroachment over the semiautonomous territory. A few other leaders even higher sentences. The sentences fell short of the maximum of five years in prison the defendants had faced.
FT In Iran hard liners benefit over moderates for the successful weathering of sanctions.
The hardliners claim that relations with western states are not part of their security and economic doctrine. Even Europe is not attractive any more as they have no power. An early renewal of the nuclear deal is therefore unlikely. The presidential election in June are a testcase. Hardliners hope for a high turnout, despite that being beneficial for the reformist side.
NYT Eritrean Troops Continue to Commit Atrocities in Ethiopian region Tigray, the U.N. top humanitarian official tells Security Council in private briefing.
Ethiopian PM Abiy gave assurances of the leaving of the Eritreans after he flew to Eritrea last month. Instead the troops began to hide their identity by wearing Ethiopian uniforms.
FT Tanzania’s president draws line under Magufuli era.
With the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party and an apparatus still packed with Magufuli appointed the new president in front of top figures in the country publicly announced to move back to international standards on the pandemic. Replacements in the administration are focused on winning back foreign investment trust.
FT U.S.A. declares end to its war effort in Afghanistan.
This time a withdrawal is not dependent on conditions on the ground. The effort started after 9/11 and peaked 100,000 combat troops in 2010. 2,500 still to withdraw today. Peace talks faltered and the opponents of the sitting government are expected to benefit. The U.S.A. will continue other support and a narrow anti-terrorism mission.
FT Ecuador’s leader faces struggle against social and economic ills.
The new president’s conservative party is only the fifth party in parliament and bound to face a hard time finding coalitions with his ideological opponents having a majority there. In the background the earlier president Correa (2007 – 2017), who presided over a reduction of inequality, still makes himself felt. Residing in Belgium and convicted in absentia for corruption, he wished the new president luck saying: “This is not the end but a start.”
FT U.S.A. calls on Japan to support Taiwan at White House summit.
The Japan PM is the first foreign leader to visit Biden. Foreign secretaries of the countries already issued a statement on the escalated situation of China vs Taiwan. Some in Japan don’t wish to repeat this on the top level, which would be the first such statement of the two countries since 1969.
FT In the era of social media, it is hard to persuade people to abandon a conspiracy theory.
The trend to belief in conspiracy seen in the U.S.A. has a global significance and thrives in the pandemic era and individualization of communication. Getting involved can be instant, getting rid of it an uphill battle. In addition some of the groups promoting de-radicalization have proved controversial in and of themselves. Societies can be robbed of their basic shared set of facts, also known as “social contract”.
FT Do China’s ‘wolf warrior’ diplomats have any bite?
The article gives examples of China’s attempts of countering outside human rights criticism. A tweet of its embassy in Ireland recently had the remark: “The wolf is the wolf, not the lamb. BTW, China is not a lamb.” It is argued that these activities mainly focus internal demands while more covert advocacy is far more successful towards China’s adversaries.
FT China’s high stakes engagement with Iran.
China recently visited all important Middle East countries except Israel and boldly offered direct Israel-Palestinian talks. This looks like a “great rejuvenation” policy to fill the void of a West in terminal decline, as China sees it. Part of it is energy control in its military context.
FT Crisis in Syria cracks bedrock of support from Alawi minority.
Alawi’s, a historically marginalized sect that makes up just 15 per cent of Syria’s 17 m population, dominate the state apparatus for many decades. The state has turned into a rent seeking military machine, unable to sustain economic opportunity. Traditional support for the regime also falters.
FT Sibling rivalry bodes ill for the future of Jordan.
The country’s strategic position in the region is under siege and Jordan claims the Saudi’s are involved. The custody of the Jerusalem’s Islamic sites plays in the background. Internally the question is if the country can longer afford the social contract whereby East Bankers are guaranteed state jobs in the military and civil service while Palestinians run a weak private sector.
FT Europe will confound its critics yet again.
In reality, the threat of an existential crisis destroying the EU is receding. In reality, the EU is a careful and evolving balance between national and supranational power, and between technocracy and democracy. This is strength, also in comparison to other regions and countries in the world.
FT A new Washington consensus is born.
Once demonstrators saw IMF, World Bank and WTO as a three-headed troll ravaging the world’s poor. Here is the new Washington consensus: Spend big on public health. Fiscal probity is no longer about austerity but about value for money and spending more where the value can be found.
FT U.S.A. government global corporate tax plans are brave and bold.
Increasing the US corporate profit tax to 28 per cent from 21 per cent would raise an estimated $2tn of additional revenue over 15 years. This can help pay for renewal of infrastructure. The second proposal is more complicated to achieve: a global minimum corporate tax. Perhaps tax havens will take it as a nudge in the right direction. The third proposal is to tax large international companies partly on the share of their sales in host markets would be a major global reform. Thee author considers the plans as enhancing productivity.
FT Boycotting China hosted Olympic Games is not the answer.
It would ruin individual athletes careers and have limited effect, as shows experience with previous similar boycotts. Concerned nations can also limit their officials attendance and media coverage of opening and closing events as a protest.
FT Only a few months ago, the IMF forecast lasting damage because of the pandemic. Now it says the advanced economies will emerge largely unscathed.
The new upbeat is caused by increased positive attitude towards global cooperation. The second signal is the willingness of governments to sustain citizens through the pandemic. A third factor is the performance of science to deliver vaccines. The big question mark is how emerging economies will survive the pandemic.
FT German Federal Government set to curb states’ pandemic powers.
The country struggles with its very decentralized political structures now that the pandemic figures bode ill for the effects of governance.
FT Cuba’s aged leader Castro exit heralds changing of revolutionary guard.
The 89 year old is expected to hand over to a 60-year-old protégé. During the previous party congress five years ago Castro suggested that his generation of the politburo to retire with him.
FT U.S.A. must summon the courage to reverse course on China.
The U.S.A. won the cold war but China may understand better why Soviet communism failed. The Soviets had not enough regard for their own population. China did recover from that mistake (Mao-ism), while the U.S.A. spends trillions on unnecessary wars and has its own population lagging behind. The new U.S.A. administration doubles down on Trump’s failed China policy.
FT Turkey rebukes China ambassador in rare dispute.
Turkish president Erdogan sees himself as a champion of Muslim causes but in recent years kept quiet on the Uyghurs. Now the Chinese embassy responds to Turkish politicians tweeting about the 30th anniversary of the Uyghurs uprising. In the background a prospective extradition treaty with China plays a role that is being considered for ratification by the Turkish parliament. This treaty is part of Chinese “wolf-warrior” PR strategy to deal with critics.
FT Mozambique faces an ignored war.
The insurgency began years ago with a local Islamist sect’s clash with the state. There are loose links with ISIS that is keen to brand itself through it. Separatist feelings are broader and also related to resource ownership. Moreover the central government could have sees the signals of eminent attack weeks ahead. This is “breathtakingly shocking and arguably verging on the negligent”.
FT Pakistan military chief took initiative to opens talks to ease India tension.
The back-channel talks are being facilitated by the United Arab Emirates. Any long-lasting peace between the nuclear-armed rivals would redefine the strategic map in Asia. There is nervous flip flopping going on in the background, but strategic regional advantages also look attractive for peace to arrive.
FT Jordanian intrigue points to outside meddling.
“This is a family matter and they are dealing with it in a family way,” said foreign minister Safadi at the weekend. But this neglects that the main plotters had clear contacts to the Saudi rulers. They in turn took the holy cities of Mecca and Medina from the current Jordan rulers in 1925 — as the price of Saudi detente with Israel.
FT Latin America’s selective pursuit of justice weaponizes the law.
“For our friends: justice and grace. For our enemies: just the law”. This 19th century saying goes for much of Latin America today. In Brazil the anti-corruption judge convicting the former president, joined the next government. This is just an example of legal weathervanes on the continent that show clear evidence of connection to government rather than independence from government.
FT IMF to boost balance sheets of developing countries.
The fund creates Special Drawing Rights (SDR’s) of 650 bn, much higher then after the 2009 financial crisis. SDR’s are related to a countries economic size but skewed in favor of small countries. Countries can trade with SDR’s, exploiting their economic value.
FT Nigeria’s graduates live hand to mouth as jobs crisis worsens.
Over 5 years the country has produced an monthly average of 300.000 university graduates. Employment —-cannot keep up and the government needs to promote more industries. The crisis triggered a nation wide
banditry which is counterproductive to the same.
FT In Ethiopia Tigray atrocities jeopardize the pan-Ethiopian drive.
The U.N. recorded over 500 cases of sexual crimes, considering it a tip of the iceberg. Eritrean assistance of the central government is accused but also the Ethiopian army and the Tigray rebels. Even the appointed interim government considers the atrocities a threat to centrally led government of the 110 million citizens nation, 6 % of them Tigrayan.
FT Jordan accuses demoted crown prince of ‘foreign’ plot to destabilize kingdom.
A major sovereignty crisis erupts as a former crown prince is publicly accused of destabilizing his half-brothers reign of the kingdom. His mother sees the accusations as slander. He himself defends himself on social media.
FT Indonesia Sovereign Wealth Fund vows to avoid 1MDB snags.
The example of corruption in the Malaysia SWF hangs low but the fund’s CEO Wirakusumah vows to avoid it. UAE last week pledged $ 10 bn, a tenth of what Indonesia wants to achieve. The U.S.A. and China are courting the country in its favor.
FT In the U.S.A. the grip of former president Trump on the Republican party is still growing.
The blue collar words and while collar behavior of the Republicans forms a constituency that is united in anti-regulation and racial fears. The Republicans work towards the mid-terms that traditionally work in the opposition’s favor and benefit from the “elite leftism’ smell of the Democrats.
NYT In France a student union facilitates closed minority meetings which government sees as a national threat.
The influence of the over a century old subsidized student union that once lobbied for the independence of the country’s most important colony, Algeria, is noticeable as the French senate voted against its “safe space” forums that the students union organizes in the fight against discrimination. It is a pushback against what conservative intellectuals describe as the threat from progressive American ideas on race, gender and post colonialism.
FT PM defies calls to step down in the Netherlands.
The elections winner narrowly escaped a vote of confidence, but was faced by a vote of censure, following coalition talks that exposed him as trying to silence the major critic that made his former government step down.
FT Ukraine and Russia accuse each other after Donetsk battle.
The 7 year conflict of the Ukrainian government and Russia backed separatists has erupted. Russia claims the other party violates the ceasefire, claiming to France and Germany there is no alternative to it. The U.S.A. stated it supports Ukraine’s sovereignty “and Euro-Atlantic aspirations”.
FT China now stresses the WHO report on origin of covid virus rules out lab theory.
While the WHO claims restricted access to crucial data on the origins of the corona virus China maintains the report points to a further worldwide search. It considers it a possibility that the virus arrived in the country via frozen food. The WHO head said more research is needed for the lab theory to be outlawed.
FT WHO chief keeps open possibility virus came from lab leak.
The core of the evidence found by a recent WHO expert field visit pointed to the possible transmission of Covid-19 to humans from animals, either directly or through an intermediate animal host. More research is needed to outlaw lab leaks, said the WHO chief. He further concluded that the expert visit
FT A second cold war is tracking the first.
It is premature to say that a second cold war is unlikely. Russia may be weak and China technology oriented. The U.S.A. is probably hooked on hegemony, whereas the other two need muscles to accommodate the political advantage on the home front. The EU hoped to strike a trade deal with China in parallel to human rights action, in vain. Prejudice can shape the stalemate.
FT China lending to Africa falls as a debt crisis is feared.
The trend was already set before the pandemic. China fears insolvency as has already happened in Zambia. Ethiopia last month asked for debt relief under the G20 program. An observing institute stresses that the reason for Chinese restraint is fear of failing market. Popular misconception that Chinese behavior directed by asset capture and strategic advance is untrue.
FT Mozambique violence risks regional instability.
The region with the violence is far from the capital, in the past a backwater. Not the scene of Africa’s single biggest investment enterprise. Violence is already going on for decade for reasons of claims of neglect. 2,600 have been killed since 2017. Analysts say that figures from Tanzania and Mozambique probably lead the insurgency together. About half of Cabo Delgado’s population is Muslim, compared to a fifth of Mozambicans overall.
FT Atrocities of dirty war in Tigray set to haunt Ethiopia.
As foreign media access is loosened, testimonies are bubbling to the surface. But both the federal government as Eritrea claim the break away regional movement TPLF caused the atrocities. Witnesses heavily point to Eritreans. Also the appointed interim government admitted that the border strip is still in Eritrean hands, despite the announcement of their withdrawal.
FT Fresh sanctions may barely dent Fortress Russia.
The country has guarded itself successfully against sanctions. Financial orthodoxy and effective import substitution made it possible not only to weather sanctions but also oil price slump. Though he is often compared with erratic autocrats, Putin has long been relatively careful on macroeconomic policy.
FT The puzzle of a ‘middle class foreign policy’ for the new U.S.A. administration.
Americans blame their squeezed income on China trade. There is a striking difference in the new governments words on foreign and domestic politics. Biden wants to have his foreign policy to be beneficial for American middle class. This proves a real puzzle. Also, because allies now more than before carve their own track.
FT Turkish Cypriots’ two-state stance damps reunification hopes.
Hopes for revived unification talks faltered as the foreign minister of the breakaway part of the country said that Greek Cypriots and the international community must accept the “undeniable reality” of “two separate national entities, two separate states, two separate democracies, two separate peoples”.
FT Turkey sacrifices women’s protection.
In 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the Istanbul convention to combat violence against women. Now the government claims the convention is misused for promoting homosexuality and threatens cultural family values. Equality of sexes would be “against nature”. The government in this way is courting conservative religious groups.
FT India deals blow to global Covid fight by blocking vaccine exports.
The country experiences a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases and is preparing to expand its vaccination campaign to people aged 45 and above on April 1.
FT AstraZeneca and the lessons of vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new. The roll out of the AstraZeneca jab is a disaster. The vaccine is a potential workhorse for the developing world – cheap, scalable and easy to store. Suspicion of vaccines is often a proxy for lack of trust in government, a profit-driven pharmaceutical industry or a scientific motive. An anthropological approach is advised to combat fears that does not treat vaccine skeptics as unscientific idiots. Instead, rumors should be seen as “collective problem solving”.
FT Suez Canal blockage threatens severe disruption to global trade supplies.
A giant container ship blocks the 120-mile long Suez Canal that handles 10 % of both seaborne goods and oil worldwide and even more between China and Europe.
FT Rural South Africa faces long wait for jab roll out.
High death rates in the country are linked to bad infrastructure and mismanaged rural hospitals.
FT At a time of shortages Taiwan company is conducting the global economy.
The company is a global market leader on the most complex chips. In the background is the growing economic conflict between China and the U.S.A. But also other countries are concerned about the dependency on the unknown but very vital Taiwanese company TSMC.
FT The sanctions war between big powers over human rights abuses in China.
Europe belatedly joined the U.S.A. in sanctions for China for its Uyghur and Hong Kong human rights violations and is promptly met by counter sanctions.
FT US to begin first child allowance experiment.
Since 2003 a Democrat member of congress has been campaigning for direct payments to parents to help support their children, something that most developed countries already do. Finally this is coming off, described as the most significant expansion of the American safety net since 1935. It is reasoned that its expenses will be compensated as children from better of families are doing better in life.
FT Water-sharing pact damps India-Pakistan tensions.
India and Pakistan officials were expected to meet yesterday to discuss a water-sharing pact, in a sign of improving relations between the nuclear-armed rivals following a ceasefire in Kashmir brokered by the United Arab Emirates. The Pakistan army chief delivered a conciliatory speech last week, saying it was time to “bury the past and move forward”. Peace would help “unlock the untapped potential” of south and central Asia, he added.
FT Canada envoys refused entry to spy trial in China.
The dispute between Ottawa and Beijing that began with the December 2018 arrest of Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada. China held two Canadians for spying in due course, claiming they violated Chinese law.
FT Sacking of bank governor rattles investors in Turkey.
The government sacked the national bank head for his more conventional monetary policies that enabled an economic recovery but also creates the room for the government to push through their own plans.
FT Britain will urge European Union to avoid vaccine war.
The EU is threatening to close its borders for export of vaccines as the company AstraZeneca are readily available in Britain and in short supply in the EU.
FT India and China: An explosive cocktail of rising temperatures and aggressive road and dam-building threatens the economies and security of the eight countries in the region.
Both countries have extensive programs for electricity supply by dams. These projects carry a lot of geological risks that also threaten the downstream countries. In addition it is a geo political risk.
FT The new U.S.A. government’s brief window to end middle class stagnation.
The election of the new president can be thanked to the pandemic. Economic prospects after that are very positive. However the underlying inequality is a tough case to handle. This requires a new economic agenda.
FT U.S.A. and China cross swords at ‘reset’ meeting with top officials in Alaska.
The U.S.A. criticized China on human rights issues while China accused the U.S.A. of “cold war mentality”.
FT South African Monarch who ruled through transition from apartheid.
King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu of the Zulu nation died aged 72. He reigned for half a century, through the overthrow of Apartheid and dawn of democracy. He turned to the cultural revival of his people in a bid to reconcile tradition with modernity in the new South Africa. He is also implicated for claims of unlawfully extracting rent, dispossessing women in particular.
FT Tanzania leader dies after two-week illness.
The president, John Magufuli, died aged 61 after disappearing from public life for more than 2 weeks. The vice-president takes over control. Many rumors surround the last few weeks of the president, who many consider to be a divisive figure and was known for his Covid19 skepticism.
FT Supply chain ‘sovereignty’ will undo the gains of globalization.
States not so long ago pursued agility but nowadays resilience is more in fashion. Threats have replaced challenges. Nations prove vulnerable through their complex global supply chains. Geopolitics and globalization used to run on parallel tracks. The former is gaining from the financial crisis onwards. But nations need to realize resilience cannot be outsourced.
FT China’s war on the credit boom.
The government wants to reduce risks in the financial system by curtaining lending practices. More top-down control by the state of the private banking sector could strangle the private sector and dent long-term economic growth as market.
FT Spy agencies from Great Britain push for curbs on Chinese ‘smart cities’ technology.
The country wants to “remain open” to trade and investment from Beijing, but protect itself from deals that would have “an adverse effect on prosperity and security”, like surveillance systems of citizens.
FT Move to ban a political party in Turkey prompts fury.
Turkey’s pushes to close its second-biggest opposition party. Western countries warned the government that the move violates human rights and threatens democracy.
FT Peace in Syria remains a mirage after 10 years of war.
Three conflicts converge: minority dominance nationally, the ethno-sectarian conflict led by Iran and a regional war of great powers. Rebels came close to toppling the regime in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Assad was trapped in a shrinking rump state until first Iran and then Russia came to his rescue. He now draws support from licensing war profiteers to effectively expropriate refugee property.
TT High self-esteem breeds laziness and failure.
It is often explained the other way around and it is one of the dangerous ideas to emerge from the 20th century. It is common sense to think priggishness breeds success. Self-esteem supposes that the right to feel good about ourselves precedes the actual doing of any good. It is informed by the quasi-theological idea that human beings are innately good. Self-esteem is anti-social: a means of removing ourselves from the human networks to which we belong.
FT Poorer nations require support to avoid a lost decade.
The situation after the 2008 debt crisis should be avoided, when emerging markets suffered. This is a perfect moment for the U.S.A. government to show its commitment to multilateralism. The U.S.A. is doing a lot to boost its own economy. Supporting new programs at the IMF will ensure help for emerging market countries as well.
FT Libya takes ‘historic step’ to end chaos.
The vote of confidence from rival members of parliament is important. The new government should lead the country to elections on December 24. The issue of disarming militia is still unresolved and there is still no Minister of Defense. The peace deal has led to regional rapprochement of countries on opposing side of the conflict.
FT Mozambique uses private foreign security contractors against Islamists.
The country’s multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas investments are at stake in a conflict that has more to do with local grievances than foreign Islamists. The army was in disarray last year after the Islamists advance. A Russian contractor was quickly defeated. The South African groups were more successful. They claim to work under government approved contracts and not to have committed human rights violations. Evidence make that doubtful.
FT Palestine and Israel peace must rest on international law.
Respect for international law cannot be superseded by unilateral and partisan politics. Occupied territories are not merely “disputed”. Ensuring an end to the occupation should be the foundation of a permanent solution. The recent ICC ruling to investigate incidents is a good development. So are elections on both sides of the frontier.
FT By targeting house prices, New Zealand shows the way.
The focus should be on the role of “easy money” in creating instability. Created to advance growth and jobs, it primarily benefited the booming of the financial sector. Research looking back 140 years in 17 major nations has shown that housing booms are happening increasingly before crisis. NZ designation to its national bank to target stability in housing is complicated but necessary. Affordable housing is essential “commodity” for a viable, peaceful society.
FT Nigerian pirates rampage off west Africa coast.
This reminds of the Somalia pirate crisis 10 years ago, but Nigeria is not a failed state. The pirates are mostly from the Niger delta. The slump in oil prices may be an incentive. Former pipeline saboteurs are looking for new opportunity. The Delta is very inaccessible. An EU coordination pilot has not been successful. Sovereignty is a sensitive issue, considering the colonial past.
FT European Union attempts to win over critics of China trade accord.
The deal was criticized by other countries but now too by human rights organizations, as China has such a bad human rights record. The EU claims it needs “to find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival”.
FT Democracy is a risk China is not prepared to take.
The government left no doubt that the recent political changes leave participation in politics only open for patriots, possessors of a “love” defined by the Chinese Communist Party and policed by the state security apparatus. The changes may be caused by the protests, but more so by the overwhelming victory of the opposition in the November 2019 election.
FT Tanzania president’s absence prompts speculation of illness.
The newspaper reports that the president “has not been to church for two successive Sundays in spite of his devout beliefs”. It is rumored that Magufuli is hospitalized in Nairobi, Kenya. The president has a history of heart problems but also campaigned for ignoring the Covid official approach.
FT Pope’s visit brings hope to Iraqi Christians and beyond.
The visit was loaded with symbolism, wanted to boost the morale of the believers, the cause of pluralism and the prove the sheer weight of this cradle of civilization. The visit to the Iranian-born spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia majority, who has a dramatic prestige through his role in the years after 2003, was the high point, according to FT. Their message of the visit is countering the narrative of many Arab despots.
FT Houthis call shots in push for Yemen peace.
They launched an offensive to capture Marib, the only Northern area they don’t yet control. One commentator qualified Trump’s designation Houthy as terrorists and Biden’s cancellation without conditions equally stupid. A Saudi official said: “The Houthis must have a role and a say in Yemen in the future but as a minority they can’t expect to dictate to the majority.”
FT The decline of democracy is not America’s responsibility.
Outside efforts (war, sanctions, example) bear little fruit. Despair at democracy’s decline is natural. Amazement at its survival is more fitting.
FT The growing army of amateur investors.
Fueled by fee-free smartphone apps such as Robinhood and with the help of other social media this is a global trend that is transforming markets. Few in the investment industry took this seriously. Now the amateurs have demonstrated an ability to move markets, the industry wants to understand and plug in to. Some expect it to crash but others see a generation driven innovative activity.
FT Senegal opposition politician released after mass protests.
The politician, a tax official sacked four years ago after accusing the presidents brother of irregularities, was arrested for disturbing public order en route to court to defend himself for rape charges. Two other politicians were charged with crimes in 2019 which prevented them for participating in the presidential elections. Eight people died in the mass protest with more protests planned. Also in Senegal, feelings about France are fueling the discord.
FT Afghanistan government rails against U.S.A. power-sharing plan.
In a bid to end one of the “forever wars” the U.S.A. presses the Afghan government for “high-level diplomatic effort” with the UN and countries including China, Russia and Iran to “discuss a unified approach” to peace in the war-torn central Asian country. The Afghan government wants to have elections first and their opponents threaten to take up arms again. Chaos may return if the U.S.A. sticks to the former U.S.A. administration pledge to leave by May.
FT In rich countries trade unions are back, an unexpected result of the pandemic.
For 40 years trade union membership was in steep decline, especially among the young. Issues are diversifying. It’s not only about pay but also work quality issues: pacing by robots and monitoring by algorithms. The shift reflects a quiet change in economic orthodoxy. One issue is whether the unions themselves are fit for the future.
TT Deal with the obesity crisis to help curb next pandemic.
In a scientific ranking on pandemic preparedness in 2018 Burundi ranked 177th and Vietnam 50th while the two countries emerge out of the Covid19 statistics best. The reason is obesity in richer countries that ranked high in the same research.
FT French interests play role in Francophone Africa’s democratic erosion.
The stepping down of a president after two terms in Niger is a rare exception. France is focused on the terrorist fight. The former colonial power’s influence had kept the countries from developing better democratic institutions.
FT Ecuador’s indigenous leader jubilant as his party enters political mainstream.
He did not make it to the run off of the presidential elections but the big gains in parliament gives him a pivotal role as no party has an absolute majority.
FT A wishful view of China will not benefit the competition.
The Chinese have a perception that the U.S.A. is in decline, they value their own chances in that respect and have an ambitious president. They think they can get away with intellectual property theft, closed home markets and dubious labor circumstances and let their mercantilism take over domination.
Tensions surround Pope’s visit to Iraq.
“Inside the Pope’s heart, I feel there’s a sort of a call to come to a region that’s in flames,” says the local Cardinal. The pope travels the length of the historic country. Security is the responsibility of the government of Iraq. The trip builds on the Pope’s long time efforts to strengthen relations with the Muslim world, extending his message of “fraternity and social friendship” outlined in his 2020 “Brothers All” encyclical. “
FT Bubbles can also lead to golden ages of productive growth.
This happened seven times the last 1.000 + years. The legal revolution from 1000, the trade revolution from 1600, the industrial revolution from 1770, the steam revolution from 1820, the electricity revolution from 1870, the mass production revolution in the 1900’s and the information technology from the 1970’s. An AI led revolution is looming. To make it green we need new institutions. Our taxation system should cut the burden on labor and long-term investment returns, and further shift on to materials, transport and dirty energy.
FT Upcoming G7 in GB: democracies must put their act together.
Like the new U.S.A. administration plan to promote an alliance of democratic countries, it runs the risk turning into anti-Chinese fronts. Note that also Australia, South Korea and India are invited. It is debatable whether the 10 countries have enough in common to be fully united on democratic values or on strategy towards China.
FT The paradox of human progress.
The famous wrong projection of Malthus may turn against humanity in another way. Our ability to create food surpluses and messenger RiboNucleic Acid vaccines is enabled in a destabilizing environment. Pathogens love disequilibrium. Our way of life is better for exchange of knowledge than the life of hunter gatherers but perfect for pathogenic spread.
FT U.S.A. ditches regime change foreign policy that according to the new Secretary of State “however well intentioned, haven’t worked” during the last decades.
Still Mr. Blinken claims his country is “uniquely capable of bringing countries together to solve problems no country can solve on its own.” Also, he claims China filled the voids of the last four years but not for the better. “The world does not organize itself.”. This leaves the impression that an alternative policy has not been invented.
FT Translators working for AFP and FT held in Ethiopian region Tigray.
The incidents happened shortly after the federal government allowed press to travel to the region. A NYT translator was also arrested but later released.
FT Opportunity knocks in EU as France finds a pro-European head of government appointed in Italy.
The former European bank head Draghi has wide support at home and credit throughout the EU. This is a welcome addition to France as the centrally located nation promotes greater European integration.
FT Google and others have to prove AI technology can be used for good.
Algorithms are opinions embedded in code, said one researcher. They shape our economies and societies in important but mostly invisible ways. Google is exposed as it fired dissident researchers. Societal acceptance is an issue for some companies. Comparison is made with conferences to reach an ethical basis for DNA science. Practicing best principles is not simple.
TT Iraqi Christians hope for miracle from Pope Francis’s visit.
The visit follows massive emigration of Iraqi Christians (1987, 1.4 m; today 0,25 m). The pope is expected to address that problem and visit biblical historic places. He will also have a private audience with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, 90, the country’s most senior Shia leader. The visit reminds of the courageous successful papal visit to CAR in 2015.
NYT Myanmar Ambassador to U.N. adhering to elected government does not want to leave.
A possible show down looms at the U.N. The coup leaders appointed a new person. The U.N. acknowledged that both diplomats “can come into the building” and that who is recognized as Myanmar’s representative “will be an issue up for member states.” More precisely the 9 member credentials committee headed by a Tanzanian diplomat.
FT It is not up to consumers to police modern slavery.
The truth is that even companies don’t control the supply chain. Legislation is one way to enforce an improvement of the position of workers and other factors. And this includes legislation at the place of origin of production.
FT Big enterprise poses a threat to the Chinese state.
Alibaba chief Ma went out of sight. This is no surprise as he always said he would do anything the state would ask of him. The Chinese president wants to encourage private enterprise while asserting total Communist party control over the actions, incentives and even thoughts of entrepreneurs.
FT Poorer countries need more global assistance.
Rich countries could turn to the capital markets for pandemic relief. If they are serious about returning to multilateralism they should offer less fortunate countries a new round of special drawing rights (SDR) through IMF.
TT Burma: Asian nations to condemn using live ammunition against unarmed protesters and demand Suu Kyi’s release but reject sanctions against junta.
Many will consider the suggestion that the military could negotiate with a democratically elected government as legitimizing the coup.
FT Myanmar’s worst day yet.
The military upscales violent dispersal of protests with 18 peaceful protesters dead in one day.
FT U.S.A. clears path to global deal on taxing big tech groups.
The change of heart on the part of the U.S.A. would eventually enable levies on large technology companies, in an effort to prevent them from paying little or no tax on their sales.
FT Nigerian investors ignore warnings and plunge into bitcoin.
The Central Bank of Nigeria warns against losing meagre savings on a highly speculative asset. Nigerians turned to bitcoin when the government froze bank accounts of protest against police brutality leaders last autumn.
FT Bandit abduction of 317 girls adds to pressure on Nigeria government.
While banditry affects the entire country, from the rugged north-west to the oil-rich Niger Delta region in the south, some northern governors have entered into peace talks with the bandits. The president said “criminals are criminals”and warned the governors against “ethnic profiling”.
TT Russia calls the shots in Libya and not their contractors.
With Turkey backing the other side, neither seems to plan to go and with their superior military power seem to dominate, thus incapacitating the national dynamics.
NYT Young generation puts ʻOld Menʼs Clubʼ that dominates Japan on notice.
Sexist remarks of a leader of the Olympic movement dislodged him. Male seniority conventions are still strong in many stratifications of society. Broader change is likely to come only slowly.
FT African price for Russia vaccine blunts attacks on ‘unethical’ west.
A price war is developing with manufacturers trying to hide. Africa is seen as a major market.
FT Armenia military accused of coup plot.
Following the defeat of Armenia against Azerbaijan politics hit out after senior army officers demand PM resignation.
FT Myanmar protests imperil economy as banks close.
Bank staff are joining civil disobedience protests following the military coup. Fears for suffering poor are part of the threats.
FT Xi takes credit for China anti-poverty success.
The one party state in a propaganda push claims to have elevated 750 million people out of extreme poverty since 1990, though the poverty level standard is lower than the recommended level of the World Bank for lower middle-income countries.
FT Geopolitical supremacy will depend on computer chips.
Semiconductors vie with vaccines as the must-have resources for any nation state.
FT Rich countries should reassign funds to Africa to beat Covid.
The writer, under-secretary general of the UN, argues that the U.S.A. can support the continent in a way that saves lives and delivers a return on investment.
FT China focuses on Africa as Belt and Road lending decreases.
Lending to Africa made up 37 per cent of the total in 2017 – 2020, higher than its 21 per cent share of the total in the years 2013-16. Nigeria is on top.
FT Nigeria sharpens focus on infrastructure.
Critics voice corruption concerns and experts think it barely makes a dent in the 30 year needs to catch up, but the rail link from the north to Niger could be a game changer for the country.
FT South Africa ‘state capture’ inquiry tested as Zuma faces jail.
The former president refuses to appear to testify. Soon the high court needs to decide to jail him in order to comply. If that fails, lawlessness in the courts will be the result, according to the deputy Attorney General.
FT Brazil president replaces chief of state oil company by army General.
A rise in oil prices provoked anger. The market responded by a slide in stock price. Fears are that the President will take a more interventionist approach before next years elections.
FT Colombia’s treatment of Venezuelan refugees is a global model, says UNHCR High Commissioner.
Copying best practices of the past the country grants access to social rights before more permanent solutions can be found. Colombia is a contemporary example passing this test. A sign of hope in a world of 80 million refugees.
FT Uber judgment in Britain set to reshape the gig economy.
The taxi app is told to treat their mobility providers as personnel, arguing the company defines the business conditions for its subcontractors.
FT Why once successful countries get left behind
Growth is a race to the top. It means exploiting new opportunities that generate enduring advantages in high-productivity sectors. If you loose or not engage in them, you are out.
FT The billionaire turned philanthropist Microsoft co-founder offers four ideas to engage business to fight climate change.
After explaining that current policy ideas are insufficient to balance modern lifestyle Bill Gates suggests business to mobilize capital to reduce Green Premiums (difference between fossil fuel sustained efforts compared to clean activity), buy green products, invest in R&D and help shape public policy.
FT The west holds another round of pledges to maintain their social model.
The U.S.A. president during a podcasted conference told the G7 countries to“prepare together for long-term strategic competition with China”. He argued this is a contest between democracy and autocracy. Like Trump, he told the Europeans to raise their defense spending.
FT Tanzania shuns vaccines.
Leading politicians deny the global standard to fight the pandemic and turn to alternative treatment. The health minister publicly produced and consumed a smoothy with ginger, onions, lemon and pepper as a medicine. The public denial is a global risk as the virus variants travel without borders.
FT Rapper’s jailing fuels anger in Spain.
The singer involves in the regional independence movement. The government accuses him of insulting the monarchy. This indictment echoes response to protest in Thailand.
FT Australia’s Big Tech fight does not provide a model.
Taxing nationally involves in intercorporate competition. A multi-faceted and multinational approach is needed to ensure tech giants do not distort competition or abuse their dominance. Governments and regulators need to co-operate across borders to police the biggest tech companies.
FT Reality bites for new U.S.A. administration to loosen Saudi ties.
To deliver the election promise is a challenge that is only topped by the China and Russia problems. The centrally located energy supplier will not change its human rights record, while it opposes a change of U.S.A. policy on Iran.
FT World Bank’s private sector arm gets first African head.
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, has appointed Makhtar Diop, a Senegalese former finance minister, as its managing director. Traditionally this position went to a European.
FT Indian farmers’ protests highlight PM’s flaws.
While farm reform is important, building consensus is too with a population of 40 % involved in farming. Government has shown an instinct for the right reforms but its conspiracy focused and authoritarian response to criticism is counterproductive.
TT Ethiopian worshipers risked lives to save Ark of the Covenant kept in Axum St Mary of Zion church from soldiers.
At the end of November the city of Axum was retaken by the government forces. Up to 500 people were killed in the proximity of the church. Government forces and their Eritrean allies showed no mercy to find TPLF forces. Three months later the foreign ministry admitted that “rape, plunder, callous and intentional mass killings” could occur in a conflict where “many are illegally armed”.
FT UN to raise allegations of UAE rulers daughter.
In a 2019 video from the bathroom in the villa where she is kept the daughter (in her mid 30’s) claims to be imprisoned. The ruler with business and sport interests in the U.K. sees the matter as private.
FT The digital renmimbi rolled out by China brings the surveillance state closer.
The system is a step further than corporate digital payment systems. It puts all financial transactions on the radar of the state. Beijing is far ahead of a long tail of national governments that are starting to experiment with the idea.
FT Africa should strive for its own ‘Nordic values’.
The author’s experience in Ghana and across Africa is that the inclusion of women in leadership groups significantly advances debate and decision-making at the most senior levels of business. This in turn leads to better returns for investors in the private sector and improves the performance of public sector companies.
FT China explores curbs on rare earth exports to U.S.A.
Defense applications trigger the search for options. Including rare earths in the export control regime would motivate Beijing’s rivals to accelerate their own production capacity. Raw material is sent to China for its higher tolerance for pollution.
FT Saudi Arabia presses foreign groups to move HQs.
For many companies this would mean moving their regional headquarters from Dubai, which so far has a better infrastructure. The Saudi’s are involved in a heavy top-down effort to diversify their economic base.
FT Indonesia picks executives of sovereign wealth fund.
They have “cut their teeth in the private sector”. This shows Jakarta wants “to strike a professional tone and pay attention to governance structure.” Unlike most sovereign wealth funds, which typically manage a country’s surplus reserves, Indonesia is seeding the new vehicle with up to $6bn.
FT The risks from a dash to chip nationalism.
Rethinking of global technology supply chains is a natural response to the current political climate. State subsidy and direction can create new industries, but it can also lead to flabby and inefficient also-rans.
FT South African scientists lead virus response.
The country’s national laboratory capacity is an important contribution to the global pandamic response. The capacity was already available from the HIV/Aids response.
FT Spain’s center-right felled in Catalonia poll.
The separatist parties, who have some of their leaders imprisoned, won a majority and likely fuel the feelings for independence despite the constitutional restraints.
TT Ancient monastery ‘looted and bombed’ in Ethiopia.
The acts look like cultural cleansing with the Eritrean troops involved.
FT Emerging nations have better post-pandemic prospects.
Emerging nations are advancing a range of reforms to raise productivity and boost growth.
FT Egyptian women’s struggle for rights.
There was a brief period of more public sphere but the motivation was a determination to punish “immorality” rather than a commitment to protecting women’s safety. In Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, women have made legal gains in recent decades. Often, however, achievements have been presented as gifts from rulers keen to burnish their modernizing credentials.
FT Sahel leaders consider talks with jihadis to end decade of extremism.
France has always rejected talks but also threatens to pull back its effort. Leaders think the conflict will not be solved militarily.
FT U.S.A. faces test in turning high moral rhetoric into global pragmatic policy.
Words need to be followed by actions, choices need to be made if democracy is promoted and at home there are also questions re. rule by example.
FT Tensions rise in Ecuador as poll results roll in.
A candidate of a well-organized minority might win a place in the decisive run off at the expense of a candidate who was considered to be in a more promising position.
FT China bars BBC world news channel.
The media dispute started by the UK media watchdog barring China global television network as it found it was editorially controlled by the Chinese government.
FT Botched Moscow visit is a wake-up call for the EU.
The embryonic foreign ministry of the EU so far only has credit for the Iran nuclear deal and maintained Crimea annexation sanctions. The candor EU representative was efficiently humbled by his hosts, exposing perceived global clout. The EU’s real leverage stems from its policies on trade, regulation and market access.
TT Industrial farming combines care of the soil with much better food.
It is a peculiar business, seasonal and erratic; output is difficult to assess statistically. When you delve beneath the surface the sector looks leaner and greener. If you compare the overall productivity of the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector with the rest of the economy, it turns out that it’s one of the strongest performers. The next big thing these days is something called regenerative farming.
FT The tragedy of Ethiopia’s conflict in Tigray.
There are credible accounts of massacres on all sides, including from militiamen from the neighboring Amhara region and troops from bordering Eritrea. Witnesses report house-to-house killings, rapes and the looting of commercial buildings and churches. Some Tigrayans smell a plot to divide their region between Eritrea and Amhara. Without a broader national dialogue, the tensions that erupted in Tigray will erupt somewhere else.
FT Islamist party plots greater influence in Israeli parliament.
The leader wants to emphasize policy by strategic behavior towards those who want Netanyahu as premier and those who vow to send him to the opposition to face his corruption trial as a backbencher.
FT Spanish Catalan separatists look to Scotland in fight for referendum.
The situation differs a lot. In Catalonia there is a very divided population, part of which feels very Spanish. Also, the united Spain is enshrined in the constitution. In Britain there is less centralist momentum.
FT Plunge in migration risks global revival, says OECD.
OECD, the think tank of rich countries, laments the plunge in migration due to the pandemic. Its indigenous ageing and shrinking population can in many cases not fill the gap, risking economic revival.
FT South Africa’s vaccine plans in tatters after variant concerns emerge.
The country had last week received the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine. Initial study results show little protection for moderate cases of the variant in South Africa. Peer review and severe cases still forthcoming. Modification of the vaccine is likely.
FT WHO’s trip to Wuhan, China, fails to solve mystery of virus origins.
With the foreign ministry and global press receiving the medical experts it proves to be a political process. The experts had to reassure the press that they were ready to face all questions. They arrived one year late and with time limitations on field work. The Chinese government attitude reminds of the Boeing corporate approach in the 737 Max accident investigation.
FT Anglosphere sees eye to eye on China.
Unlike Germany & France the English speaking countries find themselves in a confrontational group towards the increasingly assertive China. And China feels this too. The government commented aggressively about it.
FT Democratic Republic of Congo on alert after Ebola outbreak.
A farmer whose wife survived Ebola earlier died. It happened in the north-east of the country. This might be the start of the 12th outbreak of the virus in the African nation since the first cases were detected in 1976.
FT Libya edges nearer to unifying as interim government picked in Geneva talks.
There will be a three-member presidency council, led by a diplomat with eastern support base. A businessman and politician from Misurata will be prime minister. The solution is the outcome of political deal-making and not national reconciliation.
WTO leader will likely be Nigeria candidate.
The Korean candidate steps down after a prolonged leadership battle. Earlier the U.S. blocked the Nigerian candidate.
FT U.S.A. returns to UN Human Rights Council.
The previous government left in part because of perceived Israel bias. The new government emphasized the potential of the Human Rights Council to bring to light the worst human rights records. It can serve as an important forum for those fighting injustice and tyranny.
FT Classic globalization cracks, but now we enter the era of e-globalization.
A Romania based software company reached 35 bn valuation in New York with something that can be done anywhere where intelligent minds reside in a peaceful and efficient environment. Perhaps the company is swallowed by big tech, but it can just as well create its own breeding soil.
IMF urges Arab leaders to take action or risk new ‘lost decade’.
The former Lebanese finance minister, now regional IMF head, stressed that “work should start now on high-quality investment in green infrastructure and digitalization.” He further lamented the rampant youth unemployment. Education and a national contract of shared responsibility and decision making are important.
FT Ukraine shuts Russia-linked TV channels.
The president hails free speech but shuts down three domestic TV channels legally owned by a pro-Russia oligarch. His party also ousted a pro-Russia parliamentarian hit by U.S. sanctions as he promoted “fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations” against Joe Biden.
FT Hungary and Poland set sights on social media ‘censorship’.
Judit Varga, Hungary’s justice minister, said last week Hungary would not tolerate intrusions on free speech and “deliberate, ideological” censorship by anonymous corporate censors on social media. The EU vice-president on digital policy wants to get EU wide regulations in place.
NYT Is Indiaʼs response to farmer protests part of a pattern?
Social media curbs are criticized causing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a rare statement that “these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity”.
FT Containing China is not a feasible option.
The one issue Trump and Biden unite is the belief that China should be contained. Most countries want good relations with both the U.S.A. and China. Defending freedom takes more than what the U.S.A. produced in the last 20 years. Keep in mind that China’s party rule is supported by a cohesive polity.
TT Doctors in Burma go on strike in protest at coup.
The democratic leader has been charged for importing and using handheld radio’s! Rumors she was charged with treason (a capital offence) seem false. The doctors use similar protest signs as the Thai and Hong Kong protesters.
TT Here’s how the next world war might start.
There is an AI arms race under way that has fundamentally changed the way we look at the vulnerability of organizations and states. That’s a force for good if it buys politicians more time to assess the threat. But not if the data has been poisoned.
FT Myanmar coup reverses a fragile democracy.
The military take over with a claim of election fraud halts the imperfect democratic process that started 10 years ago when military rule gave way partly. In the meantime the democratic leader has a proven domestic popularity. Her detention will be followed globally.
FT Ethiopia follows Chad in appeal for virus crisis debt relief.
This also follows Zambia’s default in late 2020. The debt relief scheme requires borrowers to reach agreement with private creditors as well as official lenders.
FT Sahel pullback reflects French frustration.
The French president considers the lack of success in fighting terrorism as a problem of embeddedness, while the International Crisis Group suggests that military dominance in the response is a reason of the French “foundering”.
FT Lagos calls for federalism in Nigeria to boost investment in regions.
In the first three quarters of 2020 foreign direct investment into Nigeria trailed Ghana. Lagos lost the investment in a private hospital to Ghana as it could not offer benefits in the prerogative of the central government. Yet, for the governor’s power he has not much to show for, said one consultant.
FT Cabling Africa: the great data race.
Traffic speed is exploding but still very low. Cable networks are being built. But there is more in infrastructure that is needed for reliable services. Global providers realize the enormous potential of the continent.
FT Has the pandemic burnt itself out in India?
With the rate of new infections falling sharply, the country might be at an early stage of herd immunity.
FT Taiwan economic growth outpaces China.
This happens for the first time over a full year since 1990. Electronic exports soared but also domestic demand. The country applied a very successful anti-Corona policy.
FT Europeans vent anger over vaccination turmoil.
Jab supply faces problems, not only by delays at producer level, but also distribution suffers in many countries. Both the Union and the country governments are under critique.
FT The battle over Scotland is under way in the United Kingdom.
62 per cent of Scottish voters voted against Brexit in 2016. The Scottish nationalists threaten to hold another independence vote. Central government is giving mixed signals. There is a risk of what happened in Spain with Catalonia.
FT Kyrgyzstan president denies plans to create dictatorship.
With revolutions in 2005, 2010 and last year and 30 PM’s in 29 years the elections gave a majority for changing to presidential rule. The winning man Mr Japarov laughed off jibes from critics that he was a “Kyrgyz Trump”.
FT Philippines president Duterte support holds firm despite mishandling of pandemic.
Some allude his ratings to cash handouts to poor but another reason is that the opposition does not show a viable alternative to the popular strongman posture of the president.
TT Britain being taught the wisdom of self-sufficiency through COVID.
The perceived wealth through globalization has its flaws as the country becomes more dependent on foreign decision making. Hence the need for industrial policy has surfaced.
FT Israel PM warns of ‘arms race’ between mutations and virus.
The PM claims it’s just a question of time before a strain is hit that the current vaccines won’t work on.
FT Tunisia cabinet reshuffle backed as protests rage.
Weak coalitions in the fragmented parliament have been unable to push ahead with measures to speed up economic growth and solicit IMF loans. The conflict also shows the disagreements between PM and President.
FT How China tackles fintech risk and regulation.
The author is a senior executive in China and argues for balanced regulation to secure fairness and oppose monopoly like behavior.
FT Big Tech’s reckoning over paying for news.
The newspaper editorial argues that a viable fourth estate is essential for democracy. The article follows the decision of the Australian government demanding Big Tech to pay for news in support of traditional media.
FT China’s mobilisation campaigns are a blunt force.
The government avoids resembling efforts to the Mao-past. Improving basic livelihoods is replaced by driving urbanization through resettlement. The idea is that it would increase consumption to reinforce the rise of a middle class. Integrating them into the capitalist state economy will be another challenge. The stakes are high as the government wants to demonstrate state power.
FT Nigeria’s military chiefs replaced amid worsening security crisis.
President Buhari has long delayed this move and even longer that Boko Haram is “technically defeated”. Security problems are much larger. Large parts of the country, particularly in the northeast and north-west, are outside government control.
FT India Farm protests overwhelm police.
Organizers claim that 100,000 tractors and other vehicles travelled to the capital as part of the months long protests. The farmers protest liberalizing the agricultural market. The government offered delaying the law making; the farmers want the government to repeal the laws.
FT Russian opposition leader is a real threat to current ruler.
The FT columnist considers Navalny a threat to Putin as his rallies nationwide, is young(er) and persistent.
FT Some fixes for the flaws in American democracy.
After the tumultuous elections an investor lists some possible improvements of the democratic institutions of elections and offices of governance and legislators.
TT A reclusive billionaire from Georgia retires from politics for the second time.
His claim is that Georgia is now “a genuine democracy”. He claims to donate most of his fortune to charity and that he will not return to politics: “Even if Hitler awakens from the dead.”
FT Africa can teach America how to reform after the Trump era.
Humility is one feature that would be helpful. Biden said that “democracy is fragile”. Perhaps they misapprehend their freedom myths. In Africa the movement can be noticed in the other direction: from tyranny to more sturdy institutions.
Indonesia’s Mr Fixit shows how to get a job done.
A Christian born on the island of Sumatra, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is involved in many things from raising funds for the new sovereign wealth fund to co-ordinating one of the world’s biggest vaccination programmes.
FT Ethiopia conflict stirs aid access concerns.
The federal government security operation proclaimed completed has exposed ethnic fault lines. UNHCR sees “fresh signs of destruction” at two camps hosting nearly 100,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray who have fled Eritrea.
FT German head of government warns of Biden arguments but expresses optimism for U.S.A. ties.
Merkel claims Europe will have to take on more military and diplomatic responsibility in the world. But under Biden there will be “much more scope for political agreement”.
FT Spain’s central government resists regions’ calls for more powers.
The conflict is over controlling the pandemic. Some regions want stricter measures, while the government still studies what caused the collapse of its previously successful policy and sticks to central government prerogatives.
NYT Ethiopia troops hunt former leaders in their tribal homelands.
Former Ethiopia foreign minister is killed in the fighting but the big leaders are still at large. The Tigray separatist army is not as big as analysts assumed. The central government works with neighboring Eritrea that was once engaged in a bloody war with the former Ethiopia leadership.
FT New U.S.A. president needs to repair state institutions.
A first priority is some semblance of bipartisanship. The Rule of Law also involves facilitating the outgoing president’s impeachment process. The world must hope to see him succeed.
FT India’s precarious investment climate.
A record on foreign investments masks the overriding trend is still through joint ventures or by taking minority stakes in companies owned by powerful Indian entrepreneurs. Also, international ruling on two tax cases is not being accepted by government. India snubs the opportunity for diversification of foreign investment from China.
TT France will not apologize to Algeria for what president Macron calls a “crime against humanity”.
The discussion is triggered after a commissioned report is published that documents the problem. Occupation of Algeria started in 1830 and ended in 1962 after a bloody war of liberation. Around 2 million people of Algerian descent live in France and are considered a safety risk.
TT Unilever commits to help build a more inclusive society.
By 2030 all 60.000 suppliers to the company should pay a living wage to workers and under-represented groups and youth get billions of extra support every year.
NYT Chinaʼs Oppression of Muslims in Xinjiang, Explained.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington tweeted that treated Uighur women were “no longer baby-making machines.” The Communist Party for geo-political reasons has ruled the region of different ethnic composition with a heavy hand since it took over control in 1949. In 2009 there was violence In regional capital Urumqi. From there China has stepped up control, culminating in detaining over 1 million people for “vocational training”. The global response to the repression in Xinjiang has been relatively muted.
FT Shipping costs quadruple to record highs on China-Europe ‘bottleneck’.
Thousands of containers are stranded empty in Europe which cripples the supply chain from the other side, China.
FT Insulting royals leads to 43 year prison sentence for a female protester in Thailand.
Since November 54 new cases have been taken up in an apparent new boost of confidence by the authorities. The king lives most of his time in extreme luxury in Germany.
FT Turkey pushes into Africa with the number of embassies raised from 12 to 42 in ten years.
The strong state regional power has multiple goals and sees the opportunity of Africa as a pivotal force.
FT Belarus loses right to co-host world ice hockey tournament.
Covid19 but also political instability was cited as the reason. The main sponsor, a central European car maker, for 28 years announced it would stop if the plans would go ahead in the country that detained 30.000 protesters since last summer.
FT Tunisia says city protests have been quelled.
The only country in the region to have successfully survived the Arab spring fails to make economic progress, with youth unemployment hitting 36.5 per cent last year.
FT Museveni win in Uganda poll prompts debate about rigging.
The opposition leader claims gross manipulation of the results. Facebook shut down some government related accounts. The incumbent claims the elections are the most “cheating free” elections since the colonial occupation ended, along with threats to deal with those who “disrupt our peace”.
FT Africa’s healthcare system at risk from second wave of Covid19 pandemic.
The head of the AU’s Africa Centre for Disease Control appealed to African leaders to subsidize masks because “for now [they] are the best vaccines that we have”. “What is driving a surge is very clearly human behavior.”
FT Why the European Central Bank should go Japanese.
The Japanese opted for long term low bond yields as an alternative to QE (Quantitative Easing) to maintain economic activity afloat.
FT Boeing’s deal with the Department of Justice highlights the limits of USA corporate liability justice.
This response to the crashes of two 737 Max jetliners that killed all 346 passengers and crew underscores serious problems with efforts to use corporate criminal liability when something goes seriously, tragically wrong with the company’s products.
TT Top political theorist to Chinese president already in 1991 wrote a book about the fate of America.
Wang Huning predicted that America would pull apart due to “individualism, hedonism and democracy”. There is wide support in the U.S.A. today that China poses an economic threat, a security threat, a human rights threat. The attitude in Beijing is hubristic.
FT A tenacious challenger set on power in Uganda.
The Rockstar got his taste of crowd drawing in the country where the median age is just 16. Hence, he neglected his mother’s advise to stay away from politics. Now, even his trade mark red beret of this great-grandchild of a tribal leader is banned. Yet, informally he will admit he is short in political alternative, but just wanting to trigger a vote against the incumbent.
FT The Arab spring: a lost decade.
From early 2011 change happened one month after another in neighboring countries. Developments from there highlighted the struggles in transforming people power into institutionalized political policy. Many fled causing a brain drain. One commentator: “Utopian” thoughts of regime change are delusional”. Still, all those interviewed agreed the uprisings had been inevitable.
FT Dutch government quits over scandal.
“The rule of law must protect the citizens against an almighty government and that has gone horribly wrong here,” according to the Dutch PM. Tax authorities had wrongly accused 22.000 families of tax fraud and also used racial profiling in support of their mishandling.
FT Mission improbable: a critical assessment of the prospect of an entrepreneurial state.
The Italian-American economist Mazzucato, who has the pope as one of her fans, in her recent book argues for a more active state. She takes the space competition as a example of producing non-related spin offs. The reviewer lists projects that show contrary results.
FT New U.S.A. president needs an America-first foreign policy.
Globalisation looks too much like a rich person’s game. Losers from trade deals are rarely comforted by the fact that they may have produced big gains for the economy overall. The days of foreign adventurism are over.
FT Conspiracy theorists destroy a rational society.
Conspiracy theories can infect the real world. Scepticism is a virtue and critical scrutiny is essential. Also, re-emphasize the importance of experts.
FT Court to hear Ukraine claim against Russia.
The Strasbourg-based court will not rule specifically on the legality of Moscow’s land grab, but it will hear Ukraine’s claims of illegal extension of Russian law on the peninsula. Among the Ukraine claims are violations of religious freedom.
FT WHO team arrives in Wuhan (China) after delay.
Finding the origin of the Covid19 virus has turned in a political blame game.
FT Uganda elections justify a comparison with the U.S.A. democratic problems.
One reform that democratic forces might pursue, especially in countries with electorates divided along ethnic lines, is to devise systems that are not winner-takes-all.
FT Qatar and Saudi Arabia end 2017 standoff.
The deal effects most conflicts in the region from Libya to Turkey. Tiny Qatar looks like having survived against heavy odds but the religious-ethnic state leadership concepts continue to sustain the Middle East power balance.
FT Boom time for firms spreading fake views.
For a long time propaganda was thought to be coming from political parties. With the online openness enterprises offer reputation for hire.
NYT Big ethnic massacre in Western Ethiopia.
Minority tribes are targeted. PM Abiy has visited the region in late December in an effort to ease tensions. Central government ability to intervene said to be hampered due to the ongoing Tigray operation.
FT Uganda election leaves bitter taste for opposition leader Wine.
Being elected in parliament by a land slide he now takes on the incumbent leader since 1986, with all disadvantages except his age. Like Wine Uganda’s population is young. Will it make a difference in tomorrow’s polls?
FT The limit on free speech in the era of social media.
German chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Twitter’s indefinite suspension of Trump. Alexei Navalny, the Russian anti-corruption blogger, said it could be “exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world”. Legal restraints in the US might run into First Amendment problems. The role of conventional TV is overlooked.
FT South Korean president continues to offer olive branch to his Northern neighbor.
The message came amid questions over how the Biden administration would tackle North Korea, one of many thorny foreign policy challenges for the U.S.A.
FT Venezuela tries become a bit more market friendly.
There are a few signs that deregulation takes place but perhaps the effect of sanctions is provoking them.
TT Saudi Arabia tries to revive its global platform city.
A coastal stretch of 100 miles would have no cars and be zero emission, yet provide high tech business and leisure environment. There is no evidence that lessons were taken from similar experiments elsewhere.
FT AI suffers pandemic backlash.
Algorithms are increasingly informing authority decisions while privacy concerns are less heeded. This creates opportunity for mistakes and discrimination that are not always appreciated.
FT Nationalist ex-prisoner wins election by a landslide in Kyrgyzstan.
The country plays a role in China-Russia rivalry. Elections also brought a victory for a more presidential system in this only multi-party state in the region.
FT Iran seizes South Korean tanker.
The country tries to unlock over $7bn in Iranian cash held by South Korea.
FT U.S.A. set aside rules not to engage with Taiwan directly.
The move enrages China that has in the past successfully isolated the island state.
FT Trump shows how disinformation can lead to chaos.
With Turkey tweeting advise to restraint after DC violence, other political systems get free evidence for their majority domination approach. And Trump may not need a formal office to proceed his campaign.
FT France is a post-imperial power in search of a role.
Its drive is with Europe to add something different to the China-USA power struggle. It’s approach is more military than diplomatic. Its necessary partner Germany is more cautious.
FT Blame game evolves in USA over DC democracy assault.
Social media take the brunt and internet legal freedom achieved at the start 25 years ago targeted. Reseach shows that it is more likely to blame an organized misinformation campaign and amplification in TV networks.
FT One of Germany’s parties looks for a new leader, more than a national or party issue.
Chancellor Merkel retires, leaving a legacy that avoided populist tendencies while remaining socially responsible. The moment is strategic: there is new great power rivalry and profound technological change.
FT Europe stops calling Guaidó Venezuela’s interim president.
Following the National Assembly assuming its post-election mandate the opposition leader is renamed “primus inter pares” among the opposition by Europe.
FT With citizen’s protests showing fatigue Belarus leader works on its relationship with Russia.
On Russian state TV Lukashenko states the protests pushed the two countries tightly into one team. Russia offers the regime business opportunities but also shows signs of wariness.
FT China blocks WHO team on way to Wuhan to find origin of Covid virus.
Visa’s were not approved while the country states the “right procedures” must be followed.
TT United Nations needed more than ever.
The argument that diplomacy becomes irrelevant as compared to leader-to-leader dialogue does not merit historical development. The global forum is irreplaceable for all cross border and human rights issues.
FT Covid shows how that the state can do more to address inequality.
Previously the new unleashed public policy responses were unimaginable. Though not sustainable indefinitely, they do illustrate the power of government to intervene to mitigate distress.
NYT Reuters Journalist is Released by Ethiopian Police.
Five other journalists of thirteen detained remain in custody. Only one journalist has been charged for postings on Covid.
FT Europe has handed China a strategic win with recent trade deal.
The deal was pushed by Angela Merkel despite human rights worries. It concerns commitments on the side of China that it already paid in 2001 while entering the WTO. It neglects the towering demonstration of communist party dominance in foreign and domestic disputes, from Xinjiang to Australia.
FT Old tensions still alive in Bosnia show that nationhood cannot be forced.
The 1995 Dayton Accords agreement contained a constitution based on ethnic power-sharing between the three predominant groups. This cemented ethnic divides to dominate public life. Even to become a fire fighter you need to demonstrate being part of one of the groups.
TT Far left activist Glenn Greenwald now labels big tech not Trump as subverting democracy.
Big tech, he writes has unprecedented power over the dissemination of information and conduct of political debates. He likens them to witch-hunts and a global inquisition. The charge that Trump was a despot in the making, he wrote on his blog, is wildly misguided. He refuses to protect Biden with favorable information.
FT Baptist preacher Warnock in pivotal U.S.A. Senate run off elections .
The 11th child of two Pentecostal preachers has no political experience. If he and the other Democrat candidate win, it would help the Biden presidency as the party would take the Senate majority. The Republicans smear Warnock’s candidacy.
FT Taiwan benefits from pandemic haven status.
Successful efforts to limit the spread of corona virus has made Taiwan one of the safest places on earth. This creates an influx of citizens who usually live abroad. Immigration quadrupled. The government gave a boost to attract foreign talent.