2022 NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ABSTRACTS ON SOVEREIGNTY DEVELOPMENT

Editorial notes see here. Main web page see here. Periodic summary see here.


January 3

TT In Sudan PM resigns after mass protests

The former United Nations official failed in his effort to revive the movement towards democracy, leaving the military in sole command. Many saw him as a fig leaf for a military coup of what essentially was a return of the toppled regime until 2019 without the chief ICC wanted culprit. The way ahead remains unclear. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sudans-prime-minister-abdalla-hamdok-resigns-amid-widespread-pro-democracy-protests-w6jztmpk5

January 4

FT Russia and China are trying to control the past

In true Orwellian fashion Russia is following China and is cracking down on information about historical misdeeds. A few years ago the Russian president still laid flowers at the monument to remember the victims of a former dictator but today the authorities stop the activities of a group with the same goal. In both countries the policy to manipulate the historical narrative go hand in hand with prolonged leadership and (foreign) hegemonic actions. https://www.ft.com/content/9f6a2efb-2c15-4086-8085-5d5ed79219d3

FT Saudi-led coalition threatens to use force after Houthi rebels seize coalition craft in Red Sea

The proxy war pitting regional powers against each other is deadlocked with one side holding the populous northern highlands and the other the southern part with Aden harbor. Recently a tit-for-tat campaign is started that threaten talks about a lasting solution. The main battle is around the natural gas-rich province of Marib. https://www.ft.com/content/939ab2fa-4242-4156-b251-84c5e874f311

NYT In Tunisia pressure mounts on president to salvage the economy

The president vowed to rescue the country from economic implosion when he disbanded parliament, but so far has little to show for. The retired constitutional law professor concentrates on the debate about a new constitution and his economic dealings remain unchecked. Critics of his behavior are prosecuted. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/03/world/middleeast/tunisia-economy-kais-saied.html

January 5

FT Porous borders make Nigeria a hub for illicit pangolin trade

The endangered animal whose scales are prized in some traditional medicines in Asia is a bigger illegal trade object than rhino and elephant tusks. Nigeria has a conservation guild but also porous borders and lots of poverty. Law enforcement in other parts of Africa make Nigeria a new hub. Some raids started recently to crack down on the trade. https://www.ft.com/content/fd581c7d-b2b5-41c1-b2c5-0b24e3db51a1

FT Covid has provided a wake-up call for workers

After 40 years in which capital has had the whip hand over labor, is worker power on the rise? In the west this seems to be the case. Workers have sought to capitalize on their sudden scarcity value. Also governments in the west try to give workers more security. Automation and digitalization may cause a fresh wave of globalization where worker rights are damaged. https://www.ft.com/content/0b68ece7-76be-4b61-ba94-f1a02b99553f

FT South Korea determined to declare Korean war over despite US and China doubts

The president told the UN General Assembly that declaring an end to the Korean war could establish a new order of reconciliation and co-operation on the Korean peninsula. The big powers are not so optimistic and North Korea is also not cooperating. The South Koreans argue: “The U.S.A. doesn’t want ‘forever wars’ and neither do we.” https://www.ft.com/content/8f00d054-d66a-409c-9a8e-cd6b0a1012f4

FT Divided EU demands seat at Ukraine talks as Moscow prepares to meet US and Nato

With the EU foreign affairs chief in a three day visit to Ukraine the bloc is not having a seat at the Geneva talks of Russia and the U.S.A. about Europe’s security structure. The U.S.A. has not sought to change the Russia proposal for bilateral talks. The 27 member European bloc is even unable to form a unified statement about cooperation in NATO. Germany and Russia have started their own actions with regard to current threats. https://www.ft.com/content/db2d642b-5068-40c3-a4c2-d3c330f3972b

NYT In England petition to rescind former PM Knighthood gets many signatures

More than 600,000 people signed a petition against the recent elevation of a successful former PM to nobility honor, based on a single decision on his part: taking his country into war in Iraq with a pretext that later proved false. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/04/world/europe/tony-blair-knighthood-petition-rescind.html

January 6

FT Small and cheap drones are one of the most significant threats to military might

The U.S.A. military considers itself under equipped for the drone threat since 2016. The advantage with drones lies with the attackers. The problem lies in separating them from other flying objects. A case is known where a balloon was shot, while a military object was suspected. Jamming them in flight is a problem as one needs to know the communication signal. Swarms of drones, automatically operating, are also a possible threat. The situation can be compared with the advent of the aircraft in military use. The U.S.A. is now starting a counter-drone academy. https://www.ft.com/content/aef5901e-4b9c-4561-a559-a6b7197bafe1

FT Former president South Africa presided over rampant corruption, says graft inquiry

A new inquiry, headed by South Africa’s deputy chief justice, speaks about a “a scarcely believable picture of rampant corruption” with “international enablers”. The president called the advent of the report a “defining moment”. A British group helped the former administration to undermine and weaken the revenue service as part of the “capture” of the state. https://www.ft.com/content/a8b04d55-e9df-425b-b461-bdccceff9dff

NYT History is under pressure in the race to shape the future

History is continuously rewritten by scholars, activists and politicians alike. All want to use collective memories for their own ends. A shared narrative is at stake. In the process authoritarianism is working on a changed perception. Brute power is avoided for subtler measures to manipulate information. “The most effective propaganda of any sort, research finds, often focuses on an appeal to group identity.” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/05/world/history-revisionism-nationalism.html

January 7

FT Soaring prices in Malawi unsettle one of Africa’s biggest democratic success stories

A pastor turned politician won elections in 2020 after mass protests had brought down the incumbent who won in 2019 through rampant fraud. He made big promises. A relatively loose monetary policy and large deficit on current accounts make sustainable imports doubtful in a situation of world wide price rises. An IMF loan is still in hold pending research if the previous government overstated foreign reserves to get funding. Government now has to face rising protests. https://www.ft.com/content/a5efad05-38e0-4043-b39b-2793aaa8e748

FT Kazakhstan unrest after rise in energy prices is a warning for ex-Soviet autocrats

Once seen as an example of stable authoritarianism the government of the former Soviet republic faces the explosive political risk of rising energy prices. The protests show no clear leaders or demands, and an upsurge in looting that suggests they may have been infiltrated by criminal groups. Befriended nations are called to help out. China and Turkey are watching closely. And there is also an awkward backdrop with the upcoming talks about ex-Soviet problems in the west of Russia. https://www.ft.com/content/560b1b28-c180-40ec-b19a-ece58f214259

FT The idea of South Africa (the rainbow nation) continues to battle the reality

The lofty aspirations of a society in which black and white could flourish have not materialized for now. But the country does have aspects that can easily compete with best standards elsewhere. Constitutional court, free press, public protector’s office, the Central Bank and part of the civil service still answer the historic claim. “The universe can take quite a long time to deliver,” Tutu once said. Despite the odds, South Africans are still waiting. https://www.ft.com/content/661afdad-da00-41fd-a944-04b2b4f01bde

TT Kenyans for homegrown chips in potato protest

The expatriate CEO of the group running 35 KFC shops in three countries ran out of French fries. He claims the problem is logistics of bringing in pre-cut frozen potatoes “with total traceability” (from Egypt). This triggered a boycott campaign of the group, endorsed by a governor of a county that produces 550,000 metric tons of potatoes each year. KFC promised to improve but the national potato board claims their efforts to that effect in the past were in vain. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kfc-kenyans-for-homegrown-chips-in-potato-protest-cwb2zjd03

NYT Pope using strong terms to discuss couples who choose pets over kids

Speaking at a general audience the pope referred to a “demographic winter” to describe the global decline in birthrates. In similar blunt remarks as in a 2014 interview he analyzed the situation as “denial of fatherhood or motherhood” that “diminishes us, it takes away our humanity.” According to the pope, pets are preferred as “more programmable”. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/06/world/europe/pope-pets-kids.html

January 8

FT South Africa supplies clues to life beyond Omicron peak

Immunity and variant’s milder nature appear to have eased hospital pressure, despite the low jabbing rate. Immunity also plays a role. The prospect of the wave fading does not seem positive. The symptoms may be mild, the spread does continue. https://www.ft.com/content/b0cd9239-f2df-4afc-912f-b3f87fc676ff

FT Thailand monarchy-mocking crop-tops fall out of fashion for Thai hardliners

In the first years of reign of the controversial king of Thailand not many cases of offending the sovereign power (a sacred position in the country) were started but this ended and last year 164 cases were brought forward. One of them against a 16 year old that wore a favorite cloth (a crop-top) of the king. The king who spends most of his time in Europe is photographed with it many times. The government is also cracking down on civil society, particularly foreign representatives. https://www.ft.com/content/701eb617-b5d7-4be1-9c9a-b4cd96b94db2

NYT Ethiopia frees prominent political prisoners and calls for reconciliation

The government stated this was “to pave the way for a lasting solution to Ethiopia’s problems in a peaceful, non-violent way through a national dialogue.” It does not meet the rebel conditions for talks: unlock the Tigray region and release all political prisoners. Previously the government ruled out negotiation with them. In their statement the government also sounded a more triumphant tone: “one of the moral obligations of a victor is mercy”. Among the released prisoners are an old founder of the Tigray political movement and the PM’s important critic from his own tribe. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/07/world/africa/jawar-mohammed-release-ethiopia.html

January 10

FT Britain needs immigrants if it is to survive the climate storm

Labor shortages in the country are structural. For its green future it needs smart immigration. Immigrants from emerging markets can be seen as having the double advantage of being ambassadors for deeper commercial ties. https://www.ft.com/content/d091db79-1f3b-46f3-8258-4357e251efbd

FT Young Hondurans sow seeds of demographic crisis by seeking future abroad

For decades, Central Americans have left home. This has coincided with political instability. The new president has promised prosperity but the demographic crisis is a real threat for this. The U.S.A. tries to help stem the migration flow but this may influence structures at a local level in a way that may not fit political timelines. https://www.ft.com/content/c9ed3413-1142-44d6-8a23-193ed8fe3d09

FT Canada defends oil sands despite pursuing emissions cuts

Its extraction industry is one of the world’s most carbon-intensive sources of oil. The country tries to decarbonize without jeopardizing an industry that accounts for about 5 per cent of GDP. The lobbying contrasts with the federal government’s increasingly aggressive language on the climate. https://www.ft.com/content/7e2688b8-86bb-4bf3-a285-6f1f3bbc4547

FT Kazakhstan detains 6,000 after scores killed in clashes

The authorities said that 164 were shot and that among the protesters foreign participants were found. Russia sent troops under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The government claims they will stay for a week. The U.S.A. government protested against the “shoot to kill” order. https://www.ft.com/content/b9b700ee-4808-4853-9c83-eb749c2dd5fa

January 11

FT Mali’s neighbors impose poll delay sanctions

The 15-member Economic Community of West African States regional bloc will close its borders to the landlocked country, implement economic sanctions and sever diplomatic ties. https://www.ft.com/content/f4525017-eb6f-47ee-b05e-d381e1b05407

FT The EU’s regrettable absence on Ukraine

Much to its chagrin, the EU is not a direct participant in the diplomatic talks that are currently taking place between Russia and the U.S.A. In a “strangely self-centered approach” the EU foreign chief declared the EU role as the main objective. The EU may have an attractive single market but lacks diplomatic and military unity. The Russians, the Ukrainians, and the eastern members of the EU, all understand that US power remains the biggest potential deterrent to Russian aggression. https://www.ft.com/content/36f0d1a8-1539-4f13-8b50-e0d963f9c2b3

FT Russia pledges to protect allies from revolts after help extended to Kazakhstan

The Russian president said that “destructive internal and external forces” had exploited the protests in Kazakhstan to deploy “well-organised groups of militants under their control” that had “obviously trained at terror camps abroad”. https://www.ft.com/content/ee9005ee-7269-4081-801a-61011b233e78

FT Deposed elected leader in Myanmar jailed over walkie-talkies

The 76 year old leader will serve a total of four years for three cases. The leader is held at undisclosed places and was arrested last February alongside many others. Convicted persons cannot serve public office. https://www.ft.com/content/8fb65a8a-810f-4568-ba6c-ea8eba2fe0a0

TT Cancel culture of historical structures is rewriting the past, warns Pope Francis

In a speech to diplomats the pope laments that cancel culture creates “a mindset that rejects the natural foundations of humanity and the cultural roots that constitute the identity of many peoples”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cancel-culture-rewriting-the-past-pope-francis-5q5z9xhx2

January 12

FT China applies brakes to Africa lending

China is moving away from high-volume, high-risk deals into deals struck on their own merit. The concern is that countries in Africa have reached their lending limits. Escrow provisions in Chinese loans are potentially dangerous to sovereigns and to their deals with other international parties. https://www.ft.com/content/64b4bcd5-032e-4be5-aa3b-e902f5b1345e

FT Gulf widens between poor and rich nations

The pandemic and energy crisis does not affect all developing nations in the same way. Still, the World Bank expects 40 per cent of emerging and developing economies to have national income below the 2019 level in 2023. https://www.ft.com/content/1a83fac5-3334-4887-83cb-f6c81b3341f7

FT Kazakhstan unrest linked to power struggle

Kazakhstan’s president called protesters “terrorists”. Russia labelled them “external forces” bent on “revolution”. Some believe the unrest in the central Asian republic is a power struggle among domestic elites. As an unlikely resource the newspaper ends with a comment of the Belarus ruler “foreign meddling cannot succeed without domestic discontent”. https://www.ft.com/content/90355e64-c3bb-43ee-bec4-37e3e2c70a60

NYT In Ethiopia, at the time of the government’s call for a national dialogue drones strike

The drones are supplied by UAE, Turkey and Iran. A freight plane from the Chinese town where the UAE drones are manufactured has been tracked. The AU mediator, a former president of Nigeria, flew into the Tigray capital after which anti-aircraft guns fired in return of drone traffic. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/world/africa/ethiopia-biden-abiy-ahmed-tigray.html?searchResultPosition=1

January 13

FT Ethiopia’s offer of dialogue signals breakthrough in Tigray conflict

The UN SG hailed the release of political prisoners and called for “a credible and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation process”. The AU SG reflected that. Many others remain cautious. A former minister in the current government turned critic lamented drone atrocities. The rebel leadership called the drone warfare ”genocidal assault”. The long-running land dispute in western Tigray remains the thorny issue. https://www.ft.com/content/b654f120-01aa-41b1-92e2-f3017b7845bf

FT North Korea turns on women who are ‘black market breadwinners’

The state uses the patriarchal society with its political caste system, or “songbun” to reign in private initiative and uses the “inminban”, a neighborhood watch unit consisting of up to 40 households that is typically run by an older married woman who monitor every aspect of social life to reimpose communist orthodoxies. https://www.ft.com/content/154f7fe6-e9b9-4a4f-b590-f08afa5ca326

FT Kazakhstan leader vows to tackle entrenched inequality

Analysts say meaningful structural reform is unlikely, with wealth remaining in the hands of elites. In his address to parliament the president pointed to his predecessor for sustaining the oligopolies. Notably his predecessor’s daughter, a parliamentarian, was absent during the speech of the president. The process in neighboring Uzbekistan is an example. Huge amounts of state assets were privatized but it is a group of big businessmen who benefitted. https://www.ft.com/content/67568ccc-f64a-4b1b-b757-50c212d51837

FT Somalia car bomb kills at least 8 at the entrance of the international airport

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted “white officials” passing by. The airport hosts foreign embassies. (AP in ft.com)

January 14

FT Public perception of 1970s-style global drift poses threat to U.S.A.

The comparison seems evident. Inflation, geo-politics, a progressive U.S.A. leader bemoaning spiritual decline. Also, the U.S.A. current leaders are so old that they grew up during that time. And those waiting in the wings are not much younger. In practice, they have less power than responsibility. The threat is that they do not realize. https://www.ft.com/content/9ae9bd9e-9493-4559-9bce-4e644b3e1fe8

FT Nigeria lifts Twitter ban after company agrees to demands

The ban was imposed after a tweet of Nigeria’s president was removed by Twitter. The government remarked that “Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgment of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with Nigeria and the broader industry to develop a code of conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.”  https://www.ft.com/content/81764d61-6a3a-4914-b6d6-69d56d256b2a

FT The trials of managing people in a pandemic

From vaccination policy to hybrid work, pressure at the top is rising. Organizations would not like to lose experienced staff for pandemic reasons. https://www.ft.com/content/d6148bc6-aa07-435a-b559-5cce246bdc2e

January 15

FT Bain Consultancy accused of aiding state capture in South Africa under previous government

The Boston based firm is criticized in a judicial report as a corporate enabler of graft. It was commissioned to restructure the tax department, in the past one of the most effective tax collectors on the continent. While the consultancy admitted failure with the tax office job in 2018 and repaid fees, it also engaged in plans “to restructure entire sectors of the South African economy” and centralize state procurement. It’s national CEO has close ties with the former president. https://www.ft.com/content/b1bb5dd0-e7ce-4e15-ac48-05d2d990f6c7

FT Ankara hails ‘positive’ Turkey-Armenia talks

The focus is a practical, pared-back approach of boosting trade and transport links as well as appointing diplomatic representatives. The previous talks in 2009 collapsed, but that was due to the unsettled conflict between arch foe Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh that ended in an agreed ceasefire in 2020. https://www.ft.com/content/1f5dc997-c5ff-456c-b58a-11becaecd892

TT China’s ‘magic weapon’ seems unstoppable

The United Front Work Department (UFWD) is one of the most formidable and sinister arms of the one party state of 1,3 billion citizens. It is a vast, growing, highly sophisticated, massively funded, intensely secretive, multifaceted extension of political influence and control, operating both inside China and, increasingly, outside it. In the words of the Chinese president UFWD is a “magic weapon” that will help to bring about “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chinas-magic-weapon-seems-unstoppable-lntbcv7sf

January 17

FT Don’t believe those who say a pan-European public sphere is impossible

The columnist, a pro-European, sees a sense of common belonging or purpose between Europe’s different nations in all kinds of cross border ties and interests. As a Briton he must of course admit that Brexit is the glaring anomaly in this picture. He concludes that the source of a much richer pan-European fellow-feeling in the future includes the Brits. A top university liaison, the Europaeum, includes Oxford and St. Andrews. https://www.ft.com/content/841e41af-7c9b-47e1-b4fc-a0f5a91451a3

FT A quiet comeback is starting in emerging markets

In 2021 eight of the top 10, and 13 of the top 20, best-performing markets of 2021 were in the developing world. The figures for China play a dominant role in the aggregate. This obscures the positive signals in emerging markets with regard to commodities, manufacturing, data flows and economic reform. The global media tend to dwell on troubled cases, thus feeding misconceptions. https://www.ft.com/content/ed66fde8-b114-4ec8-b648-067974edb1db

FT Venezuelan section of the Amazon damaged by expansion of mining

The Venezuelan section of the Amazon rainforest has seen less deforestation than in Brazil. But damage to the environment is now accelerating. https://www.ft.com/content/92583389-fcf7-43d1-b1f9-6516b4370bc2

FT Historic graves in Egypt to be removed in government building program to ease congestion

The city’s two main cemeteries radiate north and south from a central citadel and are known as the City of the Dead. They are now being threatened by the process of infrastructure renewal that is marked by a top-down decision-making process and a lack of public consultation. Functional decay is another factor. https://www.ft.com/content/807b86f9-e3b1-448c-ad9e-428ec98d964a

NYT A ban on 19 singers in Egypt tests the old guard’s power

Their Mahraganat music style is accused of “creating a chaotic movement in the country,” said the spokesman for the syndicate, a professional union. And the head of the group said on TV: “We can’t be in the era of Sisi and allow this to be the leading art.” One song achieved half a billion views. The battle mirrors cultural conflicts across the region where autocratic governments in socially conservative countries have tried to censor any expression that challenges traditional values. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/16/world/middleeast/egypt-mahraganat-music.html

January 18

FT Default alert as poorest countries face $11bn surge in debt payments

Many countries tapped capital markets during the Covid19 pandemic. But the global relief initiative flopped and the World Bank warned of the risks involved in “extraction of resources . . . by creditors”. The risk of disorderly defaults is growing. Countries mentioned are Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ghana and El Salvador. https://www.ft.com/content/4b5f4b54-2f80-4bda-9df7-9e74a3c8a66a

FT Consultancies cannot distance themself from their alleged role in state capture in South Africa

In an editorial the newspaper advocates that whereas the suspected culprits of state capture have been indicated by a published report, it should not be forgotten that “it was facilitated by some of the most well respected companies on the planet, paid handsomely for their services”. One of them hides behind the top of their country office. “This strategy smacks of legalism rather than contrition”. https://www.ft.com/content/e319c353-14ca-466d-a4d6-808340610a43

FT China defends drive for common prosperity at yearly global economic forum

The president appeared in a video link to the World Economic Forum and said: “We will first make the pie bigger and then divide it properly through reasonable institutional arrangements. As a rising tide lifts all boats, everyone will get a fair share and development gains will benefit all our people in a more substantial and equitable way.” https://www.ft.com/content/8963b1ee-9ffb-4f2e-8648-472e641716ba

FT Iran positions commander assassinated by U.S.A. as national hero

The government is struggling to win over younger generations who are critical of domestic corruption and poverty. They hope to re-energize forces through the glorification of the commander from a modest background who took center place for the self-conscience of the country. https://www.ft.com/content/d4de5b83-c01f-45f3-bc1d-74fe4418dfe4

FT China and Russia test the limits of EU power

The idea that the EU’s economic weight can be easily converted into geopolitical power is undergoing a brutal reality check. The crisis over Ukraine is a matter of war and peace on the European continent but the EU is barely involved. Lithuania has not broken with the ‘one China policy but at the same time strengthened ties with Taiwan. The counter measures of China affect more countries. The EU watches impotently from the sidelines. https://www.ft.com/content/a9dfbaef-e913-460a-8e0a-2b702efa7edb

January 19

Former president addresses Kazakhstan to confirm shift of power

It appears compromise wins over confrontation as the former leader is calling for support of the reform effort of his successor explicitly and adds: “So there is no conflict or opposition among the elite. Rumors on this topic are completely irrelevant.” This happens after the security authority was cleared of an ally of the former president. https://www.ft.com/content/2221aacd-bf1d-4265-8175-0fc022bd1890

January 20

FT Latin America’s big challenge is growth

In an editorial the newspaper remarks that under both leftwing and rightwing governments countries on the continent “have sunk to the bottom of the emerging market class, underperforming the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa”. Now elections are in favor of radical newcomers. Change is in the air. This should begin with the axiom that wealth must first be created to be shared. A flourishing private sector, a fully functioning state, quality public services, the rule of law and foreign investment are all essential ingredients. The continent has ample resources, both commodities and human resources. The world’s biggest standalone digital bank, Nubank, is Brazilian. Tiny Uruguay is a leading software exporter. https://www.ft.com/content/c53ac469-4f3e-4cb3-af4a-e2c9c842aa36

FT EU countries unity at odds over trigger for sanctions against Russia

The member states do not agree on what scale of attack would trigger a response. The debate comes as the US seeks to bring Brussels in line with the Biden administration’s approach to deterrence, which is another source of disunity in the EU. Individual interests of countries may be causing this crippling problems. https://www.ft.com/content/dedf5460-f4ff-4580-abfd-eedc0cb43372

TT In Kenya bodies found in River raise concerns over police brutality claims

At a mortuary many unclaimed bodies were found. Police promised to investigate, but immediately challenged the witness’s timescale and number of dumped bodies reported. #RiverYalaBodies went trending on social media. Since 2017 at least 1160 extrajudicial killings and 269 disappearances are attributed to the police. A rare case of police brutality brought to court was only through the persistence of wealthy expatriate parents of the victim. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bodies-found-in-yala-river-raise-concerns-over-police-brutality-claims-in-kenya-lt8jdx7s8

January 21

FT China is tested for its hands off approach in Kazakhstan crisis

Non-interference conflicts with its global interests. It is heavily investing in Kazakhstan. Only after the unrest turned violent did the foreign minister announce that China stands ready for “law enforcement and security co-operation”. A quiet offer may have been rejected earlier as Kazakhstan relies on the countries of Collective Security Treaty Organization within the former Soviet Union. China is experimenting with roles in foreign intervention and also has the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded for counter-terrorism co-operation. https://www.ft.com/content/a12d8bad-523b-48ec-8433-b48d2d4e4b88

FT China cannot have a new growth model without reform

Growth is waning and financial markets are volatile. This reflects a number of dilemmas that Beijing is grappling with, some of which are of its own making. The government is clearly conflicted about the role of the private sector. Relying on it for innovation is in conflict with steps to curb companies that are seen as having excessive economic and political influence. It is also not easy to combine the objective of restraining wealth inequality with the reliance on the private sector to generate more wealth. https://www.ft.com/content/b7eaafe4-6f28-44d0-91a2-65492736bcc2

TT Former pope accused of covering up sex abuse when still an archbishop

He dismissed the crimes as “minor offences” because the priest had not touched his victims. He wrote that the priest was “an exhibitionist rather than an abuser”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pope-benedict-failed-to-act-on-child-abuse-report-finds-s72l6ngsp

NYT Dozens die in church stampede in Liberia

Worshipers were gathered for a revival meeting in the Liberian capital, when word of armed gang members robbing people set off deadly panic in the church of the World of Life Outreach Mission International. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/world/africa/stampede-liberia.html?searchResultPosition=1

January 24

FT China and Russia demand a new world order

Chinese media quote the president of China to have told his counterpart in Russia that “certain international forces are arbitrarily interfering in the internal affairs of China and Russia, under the guise of democracy and human rights”. History shows that the two countries, however different, are united in their anxieties. They both rail against unipolarity and universalism. To them this belongs to the “battle of ideas”. The word “civilization” is taking centerground. In reality their weight is based on different footings: economic and military power respectively. https://www.ft.com/content/d307ab6e-57b3-4007-9188-ec9717c60023

TT Battle rages after Isis storms Syrian jail and takes ‘hundreds’ of hostages

Ground and air military failed to storm the prison or even clear the area around it. The attack follows an ISIS claimed attack on an Iraqi military complex. The attackers released videos laden with religious references. The two attacks show a level of sophisticated planning that the group has not reached since the fall of Baghouz in south-east Syria. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/battles-rages-on-after-isis-attack-syrian-prison-vrfkvsgj8

NYT Gunfire rattles Burkina Faso’s capital as soldiers revolt

The soldiers are angered by their government’s failure to halt a wave of Islamist militant attacks. The Defense Minister said that the unrest was confined to “a few barracks” and that the government had reached out to the mutinying soldiers to learn their demands. The unrest followed after the military leadership was shaken up and a wave of military takeovers in the region. Also the court case against the assassination plotters of Sankara in 1987 is causing unrest. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/23/world/africa/burkina-faso-mutiny-gunfire.html?searchResultPosition=1

January 25

FT Burkina Faso leader toppled in the fifth military takeover in Africa in eight months

The country is cracking under the stress of jihadist insurgents. The unrest comes after the government banned anti-government protests triggered by insecurity. The president pretended business as usual, twittering about the soccer team’s success in the Africa cup. https://www.ft.com/content/fec69667-c9f6-4c14-bc9c-ad2887d0f310

FT In South  Africa infighting of ruling party ensnares judiciary

The judiciary is called a colonial construct by a government minister who later rejected the statement of the president that she withdrew her criticism. This is a challenge to the president in the context of the leadership vote scheduled for December, ahead of nationwide elections in 2024. https://www.ft.com/content/f6ecfe57-b64c-4508-98ed-afbb55274cae

FT China signals shift to protect interests in Horn conflict zone

After visiting Eritrea, Kenya, and Comoros the foreign minister announced that China will appoint a special envoy to the region. The country has investment at stake as the biggest bilateral lender to sub-Saharan Africa. The new approach is also seen as a contrast to the western policy in the Ethiopia conflict. https://www.ft.com/content/71535e80-b862-4946-b1b2-d15bbe51f3f5

FT Critics of ‘woke’ capitalism are wrong, according to the former CEO of Unilever

He argues that a more morally conscious business elite must be a good thing. Traditionalists have long argued that focusing on sustainability too often comes at the expense of running a good business. The terms “woke capitalism” and “activist CEOs” are used. In the U.S.A. the opposition leader warned business to keep out of politics. https://www.ft.com/content/34cf61c7-345d-4277-bf18-c1dbdd8a91fc

FT A digital dollar is worthy of the consideration of the U.S.A. central bank

The bank risks being left behind in the battle to determine the future of money, though skepticism of bitcoin is “well founded”. Central bank digital currencies risk destabilizing the financial sector by providing a superior alternative to the bank deposits that form the bedrock of the monetary system. A digital currency could become a tool of surveillance too — a chilling possibility in the hands of Facebook or China. The newspaper considers these problems as “not insurmountable”. https://www.ft.com/content/a89f3190-3e25-4ddd-98ff-a216805afb25

January 26

FT In Colombia former captive of terrorists runs again for presidency

The last time she campaigned for the Colombian presidency, she was kidnapped by Marxist guerrillas and held in the jungle for six years. Two decades later, she is making a new bid for the country’s leadership. For the past four years she pursued a PhD in theology at Oxford. https://www.ft.com/content/16200884-9854-4b98-a48d-0388f53218ac

FT Peru threatens oil company unit with fines after ‘ecocide’ oil spill

The company described the event as “an unforeseeable maritime phenomenon” (the effect of the Tonga volcano eruption) and it was therefore not to blame. It said last week it regretted “not having adequately communicated” everything it was doing to clean up the oil, but stopped short of accepting responsibility. https://www.ft.com/content/b74987a3-bda4-4d8c-a134-1307ce32e70e

FT IMF calls on El Salvador to drop bitcoin as legal tender

It expressed concern over the plan to issue bonds linked to the cryptocurrency. The newspaper describes the president of the country as a “bitcoin evangelist”. Despite the attention the experiment has drawn, there is little evidence of widespread use of bitcoin for day-to-day transactions in the country and its implementation was one of the less popular moves made by the president. https://www.ft.com/content/fbf9aef0-453f-4e61-bd83-ff2b2bc92221

FT China launches campaign to ‘purify’ internet content

The campaign will apply the tradition of cleaning houses before the new year, the most important holiday in China, to the internet, envisioning a “purification” of the online world. https://www.ft.com/content/285059f7-3f0e-4083-b01f-02e48eccff88

NYT After coup in Burkina Faso, protesters turn to Russia for help

There is a wave of boiling frustration at the government’s failure to stem surging Islamist violence that since 2016 has displaced 1.4 million people, killed 2,000 and destabilized perhaps two thirds of a once-peaceful country. Many people at the protest said they were inspired by Russia’s intervention in the Central African Republic. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/world/africa/burkina-faso-coup-russians.html?searchResultPosition=1

January 27

FT Tunisia’s president leads the country down a dangerous path

In an editorial the newspaper argues that opposition MPs, a TV host and others are detained after criticizing the country’s president. Batons and water cannons do their work at protests. This is organized by a retired constitutional law professor who surprised many by winning 2019 presidential elections as a political unknown. He has designed his own agenda towards a system more leaning towards presidential prerogatives. Yet an economic plan for the resource poor country has not yet been seen. https://www.ft.com/content/cc0edad1-2523-455c-b717-f51817545f1a

TT Pope tells parents not to condemn their gay children

He told worried parents who have gay children to support rather than condemn them. This echoes the 2020 interview in which he said: “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family . . . They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.” He defends church marriage as being between a man and a woman but imagines civil union possible for other relationships of two humans. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pope-francis-tells-parents-not-to-condemn-their-gay-children-h636wjh3r

January 28

FT ‘Godfather’ of Lagos aims for Nigeria’s top job

The candidate is pitching his stewardship of Lagos as a template for how he will fix Nigeria. Nigeria’s two main political parties circulate power every eight years between the mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian south, and always nominate a ticket that has a member of each religion. As a southern Muslim he may have trouble finding a suitable northern Christian for his ticket. There are questions about the origin of his wealth and about his age (69); many politicians in Nigeria stay until old age. https://www.ft.com/content/99066319-1932-4336-a564-37156063df82

January 29

FT Russia tries to reassert control over its neighbors  and may be repeating the mistakes of past imperial powers

After the unexpected ultimatum of Russia on December 17 the tension around neighbor Ukraine is on the rise. How come a country not even in the economic top 10 can assert itself like this? The most important difference with earlier crises is the changing role of China. Russia knows very well the former communist USSR will not restart but is attempting to create dependencies. The Russian president last summer wrote an essay titled: “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”, countering the post-cold war development of greater independence of states. The author of the FT article (an Ukrainian historian) thinks Russia is following in the footsteps of former imperial powers, from the Ottomans to the French, who lost political, financial and cultural capital the more they clung to their imperial possessions. https://www.ft.com/content/0cbbd590-8e48-4687-a302-e74b6f0c905d

FT China warns the U.S.A. of war risk over Taiwan

The Chinese ambassador in Washington: “If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict.” Mentioning war is rare, although the ambassador stressed China strives for peaceful reunification. The U.S.A. maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity”. https://www.ft.com/content/5e2ac2b5-47c5-4f8d-8a57-17bf26d5fc8d

January 31

FT Zambia pledges not to favor Chinese creditors in crunch talks on debt relief

The restructuring due in the coming weeks is seen as a test case for whether China will accept losses from a surge in loans to Africa in the past decade. “It’s good for Zambia, it’s good for creditors, because in the situation we were in when we took office, it was a no-win situation. No one was benefiting. What we don’t intend to do is to cross-subsidize,” said the president earlier pictured by the newspaper as a practicing Christian (Seventh day Adventist).

https://www.ft.com/content/3c56f710-601d-4a41-a374-13603bd002d4

FT Arabic-language remake of ‘Perfect Strangers’ triggers calls to ban Netflix in Egypt

The series whose main story lines according to the newspaper are based on marital infidelity causes uproar of public opinion in a society that has long been suspicious of what are considered western conspiracies to spread moral corruption. Previous examples of this kind of theater still maintained the importance of family values. The shock this time, some say, comes from “the normalization” of behavior seen by society as aberrant. https://www.ft.com/content/f4170051-8d56-4b9b-83d8-fe01efa67dfe

FT In Brazil former and later detained (over graft) president might run again and win

Clues are sought by the Right on the priorities of veteran Leftist and 76-year-old former trade union leader and president. He made it clear in comments to reporters this month that his priority is battling inequality rather than sticking to a rule limiting public expenditure. The president of his PT party said: “This is done with jobs, social programs and the presence of the state.” https://www.ft.com/content/4ee6e736-e4a2-4767-99c0-ad5712360f9b

FT Covid losers outnumber the winners among states

The virus demonstrated the limits of the state in controlling or even understanding this powerful force of nature. Credentials of states soared and descended with success and China came out as the best handler. Until recently. The country may now be vulnerable to Omicron. Chinese officials have spoken of “dynamic clearing” rather than zero Covid. A policy built on aggressive contact tracing and lockdowns may have left China “immune naive” and unusually vulnerable going forward. https://www.ft.com/content/9d5f3496-b091-4bcd-ac4b-6cf3c6916803

FT Headline inflation may not tell the full story

It is possible to make generalized pronouncements about the cost of living from the Consumer Price Index, the headline measure, but it will tend to over-represent the experience of richer households. Efforts are underway in GB to use big data for more effective policies to reach out to the needy. The newspaper remarks that there is doubt whether “politicians wish to ease cost of living pressures or to save money. Unfortunately, they do not have a great record on this front.”

https://www.ft.com/content/fc154328-f00d-446b-9c71-0b6360b729db

FT In Turkey government sacks statistics chief as inflation tension escalates

This is a remarkable way to deal with inflation statistics. https://www.ft.com/content/8ea4f3ea-cdbf-45ff-b4f1-d77451109453

February 1

FT Mali expels French envoy in mercenary row

The interim military government reacts to the French foreign minister’s remark that the junta is ‘out of control’ and illegitimate. The country is already under sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States, which have in effect placed Mali under an economic embargo. https://www.ft.com/content/7b7ddd65-d7c4-4d43-a3e3-67df24d22afe

FT Myanmar junta warns bosses against strike

The government warned business owners they face prosecution and the seizure of their assets if they join a general strike planned by the regime’s opponents for today to mark the first anniversary of the coup. https://www.ft.com/content/d350ec4e-214d-463d-9ab5-60e0b9a7a443

FT UAE to introduce corporate tax regime

The Gulf state’s tax-free status has long attracted global multinationals and wealthy individuals, driving the economy’s diversification away from oil and gas revenues, especially in the commercial and tourist hub of Dubai. The country aligns with OECD’s global deal seeking to tackle tax havens. https://www.ft.com/content/184522cd-b549-41de-946f-1ace28c39213

FT What is Nigeria’s government good for?

In a column the newspaper’s Africa editor argues that the chances of a corrupt system reforming itself are slim. Noting that international flights from the country are very profitable with extended business class occupation, the question pops up where the money made in the country ends up. The problem is not so much who leads the government as the nature of government itself. This thwarts the aspirations of millions of highly capable Nigerians. With a federal budget of $30bn serving a population of more than 200m people public goods can not realistically be delivered. https://www.ft.com/content/c4025da8-7951-4ed1-bccd-5d546f86786c

TT In the UN Russia claims the West wants war in Ukraine

Russia traces the problems back to the 2014 revolution. According to the ambassador it had brought to power “nationalists, radicals, Russophobes and pure Nazis”. Russia had opposed holding a meeting on the subject at the Security Council, but lost a vote to block it. China advocated for quiet diplomacy. The U.S.A. pointed towards the Russian troop movements at the Ukraine border and argued that the threat of war is a provocation by itself. The Russian ambassador left the chamber midway through the meeting as the Ukrainian ambassador rose to speak.  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-west-wants-war-in-ukraine-russia-claims-at-fiery-un-meeting-tcgsxm508

NYT Leader of Australian megachurch steps down until the end of 2022 after charge over father’s sexual abuse

He prepares to fight a criminal charge of concealing historical child sexual abuse by his father. In 2014, a commission heard evidence that his father had sexually abused a 7-year-old boy decades earlier. His father, who died in 2004, was never charged. Hillsong is known for at times voicing conservative points of view on woke issues. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/world/australia/brian-houston-hillsong.html

February 2

FT West Africa’s security challenges have global repercussions

The author, Ghana’s foreign minister, points to the desperate security situation for millions in the region. Jihadist franchise groups have gravitated towards the Sahel after their defeat elsewhere. And there is another driver of migration: climate change. Thirdly, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a threat to regional security. Ghana has started a two year stint as Security Council member and wants these three issues addressed. The minister warns the “world’s industrial nations” not to be “penny wise and pound foolish”. https://www.ft.com/content/1b8be084-9afb-40cc-928b-f0d3bef3d6c3

FT Gunfire rocks Guinea-Bissau capital in suspected coup attempt

Heavy gunfire erupted yesterday in the capital, Bissau, near the government palace, where a cabinet meeting was taking place. Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) condemned what it dubbed an “attempted coup”, just like recently in Burkina Faso. Guinea Bissau. has had nine attempted or successful coups since liberalization of colonialism in 1974. https://www.ft.com/content/afced080-1fcd-4881-9626-f1b342df8920

FT South Africa inquiry slams ‘racketeering’ of former president’s partners

Three quarters of the contracts from the country’s state company for freight transport is “tainted by state capture”, the term used for the diverting of public resources for private gain. The businessmen have fled the country and did not appear before the enquiry. https://www.ft.com/content/d47ee25a-fefa-488c-8def-6b6cd2096f68

NYT In DRC, floating pastors follow mobile flocks along busy river

Evangelical pastors have spilled out of their churches and are spreading the word to congregations always on the move as ships travel the country. In much of Congo, life is based around the river that gives the country its name. So its thriving church life takes part. Some of the pastors are traders themselves, with a sideline in preaching Christianity when they travel, in part to share the word of God, in part to make a living. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/world/africa/congo-river-pastors.html

February 3

FT Starbucks workers’ grassroots push towards unionization helps improve labor conditions

It’s relatively easy to organize workers per outlet. In other sectors unions have to  organize multiple locations at once to try to maximize membership. It might be hard to replicate the Starbuck unionization surge there. https://www.ft.com/content/33d605b8-2025-48cf-9f2e-60f8f97cfd3b

FT China pours money into Iraq as U.S.A. retreats from Middle East

This happens despite a broader downturn in Chinese outbound investment. And it coincides with a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S.A. is disengaging from the Middle East. https://www.ft.com/content/f2ef2f3f-c663-4ce8-82d8-8c95ba23de97

February 4

FT A wake-up call on Emerging Market debt is urgently needed

Today 60 percent of low-income countries face debt distress. Rising U.S.A. interest rates will make the pressure on these countries worse. The western-centric approach (IMF) of the 20th century no longer works. A decade ago, low-income countries had about $80bn of public external bilateral debt. Now that is $ 200bn, with almost two third owed to China. The IMF is now imploring the G20 to take action. Yet the China government seems internally split about whether to cooperate. https://www.ft.com/content/c4aee76a-0415-47ed-b1ab-285bdc2baa4e

February 5

FT Doubts grow over ‘coup’ in Guinea-Bissau

The general sense is that this is a fake coup. The president is very  keen to label the violence as an attempt to take his life as he is standing up against the drugs trade. The country has a history of being a drug hub between Latin America and Europe. https://www.ft.com/content/c2a959a7-567a-426a-adc4-b7fb6413e53c

FT China ignores human rights claims as Olympics provide global spotlight

Everything is geared towards showing China for its strategy to handle the Covid19 pandemic and showing it has a superior governance system as compared to the U.S.A. There is fear of spontaneous protests by athletes and visitors. https://www.ft.com/content/97cd654d-adba-42a9-8758-eb1d60103891

FT ‘For me, Marx is neither a saint nor an enemy’

Says the professor of political theory at the London School of Economics and arch critic of capitalism. She is a fountain of argument, laughter and ideas. Hailing from Albania, the European version of North Korea, she recalls “we had this big idea that this world was going to deliver”. After fleeing to the west she found that freedom is scarce there too and wrote a book about it. Her bottom line is: “no one can take away your dignity however hard they try”. “The ideas of political and economic freedom are conflated — and that needs to be disentangled”.

https://www.ft.com/content/747c1e58-82ba-4b36-af4e-1f9d0802fb86

NYT A black Iraqis sudden career in TV news: ‘They wanted to see all colors’

There are at least 1.5 million African-Iraqis, descendants of slaves. There are no black law makers or high public figures. Drop out of blacks on schools, apparently because of discrimination, is 80 %. Now a female 25 year old black was asked to join the 100 strong group of network correspondents, show hosts and anchors. In a profession that relies heavily on physical appearance, this provoked remarks but the new staff proves to be a success as an anchor. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/world/middleeast/iraq-tv-black-news-anchor.html

February 7

FT Ukraine and Russia drift from separation to stand-off

The border between the two countries is one of the world’s most tense borders, where little more than 30 years ago no frontier existed. The former Soviet republic in 1991 voted with a 90 % majority for independence. It abandoned nuclear weapons on its territory three years later. Evidence of Russia backtracking original acceptance through actions, at times secretive, has surfaced regularly. https://www.ft.com/content/0a44d4a1-b8b2-4c9d-b07b-63b029c9d6bb

FT In India arrest of journalist from region disputed with Pakistan causes alarm

Police informed that the arrest was for “glorifying terrorism, spreading fake news and instigating people”. He reported about a shootout between police and militants. His detention follows the arrest of a journalist last month. The situation gets worse since the government in 2019 revoked a constitutional article guaranteeing political autonomy to Kashmir. https://www.ft.com/content/8026f44e-a717-4a29-8d97-a9b636777084

February 8

FT Tough U.S.A. action to step up the fight against kleptocracy challenges other countries

Last year the Americans showed willingness to acknowledge their role in modern corruption in bipartisan efforts to counter it. Strikingly, action from allies are missing. A British minister resigned suddenly and mentioned the failure of his government to tackle the issue. https://www.ft.com/content/09ba6575-a34a-4060-91b7-1885c9c720fe

FT Pressure grows on Peru president after third cabinet reshuffle

The president is criticized for flip-flopping on policy. The rural primary school teacher with no previous government experience changes his cabinet almost weekly for the most diverse reasons. The president frequently backtracks on statements, one of them on the age long land dispute with Bolivia. On his part the president blames the country’s elite to target him. The constitutional process can still favor him as congress has only limited options to get rid of him and rule by decree would be allowed if they fail to do so. https://www.ft.com/content/c150119f-b229-42d6-8e33-3499a2339d78

TT Faith matters

In an editorial the newspaper responds to a recent report of the Anglican church to renew itself in the face of secularization. The newspaper acknowledges the role of the church for social cohesion. It also states: “The Christian mission cannot avoid being concerned with social issues, because these affect human welfare. But episcopal interventions in public debate carry dangers.” This refers to the idea of having topical specialists among its leadership. Quoting the Protestant theologian Niebuhr, the newspaper concludes that “idealism that all choices are regarded simple” should be avoided. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-times-view-on-the-church-of-englands-approach-to-politics-faith-matters-xcmw33h5s

February 9

FT Nigeria needs a new kind of politics

In an editorial the newspaper notes that the country will surpass the US as the world’s third most populous country in the next 30 years. It is home to enormous talent but almost half the population lives in dire poverty. The government is addicted to oil revenue. So unappealing was the choice in the elections of 2019 that only 35 % of Nigerians bothered to vote. A better result needs a new kind of politics. Something was visible in the #EndSars movement in 2020, but it was viciously suppressed. https://www.ft.com/content/3a5b8509-c3be-4976-9ac7-24777e3de11f

FT Norway business told sale will imperil Myanmar activists

A planned sale of its Myanmar branch to a Lebanese group partnering with a regime-linked local company might endanger the rights of its 18 million customers in Myanmar. One of them filed a complaint with Norway’s data protection authority. The Norway telecom company plans selling as it was pressured by the regime to install eavesdropping equipment. It claims human rights are a key consideration but its Myanmar company does not function under Norway law. https://www.ft.com/content/046b8dad-4591-44aa-b8b3-67828f26ad9a

FT Spain’s booming labor market fails to propel GDP growth

Despite the improvement in the jobs market, the country’s gross domestic product remains about 4 per cent behind 2019 levels. Much of the reason for the disparity is because of tourism. Normally tourism is responsible for 12 % of the country’s income. Last year it was down by 60 %. https://www.ft.com/content/4453e5ac-3490-4726-8caf-794440dc7183

TT Nepal accuses China of encroaching on border

According to a leaked report China is erecting fences and harassing farmers and religious pilgrims close to the border in the northwestern part of Nepal, Limi valley. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nepal-accuses-china-of-encroaching-on-border-z37ffl2xc

NYT Syria’s Kurds wanted autonomy. They got an endless war

Their breakaway region has been engulfed in conflict since its creation, subject to the whims of their more powerful neighbors, most notably the Syrian regime in Damascus and Turkey to the north. The latest threat is from the resurgence of ISIS. Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran and Turkey have also been suppressed. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/07/world/middleeast/syria-kurds.html

February 11

FT Malawi epitomizes Africa’s Covid jabs woes

Only 5 % of Malawians have been double jabbed, compared with 84 per cent of adults in affluent countries. With production of the vaccines set to start in Africa in the coming years in Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa, this may ease supply constraints, but the problems go beyond supply. Poor infrastructure also takes its toll. https://www.ft.com/content/4cdca5be-b236-417d-92c5-a17ac83ed288

FT Olympic star builds brand by avoiding politics

The U.S.A.-born Gu, who won gold for host nation China, has struck a balance to please the public, sponsors and authorities. Speaking Mandarin and English fluently the sports star struck sponsorship deals for state-owned Bank of China, China Mobile and Mengniu Dairy, as well as partnerships with western brands such as Louis Vuitton and Red Bull. Gu, whose mother is Chinese and father is American, has avoided questions about which passport she holds. An international sporting advocacy group advised athletes not to speak about controversial subjects. A marketing official notes that the Chinese are “rediscovering their heritage. It has to be very authentic and that’s something Eileen Gu has done incredibly well.” https://www.ft.com/content/ead1b26f-c060-4d54-aebd-5ebde5c5924a

FT France bets on atomic power with plans to build six reactors

The state-controlled utility EDF would be tasked with building and operating the reactors. In addition updating the 40 year lifecycle of the existing ones is investigated. Previously the government pledged a different trajectory and closed an aging plant in 2020. Europe’s last big nuclear power producer, France has so far been shielded from the worst of a fallout from soaring gas prices, adding to the sector’s appeal. https://www.ft.com/content/4fa9478e-eed3-4aa1-b6fc-834a34cece6d

FT In France two women frontrunners seek to unseat incumbent as feminism moves up agenda in presidential elections

The sexual assault issue takes centerstage in the country and the female candidate factor and women’s issues could play into the battle to unseat the incumbent in the April elections. What is all the more remarkable is that leading female candidates are conservative. https://www.ft.com/content/427bcf02-dbf1-411d-9afb-cff90cac9986

NYT Libya slides deeper into chaos as parliament picks new government led by former interior minister

The current prime minister rejected Parliament’s decision, raising concerns that the oil-rich African nation is returning to a divide with two rival governments. The country is already in political limbo after its failure to hold national elections on time in December. Parliament did lay out a path toward new elections, but the intermediate steps it called for are deemed unrealistic. The dispute seemed to set the country back to a familiar state of affairs: two rival leaders and a country divided in halves. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/10/world/middleeast/libya-tripoli-parliament-election.html

February 12

FT Libya appoints premier and prompts concerns over unity

Libya’s parliament, based in the east of the country, has appointed a new prime minister in a deal that could produce two rival administrations and deliver a setback to UN plans to unite the North African country. The government in the capital rejects the decision. The appointed PM is from the west and has the backing of the eastern warlord. https://www.ft.com/content/23ba97ab-dd28-46b7-9952-549db90b174d

FT Economics should never waste a good crisis

Economic theory advances one crisis at a time. They show how economies react to a source of stress. What causes recessions shows how economies behave when healthy. Crises not only lead to intellectual shifts but also political ones. https://www.ft.com/content/c95b5aed-7b13-4dfb-a3a7-a54bc8055d5d 

February 14

FT Ukraine crisis deepens Russia and China’s ties

After talks and dinner the leaders of both countries issued a more than 5,000-word joint statement that denounced American interference in their affairs and opposed further enlargement of NATO. The countries have some complementary military and economic needs to strengthen each other. But this has its limits: the statement mentioned Taiwan but not Ukraine. https://www.ft.com/content/38984025-9f1b-492f-933d-57da44fcc160

FT Lithuania tests EU resolve on China

To allow Taiwan to open a representation in Lithuania represents a big step towards formal recognition of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory. China has retaliated furiously to this perceived provocation. The tactics deployed in the dispute mark a watershed moment for the global economy. China now wants to stop importing products even if they contain only parts from Lithuania. Europe has filed a case with the World Trade Organization to counter this. https://www.ft.com/content/77adb343-6196-4d66-af84-995c05db7b6c

FT In UAE Dubai ruler intervenes in inheritance dispute at retail empire

The company is a pillar of the Gulf state’s economy and is too important to Dubai for the government not to keep an eye and help, said one of the people briefed on the matter. A judicial committee is appointed. The company said the committee would not oversee the company or its business. Splits often occur in families across the Gulf and it is not the first time the authorities interfere in this trading elite family. https://www.ft.com/content/310bc8d3-188c-4ecf-8079-5915f6acf6ff

February 15

FT Modern warfare catches companies in its crossfire

We should not lose sight of the fact that states seeking to intimidate and punish their adversaries are much more likely to use nonmilitary methods, from cyber-attacks to intellectual property theft to stealthy acquisitions of companies developing sensitive technologies, the so-called greyzone aggression. The defense for that is in dynamic relationships within a society, led by responsible government. https://www.ft.com/content/f6a726e2-0d50-4214-a32b-630dd747bf6e

FT Peru deserves a fresh political beginning

Seven months after the president took office, he is working with his fourth prime minister, his third foreign minister and his second finance minister. Now the medical sector demands the withdrawal of the health minister appointed two weeks ago. Part of the problem is the 1993 constitution, a product of the authoritarian presidency of Alberto Fujimori. It grants the president sweeping powers to veto laws and even dissolve the unicameral congress but also allows legislators to remove the head of state on the grounds of “moral incapacity”. Despite generally sound macroeconomic policies over the past two decades and decent growth, the economy larger than that of Greece and Ukraine is too elite centered.  For inclusion education is more important than an idealist president. https://www.ft.com/content/6bf19350-4882-4d2f-905b-3230c1b068b0

FT Saudi Arabia has plans for a multi-billion-dollar hydrogen plant

The world’s biggest oil exporter bets on becoming the biggest producer of the clean energy source, part of Riyadh’s efforts to diversify an economy reliant on oil and gas. Global competition will be fierce as hydrogen can be produced anywhere. The green energy to produce hydrogen (wind and sun) is amply available. https://www.ft.com/content/6dce7e6b-0cce-49f4-a9f8-f80597d1653a

TT Strike your wife gently if they do not take advice, deputy minister for women and family in Malaysia says

She posted a video on Instagram called “Mother’s Tips”. She advises husbands to first speak to “undisciplined and stubborn wives” and, if they are not compliant, to sleep apart from them. She added: “However, if the wife still refuses to take the advice, or change her behavior after the sleeping separation, then the husband can try the physical touch approach, by striking her gently, to show his strictness and how much he wants her to change.” Her boss approves as she accused protesting rights groups as “patronizing women”. In 2020 and 2021 there were 9,015 police reports on domestic violence in the country.  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/strike-your-wife-gently-if-they-do-not-take-advice-female-malaysian-minister-says-c6bnz659s

February 16

FT Mali coup forces French shift in strategy

France has to reorganize its counterterror operation in west Africa. It hosts a meeting today with West-African leaders ahead of the EU Africa summit. After Jihadi’s took the countries northern part briefly in 2012 a French led effort started, but violence spread throughout the country and beyond. This made the efforts unpopular and France planned to reduce its presence “to avoid indefinite war”. Russia’s private security company stepped in to protect the coup perpetrators. https://www.ft.com/content/4063abe7-aba5-46e7-b4d4-8984c5926d2a

FT In the U.S.A. bipartisan action to reign in big tech overcomes divisions

The columnist, working at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, points to legislation to deal with the gatekeeper and anti-competition role of big tech. She argues this is killing new ideas, limiting new inventions and blocking new businesses from getting a foothold. This all is undermining the vitality and resilience of economy. It is a pivotal moment in anti-monopoly history. Sale of the company (to big tech), not scale seem to be in the mind of even startups.  https://www.ft.com/content/50e87334-597c-4ef5-adc9-2ea4ee823161

FT Cyber warfare endangers the global system

Hacking government systems as well as financial and energy sectors can cause chaos. Cyber security remains the exposed underbelly of freedom. A cooperative effort is called for by sections in societies that are facing the same threat. https://www.ft.com/content/8e1e8176-2279-4596-9c0f-98629b4db5a6

February 17

FT Europe seeks to reboot relationship with Africa

It looks like Europe is more interested than Africa in the delayed summit that starts today. Africa is an increasingly self-confident continent with over 100 cities of more than 1 million inhabitants. The fraying decolonization  ties, vaccine apartheid, proposed ban of carbon investment, human rights and other partner options have changed the agenda. One analyst: “Any country that doesn’t have a constructive relationship with Africa is going to lose its relative position in the global economy.” https://www.ft.com/content/e9000149-f344-4d6f-9b53-586b8f49ca17

FT Tea and sustainability, a global company’s responsibilities

Fears over the social or reputational consequences of deals are gaining traction, as ethics and sustainability rise up investor (often pension funds) agendas. Unilever is still in a dispute over damages occurring in 2007 election related violence on its plantation in Kericho, Kenya. This also affects the sale of the company. The buyer claims it is committed to ESG (Environmental, social and corporate governance) standards. Also, it should be kept in mind that Unilever committed in January 2021 to make its entire supply chain committed to “living wages”. Selling a subsidiary is not the solution for that. https://www.ft.com/content/0deba2c8-4a94-442e-8268-31586a5fb1ab

FT The catch in South Korea’s push for developed nation status

On three occasions since 2008, the country has applied and been rejected for recognition by the index-maker MSCI as a developed market. The principal grounds of failure have been the refusal to allow offshore trading in its currency. Other ratings were achieved. But the MSCI rating is now an election issue. The discussion about it also brings to the surface Korean corporate family business practices. https://www.ft.com/content/0450293b-a35d-4901-8662-5bfa2dc7cbf7

FT The EU’s new tools to defend the rule of law

The European Court of Justice has cleared the way for EU institutions to withhold funding over violations of the rule of law. Two member countries had challenged 2020 adoption of a “conditionality mechanism” for funding. The court ruling plays into the cards of the incumbent in the upcoming elections in one of the countries. In the other country some measures are made to meet European demands on country rule of law. The European commission is hesitant to use the tool. https://www.ft.com/content/a26b75a1-2ec2-4162-b878-5ec2a4f6f784

February 18

FT France to refocus anti-terror campaign in Sahel

Flanked by the presidents of Senegal and Ghana the French president announced that the anti-terrorist campaign will shift from Mali to Niger as a row developed between his country and Mali over return to democracy and the Russian private security protectors of the coup leaders. The president of Ghana underlined that Jihadi’s should not be allowed to base themselves permanently in the region. https://www.ft.com/content/0b3e194f-13e2-49a2-bec0-bcd552dce26b

FT Spanish opposition at war over corruption allegations

The leadership of the right wing opposition have ended up in a fratricidal strife, where one would normally think it would accuse the government of: corruption. This affects the poll standing of the opposition. https://www.ft.com/content/704d77c0-4b49-49ff-a55a-86595100d398

FT A future case for the ‘retro’ policy of public sector reform to mend the losses occurring from market thinking

In affluent countries for much of the 90’s and the subsequent decade ‘public sector reform’ was much thought after. In Britain the 2001 socialist party program the term appeared 78 times. Public services are often difficult to measure and the trend to reform them caused austerity to threaten the sector. The article suggests three ways for rethinking the trend: make service delivery evidence based, digitilizing and make service delivery more individualized. https://www.ft.com/content/b858f412-6904-46fb-8d7d-69eb1e094e73

February 19

FT Canada’s illiberal response to protesters

The government uses the Emergencies Act to get rid of peaceful protest against pandemic measures. The Emergency Act is designed to respond to insurrection, espionage and genuine threats to the Canadian constitution. The newspaper in an editorial warns about the gravity of what the government did. “Canada’s forceful approach may only encourage the conspiracist mindset that has helped to fuel the protest and other anti-lock-down movements elsewhere”. https://www.ft.com/content/1f83d3dc-a95b-4947-92ba-4f08899228a3

FT UAE and India seal free trade deal aimed at boosting jobs and exports in both nations

India’s finance minister on Thursday described the deal as a gateway for trade into the Gulf and Africa. UAE expects the pact to deliver an additional 14000 skilled jobs into its workforce before 2030. Already a majority of the population of UAE is expatriate. Anti-dumping measures and rules of origin are also clearly set out in the deal to protect manufacturers. Indian and Emirati businesses will be able to apply for various government contracts in each country. Traditionally free trade is controversial in India. https://www.ft.com/content/0cc60d7d-8461-4584-b497-508ea3ac8dd0

FT EU accuses China of patent power grab

The EU is taking China to the World Trade Organization for alleged patent infringements that are costing companies billions of euros, as part of what the EU claims is a “power grab” by Beijing to set smartphone technology licensing rates. https://www.ft.com/content/d08f7480-5d19-497b-ac8b-bb68d780eae4

FT In Ukraine nationalist stronghold prepares for war

In the western city of Lviv, 700 km from the border with Russia, the 700,000 residents are sticking with their routines. The war threat is noticeable through the effects of cyberattacks and the relocation of western agencies from the capital Kyiv. Behind the scenes preparations for the worst are made. Firearms training has been made mandatory for municipal employees, and workshops for the public are widespread. https://www.ft.com/content/d0ad583c-a5a6-4a70-97c9-428606300a96

February 21

FT Cape Town in South Africa seeks to source its own electricity

Frustrated by blackouts, the second largest city of the country looks for renewable energy from independent producers. The Cape Town mayor: “Everything that you hear about poverty and unemployment in South Africa from politicians is just lip service, when you can’t provide electricity for your economy to grow”. https://www.ft.com/content/69f84a8c-ad42-4b78-b648-7d112139025e

FT Ghana criticizes west’s debt relief policy

The measures to provide debt relief during the pandemic, such as the debt service suspension initiative, did not take into account the views of developing countries or private sector lenders. To address the problem, Ghana calls for a rethink of the global financial architecture led by the World Bank, the IMF and other institutions set up during and after the second world war. This month Moody’s downgraded Ghana’s credit rating. Along with Sri Lanka the country runs the risk of default. https://www.ft.com/content/9a47389e-f168-49bb-8b01-0817ccf45062

FT Ethiopia’s mega-dam starts to generate power

The $4.2bn project — self-financed with dam bonds and contributions from civil servants’ salaries — will generate more than 5,000MW of electricity by its planned completion date of 2024. Today half the population still lives without electricity. The downstream countries, Sudan & Egypt, protest that Ethiopia is breaching the 2015 agreement about cooperation over the project. Ethiopia argues that the dam will bring a lot of benefits downstream in terms of managing the water better, especially during extreme events like floods and droughts. https://www.ft.com/content/e5f3ab13-1796-471e-8438-a7c14c89fdcf

FT Hostilities intensify on Ukraine’s eastern front

Residents are bracing themselves for the coming of a violent turn in the conflict. The leaders of the Russia-backed forces in the east of the country began evacuating civilians to Russia. There were nearly 100 incidents in one day and in the past weeks a few per day. The U.S.A. vice-president called escalating events a “playbook of aggression”. https://www.ft.com/content/2a2de3d7-0486-4af4-8e45-0afc18b40213

FT What comes after neoliberalism? This is, after all, a political economy, stupid.

Since an U.S.A. presidential election campaign in the mid ‘90’ the phrase “It’s the economy stupid” became a winning creed. It isn’t working anymore. This is a new reality of the post-neoliberal world, one in which politics, not just “efficient” markets, matter. Regionalization, not globalization, is the future. The columnist argues that we have left the age of neoliberalism behind. It means we should start addressing tough questions: what is the right balance between, say, foreign and domestic concerns when thinking about trade policy? How might better education and competition policy mitigate the downsides of our new era? What comes after neoliberalism? This is, after all, a political economy, stupid. https://www.ft.com/content/f6d53cd7-e384-457e-8b6d-fc7a815dda1c

February 22

FT How Russia took Europe to the brink of war

The Russian government was once described as using 19th-century methods in the 21st century. Even at the recent Munich security conference many diplomats and politicians refused to believe the intelligence-based briefings of the U.S.A. It has also been considered that the Russians could deliberately lay a trail of false intelligence, as part of a psychological pressure campaign, despite the sheer volume of the army movements. The next thing is to think that the Russians are dangerously deluded to believe that this kind of war is still possible in Europe. We will soon find out. https://www.ft.com/content/73df6814-49fa-4645-97cf-a6732933bc38

FT Never mind Big Tech — ‘little tech’ can be dangerous too

An inquiry opened in Britain on how hundreds of people running UK post offices were wrongly prosecuted for false accounting and theft on the basis of a faulty computer system. Artificial intelligence is increasingly used to manage, coach, score or monitor employees. The EU has proposed regulations that would designate workplace AI products “high risk”, requiring providers to allow for human oversight. Unions are taking issue to protect employees if software developed to manage warehouses is used to manage humans. https://www.ft.com/content/147bce5d-511c-4862-b820-2d85b736a5f6

February 23

FT China’s anti-corruption crusade

Critics say the relentless focus on graft has become a tool to pursue political enemies that has spread far beyond China’s borders. The Chinese political system is about to enter a crucial few months where the president is widely expected to extend his period in office into an unprecedented third term — a process that starts with the annual National People’s Congress which begins next week and concludes with a party congress in the autumn. As part of the drive against graft, the government reshaped the bureaucracy and is chasing dissidents of its approach around the globe. https://www.ft.com/content/ae4d37bd-0440-491b-a4b7-25ab6158e6ad

FT Finland urges NATO option for Ukraine

Finland, a member of the EU but not of NATO, maintained a careful neutrality with the Soviet Union during the cold war. It now takes the position that Ukraine must be allowed to retain the option of NATO membership. Its foreign minister warned that Moscow’s open aggression seemed to be based on a “concept of the past and rebuilding the Soviet Union”. Russia’s move on Monday to recognize the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine followed a worrying pattern, starting with the 2008 annexation of parts of Georgia, then Crimea in 2014 and now this one step further. https://www.ft.com/content/d6059e77-0f1e-478e-b522-7a8d97dc1d5e

February 24

FT A brewing catastrophe threatens in the Sahel

In an editorial the newspaper concludes: “The only possible long-term solution to the brewing catastrophe in the Sahel lies in the development of legitimate, preferably democratic, states that can offer young people the means to resist the siren call of violence.” Mali is now utilizing Russian mercenaries, who have a negative reputation. Talking to the Jihadi’s might make sense for Mali and the region. Not all groups are as radical. https://www.ft.com/content/f0365665-8ba3-4f44-a587-99ed1ab6a12a

FT Court hears Nigeria claims on JPMorgan

Nigeria is suing the U.S.A. investment bank. They paid 0,9 bn to a company related to a former Nigerian minister with an object of money laundering. This was done despite warnings, Nigeria told the court. A Swiss and a Lebanese bank had refused the payments. The accused pointed out they were dealing with a Nigerian state minister and also that they filed suspicious activity reports with the UK authorities. https://www.ft.com/content/dc633303-da14-4f94-bbfe-46fcec66dce4

FT WHO to boost drugs output in poor nations

A new facility will start in South Korea to provide training for drug manufacturing in poorer countries to increase local production, combat chronic diseases and enhance preparation for the next global health crisis. Health experts have said the uneven distribution of vaccines worldwide during the pandemic is largely because of a lack of trained staff and the concentration of jab manufacturing in richer nations. Increasing self-sufficiency is the goal. https://www.ft.com/content/9f215fd0-f28d-4a77-83a5-616ed31631e4

FT Commodity price surge allays fears of South Africa debt crisis

This will help the country. But it is not enough. The windfall in tax revenue is already too little to cover bailing out state companies. https://www.ft.com/content/27329f52-e673-4fd3-a094-4090e9076c93

February 25

FT Russia’s assault on Ukraine is unprovoked, based on falsehoods and opens a dark new chapter

The newspaper’s editorial concludes that Russia’s overturning of attempts since 1945 to make respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity a founding principle of international relations will have a grave human cost, and repercussions far beyond Europe. Russia employs fake information of liberation and “denazification” of Ukraine and the allegation of provocation of NATO to walk over a country. The latter motive is acknowledged by China. It defies China’s espoused principle of respect for territorial integrity. https://www.ft.com/content/a69cda07-2f63-4afe-aed1-cbcc51914105

NYT Beyond Ukraine, Russia eyes what its government calls America’s ’empire of lies’

The Russian president: “Therefore, one can say with good reason and confidence that the whole so-called Western bloc formed by the United States in its own image and likeness is, in its entirety, the very same ‘empire of lies.’” The president threatens even with its nuclear power. A former French ambassador: Russia wants insecurity in Europe because force is its trump card.” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/us-putin-nuclear-war-nato.html

February 26

FT U.S.A. government nominates black woman to make history at Supreme Court

She has to be vetted by the Senate judiciary committee and must be confirmed by a simple majority vote. The Supreme Court is now leaning towards conservative point of view and the new judge will not change that despite her progressive credentials. https://www.ft.com/content/315c9059-36c5-4362-ad42-8d27111a1125

FT North Atlantic Treaty Organization alarmed by Belarus role in assault on neighbor Ukraine

Belarus is sandwiched between Russia to the east and Ukraine to the south, while to the north and west are the Nato members of Poland and the Baltic states. Working from Belarus enabled Russia to be closer to the capital of Ukraine. With territorial integrity and political independence at risk the Baltic states and Poland called for immediate consultations within NATO. Belarus is also holding a referendum this weekend on future constitutional arrangements. https://www.ft.com/content/875bd999-1feb-4e2d-9455-30653a63a071

February 28

FT Ethiopia aims to attract billions in investment via state fund

By allowing a degree of private investment, officials in Africa’s second most populous country said the launch of Ethiopian Investment Holdings marked a key step away from the longstanding state-led development model that promoted national control of sectors such as banking, logistics and telecoms. Ethiopia has joined two dozen other African countries that have established sovereign wealth funds. Interest of investors in the plan is still unclear. https://www.ft.com/content/2c02152c-5b70-4dd0-b191-fd8670d197c2

FT Mozambique ‘trial of the century’ stirs power cuts and power games

Ordinary Mozambicans have been glued to the television for an attempt to hold the country’s elite to account for more than $2bn of fraudulent debt that ultimately bankrupted the resource-rich country. The trial also translates into a battle between the former president and his chosen successor, defense minister at the time of the fraudulent loans and claiming he knew nothing about it despite a supplier donating to him. https://www.ft.com/content/765c2cf1-d30d-488f-956e-24869217e809

FT China banks step up squeeze on African debtors

The Uganda government is told to put revenue from Entebbe airport into an escrow account. Collateral requirements are getting stricter for low income country borrowers. One loan, for building water supplies in Benin, demanded revenue collection not just from the project, but from the underlying infrastructure asset. https://www.ft.com/content/3f8c005d-df23-45fd-a502-770735a997a9

FT China sticks to ‘pro-Russia neutrality’ stance in Ukraine crisis

Until the eve of the attack on Ukraine, Chinese state media were calling U.S.A. warnings of a Russian invasion disinformation. The present Chinese government had shown a greater acceptance of risk and friction in foreign policy, putting its reputation for prudence and stability at risk. China is always advocating sovereign prerogatives but keeps quiet about it now, suggesting the attack on Ukraine was communicated by the Russians beforehand. https://www.ft.com/content/bf930a62-6952-426b-b249-41097094318a

March 1

FT The race to a post-dollar world

The “friendship without limits” announced by the Chinese and Russian presidents recently have consequences for Ukraine linked sanctions of Russia. Not only will China be able to pick up excess Russian oil and gas on the cheap. The shift to a bipolar global financial system is advanced— one based on the dollar, the other on the renminbi. It should be remembered that China wants complete control of its own financial system. https://www.ft.com/content/e5735375-75df-4859-bbf0-ae22e4fe2ff6

FT Swiss drop neutrality stance to duplicate EU sanctions

Switzerland broke with its longstanding tradition of political neutrality yesterday, announcing that it intended to match EU sanctions on Russia. The Federal president calls the decision “unique and difficult but morally imperative” because of Russia’s brutal military campaign against its neighbor. The country long seen as one of the world’s most accommodating countries for Russians to party and do business in, Switzerland will become one of the least accessible to them. https://www.ft.com/content/80c268fa-61d4-42ac-a9f4-310f12678c43

FT Six opposition parties in Turkey sign pact in bid to oust incumbent after almost 20 years in office

A key pro-Kurdish party does not participate. The declaration took place against the backdrop of mounting public discontent about the economy. In a nod to the country’s deep cultural and social fault lines, the six parties said they would strive to build a democratic country “where individuals can freely express their thoughts as equal and free citizens and live in accordance with their beliefs”. At the heart of the declaration is a promise to abolish the presidential system of governance, introduced in 2018 after a referendum. Tensions remain in the group over who will be the opposition’s joint presidential candidate. https://www.ft.com/content/59ae0ac9-e187-48e2-8a26-881920569dfb

March 2

FT China offers role as peacemaker in Ukraine

China announced that “Ukraine is willing to strengthen communications with China and looks forward to China playing a role in realizing a ceasefire.” It added that it respected “the territorial integrity of all countries”, without mentioning the Russian claims on Crimea and the eastern Ukrainian provinces. Before the invasion China had described the U.S.A. as the “culprit” in the Ukraine crisis. https://www.ft.com/content/e32aaff8-af24-46e1-8c7c-2a7d09387e45

FT Ukraine strives to keep wheels of state turning

The country had prepared beforehand for the assault. The deputy PM: “We are really happy and proud of the people in government who managed at a time of war the world has not seen in 75 years. We delivered on all of that.” A parliamentarian: “As soon as the Russian forces have MPs under their control, we will be forced to vote at gunpoint for some kind of capitulation”. https://www.ft.com/content/cd9e7068-b721-4c59-915d-e575018cf16f

FT Russia’s invasion in Ukraine forges new European resolve

Where European capitals once favored dialogue, they have turned to deterrence. “The paradigm has changed. Nobody is questioning where Europe  stands anymore,” said an Italian analyst. “It is not only war in Europe, it is war against Europe.” The crisis has also brought the EU closer in ways that seemed unimaginable just a few months ago. https://www.ft.com/content/c60bf50e-27f2-495f-a57c-d025416f6ab3

March 3

FT Friend of former president South Africa given bag full of cash, probe told

The building company Bosasa won big contracts for realizing public buildings. It was headed by a scion of an Eastern Cape family who defied apartheid convention to join the ANC. The now defunct company is claimed to be handing cash to someone from the former president’s inner circle. Corruption was central to Bosasa’s business model,” an inquiry’s report said, based on the testimony of a senior company official turned whistleblower. https://www.ft.com/content/45606e25-bb9d-44ba-b218-90cc97c84426

FT Ties between Ukraine and Russia severed by relentless pounding of Ukrainian city Kharkiv

Russia’s invasion was driven in part by the ideology of “Russky Mir” (Russian World).  Sympathy was deeply embedded in the region’s culture. Kharkiv is just 50km from Russia. Many people there speak Russian, have close relatives across the border and identify more closely with Russian than with Ukrainian culture. For them, the past week has brought a terrible reckoning. https://www.ft.com/content/131068c8-5a5e-466a-a476-48de30d97760

FT Turkey plays risky game by keeping Russian frigate at bay

The country indicated it would invoke a clause in the 1936 Montreux Convention to bar the passage of naval vessels belonging to warring parties. Turkey and Russia have a long and complex history. Turkey has been careful in his criticism of Russia’s invasion. Ukraine welcomed the decision to bar warships passage of the Bosporus. Ukraine bought Turkish drones. https://www.ft.com/content/433eb7e7-0c32-4c00-863a-9f1f9f294e9b

FT UAE drops visa-free travel for refugees from Ukraine

The country also ignored pleas from partners and abstained in the Security Council vote on the war in Ukraine. It promised it would shun sanctioned individuals and entities. The country fosters energy ties with Russia. It has traditionally benefited from crises elsewhere and was criticized in 2015 for denying entry of refugees from Syria. https://www.ft.com/content/502225bb-9bd8-4b3d-889b-0273f37e15eb

NYT Also at stake in Ukraine: the future of two Orthodox churches

The Russian church in Ukraine wants to unite under a single patriarch in Moscow, which would allow it to control the holiest sites of Orthodoxy in the Slavic world, the Monastery of the Caves, a sprawling complex of churches in Kyiv. After Ukraine’s independence, the Moscow patriarchy retained access to the site, while the Ukrainian government formally owned it as a museum. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, for its part, has been slowly asserting itself under its own patriarch, reviving a separate and independent branch of Eastern Orthodoxy, after the independence of Ukraine in 1991. It is still a minority among believers. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/02/world/europe/russia-ukraine-orthodox-church.html

March 4

FT Foreign students of color fleeing to borders report outbreaks of discrimination

A Kenyan medical student packed her bags after Ukrainian soldiers told the 24-year-old and her friends “it was not safe” in Kyiv because of the Russian assault. “There was a lot of segregation, I wouldn’t say [just] Africans per se, but foreigners were being given the short end of the stick.” African leaders have decried the discrimination. https://www.ft.com/content/4ec007ac-e47a-4439-aafc-c3255b11ac29

FT Residents of occupied cities in Ukraine regroup

“For now, the flag flying above us is Ukrainian,” the mayor of an occupied town told his citizens. “And in order to stay that way, the requirements must be met.” Grassroots volunteers are stepping in to try to maintain health, food security, and law and order. An official in a mainly Russian speaking town: “No one is fine with [Russian] control. People want to live as part of Ukraine.” https://www.ft.com/content/370937da-004a-4903-879c-393bf41c0f3d

FT War threatens the global financial system

Financial war, like the real variety, creates unpredictable aftershocks and collateral damage. It would be naive to think this will only hit Russian players. For now the Russian part of the financial system is limited compared to the global total. A financial crisis like in 2008 is not expected, but it would be naïve to be complacent. https://www.ft.com/content/5005cd1a-bb46-47e6-abd8-14ae01a7a6f0

FT Ukraine is winning the information battle against Russia

Ukraine has mobilized civil society and there is collaboration between state and people. By contrast, the Russian state dominates almost all communication in Russia. Ukrainians are the third biggest ethnic group in Russia and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed in a televised speech to the Russian public in Russian. The Ukrainian resistance has already shown its skill and courage in defying the odds. It may yet turn out to be the Russian regime’s worst enemy because it knows the people best. https://www.ft.com/content/2a11a507-80a3-4da5-9eee-4dafa4a7ee6e

FT South Korea’s ‘unlikeable election’

Scandals over everything have tarnished next week’s presidential election. The progressive and conservative candidates are both inexperienced and neck and neck in a contest that has been defined by scandal, mudslinging, family drama and insinuations of corruption, criminality, nepotism, fraud, superstitious practices and abuse of office. South Korea still has many strengths, including very well handling the pandemic, a very able bureaucracy and an active civil society that is increasingly intolerant of abuses and more willing to make demands of their leaders,” according to an analyst from Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul. “But we have the lowest fertility rate in the world, our pension system is a ticking time bomb, and our increasingly complex society is not being represented.” https://www.ft.com/content/376e7fae-2b05-4be0-ab1b-036a365291e8

March 5

NYT The war in Ukraine holds a warning for the world order

The global system was built in the 1950s and could use a good tune-up. For at least a decade, liberal democracies have been eroding. One lesson seems to be that alliances matter. Any attempt to rebuild a model of intervention must deal with its fraught history. The biggest challenge to the liberal system is the domestic basis of power. The authoritarians see that clearly and consider the west an ailing phenomenon. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/04/world/ukraine-russia-war-authoritarianism.html

March 7

FT Farmers warn of looming food crisis as Russian invasion of Ukraine curbs wheat shipments

Russia and Ukraine supply almost a third of the world’s wheat exports and since the Russian assault on its neighbor, ports on the Black Sea have come to a virtual standstill. This time of year planting is done normally but not possible now, in part as fertilizer is not available. Shortage and price rise are the result. Particularly impacted are Middle Eastern countries. They would normally benefit from the Black Sea transport option. https://www.ft.com/content/e6a28dd9-ecea-4d67-b6b5-a50301b731b2

FT Indian politicians beset by serious crime claims

In the lower house of the national parliament, the share of MPs facing criminal cases rose from 24 percent in 2004 to 43 percent in 2019, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organization. The structure of communities and dysfunctional state and judicial services in poor communities allow for strongman quick fixes without attention to long term institutions. https://www.ft.com/content/9405ad3a-4719-43a0-953a-0d2323211476

March 8

FT Belarus has traded sovereignty for support of Russia

Russia has tightened its grip over Belarus by stealth, despite the dislike of the leaders of each other. Irony has it that Belarus was driven into the hands of Russia through the democratic forces in the country. Four days after Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, Belarus held a stage-managed referendum opening the way for the president to rule until 2035 and removed Belarus’s constitutional non-nuclear status, enabling the country to house Russian nuclear weapons.  The claim is that this would only happen if the west put missiles in Poland and Lithuania. https://www.ft.com/content/160ebb62-c5d0-4d5f-b31c-52b4dc37e77c

FT India’s uneven economic rebound

The world’s fastest-growing large economy has bounced back from Covid-19 (9 % growth expected this year) but many people are not seeing the rewards, especially in the informal sector, which accounts for half the economy and 80 % of the jobs. Government tries to create a business enabling climate but benefits for the informal sector have been mixed. Most prominently the demonetization in 2016 invalidating most hard currency to force unregulated cash into the financial sector, caused chaos in the informal sector. Reforms intended to modernize the government-regulated agricultural sector were scrapped last year after fierce opposition by farmers. https://www.ft.com/content/b99a4329-d79f-4512-9076-c76b0f50f550

FT Ukraine crisis ruins Sri Lanka recovery drive

Russia is Sri Lanka’s main tourism market, and Ukraine, the third-largest. Russia is also the second-largest market for Sri Lankan tea, the main goods export. The surge in energy prizes does the rest. Many investors believe it is only a matter of time until Sri Lanka is unable to repay. https://www.ft.com/content/3a6d3822-7c7a-4c62-9a0e-dcff37e2a175

FT Lebanon faces exodus of brightest citizens

The country already has a huge diaspora as a result of the 15 years civil war. Two years after the onset of a fiscal and banking crisis, little has been done to salvage the sinking economy in what the World Bank has called a “deliberate depression . . . orchestrated by an elite that has captured the state”. About 40 per cent of the population of almost 7mn is considering emigrating. https://www.ft.com/content/44633cbe-77e7-4c3f-a8b2-cce88b0af331

FT China rejects return to cold war and lauds ‘everlasting friendship’ with Russia

The country slammed the U.S.A. for trying to establish an “Indo-Pacific version of NATO”. The foreign minister reaffirmed an “unequivocal message to the world that China and Russia jointly oppose attempts to revive the cold war mindset”. He claimed China’s support for “dialogue” and “negotiations” but did not elaborate on specific measures China had taken. Little has been heard about the earlier announced mediator’s role. Instead a neutral humanitarian approach is adopted. https://www.ft.com/content/be540dde-c3d1-4050-bce8-64b5de7514fa

March 9

FT World events give Taiwan wake-up call over China threat

There is now greater awareness that the mainland government could make good on its warning to take by force the island it claims as its own. A lot of people are suddenly paying more attention to self-defense. People also see that in Ukraine western parties are not involved on a direct military level and vividly remember how military involvement ended in Afghanistan. https://www.ft.com/content/165d676e-e2e2-44e9-bf83-cf5dd19b8444

FT Sweden’s PM rules out bid to join NATO

She said this would further destabilize the crisis. Unlike her political ally in Finland and despite her minority position as a PM she advocates this move. Finland is set to soon have a comprehensive national debate about joining NATO. https://www.ft.com/content/297fe2f5-e424-44c5-9f9c-676c02827343

FT Energy security on agenda in first talks between US and Venezuela since 2019 sanctions

The parties met for almost two hours at the presidential palace in Caracas in the first high-level meeting between the two nations since 2019 when they severed diplomatic ties after fraudulent elections and the suppression of opposition. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting U.S.A. and EU sanctions on Moscow have prompted western countries to look around the world for alternative sources of energy. https://www.ft.com/content/276aac3e-25bd-45c2-b5f4-8459240c9462

FT Moderna vows never to enforce Covid jab patents in poor nations

This reflects a U-turn on patent enforcement along with up to $1bn funding for initiatives aimed at better preparing the world for future pandemics and major public health risks. It happens at the beginning of a conference for future research funding. One analyst concludes this sets a bar of “minimal decency” that every drug company should meet. https://www.ft.com/content/425ec5ad-1ae0-4460-a588-6aadfe5d52d6

March 10

FT Invading troops in Ukraine to face guerrilla resistance

NATO estimated before the invasion that Russia would need 600,000 troops to take and hold the whole of Ukraine. Russia committed about 150 troops per 1,000 people in Chechnya in 2003, according to a US Army War College study. In Ukraine, that would equate to a force of more than 6mn Russian soldiers. The conflict will probably slowly begin a new phase of warfare in cities, to guerrilla-style tactics. https://www.ft.com/content/8bd4f60d-0eea-4c5b-ae61-e784c80f8521

FT With every round of negotiations, Russia has ramped up the force of its attack on Ukraine, laying siege to cities

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are to meet in Turkey today. During previous talks the Russia negotiators seemed to have no direct link to the top and were unable to give a practical response to Ukrainian proposals. This time it will be different with the presence of the Russian foreign minister. Still, the intentions of the Russians can be seriously doubted. https://www.ft.com/content/d9309ade-f9b7-4dba-b65c-6e4e55356a00

March 11

FT South Korea elects conservative as president after bitter campaign

A 61 year old career prosecutor who entered politics just last year, edged out his progressive rival by a margin of less than 1 percent with 98 per cent of votes counted. The election campaign was dominated by domestic economic and social issues, including a growing wealth gap, rocketing property prices and tensions over the status of women. Under the presidency of the incumbent he prosecuted a former president for corruption but fell out with the progressive party when he investigated their justice minister. https://www.ft.com/content/f9056776-454c-4c58-bff2-b0ca0d98e9b2

FT Chile’s progressive youthful president is a symbol of hope

The new leader took over from a 72-year-old conservative billionaire.  He claims to remain living in his modest house throughout his tenure. He wants to deliver on the demands of the 2019 protests, plans to raise taxes and curb mining. He has promised to stay fiscally responsible and appointed a respected former chief of the central bank as finance minister. https://www.ft.com/search?q=Chileans+pin+hopes+on+youthful+president

FT In India party of federal president sweeps to victory in state elections

Elections were held in five states and the party of the president achieved victory in four of them, including the country’s biggest state. This looks like a good prospect for the party in the 2024 federal elections. The party has proven a potent force with Hindu identity politics, delivery of welfare and utilities to the poor and the personal charisma of the president. The main opposition party which dominated the country from independence has severely suffered during the last decade. https://www.ft.com/content/beeaee31-c325-4627-9432-0b9e39727cf2

NYT Burkina Faso awaits the verdict in the Sankara assassination trial

Thirty five years ago the 33 years young charismatic army officer of revolutionary zeal had transformed this landlocked West African nation in just four years, with sweeping policies that prioritized the poor, defied the West and inspired adulation across Africa. A hit squad made an end to that. Within hours after the assassination a former close friend took office and did everything to obscure the memory of Sankara. After his ousting in 2014 the trial took shape. He is now in Ivory Coast and refuses to attend. France promised to declassify documents but is claimed not to have fully delivered. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/09/world/africa/thomas-sankara-assassination-trial.html

March 12

FT Moscow accused of Belarus false flag attack

The claim is that Russian planes took off from a Belarus airfield, entered Ukraine air space and conducted airstrikes on a Belarus settlement with the goal to involve the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus in the war with Ukraine.

FT The world cannot turn its back on ordinary Russians

People who criticize ordinary Russians for not denouncing the war en masse have a point, but they miss an important nuance: Russia today is a brutal police state where raising your voice makes you a traitor and far worse than an enemy. The columnist points to a 2015 poll among Fox news viewing U.S.A. citizens who more than 10 years after the Iraq invasion in majority still believed that this country had weapons of mass destruction. And to Europeans who 30 years ago believed democracy would only be possible in post-Soviet Russia. “Russia’s behavior over the past decade resembles Germany during the period after the first world war, not the second”. https://www.ft.com/content/f04e44d1-1309-432a-b173-dcafe021328a

March 14

FT Libya leader vows move to Tripoli, raising violence fears

His government was approved by the Libyan parliament this month, establishing a rival to an interim administration in Tripoli that failed to hold December elections. It is backed by the eastern Libya based warlord. The group claims it will march on Tripoli within days. The U.N. envoy expressed concern about troop movements around the capital. https://www.ft.com/content/a685f82d-ac20-4131-bbb9-dd3cab921732

FT Investors watch and wait as El Salvador prepares to launch bitcoin bond

Cryptocurrency is at the center of the government’s bold experiment to help ease economic woes. The experiment needs to succeed to avoid a serious chance of default of the country. A former national bank president: “If El Salvador had solid public finances . . . it [the bitcoin bond] could be a different story. Anyone who does a cold analysis will just buy bitcoin directly.” https://www.ft.com/content/5972099a-8a8c-4a85-8216-912cd78b710b

March 15

FT Iran battles discontent

The country is strangled by economic sanctions over the nuclear armament issue. The negotiations are also exposed to the big power struggle. In a rare admission of concern the deputy interior minister for social affairs said: “In recent years, people’s tolerance has decreased in correlation with rising economic pressure. The alarm bells should ring for us if people think a secular or non-religious state might be more able to deal with the challenges than the Islamic state.” https://www.ft.com/content/86e0e8cc-7770-416e-a49a-659616dc28a4

FT China faces a fateful decision on Ukraine

Russia asked China for military aid. A positive response would bring China into a proxy war with the allies of Ukraine and could spell the end for the globalized economic system that has fueled China’s extraordinary rise over the past 40 years. A short, victorious Russian war would have suited China. It would feed the narrative about the inexorable decline of American power. The stage might have been set for a Chinese attack on Taiwan. A global crisis causes people to re-examine basic assumptions. The idea of an economic severance of China from the west, once unthinkable, is beginning to look more plausible. https://www.ft.com/content/75701f79-2edd-4a46-98e7-620473ffabce

March 16

TT Outcry in Ethiopia over video of man being burned alive

The state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said “government security forces” were responsible for this “extrajudicial killing” on March 3 and that the victim was an ethnic Tigrayan. The government has vowed to investigate the incident, which it described as a “very gruesome and inhuman act”. Earlier this month the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva said that Fatou Bensouda, the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, would lead its investigation into atrocities perpetrated by all sides during the conflict. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/outcry-in-ethiopia-over-video-of-man-being-burned-alive-7pz6mrjhd
FT Closing the vaccination gap

A WHO-backed scheme to create ‘open-source’ mRNA vaccines aims to eradicate the inequality in access to drugs between rich and poor nations that was exposed by the pandemic. However technological advances depend on a cocktail of creativity, scientific knowledge and financial backing that is not necessarily reserved for the broadest public coalition. But it is the WHO task to disperse the advantages of the have’s for the common good. https://www.ft.com/content/61e1d51e-b415-4161-b157-032e5207ab7f

FT Russia’s war will remake the world

The combination of conflict, supply shocks and high inflation is inevitably destabilizing. The hope for peaceful relations is fading. Instead, we have Russia’s war on Ukraine, threats of nuclear Armageddon, a mobilized west, an alliance of autocracies, unprecedented economic sanctions and a huge energy and food shock. It is natural to seek someone to blame. FT Chief economics commentator cites a colleague from 1805 who after the battle of Austerlitz said maps were no longer needed. He proved wrong. https://www.ft.com/content/21ee7ac4-43ce-4d0b-b9b3-73f51e175830

FT The courage of the unlikely wartime leader in Ukraine

In a dedicated editorial the newspaper concludes that the artist turned president of the country has become a symbol of resistance and national identity. And continues in the following sentence to invoke the name of Churchill. “Somewhat ironically” his political leadership was waning before the war started. The invasions in 2014 and today have solidified Ukrainian nationhood. The role of the president has gone beyond that. It also affects (“ever more agonizing”) moral choices for the countries neighbors (NATO). https://www.ft.com/content/3e637a26-b608-4f45-9501-bd64753480c9

TT The strongmen are stumbling into oblivion

The west is courting other strongmen than Russia’s president to serve their addiction to cheap energy. Venezuela and Saudi Arabia were consulted and Iran is a name to be mentioned not far behind. The deeper problem, according to the columnist, lies in the very nature of strongmen leaders and our easy acceptance that they can dictate the rhythm of our lives. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-strongmen-are-stumbling-into-oblivion-q89tlq9n7

March 17

NYT For Russia regime  war on Ukraine is about ethnicity and empire

The article concludes that the assumption the current war in Ukraine is about democracy against autocracy is wrong. It is about ethno-nationalism as perceived and instrumentalized by the Russian government. It is a collectivist ideology with deep roots in Russian history and thought. An autocratic regime in Ukraine would also not be tolerated. The Russian government is reconsolidating imperial nationalism. There is no place for civic responsibility, the rule of law and the rights of individuals and minorities, including free expression and a free vote. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/16/world/europe/putin-war-ukraine-recolonization.html

March 18

FT The birth of a new Ukraine

A divided country, deeply cynical about its government after a troubled post-Soviet period, has discovered a strong sense of national identity. Will unity survive the bitter conflict? Wars bring destruction and death, but they can also shape a country’s identity for generations afterwards. The mayor of one Ukrainian city: “I can’t imagine any other European country that would demonstrate such resistance. We’re like David against Goliath.” https://www.ft.com/content/9ab50dee-67f5-4e1b-8456-d8f11814ef18

FT Sri Lanka in IMF debt talks after protests

Earlier the government had insisted it could navigate the crisis without IMF assistance. With debt and interest payment of  $7 bn due this year, it is estimated the foreign currency reserve is not more than  $0,5 bn. After the civil war the country borrowed heavily and the government elected in 2019 eroded the tax revenue by large tax cuts. The Covid19 and Ukraine crisis did the rest. https://www.ft.com/content/c898054d-e76b-4c2e-985b-01418cf04109

March 19

FT Bulgaria’s former prime minister arrested

The former PM was the president’s bodyguard during the communist times. He was ousted in an election last April after popular protests against corruption during his 12-year rule. He has denied any wrongdoing. The arrests include members of his party and his former finance minister. It is in connection with an investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. https://www.ft.com/content/8e7f1c9d-ce70-4b97-88bb-27cc0c29acfa

March 20

NYT In a new constitution, the pope sets out to overhaul the Vatican

The document was nearly a decade in the making and stipulates that baptized lay Catholics, including women, can lead departments and increases institutional efforts to protect minors. It is reforming the often unwieldy and out-of-touch Vatican bureaucracy. The Vatican offices will continue to be streamlined, but also undergo a new prioritization. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/19/world/europe/pope-constitution-vatican.html

March 21

FT South Africa refuses to criticize Russia

The country has not forgotten how Russia supported the anti-apartheid struggle. The president claims Russia approached the country for mediation as part of the BRIC’s group. It quietly dropped an early demand for Moscow to withdraw its forces, then joined India and China to abstain from a UN Security Council vote to condemn the invasion. https://www.ft.com/content/36dc93ac-1908-481e-8444-8008f1c02693

FT How war is changing business

This comes in access to pandemic related changes. “Supply chain disruption” is a key concept under fire. Another one is “globalization”. Also into view come restrictions on “dual-use” technologies that can be deployed for either commercial or military purposes. The article ends as follows: “Even in times of war, decoupling and geopolitical fear, it’s worth remembering that there is opportunity in a crisis.” https://www.ft.com/content/742d7df6-0d74-424f-81c2-bcd4cbbdbfd0

NYT Hillsong church says its founder breached code of conduct

The board of the global megachurch, which started in Australia, apologized “unreservedly” to two women who had accused the founder of inappropriate behavior. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/19/world/australia/hillsong-brian-houston.html

March 22

FT Surging wheat price prompts fear of unrest in Arab nations

The Middle East more than other regions depends on wheat from the war region. Sharp spikes in food prices are closely linked to social instability. Governments across the region have sought to contain the knock-on effect by attempting to procure more food supplies from other producers. The effects of the price surge is more felt in the countries without the benefits of energy production. https://www.ft.com/content/b76d3414-4f11-4e46-9271-9309c06237df

FT Floods in Australia raise prospect of communities’ managed retreat

Insurance provides cover for “unlikely events” but climate change means many risks that were once considered unlikely were now likely, and therefore uninsurable. Government has in the past organized and-funded “land swap” that allowed locals to move to a plot of higher land nearby to avoid their homes from flooding. That means the taxpayer is now the insurer. https://www.ft.com/content/f669a4ce-0b61-4de6-a3fa-32d15e5faefa

TT South China Sea islands: China ‘breaks pledge’ on military bases

At least three artificially built islands in the South China Sea have been militarized, creating a heavily weaponized battle line more than 1,000 miles from the Chinese coast. The Americans: “The function of those islands is to expand the offensive capability of China beyond their continental shores”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/south-china-sea-islands-beijing-breaks-pledge-on-military-bases-3z6jr052c

March 23

FT The Pakistan government and the politics of inflation

The PM is facing a vote of no confidence over his management of the economy at a time when Pakistanis face crippling price rises. Having originally promised to help the poor, can he survive? The worst part is the government refuses to believe they are at fault. https://www.ft.com/content/870369af-b673-4ce5-bd86-d89d28be4d40

FT Lebanon central bank governor charged with money laundering

The charges stem from a lawsuit filed last week by a group of activists, who accuse the family of the governor of embezzling public funds at the height of Lebanon’s economic meltdown through companies belonging to the family. Pressure is ramping up on a figure once seen as untouchable. The judge in action is considered close to the head of state, claimed to be behind the charges. https://www.ft.com/content/3c6409ea-c33c-46cd-8c48-35519e8e581b

FT The Ukraine conflict is not about democracy versus autocracy

The U.S.A. politics columnist of the newspaper argues that Biden is informed by Harry Truman, who said the US would “support free peoples” all over the world. But the Truman Doctrine was really the Truman Aspiration or even the Truman Metaphor. The reality of history is that America has to be pragmatic to the point of amorality. The strategic aim could not have been more noble. The tactics were almost nihilist in their flexibility. The west is going to have to make the same distinction between ends and means in future. https://www.ft.com/content/182adfa1-daae-449a-bdd9-8fe4265c20ed

FT Italy PM supports war-torn country’s bid to join EU

“Today, Ukraine does not just defend itself,” said the PM of Italy. “It defends our peace, our freedom, our security. It defends that multilateral order based on rules and rights that we have painstakingly built up since the second world war”. https://www.ft.com/content/dd2f9015-37cd-4a5b-a825-a156189c8826

March 24

FT Egypt asks IMF for support as Ukraine crisis affects wheat and crude imports

The country is the world’s biggest wheat importer. It devalued its currency on Monday in a move seen as a prelude to discussions with the IMF on a potential loan. Egypt also announced a package of tax breaks and increases in social spending amounting to $7bn. https://www.ft.com/content/8d91db0f-8b8d-4184-b81f-0adca85ca692

FT Invasion forces Japan to rethink foreign policy over Russia

The invasion of Ukraine has sounded the death knell for many long-held foreign policy goals. None has been more thoroughly overhauled than Japan’s aspiration to partner with Russia against China. In the new security plan of Japan Russia will no longer be called “partner” but a “security challenge”. In addition the Ukraine president addressed the Japanese parliament. Energy investment in Russia remains for now. There are signs that the invasion of Ukraine is spurring Japan to water down the pacifist defense posture”. https://www.ft.com/content/d185cde8-c68d-40cd-83db-e8b0c578919d

FT Afghanistan government breaks vow on return of teen girls to classroom

The government made a U-turn, saying girls’ high schools would remain closed “until further notice”. It added girls’ uniforms were not in compliance with Islamic law. https://www.ft.com/content/c7208e78-84a3-47e8-a9da-9e714cc509d7

FT Act now to prevent a new sovereign debt crisis in the developing world

The Ukraine crisis obscures the debt problems. The recent G20 initiative after the Covid19 invoked financial problems appears to have failed. The Ukraine conflict sanctions add burden to the developing world. One analysis says a key factor sharply weakening the pre-existing arrangements for sovereign debt renegotiation has been the lack of transparency regarding the scale and terms of outstanding debt obligations. “Global leadership is needed urgently. The potential costs of failure include a new sovereign debt crisis that would do the worst damage to the poorest and most vulnerable.” https://www.ft.com/content/faf73649-4e4e-481c-a245-55862ea644cb

March 25

FT This is no time for neutrality in Africa on Ukraine

The newspaper’s Africa editor notes that a big minority of African countries did not favor the U.N. resolution to condemn the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Many will remember Russia’s positive role in shaking off colonialism. Some will consider hesitance to take sides in the big power struggle. And then there is the security contribution of Russia in Africa today. “Russia’s stealth offensive in Africa plausibly benefits some of the continent’s more autocratic leaders. It certainly will not help its citizens.” https://www.ft.com/content/e0f292dc-207f-445b-b300-7524364fd32a

FT West rash to assume most of world backs its stance on Russia

The newspaper’s U.S.A. editor notes that many in the west work from the perspective that Russia is more isolated through its warfare in Ukraine. He adds that the world’s reaction is far more complex than that. Most countries watch from the sidelines which way it will go. The U.N. vote on the conflict had 141 of 193 member states in support, but the abstainers account for half the world’s population. Some also make good energy deals with Russia, while China asked Saudi Arabia for Renminbi payment to weaken the dollar. The Saudi’s themselves are a nominal vote supporter and refused increasing crude production to reduce prices. “One red flag is the west’s habitual tendency to claim moral leadership.” Second, the west“…rash to assume its values are universal.” Third, sanctions “…reminded others of the west’s capacity to punish those with whom it disagrees.” https://www.ft.com/content/d7baedc7-c3b2-4fa4-b8fc-6a634bea7f4d

NYT Ethiopia declares ‘immediate humanitarian truce’ in war-ravaged Tigray region

The rebel authorities responded that “if sufficient aid arrived within a reasonable time frame it would be committed to implement a cessation of hostilities effective immediately.” The aid groups stated that “parties to the conflict must use this moment to de-escalate and allow unfettered access to aid”. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/world/africa/ethiopia-tigray-conflict-truce.html

March 26

FT Oligarch and former political prisoner: “We must win the struggle for the minds of the Russian people”

“For 10 years in Vladimir Putin’s prisons I slept soundly. Even the night I was stabbed in the face, I walked to the infirmary to get stitched up, returned to bed, turned over the bloodied pillow and fell back asleep like a baby.” The war of Russia against its neighbor Ukraine creates sleepless nights. And for what? A regime that is obsessed with the notion of restoring an empire. It must be acknowledged that support for the war is widespread in Russia. This is an extremely dangerous process. Russian society is at risk of becoming not simply a hostage to the regime’s ideas and crimes. https://www.ft.com/content/61bb9bad-e7e8-4328-858c-77562e7bfae1

FT Saudi Arabia and UAE push the U.S.A. for more security support

On its part the U.S.A. seeks the support of the gulf states for energy security and an Iran nuclear armament accord. The gulf countries ask for more  “institutionalized security commitment” including enhanced intelligence sharing, and more combined exercises and operations at this insecure moment in history. A Gulf official said they saw the crisis as a moment to gain more U.S.A. leverage and move beyond the killing of a Saudi dissident in Turkey in 2020. The U.S.A. denies claims that the gulf countries refused to increase oil production to reduce energy prices. A point of attention is that UAE abstained in the February Security Council Ukraine invasion vote. Meanwhile the Yemen rebels strike 750 km inside Saudi Arabia. https://www.ft.com/content/7dc6dc40-358f-4e30-8e60-b0e36ba27064

TT Russia government plays the gender card to attract support for its atrocities.

The Russia president: “The cultural elite in England cancelled Joanne Rowling recently. The children’s author — her books are published all over the world — fell out of favor with fans of so-called gender freedoms, just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights. Today they are trying to cancel a thousand-year-old country.” The author on twitter: “Critiques of western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/west-trying-to-cancel-russia-like-it-did-jk-rowling-putin-claims-t0nmlcxdn

March 28

FT Is Peru ungovernable?

Last week a 46th new minister was sworn in. A sacked minister said that his departure was forced by the strong hand of the Marxist party that is the biggest party in parliament and adopted the candidacy of the party less president. The president came to power promising a better life for millions of Peruvians. Just eight months later he faces an impeachment vote accused of ‘moral incapacity’. Today’s vote will be the sixth time in just four years, against three different presidents, that Peru’s legislators have tried to play the “moral incapacity” card. https://www.ft.com/content/11851cab-864b-47fd-9802-699a6dbd0cbb

FT Europe tries to loosen Big Tech’s grip

In an editorial the newspaper concludes that the Digital Services Act (DSA) is an attempt to curb monopolistic models. Big Tech finally has commandments to abide by. It is the biggest overhaul of the digital marketplace in 20 years, and it is welcome. Having these ground rules laid down — so-called ex-ante regulation — is a departure from the system until now, where what is deemed to be problematic behavior is retrospectively enforced by citing breaches of broad-brush antitrust law. The act is much needed as an attempt to open up the digital marketplace to smaller competitors that up until now risked being bought and then buried by Big Tech. https://www.ft.com/content/def9de58-a9b7-4ed2-a05f-565c55814570

March 29

FT Egypt pays high economic price for conflict far away

Rising prices at market stalls epitomize the deep impact the attack of Russia on Ukraine has had on Egypt’s economy in addition to the loss of tourists from Russia and Ukraine. This comes on top of billions of dollars of outflows in recent months from Egyptian debt held by foreigners. Last week, Cairo asked the IMF for assistance, the third time in six years. Egypt is already the second biggest borrower from the fund after Argentina. https://www.ft.com/content/e033ceba-b1ed-4414-8865-d25254c640dd

FT War with Russia? Finland has a plan

From a winter attack of Russia in 1939 the country harnessed every level of society to prepare for a potential conflict. It has regulated stockpiles, civilian defence and military draft. Almost a third of the adult population of the Nordic country is a reservist. They call it comprehensive security, planning not just for a potential invasion, but also for natural disasters or cyber-attacks or a pandemic. It includes the “boring work” of ensuring that laws and rules work in times of crisis. We train on many levels regularly to make sure everybody knows what to do — the political decision-making, what do the banks do, the church does, industry does, what is media’s role,” says the director-general for defense policy. https://www.ft.com/content/c5e376f9-7351-40d3-b058-1873b2ef1924

NYT Pope meets with survivors of abuse at Canada’s indigenous peoples boarding schools requesting apology

Recently signs of human remains were discovered in Canada, most likely those of children, in unmarked graves on the grounds of former schools. The groups  hope for truth, justice and healing. “We hope that the church can finally begin a meaningful and lasting reconciliation.” The legacy of the residential school system has become a national shame. The Protestant churches that ran just under a third of these schools, along with the government, long ago apologized and fulfilled their obligation to pay reparations under a class-action settlement in 2006. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/28/world/europe/pope-indigenous-schools-canada-apology.html

March 30

FT Ukraine war will increase poverty in developing economies, warns World Bank

The war in Ukraine threatens to cause lasting damage to the economies of low- and middle-income countries, pushing millions of people into poverty and tipping dozens of countries into a debt crisis. https://www.ft.com/content/f09f4864-fc81-4dbd-8086-25e70ed01019

FT Brazil rivals bury hatchet to take on incumbent

They were for much of the past 20 years bitter political rivals, contesting a presidential race in 2006 marred by mudslinging and accusations of corruption. Now they will be running mates. The match makes the ticket more centrist and basing itself on a more sustainable support base in parliament. https://www.ft.com/content/434c971b-acc3-424e-8f56-f375bfb39873

FT In France the conflict in Ukraine has buoyed the incumbent’s election campaign, but deep rifts in society would not be fixed by his victory

The anger in French society that erupted with the anti-government gilets jaunes protests is still present. The extremist French politicians try to exploit it.  High abstention and a strong performance by far-right and far-left rivals would ensure France remains a key battleground in the global struggle between liberal internationalists and supporters of nationalism and populism. Even if the incumbent wins his second term as convincingly as the polls predict, it is clear he will face big societal challenges. https://www.ft.com/content/ec1ae567-4836-4cbf-8110-7c74a013ca82

FT A new world of currency disorder looms

Sanctions on Russia show weaponization of monies will fragment the global economy and make it less efficient. Today, global monies are issued by the U.S.A. and its allies, including small ones. This is not the result of a plot. Stable currencies are those of open economies with liquid financial markets, monetary stability and the rule of law. Weaponizing money undermines just that. The economic power of China will not be an alternative as it misses much of the stabilizing factors. https://www.ft.com/content/f18cf835-02a0-44ff-875f-7de7facba54e

FT Civil society must be part of the EU Digital Services Act

A former employee and whistle blower of social media´s harmful acts credits the early warning role of civil society.  She strongly encourages lawmakers to ensure that civil society organizations with a record of integrity and excellence in research gain access to platform data under the Digital Services Act (DSA). This is a golden opportunity for effective governance. https://www.ft.com/content/99bb6c10-bb09-40c0-bdd9-5b74224a5086

March 31

FT Saudi Arabia backs Egypt with $5bn deposit

In recent years, Egypt has been reliant on attracting “hot money” (foreign inflows into its short-term debt market by offering one of the highest real interest rates in the world). The Saudi deposit will help in the negotiations with the IMF to secure more stable financing. https://www.ft.com/content/6748465d-b1ca-4625-9d8f-b40620aa3f42

April 1

FT Tunisia leader dissolves defiant parliament

This happened after more than half of assembly voted to repeal measures passed by the president. He accused the deputies of “an attempted coup” and said his decision was aimed at protecting the state. Earlier he announced  a referendum in July on a new constitution to be drafted by a handpicked committee of experts. He refused to hold a national dialogue as advised by the powerful trade union, risking to lose their backing. https://www.ft.com/content/72f58982-3e44-4ec8-b087-51a50dc0813c

FT Supply chain crises force a what-if mindset

Industrial resilience by reshoring was a populist issue not long ago. Not anymore. An analyst: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the last three decades”. The author concludes that what-if scenario’s need to be taken into account more. Second, stockpiling is important. The third shift is that companies are now looking at supply chains with lateral, rather than tunnel, vision. https://www.ft.com/content/ee4704b9-debb-4526-b337-cc883be91994

NYT Kenya parliament rejects government´s plan to amend constitution

Two lower courts had already ruled against the plan. Civil society groups had criticized the proposal as an attempt to expand presidential power and strengthen the elite’s grip on national politics. They see the project as an attempt to water down the Constitution, passed through a 2010 referendum with an almost 70 percent majority, and viewed by many Kenyans as a progressive document that set the country on a new course. The ruling could have an impact for the presidential elections due in August 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/31/world/africa/kenya-supreme-court-constitution.html

April 2

FT Sri Lanka protest over fuel shortages met with tear gas

The island nation suffers rolling 13-hour blackouts and fuel shortages. Demonstrators are furious at the government’s failure to bring months of economic chaos under control. Dwindling foreign currency reserves mean the government is unable to pay for fuel imports. “These protests are stemming from people not having cooking gas, not able to get to work, not able to run their businesses due to a lack of fuel,” says an economist in Colombo. https://www.ft.com/content/5ea5663c-f304-40c0-a03d-940948af7f3b

See also webpage: https://www.humanrightsjourneys.com/state-society-watch/

April 4

FT Neutral countries in Europe start to rethink stance on security

Six nations have a history of military non-engagement. Some of them are contemplating joining NATO: Sweden and Finland. Austria and Malta have neutrality in their constitution. For Switzerland and Ireland it is also standard policy. Only Ireland called for a `major rethink` of security policy. Switzerland followed the EU sanctions but will stay neutral. https://www.ft.com/content/81adf60e-c7bd-435b-985b-16a08dd046d0

April 5

FT Incumbent victory in Hungary prompts criticism by observers

The OSCE said the elections were spoilt by the ‘absence of a level playing field’ in the campaign. They did conclude that the vote itself was well administered and managed. The invasion of Ukraine looked set to turn incumbent’s stand on Russia into a political liability, but the PM stood by his proclaimed neutrality even as domestic and international pressure mounted for him to stand with western allies against Moscow and for Kyiv. https://www.ft.com/content/482f9cb3-4bdd-4bf7-b776-b8c99b60aaca

FT Conflict worsens Russia population crisis

A skilled worker exodus comes on top of high excess deaths in pandemic and low birth rate. In November the president explained: “From a humanitarian point of view and from the perspective of strengthening our statehood, and from the economic point of view, the demographic problem is one of the most important.” In a sign that the country fears a brain drain, it last month exempted young workers in the technology sector from compulsory military service, offering them advantageous mortgage rates and freeing IT groups from income tax and inspections, as well as granting access to cheap loans. But the war and its fall out worsens the situation. https://www.ft.com/content/8c576a9c-ba65-4fb1-967a-fc4fa5457c62

FT Finland polls show rising public support for NATO membership

The country joined the EU in 1995 but joining NATO was never contemplated, even at the time of Russia’s war in Georgia and the annexation of the Crimea. A major conventional war in the middle of Europe by an aggressive Russia did it. Helsinki is preparing a white paper on the country’s security, including potential NATO membership. A parliamentary debate will follow, with some MPs pushing for a decision to be taken before a NATO summit at the end of June. https://www.ft.com/content/83b5041b-6bcf-49de-b180-43c354a3302d

FT Former World Bank official accused of sexual harassment wins Costa Rica presidential election

With more than 95 per cent of the ballots from Sunday’s election counted, the economist had 53 per cent of the vote compared with 47 per cent for a former president. https://www.ft.com/content/23e4d7df-88d4-4db7-b131-75eb839209d8

April 6

FT Poland blocks EU move to implement minimum corporate tax

In a landmark agreement last October, 137 countries backed the introduction of a 15 per cent minimum effective corporate tax rate on large businesses, known as pillar two. In order to make the deal a reality, countries need to put the minimum tax into their domestic law. The EU plans to do this via a directive and requires unanimity from all member states for the measure to go ahead. Poland disrupted the plans yesterday by opposing the proposed directive at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg. https://www.ft.com/content/912528e9-1c1d-4e18-9366-fc067f4f524b

FT Resounding presidential election victory over a united opposition puts incumbent in Hungary on collision course with EU

The EU is preparing to use new procedures to confront Hungary over alleged corruption, rule of law breaches and weakening of democratic standards. The EU is already blocking approval of €7bn in pandemic recovery funds for Hungary. The incumbent: “The whole world could see tonight, here in Budapest, the victory of Christian democratic politics, conservative, civic politics and patriotic politics. Our message to Europe is: this is not the past, this is the future, our shared European future.” The re-elected president is the only EU leader who has declined to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although he has backed EU sanctions against Moscow. https://www.ft.com/content/406ed00d-203f-4081-9e8b-a63280b0d7da

FT President of Ukraine in a video message tells UN Security Council that Russia must face justice over civilian deaths.

He showed the Security Council a video featuring gruesome images and warned that Russia would manipulate proofs. He accused  the Security Council of ineffectiveness in stopping Russia’s invasion, pointing to Russia’s status as a permanent member with a veto over any decisions. The UN SG earlier called for an “independent investigation to guarantee effective accountability. The war in Ukraine must stop now. We need serious negotiations for peace, based on the principles of the UN Charter.” https://www.ft.com/content/57430013-3b96-4f97-9f47-daaeed1c58d5

FT Sri Lanka finance chief quits after one day

He had been named finance minister as the president called for a unity government following the mass resignation of cabinet ministers on Sunday. The post has taken on extra importance ahead of approaching IMF negotiations over Sri Lanka’s debt pile and dwindling foreign reserves. Adding to the president’s woes, his government lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority yesterday after 41 members of the governing coalition quit and rebranded themselves as independents. https://www.ft.com/content/3a5b7f88-22c6-43f3-85c2-5bb3efd42a06

April 8

FT Fallout from war threatens G20’s future

The geopolitical club known as the Group of Twenty (G20), representing 80 % of the global economy, had a vital role in the global financial crisis of 2008. Right now it hardly functions. It requires some degree of candor, trust and reliability that is not there. It deteriorates further now the west shuns Russia. What looms is a G-Zero world — one in which nobody is in charge. According to the newspaper chair of the editorial board that is alarming. One major issue is the sovereign debt crisis in some emerging countries. https://www.ft.com/content/b4b335a1-f999-46ad-bbe1-1e5576152a2b

April 9

FT Food prices reach new high on back of conflict

The soaring costs of cereals and vegetable oils pose a threat to the world’s poor, particularly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Many poorer countries are already struggling from the impact of Covid-19, and several in the Middle East and north Africa rely on both Ukraine and Russia for their grain and vegetable oils. The invasion in Ukraine has complicated export of the major food producer. Russia has continued to export but payments are complicated due to sanctions. https://www.ft.com/content/5212871a-d2d3-41ef-99fe-400ed33859e8

April 10

TT Three decades later hit squad driver explains in court last moments of killed president of Burkina Faso

According to the driver, the killers came directly from the home of the presidents later successor, already convicted in absentia (He lives in exile in Ivory Coast). Ten other people have been convicted in the tribunal. The newspaper explains the killed president, Thomas Sankara, as a figure of hope for a generation of Africans. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/three-decades-on-hit-squad-driver-solves-riddle-of-last-moments-of-africas-che-guevara-zxrl2m85q

April 11

FT Smartphones play vital role in defense of capital in Ukraine

A combination of new technology, ingenuity and Russian blunders blocked invaders’ attempts to capture the capital of Ukraine. App reports of citizens about enemy positions were used. Small army hit squads could avoid detection by Russian drones by using foam mats to prevent human heat to be detected. https://www.ft.com/content/e87fdc60-0d5e-4d39-93c6-7cfd22f770e8

FT Pakistan MPs oust PM

Parliament is set to appoint opposition leader to take over amid mounting uncertainty over economy. The nuclear-armed nation has never had a PM that stayed the full five years. The ousted PM, a former sports star and socialite, turned to a conservative part of Islam when stepping into politics. He promised a change from Pakistan’s dynastic politics. There are reports that Pakistan’s powerful army had withdrawn its support for him. https://www.ft.com/content/b2c2524e-35d0-44b5-b65a-1c681090ef91

April 12

FT The changing nature of globalization

In an editorial the newspaper concludes that the cycle of globalization lasted 40 years but decline started after the financial crisis of 2008 when China started rethinking the Anglo-American style financial market liberalization. Source domestically and regionally is the new trend rather than globally. The Ukraine war marks a turning point in the world order of geopolitics, macroeconomic trends and capital markets, according to a leading CEO. The globalization created unprecedented prosperity but also inequality within countries. The solution is not beggar-thy-neighbor trade wars but shifts in both domestic policy and international institutions. “Greater regionalization will be the future”. https://www.ft.com/content/9be8904c-8a0a-4774-908f-3f61e2df8a88

FT PM ousting marks return of Pakistan’s political families

The new PM is the brother of a former PM, removed from office in 2017 by the supreme court because of “undeclared wealth”. In a poetry-embroidered speech after his election, the new PM accused the ousted government of being “corrupt, incompetent and laid-back”, but also struck some conciliatory notes. “If we want to move our country forward it has to be through dialogue, not deadlock”.

https://www.ft.com/content/6b90c9ae-1435-4c53-88ce-f2de7e93f1df

FT Mexico president claims victory in referendum to vote about his policy

Boycotted by much of the opposition, the president won almost 92 per cent of the vote. Turnout was only 18 %. Critics claim the referendum was organized as a preparation of extending his term. Mexico has a system where the president can only be elected for one term. Supporters of the president claim he does a credible job in reaching out to the ordinary people. https://www.ft.com/content/21adc541-5659-40ca-ba65-0faab35e4e1e

FT China’s bid to snatch strategic islands

A number of small Chinese companies have scoured the globe to buy or lease important strips of land. Are they trying to make money or are they securing a foothold for Beijing’s geopolitical interests? These private companies are clearing the way for Chinese state interests that arrive in their wake. The method is known from the British colonial times under the expression “trade follows the flag”. The Chinese have even used the method in places where there was no Chinese embassy, as the country was connected to Taiwan. https://www.ft.com/content/c0c49cd7-a4d9-4e4d-be6b-41f5fc3080cb

April 13

FT The oil giants drilling among the giraffes of Uganda

With climate activists lined up against it both inside and outside the country, the Lake Albert project is becoming a litmus test for oil development in the age of net zero. A government representative: “Uganda is a landlocked country, and a developing country — our energy demands are going up.” From the perspective of the Ugandan government, the benefits outweigh the risks. https://www.ft.com/content/e1670042-11bd-4c68-9bde-a599d94bd8c0

FT WTO warns of mass hunger as it slashes trade growth forecast

Smaller supplies and higher prices for food due to the war in Ukraine mean that the world’s poor could be forced to do without. This must not be allowed to happen. This is not the time to turn inward, said the head of WTO. She called for humanitarian corridors to allow grain to leave Ukraine by truck or ship and for farmers to be able to work. https://www.ft.com/content/8e6d6020-02cd-450b-a799-cb20e40a80d7

FT No grand theory can explain the Ukraine crisis

Is this Darwin (the survival of the fittest), Fukuyama (the end of history) or Huntingdon (clash of civilization)? None can explain why the Ukrainians want to attach themselves to the west and why Putin wants them in his influence sphere. https://www.ft.com/content/881c14dd-08ce-4266-8127-24f3c398e8d3

April 14

FT The supply chain crunch requires coordinated solutions

The Nigerian head of WTO in an opinion article  considers the effects of the supply chain crunch for small businesses, particularly those from developing economies. The consequences for growth, job creation, and poverty reduction could be catastrophic. Shipping carriers say congestion on land is a major driver for surging freight rates. Beyond structural problems, process issues such as red tape and paper-based customs protocols add unnecessary delays and costs to trade transactions, while climate change poses a long-term threat To avoid a further rise in inflationary pressures coordinated action is necessary. https://www.ft.com/content/f845e35e-3783-4539-bf2f-05c2ea06a1fe

FT Floods kill hundreds in South Africa

More than 200 mm of rain fell on Durban on one day, causing mudslides, opening sinkholes and forcing Maersk, the container operator, to suspend some services. As one of the continent’s most urbanized and unequal countries, South Africa is not prepared for the impact of severe storms on the crowded settlements that surround big cities. https://www.ft.com/content/b366212d-91e4-48c2-8581-dbee5461da82

FT Russian menace edges Finland and Sweden closer to NATO entry

Finland will decide within “weeks” whether to apply to join NATO, its PM has said, as Sweden also edged closer to membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It could inflame tension with Moscow, which has warned it would be forced to “rebalance the situation” should Finland and Sweden decide to join. , The Finnish foreign minister said the invasion of Ukraine meant Helsinki should “reassess” its historic position of non-alignment. https://www.ft.com/content/dc70777f-05d9-4e44-8217-30f448e2b64f

April 16

FT Britain is shamed by its treatment of refugees

In an editorial the newspaper assesses the scheme to deport refugees to Rwanda that manage to reach Britain. The conclusion: It is a symbol of state powerlessness. The previous set of deterrents has clearly not proved enough, so the government is escalating them. This seems particularly cruel given that family ties are among the commonest reasons why people are braving the cold waters to reach Britain. The former imperial center is a land of many diasporas. https://www.ft.com/content/60dfa307-ed89-4fd4-9e5b-3cdb36a6ac85

FT Rwanda faces scrutiny on migrant deal at the request of Britain

The country will receive a £120mn upfront payment to host what the UK opposition has described as a “shameful” detention system. The system was applied by Israel in 2014. The UNHCR commented on its secrecy and lack of transparency. The UN has come out strongly against the UK deportation scheme, saying it was up to rich nations to “show solidarity in supporting Rwanda and the refugees it already hosts, and not the other way around”. https://www.ft.com/content/881b9b0f-124f-4ccd-bed4-d60b976355b1

FT Diplomatic problem with emotional language of U.S.A. president

The American president is deeply moved by the war scenario in Ukraine but his “genocide” remarks over the Bucha massacre does not help. He has been known for other instances of not finding the right tone for political results. https://www.ft.com/content/d15a3743-f2ae-4710-a305-14f1326e5eb9

FT Battle to save churches and heritage in Ukraine

The human suffering in the war has been immense, but the damage to Ukraine’s cultural assets — its medieval churches, museums and historical monuments — has been of huge significance. Unesco said at least 53 Ukrainian cultural sites had been damaged or destroyed since the invasion on February 24. Experts say churches, often hundreds of years old and sometimes made from wood, are particularly vulnerable. The Unesco director-general wrote the Russia foreign minister to remind him of Moscow’s obligations to protect cultural sites under the 1954 Hague Convention, to which both Russia and Ukraine are signatories. He replied he was well aware. https://www.ft.com/content/b83fb574-0e2a-4ff0-bd73-d6714927e29f

FT Tech guardians in Ukraine fend off foreign attacks on digital infrastructure

“What is the best time to study your enemy? Long before the fight” said one official. This is what the Ukraine has been up to since the Russian hostilities started in 2014, helped by the former head of the U.S.A. Cyber Command. Earlier this month, that preparation paid off. https://www.ft.com/content/8cdf0aba-280b-4609-8e86-1f140e470d06

April 18

FT It is time for a new Bretton Woods

The newspaper’s global business columnist meditates about remarks by the U.S.A. Treasury secretary that the country “would no longer involve merely leaving markets to their own devices but rather would uphold certain principles — from national sovereignty and a rules-based order to security and labor rights”. She coined a new word for this post neoliberal era: “friend-shoring”. The U.S.A. would now favor “the friend-shoring of supply chains to a large number of trusted countries” that share “a set of norms and values about how to operate in the global economy”. The newspaper hopes that “we don’t end up with a bipolar system. ” https://www.ft.com/content/b437fd60-7817-490e-b456-eb7ef1565f13

FT Citizens in Chile lose patience as creation of new constitution attempts to please everybody

One analyst: “They seem to be legislating, not writing a constitution. It’s a shopping list, with an emphasis on issues that polls show don’t seem to be of prime concern for most Chileans.” Heated debates broadcast live have shown the amateur and at times idealistic nature of delegates, who range from schoolteachers and doctors to indigenous leaders and social workers. Another analyst: “It feels like we’re drawing up a new social contract”. https://www.ft.com/content/f881370a-2271-4d01-83dd-4ceb4cf18a12

TT OM India criticized for silence on religious violence

Leaders from 13 opposition parties wrote a statement urging the PM to condemn the attacks and express concern over the “recent outburst of communal violence”. At least 14 people were arrested on a violent weekend during a procession celebrating the birth of the Hindu god Hanuman. Clashes broke out after worshippers were alleged to have chanted anti-Islam slogans and tried to break into a mosque. Nine people, including eight police officers, were injured. The battles were the worst since at least 53 people were killed in riots two years ago. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/modi-criticised-for-silence-on-religious-violence-0jrtkd2bn

April 19

FT Britain’s migrant deal with Rwanda is a boon to the latter

Rwanda is the single most densely populated state in Africa, a nation already struggling to accommodate a refugee caseload of its own — 130,000 refugees, mostly from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. For its government, this deal with Britain marks part of a relentless and strikingly effective campaign to persuade the west to embrace the country as a proactive country which is offering radical solutions to thorny domestic and foreign policy problems. The deal will possibly fail, like earlier efforts of Denmark and Israel. https://www.ft.com/content/387124c0-a280-4fcd-a309-17aecf8fd4a5

FT Patriots vs globalists is the new battlefield

It was France that gave the world the concepts of the left and right in politics in the so-called French revolution. Now it is France that is leading the way in the destruction of this divide and its replacement by a new politics, one in which the two dominant camps are nationalists and internationalists. The center-right and center-left parties, a traditional feature in western politics, collapsed. This is a time imposed change. Both the nationalist and internationalist approaches contain possibly explosive features. https://www.ft.com/content/c2a1f0eb-cb31-4f7c-a445-f06ff0974942

FT Russian Orthodox Church angers citizens of Ukraine over its stance in the war

The church, one of the pillars of the Russia government, has given the war an air of legitimacy among the president’s supporters, bolstering his depiction of Russia’s invasion as a reunion of ancient Slavic-Orthodox lands. In Ukraine, the stand of the Russian Orthodox church has caused outrage among many. Before the war, a third of the parishes in Ukraine remained under the Russia church’s control. Now many seek independence from Russia. https://www.ft.com/content/4c03d717-b322-4218-80d2-884d60e028c7

FT Oil price offers Malaysia chance to cut debt

Soaring oil prices caused by the war in Ukraine could improve Malaysia’s balance sheet, according to its finance minister, providing a respite for the south-east Asian nation as it tries to recover from the 1MDB scandal and the pandemic. The benefit from higher oil prices will not completely compensate for the effect on global demand during the Ukraine crisis. “We are part of the global supply chain and hence the political and financial stability of our trading and [foreign investment] partners could impact Malaysia’s economy”, according to the minister. https://www.ft.com/content/53555493-3781-4aa3-9e54-ab8000a4495d

FT South America’s farmers seek to head off global food crisis

The higher prices because of worries over shortages tempt producers to meet demand. There may be an investment opportunity in wheat due to complications for summer planting in Ukraine and Russia. Higher costs and looming scarcity of crucial inputs, such as fuel, fertilizers and animal feed, risk hampering the ability to help guarantee global food security. Although largely tropical climates limit wheat cultivation, the region has exported more of the grain this year than in the whole of 2021. This is also due to advances in crop technology. https://www.ft.com/content/4b134651-1b88-4ad8-9756-96074db66ff1

TT South Africa deploys 10,000 troops in wake of deadly floods

The president last night declared a national state of disaster over the floods and mudslides in KwaZulu-Natal province, which have made at least 40,000 people homeless and knocked out power and water supplies. South Africa is largely shielded from the storms that form over the Indian Ocean unlike its neighbors which suffer natural disasters caused by them almost every year. The downpours all week were not tropical but caused by a weather system known as a cutoff low that had brought rain and cold weather to much of the country. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/south-africa-deploys-ten-thousand-troops-in-wake-of-floods-5c7qv39ql

April 20

FT Russian Orthodox Church has given ideological backing to invasion of Ukraine by Russia

The newspaper in an editorial concludes that the idea of a “holy war” in Europe is back from being a throwback to centuries past. The Russian Orthodox church has been well rewarded for its suffering under communism, with privileges for its top hierarchy and thousands of new churches being built. Also, the Moscow church’s claimed role as a defender of “traditional” values against a decadent west is a key strand of Russian nationalism. Religious leaders visiting Ukraine last week said there is a “strong case” for expelling the Russian church from the World Council of Churches. While there might be moral arguments for such a move, it is unlikely to change the calculus of the Russia government. Indeed, it might only fuel its siege mentality — and the narrative that it is engaged in a righteous religious war. https://www.ft.com/content/01cd44a4-a70a-4019-b4d9-df5d5a4bbd6e

TT We need more religion in politics, not less

The columnist admits he was critical of religion´s role in politics in the past and that “moral seriousness has been out of fashion for some time”. Now he realizes that “the re-entry at last of moral debate into the fields of politics and government in Britain would be to find water in a desert”. He cites some comments on criticism of religious leaders to the recent deportation deal of asylum seekers between Britain and Rwanda (see April 19). Like this one: “The leaders of the Church of England should be wary of clumsily intervening into complex political issues”. As a contrast he cites Margaret Thatcher (raised by a Methodist father): “We simply can’t delegate the exercise of mercy and generosity to others. The politicians and other secular powers should strive by their measures to bring out the good in people and to fight down the bad: but they can’t create the one or abolish the other. There is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women in democratic societies cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/we-need-more-religion-in-politics-not-less-v3tjxwxvt

April 21

FT Dwindling rates of fertility in developed nations test child strategies across the globe

South Korea has the lowest fertility rate on record at 0.84 children per woman. Subsidies to encourage bigger families are having little effect in developed economies. There is some evidence that greater gender equality could help. https://www.ft.com/content/530cde70-eea2-47ff-8b4e-5efa8b9630d5

FT Sri Lanka urged to consider basic income to aid economy

The UN Development Program has asked Sri Lanka to negotiate “debt-for-nature” swaps tied to environmental conservation as part of measures to mitigate the country’s economic meltdown. Sri Lanka’s lack of foreign exchange has left the debt-laden island of 22mn unable to repay its loans, triggering an economic and political crisis. Talks with the IMF are starting. The UN body has asked Sri Lanka to pursue swaps and short-term financing from countries including India, China and Bangladesh to alleviate economic pain ahead of IMF assistance. UNDP: “Sri Lanka has amazing natural resources that they can put [up] to draw down the debt.” Among the UNDP’s requests is that the government introduce a temporary basic income, which would take the form of an unconditional cash transfer to working-age Sri Lankans for a period of about six to nine months. https://www.ft.com/content/3e071d7a-2b6d-40a9-8aaf-a4fb3992d592

April 22

FT Libyan strongman’s forces blamed for oilfield closures

In recent days, a limited number of protesters have been able to blockade oil facilities to press the prime minister to step down. The blockades could not have happened without the co-operation of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which is under the control of his main rival. https://www.ft.com/content/75e00c90-995d-417f-8cac-7c2bdcd92e03

TT Nigeria demands return of bronze head stolen from its national museum and sold by Belgian authorities

The life-sized head, dating from the 14th or 15th century, was stolen in a violent robbery in 1987. Nigeria reported the theft immediately and all of the missing pieces were placed on Interpol’s watchlist of stolen treasures. The head was auctioned in Belgium in 2007 for a tiny prize and resurfaced in 2017 in England after which alarm bells went off that it was a theft item. The Nigerian and Belgian governments wrangle and the present owner initially demanded €5 million for its return last year. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nigeria-demands-return-of-priceless-stolen-bronze-head-sold-in-belgium-qm6ft63q7

NYT South Korea’s Supreme Court issues landmark ruling on consensual gay sex

The court said that the military should not punish consensual sex acts that had taken place in a nonmilitary setting. The criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual acts in South Korea’s military has long been a violation of individual human rights. In the past the military has said that it was not discriminating against gay soldiers but wanted to root out illegal homosexual activities and protect morale and discipline among soldiers. South Korea maintains a 620,000-strong military. Technically it is at war with North Korea. In South Korea, same-sex marriage is not recognized and the rights of sexual minorities are a largely taboo and politically unpopular subject. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/21/world/asia/south-korea-gay-sex-military.html

April 23

FT Peru protests strand tourists and close mines

The unrest followed weeks of protests across the country in which at least five people died in clashes with the police. The unexperienced president struggles to give the government momentum. Unrest so far concentrated in the capital but is now spreading. The country suffers from high inflation. https://www.ft.com/content/f92c4f0c-b812-4dee-af4c-7ee740f9012a

FT China counts the cost of its zero-Covid policy

Dozens of cities in China are in full or partial lockdown in response to the spread of Covid-19 cases, meaning that a population roughly the size of the U.S.A. has been stuck at home for several weeks, often with limited access to food and medical care. The cost to the economy is also substantial. Mass vaccination is only possible if foreign vaccines are imported. https://www.ft.com/content/61b49ff5-edb6-4d6d-94db-e7b65a065301

FT The toxicity of America’s restrictive abortion laws

A verdict on restricting abortion rights is likely to come this summer, and is set to become a major midterm campaign issue. The issue now also spreads to business as some companies assist employees seeking abortion and face the risk of economic ramifications for themselves. https://www.ft.com/content/a2b0d282-9baa-40ed-9a2c-64bbeaa5e375

NYT Taking Senegalese soccer to new heights, with pride and style

If Senegal feels proud and patriotic these days, it’s thanks in large part to its national soccer team and its coach, a former professional player who has reinvented Senegalese soccer and built what is currently the best team in Africa. He is an example of a rising generation of African managers. Under him the team won the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, the country’s first soccer title. In doing so, he proved to the Senegalese people that one of their own could succeed where no one else had. The next goal is the world cup, later this year. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/22/world/africa/aliou-cisse-soccer-senegal.html

April 25

FT Algeria struggles to meet Europe’s demand for more gas

This could have been Algeria’s moment. Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian gas should have provided the north African country with an opportunity to maximize exports and carve out a bigger share of the continent’s energy market. This does not happen due to years of under-investment by international oil companies because of a history of difficult fiscal terms and the overall operating environment marked by bureaucracy and slow decision-making. https://www.ft.com/content/d7d03834-d470-46de-a010-27fb3041c427

FT Brazil incumbent woos voters in rival stronghold

After years of ignoring a region of 57mn that is among the poorest in Brazil, the incumbent is seeking to hoover up support with a program of infrastructure works and cash handouts. Among the 150mn Brazilian voters, many are based in the north-east region. Analysts say that success depends on the development of the economy. Evangelical faith has less resonance in the region. https://www.ft.com/content/71451f80-6256-4f40-a8ac-8942881d5ea4

TT ‘Brown teeth’ and other slurs banned during Kenyan election

The chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission: “We know that death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Therefore the commission has outlawed more than 20 expressions in several languages in addition to “non-verbal nods”. The commission originally was established after the violent elections of 2007. Defiance to the glossary was immediate and extravagant, led by underdog candidate complaining his supporters were being disproportionately targeted. A specialist in African studies predicted the word ban would have little effect. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/brown-teeth-and-other-slurs-banned-during-kenyan-election-h9j9cw2sp

April 26

FT When a policy is a resounding success, we should say so

Reflecting on a pension success story in Britain the columnist argues that government policies with the transformational impact don’t come along every day. The complexity of how to deal with the self-employed in the pension scheme shows that many problems are harder to tackle. Nonetheless, the story of auto-enrolment is a reminder that policymakers do have the power to change the future. Fatalism is fatal.. https://www.ft.com/content/b9fa384a-2a59-4ce3-810c-64468e4d40aa

FT Turkish philanthropist jailed for life in blow to human rights and rule of law

The prosecution has become a litmus test of the rule of law in Turkey. The convicted was found guilty of having sought to overthrow the government. The court also sentenced several others for aiding what prosecutors said was his attempt to overthrow the government during protests that swept Turkey in 2013. The accused stated that he hoped the process he experienced could contribute to confronting the crucial problems in the judiciary of Turkey. https://www.ft.com/content/d5c473f2-8cfd-464f-b492-e90431655ea0

FT Win incumbent exposes fragility of fractured society in France

The win in the run off that looks like a landslide masks that divisions in the country are stronger than at any time since the second world war. The losing challenger described her score as “a stunning victory” (for dissent). She will do her best to capitalize on her result during the June parliamentary elections. https://www.ft.com/content/b9f41cef-f5f8-4013-bdc2-196990b5f840

April 27

FT It is governments that need to protect free speech, not the media or its owners

The claim of the new Twitter owner of his adherence to free speech is not reassuring. Social media platforms make contestable judgments about the nature of free speech when they allow or disallow messages. They are driven by their business model. The author contends that the final answer to what is the limit of free speech has not been found, but warns to leave political arguments to business. https://www.ft.com/content/71ddcc40-1f7e-408f-9a22-d0e3614f9e67

FT Moldova says blasts aim to create instability

The president spoke amid deepening fears that two days of explosions in Transnistria, where Russia has more than 1,000 troops, could pull the region into Moscow’s war against Ukraine. A Russia supported breakaway regime governs in Transnistria. The president deplored any attempt to lure the Republic of Moldova into actions that could jeopardize peace in the country. https://www.ft.com/content/92a0dbc3-c8b2-474e-a09a-07293bea7829

FT Ukraine invasion offers Latin America chance to lift exports, says IMF

For this its governments need to embrace long-delayed reforms to boost output, increase competition, improve education, create a fairer tax system and address deep-seated inequality. The region is one of the world’s most unequal, and protests against inequality have swept its countries in recent years. The IMF said governments needed effective action to target poverty and inequality. https://www.ft.com/content/c8d99c75-0a6e-4613-99b8-64dc05f6f6ea

April 28

FT Egypt president calls for sale of stakes in army owned companies to offset hit from conflict

Partial privatization of state assets would aim to raise $10bn every year for four years. In recent years Egypt depended on small term credit and a flight of capital is visual. The president wants to reduce the dependency on debt to restructure the financial household. https://www.ft.com/content/b4175e93-bd67-4ef4-8776-d08c62e8a1d5

FT EU starts ‘rule of law’ process on Hungary financial controls

A letter, sent by the European Commission yesterday, is an escalation of the long-running dispute between Brussels and Budapest over Hungary’s procurement processes and how it spends EU funding. Hungary said “triggering the mechanism would indeed be an irrational and risky decision for the whole union” at a time when EU member states were struggling with the economic and social fallout from Russia’s Ukraine invasion. https://www.ft.com/content/3377409d-5f54-4d00-bc7c-e4e099bf8f51

April 29

FT Russia pulls Syrian and Wagner mercenaries from Libya

The move is associated with the needs of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Russian military withdrawals from CAR are also reported. https://www.ft.com/content/88ab3d20-8a10-4ae2-a4c5-122acd6a8067

April 30

FT India reels from wave of religious violence

Critics say the ruling party has enabled hardline Hindus while cracking down on the minority (14 %) Muslims. About a dozen incidents took place in eight states this month. India has a long and bloody history of religious violence, from an estimated 1mn deaths at the time of the subcontinent’s 1947 partition. The PM, who in the past led a state with a history of Hindu/Muslim violence, has not commented directly to the recent surge of violence but stresses “unity” in communication. The authorities ordered the bulldozing of allegedly unauthorized Muslim-owned buildings. Attacks against Hindu processions have been claimed by a national ruling party spokesman. https://www.ft.com/content/cb195e8b-8a7f-4a2d-ba6e-7d4654973ede

FT In South Africa inquiry new evidence shows that former president “opened doors” to corruption

In the inquiry’s this year fourth and most sweeping indictment yet of the former leader, a report published yesterday showed that he handed control of state power monopoly Eskom to a private business dynasty. The businessmen befriended him during his up-and-coming years in politics. Eskom is plagued by recurrent rolling blackouts, a legacy of the looting and the poor maintenance of ageing coal power stations. https://www.ft.com/content/6ea582f8-3734-4830-b817-b8cf957381fa

May 2

FT African Covid vaccine plant’s future in doubt as demand falls

Production at Africa’s largest Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant has been halted for the past month. Unless the issue is resolved, the drive to increase regional manufacturing remains just a political nicety which has no substance. It could undermine an AU goal to produce 60 per cent of all vaccines administered in Africa locally by 2040, compared with just 1 per cent now. The continent would remain last in line for doses. African leaders are holding emergency talks to see if they can throw the (South) African plant a lifeline. https://www.ft.com/content/ffaaff95-1c1d-41df-b02e-f7c31acdcadf

FT The failures of stakeholder capitalism

People who care about creating a fairer and more sustainable market system tend to think about things like “ESG” investing (environmental, social and governance issues) and “stakeholder capitalism”. But what they need to start thinking about is power. As industrial concentration has increased corporations have made it challenging for governments and the legal system to protect citizens from undue harm inflicted by companies themselves. https://www.ft.com/content/f7f76d7c-2d01-4129-b87d-fcc9815e3a77

May 3

FT Singapore’s next leader faces test to maintain friendships with east and west

The fourth prime minister in the quasi-authoritarian state’s 56-year history, faces a more difficult task than any of his predecessors in maintaining friendly relations with both China and the west. He questions: “Will we  be entering a more divided, a more bifurcated world? Will we start to see . . . an erosion of the international, rules-based order that has enabled small countries like Singapore to thrive and prosper?” He welcomed US plans to build an “economic framework” in the Indo-Pacific, even suggesting China could one day join the pact.

https://www.ft.com/content/f5f2cb75-b4c2-4839-8942-63ec2a14a366

May 4

FT Delayed rain and conflict leave Horn of Africa at risk of famine

After three consecutive rainy seasons failed and a fourth that is likely to do so too, crops have disappeared and more than 1mn livestock have died in Ethiopia’s south-eastern Somali region alone. Over the past four decades, rainfall averages have continued to decline, with shorter rainy seasons. It is regional, so options for migrating to neighboring areas are not there. https://www.ft.com/content/081ac952-48a0-4f67-a597-16b4a98921ba

FT A win in Northern Ireland would make the nationalist party for the first time the strongest political group on both sides of the Irish border.

Tomorrow’s elections in the UK part of Ireland may be successful for the party long associated with the paramilitary Irish Republican Army that has reinvented itself in recent years. It is an uncontested force across the border in Ireland. https://www.ft.com/content/d69b1aa0-e4db-432b-99df-1936be33f790

FT Beware malaria risk from efforts to cool the planet

It seems an ingenious solution to an intractable problem. The world may be bungling its promise to limit global temperature rise to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels, but could solar geoengineering ride to the rescue? New research cautions that such a radical attempt to cool the planet, often touted as a win for health, may in some countries push up the risk of malaria, the sixth biggest cause of death in low-income countries. https://www.ft.com/content/dfa25b5e-3df0-4ec3-8fb1-dce0de9364e7

May 5

FT Colombia business urged to close inequality gap

The center-right contender in this month’s presidential election faces a strong challenge from his leftist rival. He calls on business leaders to show “social conscience” for a fairer economy. He acknowledges that it is necessary “to put ourselves in the situation of those who have the least.” The country has shown decades of solid economic growth and nevertheless inequality in the country is considered the second highest  in Latin America according to OECD and the World Bank. https://www.ft.com/content/e87e7b03-802b-41d0-989c-1162b79751e2

FT International institutions differ on approach to Ukraine, food costs and climate change

The multilateral development banks (MDBs) were designed to finance long-term development projects and tackle short-term crises. The World Bank warns that when normalcy returns lending practice needs to be tightened. The New Development Bank, set up in 2015 by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, bases itself on AA+ rating, one notch lower than triple A. The World Bank is unwilling to do so. https://www.ft.com/content/13583398-6878-4fbb-bae0-4f0ded662460

May 6

FT Abortion draft puts low-profile judge in spotlight in U.S.A.

The 72 year old Italian-American was propelled to the forefront of the court’s six-member conservative wing after a bombshell draft opinion he wrote to change the nations permissive Federal abortion rule. The unusual leak is not a final verdict but is divisive and possibly consequential. It cannot come as a surprise as the judge has been a critic of the present situation all along. https://www.ft.com/content/5b0688de-135b-4796-b93b-5e3a44a6a4b2

FT There is no easy way to undo a ruling that would hobble access to abortion  in U.S.A.

The newspaper in an editorial assesses that the draft suggests the court will completely reverse the 1973 decision, which was always an imperfect fudge. In effect the abortion practice will be left to the states, half of them is expected to limit the present practice. The editorial comes to the remarkable conclusion: “The only lasting solution will be to out-organize the Christian right”. https://www.ft.com/content/d0cc3eb9-73d0-48ad-9cd2-efcaa09b88e5

FT Only free societies can combat disinformation

The launch of the U.S.A. Disinformation Governance Board did not advance its purpose. Critics soon equated it with George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. The obvious problem with disinformation is how to categorize it. The EU started a similar effort after the Russia Crimea annexation. Some civil society organizations like Bellingcat and Moonshot are more effective. But the battle with disinformation will never be won. https://www.ft.com/content/113222e3-cb04-4eeb-9c13-d7efd62c6bca

TT South African railways grind to a halt as gangs plunder power cables

The looting had come amid a surge in global demand for copper. It comes with an annual £100 million bill for replacements. In addition the railway infrastructure suffers from 1,600 incidents of batteries and other kit from its locomotives being taken. The plundering is the work of organized crime gangs, often armed with automatic weapons. Cases dealt with in court have gang representatives attending to learn how to avoid being caught. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/south-african-railways-grind-to-a-halt-as-gangs-plunder-power-cables-828c2g0n2

May 7

FT In Brazil presidential election campaign main opponent of incumbent battles to revive faltering bid for presidency

He served two terms as president from 2003 to 2010, leaving office with an approval rating above 80 per cent. Now he struggles to recapture that popularity. He made a series of missteps, including upsetting Brazil’s evangelical community with a call to legalize abortion. His assessment that Ukraine was as responsible for the present war as Russia reminded of his support for repressive governments. Analysts say there is an absence of a clear agenda. https://www.ft.com/content/f9fa1223-2645-433b-bf16-d564926e1d3b

May 8

NYT In Tunisia democratic experiment unravels as economic disaster looms

The president is consolidating one-man rule while the economy, sapped by mismanagement, the pandemic and war in Ukraine, flails. Groups that helped avert a past crisis, which earned them the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, are largely silent. Polls show the president bleeding support, though he remains by far Tunisia’s most trusted leader. This winter was the first in years when mass protests did not hit the country. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/07/world/middleeast/tunisia-democracy-economy.html

May 9

FT A historic poll that leaves Northern Ireland where it was

Northern Ireland is a place where democracy is weakly rooted. So it is troubling that while there are clear winners from last week’s historic election and widespread backing for constructive government, it is in an inconclusive situation. Northern Ireland’s executive is always led by two leaders, one nationalist and one from the unionist community, which wants the region to stay in the UK. While one is styled as “deputy”, the roles are equal. The losing and splintered Unionists have vowed not to enter government unless the EU Brexit protocol is gone. https://www.ft.com/content/50da8293-fd86-4f3d-b8f7-e97545d8e120

May 10

FT Sri Lanka’s PM resigns amid protests

The government of his brother/president is left in turmoil amid an economic crisis that has taken the country to the brink of default. He has been one of Sri Lanka’s most consequential and divisive leaders. In 2015 he was voted out of office. His family continued its domination of modern Sri Lankan politics when Gotabaya was elected to the presidency in late 2019, on a wave of voter anger over the Easter bombings that killed nearly 300 people. https://www.ft.com/content/1ee451b9-17eb-4645-b9b6-4973bd4eb97b

FT In Philippines the son of a late dictator is on track to claim presidency

His popular running mate is the daughter of the outgoing president. Analysts said his popularity had been helped by a careful campaign to reframe his father’s dictatorship as a golden age of prosperity, even though billions of dollars were looted from state funds and the Philippines suspended debt payments during his rule. https://www.ft.com/content/8e1d7359-9efa-4921-9d27-88ff9d2d0b3f

May 11

FT South Africa’s busiest port struggles to recover from floods and corruption

Climate and politics frustrate Durban’s efforts to become the continent’s trade gateway. The infrastructure under the state freight monopoly is crumbling, rather than upgraded for scale. The Durban container terminal handled about 4.3mn units in 2021, down from 4.8mn in 2018. https://www.ft.com/content/4d2de447-3c75-45e0-8b1f-b1c43ae1b8ce

FT Poor nations are hit hardest as producing countries seek to ring fence supplies for domestic use

Export bans and protectionist policies artificially boost prices in the wake of the Ukraine war and Covid19 disruption in food markets. Indonesia moved to protect palm oil export but India kept its market open although the harvest forecast was downgraded for climate reasons. https://www.ft.com/content/b1753a4b-de9d-47c3-80b9-bd7fe20cc25a

FT Iran bread subsidies cut in attempt to aid economy

The president appeared on live tv to explain an effort to make subsidies more efficient through a coupon system. In the past cut back on subsidies provoked unrest. The government faces no serious political opposition, analysts say. The Supreme leader on Monday urged all politicians to back the government. https://www.ft.com/content/15c77929-395a-4f28-a09e-c74c7c46a2ab

FT U.S.A.’s church and state divide is now dangerously blurry

The newspaper’s U.S.A. editor elaborates on last week’s editorial (May 6). He is concerned about the organizing power of the “Christian right”. He notes: “Its larger agenda is to roll back the tides of secularism … [and] a religiously-inspired revulsion against modernity”. And “Its opponents so far lack the means to reverse it”. https://www.ft.com/content/e2b328ed-3425-45d1-8301-aa4105b75878

NYT Gang leader from Haiti charged in the U.S.A. with abducting American missionaries

He was extradited to the U.S.A. last week after being held by the Haitian National Police. At the time of the abduction he was in a Haitian prison and “directed and asserted control of “400 Mawozo gang” members’ kidnapping operations.” One of the goals of the abduction was to free him. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/10/us/politics/haitian-mawozo-gang-kidnapping-charges.html

May 12

FT Lebanon central bank accused of rights abuses

The report, published yesterday by the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, lambasted Lebanon’s government but singled out central bank Banque du Liban and Lebanon’s now largely insolvent banks for particular blame. “The economic crisis was entirely avoidable; indeed, it was manufactured by failed government policies. The country has a political establishment plagued with conflicts of interest …” The report said the government was invited to review a draft before publication but did not attempt to refute the allegations. https://www.ft.com/content/2a07db26-08ae-4638-ae4c-d9fb4ef52f53

May 13

FT Green innovation is Africa’s path to address climate threats

The author is the former governor of the Central Bank of Kenya. He points to a path forward in the current climate and food crisis (see FT May 4). There is an opportunity for Africa to launch a green innovation-led recovery that would not only speed up growth, but also address climate change and other issues threatening Africa’s future. Investment in climate-smart agriculture is crucial, while accounting for climate shocks in central bank policy responses. https://www.ft.com/content/87c0e099-1a19-4b33-8298-c9f41f7d9480

NYT Africa’s first Covid-19 vaccine factory has not received a single order

Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa was licensed to produce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It was hailed as an answer to Africa’s struggle to get access to vaccines. The South African president blamed “international agencies” for failing to buy vaccines from a pioneering African manufacturer. They in turn point to the original manufacturer and the validation process for which it is claimed the product from African soil came too late. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/12/world/africa/south-africa-covid-vaccine-factory.html

May 14

FT Hong Kong cardinal’s arrest chills church

The detention of the 90 year old Catholic Cardinal shows the crackdown of China extends to religious groups. The detention comes after the church already showed restraint over freedom related societal issues. The Cardinal is known for his human rights oriented approach. The arrest comes days after a switch in Hong Kong leadership, from a Catholic to the former security chief. https://www.ft.com/content/c9a564c5-54e1-4167-8283-9e720f48c173

FT UAE poorest workers strike over low pay

The delivery drivers’ illegal withdrawal of labor comes as the cost of living surges. The rising fuel prices have slashed the take-home pay of riders, who purchase their own petrol. Strike action and unionized labor are outlawed in the UAE. Many riders say the decline in pay is a blow to their families in south Asia who depend on remittances and also face rampant inflation. https://www.ft.com/content/17fc356f-4351-4f2d-9001-c9b4c61e4b52

FT Beware democracies itch to spy on domestic critics

Fifty years after Watergate Spanish politics is in turmoil with spying in the top after revelations that its intelligence service spied on Catalan separatist leaders. Democratic systems depend on trust, accountability and respect for the law. Still, it is an established fact that domestic political espionage has carried on. Examples from France and Germany are also given. https://www.ft.com/content/b16730f3-3d60-4515-96ca-a8742487e851

FT  Last stand of Sri Lanka’s military-minded leader

He is a member of the nation’s defining dynasty, but has never learnt how to govern. After a lucky escape from a civil war suicide bombing he helped to make his family the political dynasty of modern Sri Lanka. They were prepared to do anything to keep their hold on power afloat, including graft and extrajudicial killings by the military. But they never worked on broad coalitions. This may stop the family’s rise. https://www.ft.com/content/a271d216-ce6d-406d-a836-16bd92ea2046

NYT 14 A Rabbi’s contentious quest for religious pluralism in Israel

There is more than one way to be Jewish, says the first Reform rabbi in Israel’s Parliament. Orthodox believers bar him from involving women in religious acts. He also campaigns to allow civil weddings and divorce, ending a system that requires Israeli Jews to religious wedding ceremonies. And campaigns for government facilitation of all Jewish denominations. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/world/middleeast/israel-judaism-reform-orthodox.html

May 16

FT President defies growing calls to quit as Sri Lanka faces meltdown

The heir of Sri Lanka’s most powerful political dynasty, has clung to office in the face of a growing protest movement and economic meltdown. Last week he appointed as prime minister a former rival, a septuagenarian on his fifth term in the role, in a desperate effort to stay in power. Attacks on anti-government protesters by the president’s supporters prompted a wave of retaliatory rioting last week. Sri Lanka rose to upper-middle income status as it borrowed heavily from international debt markets for an infrastructure-fueled growth spurt. Successive governments refinanced and borrowed more despite warnings about the country’s growing debt. https://www.ft.com/content/297276f6-5f21-4f65-9c8e-33154d00e785

FT Former guerrilla eyes presidency in Colombia

The formerly imprisoned and tortured revolutionary is the favorite to win Colombia’s presidential election and lead the most leftwing government in the traditionally conservative South American nation’s history. He tops all polls and denies he is too radical: “To say that in Colombia the whole population should have access to drinking water, would that be [considered] radical in the United Kingdom?” He targets the wealthy for their privileges and the economy for its colonial era focus. https://www.ft.com/content/927a92d3-a4fb-4a37-bb23-414ebcc1a672

TT Former university professor and aid worker  returns to power in troubled Somalia

He pledged to transform the troubled Horn of Africa state into “a peaceful country that is at peace with the world”. He defeated the incumbent, who replaced him after his first term in 2017 when his first administration was bogged down in rumors of corruption and nepotism. The outcome was settled by secret ballots cast by 328 MPs who were themselves voted in by delegates picked by a conclave of powerful clan elders. There has never been a one man one vote election in the country. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hassan-sheikh-mohamud-wins-second-term-as-president-of-somalia-8gqm0j0xd

May 17

FT Charities and aid bodies say Britain puts geopolitics ahead of long-term development goals

The plan poses a shift towards funding country and bilateral programs rather than multilateral organizations. The foreign secretary: “Malign actors treat economics and development as a means of control, using patronage, investment and debt as a form of economic coercion and political power. We will match them in our resolve to provide an alternative.” The aid agencies: “This strategy prioritizes aid for trade and the financialization of development. It is clearly motivated more by tackling China than tackling poverty.” https://www.ft.com/content/ffa0c739-851b-4fd9-856c-1698e7a653f0

FT Brazil’s presidential challenger launches charm offensive to win over business in bid for regaining presidency

The left winger who has served two terms in the top job and is seeking a third. His charm offensive follows a dip in his poll ratings after controversial remarks. His party maintains that his eight years of government were the only period in Brazilian history where three things happened at the same time: economic growth, reduction of inequality and fiscal responsibility. https://www.ft.com/content/4397c849-ee0d-4d4f-becc-6d51ec46d78f

FT In modern times, when major powers invade smaller countries they usually end up losing

The Indian academic Pratap Bhanu Mehta observes: “It is one of the great mysteries of international politics that despite their terrible record at winning asymmetric wars, powerful countries continue to think they can win.” People and nations that are defending their homes are usually much better motivated than an invading army. Changes in military technology may now be further stacking the odds against an invading army. Invading war is not just a crime. It is also a mistake. https://www.ft.com/content/0d827181-1e19-4148-b1f6-2e80dc233ff7

TT U.S.A. sends American troops back into Somalia

Less than 500 troops will be “persistently” based in the east African nation, fewer than the 750-strong contingent ordered out by the former U.S.A. president. Analysts have warned that a growing threat from terrorists cannot be challenged by raids and strikes alone. Improving the lives of Somalians will have more impact on sustainable peace. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/joe-biden-sends-american-troops-back-into-somalia-m0l58fqc9

May 18

FT African leaders of 16 nations in an AU statement urge sale of more local jabs

The future of Africa’s biggest manufacturing facility lies in the balance. Earlier in the pandemic, Africa struggled to obtain doses when supply was squeezed. But in recent months several vaccine makers have cut jab sales forecasts for 2022, citing an oversupply of shots and vaccine hesitancy. https://www.ft.com/content/8627f8ed-6976-4d2f-9cdd-837e5e309213

FT Clashes as rival PM tries to take over in capital of Libya

The rival tried to break a months-long political stalemate and risked a fresh bout of fighting in the oil-rich north African country. He tried to take over from a businessman appointed last year as head of an interim government. The main task was to organize elections but this collapsed due to the appearance of divisive candidates. The interim government dismissed the attempted takeover “as an armed group’s desperate attempt to spread terror and chaos”. https://www.ft.com/content/f768b482-fec4-4a12-8d47-2d9acdd3f414

TT After weeks of secrecy Chinese airliner appears to have been brought down from cockpit

The authorities try to hide the investigation. The assumption of a human background to the disaster was announced by the manufacturer’s investigation team. The airliner was pictured already in a vertical dive position. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chinese-airliner-brought-down-from-cockpit-drnsl5f3f

NYT U.S.A. president, calling on Americans to take on the haters, condemns racist rhetoric after supermarket massacre

Declaring that “white supremacy is a poison” coursing through America, the president flew to the grief-stricken city of the massacre. He pleaded to not just mourn the 10 people killed in Saturday’s shooting rampage but to confront “ideology rooted in fear and racism”. He called the shooting “domestic terrorism”. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/us/politics/biden-buffalo-ny-visit.html

May 19

FT Plans unveiled to head off food crisis

The G7 and international financial institutions have pledged tens of billions of dollars in food and fertilizer aid to poorer countries under a joint action plan to alleviate a growing global food crisis caused by soaring prices. The African Development Bank will use $1.5bn to help 20mn farmers to gain access to fertilizer and seed, while the World Bank will make $30bn available for the next 15 months. The IMF: ‘Vulnerable households in low- and middle-income countries are most at risk of acute food insecurity’. https://www.ft.com/content/c9e42dde-5375-47ed-af8e-10bee33101a4

May 20

FT Sri Lanka defaults for first time amid crisis in economy

S&P last month downgraded Sri Lanka’s foreign currency ratings to “selective default” on the missed interest payments. The country has begun talks with the IMF over a loan program and is appointing advisors for debt restructuring talks with its creditors. But it lacks a fully functioning government, including a finance minister, and analysts expect any deal to take months. https://www.ft.com/content/0e02eef2-8482-4caa-9b3d-3ccda19b041a

FT Beijing elite splinters as pro-growth faction battles with hardline security officials

In a meeting of China’s top political consultative body attended by industry leaders this week, the top economic officer pledged support for the “platform economy” and “digital enterprises” to list shares overseas. This was countered by the republishing this week, in Qiushi, the party’s flagship journal, of comments the president made six months ago in which he restated his vision of “common prosperity” and stressed the importance of “supervision of capital” and “reining in its negative effects”. This kind of ‘within faction’ competition happened during the communist period all the time. https://www.ft.com/content/3a21d88c-1d63-497e-ad10-aa7a5b14052f

NYT The 17th-century judge at the heart of today’s women’s rights rulings in former English colonies

A columnist claims that both in India and in the U.S.A. draft ruling on Roe v, Wade the 17th-Century Judge Lord Hale looms large. He wrote that women were within marriage contractually obligated to husbands. The U.S.A. draft cites Hale eight times. In India, an opinion from the Delhi High Court refused to criminalize spousal rape, upholding a legal exception that Hale had codified in a treatise in the 1600s. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/19/world/asia/abortion-lord-matthew-hale.html

May 21

FT Is the world heading for recession?

Financial markets have taken fright. The last time that the ‘everything sell-off’ star alignment happened was in early 1981. Poorer countries are starting to suffer from a food crisis. The best news for the economy would be Russian withdrawal from Ukraine and an end to China’s Covid approach. https://www.ft.com/content/35b31fb0-f8ad-4557-9d95-267e0ed958eb

FT What digital front lines in Ukraine say about the future of war

One way to frame the Ukraine-Russia conflict is to see it as a test between using a networked approach to solving problems adopted by Ukraine after independence, versus the top-down, authoritarian system that dominated Russia in the past. So far, networks are winning. They offer more  resilience for citizens and societal relationships. https://www.ft.com/content/2fa90482-bb5f-486e-b04e-878bafe4c5c6

May 23

FT Ethiopia and Tigray atrocities loom over peace talk hopes

Prospects for real peace are dim in the short run, given that emotions are running high as a result of the mass atrocities. Military representatives on both sides are said to be talking. The designation of the Tigray organization TPLF as a terrorist organization and its large standing army are a stand in the way. Other issues are the withdrawal of Eritrean and Amhara forces from Tigray, and the resolution of a long-running land dispute between Amhara and Tigray. https://www.ft.com/content/d2788cf3-7fe1-4192-8330-41569c01217a

FT Orthodox Christians in the south-east of Moldova prefer closer ties to Russia rather than the EU

The 160,000-strong Orthodox Christian, traditionally Turkic-speaking but now largely Russophobe people are anxious about what the coming months could bring. And so is the government of Moldova. The region is one of the least developed areas of Europe’s poorest country. It flipped in the 19th century from Ottoman to Russian then Romanian rule before falling under Soviet control after the second world war. Unlike Transnistria, the breakaway Moldovan enclave, Gagauzia has avoided confrontation with the Moldova government and settled for regional autonomy within Moldova. But the conflict in Ukraine is destabilizing. https://www.ft.com/content/676c58e0-124d-41a7-b475-cebb77658aeb

FT The World Economic Forum and the new era of deglobalization

The author expects the economic world powers to conclude that decoupling between China and the US is untenable, free trade always works just and unless we return to the mid-1990s status quo of neoliberalism, doom awaits. She disagrees. Globalization isn’t inevitable, despite what we were told by politicians. In order for any political economy to work, it has to serve domestic needs. The shifts that we are going through today come with challenges but also with genuine opportunities. In that sense, deglobalization is not so very different from what came before. https://www.ft.com/content/1afaa628-41cb-4620-84c9-48b4b6b5b956

May 24

FT Australia is set to become less of an outlier on climate

The incumbent’s promise to change his “bulldozer” style could not reverse his fortunes. Particularly his clumsy style in the climate debate brought him in a losing position in a country that is hard hit by it. The social democrats benefitted and won the elections. All of it promises a more serious approach to climate issues. https://www.ft.com/content/272b764c-001c-4b0d-9d97-89f360a34532

FT How Germany decided to rebuild its army

The invasion of Ukraine has transformed the government’s worldview causing a spending spree three days after. Will it be enough? Why did it take so long? Crimea was already taken by Russia in 2014. The defense minister said the army was out of ammunition and had a massive shortage of combat-ready equipment. “For years all we did was make savings,” she said. Pacifist sentiment is strong in Germany. The Ukraine invasion caused a radical turn. https://www.ft.com/content/a9045654-f378-4f42-a012-e35f9e43b135

FT Drought in U.S.A. threatens water and power supplies to millions

Although the drought could partly be accounted for by natural variability in precipitation patterns, it was worsened by a long-term trend of aridity caused by human activity. The authorities have taken emergency measures to maintain the hydroelectricity production for the time being. Further measures to conserve water are advised, including reducing usage in homes and urban areas, encouraging efficient agricultural irrigation and recycling and reusing water. https://www.ft.com/content/9f00dfff-3a44-483f-9d5a-f58db7806046

FT In Brazil young are more traditionally influenced in election

Research suggests young Brazilians are sharply conservative on a host of social issues and that corruption, long associated with the challenger’s Workers’ party, remains for them one of the country’s main problems. Though the challenger is popular among the young, it is not at all a done deal  in this voter segment. The younger generation is more evangelical and conservative. Since the last election, the polarization between conservatives and progressives has only deepened, a process fueled in part by the soaring popularity of evangelical churches in the traditionally Catholic country. More than 30 percent of Brazilians consider themselves evangelical Christian, up from 22 percent in 2010. https://www.ft.com/content/91e1a176-424b-4005-a240-ced05a954a5e

FT IMF chief warns of biggest test since second world war

She said Russia’s invasion was “devastating lives, dragging down growth and pushing up inflation”. A survey of chief economists of companies and international organizations found that all had become more pessimistic over the past six months and now expected “moderate” economic activity in the U.S.A., China and most emerging economies. https://www.ft.com/content/1216689a-bd18-4254-bc7c-8a9c5d25cbc3

TT Southern Baptist Convention church in U.S.A. covered up abuse for two decades, report finds

The 40 million members denomination in a report designated by themselves concluded that survivors of assault by clergymen repeatedly shared allegations with its executive committee “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some”. The investigation was carried out by an independent company after the national SBC meeting made clear that they did not want the executive committee (EC) to oversee it. The SBC president, said in a statement that he was “grieved to my core” for the victims. He called on Southern Baptists to lament and prepare to change the denomination’s culture. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/southern-baptist-church-covered-up-abuse-for-two-decades-report-finds-50msgcwjb

May 25

FT In Lebanon reformist MPs overturn majority but unity will be needed to force change

The success of 13 newcomers in the election signals a shift in a country long dominated by entrenched elites. These 13 have ties to the 2019 protest movement that swept Lebanon as the country’s brittle economy began to collapse. No one party or bloc won the election outright and long talks loom before a coalition government can be formed. https://www.ft.com/content/09677f71-989f-4d64-ab28-5f7b801200c6

May 26

FT Primary school slaughter in U.S.A. spurs push for gun control

The democrats want to introduce more background checks for those willing to buy weapons. Even that seems to be too much for the Republicans. So the general prediction is that there will be no changes in the gun legislation to get more safety guarantees over the 2nd amendment to the constitution.

FT Healing remains elusive two years after racist police murder in U.S.A.

Minneapolis has found it more complicated to grapple with the racial inequalities that underlie his death. It is a largely white Midwestern city and has long taken pride in its progressive politics. Yet beneath the surface, anger has simmered in black and indigenous communities over disparities in housing, healthcare and education. Efforts to radically change the situation with the police failed to win a majority. The rising crime rate was a reason to reject it. https://www.ft.com/content/7802afe1-ca09-4aef-8485-0c9d8cdea980

FT PM of Britain should heed warnings from Australia

The losing PM in Australia employs the same strategist. He lost through divisive “wedge” tactics, negative attacks over security, crime and immigration amplified by the Murdoch press. It could not save a party deemed to be failing on the big issues. If anything, it helped alienate affluent suburban voters. Australia’s system is more favorable for smaller parties, but a day of reckoning in Britain may come if the opposition is not as weak as last time. https://www.ft.com/content/9041dd37-8845-4602-b0a6-138450c4988b

FT Government in Russia  raises minimum wage and pensions with double digits as inflation hits

The country had to ensure incomes remained above subsistence levels, the president said at a state council meeting. He denied that the difficulties were caused by the Ukraine war and pointed to situations in other countries that, according to him, suffered from the same problems. https://www.ft.com/content/5bad4c29-d4af-4182-a11e-c2ddeaf3b19a

TT School killer in U.S.A. was a bullied loner with home woes

In the past he would get bullied hard by a lot of people. Over social media, over gaming, over everything. He was claimed to be a nice  and shy kid. In recent months the relationship with his mother, a reported drug user, had deteriorated and he started wearing black and obsessing over guns. He moved in with his grandmother, who was shot in the face before he went to the school. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/shooter-salvador-ramos-sent-photo-of-guns-to-stranger-before-attack-0c9l827v8

NYT Gambia says it will prosecute former president for murder

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, created to uncover human rights violations, from 2018 to 2021 streamed the testimonies of victims and the confessions of alleged perpetrators live into the nation’s living rooms. In a televised address the minister of justice presented the government’s response to the truth commission, accepting its recommendations, which included the prosecution of the former president. Some are sceptic as the government last year turned to someone who asked the former exiled ruler for support. The former ruler still enjoys considerable support. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/25/world/africa/gambia-prosecute-jammeh-murder.html

May 27

FT Briton in Malawi graft probe told to stay in UK

He is being investigated by the UK’s National Crime Agency for alleged corruption relating to three public contracts with the Malawi government, which he denies. He was arrested in the UK in October 2021 in respect of these allegations but has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He was believed “to be linked” to street protests in Malawi against the director of the Malawian anti-corruption bureau. The Malawi president, who dissolved his cabinet this year after a minister was arrested in connection with the investigation into the Briton, denies shielding any allegedly corrupt person, and so far has backed the anti-corruption bureau. https://www.ft.com/content/31034a9b-c9f6-4387-a636-bd60d856bca

FT Former rebel taps hunger for change in Columbia

During the four-year term of the outgoing and unpopular president Colombia has been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, street protests and rising poverty, inequality and rural violence. But polls suggest the country has still not decided whether to accept the radical responses offered by the former rebel or his rivals’ plans for moderate tweaks to the prevailing investor-friendly political and economic model. It could lead to a second round if no candidate reaches an absolute majority. https://www.ft.com/content/d8716500-a4bf-4811-906b-7ffea6183a5d

FT Fixing Ukraine with Russian cash will be hard

This makes for rousing political rhetoric. However, the dirty secret is that these public appeals are causing private angst for many of the corporate and financial elite, from the west and its allies. Freezing assets is quite a different matter from dispersing them.  One sovereign wealth head: “We have been told for decades that the west upholds the rule of law, and we invested in the west on that basis. Is that being ripped up now? What are we supposed to think?” Those worrying about due process have a point. One of the most interesting ideas of all has emanated from the Ukraine government, which has quietly drafted a memo calling for a new UN commission for “constitutional, legal, transparent and effective” blocking and seizing of assets belonging to those connected with armed aggression. But Russia can block the proposal with its veto. https://www.ft.com/content/b77aa49d-1af6-4d2f-b509-ed302411f129

May 28

FT Brazil’s indigenous tribes flee homes after attacks by illegal miners

Political support and the high gold price embolden those seeking to take over demarcated areas. The Hutukara Yanomami Association said illegal mining on its land — officially demarcated 30 years ago this month — had almost tripled in the past three years. Much of the gold, which can be easily laundered via a lax system of self-declaration paperwork, is exported to the west. The UK, Switzerland and Canada are the top buyers. The trade is encouraged by Brazil’s notoriously weak system of regulations. https://www.ft.com/content/49346cc2-7b22-44c9-8ece-5ed151b26d14

FT China builds coalition to counter U.S.A. influence

As the U.S.A. president met leaders of the Quad security grouping in Tokyo, Chinese and Russian nuclear bombers flew over the Sea of Japan. Not all employed tactics of China are as crude. The country began promoting its Global Security Initiative (GGI), a proposal for an alternative security order. In a video address to foreign ministers from the Brics grouping of big emerging economies on May 19, the Chinese president spoke of the myriad virtues of GSI to “strengthen political mutual trust and security co-operation . . . accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, respect each other’s sovereignty, security and development interests, oppose hegemonism and power politics, reject cold war mentality and block confrontation and work together to build a global community of security for all”. https://www.ft.com/content/377cdb02-8a45-4ba2-b6ee-88620eb48f0b

FT Sri Lanka eyes China help to ease financial plight

The island owes more than $50bn in overseas debt, the largest share to private bondholders, followed by multilateral lenders and countries including Japan, China and India. The PM speaks of a substantial package from China to enable functioning. He dismissed concerns that additional Chinese funding could complicate ties with India. The status of Sri Lanka’s debts to China (3,5 bn) is being closely watched by policymakers and analysts, who said China had been reluctant to accept losses on its loans in other Belt and Road countries such as Zambia. https://www.ft.com/content/74323427-0d12-4978-a57d-41a8b7339bd2

FT The war on ‘woke capitalism’

Rightwing populists and industry sceptics are mounting a backlash against a vision for business that looks beyond profits, prompting bosses to think twice before taking a stand on divisive issues. This is a conclusion from this week’s World Economic Forum. At a FT conference a bank asset manager declared that climate change is simply “not a financial risk that we need to worry about”. A different band of activists is coming into action. For them ESG is mere “greenwashing”. But the range of action can go as wide as gender identity. https://www.ft.com/content/e4a818e5-4039-46d9-abe0-b703f33d0f9b

May 30

FT South Africa infrastructure woes frustrate ambition to replace Russian coal

Prices for South Africa’s benchmark export-grade coal have doubled since the start of the year as European countries buy up alternative sources of coal ahead of an EU ban on Russian imports. The country does not benefit because of the parlous state of the country’s infrastructure due to theft and corruption. The surge in coal demand has underlined that decarbonization will not be straightforward in either Europe or Africa. https://www.ft.com/content/2c97f4d6-5712-4d46-bb38-d774d2619a9e

FT Qatar calls for engagement with Taliban

The country is the main facilitator of talk with the Afghanistan regime and has urged the west to step up its engagement, warning that failure to do so would risk Afghanistan falling into deeper chaos and a rise in extremism. An economic crisis has already started and this will just drive the people to more radicalization and conflict. The regime has in recent weeks imposed a series of policies systematically eroding women’s freedoms. Qatar: “If we had engaged earlier we wouldn’t have allowed such things to happen”. https://www.ft.com/content/0a9f41c3-b3ab-4c2d-81a2-c7b40169683d

FT UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on a visit to China ‘unable to assess’ scale of repression of Uyghurs.

“The government assured me that the system of forced rehabilitation has been dismantled,” she said in Guangzhou. “While I am unable to assess the full scale of the centers, I raised with the government the lack of independent judicial oversight of the operation of the program . . . allegations of the use of force and ill treatment in institutions, and reports of unduly severe restrictions on legitimate religious practices.” The trip marks the first time a UN human rights commissioner has had access to China since 2005. https://www.ft.com/content/6ca09f88-ed97-4dbf-b83a-f1ce650de482

FT Baltic nations hit out at France and Germany for their talks with Russia

One of Ukraine’s neighbors: “It is incredible how the leaders of France and Germany are inadvertently paving the way for new acts of violence by Russia . . . How is it possible neither Paris nor Berlin have learnt from history? Why is it presumed that Russia, currently waging a war on a major European people, intends to keep any promise?” The foreign minister of Lithuania: “Russia must be isolated as countries around the world, including India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and “little Taiwan” are watching what happened in Ukraine with anxiety. Giving the occupier a chance to occupy territory means that it can be repeated elsewhere.” France and Germany held the talks to convince Russia to facilitate grain transport. https://www.ft.com/content/c95018b4-79d5-4250-a7e3-dd2a756fa4ee

May 31

FT South Africa vaccine plant at risk from low demand

Jab hesitancy fueled by a falling sense of danger puts efforts at preparedness under stress, which crushes demand. .The possible loss of local vaccine production could leave the continent ill-prepared for future diseases. https://www.ft.com/content/48fa65a3-5aed-4fc3-b458-29b844b2bcb3

June 1

FT Africa struggles to purchase grain from Russia

Western sanctions on Russian banks have made it difficult or impossible for African countries to buy grain supplies from Russia to help solve a global food crisis triggered by the invasion of Ukraine, the head of the African Union has told EU leaders. “Even if produce exists, payment for it becomes difficult or even impossible.” The Europeans mostly maintained that it was the invasion by Russia that is to blame and not the retaliatory sanctions. https://www.ft.com/content/e558de33-6064-4b10-a784-eb344cb17915

FT Twelve propositions on the world today

The newspaper’s economics commentator comes with predictable but equally complicated propositions, from “it’s politics stupid”, the continued rise of technology, the likelihood of not meeting climate change, the rise of Asia and the challenge for the west to engage the rest in their method. https://www.ft.com/content/517fbdac-507a-4e55-97fd-55375c1fe1f1

June 2

FT Can Africa grow without fossil fuels?

As the economic powers demand carbon emission cuts to meet climate targets, African leaders are asking whether it is really possible for a continent to industrialize using green energy alone. Renewable energy —including hydro, wind and solar power, as well as geothermal — accounts for 75 percent of Kenya’s electricity generation. Clearly, not every country in Africa is equally endowed. With some exceptions on average African countries consume a sliver of the energy and emit a fraction of the carbon of their counterparts elsewhere. Africa has the right to exploit its resources through a “just energy transition”. https://www.ft.com/content/1e8c12fe-4823-41a1-8069-b6150876427d

TT War in Ukraine: Russian church leader Kirill off EU sanctions list at the demand of Hungary

The PM last month: “We will not support the inclusion of church leaders on the sanctions list, this affects the issue of religious freedom in Hungarian communities and it is sacred and inviolable.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/war-in-ukraine-russian-church-leader-kirill-off-eu-sanctions-list-fm5gclvkn

June 3

FT Ukraine’s fight for freedom exposes ‘sovereign Europe’ as a delusion

After the initial strengthening of unity the Ukraine invasion by Russia now seems to reinforce disunity. European integration supposedly made nation states increasingly obsolete. Dialogue, not threats of violence, would uphold peace. Jürgen Habermas, the German philosopher, was the high priest of this faith. Leaders in central and eastern Europe are not afraid to combine the language of values with power politics. The French and German visions for peace imply Ukrainian territorial concessions. The columnist concludes that only Ukrainian victory will defeat Russian imperialism, but also Germany and France’s delusion of. a sovereign or a post-national Europe.https://www.ft.com/content/a0cb0186-6596-447b-b1e6-261704b3ff73

June 4

FT Government of Estonia crumbles in rancor over ties with Russia

One party in government had formal ties with the ruling party in Russia, but abandoned them after the Russian invasion in Ukraine. The other party is dissatisfied with their positions. The other party is a very vocal voice internationally for action against Russia. Estonia has given more aid per capita to Ukraine than any other nation. https://www.ft.com/content/0b4e14cc-f628-4835-a577-31b7697ace52

TT Indian state goes ahead with ‘regressive’ caste census

India has been trying to eradicate its caste system for 70 years, but despite this the state of Bihar is pushing ahead with a census that critics say will entrench class lines. The last time details about caste were included in a census was in 1931. Bihar bases itself on the argument of policy efficiency. Affirmative action has its logic in knowledge about caste. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/indian-state-goes-ahead-with-regressive-caste-census-20jcl93zl

NYT Russia’s Shadow Soldiers: How the Wagner Group Is Expanding in Africa

Mercenaries are enjoying a resurgence in Africa, hired to fight in some of the continent’s most intractable conflicts. The most well-known of them is the Wagner Group from Russia. It is a nebulous network that combines military force with commercial and strategic interests. The latter can mean orchestrating digital propaganda campaigns, donating food to the poor and producing action movies set in Africa. Wagner has become the brand name for an unofficial Russian state network spanning the continent. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/31/world/africa/wagner-group-africa.html?

June 6

FT Fuel crisis exposes Africa’s energy vulnerabilities

The lack of refining capacity means that the continent-producing 8 percent of the world’s crude oil relies on oil imports. As a result, it has been the continent hardest hit by the turmoil in international markets triggered by the war in Ukraine and the partial European embargo on Russian crude. Those closest to refineries are first in line for supply. Moreover, African refineries are increasingly underutilized due to poor investment. https://www.ft.com/content/5f5e1550-f750-4ca6-8c10-873e3372d73e

FT China’s bilingual schools face testing times

The sector is hit by regulatory crackdown and by tough anti-coronavirus policies that triggered an exodus of foreign teachers. New rules restrict the involvement of for-profit companies and require them to use the state curriculum up to at least the ninth year of education for pupils. Schools in China that cater only for foreign pupils are not affected. https://www.ft.com/content/2ae60e40-2c95-47ad-9c97-47ef643fad80

FT The case for seizing Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine

After a column (see May 27) the newspaper now dedicates an editorial to this tricky issue. Under international law, convicted war criminals’ assets can be seized to compensate victims. Despite all their support for Ukraine, western allies are not themselves at war with Russia. In Canada and the U.S.A. legal efforts are underway to redistribute frozen assets to compensate war victims. In the EU the situation differs per country. The newspaper argues that checks and balances are an integral part of law-based democracy. If you pretend to be a global system it is important to observe legal norms, even when responding to exceptional events. Due process and trust is everything. https://www.ft.com/content/30d3a780-633e-4b06-b9bc-ed3fc608ff98

June 7

FT Africa can decarbonize, but it must first decolonize its economy

The June 2 FT article according to the author needs a supplement: Post-colonial Africa suffers from three structural deficiencies: no food sovereignty, no energy sovereignty and no high value-added manufacturing. These deficiencies produce structural trade deficits, which in turn cause currency depreciation that makes all imports more expensive (imported inflation). The band-aid solution forces African governments to artificially stabilize their exchange rates by taking more dollar- and euro-denominated debt. Hence Africa’s external debt trap. Industrial policy, including decarbonization, must be focused on sourcing inputs locally within Africa and becoming economies of scale to capture all of its value-added within the continent. https://www.ft.com/content/1976ebc6-f366-42eb-ab18-e9c267d9abd6

FT The cost of complexity in supply chains

Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, famously thought that fair markets required a shared moral framework between buyer and seller. Easy in his day but not today. The global supply chain may have dramatically reduced consumer prices but introduced risks of their own, from market-distorting monopoly power to labor exploitation (including high brokering cost by powerful corporate middlemen) and environmental degradation. The middlemen grease the wheels of capitalism, but also distort it in ways that are undermining both economy and society. Their connective power contributes to financial volatility, supply-chain disruptions and a warming planet. https://www.ft.com/content/ff96f6f9-2c53-4e55-8a54-75a5c67e0d19

FT Singapore migrant workers suffer in hidden lockdown

The state’s lifting of restrictions excludes foreign manual laborer’s and domestic staff. They form the backbone of the city’s economy. At the end of last year, the affected were 849,700 work permit holders, compared with the unaffected: 161,700 foreign professionals and a native population of 3.5mn. https://www.ft.com/content/4c63dea0-9ebd-4170-b978-5dce0c5e7f99

June 8

FT Egypt urges local farmers to fill wheat shortfall

The turmoil in Europe encourages the country to expand its domestic crops. It’s an effort to showcase modern techniques aimed at maximizing yields and reducing water use. Key for the government is its subsidized bread program, which uses about 9mn tons of wheat a year and serves 70mn or just over two-thirds of the population. Trade is regulated top down which does not satisfy farmers. https://www.ft.com/content/c5ba4b7d-76d7-42c6-aff3-8b6d5bf2e3b2

FT Corruption suspects from South Africa arrested in UAE over charges

They are arrested based on a South African arrest warrant for the accusation of looting the South African state with the aid of the former president. UAE said yesterday it was willing to extradite the suspects once South Africa makes a formal request. The suspects fled South Africa on the day that the former president quit. https://www.ft.com/content/04974870-cb14-4515-bbe3-9a7efe257738

FT Mexico’s opposition loses ground to ruling party in state polls

Mexico’s opposition is on track to lose four state governorships to the ruling party after elections. When the unified opposition defeated the ruling party’s radical energy reform in the lower house this year, some political analysts believed the challengers could continue gathering momentum. This did not materialize. The ballot marked the last broad electoral test before 2024, when Mexico will hold elections at all levels of government, including the presidency, which is limited to one term. https://www.ft.com/content/d27916b1-41c3-434a-b8bd-b6baa48fa56b

June 9

FT OECD urges members to protect poor  and poor nations from effects of Ukraine war

“If you don’t share the burden well, the price will be higher” OECD said, highlighting the potential political fallout from famine in food-importing countries and polarization in rich countries, if those on low incomes bore the burden of Russia’s actions. https://www.ft.com/content/c4a66bbf-05e7-48c9-8536-6495bb4a8232

FT Political veterans to contest Nigerian election

Two wealthy political veterans will compete to become the next president of Nigeria. A former governor of Lagos state and a powerful political kingpin is the ruling party’s candidate. He will face a 75 year old former vice-president and longtime presidential hopeful who is fronting the main opposition People’s Democratic party. Both men have widely reported health problems but have declared themselves fit to run the country of 210mn people, Africa’s most populous, and its biggest oil producer. The informal arrangement, known as “zoning” among both main parties, to alternate power between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south is challenged this year. Both candidates are Muslim and will struggle to find a Christian candidate for vice-presidency. https://www.ft.com/content/1cf1cb8a-eb2f-475a-88a0-f49b2e845ffc

June 10

FT In Europe central bank vows to prevent repeat of 2012 debt crisis but skips details

The gap between Italian and German 10-year borrowing costs widened to 2.17 percentage points after the ECB said its governing council meeting was moving towards a quarter-point rise in interest rates in July and a half a percentage point increase in September. The bank claims inflation will only temporarily be more than the preferred 2 % but kept quiet on its methods to achieve it. https://www.ft.com/content/014d822a-0f59-4beb-a54f-ec94f3900188

FT Coalition in Bulgaria falters after singer’s party bows out

One of the EU’s poorest nations is into renewed political turmoil as it deals with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The outgoing party claims the PM commits national betrayal over North Macedonia. Its EU membership has been held up because of a string of unresolved historical and cultural disagreements with Bulgaria. The PM points to €1.8bn in extra resources asked for by the outgoing party for road building and “evidence that the money will go to companies close to the previous government, which were investigated for abuse”. https://www.ft.com/content/da33e79e-aa03-4d8f-8224-5b9c24e801b8

FT China digs in for permanent zero-Covid

The government races to build mass testing and quarantine sites in effort to contain the virus. Part of the plan is to be able to test city populations within 24 hours. The plan is pursued despite the growing social and economic cost associated with this approach. The government believes it can outrun the virus. Experts say that for some variants this is not realistic. https://www.ft.com/content/466480f5-4644-4522-84e8-ace50cfe964e

FT In Brazil presidential challenger aims to scrap constitutional public spending cap and aid poor

Brazil is one of the world’s most unequal countries and international economists have criticized its complex tax system, which relies heavily on consumption duties and exempts dividends, for failing to redistribute wealth. The manifesto of which the proposal is part, is still a draft. A months-long party consultation process is still due. https://www.ft.com/content/0b395d92-af03-4cc7-b29a-0b9c9a743217

NYT Pope Francis postpones trip to Africa, citing knee problems

At the time speculation swirls that the pontiff may be thinking of stepping down. The trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, a challenging journey to two war-torn states, had been scheduled for next month. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/10/world/europe/pope-postpone-trip-africa.html

June 11

FT Turkey changes name into Türkiye in bid to end jokes over country’s name

A request submitted last week to the UN by the country’s foreign minister asked for the nation to be known henceforth as “Türkiye” — pronounced “tooh-key-eh”. It was accepted immediately by the UN, and the country is now asking governments across the world to follow suit. The man widely seen as the country’s greatest living writer and a Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, welcomed the move. https://www.ft.com/content/741254f5-d805-4691-a6a2-4e709a4e7ee8

FT Pakistan budget aims to restore broken ties with the IMF and deter ousted PM

Arguing that previous governments “gave priority to the elite”, taxes on real estate transfers and import of luxury cars increased while offering relief to small businesses and others by raising the minimum income tax threshold. Balancing the budget is tried by raising fuel prices, taxes and fighting tax evasion. https://www.ft.com/content/ed40246f-f772-43a1-b44b-ce60ce0c35b3

 

FT = Financial Times, TT = The Times, NYT = New York Times. Nearly all Africa related items in the FT and all religious life oriented items are included. Original articles may be editorials, news reports or blogs. The focus is on (potentially) enduring trends in statehood.