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

June 13

FT WTO urges end to export controls on food

At least 30 countries have imposed export controls, according to the IMF. The WTO SG is afraid it will increase the prices of food. Ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference she also expressed hope that countries would agree there should be no limits on sales to the World Food Program, the UN division concerned with hunger and food security. She hopes ministers will set up a group on WTO reform. WHO has not brokered a global trade deal since it was founded in 1995 and is contending with complicated areas such as forced labor and sustainable development. https://www.ft.com/content/bc81e1ae-821b-4f9d-8baa-a93c96e0a91a

FT China restaurant attack stirs anger over gender violence

Female diners in a restaurant in north-eastern China were attacked as authorities raced to silence a backlash. The video footage of the incident has triggered outrage nationwide as tens of millions of people voiced frustration online over the lack of legal protection for women and anger at patriarchal social norms. The public fury in the wake of the attack also focused on passivity on the part of law enforcement. https://www.ft.com/content/4f36a2aa-cfe8-4e1e-870a-760cd1390138

FT Economic thinking is at a crucial inflection point

Soaring energy prices have encouraged comparisons of current challenges with the world’s economic and political struggles in the 1970s. The similarities end with the effects for political and economic thinking. Back then the government was projected as the problem, now the idea of the opposite is soaring. Other factors promote a greater emphasis on securing social cohesion and actively reshaping the structure of the economy. https://www.ft.com/content/4575b986-ef11-478d-a7e2-0451ae71b0e1

June 14

FT Kenya’s political rivals limber up for poll showdown

Voters want change but two political veterans are seeking the win of the upcoming presidential election. The youngest of them and present Deputy-President lost the incumbent advantage after falling out with the President. The other candidate, 22 years his senior, is “political royalty”, now with the power of the President behind him. Both candidates are not from the dominant tribe. https://www.ft.com/content/a6257eb4-4d07-49a3-864f-9f7a523c6b04

FT Unions in U.S.A. hit at hedge funds in show of support for reform

A union executive said a group of academics had urged him this year to “add my voice” to an alleged chorus of opposition to hedge fund regulation from workers, before he realized that regulation of hedge fund activity is actually necessary. https://www.ft.com/content/dcf84d66-e852-451e-b751-77f9d6b7a45e

FT Argentina farmers blocked from filling global food gap

Argentina produced a record 21.8mn tons of wheat last year, compared with 25mn tons grown in Ukraine. The government claims that the record prices are a “formidable” chance to meet demand, but maintains strict export quotas that were further reduced in March to shore up domestic supplies. Even an “unexpected profit” tax on companies is considered. https://www.ft.com/content/a5d555e0-0c92-4b5d-a402-95a355406c87

FT A Bretton Woods for the digital age is needed

In 1944 western nations came together at Bretton Woods and established economic rules for the postwar era. These would provide much needed stability and structure. The demise of the western dominance makes a new arrangement necessary. Failure to reach such an agreement risks ceding the future of global economic governance to authoritarian capitalism. Nation states must retain the ability to manage their own economic and fiscal policy. Creating a set of norms based on democratic values will facilitate the next evolution of the global economy, while at the same time protecting the principles that gave birth to the modern world. https://www.ft.com/content/db151983-533e-4926-b979-bd18a6bd4baf

June 15

Britain’s Northern Ireland plan: dubious and damaging

In an editorial the newspaper laments the government’s “decision to breach international law, proposing legislation to undermine the Northern Ireland protocol of the UK’s post-Brexit treaty with the EU”. There are problems with the protocol. There should be efforts to address citizen’s anxieties. But there are structures baked into the protocol to do that — and the government abandoned them. The loser in all this is Northern Ireland. Most voters at the May elections backed parties who supported the protocol. The main challenge for the EU is now to find a way to signal clearly that it will enforce the law and will not be swayed. https://www.ft.com/content/5d14ca6b-f6e1-4d2c-9418-99bea99894f9

June 16

FT Why Ukraine’s EU candidacy should be approved

The newspaper dedicated an editorial to this thorny issue, summarizing the situation as part of a process “to preserve both Ukraine’s sovereignty and its European future — the prospect of not living under an authoritarian kleptocracy, but in a modern market democracy”. Candidacy of Ukraine for the EU should be approved “on condition it passes reforms to bolster the rule of law and curb corruption before any membership talks begin. To do any less would be a geopolitical error..”.  The newspaper concludes that the prospects of aspirants (there are more!) should be realistic. FThttps://www.ft.com/content/8a8d643c-8bbf-4c3f-aa51-410757e89ec9

FT Laos hit by fuel shortages, high food prices and default risk

A financial rating agency downgraded the prospects of Laos yesterday to non-investment grade, or “junk” territory. Risks would “remain high given very weak governance, a very high debt burden and insufficient coverage of external debt maturities” by foreign exchange reserves. https://www.ft.com/content/1f53abbd-2e49-4fe2-809c-f6dde97632fe

June 17

FT Ukraine’s drive to join EU gains impetus from leaders of Germany, Italy & France

The foreign leaders came to war-stricken Ukraine personally to support the immediate granting of EU candidate status for Ukraine. The Italian president called the candidacy “a path, not a point” and added that “every day the Ukrainian people defend the values of democracy and freedom that are the basis of the European project. We cannot delay the process of candidacy.” https://www.ft.com/content/bb506967-b56d-4513-9cde-331aa00bfe1e

FT Angola seizes Chinese stake in diamond miner

The Chinese company was linked to the former regime in Angola. The Chinese deal maker of 20 years ago has disappeared from public life in his country since 2015 corruption charges. The Chinese company said they have no relationship with him anymore and will pursue the matter with Angola in court. One observer said that Angola has been “investing heavily in improving their image” as a diamond producer. https://www.ft.com/content/69651ee4-6855-48eb-af1c-65a4e1f96e78

June 18

FT The global economy is not going to be calmer any time soon

The world economy is racked by inflation and struggling with growth. But the situation is perhaps best summed up by one data point: strategies to deal with it differ per country/currency. This has all been hard for investors to follow. The big picture running through these decisions is that stagnation looks more likely than it did last week. Economic policymakers’ strategies ought to be data-dependent, not dogmatic. And that means, at a moment when the data keep moving, so will the policies. From that perspective the newspaper concludes in an editorial: “Expect turmoil ahead”. https://www.ft.com/content/c2049009-e386-4b39-9a1d-3bd3d4770b47

FT UN climate change talks end in acrimony and accusations of betrayal

Rich countries led by the U.S.A. and the EU were accused of betraying poorer nations over who pays for combating climate change, after two weeks of tense UN climate talks in the German city of Bonn, the first major UN climate meeting since the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The unsatisfactory outcome ratcheted up pressure on the Egyptian host country to engender consensus before the COP27. The UN secretary-general lashed out at the fossil fuel industry for deploying “the same scandalous tactics as Big Tobacco”. The major global south country group is unanimously united in the fight. https://www.ft.com/content/9340eb3d-cd9e-4817-b7d3-40899cdce392

FT Rwanda is making itself useful to the west

A European Court of Human Rights verdict stopped a UK transfer of low chance asylum seekers to Rwanda but the country has another high profile event due next week: to host the Commonwealth meeting after it joined the group in 2009. And the country proved more effective than other foreign forces in Mozambique in stopping regional turmoil over energy interests of France. Its claimed economic success is discussed but not dismissed. Abroad and by dissidents the leadership is pictured as “strongman intent on quelling opposition”. The government’s spokesperson: “We don’t need adult supervision”. https://www.ft.com/content/b9bb6cd1-11d5-43e1-b5b2-4150d5012713

June 20

FT Why China is not rising as a financial superpower

The country lacks the confidence to lift capital controls and make the renminbi fully convertible. The country’s economic footprint has expanded spectacularly. Its widening military reach has made recent headlines. Yet as an aspiring financial superpower, China is going nowhere. Foreigners are wary of a meddling state, but more importantly, the Chinese distrust their own financial system. https://www.ft.com/content/68b48e96-ed0d-4620-8f89-4f3f5bb0c937

FT Globalization is not unravelling but the era of falling barriers to trade is at an end, global shipping chief says

Global trade is where it is. It’s going to grow more or less with GDP. The company who ships one in every six containers worldwide sees no dramatic shift in supply chains. There is only more regional spreading. And there is a rapidly growing logistics business on land. https://www.ft.com/content/1674cdce-24a9-4266-9083-8275ac0712b9

FT The WTO is on life support — but the world needs it

In an editorial the newspaper concludes: “If the global trade body did not exist, it would have to be invented”. Open trade remains so important to global prosperity and there are so many issues countries must deal with that a forum such as the WTO can still play a key role. The WTO’s energetic Nigerian director-general, deserves great credit for keeping the body’s heart beating. The next generation of political leaders might one day rediscover its importance. https://www.ft.com/content/85ac7098-4d6d-4f93-9f5f-f12e373dd753

NYT Over 200 feared dead in Ethiopia massacre

An Ethiopian rebel group is claimed to have massacred more than 200 members of another ethnic group on Sunday. The rebels themselves say that government liaised forces are responsible. Last week, the government announced the establishment of a committee to negotiate peace with the breakaway region Tigray. The accused rebels were working with the forces of this region. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/19/world/africa/ethiopia-attack-amhara-people.html

June 21

FT Israel faces fifth election in three years (in October)

The eight-party coalition (its prime uniting goal was the ousting of the old coalition) has been slowly fracturing in recent weeks. It was the most ideologically diverse coalition in the country’s history, including (for the first time in history) an independent Arab-Israeli Islamist party. https://www.ft.com/content/18ded427-84ba-461a-b4a5-fa1f81373405

FT Winner elections in Columbia is now up to the more complicated part: governing amid myriad challenges

The former guerrilla will now be the commander of the armed forces who jailed and tortured him. He pledged to raise taxes, impose import trade tariffs and shift the economy from oil and mining towards tourism and agricultural-industry. A similar winner in Chile saw his ratings plummet as he could not meet the expectations. The Columbia winner’s main political experience is being the mayor of the capital for four years. https://www.ft.com/content/c88490b1-8ec3-4b64-b6cc-0909ef3c6bb9

FT In Tanzania Maasai are targeted in battle to stay on ancestral home

The area of 1,500 sq km of land is planned to be a luxury game reserve to boost tourism. Recategorizing the area as a game reserve, rather than a game-controlled area, means a ban on grazing and human settlements in the area. In total, almost 150,000 Maasai are facing displacement. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of the African Union condemned “forcible uprooting”. https://www.ft.com/content/1fbcc5c4-579a-47db-b736-cf368ccee40a

FT Africa needs $25bn a year to fulfil energy needs, says IEA

This would deliver universal energy access in Africa by the end of the decade, reversing a fall in electricity provision as a result of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. About 43 per cent of Africa’s population lacks access to electricity. Africa is home to 60 percent of the best potential of solar resources globally. https://www.ft.com/content/6ee697a5-fe5c-473c-9b0c-9b68dd200288

June 22

FT Ethiopia peace talks raise hopes for economy

Will economic development get back on track? “There’s no doubt that Ethiopia made tremendous gains through the development-state approach,” said the former executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, referring to the country’s Asian-inspired state-led model. The civil war shattered this (including an economic sanctions regime) but also the fragile political truce. The government may continue the liberalization process that already started before the conflict. https://www.ft.com/content/a74b5486-d2fa-4cdd-98d0-20a7eaf4ede2

FT Claims of ex-spymaster threaten the image of South Africa president

The president who pledged to clean up after his predecessor’s corruption is now himself facing allegations of wrongdoing. A police complaint was filed by the ally of the former president that he hid the theft of up to $4mn cash his home. The money is related to sales of game, the president said. This comes at the time of the high level arrest in UAE of allies of the former president. All shows the intense struggle inside the ruling party that is set to choose its leader this year, ahead of South Africa’s national elections in 2024. https://www.ft.com/content/7821465e-ee5d-4e51-a8e1-9c0729e8baa7

FT In the U.S.A. tension grows ahead of Supreme Court rulings on abortion, gun rights and environmental regulation

Protesters are demonstrating at justices’ homes, barriers are being raised outside the court and authorities are bolstering support for the court’s police. Adding to the strain was the highly unusual leak of a draft opinion from the typically hermetic court in early May. One observer: “The court is in uncharted territory right now”. Much academic literature suggests the court will remain aligned with public opinion, although this relies on checks and balances in the government. Given the polarization in Congress the court has little to fear. It may end up performing radical constitutional revisions. https://www.ft.com/content/5610d60d-e699-45b7-ad88-beac5dc076ad

FT Military recruitment reform sparks violent protests across India

The plan of the government is to replace most permanent positions in the armed forces with four-year contracts. A career in the military right now represents coveted economic security. The armed forces, which suspended recruitment during the pandemic, was set to recruit an initial 40,000 people this year under the scheme. In future this will be even more. The impression is that remedy is sought for the ballooning military pension bill. The protests show the pain felt in society. https://www.ft.com/content/3bfb5571-ca7e-448b-a8fc-82f939d6a4ae

June 23

FT At the heart of Vatican’s London property deal Swiss bank is sued by fund manager

The charging fund manager claims the bank did not tell him that investments made in his fund came from a unit of the Vatican that manages charitable donations, known as Peter’s Pence. Vatican prosecutors say companies founded by the fund manager made a large profit from investing in the building. https://www.ft.com/content/b3916623-fd2a-4f36-8a55-e25b8814c583

FT Estonia fears being ‘wiped from map’ by an eventual cross-border assault of Russia

The Nato alliance member points to the existing defense plans and regards them insufficient. The PM claims it would mean the complete destruction of the country and culture. She refers to comments of Nato troops stationed in her country, who are not looking forward being killed by Russian aggression. Her comments come before a Nato summit in Madrid. https://www.ft.com/content/a430b191-39c8-4b03-b3fd-8e7e948a5284

FT In Philippines economic tzar brushes aside fears of cronyism

He claims the incoming administration will focus on addressing poverty and debt, pointing to his own appointment as a sign of the government’s intentions. Also the rest of the government team is allegedly not political. The winner of the presidential election is the son of a late former dictator. He will be sworn in on June 30. He was criticized for misinterpreting the economic record of his father. The Philippines is rebounding strongly as it reopens after strict lock-downs imposed during the pandemic. https://www.ft.com/content/06931f0f-d2d7-473b-98a6-551a108fc5a1\

FT The current government of Russia delays reformist turn in Russian history

“The Great Change” is the name of a youth movement set up by the government, after celebrating the 100th anniversary of its predecessor, the Pioneers. Part of the assignment is prohibiting co-operating with “foreign agents” and “undesirable” organizations. Russia’s history goes in cycles. Earlier, like after the 1853-1856 Crimean war and the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan regime change happened. Much outsider opinion yearns to believe in something better emerging in Russia, but often deludes itself. Whatever lies ahead, foreigners do well to understand that their influence over Russia’s internal political direction is limited. A country free of imperial instincts and focused on improving the lot of its people would naturally be in the global interest. Russia, shaped by old traditions of rule as well as its more recent past, will in the end make its own choices. https://www.ft.com/content/11e80107-3df1-45e1-a6bb-a2544003c550

June 24

FT Hunger stalks millions in Africa as food crisis deepens

The Russian invasion in Ukraine and the pandemic hit economic stability and food security. African countries have diminished their ability to cushion the population from food price fluctuations, according to a South African analyst. https://www.ft.com/content/c3336e46-b852-4f10-9716-e0f9645767c4

FT G7 gathers in Germany and is urged to focus on energy and commodity stability

The leaders want to do it in a way that reduces the benefit for Russia from high energy prices. https://www.ft.com/content/0a36865c-2965-471c-9c10-7b73bd3ad110

FT Crypto bets on creative destruction

Despite the recent rout, private digital money seems more likely to mutate than die. Earlier this year the talk was still crypto’s “day in the sun”. By now it is winter. The sector’s market capitalization has shrunk by 70 percent, the terra and luna stable coins have imploded; crypto lenders have halted withdrawals; and hedge funds face margin calls. The big question is: does crypto have any social utility? Its biggest advantage still is the big pool of players who are not only convinced of the revolutionary potential of their distributed ledger (or “Web3”) technology, but equally importantly believe in the idea of creative destruction. Finally the columnist (FT’s chair of the editorial board) points to other markets like online sale. Who would have expected 20 years ago it would be a success as it is today. https://www.ft.com/content/ae5faf8d-502f-4b40-a332-72a8dc4b7198

TT One in six politicians in Kenya has a helicopter

In 2020 alone, Kenya imported 325 helicopters from South Africa, according to the latter’s tax service, followed by 519 helicopter engines last year. Kenya’s own Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has credited politicians at the presidential, gubernatorial and senate level with the spike in chopper ownership. Experts say policy plays second fiddle to identity and money in Kenyan elections, raising fears over the commercialization of politics. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/one-in-six-kenyan-politicians-has-a-helicopter-g3ds2rvrj

June 25

FT Young intake in parliamentary elections rattles old order in France

A more socially diverse parliament will make life a lot harder for the president re-elected a few months earlier. The president is considered a disrupter himself but governed in a top-down manner so far, appealing mostly to the elderly. They helped him through the run-off. Among the newly elected parliamentarians is an Ivory Coast born hotel cleaner who helped lead a successful strike against her employer. https://www.ft.com/content/a8124be2-5bc2-4d76-9260-7adafc030c0a

FT Myanmar junta struggles in face of stronger rebels with better weapons

A year after the overthrow of the country’s political leader, the resistance is gaining recruits and expertise. Some analysts believe they are becoming a threat to the army. The claims by resistance groups cannot be independently confirmed in a country where journalists are not allowed to report freely. Myanmar’s military has battled armed groups in ethnic minority states since independence. https://www.ft.com/content/be315fdc-09c0-4714-94a4-dc58d5364826

FT Top officials in U.S.A. say they refused to back claims of voter fraud in tense meeting with the president who lost his re-election

The losing president wanted to replace the acting attorney-general by a confidant that had been trying to persuade his bosses to send a letter to swing states taken by the winning president telling them the DoJ had “significant concerns” about the vote. https://www.ft.com/content/27fabdbd-6702-4ee3-8193-9f011c035d67

June 27

FT U.S.A. battle over abortion moves to the states

Democrats are seeking ways to protect access to abortions in the U.S.A. as Republican-led states implement bans of legal right to abortion after the Supreme Court’s move to scrap the federal constitutional right to end a pregnancy. https://www.ft.com/content/6c31c023-0d18-41a4-821c-ef6533f39944

FT In Brazil the president weighs options in upcoming elections against his popular foe

Trailing in the polls, the president is desperate to reach beyond his base — to those in poor communities and women. If all else fails, he is seeding the idea of electoral fraud to clinch the vote in October. In the run-up to election polls are making the unhappiness of voters clear. One observer: “The evangelical woman’s vote will be very relevant”. The government did not bring the voters the promised prosperity, unlike the popular perception of his challenger, who was president from 2003-2010. People know about corruption in the latter’s party but seem to have forgotten it. https://www.ft.com/content/49fb5631-625f-4947-b324-cccfb28de55a

FT The high cost of producing cheap food

Intensive farming has consequences for our health and the planet with falling returns to farmers. We still farm trying to produce cheap calories for growing numbers of hungry people — and using huge amounts of fossil fuels — rather than providing better nutrition for an overfed yet undernourished population in ways that might support the planet and local communities. Farmers are outgunned by large, highly concentrated companies that control much of the agriculture supply chain. https://www.ft.com/content/f04e9e61-4a12-409a-a457-fbda710e9418

June 28

FT China’s middle-class angst

The new buzzword for Chinese people tired of being locked down is ‘runxue’, or the study of leaving the country completely. Covid restrictions are fraying the Communist party’s relationship (= the government) with society. https://www.ft.com/content/8f4b6e8b-9b59-433e-b862-425c78a378b4

FT After debt default Sri Lanka halts fuel supplies for private vehicles until July 10

The government said last night that it would also close schools in urban areas for two weeks. The national power regulator announced that daily power cuts of around two-and-a-half hours would increase to around three or four hours per day. https://www.ft.com/content/7b166a66-ce36-41c2-b799-fcaa32e5f3a6

FT Japan tells business and public to save power to avert Tokyo blackout due to a lack of generating capacity

Experts say the electricity shortage is likely to intensify the debate on nuclear energy if the ruling Liberal Democratic party achieves a commanding victory in the election of July 10. Energy policy has been in paralysis since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. https://www.ft.com/content/5756305e-5f06-4fec-ac07-c117c45cada0

FT Brazil turns blind eye to Amazon rainforest becoming lawless

Crime is on the rise in the Amazon rainforest. This makes any efforts to preserve it even more difficult. Simultaneously, deforestation in the Amazon has soared to a 15-year high. For the government, the rainforest should be used for commercial gain, as the region is one of Brazil’s poorest. https://www.ft.com/content/aec97647-9961-45bc-9a57-b10bcdc1bc0b

June 29

FT in South Africa the president has fallen short in rooting out corruption in ruling party

The president allegedly had $4mn in banknotes stuffed down his couch. Yet he has been leading the charge against graft. He also appears to have bypassed a proper investigation into the theft. The allegation comes from somebody appointed and recommended by himself. The newspaper in this editorial thinks the ruling party’s 28 year tenure is the problem and considers the political future of South Africa will probably be one of coalition governments. https://www.ft.com/content/658d4114-9b62-4880-b10a-402a5c072b7c

FT The surprising revival of eastern Germany

Once a byword for economic decline, the former communist East of Germany has received a massive influx of new investments and is now being transformed into the center of Europe’s electric car industry. Germany’s economic map is being drawn anew. Space, security and old industrial traditions support this development. https://www.ft.com/content/f1d0e732-d523-40db-b753-ae404498dc7a

FT Former president of U.S.A. wanted march on Capitol despite knowing of arms, says aide

An ex-White House aide testified that after losing the election the former president was irate after being told he could not join the Capitol hill protests. She had heard that he physically tried to get his way. She also testified that the White House knew beforehand about the upcoming protests. https://www.ft.com/content/e45f8ca1-60a5-4185-9623-48f7b5c70008

FT Citizens in China complain of state control via Covid status app

The software is considered  a‘digital handcuff’. One person who had bought medicine while entering a public place, saw her phone display a pop-up message instructing her to get tested. “An alarm started beeping from my phone,” she said. “Everyone around me immediately backed away.” The pop-up meant she was barred from entering any public venue until the new test was processed and the data fed into her health code app. And it can be used by authorities for other purposes. https://www.ft.com/content/dee6bcc6-3fc5-4edc-814d-46dc73e67c7e

TT Battle lines are drawn over mega oil pipeline for Uganda

An oil pipeline stretching 900 miles to Tanga on the Tanzanian coast is set to open in 2025. Uganda cleverly argues it will help Europe wean itself off its reliance on Russian energy. International climate activists are not so sure. They have compelled more than 20 big banks and insurance companies to shun the project, angering champions of African domestic energy. One of them said they should stop “spoon-feed national governments”. Africa only contributes 2 – 3 percent of carbon emissions, while suffering most from its effects. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/battle-lines-are-drawn-over-mega-oil-pipeline-for-uganda-dvz7h9zp9

NYT In Russia crisis, India tries to balance geopolitics and economics

The country is trying to position itself as the voice of poorer nations, arguing that sanctions hurt developing countries the most. “A poor family also has the same rights [as rich families],” said the PM at a G7 session to which he was invited. In many ways, India is maintaining its traditional position of strategic autonomy. Its foreign minister: “Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/28/world/asia/india-russia-war.html

June 30

FT Zambia default tests China creditor role

The willingness of China to help nations restructure their obligations is tested. Soon after his election win the president of Zambia agreed to a deal with the IMF. A deal with all creditors proves much more difficult. Chinese lenders have adopted an approach different from that of other commercial creditors. They have been willing to grant payment holidays, but reluctant to accept any reduction of loans for political reasons. Zambia and China leadership recently called and the former believes that patience will solve much to bring home a deal. https://www.ft.com/content/b965d49c-820c-4e7d-b2ca-f7d2a18e1165

FT In Iran president sticks to low-key approach despite protests

He rarely makes controversial speeches or clashes with his hardline colleagues, who control all organs of the state. This has rendered political tranquility despite weekly protests. The president may not be an influential decision maker but carries out the decisions of influential decision makers. He prefers meeting with the common people. Much in Iran centers on the succession of the aged supreme leader. https://www.ft.com/content/2873c01d-ad3e-4656-a935-3a2d393096f9

FT In China Marxism majors prosper as ideology of the president rules from kindergarten to workplace

On a job website in 20 percent of the openings a degree in the otherwise obscure subject of Marxism was asked for. This is part of the government’s efforts to strengthen ideological education as China’s global rivalry is intensified. https://www.ft.com/content/36d34b2f-7f69-4224-8322-87d99a820f64

FT First minister of Scotland seizes the initiative over England on a new Scottish referendum

The chances of a plebiscite happening on the first minister’s timetable are slim; the UK government, and the Supreme Court — from which the Scottish first minister has sought a legal ruling — are likely to block it. The central government’s inaction allows the Scottish government to claim the moral high ground, and reassure moderate Scots, by insisting it is committed to a legal referendum, not a “wildcat” poll as held so damagingly by Catalonia (Spain). https://www.ft.com/content/8e1a2288-7270-4fa3-88cd-835009d13366

NYT Religious unrest spreads in India with killing of Hindu man

Two Muslim men filmed themselves attacking a Hindu, who had been accused of backing anti-Islamic remarks. The events started after later retracted remarks of officers of the ruling party. The killed man supported one of the officials on social media. The opposition called on the PM to address the nation about communal tension in the country. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/29/world/asia/india-muslim-hindu-killing-udaipur.html

July 1

FT Disaster aid for citizens in Afghanistan should not have strings

The newspaper dedicates an editorial to the issue that providing emergency relief does not equate to validating the present regime in the country. Feeding the 23mn people of Afghanistan is at stake now that aid is withheld by donating countries to punish the government. https://www.ft.com/content/1c1175a2-c240-4c73-8c3a-7ad260c9ad53

FT The reinvention of Hong Kong

After three stormy years that began with the strongest anti-government protests on Chinese soil since 1989, the government of China is hailing a ‘new era’ for the city marked by closer ties to the mainland. The president will visit the city to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the handover from the colonizer to China. The government abandoned the “one country, two systems” model. https://www.ft.com/content/36df0106-3a83-4076-82ae-0fb298456800

July 2

FT Burglary puts wealth of president of South Africa in focus

The president who won his seat after a struggle over the fallout from systemic corruption under his predecessor. He was already a large game breeder of Ankole, which he first saw in Uganda 20 years ago. Accusations of illegally keeping currency appear now that his predecessor and his aides are indicted. The president: “I want to assure you, comrades, that all this money was proceeds from selling animals.” A party leader election is due in December. https://www.ft.com/content/29a680f1-6603-4481-8353-7ac80782bc1b

FT Houseboat owners in capital of Egypt cut adrift in state infrastructure push

Some 30 houseboats on the Nile, a long-established presence in Egyptian culture and featured in many books and movies, have to be vacated within 10 days because the authorities want to develop the bank into a leisure strip with cafés and commercial establishments. Earlier an uproar over an historic cemetery appeared (see January 17). The military is in charge of most of these projects, which include bridges, utilities, real estate — even a new capital. Much is needed but the top down process produces opposition. https://www.ft.com/content/d8321056-f9c0-4750-9fea-fb0eff39b0ff

FT In Turkey government raises minimum wage by 30%

This is the second increase in six months and it attempts to catch up with runaway inflation. The president: “We are taking many measures to compensate for the loss of prosperity of all our people, especially our workers.” The trade unions say it is not enough to raise the workers over the “hunger and poverty threshold”. There are presidential elections in June 2023. https://www.ft.com/content/5352a116-499f-4043-b7c0-9557e067a1a6

FT Ruling federal party in India teams up in state government with rebels from regional party

The ruling federal party agreed with 40 breakaway legislators from a state party to form a government in the country’s second most populous state. With the other national federal party in disarray, regional parties play a big role and the federal PM’s party works here with their dissidents to govern on state level. https://www.ft.com/content/00adad46-b4d0-4565-8174-aab85c29d36f

NYT In Tunisia president (and retired state law professor) drafts constitution giving himself broad powers

A referendum over the draft is staged for July 25. If accepted this would be a movement towards autocracy. Tunisia has been in crisis ever since the president suspended Parliament and fired the prime minister almost a year ago amid political paralysis and economic convulsions. The political process seems to go over the heads of citizens. Less than 10 percent of citizens who were eligible to participate in an online survey on the draft did so. Political parties and the powerful union have refused to participate in the process. The draft keeps most of the current Constitution’s clauses concerning rights and liberties. But it puts the president firmly in charge, at the expense of the judiciary and Parliament. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/01/world/middleeast/tunisia-president-draft-constitution.html

July 4

FT War brings schism to Orthodox church of Ukraine

The church’s largely Russian-speaking priests and parishioners are rejecting Russia, demonstrating how a new Ukrainian identity is taking root. Still some bishops dispute the decision to sever ties with the Russian parent church. Donetsk, which is controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, refused to go along with it. Priests in Crimea joined the Russia church jurisdiction. In 2018 a schism happened with Ukrainian speaking churches. Hopes for a rapprochement between the two churches remain distant, with many on both sides considering the other as heretical. https://www.ft.com/content/57d684cb-f7d7-4e2c-89c9-41b0749f9ba5

FT Argentina in crisis after finance chief quits

The departing minister led negotiations with the IMF and private sector debtors. He published a seven-page letter in which he cited “political agreement within the governing coalition” as a key factor needed by his successor, a reference to government infighting. His rival in the government denies that the budget deficit is causing high inflation and called for Argentina to consider a universal basic income. https://www.ft.com/content/cdf02358-7ba8-4326-b1a5-66c7fffbf7ab

FT A predicted ‘nearshoring’ boom in Mexico did not come. The government is blamed

The rewards of the U.S.A. boycott of China in 2018 were reaped by low-cost Asian competitors such as Vietnam and Taiwan. In the ‘90’s the free trade pact reaped a different result for Mexico. Much is blamed on the present government being hostile to foreign companies. It dreams about creating a “moral economy” and “republican austerity”, but in the back of the mind is the oil boom in the past. https://www.ft.com/content/7fc2adf0-0577-4e13-b9a3-218dda2ddd5b

FT Emerging markets are in better shape than you think

With news about economic distress problematic examples of emerging markets are often mentioned. In reality by most measures — from current account deficits to currency valuations — the 25 largest developing nations, from India to Brazil, are in strong financial shape. Together these markets account for 70 per cent of the population and nearly 90 per cent of gross domestic product in the developing world. They are less vulnerable to capital flight now than with crises in the past. https://www.ft.com/content/25701623-8322-4af8-a34a-bb7f289bb846

July 5

FT Ukraine estimates recovery will cost $750bn

Speaking to a Ukraine recovery conference in Switzerland the PM said: “We believe the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs.” https://www.ft.com/content/aa657002-2269-433f-a1e3-cbf98b0aec27

FT In Türkiye mayor of largest city pans business for stance against national government

The mayor lamented that the nation was suffering “the most important economic crisis in history”, with inflation running at nearly 80 per cent and poverty soaring, and yet company leaders were failing to speak out. The president and senior officials justified the latest round of aggressive rate cuts, in the final months of last year, by arguing they were pursuing a “new economic model”. https://www.ft.com/content/3c18caba-34f2-4b57-a6d9-c4a69810e490

FT Chile puts indigenous rights and environment at heart of draft constitution

The move comes after a wave of protests two years ago, putting to voters the question of whether to adopt a new framework for governing the country with environmental and indigenous rights at its center. The 36-year old president: “In the middle of a political crisis not seen in our country in decades, Chileans opted for more democracy, not less.” Chileans will decide whether to adopt the new constitution in a mandatory vote. If rejected, the current charter originally written during the dictatorship in 1980 (though heavily modified since) will remain. https://www.ft.com/content/25a20fc7-ae6e-4fe7-82a4-26635b3e96b8

July 6

FT Israel needs to break the cycle of repeated elections

The failure of the present 8 party coalition could pave the way for return of its foes, the sole unifying factor. This sorry state of affairs underlines the damaging polarization in Israeli politics, the weaknesses of its system of proportional representation, which gives smaller parties an oversized role, and Israel’s inability to break from the shadow of the challenged former government leader.

https://www.ft.com/content/d1cd6357-d7f6-4568-aee1-21ecd0638213

FT Crypto is not the new money we need

Digital currencies proliferate and are objects of speculation rather than stores of value. The Bank for International Settlements — the club of central banks —analyzed the emerging ecosystem of cryptocurrencies, stablecoins (which attempt to peg their value to conventional currencies) and exchanges. This brave new system is — the bank concludes — inherently flawed. Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could permit a revolutionary restructuring of monetary systems. https://www.ft.com/content/f2faeec9-6d42-4d78-9c68-1f59795789a7

July 7

FT Congo president warns of war with Rwanda

The country accuses Rwanda of involvement in renewed rebel activity in the eastern part of DRC. In recent weeks, the militants have stepped up attacks in a conflict that has displaced 170,000 people since the rebel group resurfaced late last year, almost a decade after a peace deal was agreed. Uganda has sent troops with DRC approval. Rwanda accuses DRC of aiding Hutu rebels against Rwanda. Illicit resources trade is another background of the conflict. It is claimed that there are 130 armed groups in eastern Congo. https://www.ft.com/content/8611194b-cb8b-442d-a5bd-7de2c2aad26a

FT South Korea seeks to settle compensation of Japan for slave labor

Relations collapsed in 2018 after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered two Japanese companies to pay compensation to the victims of forced labor during Tokyo’s wartime control of the Korean peninsula. Trying to avoid confiscation of the company assets the government reaches out to “the public and private sector.” “…an open and candid discussion regarding this issue and the dialogue and communication can be an important driving force for resolving the problems.” Japan insists that reparation was resolved by a treaty in 1965. https://www.ft.com/content/94171a69-569f-4dc6-a557-d716906c9c79

FT The departure of the present government of Britain is long overdue

This is the conclusion of an editorial of the newspaper. Despite all challenges at home and abroad for months the government has been able to deliver only drift and disarray. A series of incidents have demonstrated a wanton disregard for rules and for the truth. This includes seeking to bend constitutional conventions and to override part of the exit agreement negotiated with the EU. The newspaper hopes for a successor of integrity and respect for rules and the law but notes several candidates fall short in this respect. https://www.ft.com/content/79f922d3-ccdd-4e42-b786-4ca79a9becf6

NYT In Ethiopia allegations of a second recent ethnic massacre further destabilize the country

The government accuses a rebel movement but they denied it, instead accusing militias allied with the government — and the facts are unclear. The federal PM, himself from the concerned region, seeks to centralize governance. The claim was bolstered late on Tuesday night, when a lawmaker of the PM’s party urged to take action: “We are tired of seeing rest-in-peace and condolence statements. Do your work to lead the country.” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/06/world/africa/ethiopia-ethnic-massacres.html

July 8

FT The role of Niger in the west’s war on jihadism

The country is a geopolitical linchpin and critical ally for Europe and the U.S.A. in a neighborhood of failing states across Africa’s Sahel region, where terrorism is spreading and Russian influence is growing. If the jihadist threat intensifies in Niger Islamists could end up controlling a contiguous belt. Much of the rot set in after western powers, including France and the UK, engineered the downfall of Libya’s longtime dictator in 2011.https://www.ft.com/content/744bea94-3b18-47d5-8e53-e87ab9efef9a

July 9

FT Former PM killed on campaign trail restored Japan’s place on the world stage

The newspaper in an editorial says the former PM “brought unusual political stability and optimism to the country; his shocking assassination has evoked memories of the political violence that was rife in the run-up to the second world war”. A political princeling — his grandfather, who was accused of being a war criminal, was later released without charge, and then became prime minister — the killed politician lacked the common touch. His name will always be associated with “Abenomics” — his brand of activist economic policy that his successors still broadly back. https://www.ft.com/content/0610ebf8-3a6e-47c2-8797-bbe0dd99eb2d

FT in the U.S.A. president signs executive order to limit the consequences of Supreme Court decision on abortion

He has not backed more drastic steps being proposed by abortion activists, such as increasing the number of justices on the court in an effort to rebalance it away from the conservative majority. Still he claims the recent judgement “wasn’t a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power.” https://www.ft.com/content/906c1135-32f5-498d-9bcd-f6edfda85018

FT Communist missionaries spread the word in rural China

Students from top universities vie for places on the scheme that promises positions as administrators on the lowest rungs of government in townships and villages. After a few years as a political cadre, some graduates are fast-tracked to more senior roles with provincial and central governments. A recruitment document in Shanxi province requires applicants of “good political quality, a sense of political mission and lofty aspirations [and a willingness] to serve the country and people”. https://www.ft.com/content/7630ec57-b66b-4b4c-892e-cd894630a052

TT Pastors in Nigeria face life in jail for ‘kidnap’ of 77

A Pentecostal church is accused of locking up worshippers to await Christ’s return. But “none of them were held against their will”. The police arrived on the scene, responding to claims of a kidnap by a mother who said her daughter had not come home to prepare for an exam. Pentecostalism has “exploded” in Africa’s most populous country in the past two decades. Unicef: “The reason, fundamentally, is the issue of poverty in a country like Nigeria.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nigerian-pastors-face-life-in-jail-for-kidnap-of-77-cq55g5wvj

July 11

FT In Sri Lanka opposition parties begin talks to form government

This happened a day after protesters stormed the homes of the president and prime minister, forcing the country’s leadership to say they would step down. The military called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The whereabouts of the president are unknown. The authorities claimed ships with cooking gas (acutely in short supply) are heading for the country. The payments squeeze since May led to shortages of fuel, medicine and other essentials. Debt service is being negotiated. https://www.ft.com/content/1353f1a5-378a-47b4-91ef-32545b1433be

FT José Eduardo dos Santos, Former president of Angola, 1942-2022

He was a strongman who left Angolans in penury while enriching the elite. He ruled the resource-rich country with an iron hand for 38 years, turning the one-time Cold War battleground into a symbol for Chinese influence on the continent. During his studies in Russia he married a woman from there. In the last years of his rule, Dos Santos bequeathed control over major state assets to his children. He misjudged his succession. His successors soon began dismantling the system of patronage while largely retaining the repression. Dos Santos went to live in Spain. https://www.ft.com/content/3f7fba0e-72df-42a0-8f0f-ab595dc7d46e

July 12

FT In Japan death of former PM puts spotlight on links of his party to South Korea’s Unification Church

The former PM and his late grandfather, also an ex-premier, were supporters of the church, also known as Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and started by an excommunicated Presbyterian minister. The mother of the murder suspect was a member. For decades, ties between the church and key figures in the governing Liberal Democratic party have been an open secret in Japanese politics. https://www.ft.com/content/a31f0f6d-39c9-4990-9081-057f773d56d4

FT India’s poor bear brunt of food inflation caused by conflict

Controlling inflation is crucial in a country in which the price of onions can reputedly decide elections. The government responded to the inflation by raising interest rates, limiting food exports, cutting fuel tax and raising cooking oil and fertilizer subsidies. https://www.ft.com/content/229af9f4-3e00-41f9-9fb5-df54df9e9f4f

July 13

FT Tunisia dealt further blow by war in Ukraine

The opposition: “Since the start of the country in 1956 we have not experienced a catastrophe in public finances like the one we have been experiencing since 2020”. The economic crisis comes at a time of national political uncertainty. The president has cast himself as a savior after a decade of economic decline and a succession of weak coalition governments. But he has offered no vision for the economy. And the powerful union opposes the conditions of an IMF financial deal. https://www.ft.com/content/fd63be06-1436-41e5-b368-a30478d5512c

FT Argentina bids to calm markets with IMF pledge

The IMF said the new finance minister understands “the purpose of fiscal discipline”. The IMF also stressed the “very complex” economic outlook the country faces. The pledges of the minister did not calm the markets. She must not only contend with the economy but also the country’s fraught politics, including an open split between the president and his powerful deputy. https://www.ft.com/content/77fb34f1-9012-4e57-9493-9fd897995962

July 14

FT Libya premier bids to oust state oil chief in political stand-off

Control of oil revenue has been at the heart of the conflict in the divided country for most of the past decade. So far the national oil company had tried to stay above the political fray as the organization in charge of the oil wealth of all Libyans. A new leadership (announced by the western Libya PM on Twitter) could politicize the oil sector. The change in leadership could be part of a wider deal aimed at getting the eastern warlord to switch his support to the Tripoli-based government and away from the rival government in the east. https://www.ft.com/content/a6c6fca9-5f01-4b15-b9ef-f66465087b35

FT Sri Lanka’s woes are a warning to other developing nations

China’s historic reluctance to engage with creditors will be a decisive factor. 38 Developing countries are in debt distress or at high risk of it. Observers have raised concerns about Pakistan, Ghana and others. Cause for optimism is that China joined France as co-chair of the official creditor committee for Zambia, Africa’s first Covid-era sovereign defaulter. It took China 6 months to decide to sit on the committee. https://www.ft.com/content/08c6d823-9d2b-4e63-b5b9-d343121f7648

NYT Famed manuscripts of Mali are put to use

After years of careful preserving, cataloging, and digitizing, more than 40,000 pages from one of Timbuktu’s biggest libraries can be studied. The documents are part of a trove of tens of thousands of old manuscripts — legal documents, copies of the Quran, scientific writings — that for centuries were conserved and passed down by the desert-dwelling families who owned them, or collected in libraries. Mali’s minister of culture. “These manuscripts can throw light on part of Africa’s past.” It can provide evidence of extensive written traditions in the continent stretching back centuries. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/12/world/africa/timbuktu-mali-manuscripts.html

July 15

FT Libya oil chief pledges to lift blockades and increase supply

His appointment, thought to have been brokered by the United Arab Emirates, is aimed at placating the warlord that until recently backed the eastern Libyan government. The deal is thought to enhance his ability to press for a bigger share of the budget but also to switch his support to the Tripoli based government. Foreign comments voice hesitation over the politicizing effects of the deal. https://www.ft.com/content/7a96ce04-4642-43a7-9610-b5b0b8965540

TT Tribes in South Africa win payout from tea industry over rights to rooibos tea

Demand for rooibos tea, beloved by hipsters and Hollywood stars, has skyrocketed over the past decade, yet the descendants of the hunter-gatherers who discovered it have only now received their first share of the multimillion-pound profits. Apart from an initial payout, an annual levy of 1.5 per cent of the tea’s “farm-gate price” will also be paid into a trust controlled by the Khoi and San to do justice to their part in the value addition. Attempts to grow rooibos (Afrikaans for “red bush”) outside the unique climate and soil conditions found in the area known as the Cape floral kingdom have largely failed. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tribes-win-payout-from-south-african-tea-industry-over-rights-to-rooibos-2zlcsmw96

July 16

FT What the crisis in Sri Lanka reveals about the risks in countries with emerging markets

Sri Lanka’s economic and political woes are far more than a national problem — they are a dramatic example of the potential problems looming in a number of other emerging markets. Economic pressures bring political instability — and today economic pressures are everywhere. The deputy managing director of the IMF. “We saw this last time we had a food crisis in 2008, when food prices were one of the triggers for the Arab spring”. Economies that can borrow in their own currencies, with most of the debt held by local investors, have more resilience to external shocks. https://www.ft.com/content/5ac44901-e989-42d6-ab4f-c168cd13196d

FT Church or cult? Inside the Moonies’ ‘world of delusion’, to which the assassination of a politician in Japan shone a light

The murder suspect was angry as his mother made large donations to the church. The murdered politician, while not a member, praised the activities of the church during a speech in September. His grandfather is reputed to have helped the fiercely anti-communist church establish its foothold in Japan. “It is a business based on religion,” said a professor at Busan Presbyterian University. “On the surface, they are fighting over religious principles but the family based leadership are actually fighting over money.” Moon described his mission as to marry, raise the “ideal family”, and encourage his followers — whom he personally paired off ahead of the mass weddings that made his movement famous — to do the same so as to “create one world under the sky”. https://www.ft.com/content/2bf8dd43-78ca-4d2f-935e-70c9d34e1a5d

FT The populist gene is firmly encoded in transatlantic rightwing parties

It turns out to be easier to topple an individual populist than to topple populism. This is true at both sides of the Atlantic. Populism is bred by governments that patiently listened to the pros and cons of public policy from well-educated salesmen of globalization. Populism, when it is not simply a slur, is a reaction to certain political inequalities engendered by globalization and information technology. Our era has seen the emergence of new institutions that exercise real political power — tech corporations, ngo’s, the EU, rating agencies, multilateral banking institutions and so on. It took centuries to democratize the existing institutions. Now it is the turn of the new institutions. https://www.ft.com/content/7d972153-21d2-4b5b-a825-8af71726b7cd

FT The PM in Britain will be chosen based on fantasies

In an editorial the newspaper maintains that the Conservative party leadership contest is not facing up to Britain’s main issues. The candidates to become PM say little about the UK’s longer term challenge of sluggish growth, made worse by poor planning regulations and the exit from the EU. Whoever emerges as the next prime minister will have serious political and economic constraints and the promises made by the leaving PM that rendered him an election win. https://www.ft.com/content/6ae1d72f-41e3-46ad-be96-1fe9a5e57f84

FT In Italy PM battles to find way through maze of turbulent politics

The PM’s resignation has been rebuffed but early elections loom if he decides it is time to go. As multiple challenges loom for the country, many of them caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, businesses, investors and European allies are keen for the internationally acclaimed PM to soldier on. “There is still a possibility that the government will survive; it’s not over. In Italy, traditionally, creative solutions have always been found.” For the time the populist movement in the country split over the role of Russia in Europe. https://www.ft.com/content/b8665c4f-fe66-4e27-847c-166881a22700

July 18

FT Alarm bells ring on global child health as vaccinations tumble

The World Health Organization and Unicef, the UN children’s charity, said the percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) fell 5 percentage points between 2019 and 2021 to 81 per cent, its lowest level since 2008. The shortfall reflects the growing number of children living in conflict zones and regions where immunizations were harder to deliver, but also misinformation about vaccines is to be blamed. https://www.ft.com/content/8d2e800a-1495-4bd1-9721-3ef656d25c79

FT IMF urged to be more humane on Sri Lanka by opposition leader

The leader of the biggest opposition party seeks support to ease the crisis and also calls for a general election. Next Wednesday an extraordinary vote by MPs will cap a months-long revolt against the clan in power, in which the opposition leader is one of the contenders. “Just because an elected dictatorship decided on this course of action, the world should not punish the 22mn people living in our country.” https://www.ft.com/content/1888e903-ea07-4540-a997-7b0de5501029

FT State energy group in Malaysia dragged into a lawsuit between Malaysia and the heirs of the last ruler of Sulu over a land lease deal agreed with colonial Britain in 1878

The heirs, backed by a London law firm, have been bankrolled by a UK investment fund, Therium, in a litigation process that has now cost in excess of $10mn. The Philippines, which lies to the north east, has a historical claim to the state of Sulu that some politicians have continued to revive.  https://www.ft.com/content/0f4b655d-ef28-446a-8e3c-37090ef138da

FT Shining a light on Japan’s faith industry after the killing of the former PM

Superficially Japan appears secular, formal adherence is relatively low and many Japanese are content to be transactional and whimsical in their engagement. Despite that appearance, religion, both as a social organizer and grasping entrepreneurial pursuit, maintains a powerful background presence. At last count, Japan was home to a little over 180,500 registered religious organizations: roughly one for every 700 people. https://www.ft.com/content/c6bf00b0-5c65-4d54-b552-b16a571e0f81

FT How to solve the productivity paradox in developed countries

Since the computer age dawned in the 1970s, we have lived with a sense of accelerating progress and innovation. Yet as the computer age began, the postwar productivity boom ended. Except for a revival around the turn of the century, productivity has trended downward for more than 50 years. For developed countries the productivity slump points to an alternative explanation: the expanding role of government, which undermines creative destruction. Developing countries still show a healthy rise in productivity. https://www.ft.com/content/1c7bba9f-4e01-4e54-921b-198369f25950

July 19

TT Israeli-made spyware used against pro-democracy activists in Thailand

The software according to the company website is only used by governments and law enforcement agencies. Research shows that at least 30 phones of demonstrators were infected, showing the software was used for repression. The software can steal a user’s data such as contacts, messages and photos without having to be physically installed on the device or the user having to click on a link of any kind. It can also be used to make the device record or track the user. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pegasus-spyware-used-against-thai-pro-democracy-activists-mcn6r0p99

July 20

FT DRC increases number of oil licensing blocks for auction

Pointing to the international drive to increase crude production to reduce prices, the minister for energy explained: “We have the right to benefit from our natural wealth. We are a free, sovereign nation, so we will exploit it.” In this way pressure from international environment activists is dismissed. https://www.ft.com/content/5ea6f899-bb55-478f-a14a-a6dd37aae724

FT In Iran rivals close ranks and vow to repel rise in suspected Israeli attacks

In a rare display of public solidarity, Iran’s intelligence minister and the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence chief this month posed for a photograph, vowing to work together to boost security — widely understood to mean combat attributed Israeli operations in the Islamic state. Israeli officials have made clear their determination to tackle Iran. https://www.ft.com/content/d1dac425-36a1-4356-bec6-fb7d41ca82e4

FT Democracies have a talent problem

This is demonstrated by the group of aged leading politicians of non-descript vision that run developed countries. This is a supply-side problem. Able people of a moderate bent don’t go into politics in adequate numbers. The question is whether, over a large enough sample size, a country can survive the sending of its ablest people to the private sector. In a sense, democracy is self-eroding. https://www.ft.com/content/7bf59f37-bcfd-4f0e-82af-06d7f3c17223

July 21

FT Sri Lanka turns to former PM for president

The election by parliament of the unpopular member of the ruling clan risks protests amid a bailout bid. This month, protesters ransacked his office and burnt down his private residence. Protest organizers yesterday called for fresh demonstrations in front of the presidential office. The governor of the central bank pointed to the need for decisive and courageous governing. https://www.ft.com/content/c37d9dd8-ca47-4d20-b83e-83daa6786b4d

FT Panama crippled by road blocks and unrest over high food and fuel prices

The country is experiencing its most serious unrest in over three decades, as demonstrators protesting against the soaring cost of food and fuel block the country’s main highway and ridicule lawmakers’ taste for expensive whisky. While Panama’s use of the dollar has protected it from some of the inflation, price increases have left many — in what is one of the most unequal nations in the region — struggling to cope. The 69-year-old president is also struggling with health problems. https://www.ft.com/content/951be09d-5a22-4de7-8c44-8fe11deb5cd6

July 22

FT Italy faces snap poll op September 25 after PM quits

His resignation is accepted after three large parties snub a confidence vote. His exit spells trouble for Italy and Europe at a time of acute economic challenges. https://www.ft.com/content/800d1dc1-7d26-41d2-b5ca-3a4850e95b98

FT South Africa sets largest interest rate rise for nearly 20 years

The country joins the wave of policymakers trying to tackle surging global inflation. The national bank: “Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely to persist for the rest of this year and may have significant further effects on global prices.” So far South African rates remain below their level just before the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020. https://www.ft.com/content/97c4c938-854a-4130-b866-9a14383c1150

FT India elects first tribal women as president, a largely ceremonial function

She is the first from the historically marginalized population and the second female to serve as the head of state. She is the preferred candidate from within the party of the PM. He tweeted: “She has emerged as a ray of hope for our citizens, especially the poor, marginalized and the downtrodden.” Tribal groups and “scheduled” castes between them make up about a quarter of India’s population. The new president is from Odisha state. https://www.ft.com/content/b34ccc3d-4f2d-4cff-9762-a651ea001022

TT Presidential hopeful in Kenya wants to break China’s influence

The current deputy president has fallen out with the departing president, who is not eligible for re-election. The president shifted allegiance to his former nemesis, a 77-year-old, who has a razor-thin lead in the polls. Issues play second-fiddle to money and tribal loyalties. Tense rhetoric, rampant disinformation and allegations of corruption by all sides have prompted fears of a disputed result, or even a return to the appalling violence of the 2007 election. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kenya-presidential-hopeful-william-ruto-wants-to-break-chinas-influence-qh5njnnzz

July 23

FT Modern urban life by record high temperatures desperately tries to find solutions

The ancient Greeks pioneered a range of innovations to cool their houses during the summer, such as planting trees to provide natural shade and cooling and designing buildings to limit spaces to feel the full blast of the sun. But where would the space be to do that today? Instead we have extreme heat blankets in city areas and knotty bureaucracy of local planning to navigate for innovative changes. In Sierra Leone, lightweight polycarbonate shades were introduced to cover outdoor market traders. Also early warning systems take their role. https://www.ft.com/content/8efa341b-f447-4027-8e62-ca06dfe930dc

TT Corrupt South Africa will be facing its own Arab Spring, former president (1999-2008) warns

In a blunt statement he claims that the ruling party and government have “no national plan” to tackle a deepening crisis. “One day it’s going to explode.” The former president refers to the last “state of the nation” in which a new social contract within 100 days was promised. “Nothing has happened . . . nothing”. He said that the economic conditions, including hunger, inflation and one of the world’s highest rates of youth unemployment, were in place for “our own version of the Arab Spring.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/corrupt-south-africa-facing-its-own-arab-spring-former-president-thabo-mbeki-warns-f8cks56d2

NYT Army of Sri Lanka raid protest camp at center of uprising

The predawn raid caught demonstrators by surprise. The police said in a statement that they had detained nine protesters, two of whom were taken to a hospital “after sustaining minor injuries.” Activists and protest organizers expressed shock at the raid, questioning the timing and the necessity. It happened before a preannounced withdrawal. The national human rights commission protested the brutality of the raid.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/22/world/asia/sri-lanka-protest-raid.html

July 26

FT Incumbent tries to charm Brazil’s female voters

Despite the warm welcome in Rio, where he started his presidential campaign, he faces an uphill battle ahead of the election in October. Many polls put him between 10 and 15 percentage points behind his main rival. In recent weeks he put in place cash handouts to the country’s poorest 50 % until the end of the year. The focus on women voters is to fight the dislike for his overt machismo and often misogynistic language. During the start of the campaign his wife defended his respect for women. https://www.ft.com/content/28f5eedd-492f-48be-a33c-9d1555f46a29

FT Myanmar executes activists over ‘inhumane’ terror acts

The four pro-democracy activists, including a law maker of the party winning the 2020 election by a wide margin, were sentenced under Myanmar’s anti-terrorism law by a closed-door military tribunal in January. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights called the executions a “cruel and regressive step” by the military that would “only deepen its entanglement in the crisis it has itself created”. https://www.ft.com/content/b469f79f-76f9-4f28-aaae-28262c10265e#post-84a9d7ea-83ed-4267-8cc3-56a40458f231

July 27

FT Russia finds allies in Africa despite causing food shortages

The welcome of the foreign minister in Egypt, DRC, Uganda and Ethiopia shows the strength of the country’s influence on the continent. The impact of those efforts could also be seen in March when 17 African countries abstained from a UN General Assembly vote to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. Eight others were absent. One voted against. The African governments have not forgotten who helped them to get rid of colonialism and recently Russia was successful in military help to Mali and CAR. https://www.ft.com/content/234d6f3d-3e1e-4001-bf0f-edc170a8aa35

FT In Tunisia voters hand president extra powers

Support for a new constitution in a referendum with low turnout (under 30 %) was overwhelming (92 % in favor), while critics say the change unravels the democratic experiment launched after the 2011 uprising during the “Arab spring”. The president, elected in 2019, has been ruling by decree since September after he closed parliament and seized all powers in July 2021. https://www.ft.com/content/f38b44d5-d18e-4fe5-b521-10cdf36a3653

FT South Africa turns to private sector to help end blackouts

The president said that a wave of new private generation was needed to rescue the country’s grid after recent power cuts “disrupted all of our lives and caused immense damage to our economy”. But even with the now announced licensing change, investors complained about red tape for setting up generation and said projects would take years to complete. https://www.ft.com/content/159dcb0e-c24a-405f-bc13-1c674b8449b6

FT When the evidence is gone, it is hard to know how seriously to take the destruction

Governments and companies have long known they must capture and keep important communications not just for posterity but for litigation and regulatory purposes. As conversations moved from pen and paper to fax, phone and email, the legal requirements followed. However, there is a knowledge gap: compliance departments are rarely savvy about technology and its incredible advances. https://www.ft.com/content/c07df6f9-75b1-4f9c-ba55-a819ea9cc092

NYT With crises everywhere do democracies have an edge?

Governments are put to the test. Research shows democracies do perform slightly better on average in dealing with global problems. Neither democracy nor an authoritarian system has shown a clear and consistent edge. The former also have a problem with transparency and sensitivity to public opinion and the latter with decisive action. The Covid19 pandemic shows that either system can function effectively, with individual democracies and authoritarian governments alike among the world’s best performers on slowing the virus’s spread. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/world/asia/democracies-authoritarian-governments.html

July 28

FT Brazil civil society figures defend e-vote system

The campaign marks the first cohesive response from Brazilian civil society to the incumbent’s increasingly divisive rhetoric, including his claims that the voting system could be rigged, despite being elected through the same system. He is perhaps attempting to lay the groundwork to contest the results of the election. https://www.ft.com/content/858e34de-cd74-4902-bb02-8bbad747c286

FT Sri Lanka counts cost of lavish vanity projects

At the end of a stretch of jungle in the south of the island sits a convention hall for 1,500 people, a 35,000-seater cricket stadium and a massive “international” airport. All are empty and rotting away. The infrastructure projects also include a $3.1bn port, which was financed by China and is now controlled by China after the Sri Lankan government incurred heavy losses and gave up on bankrolling it in 2017. Sri Lanka’s debt talks will be closely watched as a test of how China works with other creditors after lending to developing nations in Asia and Africa. Experts said that about half of Sri Lankans would be classified as poor by the end of the year, a stunning reversal for the island of 22mn that was until recently classified as an upper-middle income country. https://www.ft.com/content/83686628-30bc-42b9-a392-0ac189d54e1b

FT China confronts an emerging Belt and Road (BRI) debt crisis

The architecture of its global development finance needs an overhaul. Five years ago it was promoted as “project of the century”. Now the huge program to build often worthwhile infrastructure in developing countries is morphing into a financial firefighting operation on a grand scale. BRI makes China the world’s largest source of development credit to the rest of the world, having eclipsed the World Bank and IMF. But there is lack of transparency, insufficient risk management and bilateral design. China is not up to coordinating efforts with other lenders. https://www.ft.com/content/eb2d89f6-afd1-491e-b753-863e9727f6de

NYT Anti -U.N. dayslong protests kill 15 and injure 60 in Eastern DRC

The demonstrators accuse the U.N. of failing to deter armed groups responsible for a wave of deadly attacks. They demand the U.N. to leave. Several government officials, including the president of the Congolese Senate, and a youth group allied with the ruling party have in recent weeks stoked anger at the U.N. forces. The Congolese government expressed regret over the deaths on Tuesday and called for calm from the population in the region. In November, Congo and Uganda began a joint operation against a Rwanda supported terrorist group. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/27/world/africa/congo-un-peacekeepers.html

July 29

FT What Bangladesh can teach Africa about development

In 1990 44 % of the population of Bangladesh lived in extreme poverty. Women had a birthrate 4.5. Now the income per capita is 8 times higher and the birthrate 2. This week it approached the IMF for a multibillion dollar loan. But the country is a development success if you take the long view. It offers a glimpse of what is genuinely possible and a rebuke to those who see past national performance as a guide to future prospects. Bangladesh had a very unpromising start in 1971. The government refrained from killing the nascent textile industry and let NGOs work unhindered. One analyst sees the success in high literacy, reliable electricity and low fertility. https://www.ft.com/content/9022be83-8a52-4b95-a213-951ecfb8335d

July 30

FT Argentina puts faith in lower house leader to avert crisis

The new minister is the third person to take charge of the economy in less than a month and is appointed to lead a super ministry that covers economic, manufacturing and agricultural policy in an effort to regain the confidence of markets. He will also lead Argentina’s $44bn restructuring deal with the IMF, as well as talks with other international lenders. He is considered a moderate member of the radical section of the ruling coalition. https://www.ft.com/content/bf63b21d-aa41-402f-b02c-d1b6f4e9e4a3

NYT Why Catholicism remains strong in Canada

The pope visited the country to apologize to the country’s Indigenous people for the church’s role in the notorious residential school system that tried to erase their culture. While the Roman Catholic church is in severe decline in many Western countries, it remains the largest denomination in predominantly Christian Canada, accounting for about 38 percent of people who identify with a particular faith. The reason is the country’s open immigration policy. Many Catholics from elsewhere add to the vitality of church and country. This includes foreign clergy. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/29/world/canada/pope-francis-canada-catholics.html

August 1

FT Iraq cleric raises stakes in coalition stand-off

Thousands of his supporters headed to the parliament where they vowed to mount a prolonged sit-in. The unrest is a response to a bitter stand-off triggered by the failure of competing factions to agree on the composition of a new government almost 10 months after Sadr’s movement won parliamentary elections. The rivals of the cleric recently agreed to a candidate for PM. https://www.ft.com/content/6ea3bb5a-e154-4cae-bae9-1b82ee561d71

August 2

FT In Afghanistan year of Taliban rule leaves widespread hunger

Life for Afghanistan’s 40mn people has changed significantly since the withdrawal of foreign troops and the return of the Sunni militants a year ago, with an economic collapse and sanctions leaving many much poorer and hungrier. Some see less corruption as there is more unity in government, compared to the previous warlords activities. The UN claims that the present rulers carried out at least 160 extrajudicial killings and nearly 200 arbitrary arrests. https://www.ft.com/content/e15c08ee-a9e4-4b8b-a30f-6930ce12a163

FT The U.S.A. House Speaker’s ill-conceived and ill-timed visit to Taiwan

In an editorial the newspaper argues that the time calls for responsibility and restraint from both allies of Taiwan and China. The U.S.A. should in future focus on carefully coordinated actions that have genuine value in shoring up Taiwan’s security. https://www.ft.com/content/1221fae6-c5d0-4cc0-8e6b-227a041098d9

TT Race tells only half a story when it comes to chances in education

In Britain it appears that someone from Nigerian background is more than twice as likely to go on to higher education as someone from Caribbean background. Other factors to consider in understanding educational disparities include family formation (whether the family home is stable or dysfunctional); community cohesion (is the wider local community supportive or disjointed?); attitudes to education within the family; and geographic inequalities (urban vs. rural). https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/obsession-with-race-tells-only-half-a-story-f7vm8j3n6

August 3

FT Why famine in Madagascar is an alarm bell for the planet

The U.N. has called the situation in the country the world’s first climate-change-induced famine. Others say the famine is also a consequence of poverty and poor governance. In reality both aspects are involved. Rain has barely fallen for three years in the southern part of the island state. The government accepts that many people are hungry but it is wary of the term “famine”, with its implication of state failure. https://www.ft.com/content/8fa3596e-9c6a-4e49-871a-86c20e0d170c

FT Downfall of PM in Italy looms large over unpopular snap election on September 25

The departure of the authoritative politician upsets the political landscape in a country where alliances are critical to forge government. Politicians are sparring around who was responsible for the implosion of the 18-month-old national unity government at a time of acute economic and geopolitical challenges. An increasingly unpopular right wing party refused to participate in a July 14 vote on relief measures to Italians hit by rising inflation. The PM, an experienced financial expert, refused to accept this and resigned. https://www.ft.com/content/cd68c887-64b9-440c-ad09-1cc061b40367

FT In Pakistan former PM party was illegally funded, says election commission

The accused party, according to a report of the election commission, kept 13 of its bank accounts “hidden” from authorities, whereas over 30 foreign nationals were mentioned in connection to illegal funding. The news comes as the party is gaining in polls. The party claims it will fight the report before the Supreme Court. https://www.ft.com/content/78cf0db3-5044-46d0-bdf7-e3751e0049cb

August 4

FT The thin line between church and state in Japan

The way religious groups participate in Japan’s politics today is defined by the constitution, which guarantees strict separation of church and state. The Moon business and religious organization, today called Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, exerted influence as political parties found them useful for crowd activity and ideological lobbying. This relationship was exposed as motive of the suspected murderer of a former PM recently. https://www.ft.com/content/d0656caa-2d56-484a-b7ef-fd1b96dddfb9

FT In the U.S.A. state voters choose to allow abortion option after federal removal of legality

A proposal to amend the constitution of one state to pave the way for a ban or restriction on abortion was rejected after a fierce campaign. https://www.ft.com/content/d406780c-6496-4a5b-95f3-15d2f22770a5

FT In the Netherlands farmers attack climate plan to cut herds

Animals contribute to €105bn in annual farm exports but also generate alarming levels of nitrogen emissions from their waste. As environmental standards get tightened by regulators and courts, the government set out a plan to cut the total size of herds by a third. The farmers set out into disruptive protests. They claim they can innovate themselves to reach the government targets. https://www.ft.com/content/90e38fb5-e942-4afd-994d-048dc40579a2

August 5

FT Argentina’s latest economy minister promises fiscal order

The Peronist government has appointed him to lead a “super ministry” in an attempt to restore the country’s crumbling credibility and regain market trust. The minister promised to end money printing to fund the budget — financing it instead through deficit reduction or private sector borrowing — along with building dollar reserves and “reworking” state subsidies in order to narrow a large deficit and meet budget targets. https://www.ft.com/content/d9ebea40-c646-4a8d-a030-f17ac07be00b

August 8

In Kenya presidential election role of China is viewed as key battleground

For one candidate it is the spread of Chinese nationals in cities, many of whom are trying to earn a living selling local street food dishes. And for his rival it concerns the high cost of the east African country’s borrowing from China. Last year external public debt topped $36.7bn, or 34.4 per cent of GDP. China is trailing other multilateral lenders. The two main candidates for the presidency are in a close race. https://www.ft.com/content/602c2b50-8000-4a8c-a469-f4c030fff517

FT The challenges for Latin America’s new left

After the elections in Columbia five of Latin America’s six biggest economies will now be run by the left. The next likely country to do so is Brazil. FT dedicates an editorial to this change. Elections are won on expectations raised to be delivered despite many problems, from corruption to poor infrastructure. The first take away: Voters care about results, not ideology. A second lesson is that broad coalitions are essential. And third growth is essential to work on inclusiveness. Lastly, business opportunity is Latin America is outstanding if education is effective. https://www.ft.com/content/c2c882a8-e305-4312-a62c-49f6b22e0ecb

FT Japan has ‘once-in-lifetime’ chance to end deflation war

A former Bank of Japan board member claims that the country should embark on a bolder monetary and fiscal stimulus to end deflation. After Japan’s economic bubble burst in 1990, the country became locked into a vicious cycle of slow growth and stagnant or falling prices, leading to a persistent lack of demand. The BofJ board member maintains that the country should not give in to short term market pressure to continue its reflationist policy. https://www.ft.com/content/30873606-84ca-41bd-951a-4ab367b97978

FT Democratic senator in the U.S.A. defends stance on private equity tax perk

A pivotal centrist senator gave her support to the watered down climate and tax bill of the government on the condition that a beneficial tax loop hole for private equity and hedge fund managers was not scrapped. A Financial Times analysis shows that the senator and other law makers are beneficiaries of significant contributions from the private equity industry. https://www.ft.com/content/64305c91-c7aa-427b-adb9-7a32d74d3490

August 9

FT Kenya presidential poll rivals in final push

The contest is set against the backdrop of inflation that has hit efforts to recover from the pandemic. effects “Kenyans have four big enemies . . . diseases, stupidity, poverty and corruption,” said the opposition candidate who is supported by the outgoing president. His rival casts himself as a political outsider despite the fact he has been the administration’s deputy president for two terms. He fell out with the sitting president. Both candidates have picked members of the dominant ethnic group of the outgoing president as running mates. https://www.ft.com/content/602c2b50-8000-4a8c-a469-f4c030fff517

FT A climate bill in the U.S.A. that could change the global weather

An editorial thinks that the government has pulled off the most significant climate change bill in American history. It will provide a taxpayer-funded boost to a range of cleaner energies, including electric vehicles, wind and solar output, and research on carbon sequestration, hydrogen conversion and small-scale nuclear reactors. Given the imperfect nature of public subsidies, some of the dollars will go into the wrong pockets. But the global example is important. All the more it is regrettable that China just now stopped climate talks. https://www.ft.com/content/2e2855c5-3dfd-4b41-b53a-aeff4671e992

NYT Chad’s regime and 40 rebel groups sign a deal, but a main group along with a few others are missing

The signing was snubbed by the main rebel group responsible for the death of Chad’s previous longtime autocratic ruler. Stability is therefore uncertain, as the country seeks a way out of a troubled political transition. The group claims that the deal does not respect key requests such as the immediate release of prisoners and parity between the government and opposition groups during the coming reconciliation talks. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/08/world/africa/chad-rebels-ceasefire.html

August 10

FT Private equity has changed in character.

Once they were mercenary dealmakers who bludgeoned opponents. Now many firms nurture complex relationships with their competitors and have just a fraction of their overall assets under management, with credit investing businesses now managing hundreds of billions of dollars, including providing loans for leveraged buyouts. The result of these sprawling empires is that once heated rivals increasingly see the benefits of a level of co-operation between different business units that once seemed inconceivable. https://www.ft.com/content/aec70aab-7215-4fa7-9ee3-1224d967dc28

FT Senate leaves corporate tax plan of U.S.A. government short of OECD deal on minimum rate

This is remarkable as the U.S.A. played an instrumental role in encouraging 136 countries to sign up to a global tax deal put by the OECD last October and hailed as the most important tax reform in over a century. A key Democrat stopped approval in the Senate. The EU issued a draft directive to implement in December, but political divisions have failed to achieve unanimous approval from member states here. This equally stops implementation. https://www.ft.com/content/ff0c15b7-2e34-469f-8c5e-9168bbb30c51

FT in China president tightens grip with internal security pick

The third pillar of government rule is internal security. This gives the president more power over the military and propaganda, which were already in his grip. The new public security minister and the president know each other from the ’90 when they both rose to power in the same region. The minister’s predecessor had not a particular relationship with the president. https://www.ft.com/content/cff2160d-a279-4562-ba43-3d56ba99f06d

TT Into Africa: softly softly as U.S.A. seeks to counter global rivals

The newspaper puts it like this: The U.S.A. avoids appearing to force the continent’s countries to pick sides in the global power race. The foreign minister toured South Africa, DRC and Rwanda. His claim: “African nations have been treated as instruments of other nations’ progress, rather than the authors of their own.” A South African analyst: “The U.S.A. comes from a realization that in a multipolar world African countries now have many more opportunities to choose from”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/into-africa-softly-softly-as-us-seeks-to-counter-global-rivals-influence-hxrbnjddp

NYT Deadly protests in Sierra Leone over rising costs of living

Female street vendors in the nation of 8 million who last month staged peaceful gatherings against the soaring cost of living were joined on Wednesday by hundreds of political protesters, who clashed with the police and demanded the president’s resignation over the government’s perceived failure to confront rising fuel and food prices. The president claims that peaceful protesters will be protected but also that citizens in the diaspora have fueled the violence. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/09/world/africa/sierra-leone-land-environment.html

August 11

FT Brazil political brawler aims blows at incumbent and main contender in presidential election

He is from a powerful political family and one of Brazil’s most recognizable politicians, having served in multiple governments, including a ministerial stint in 2003. He is bombarding his rivals with a litany of disdain. His support base is still limited and he runs for the fourth time in 24 years, having never succeeded before. Latin American elections though are known for unexpected surprises. https://www.ft.com/content/023c482b-4caa-4017-a924-17e307101562

FT Japan reshuffle viewed as attempt to escape shadow of the former PM just murdered

The PM party had a convincing win in Japan’s upper house election in July, but his popularity has fallen sharply as Covid-19 cases have soared and concerns over the rising cost of living have intensified. Also the U.S.A. China power struggle is influencing. The PM wants to assure himself of the powerful faction of the murdered former PM in the ruling party. https://www.ft.com/content/dd31607a-c83c-4ede-9c34-ee0293bf23c9

TT Births at new low in Japan as deaths hit record high

The population fell by 726,342, or 0.57 per cent, from the previous year, according to data released by the internal affairs ministry. Inflows of workers from abroad had mitigated the population fall until the pandemic, when Japan effectively closed its borders. Those aged over 65 now account for nearly 30 percent of Japan’s population, a proportion that is expected to keep increasing. Conversely, the working-age population ratio fell below 59 per cent. Efforts to raise the birth rate are unsuccessful. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/births-at-new-low-in-japan-as-deaths-hit-record-high-zsm2m5d6q

August 12

FT Bangladesh warns on China project loans

Bangladesh’s finance minister has warned developing countries to think twice about taking loans through China’s Belt and Road Initiative as global inflation and slowing growth add to the strains on emerging markets. His comments came after China’s foreign minister visited Bangladesh, meeting officials including the PM. China called itself “Bangladesh’s most reliable long-term strategic partner” and said the two countries agreed to strengthen “co-operation in infrastructure”. Bangladesh last month became the latest country in Asia to approach the IMF for financing. https://www.ft.com/content/65632129-dd75-4f23-b9c4-9c0496840a54

TT How India PM became most popular among the world’s leaders

The approval ratings at home are the envy of his counterparts overseas, many of whom want closer ties in spite of his anti-Muslim hate speech. His eight years in power changed the country from the world’s largest, noisiest and most diverse secular democracy towards a Hindu majoritarian state with Muslims fearful for their status and security. The PM has not held a single press conference during those years. He exploits differences effectively while maintaining an image of inclusion, shown recently with the appointment of a female, minority representative as (ceremonial) president. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-narendra-modi-became-the-worlds-most-popular-leader-h7rckj7np

August 15

FT At 75, India is finally ready to join the party

Its international ranking is now up to the place where it was at independence. In India, the state granted a poor nation political freedom first but in a socialist economy that has never fully embraced economic freedom. India’s private sector vitality is matched by its public sector incompetence. Even at the current 5 percent growth India will be a breakout star in a slowing world: on track to surpass the UK, Germany and Japan to be the third-largest economy by 2032. https://www.ft.com/content/dec674c5-9009-4da1-a857-c2e68473c9ae

FT Let the wheels of justice in the U.S.A. turn for the former president

In an Editorial the newspaper defends holding the former president accountable. There has been some suggestion that the US judicial system should rein back its investigations, or drop them altogether. American social peace, it is argued, is more precious than the blind pursuit of justice. The attorney-general took an oath to the constitution, not to the roulette wheel of political risk forecasting. The strength of a liberal democracy is measured by the independence of its institutions. The world is watching how America holds it up. https://www.ft.com/content/559fe372-d640-4874-a7c4-0d351104e7c

FT Ukraine ‘refugee fatigue’ saps volunteers in Poland

The unprecedented level of support across the border at the start of the war is starting to wane in  Poland. When the Russian aggression against the neighboring country started, almost overnight citizens formed a grassroots volunteer army to help the displaced, donated money and welcomed Ukrainians into their homes. But despite the drop-off in support, Poland’s embrace of refugees has been unprecedented and should go down in history books, says one expert. https://www.ft.com/content/5af8ac1a-2310-41ea-bdd7-d5573b6144d5

NYT Dozens die at a packed Coptic church in Egypt

The power had been out earlier, and the generator and electrical outlets were running at the same time — a fatal miscalculation. As the power came back on, witnesses said, the generator exploded, followed by an air-conditioning unit. The government announced that the families of those who had died in the blaze would receive 100,000 Egyptian pounds (roughly $5,223), and that the injured would receive 20,000 Egyptian pounds (about $1,004), according to a statement by the country’s cabinet. https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/100000008488165/egypt-fire-church.html?searchResultPosition=1

August 16

FT Former vice-president declared winner of Kenya election

His main rival’s supporters disputed the result: “We have intelligence and reports that the system was penetrated and hacked and that some of the IEBC officials actually committed electoral offences”. The election, a test of Kenya’s stability, is widely seen as one of the most significant on the African continent this year. The winner: “We have raised the bar in this election, which has been more about the issues” [than “ethnic” affiliations, which in previous polls contributed to post-election violence]. Turnout was 65 percent, significantly lower than in previous elections. Four of the seven election committee members also opposed the result because of “the opaque nature of how the last phase of the election went”. https://www.ft.com/content/4359475c-fffb-4d5c-8815-eb608fe23cc1

FT Fear for state failure in South Africa

The columnist expresses the following: The president talks eloquently about his predecessors failures but is also himself implicated by accusations. And he is hedged in by the corrupt and dysfunctional political party that he leads. Many state facilities function badly. The middle class is murmuring about the need for an enlightened dictator. But South Africa carries the burden of another experiment with its million refugees from Zimbabwe. By themselves this issue is also leading to social unrest. https://www.ft.com/content/79123d0a-af62-43e3-bfbe-ae942224cea7

FT Inflation in Nigeria soars as rising food and energy costs take toll

The actions of the government to fight inflation remain overshadowed by greater reliance on the central bank’s financing of government. The government announced earlier this month that it owed $47bn to its central bank, according to a report by the budget office. The money is owed to the central bank as part of the so-called Ways and Means Advance, a law contained in the Central Bank Act which allows the monetary guardian to fund the government when it experiences a shortfall in revenue. https://www.ft.com/content/fb8882bb-32cb-4b76-bb45-eeda3ce1f304

FT DRC oil and gas auction open to start-ups

The hydrocarbons minister told the Financial Times he would accept bids for exploration rights in the rainforest and peatlands from carbon market start-ups with no links to oil and gas majors as long as they had solid financial backing. Rather than explore for hydrocarbons, such groups propose keeping any oil and gas in the ground and instead generate revenue by selling carbon credits to companies looking to offset their emissions. “If it can help our economy and the country, why not?” the minister said. Participation of the oil and gas companies in this round is uncertain. https://www.ft.com/content/b10a3132-1828-4b7a-8929-33de88b1df84

FT In Afghanistan focus on making roads safer to help drive recovery

Control of the country’s roads is central to the regime’s economic project. Since coming to power, they have set about dismantling police and military checkpoints that were used to extort traders and travelers. A foreign study last month estimated that these checkpoints collected about $650mn a year in bribes. https://www.ft.com/content/c1271483-7c21-4241-b553-c12c8905d351

NYT French soldiers quit Mali after 9 years, billions spent without result

It ended quietly with the last few French units rolling over the border into neighboring Niger, absent a cordial farewell from their Malian partners, with whom France has had a major falling-out, and their mission far from accomplished. Despite jihadist leaders being killed, armed Islamist groups continue to attract young men to their ranks, often finding fertile recruitment ground among marginalized communities with grievances against the state. A former leading French officer admitted the mistake of a patronizing approach that eventually irked the Malian authorities and the country’s population. Another mistake, he said, was trying to resolve a multifaceted crisis primarily through military means. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/15/world/africa/mali-france-military-operation.html

August 17

FT Self-declared political hustler in Kenya faces tough in-tray as new president as his contender rejects the result

The deputy president, previously charged by the International Criminal Court for inciting ethnic violence after the disputed 2007 poll, congratulated his “worthy competitor”, who lost and called for peace. “The people of Kenya have raised the bar on us who are seeking leadership of our country. Not to sell our ethnicities, but to sell our programs, our manifestos, our agenda and our plan.” The losing team said the electoral commission’s system had been hacked and polling results manipulated in favor of the winner. The result can be interpreted as a sign that the ethnic allegiances that shape electoral politics in Kenya have weakened, analysts say. https://www.ft.com/content/4940d3c5-ab1f-40e6-b51d-9c67456ebe32

NYT Coptic leader criticizes Egypt’s building restrictions on churches

After the deadly fire, the patriarch of Egypt’s 10 million Coptic Orthodox Christians said his community has been squeezed by decades of government regulations on the number and size of churches. The Egyptian president ordered the army to renovate the building immediately. By Monday evening, the exterior of the Abu Sefein Church, at least, looked newly built. The patriarch says he needs a bigger church. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/16/world/middleeast/coptic-church-fire-egypt.html

August 18

FT Egypt central bank governor quits as economy struggles

He held the post since 2015 with reappointment after four years. The background is the shortage of foreign currency and the food & energy crisis. The president accepted his resignation and appointed him as a presidential adviser. No new appointment has been announced so far. The country is in negotiation with the IMF for restructuring. It is already one of its biggest lenders. https://www.ft.com/content/c546074b-6115-4a4d-bc58-6b7c3fbfc532

FT Ministerial grab of Australian PM holds lessons beyond Australia

The newspaper dedicates an editorial to the PM’s highly unusual move.  While in power, he quietly appointed himself to five other ministries during the pandemic — in some cases without the knowledge of relevant ministers — ostensibly to ensure continuity of government should ministers become ill or even die of Covid-19. Questions about accountability, transparency and concentration of power prevail, indeed for democracies alike. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. It is imperative that democratic checks and balances define those powers before they are exercised. This was not the case here. https://www.ft.com/content/2b01cb4f-3403-4ef5-b3de-376282b24ca2

August 19

TT Ukrainians who hate all Russians are stupid and weak, says top Ukrainian government official

He accused them of inadvertently aiding Moscow’s invasion by failing to build bridges with Russian opposition figures. “Dealing with nuances is difficult. It’s easier to hate everyone,” he wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app. He is a trained psychologist and popular blogger and studied theology at St Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Science in Kyiv. A few days earlier he announced that he would run for president in 2024 if the current president does not run a second time. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ukrainians-who-hate-all-russians-are-stupid-and-weak-says-zelensky-aide-5m2p86mxq

August 20

FT Kenya poll result signals demise of old dynasties

The opposition is challenging the election result in the courts. It is unclear when the new president will take power but the election win heralds a move from ethnic voting and independence-era politicians. Although nationwide the declared winner had only a razor-thin margin of 1.64 per cent of total votes, he bagged a landslide victory in Mount Kenya, the outgoing president’s home ground. The winner took 80.39 per cent of the votes while his opponent, backed by the outgoing president, had 18.13 per cent in the combined nine counties of the Mount Kenya region. https://www.ft.com/content/68f376b8-477a-43b0-afbe-7e5ab7627d97

August 22

FT In Brazil incumbent counts on evangelicals to help revive poll prospects

Addressing a “March for Jesus” event he claims the election challenge is like this: “It is a fight between good and evil. I believe in God and I believe in you. And this victory will be ours.” Brazil’s growing community of evangelical Christians, now estimated to make up almost one-third of the 215mn population, is one factor in his election for the first term. Polls say he is leading among them. https://www.ft.com/content/bb405efc-3d0d-4980-9baf-e1e4388ac324

FT Malawi leader vows crackdown on corruption

The Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau and the British National Crime Agency are investigating the alleged plundering of state resources by a British businessman. This forced the president to shake up his government. The case reached the top of Malawi’s government last month when the president stopped delegating powers to his deputy, who was also implicated. In 2020 the president became the first African opposition leader to defeat the incumbent in a rerun of a fraudulent election. His deputy was a strength in that success. https://www.ft.com/content/f1788438-7ece-4716-bb15-329442414488

FT A 30-hour terror strike on hotel in Somalia leaves 21 dead

Somali forces entered the hotel yesterday, freeing 106 people. This is the first big assault by terrorists since former leader returned to office as president in early June. https://www.ft.com/content/b0f4bae7-962e-42ea-891d-e34d176690ef

August 23

FT Soaring fertilizer prices deepen food crisis in Africa

The increased costs are forcing farmers on the continent to reduce output. The imposition of sanctions on Russia, which accounts for about 15 per cent of global crop nutrient supplies, sent prices to record highs. Both food production and food prices are affected. https://www.ft.com/content/4d746aa5-29e3-4796-b9e6-0b64c6865389

FT Contender challenges poll result in Kenya

In a petition the contender and his running mate, a former magistrate, asked the supreme court to order a “nullification of the declaration of results” that made his opponent the winner because of “irregularities and improprieties” that “were so substantial and significant and that they affected the result”. They claim the “electoral process has not been transparent, impartial, neutral, efficient, accurate and accountable”. https://www.ft.com/content/373af347-1d9b-4a60-bee5-ab2ed9ff38cd

FT Somali piracy threat to ships declared over

The group of six international shipping groups, which includes the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said from next year the Indian Ocean would no longer be considered high risk, as there had been no attacks on merchant vessels off Somalia since 2018. About a third of all daily shipping in the world passes the north-east edge of Africa. ICS: “It is very strange to be standing here saying piracy is suppressed when we went through so many years of them being able to operate indiscriminately.” The Gulf of Guinea off west Africa has emerged as the world’s piracy hotspot. https://www.ft.com/content/3c67767c-301c-41b9-bbdc-189546dc04ef

FT China steps up measures to deal with heatwave and drought

The situation has had a cascading effect on electricity supplies in other parts of the country. At least 50 mobile generators have been dispatched to help stabilize the local power supply, according to the State Grid Corporation of China. Power supplies to several factories has been suspended. The cities of Chongqing and Chengdu have ordered lights to be dimmed and shopping malls and office buildings have turned off illuminated outdoor advertising and suspended the use of lifts. https://www.ft.com/content/24c51304-ce7d-4df9-815d-52d14e23fa32

FT Former PM of Pakistan charged with terror offences after weekend rally

He made in a speech at the weekend, stoking political tensions as the former prime minister’s loyalists vow to resist efforts to arrest him. The former PM said at a rally in Islamabad that his supporters “won’t spare” the officials responsible for detaining one of his allies this month. Pakistan’s media regulator barred television channels from broadcasting the former PM speeches.

https://www.ft.com/content/1604506d-d292-4d9e-a2b6-8d641ba598ee

August 24

FT There is an urgent need to reduce systemic cyber risks

Cyber attacks pose a major threat to financial institutions and can be considered a global risk. Modern-day criminals are resorting to cyber-attacks on financial institutions, as well as market infrastructure more generally. The development of powerful quantum computers, threatening to crack traditional encryption methods, may one day add another dimension to the cyber threat, too. https://www.ft.com/content/38dce8ef-08a0-4226-a1db-8b485419fe2d

FT Switzerland to hold referendum on purchase of of specific type of fighter jets

Under Switzerland’s highly devolved constitutional system a 2020 referendum backed the modernization of the Swiss air force, but only with a wafer thin majority of 50.1 per cent. At the time the decision of the type of aircraft was left to be decided by the defense ministry. Now critics have put up the minimum of 100,000 signatures to hold another referendum on the type. This may pressure the negotiations with the manufacturer. https://www.ft.com/content/3a7fc993-c729-4ee8-9ca6-fa23e5e307c2

FT Turkey tourism revenues soften blow from high energy prices

The plunge in the value of the lira has made the country a cheaper holiday destination than many European rivals. Foreign visitor numbers were up 53 per cent year on year in July, according to government figures released on Monday. A sector official said the biggest problem for the industry was recruiting staff. https://www.ft.com/content/2a9a49cb-2436-4c47-ba9e-69c096c99ab2

FT Brazil police raid Bolsonaro supporters

Brazilian police have raided the premises of several prominent business supporters of the President, days after leaked messages appeared to show the men backing a coup d’état if the incumbent loses his re-election bid in October. The move highlights the growing sensitivity of the court towards threats to Brazilian democracy ahead of what is expected to be a highly polarized poll. https://www.ft.com/content/c7827f20-192e-4902-b705-8b6b733b6d08

FT Former PM of Malaysia fails in final appeal to avoid jail over sovereign wealth fund scandal

Malaysia’s highest court yesterday upheld thee conviction on seven counts of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust. So far the PM had been out on bail and remained a member of parliament for Malaysia’s governing United Malays National Organisation. Now he was taken into custody immediately after the ruling. https://www.ft.com/content/13252721-b23f-4e4d-b1cf-c739b4eb0022

August 25

FT Hungary strengthens state controlled capitalism

The government has been on a mission since coming to power in 2010 to return key foreign-owned parts of the economy to Hungarian control. In an editorial the newspaper calls this state-dominated crony capitalism, as the government allegedly uses sharp-elbowed tactics. Hungary is not alone in such ambitions. Especially after the financial crisis, many central European states fretted that sales of communist-era assets in the 1990s had left their economies too much at the mercy of foreign owners. https://www.ft.com/content/41e3294c-60f8-4c9f-b58f-fddb61c86c8c

FT Bangladesh is being ‘killed by economic conditions elsewhere in the world’

Bangladesh had until recently been better insulated from recent economic shocks, in part because of its successful export sector. But the government in July approached the IMF for a loan to try and shore up its foreign currency reserves and help the low-lying country build resilience against climate change. https://www.ft.com/content/a9b8d051-a126-469c-b1ad-b0d29a8d53eb

NYT Fighting erupts in Northern Ethiopia, shattering cease-fire

Fighting between the TPLF and government forces has started again. The AU envoy has struggled to win the trust of Tigrayan leaders, who have accused him of siding with Mr. Abiy and have appealed for the United States and the European Union to take a stronger role. Government kept area is central to efforts to resolve the war, with the Tigrayans insisting on the return of that territory as a precondition. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/24/world/africa/ethiopia-tigray-fighting.html

August 26

FT Ethiopia civil war ceasefire ends as fighting erupts in north

Fighting has erupted in northern Ethiopia, ending a months-long ceasefire and dashing hopes for peace in a conflict that has already cost thousands of lives and displaced millions. The fighting deals a blow to tentative plans for peace talks between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party that controls Tigray and ran Ethiopia for three decades. Both sides denied firing the first shot and each blamed the other for restarting hostilities. In an open letter on Tuesday, the TPLF said that their side stood ready to “negotiate in good faith” but the peace process “envisaged” by the AU was being “set up to fail”. https://www.ft.com/content/b0c6d5f7-b3f3-43ec-bcd0-a10d2780a26f

FT Australia rocked by ‘mini constitutional crisis’

The former PM took to the stage at the Victory Life Centre, a Pentecostal church in Perth, last month and told the congregation “we don’t trust in governments”. He is a devout Christian and his sermon was delivered two months after he lost a federal election that ended his three-year stint as the country’s leader. His arguments are being seen in a different light after it was revealed that he covertly appointed himself to run five ministries. Also, the governor-general who acts as the Queen’s representative in Australia, came into trouble after signing the appointments.  https://www.ft.com/content/fbb9c9ab-2648-42db-b761-f1fd95596cd8

FT In the U.S.A. district judge prevents Idaho from outlawing all abortions

The injunction, which was enacted a day before the rule was due to take effect, will remain in place while the state and federal governments argue their cases in court. The Idaho rule would have violated a federal law that requires doctors in hospitals receiving public Medicare funds — the vast majority — to stabilize patients who arrive with emergency conditions.  Doctors might be having the impossible task of attempting to simultaneously comply with both federal and state law. https://www.ft.com/content/7135661a-2706-4e2e-9009-e611e3e39feb

August 27

FT In Finland PM finds shaking up politics has its cost

The big geopolitical weight the country attracts as a neighbor of Russia takes second place in publicity as the PM was pictured partying. She became a victim of her popular stand as a politician. When it comes to shaking up the institution of the prime minister, public discussion of the manner in which it is done naturally follows. Personality cult in politics does tend to suck the oxygen from more important political and social debates. https://www.ft.com/content/882bc5be-e31e-42a8-b832-e29027eeaea0

August 29

FT Pakistan floods hit millions and wreak havoc on economy

More than 1,000 people have been killed and nearly 1mn homes damaged in the worst flooding to hit Pakistan in at least a decade. Torrential rains and flooding have swept through Pakistan in recent weeks. Officials estimate that more than 30mn people have been affected, or about 15 percent of the population. The floods have added to Pakistan’s financial distress. The government is preparing a UN appeal for humanitarian aid. https://www.ft.com/content/0ce97a59-98b3-4529-a75e-d128ff6cc774

FT El Salvador steps up campaign against gangs with mega-prison for 40,000 inmates

The authorities have ordered to build it in 60 days. Many possible inmates are snatched off the streets by police using emergency powers. The president: “El Salvador, the most dangerous country in the world just a few years ago, is on the path to being the safest country in Latin America.” He defies human rights protests and polls suggest he has popular support. https://www.ft.com/content/96eca255-1346-4a90-be0b-738361b1b317

NYT Clashes between rival militias in Libya kill at least 32

On Sunday, a tense calm returned to the capital as the fighting subsided. Fighters loyal to the eastern power broker withdrew to the outskirts of Tripoli. Planned elections, designed to bring about more unity in government, crashed due to disagreements over the eligibility of the candidates, with no new date set. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/28/world/middleeast/libya-militias-hifter-dbeiba-bashagha.html

August 30

FT Globalization as a policy is in retreat

Globalization is not just about trade and technology. It is also about politics. The collapse of communism created the conditions for an age of hyper-globalization. Now political change is threatening the dense network of economic ties built up over the last three decades. Decoupling is the mode of the day. The political and strategic arguments for cutting trade ties are increasingly supplemented by arguments about the environment and social resilience. https://www.ft.com/content/b03290db-69a5-40bc-9164-b6b3c46c04ca

NYT In Angola ruling party retains power in tightest election yet

The liberation army turned political party has governed Angola since the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975, winning 51.17 percent of the vote, the country’s electoral commission announced. More than half of Angola’s registered voters stayed away from the polls. The incumbent president campaigned on a promise to wipe out corruption and fix the economy, a message that was similar to his campaign promises in 2017. His running mate will become Angola’s first female vice president. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/29/world/africa/angola-election-winner-mpla.html

August 31

FT Chile’s draft constitution is seriously flawed

Chileans vote on Sunday on whether to adopt a radical new constitution to replace the constitution imposed during dictatorship. At stake is the economic model of one of the world’s most successful emerging markets. But inequality remained high and public health, education and pensions inadequate. A class-ridden society and an economy dominated by powerful families limited opportunities for those not born into wealth. Chileans entrusted the drafting of a new charter to a special assembly elected in 2021. The produced document erodes property rights and would Balkanize Chile into a “plurinational, intercultural, regional and ecological” state, including autonomous territories with their own justice systems. https://www.ft.com/content/ba39cdcc-66d6-4708-a844-93f3ad92679c

FT Sri Lanka will raise taxes in an effort to secure IMF debt deal

This is a reversal of decisions of two years ago. Sri Lanka in May became the first Asia-Pacific country to default in more than two decades after in effect running out of foreign reserves to service its overseas debt, which stands at more than $50bn. A draft agreement of a $2.9bn bailout is on the table. While global issues influenced the collapse of the economy, accusations point to the family dynasty, which ruled the island for the better part of two decades. https://www.ft.com/content/fa12f675-e1a6-4c0f-8267-bc91f5e0404f

FT IMF approves bailout for Pakistan amid default fears

The IMF said: “Steadfast implementation of corrective policies and reforms remains essential to regain macroeconomic stability, address imbalances and lay the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth.” The finance minister said that the government can now “show the people of Pakistan that we are competent, that we know how to deliver”. https://www.ft.com/content/d3d57c66-35a8-4815-82e7-20057638129d

FT Capital of Iraq in turmoil after followers election winner of 10 months ago attack government center

The election winner was not able to secure a majority government after refusing to include his fellow Shia rivals. He opted to turn away from politics. He has recently been calling for early elections and the dissolution of parliament and has championed himself as a nationalist against foreign meddling. His supporters have been protesting for four weeks. After the violence erupted their leader demanded them to draw back which they did. https://www.ft.com/content/49dc0b76-b6f6-43b3-aa70-c4e7f39d6bcb

September 1

FT US approves Moderna and Pfizer jabs targeting Omicron

The health authority has taken this step with the new vaccines despite a lack of clinical evidence about how they will work, in an attempt to head off a surge in infections this winter. https://www.ft.com/content/94bf5271-56be-447a-b362-320ba0cb305d#post-87f79602-5b43-40a1-9ed2-e613cec6490d

FT China is on a mission to ensure its food security

China’s issue, framed in the rhetoric of self-reliance, is its increasing need for a food revolution. The seed industry will be central: the potential for efficiency gains is vast but the incentives for innovators are weak. China has a history of offering questionable protection on intellectual property — living it down is urgent. Now that the Swiss seed giant Syngenta is Chinese owned, China must convince both its own industry and the outside world that it now supports the interests of the innovator alongside those of the farmer. https://www.ft.com/content/363c94c1-afed-49b3-aa09-f31227819791

NYT The Anglican Church continues to argue over gay rights

Divisions over the acceptance of homosexuality have proved intractable both on a global level and inside even liberal-leaning countries like New Zealand. These tensions have pulled at the Anglican Church, which has 85 million members worldwide, for decades. The divisions were on display again last month at Lambeth, the Anglican Church’s decennial conference, where the 650 bishops in attendance argued over the treatment of lesbian, gay and transgender Anglicans. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/01/world/australia/anglican-church-homosexuality-new-zealand.html

September 2

FT Zambia IMF bailout to test China over souring of debts

The three-year bailout “will help reestablish sustainability through fiscal adjustment and debt restructuring” through a “homegrown economic reform plan,” according to the IMF. The deal is enabling the African nation to advance talks with creditors on exiting a default that will test how China handles the souring of its loans to developing nations. The IMF bailout is anchored by a plan from the government to cut the fiscal deficit to less than 7 per cent of gross domestic product this year, from double digits in 2021, and to revive growth. https://www.ft.com/content/d15d6c2b-5208-4173-b3e3-49aacb9ffeb5

FT Hopes for diplomatic breakthrough fade in Libya leadership fight

One analyst: “The latest clashes resolve nothing politically speaking, but the military dynamics are conducive to a change. This could be channeled towards kick-starting a new political process, even if the likelihood of that happening is slim.” Libya sits on top of Africa’s largest proven oil reserves and is divided between Russian and Turkish zones of influence after NATO unseated its dictator in 2011. https://www.ft.com/content/88f698c8-5ecc-4848-9d54-5443b9d4a761

FT Why the U.S.A. is re-engaging with Africa

The former president was so ill informed that he spoke about “Nambia” as a country. Outside the extractive industries, American companies have been slower to see commercial opportunities than those from emerging nations such as Turkey and India. The present U.S.A. government seems to improve. The reticence of African states to vote with the west in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (26 refused to do so) may have sharpened their thinking. The foreign minister pointed to the fact that the 54 countries that make up the continent play a more important role in world affairs than is widely recognized. By 2050, one in four people on Earth will be African. Analysts still see some cold war reflexes in the renewal of engagement. https://www.ft.com/content/8ab44102-9359-4b9e-8df4-8d2f54ab8fbf

FT Inflation costs PM in Spain lead in polls ahead of next years general election

With disgruntled Spaniards facing a sharp rise in the cost of living, the leading government party relies on a fractious coalition partner to get any business done. The government is expected to hold off calling the vote until December 2023, as late as possible, in the hope of an economic upturn. https://www.ft.com/content/b8cd44bb-b1ec-4bda-b0a1-1b9b030bfc1a

FT Kazakhstan president seeks snap polls and reduction of the president’s tenure to a single seven-year term

The measures would be the most significant political changes in the oil-rich central Asian nation since it gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago. Limiting the presidential term would “significantly lower the risks of power monopolization,” according to the president. His predecessor stepped down after 29 years in power in 2019. His family remained influential and unrest broke out early this year (see January 7). https://www.ft.com/content/f76daf68-64f4-462e-990a-1c66bec85882

FT UN accuses China of Uyghurs abuse

The Chinese government has committed “serious human rights violations” in its treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. They may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity. The anti-terrorism apparatus of China led to the “large-scale arbitrary deprivation of liberty” of Uyghurs and other minorities in “vocational education and training centers” between at least 2017 and 2019, the UN said. The permanent mission to the UN said the report was “based on the disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces” and “wantonly smears and slanders China”. https://www.ft.com/content/f946721e-a8a7-48c9-a7b4-36dd4abf8db2

September 3

FT Argentina political unease rises in wake of assassination attempt on vice-president

The gun pointed at her was loaded with five bullets but failed to fire. Social media accounts of the alleged gunman showed he had followed extremist groups associated with hate speech, including one denouncing “satanic communism”, local media reported. The vice president is the country’s most recognizable political figure and one of its most divisive. https://www.ft.com/content/29d55683-1dd7-4a9d-9191-a74d4c504994

September 5

FT Kenya Supreme Court faces fresh credibility test with verdict on presidential election

The decision will reverberate beyond the outcome of the challenge, with the court’s hard-won reputation for independence also on the line. The Supreme Court has burnished a reputation for judicial independence in recent precedents, including rejecting proposals to change constitutional governance. To make the election decisions more credible, a high-level panel of African jurists arrived in Kenya last week to observe the presidential election petition proceedings. https://www.ft.com/content/5ebea0d3-fa44-4411-a729-426cd258675e

FT South Africa at risk of financial ‘grey-listing’

Bankers warn of the need for stronger law enforcement to avoid steps by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The country has up till next October to overcome the dismantling of law enforcement under the former president. Otherwise it could become the second G20 nation after Turkey to be added to the watchlist of what the FATF calls “jurisdictions under increased monitoring”. Grey list countries include United Arab Emirates, Panama, Syria and Yemen. Greylisting can add to the costs of doing business. https://www.ft.com/content/c214a5b7-0911-4b31-a736-878d47fcb8fa

FT Russia has made worrying inroads into Africa

That China has made huge diplomatic, commercial and strategic inroads in Africa is news to no one. That Russia has a formidable presence without spending a rouble is less known. If the west is to compete, it must offer something better, the newspaper says in a dedicated editorial. That means supporting open societies. It also means encouraging the continent’s transformation by promoting industrialization and an escape from the reliance on unprocessed commodities that is an impoverishing legacy of colonialism. https://www.ft.com/content/eaf7c419-beab-4afb-b989-126ea452dc13

September 6

FT President of Chile tries to salvage plan for new charter

Voters rejected the new draft constitution during the referendum of this weekend, causing the value of the Pesos to gain against the dollar. Almost 62 percent voted against with a turnout of an unexpectedly high 86 percent of the electorate. The president recognized the result but pledged to launch a new effort to rewrite the charter, saying the vote provided a clear mandate to do so. In late 2020 nearly 80 percent of Chileans voted to draft a new constitution, showing the broad consensus among voters that it was needed. https://www.ft.com/content/23784a2e-7ed7-4f37-8921-eb5112683c33

September 7

FT Kenya shows institutional strength but president-elect must deliver

In a system where winners can take all, the fact that political heavyweights must abide by the ruling of an independent judiciary is something to celebrate. There are reasons to be nervous about the new president. His real story does not exactly match the “outsider, hustler” image he has so carefully curated. And fiscal room to spend on grassroots services has been reduced. Kenya has not made as much progress as similarly placed (but half as big) nations, such as Ghana, in eradicating poverty. Democracy must be more than a modestly transparent contest every five years. Still, on a continent with popular hunger for democratic government, Kenya is a key standard bearer. https://www.ft.com/content/6ee249f0-6e0d-499d-8839-6b0600f5a6bc

FT Zambia seeks $8bn relief on debts to Chinese lenders, private bondholders and other creditors

After securing an IMF bailout last week, the current move is widely seen as a test of China’s willingness to absorb losses on loans it has extended to developing countries. Zambia’s debts quadrupled between 2014 and 2019 amid a surge in infrastructure borrowing under the former government. $6Bn of Zambia’s $17bn in external debt is owed to Chinese lenders. Zambia will ask creditors to agree to either outright write-downs or to accept an extension of the term of their loan repayments. https://www.ft.com/content/5d7db569-0da6-49f5-858e-0a377d9f74f8

FT Wives of rivals in Brazil’s presidential election take center stage

The incumbent focuses on women and evangelicals while his rival and former president embraces family values. Both involve their wives. During the previous election the incumbent invoked his wife’s father, a bus driver from the north-east of Brazil, to burnish his credentials with voters from the populous and poor region. His wife is now brought in to win those who dislike his overt machismo and his history of misogynistic language. His rival also invokes his wife, whom he married as a widower. He is said to do so to counter his perceived favor of the LGBT+ agenda. https://www.ft.com/content/e7d9387f-1faa-40e3-a82f-3a32ab4a4334

NYT Bomb kills dozens of civilians in northern Burkina Faso

A convoy of vehicles escorted by the military hit a roadside bomb. No group had claimed responsibility. After seizing power in a coup in January, military rulers in Burkina Faso made the fight against armed groups their top priority. But the violence has only spread. Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence, with nearly two million people — 10 percent of the population — displaced by conflict. The regime supports peace talks but so far has fallen short of calling for a national dialogue with armed groups. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/06/world/africa/attack-burkina-faso.html

September 8

FT Gulf states warn Netflix over ‘un-Islamic’ content

The statement from a Saudi-led committee of the Gulf Cooperation Council follows a campaign in local media accusing Netflix of promoting “homosexuality”. Netflix has retained its leading position in the Middle East, where it faces competition from regional streaming groups such as Shahid and Starz Play. https://www.ft.com/content/ee0c877a-733a-4fc7-9041-6a6ca0644e49

FT Hong Kong speech therapists guilty of sedition

A Hong Kong court has convicted five speech therapists of sedition after they published a series of illustrated children’s books about cartoon animals, in a case critics say highlights tightening restrictions on freedoms. The disbanded General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, an industry group, in 2020 and 2021 published stories about a “sheep village” that was bullied and attacked. https://www.ft.com/content/638291ac-c01b-45c5-812f-8f49061e918b

FT Catastrophic Pakistan floods coincide with financial and political crises

The PM has warned of a “humongous challenge” following catastrophic floods that have coincided with an acute financial crisis and a deepening political conflict between the government and the ousted PM. Analysts have warned that unless Pakistan’s ruling elite and international donors respond urgently, the crisis could fuel political unrest and militancy in a country that has long struggled to contain both. https://www.ft.com/content/375f9673-bcb6-4ca8-abcc-19e13888fe63

FT Pressures mount on government in China over Covid front line workers

Civil servants bemoan low pay, stress and a lack of funds for countering the pandemic. Many complain of pay cuts and longer working hours with no overtime payment as the pandemic drags into a third year, with little sign the government will abandon its zero-Covid policy despite the economic consequences. One analyst: “The Chinese government cannot multitask”. https://www.ft.com/content/d73e3b60-4790-4591-8a4d-1ee705034766

TT Government of France tries to end centuries of top-down government

The president inaugurated an assembly designed to end centuries of top-down government in France amid mockery over what critics say is his attempt to invoke a WWII French Resistance activity through the name of the assembly. The National Refoundation Council will search for a broad, German-style consensus. After the lost parliamentary election the new Council came to a bad start with opposition parties on both sides and most unions boycotting the starting event. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/macron-looks-to-end-jupiter-style-presidency-with-peoples-council-2tssdqp99

TT Indian invention of nasal spray vaccine hailed as a game changer in pandemic

Nasal and oral vaccines are seen as the future of the fight against the pandemic as they are needle-free, and far easier to administer and store. Scientists also hope they will be much more effective at blocking infections and transmission entirely by delivering inoculations to the nose where the virus first makes contact. China at the weekend announced a similar solution. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/covid-19-indias-nasal-spray-vaccine-hailed-as-a-game-changer-r9b2t55jf

September 9

FT New child malaria vaccine offers high and durable level of protection

Malaria, caused by parasites, is preventable and curable. There were 241mn cases globally in 2020, according to the World Health Organization, which led to an estimated 627,000 deaths. Africa accounts for most cases and deaths and children are particularly affected. The vaccine is administered with Novavax’s Matrix-M adjuvant and is licensed to the Serum Institute of India. https://www.ft.com/content/82b87b28-5dfe-4d7f-b9f7-102aee6588ea

FT Can Japan feed itself?

The specter of faltering food security — along with the decaying norms of the globalized economic system — looms over the country that imports almost two-thirds of what it eats. Reforms are essential. Historically committed to self-sufficiency, the country had laxed this policy in recent decades. The agricultural ministry: “The biggest problem facing agriculture is the lack of a willingness to take on new challenges.” https://www.ft.com/content/af52f367-90d2-41dd-9a0f-a2a7b1b9624a

FT Pakistan’s ousted PM gains political strength

Far from fading into obscurity he has engineered a political rebirth. In rallies, the former cricketer has denounced the “cabal of crooks” that he alleges took over as part of a U.S.A.-backed conspiracy, without evidence. After his party won a series of local polls, he demanded new elections immediately. “Every effort has been made to crush [us] but we did not sit silently,” he said last month. The former PM worked on a welfarist, anti-corruption platform, he governed erratically and was beholden to the boom-and-bust cycles that he had vowed to end. https://www.ft.com/content/7a39f617-defc-4442-a4e8-c5779c61f344

September 10

FT A new era of leadership dawns for Britain

For the PM just elected by her party, the death of the monarch has reshaped her premiership and thrust her on to the global stage. The events have added to the pressure on the new PM’s small and relatively inexperienced team. Within her inner circle, there is a realization that the next fortnight could define her premiership. But at the same time little will happen in law making as the funeral of the Queen will dominate events. https://www.ft.com/content/463c0d39-a696-4a07-8ad5-1a26f458e5c1

FT Sweden populist Democrats hope for ‘seismic’ election breakthrough

Like similar parties abroad the populist Democrats have suffered setbacks for members with fascist ideas but in a particular town they have had governance success that drew attention. Whether or not they will win Sunday’s election will at least boost their influence either in government or as influential opposition. https://www.ft.com/content/2239a8c1-4fbc-4c29-b9fc-47d4898bfb1e

September 12

FT EU moves to impose ban on products made using forced labor

Shoes, clothes and commodities such as timber, fish and cocoa are among the products most likely to be affected, according to those with knowledge of the plans. The EU ban will focus on all products made from forced labor — including those made within the bloc — to avoid breaching World Trade Organization rules on non-discrimination. It will not focus on broader human rights concerns. https://www.ft.com/content/8ebd3114-ab7b-4345-be0d-9ed57ca8daf2

FT Currency shifts add to global economic woes

The U.S.A. dollar has an outsized influence on trade and finance. In times of trouble, currency traders and investors flock to the dollar as a safe haven. The only sustainable way for advanced economies to regain ground on the dollar is via credible and prudent policies that will usher them through today’s crisis and on to higher growth paths. For the emerging world, better coordinated multilateral debt restructuring is key. https://www.ft.com/content/593010c7-72f0-4801-be30-d1175d7c1c21

September 13

FT Teacher strike weighs on university students in Nigeria

The long-running dispute shows no sign of ending as the government grapples with economic woes. University funding lies at the heart of the dispute. Nigeria has subsidized higher education to redistribute the nation’s wealth since it began earning massive oil profits in the 1970s. But the population has quadrupled to 200mn since the policy was introduced, causing the cost of tertiary education to soar. https://www.ft.com/content/287e93cc-877a-4fb7-bc0c-9f0c82025ed5

September 14

FT Globalization is not dying, it’s changing

The trade in goods may be slowing, but the potential for technology-enabled trade in services remains huge. Growing concern over the security of supply chains will cause changes, though whether the result will be “reshoring” or “friendshoring” is doubtful. More likely is a complex pattern of diversification. Meanwhile, technology is opening up new areas of growth in services. https://www.ft.com/content/f6fe91ab-39f9-44b0-bff6-505ff6c665a1

FT Serbia seeks support over debt costs

Serbia hopes that having the IMF assurances in place will avert further rises in borrowing costs on international markets, which have more than tripled since early in the year from less than 2 per cent to more than 6 per cent. News of the IMF request comes after Abu Dhabi offered Serbia a $1bn loan at 3 per cent. https://www.ft.com/content/55da2503-66b3-4e72-bf12-b5d9c4e86669

FT EU delays cut in pesticide use citing crop output and price fears

The Sustainable Use of Pesticides regulation intends to halve chemical use by 2030. But an impact assessment found implementation would probably reduce output. Even countries usually more sympathetic to green measures argue that the move to cut usage when companies had yet to develop more sustainable replacements was irresponsible. https://www.ft.com/content/380db86a-e435-41a0-bd9e-abbb4bd878f8

TT Russia & China plot a new world order to challenge power of U.S.A.

The Chinese and Russian leaders will meet at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an eight-member economic and security grouping that includes India and Pakistan, as well as Uzbekistan and other former Soviet countries in central Asia. China’s top diplomat said that Russia and China sought to take the global order “in a more just and reasonable direction”. China accused NATO of provoking Russia by expanding eastwards into former Soviet countries. Russia has driven itself further into China’s embrace. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/putin-and-xi-plot-a-new-world-order-to-challenge-americas-might-wwz2vrhmm

September 15

FT China and the west should co-operate on emerging market debt

About a quarter of emerging countries and more than 60 per cent of low-income countries face difficulties with debts. The wheels are coming off China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the $838bn program launched in 2013 to build infrastructure in about 160 mostly developing countries. While China seeks to contain the fallout from stalled projects and non-performing loans, it risks complicating matters with a surge in “emergency lending”. Research shows at least 13 countries receive such loans. The newspaper in a dedicated editorial advises that China should cooperate with other creditors, which it has already done in the case of Zambia and provisionally Sri Lanka. The G20 is the best venue to align the efforts of bilateral lenders. https://www.ft.com/content/501ec0bf-2c1c-4561-b8e0-6443559961d6

FT UN human rights agency wracked by internal conflict over finally published Uyghur report

The human rights head allegedly was against publication of the report, believing engagement with China was at risk and the better option to achieve results is dialogue. In a joint statement to the Human Rights Council, China and 68 other countries urged the UN human rights agency not to interfere in China. Activists believe that China knows how to work the system which highlights its growing influence in multilateral organizations, as well as the UN’s difficulty balancing tension between China and other member states. https://www.ft.com/content/0d69e178-8f56-4153-84b2-7ca2d4fa80a4

September 16

FT Inflation in Nigeria is double-digit and hits a 17 year high while the currency weakens

Nigeria’s central bank has increased interest rates to 14 per cent since May. Analysts say a further increase could be implemented at the bank’s next monetary policy committee meeting on September 26. An analyst predicted that interest rate rise was unlikely to be effective in cutting inflation. Inflation is being driven by supply-side factors like higher input costs and food shortages which limits overall policy effectiveness of higher interest rates.  https://www.ft.com/content/3c376495-b544-4bc6-a2b4-dca2c94e10cb

FT China wants to become less dependent on the west

Innovative companies get preferential treatment in return for helping China to climb the technology ladder. There is a drive to reduce the need for imported technologies. The government voices the urgent need for breakthroughs in domestic technology to outcompete the west and bolster national security. This concerns technology, energy and food. Financially it wants to become independent enough to withstand outside sanctions. Such changes represent a clear challenge for many multinational companies, some of which derive the lion’s share of their global growth from China’s market. The Chinese drive is very technology centered. https://www.ft.com/content/0496b125-7760-41ba-8895-8358a7f24685

FT Election winner in Sweden has strong position to determine policy change

In Sweden parties declare partners before elections. The right wing bloc won and hence needs to form a government, but it will likely be a minority government. The big election winner is a right wing party with extreme points of view. The moderate party will have to find a way to keep the election winner out of government but it will then still highly influence politics. Similar situations exist in the other Nordic countries. https://www.ft.com/content/fa7f5f93-1e1f-47ca-99d3-c1cb0d645b21

September 17

FT In Lebanon bank heists multiply as depositors grow desperate

The Depositors union group: “People are growing more and more desperate, with fewer avenues for justice: they can’t go to the judiciary, since judges are on indefinite strike [over pay], and they can’t go to the security forces, who are in the pocket of our banks and our politicians”. A World Bank report: “Public finance was used to capture the state’s resources for political patronage, creating a “deliberate” depression, adding that a significant portion of people’s savings had been “misused and misspent over the past 30 years”. https://www.ft.com/content/daa0b9ef-59f0-447c-8d9f-dbefad5ede41

FT Iranian woman dies after arrest by the morality police for violating dress code

The police denied any physical violence. State television displayed a video of the 22 year old woman in a room with other women receiving lessons on morality. The video showed her talking to a female officer about her coat. She then collapsed on the floor. https://www.ft.com/content/36934e3f-0300-4ba4-96b2-a7ae746faa34

September 19

FT Learning crisis looms for children in poorer countries hit hard by pandemic

An estimate by the World Bank suggests “learning poverty” — which it defines as children being unable to understand a simple written text by the age of 10 — has increased by a third in low- and middle-income countries. There is concern over the squeeze on government finance for schools in poorer countries, driven by the economic slowdown during the pandemic, rising debt and interest payments and the prospect of continued inflation. https://www.ft.com/content/195a53f5-9942-42a1-a93d-5e32df2333a5

FT Markets expect more drastic tightening in final quarter

Investors are pricing in a sharper surge in interest rates over the coming months after the world’s big central banks strengthened their resolve to tackle soaring prices, signaling they would prioritize inflation over growth. https://www.ft.com/content/3d7bfcdd-512d-4d67-8daf-52308db94c37

FT In Spain supermarkets pushed to provide affordable staples

Supermarkets in Spain are in the line of fire over inflation as the country’s deputy leader wages a campaign to press shops into cutting prices in an effort to help struggling families. She said retailers had a duty to cut prices to help consumers, not least because the government had used public funds to support them and other businesses during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. The only supermarket to go some way towards complying has been the Spanish branch of a French supermarket, which said it would offer a basket of 30 “essential” products for a fixed price until January. https://www.ft.com/content/2480a96f-17af-4468-91f3-e27f328e5dfd

September 20

FT Nigeria’s state lost the trust of its citizens

Tax collection is a measure of citizen trust. The country collected 6.3 per cent of gross domestic product in tax in 2020, the lowest proportion in the world, and far below the bare minimum the World Bank says is necessary for a functioning state. Of the country’s 210mn people, some 90mn have no access to electricity. About 20mn of Nigeria’s children are out of school. With no social safety net, some 40 percent of Nigerians live in absolute poverty. Revenue from oil does not compensate for that. In 2010 the government received from oil only $340 per capita against $1,206 in Algeria, $2,965 in Gabon and $7,477 in Saudi Arabia. https://www.ft.com/content/bc086fd8-12c5-4a15-afc2-734be4443aac

FT Nigeria dollar shortage batters economy

International business and transport suffers as money cannot be sent out of the country. On the supply side, dollar revenues from oil have plummeted because of massive theft, pushing down official daily production of crude to 1.1mn barrels, far below Nigeria’s Opec quota of 1.8mn b/d. The Central bank governor warned politicians that those caught changing naira into dollars on the black market would be arrested. Nigeria’s dollar crisis has its origins in the oil price crash of 2014. https://www.ft.com/content/f69a9464-7f82-472c-95e9-37fb72cac88f

FT Opposition in Mexico split by bill to boost army

The government has received a boost ahead of state elections next year after a plan to give more power to Mexico’s military fractured an already weak opposition coalition. One of the three opposition partners — dropped its opposition to the law. The party leader was facing accusations of corruption and critics claim his volte-face was aimed at protecting himself from prosecution, which he denies. The opposition is now in disarray. https://www.ft.com/content/946b69ae-8a19-4943-93b0-3687b5d72d04

FT Ruling party in India accused of ‘resort politics’ to convert opposition state legislators

A state PM: “When they cannot take us on politically, the federal ruling party has been trying to destabilize popularly elected opposition-ruled states, one by one. They are trying to topple the state government by threatening and buying up legislators.” He provided no evidence of bribery. Politicians and analysts say that poaching rival parties’ assembly members with money or favors is a longstanding feature of Indian regional politics, also practiced by opposition groups. https://www.ft.com/content/16c0cc69-e88c-4d94-a932-e5cb441e08ed

FT Arabs in Israel disillusioned after participation of their party in government

By the time the government fell, only a fraction of the promised funding of Arab projects was spent. The other signature achievement — the passing of a bill to allow Arab homes built without permits to connect to Israel’s electricity grid — was neutered by amendments demanded by rightwing coalition partners. Palestinian citizens of Israel make up about a fifth of the country’s 9.4mn strong population. A low turnout among Arab voters in the November election and the failure of Arab parties to make it over the electoral threshold could help tilt the scales in favor of the rightwing opposition. https://www.ft.com/content/3a186049-fa9e-49ed-8c11-85d6d03a1a66

September 21

FT Niger population explosion divides opinion

On current trends, Niger’s population is on course to nearly triple from about 24mn in 2020 to a projected 68mn in 2050, in a country twice as big as France. While the fast-growing population in much of Africa is often presented as a demographic boon, many people warn about the links between a high birth rate and poverty. The editor of a newspaper: “In Niger, the main way of thinking is that we have a vast land and not enough people.” A doctor and university professor in Niamey says this is the wrong conclusion: “Poverty generates a high birth rate and a high birth rate generates poverty. The present government campaigns for birth control. https://www.ft.com/content/312e4f7f-69a6-4a21-91a2-2657249fd6b4

FT In Brazil attacks stoke fears of increasing political violence as citizens prepare to vote

There were 214 recorded cases of violence against prominent politicians in Brazil during the first half of this year. Both main candidates in the election have made controversial remarks with the incumbent, himself attacked and hurt during the 2018 campaign, being the most prolific. https://www.ft.com/content/cb95f0c4-0933-4837-a109-bd6876632383

FT Ecuador deal on debt relief restructuring boosts ties with China

China increasingly offers bailouts to countries at risk of financial crises. The Ecuador agreement will extend the loans’ maturity and reduce interest rates and amortization. China has disbursed billions of dollars in emergency loans to countries in recent years in bailouts that have made China a competitor of the western-led IMF. https://www.ft.com/content/34f5a690-639d-4d70-a742-e088ee74bd62

September 22

FT Colombia warns jungle is ‘disappearing’

In a fiery speech at the UN General Assembly, Colombia’s first leftwing president did not mince his words about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, 6 percent of which lies within his country’s borders. He blames the war on drugs and rich nations’ thirst for resources for the failure to stop forest destruction. Illegal clearances are fueling the surge. The government’s strategy to tackle deforestation will target land grabbers who cut down the forest to turn it into cattle ranching land. The state aims to reduce forest loss to 100,000 hectares a year by 2025 and to zero by 2030. https://www.ft.com/content/0cf2ff1c-70f6-4436-86a0-1fd1dd88f3b9

TT Tunisia ‘on road to autocracy’ after arrest of opposition leaders

The leader of Tunisia’s main opposition party and its former prime minister have been detained. The 81 and 67 year old are under interrogation because the pair allegedly helped jihadists to travel and fight for Isis. Their party claims that the case is politically motivated and related to fabricated charges going back to 2012. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tunisia-on-road-to-autocracy-as-opposition-leaders-are-detained-zp5z2p9j9

September 23

FT Opposition in Turkey battles internal divisions

The ruptures appear in a disparate six-party alliance that aims to unseat the current president. The latest row, triggered by a dispute over the composition of the government if they win the election scheduled for June 2023, has served as a proxy for deeper disagreements. https://www.ft.com/content/5b391b66-834d-4d2b-8f0c-b8d6f64392ee

PM of former cruel dictatorship in Cambodia loses appeal for life sentence

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the UN-backed tribunal, dismissed an appeal yesterday, upholding the life sentence for genocide against the Vietnamese ethnic minority and violations of the Geneva Conventions. The former head of state, now 91 years old, was the international face of the communist regime, which was responsible for up to 1.7mn deaths, almost a quarter of the population, between 1975 and 1979. https://www.ft.com/content/7ff8b557-9d11-4e16-b4fb-b42b614ef350

September 24

FT Iran’s conservative women join hijab backlash

The death of a young woman, visiting Tehran as a tourist from the northwestern Kurdish town of Saqqez, was a blow to many brought up under the Islamic system. She was arrested by the morality police despite wearing a long black coat and scarf. The authorities have sympathized with the girl’s family and promised a full inquiry. They also say the opposition has killed protesters to fan the crisis. The hijab has been a key image of the theocratic state. One conservative woman: . “Islam is a religion of compassion and mercy and would never authorize violence against women. The current approach can put people against each other.” https://www.ft.com/content/dd2bbbb2-c909-4fa2-a1bc-ab41c98d9e2f

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.