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