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


January 3

FT Failing state power company in South Africa is a picture of ruling party functioning in miniature

Without reliable power, South Africa cannot generate the economic growth needed to tackle the problems of poverty and social injustice that are a festering legacy of apartheid. Yet the ruling party appears unwilling to reverse Eskom’s decline. This is done to protect the interests of the coal industry. https://www.ft.com/content/73a5242b-9fb4-47b0-a201-ebacea7cb071

January 4

FT A new economic world order is taking shape due to change in the energy market

2023 may be remembered as the year that the grand bargain of 1945 began to shift, as a new world energy order between China and the Middle East took shape. China’s hope is that all of the trade will be paid for in renminbi, on the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange, as early as 2025. Shortage of trust, rule of law and reserve currency liquidity will be covered through a financial safety net by making the renminbi convertible to gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong gold exchanges. https://www.ft.com/content/d34dfd79-113c-4ac7-814b-a41086c922fa

FT A breakout year for artificial intelligence

In an editorial the newspaper suggests that generative AI can boost the productivity of workers in creative industries. Just as machines augmented muscle in the industrial revolution, so AI can augment brainpower in the cognitive revolution. This democratization of access may have huge implications, and create extraordinary opportunities, for many businesses. While generative AI can help inspire the first thought, it should never be relied upon for the last word. https://www.ft.com/content/1a329ad3-f696-4ee2-a730-2f8b700f15a1

FT Foreign currency crunch frustrates key imports for Egypt’s businesses

For the fourth time in six years, Egypt has had to go to the IMF, which last month approved a $3bn loan over four years. At the heart of the agreement is a commitment by Cairo to move to a flexible exchange rate regime in which market forces determine the currency’s value — something Egyptian governments have long resisted. In an effort to conserve foreign currency, the central bank placed restrictions on imports. https://www.ft.com/content/8d17fe6c-c1a5-420a-a200-b8e70d49a7bc

FT Zero-Covid policy in China sharpened already high levels of social inequality

The lockdowns have often been stricter in rural areas, upending the education of millions and blocking social mobility. In December, the government embarked on a stunning U-turn. The pandemic controls of relentless lock-downs, mass testing and quarantine and fastidious electronic contact tracing are being rapidly unraveled. Social inequality through the lockdowns is one of the factors to be dealt with. https://www.ft.com/content/8205e62c-10a8-450a-a87a-ddcf8f6eeca3

January 5

FT Fake passports scandal puts Uruguay’s reputation on the line

It started in September with the arrest of a presidential bodyguard, on charges that he led a criminal ring that issued counterfeit Uruguayan passports to foreigners, including Russians fleeing their country after its invasion of Ukraine. Publication of his phone details suggested that he leveraged his government contacts to sell software developed by the interior ministry to business executives, who then used it to track opposition senators, an allegation he has denied. https://www.ft.com/content/40cf750d-95b4-498c-908d-c751a32ce9f4

FT WHO rebukes China over Covid fatalities

The country is under-reporting deaths and must share its data for the sake of world health. Its definition of a Covid-19 death, changed last month, is “too narrow”. WHO called on the country to offer greater transparency on the extent of the surge in cases since it brought an abrupt end to the zero-Covid system of controls. https://www.ft.com/content/6e45f53b-d9f2-452e-b4ad-e3a2c82a3aa5

January 6

FT Pope presides over funeral of ‘taboo-breaking’ predecessor

The funeral mass of his retired predecessor ends an unprecedented experiment in coexistence between a reigning and a retired pope. His resignation — the first by a pope since the Middle Ages — created a potentially fraught situation of two men wearing the distinctive white papal robes living in the Holy See. Scholars now say the German theologian’s precedent had opened a new path for the Vatican, now grappling with the need for competent leadership in an era of ever-longer lifespans. https://www.ft.com/content/f1e12b55-fb2e-4612-9dee-ccaeb1e66b33

FT Pandemic helps Spain pull in record tax haul

Economists and officials attribute the difference in part to changes in the shadow, or grey, economy, a zone of unregistered activity that spans everything from informal farm laborers to restaurant workers who are paid off the books. Its invisibility has long facilitated tax evasion but Covid and related economic support policies created new pressures and incentives that revealed underground activity to tax collectors. https://www.ft.com/content/8fc83eba-d947-4926-9b9c-d0d97581334d

FT Coalition government in Israel sets sights on powers of judiciary

The unveiled plan will give politicians sweeping powers over the judiciary, setting the stage for a bitter battle over the functioning of the Jewish state. The proposals, set out by the justice minister, will allow a simple majority in parliament to override High Court decisions striking down laws, and give the government and its allies control over the appointment of judges. The opposition: “They’re threatening to destroy the entire constitutional structure of the state of Israel.” https://www.ft.com/content/fc0b878e-e6ca-421f-a61a-52e56e6f2621

FT UN steps in after ruling group in Afghanistan block NGO women

The UN is to intervene in a clash between the rulers and international donors sparked by a ban on women working at non-governmental organizations that has put the welfare of millions of Afghans at risk. The authorities said the move was justified as some female NGO workers were not abiding by a requirement to observe hijab. While the order did not extend to the UN itself, the world body depends on the large network of local and international NGOs to disburse aid. https://www.ft.com/content/6bdffb37-b0e8-4fba-8e18-e9e93eb23cc7

FT Turkish court freezes opposition party’s funds

The constitutional court has frozen state financing for the third-biggest political party as part of a legal case that seeks to ban it for alleged links to terrorism, just months before parliamentary and presidential elections. Turkey’s president has labelled the concerned party the “political extension” of a terrorist group listed by the US and the EU. The party denies ties to minority militants, who have waged a four-decade armed campaign for autonomy in a part of Turkey. https://www.ft.com/content/1a8f2959-e7f8-4518-a2cf-4c43c7e06a13

FT The dream of England of being a ‘science superpower’

One start up with genetically modified wheat crops wants to help farmers cope with climate change to feed the world. This is the kind of company that the British government believes can help turn the UK into a globally recognized industrial hub. Yet beyond the soaring rhetoric, difficult questions are being asked about whether the financial, regulatory and physical architecture is being put in place to realize that ambition. One professor: “If you were to add up all the companies in Oxford, Cambridge and London, you might almost equal Boston in number, but in terms of market capitalization, it is only a fraction.” https://www.ft.com/content/a8b2c939-88da-45ca-a74e-9f49bb8c8c1c

FT World elections will shape the outcome of the war in Ukraine

Today, the war in Ukraine is taking place in the shadow of critical elections scheduled for 2024. Elections in Russia, Ukraine, Taiwan and the US will be crucial in shaping the prosecution of the war in 2023. The outcome of these votes could define the shape of the next international order. We know how economic interdependence and the proliferation of nuclear weapons have changed the nature of modern war. Elections can do that too. https://www.ft.com/content/c6972372-a02a-4b42-abba-3d98296e08f3

TT Peru rioters want jailed leader freed

The former president is in jail on charges of “rebellion”. His supporters are demanding that he is released and that the congress is shut down. The jailed president was a teacher with no political experience and had a turbulent 18 months in power following his 2021 election victory. He faced staunch opposition from congress and criminal investigations into allegations of corruption. He has protested his innocence. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/peru-rioters-want-jailed-leader-pedro-castillo-freed-nrzd5t7fk

January 8

FT Iran executes 2 more protesters

The men were hanged at dawn after hasty trials on charges that they participated in the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary group in November, according to the judiciary. The trial for Mr. Karami and Mr. Hosseini, held in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, lasted less than a week and relied on forced confessions and shoddy evidence. The men were denied lawyers of their choice and were represented by attorneys appointed by the government. Both men had denied the allegations against them. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/07/world/middleeast/iran-executes-protesters.html?searchResultPosition=1

January 9

FT  President strengthens hand in Venezuela

After two votes, see also December 23, the opposition ended its four year old claim for power and is in disarray, while the president boasts: “It’s time for . . . a new geopolitics to redistribute power in the world. That war in Ukraine is part of the birth pains of a [new] world which is rising. Have no doubt that we will be there . . . in the vanguard.” https://www.ft.com/content/30e166e3-bdcd-4c62-9a62-59154a722a20

FT Boss of South African state power company says he survived murder attempt

The minister overseeing Eskom said: “This attempt on his life will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible must be charged.” The incident happened shortly after resignation.  The CEO will stay at Eskom until the end of March while a replacement is found. The alleged poisoning underscores the threat to the government’s campaign to root out corruption from South Africa’s state-owned companies. https://www.ft.com/content/2c3cb585-a4c9-4a26-9ea4-c22e1aded598

January 10

FT Nigerian kingmaker seizes on chance to take top job and repair economy

He has adopted a telling catchphrase during the election campaign for next month’s vote: “Emi lokan,” he likes to say, which translates as “It’s my turn”. He does have the wealth usually associated with candidates and the advantage of representing the ruling party. His health and the fact that his running mate is also a Muslim are at his disadvantage. https://www.ft.com/content/9f1d9cc0-7e01-4bcc-812c-96114381bd73

FT President South Africa vows energy ministry will oversee state group Eskom

The government will move state electricity monopoly Eskom to the oversight of the energy ministry, as a power struggle rages in the government over the worst blackouts to strike Africa’s most industrialized nation. The ministry for public enterprises is currently overseeing Eskom. The planned shift would also greatly increase the power of the energy minister, who denies being a “coal fundamentalist”. Coal is precisely the problem boosted by the outgoing Eskom CEO. Reshuffling oversight of state companies could see a return to the wide scale looting that became rife under the previous administration. https://www.ft.com/content/951f0c90-bf88-4063-9297-e3c61e022024

FT Brazil’s dangerous insurrection

In an editorial the newspaper says the similarities with the January 6 2021 insurrection in the U.S.A. are striking. There is also a big difference: there is no attempt to overturn the closely run vote. That is not to underplay the dangers that lie ahead. Among them are the loyalty of the security forces and the capital governor. With incidents in recent years key institutions stood firm and the rule of law was upheld. The new president has proven to be a skilled and pragmatic negotiator. https://www.ft.com/content/d1d1d91a-7fdc-47ef-9b81-a260432baa51

January 11

FT The threat of a lost decade in development

A way has to be found to resolve the debt problems that are now emerging for the world’s most vulnerable nations. The convergence of average incomes between poor and rich countries has stalled. That has happened before. Indeed, it is what happened in Latin America after the debt crisis of 1982. This crisis, it should be recalled, also followed a surge in private lending to developing countries, then called the “recycling” of the surpluses of oil exporters. Rich countries wishing to wage a war of values should remember that inequality between nations is one important issue. https://www.ft.com/content/17f5fcb0-b734-4c29-8b25-52b5597701a3

FT Egypt pledges to cut military’s role in economy for IMF cash

The IMF said in a statement yesterday that “critical” structural reforms Egypt had agreed to included “levelling the playing field between the public and private sector” as part of a state ownership policy. This is a rare acknowledgment by the IMF about how the army had expanded its footprint across the economy since the former army chief seized power in a 2013 coup. The army, the country’s most powerful institution, is exempted from some taxes and its businesses are notoriously opaque. The government has previously pledged to cut the military’s role in the economy and privatize army-owned groups, but little progress has been made. https://www.ft.com/content/0ab59ecb-da0b-42d9-a5da-35674c001e28

FT Misfiring war in Ukraine creates potential for Russia’s disintegration

As the cold war sped to its close, western observers bold enough to forecast the Soviet Union’s collapse were few in number and small in influence. The USSR’s territorial integrity was taken for granted. Today western policymakers risk being caught out a second time. Not that another implosion is inevitable, but with casualties continuing to pile up and no end in sight for the regime’s messianic revanchism, the eventual dissolution of the Russian Federation can no longer be dismissed out of hand. https://www.ft.com/content/d66c61e8-8511-459a-9116-70703ff2471f

January 12

FT Global trade sometimes needs military power more than values

While governments’ ability to use trade as a strategic tool remains unproven, the need for raw military power on occasion to ensure the peace necessary for trade is not. In that aspect of globalization the U.S.A. remains the rock on which a striking amount of the superstructure of world trade stands. The EU has at least recognized the indispensability of America through this week’s EU-Nato statement, affirming the overwhelming importance of the transatlantic bond against autocracy. https://www.ft.com/content/ae202a68-d8ac-42a3-ac0b-98e1d0353ed9

FT Germany is pioneering the way to curb the power of big online platforms

While EU watchdogs slowly roll out their own enforcement mechanism, Germany is already holding gatekeepers to account. One firm disadvantaged by Big Tech: “Europe needs to understand that it needs to protect our tech industry and let it grow up and think about the value that’s created here.” A new German law gives antitrust authorities in Germany powers to go after so-called gatekeepers such as Meta, Google and Amazon — including the ability to impose sanctions like forced divestments against companies and the possibility to break them up. The problem needs attention in other regions of the world too. https://www.ft.com/content/06e2f3ea-a752-48ca-beb1-ca1a948afcd7

FT In Brazil coup plot ends in farce while election loser says he is unwell and denies blame

After the narrow election defeat at the end of October, hardcore supporters of the populist leader had camped out in front of army bases, calling for a military coup in the capital, to prevent the inauguration of the new president. Thereafter, they decided to take matters into their own hands but their plans were half-baked. The following morning, with Brazil the focus of the world’s attention, police moved quickly to dismantle far-right protest camps across the country. https://www.ft.com/content/0a070158-0e2b-48bb-8cba-de7098de28da

FT In Turkey convicted politician says ruling party will pay price for meddling and economic mistakes

He remains in his current office pending an appeal, and election rules allow him to compete until he exhausts his legal chances. The alliance of six parties, led by his party, faces a dilemma over whether to nominate him anyway only to risk losing him before the vote. The coalition attracts a range of voters, including Kurds, secularists and religious conservatives disaffected with the ruling party. https://www.ft.com/content/8ee0f1ef-f364-48d9-b9c8-06a0b75bf325

TT Debt write-off shows China means business in Africa

While the West talks of democracy and human rights, China speaks in dollars to tighten its influence on the continent. The foreign minister of China came to Ethiopia offering a debt write-off and stated during a press conference with the chairman of the AU: “Africa should be a big stage for international co-operation, not an arena for major countries’ competition.” Like China, the US, France, Britain, Russia, Turkey and Gulf states are all vying for influence on the world’s fastest growing continent. “The battle for Africa is well under way,” one analyst said. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/qin-gang-lures-ethiopia-with-huge-debt-write-off-of-13-7-bn-loan-dpkn3c6cd

January 13

FT The issue with second-hand pessimism

“Second-hand pessimism” is the place where corporate reality and public rhetoric diverge. If outlooks look bleak, then there is often a difference between micro and macro level. So the big question is whether micro-level cheer eventually drowns out the macro gloom? Or will this pessimism become self-fulfilling? https://www.ft.com/content/558e8a3b-bbac-4696-80e8-2ccb56c97bdb

FT Despite ESG push, firms continue to compete to work for authoritarian states with records of human rights abuses

Authoritarian states control around $10tn of assets through a mixture of sovereign wealth funds, central bank reserves and public pension funds. Much of it is outsourced to the investment industry, which in this way helps authoritarian states around the world to finance aims that can be both repressive and repugnant. The UN and EU work on principles for ESG but the outcome is still unclear in this unequal world. https://www.ft.com/content/92e9ab44-a852-4c96-86e6-3b10f796e858

FT Attempted hit on Eskom chief shows influence of criminal gangs in South Africa

The CEO explained that gangs would swap out truckloads of coal for delivery and replace them with low-grade rocks. His attempted poisoning, revealed this week, showed the strength and reach of what experts say are cartels operating within South Africa’s most important state asset. It happened after he announced his intention to quit as the ruling party blamed him for failing to fix the blackouts. https://www.ft.com/content/f9b9b804-176f-48e5-9be9-7856a4209605

FT Spain’s domestic tax war intensified by incentives of regions in the country

Regional administrations unveiled incentives for individual investors aimed at undercutting the national government’s fiscal policies. The move opened a new front in a fierce battle over finances between rightwing and leftwing leaders at the start of an election year. The discussion is whether the country is able to attract so-called flagship foreign investment. https://www.ft.com/content/13658cb7-6575-4d50-ad25-b83961e3ff49

FT Women trail on pay and power in South Korea’s male-dominated corporate culture

South Korea’s 31.12 per cent median gender pay gap is the widest in the OECD group of developed countries for the 26th year in a row. The country also has a big difference in labor participation rates: just 55 percent of Korean women are in the workforce compared with 73.7 percent of men. South Korea ranks 99th and Japan 116th among 146 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Gender Gap Report. Marriage and child birth often lead to leaving jobs, which is a huge waste of talent and knowledge. Yet, the patriarchal president blames feminism for South Korea’s low birth rate. https://www.ft.com/content/86a36a1e-47dd-4b6d-93bf-91dad5ca19f9

January 14

FT Law catches up with human trafficker accused of operating Libyan hellhole

He managed to evade justice two years ago when he escaped from the Ethiopian courthouse where he was being tried. The law caught up with him last week when he was arrested in Sudan and deported to the United Arab Emirates, where prosecutors are considering charges related to money laundering. “Smuggling and trafficking human beings is an appalling crime and we have now shut down one of the most important trafficking routes into Europe,” said an UAE official. An Ethiopian counterpart: “A tremendous effort has led to the arrest of an international criminal sentenced to life in prison in Ethiopia. It’s a notable success.” https://www.ft.com/content/0ceccd61-20e4-495d-b31c-1b054d109242

FT Sri Lanka to slash military by third in push for IMF bailout

More than a decade after the end of a brutal civil war, Sri Lanka maintains one of the world’s largest armed forces, on a relative basis, with 200,000 army personnel alone. Little progress has since been made on reforming the military. It is a huge pressure on the government budget. The disproportionate number of troops still stationed in Tamil heartlands in Sri Lanka’s north and east also leads to continued human rights abuses. https://www.ft.com/content/65e999a0-b776-4f05-875a-a28536b726cc

FT Rebuilding democracy in Brazil

The riots after the inauguration of the president to some amount to attempted coup, particularly as security forces look like they are involved. Also the son of the former president was present at the Capitol Hill riots in the U.S.A. last year. This is the delicate minefield that the president inherited. Brazil is a sharply polarized country. https://www.ft.com/content/a6143da4-50ae-4a69-ba29-190a8bfa37c1

January 16

FT African peace envoy puts Ethiopia war death toll at 600,000

Based on reports from the field, the number of dead could be somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 civilian casualties only — this from atrocities, starvation and lack of healthcare. There were unofficial estimates of between 200,000 and 300,000 battlefield deaths, though these could not be accurately verified. The fighting endangered the unity of Ethiopia, a federal patchwork of 80 ethnic groups. Ethiopia’s human rights chief said casualty estimates should be treated with caution. https://www.ft.com/content/2f385e95-0899-403a-9e3b-ed8c24adf4e7

FT Sweden is navigating an international identity crisis

It looks like the Swedes feel disoriented by a rapidly changing world. The right wing politicians benefit from the security concern among citizens. More important is the international situation for the country that long enjoyed neutrality and combined a free trade approach with multilateralism. Today political fragmentation is rife as the country chairs the EU for the first half of the year. Not to mention the wish to join NATO, caused by the territorial aggression of the Russian neighbor towards Ukraine. https://www.ft.com/content/15a1c4a2-6154-4c8a-90f0-eafa636f78b5

FT Former general takes lead in Czechia presidential election

He beat a former PM just acquitted of fraud charges with 35.4 percent of the votes during the first round. Turnout was 68 percent, up 6 percent from the 2018 election.  Other candidates have said they support the former general in the run off. The constitution of the country grants executive power to the government but presidents can wield much power. The outgoing president did just that. https://www.ft.com/content/f426077a-b227-4051-90a8-f1232e0681c4

FT Peru cracks down as violent protests spread

The state of emergency is declared after many died in clashes over the arrest of the elected president as he tried to close parliament. Major tourist areas are also affected. Analysts say the political class is part of the problem and elections may not solve much. Polls show very negative results for the current president and parliament. https://www.ft.com/content/178ed206-971c-4e77-9d0e-6aee188a4e60

January 17

FT U.S.A. tries to make up ground lost to Russia and China with finance chief trip

The U.S.A. treasury will visit Senegal, Zambia and South Africa to solicit favor as China has profiled itself as the biggest creditor and Africa is careful about the Russia invasion in Ukraine. This follows the summit in Washington in December. U.S.A. policy with regards to Africa in the past decade has been confusing and the current administration recognizes the enormous importance of Africa in future, emphasizing the importance of high added value jobs inside Africa. https://www.ft.com/content/23d66a41-e9ed-44d0-967f-279fee36dba7

FT In Italy top criminal held in medical clinic after 30-year hunt

His ability to evade arrest is a telling tale about the resilience of criminal gangs to champion their hold of society. The Italian PM travelled to the town of arrest to celebrate the occasion. https://www.ft.com/content/54b8d9d2-cade-4f63-8e3e-c064112501f3

FT In Iran protesters direct their scorn at regime leaders rather than president

Analysts say it is not that the president is any less unpopular among regime critics, but more a sign that many Iranians believe he has no agenda of his own and is simply doing the bidding of the supreme leader and other hardline centers of power. https://www.ft.com/content/665a501e-6c5c-489a-9505-9758a294b9ba

TT Virgin Mary statue in France to be removed in the name of secularism

A town council has been given six months by the Bordeaux appeal court to remove the statue from its 1.70m (5.5ft) pedestal on a road junction in the town. The court said the statue broke a 1905 law on the separation of church and state that outlaws religious signs and emblems in any public place in France. For decades, the law was applied half-heartedly. The mood has changed in a heated debate over religion prompted by immigration from French former colonies in Africa. Conservatives have demanded a strict application of the law. In western France  a local secularist association has filed lawsuits demanding the removal of several Christian statues. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/virgin-mary-statue-in-french-town-to-be-removed-in-the-name-of-secularism-ngghh0hr5

NYT Armed insurgents kidnap 50 women in Burkina Faso

The women were abducted while searching for food in a region that has been under a blockade by extremist groups for nearly a year. The government controls only about half of the country, according to estimates. The extremist groups have essentially blockaded the country’s north and economic activities are at a standstill, exposing lives. Through military convoys, the government and humanitarian groups have tried to get supplies to the isolated localities, but they have faced attacks, too. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/16/world/africa/kidnapping-burkina-faso.html

January 19

FT Israeli court orders government to reverse cabinet appointment

The person who holds the interior and health ministry portfolios, can not serve as a minister due to his previous criminal convictions. He only received a suspended sentence after a plea deal and had announced that he would quit politics. The government is furious. It already attempts to push through an overhaul of the judiciary to privilege politics over the judiciary. https://www.ft.com/content/a8c2c6ac-bd48-47c0-8d96-ec530b868cb9

FT In Turkey government invokes political hero to bring election forward against rising opposition

Election is planned on the 73rd anniversary of the election victory of the president’s hero, who ruled Turkey for 10 years until being deposed by the military in 1960 and convicted to death a year later. The president said that the election date is appropriate to “say ‘enough’ to these coup pranksters and incompetent aspirants.” https://www.ft.com/content/bb92ed04-e710-4e54-a5d9-e9013e604301

January 20

FT Nigeria holds out against OECD corporate tax deal

The finance minister said it would result in “net tax losses” for the country. Speaking at an economic forum on behalf of the African Union member states she states that the tax deal “seeks to prevent our countries from taking steps to tax thousands of out-of-scope companies”.  “Most of the enterprises in our countries are excluded,” she said, adding that “the rules are so complex it’s hard for us to comply”. https://www.ft.com/content/6b494549-041f-4767-8c79-cac51c746f22#post-a9334899-0f5e-4e10-a85d-7ba640a048f7

FT Pension rage workers strike across France

The disruption is likely to continue in the coming weeks as the government seeks to push a draft law on pension reform through parliament by the end of March. The main aim is to raise the pension age from 62 to 64. The battle is shaping up to be a test of Macron’s reformist credentials during his second term. The state pension system relies on current workers funding retirees’ benefits. This is risky as the population ages. Fewer people would have to pay for more pensioners. https://www.ft.com/content/71b09437-af27-44fe-8307-caf20ade7a7b

January 21

FT Kenyan killing exposes prejudices faced by LGBT+ Africans

The killing has exposed the struggle of LGBT+ people in a country where, as in much of Africa, homosexuality remains taboo and gay sex is punishable with prison. A representative of the community: “This is so heartbreaking, such lack of humanity troubles me deeply.” Kenyan police said that five suspects had been arrested in connection with the death, including one with whom the diceased is believed to have had a personal relationship. Some politicians used the murder to voice their prejudice against the group. https://www.ft.com/content/29a6db93-acde-4c4a-9c11-20fe852b7c9b

FT China’s women make a strong case with a birth strike

The birth rate is falling despite government policy. The best explanation for the falling birth rate is the simplest: like women the world over, Chinese women are no longer so willing to birth and bring up children. In a post-agrarian China, one no longer needs to have children in order to have hands for the harvest. Financial risk-pooling through a national pension fund reduces the need to see children as old-age investments. https://www.ft.com/content/b576db8d-d912-4a59-ba9f-33c5104f329d

FT Relatives angry as Covid kept off death certificates in China

Since the lifting of zero-Covid controls hospitals have been inundated with patients and crematoria have struggled to keep up with demand. But the government statistics do not show the same trend. Fear to draw up Covid as a reason on the necessary death certificate has been noticed. https://www.ft.com/content/50117091-cdac-4f61-8338-bf20d964fe4c

TT Tn the U.S.A. former president is furious with ‘disloyal’ former evangelical supporters

His outburst appears to breach the extraordinary alliance which saw prominent evangelical Christians turn a blind eye to the billionaire’s faults in return for long-sought policy goals. During his tenure he delivered them favorable legal appointments but now they keep their powder dry as the Republican convention offers several options of devout believers as candidates to run. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/donald-trump-furious-with-disloyal-former-evangelical-supporters-6fh97lmkg

TT In Ethiopia the Orthodox celebration — known as Timket — give opportunity for dating

It comes right after the harvest season and celebrates the baptism of Jesus. Featuring games, processions and dancing, it is traditionally a time when young Ethiopians search for love away from the prying eyes of relatives. It comes with traditional habits. But the custom is suffering due to the breaking down of taboos and the advent of social media. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/when-life-gives-you-lemons-throw-them-at-your-crush-k879zhjll

TT German cardinal: Vatican accord with China is like a deal with Hitler

In a new book listing complaints about the current pope the cardinal laments the Vatican’s silence over China’s crushing of human rights in Hong Kong, while on the other hand allowing China to influence church appointments in its country. The book, titled Good Faith and co-written with an Italian journalist, is a potential handbook for the Pope’s conservative foes. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pope-francis-deal-china-vatican-hitler-cardinal-attack-catholic-church-ck3ddg766

NYT Church of England will bless same-sex couples, but won’t marry them

The policy shift comes after six years of consultations on the issue within the church, which also apologized for its treatment of L.G.B.T.Q. people. The Church of England is the original church in the global Anglican Communion, which now claims tens of millions of members in 165 countries. The communion has been engaged in a bitter debate over how to treat its L.G.B.T.Q. members since 2003, when the American branch — the Episcopal Church — consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. The archbishop of Canterbury said he would not personally bless gay couples as he is the focus of unity in the global community. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/20/world/europe/church-england-same-sex-marriage.html

January 23

FT Israel removes key cabinet member on orders of Israeli high court

Legally the appointment of the minister was incorrect as he was the subject of corruption charges but only got discharged after he promised not to be involved in politics. The government announced that they would proceed with the plan to curb the powers of the judiciary. Critics fear that this will deal a blow to the country’s checks and balances. https://www.ft.com/content/cfc4b0ae-22ad-49da-af1d-fbeea35cd5ca

FT Sweden struggles with anti-Islam protest

The country wants to become a NATO member, but following a Koran burning at the Turkey embassy this NATO-member vowed it would veto Sweden’s inclusion if Turkey is not treated with respect. The Swedish government said that it considered the Koran burning “deeply disrespectful” but nevertheless granted permission to warrant freedom of expression of citizens. https://www.ft.com/content/638a8c10-a184-47b7-9f60-e54f1623879f

FT Brazil & Argentina plan joint currency

Studies are needed to find out what is needed for a joint currency, from fiscal issues, the size of the economy to the role of central banks. Not to mention the differences in economic power and outlook. Argentina defaulted in 2020. Other Latin American nations will later be invited to join to form the second largest currency union in the world. FT estimates it would represent 5 percent of world GDP. The largest currency union, the EU, has 14 percent. https://www.ft.com/content/5347d263-7f24-4966-8da4-79485d1287b4

FT In the U.S.A. splits are appearing in opposition party over abortion policy

The former president claims the disappointing mid-term election result comes from voter dissatisfaction about total abortion bans which are now appearing on state level, after the Supreme Court skipped the federal rule. Some presidential hopefuls are pushing for stricter federal bans. https://www.ft.com/content/54883308-9e0f-4006-be00-6c335d3cf4cb

January 24

FT Burkina Faso orders withdrawal of French troops

The military government wants to do the job itself. France has 400 troops in the country. Most of the north is in terrorist hands. The president of Ghana claims that Burkina Faso wants to hire Russian mercenaries, causing a row with the government of Burkina Faso. https://www.ft.com/content/2f44351f-87b5-46e2-b3dc-7a0675cbe6ae

FT Nigeria begins court case in Britain to overturn arbitration award

The government in the past lost the arbitration case to an obscure off-shore company. The fine has risen to $11bn with interest — more than Nigeria’s most recent budget for its health, education and justice ministries combined. The company that won the case is now in the hands of a hedge fund that specializes in distressed debt. https://www.ft.com/content/a2f5443d-6437-4042-b0c6-7b4d3f69959a

FT Egypt needs to get real about reducing military hold over economy

The recent deal to that effect with the IMF was struck in limited negotiations behind closed doors. Also, privatization has been done before to limited effect. The government is moving a growing list of state assets from government hands to the control of an expanding number of newly established bodies directly under the president. https://www.ft.com/content/1e715e32-c89d-44cb-9cfa-c996cecdb072

FT U.S.A. treasury visiting Zambia urges China to cooperate in restructuring debt

Zambia defaulted in 2020 and has since heard little from China about the owed debt. Some claim this is due to lack of coordination among various Chinese lenders. An IMF deal is stuck until the current debt crisis is resolved. https://www.ft.com/content/6c318284-cae0-4293-bbef-ac6805b19c06

FT Serbs in Kosovo push for autonomy

The minority claims their rights are eroding. https://www.ft.com/content/9b962cb0-1eb8-4b3e-869e-fdfbe5113aec

FT in Lebanon reopening 2020 blast probe by judge disputed

The case had been frozen amid accusations of high-level political meddling and impropriety. The blast is known to be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. Many blame the political establishment and the evolving economic breakdown for it. Lebanon’s judiciary, in which appointments largely depend on patronage in the country’s power-sharing system, has long faced accusations that it lacks independence. The state prosecutor has challenged the decision to reopen the investigation. https://www.ft.com/content/e9266d9c-6894-4a7f-b315-ea70a21138de

January 25

FT In Nigeria political elite trade blows with former president

The 85 year old had advised to vote for the relatively young (61) presidential hopeful. In his open letter he referred to the median age of Nigerians (18) and urged the young: “You have the numbers. Get up, stand up and make your numbers count.” He lamented the policy ruins of the outgoing government. Behind the colorful verbal fight looms a maturing political process where political failure is having consequences. https://www.ft.com/content/5bb32825-0b5b-461d-946e-1a8e3915220c

FT Ukraine sacks top official to ease corruption concerns

Earlier  the influence of oligarchs was curbed but the problem persisted. One of the government officials sacked now had travelled abroad for a holiday in the middle of the Russian invasion. https://www.ft.com/content/9b5da3fc-d408-4df2-84ca-48bdcbde594e

FT Right wing party in Spain stirs abortion concerns

The party leader pointed to the strict abortion rules in Hungary, which require women to listen to a foetal heartbeat before they can terminate a pregnancy. The party is possibly needed in a coalition government. https://www.ft.com/content/6fc6d346-123e-464a-a873-d2e908da509d

TT Pope tells critics to say it in his face

The Pope threw down the gauntlet to enemies of his “mercy-over-dogma” style. On homosexuality he said: “Lets distinguish between a sin and a crime.” The latter tendency he attributed to cultural backgrounds. Defending his China diplomacy, he said that “we must walk patiently in China”. “The dialogue doesn’t break”. However, he admitted: “Sometimes they are a little closed, sometimes not.”


January 26

FT School should stimulate curiosity, not careers

In the present day global economic situation the first response is to prepare pupils for the labor market. But schools are educational institutions and can serve that purpose best by teaching their students to look around. Apart from mental and physical health, schools do best by making their students versatile, able to adapt to changing situations. https://www.ft.com/content/1c3c5f21-6826-46c8-997a-7c9a586fc6a2

FT Taiwan president names new PM to shore up support

The new PM managed the Covid19 crisis very effectively as a vice-president until leaving for academia in May 2020. The ruling party wants to show its resolve after elections showed failing support. Major elections are due in January next year. The new PM, a devout Catholic, was sent to represent the country at the funeral of the former Pope this month. https://www.ft.com/content/bac97a9a-8110-4890-accb-248f3ba24c35

FT Pakistan risks to go the same way as Sri Lanka

There is an acute shortage of foreign exchange and regular blackouts that damage the industry. The country tries to revive the IMF deal. What stands in the way for the government is to implement economic reforms, including stopping energy subsidies. https://www.ft.com/content/560319d3-df5c-476c-9005-8f4bea09eac9

FT In China strikes over unpaid wages are cracked down

A crackdown by more than a dozen local governments over alleged “malicious” labor activism hits migrant workers. Authorities point to using the existing options to get worker rights addressed. The problem is exacerbated by poor enforcement of labor laws, making it difficult for workers to seek redress through legal channels. https://www.ft.com/content/779512aa-6a73-47ce-b924-471fa63dc5a1

NYT Tanzania’s top opposition politician returns from self-imposed exile

The return follows this month’s lift of a yearslong ban on political rallies that had been seen by some as an attempt to weaken the opposition. The current president, who took over from her diseased predecessor, has reversed some of the policies that gave her predecessor the nickname “bulldozer”. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/25/world/africa/tanzania-tundu-lissu-returns-exile.html

January 27

TT In Haiti rebel police raid PM home and airport

The police acted in protest over the death of 54 police due to violence in recent months. When the police found the PM was not at home but instead returning from a summit in Argentina, they went to the airport and abused others. The PM was escorted out of the airport in tight security. The UN estimates about 60 per cent of the country is under gang rule. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/haiti-rebel-police-attack-airport-and-prime-ministers-villa-kw08lrrn0

January 28

FT Reception of Russia foreign minister in South Africa shows propaganda success

The foreign minister of South Africa indicated that the country’s neutrality was in danger as the west supplies battle tanks to Ukraine. Earlier she called the demand for simple withdrawal of Russia from Ukraine “simplistic and infantile”. This is a warning that Russia is not as isolated in its territorial aggression, a stark warning as the first anniversary of the Russia invasion into Ukraine approaches. Russia still benefits from its anti-colonial stand. https://www.ft.com/content/2b7ee958-5f70-4da8-9695-2f17238dc61a

TT In DRC Catholics see the church as the one institution that is reliably on their side

For many Congolese, the Catholic church is the only stable and functioning institution they have known. The church played a major role in bringing down the former president.  The cardinal: “Once you are in politics you no longer care about the people, you care about what you put in your pocket”. The government: “The church holds enormous power within the country, it a “state within a state”. If politicians were corrupt, the church is at least partly to blame. These politicians are raised by the church.” The pope will soon visit the country, another politically strategic destination for him after CAR in 2015. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nation-where-the-catholic-church-can-topple-governments-lx8hzvrlh


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, valuable for SDG16.