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

January 30

FT Nigeria delays phasing out of old bank­notes after protests

The plan was delayed by 10 days after it was picked up as an issue in the campaign for the presidential election of February 25. The plan is designed to fight counterfeiting and reduce the use of cash, although the impact on the latter issue is unclear. https://ft.pressreader.com/1389/20230130/281578064800717

FT  Doubts rise over common currency plan Brazil and Argentina

While economists have questioned the viability of the idea, political forces have been less critical, given the wish for regional integration. The finance minister of the former government of Brazil has promoted the idea several times, arguing it would encourage fiscal discipline. A background of the idea is the wish to stabilize the Argentine economy. Initially the common currency would be limited to mutual trade and exist alongside the main currencies. Critics fear the common currency would increase economic turbulence in Brazil. The economies of the two countries are too different. https://ft.pressreader.com/1389/20230130/281603834604493

FT The blurring borders between geopolitics and culture war

The invasion in Ukraine is justified by Russia as a defense of the traditional family. On the other side the “war on woke” is in full force in conservative U.S.A. politics. But while the overlap is striking, gender and geopolitics can lead to different approaches, as we can see if we compare Poland and Hungary. A typical case is Israel, leaning left on gender issues, it has an aggressive geopolitical position. https://www.ft.com/content/8e8d0f8e-dd29-41c4-80a6-90bd3676208b

January 31

FT Blast of mosque in Pakistan’s tribal region kills 59

The attacker made his way through multiple barricades to the mosque on a police compound. A commander for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter. A background is the threat of default of the currency. Pakistan is stuck between China Belt & Road lending and the IMF governance demands. https://ft.pressreader.com/1389/20230131/281492165456819

FT In Spain government in problems over law against sexual assault

The new law prepared by the left wing coalition partner has an adverse effect, causing reduced time in jail for some offenders. The lawmakers accuse the judiciary for incorrect application and refuse to change the law. https://www.ft.com/content/dd84903c-3565-4239-8d16-a22f0bc57412

February 1

FT Conservatives are too keen on money to win the culture war

Conservatism is to a large extent self-eroding. A philosophy that (rightly) salutes enterprise will in affluent cultures not attract enough people who want to serve in the culture-shaping institutions. Sure enough, the culture becomes less and less conservative. https://www.ft.com/content/6f84ddaf-bc49-4f28-a423-5d0085980646

FT In the U.S.A. state of New Mexico oil production overheats economy

In the land-locked state of New Mexico production hit a record high last year as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine helped drive energy prices higher. The state of New Mexico’s crude production last year eclipsed output from the entire country of Mexico. The labor market is fully overstressed and even a driver’s license can warrant a well-paid job. https://www.ft.com/content/ce6d6cb3-d9bc-4571-b0a3-714f95599a10

TT In DRC Pope Francis rails against colonialist greed in Africa

He has made an impassioned plea for an end to “the poison of greed” that is “choking Africa”. The pope: “One has the impression that the international community has practically resigned itself to the violence devouring. We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths. Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa.” https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pope-francis-rails-against-colonialist-greed-on-africa-tour-n6j0pcjjf

NYT In Tunisia support for reforming president seems slipping after parliament vote

Only 11.4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the runoff on Sunday, only slightly more than the 11.2 percent in the first round — the lowest turnout in any global election in decades. Banking on his initial widespread popularity, the president (himself a constitutional law professor) rewrote Tunisia’s post-Arab Spring Constitution last year, giving the president sweeping authority and demoting Parliament to an advisory body. He also issued a new electoral law banning political parties from involvement in the election, so that voters chose individual candidates rather than voting for party lists as they had done in previous elections. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/31/world/middleeast/tunisia-president-kais-saied-elections.html

February 2

FT Lebanon devalues currency with 90 percent

Lebanon has multiple exchange rates that govern depositors’ withdrawals from frozen bank accounts, customs duties, public sector salaries, fuel prices and telecommunications, among others. Analysts said it was a costly stop-gap in the absence of wider structural reforms to Lebanon’s troubled economy. One analyst: “What’s been needed for the past three years is a broader economic recovery plan with a restructuring of the financial system, not another piecemeal measure.” https://www.ft.com/content/f37617e1-098b-459f-9502-50ffb50c6c0c

FT India to boost government spending by a third

It also unveiled a business-friendly budget meant to spur growth and please key constituencies ahead of an upcoming general election. The Finance minister: “Investment in infrastructure and productivity have a large multiplier impact on growth and employment. The budget takes the lead once again to ramp up the virtuous circle of investment and job creation.” Later the PM described the middle class as “a huge force in fulfilling the dreams of a prosperous and developed India”. https://www.ft.com/content/9085bc69-25ed-49e5-a1b4-7dde2a66dbb4

FT The world lacks an effective global system to deal with debt

There is an alarming tendency among the international community to regard debts in the developing world as sustainable because they can, after some sacrifice, be paid off. But this is like saying a poor family will stay afloat because they always repay their loan sharks. In 2021, developing countries paid $400bn in debt service, more than twice the amount they received in official development aid. Foreign debts are eating an ever-larger piece of an ever-shrinking national resources pie. An independent sovereign debt authority that engages with creditor and debtor interests, both institutional and private, is urgently needed. https://www.ft.com/content/d767580d-2db3-43f2-a509-2b29eb81003a

NYT In DRC pope appealed directly to the warring groups

He pleaded to put down their weapons and forgive one another. He was forced to abandon his plan to visit the east because of the spike in fighting there. In a special audience he came face to face with those who have lived through those horrific experiences. They explained to him about the “almost animalistic brutality” of armed groups. He touched their wounds and concluded: “A new future will come about if we see others no longer as adversaries or enemies.” https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/01/world/africa/pope-francis-africa-congo.html

February 3

FT In U.S.A. police receives less training than in other western countries

Police training in average is 652 hours compared with 3,500 hours needed to obtain a plumbing license. In Finland police officers undergo 5,500 hours of training to qualify. Some argue that the U.S.A. is over policed, but studies show the numbers are similar to comparable countries. It is argued that the focus of recruitment needs to change from weapons and tactics, more to “decision-making, communications and other critical skills that are always needed. https://ft.pressreader.com/1389/20230203/281655374220813

February 4

FT The first black rugby world cup winning team captain of South Africa speaks out

The newspaper interviews the incarnate result of Mandela’s rugby diplomacy. The former president won the hearts of grumbling Apartheid supporters by carrying the national rugby shirt. One of seven global figures in a Netflix series on leadership, the rugby national team captain has his public ministry touch. When asked about his leadership philosophy he refers to his early lessons in responsibility. “I knew I had to look after my family too. I learnt about community. People around us always helped.” https://www.ft.com/content/3661ab1d-ef3d-4927-9d93-18be3720338c

FT Ireland seeks to modify constitutional article stipulating the domestic role of females

The country struggles with the text worded 90 years ago by a politician with an unhappy, poverty induced youth. Other issues in the constitution have been changed. In this issue polarization is rife. Change proponents blast their opponents with terms like “fascist” and “sexist”. The supporters  see the change plan as an attempt “to erase women who choose a different way of life”. A new holiday is inaugurated to celebrate the national patron St Brigid, a 5th century nun typically born to unmarried parents and forced to work for her father. https://www.ft.com/content/36a47d24-7808-448f-ba8f-3f435ef353ef

NYT Pope Francis and other Christian leaders condemn anti-gay laws

On his return journey from Juba to Rome the pope said about a country that penalizes homosexual acts, that “to condemn a person like this is a sin.” He made the comments in a remarkable joint in-flight news conference with the head of the Anglican Communion and Scotland’s top Presbyterian minister. The joint visit to South Sudan was part of the “ecumenical journey for peace”. The clerics admitted that the gender struggle is between cultures. Their colleagues from Africa are skeptical of the West’s inflicting its views of sexuality on African cultures. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/05/world/africa/pope-francis-africa-homosexuality.html

February 6

FT Iran pardons ‘tens of thousands’ of prisoners

The government made the announcement as the republic marked the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Among the released may be protesters of the recent civil unrest. It is considered that the government tries to restore credibility with this move. https://www.ft.com/content/d1dd960b-5ada-4536-bf8d-ce81b70f9555

FT Pakistan in on the brink

The newspaper blames the political elite who offer little choice and competence and live in their capital bubble. The foreign exchange reserves dwindled to just $3.7bn late last month, equivalent to just three weeks’ of imports. That compares to total public debt of $270bn, around 79 per cent of GDP. Just keeping the lights on is seemingly tough. China, the IMF and the Paris Club of creditor nations need to bring Pakistan into debt-restructuring negotiations. The whole global debt handling architecture is urgently in need of innovation, see February 2. https://www.ft.com/content/9ea7f155-3c4e-48f0-8125-3f64faacf0eb

February 7

FT Nigeria attempt to change banknotes descents into chaos

Many banks were not supplied with enough of the new notes to meet demand. The new currency is meant to be harder to counterfeit. The failing scheme was also meant to stop vote buying ahead of the election of February 25. Citizens are encouraged to pay by card but this infrastructure also fell victim to excess demand. The black market benefits. https://www.ft.com/content/952e8047-63a9-4a91-8f15-6f00cd388a95

FT In China pro-democracy activists go on trial in landmark national security case

The autonomous city of Hong Kong is forcefully put into central Chinese hold. The 47 activists were arrested in 2020 in one swoop and denied pre-trial bail. Another case against media figures is expected for later this year.  https://www.ft.com/content/10830d35-8152-499f-8ea5-ea8594e7bfd7

FT In Lebanon re-opening of blast probe reignites feud inside judiciary

The unexpected move by a judge has reignited a bitter feud inside the fragile walls of the judiciary that threatens to drag the dysfunctional country — led by a paralyzed caretaker government and without a president — even further towards the abyss. The inquiry initially stalled but the judge has not given up. Protests in support are difficult as many citizens struggle to survive. https://www.ft.com/content/6002c06c-dedb-4732-afa7-71af48695f4c

February 8

FT Russia creates a second front in Africa

The relationship with CAR is the most striking example of how effective Russia has been in parts of Africa with a cut-price strategy that mixes propaganda, arms sales, mining activity and mercenaries. While the war effort in Ukraine is considered a costly mistake, in a belt of formerly Francophone areas Russia is successful with relatively little effort, wielding national influence and subverting European ties. Russia’s success in Africa has blindsided the west, which had been more focused on the inroads being made by China. Success is not everywhere. It primarily concerns countries with weak institutions. https://www.ft.com/content/0c459575-5c72-4558-821e-b495c9db9b6f

FT Pollsters aim to bring public insight to Nigeria’s elections for the first time

A complex election system and poor societal data collection are the hurdles but a new venture is trying to deal with it all. The aim is also to raise awareness of real issues. The problem is to steer away from misusing the system. Nigerians go to the polls on February 25 to choose a replacement for the sitting president, who is stepping down after two terms, and members of both houses of parliament. On March 11 they are scheduled to elect governors and members of state legislatures. https://www.ft.com/content/87f0f606-a36f-4a91-b5f0-169a78c35a0d

FT In France civil unrest continues over rising pension age

The government plan to raise the retirement age in France by two years to 64 is meeting stiff resistance in parliament and on the streets. The government suffered after winning the presidential election as they lost the majority in parliament in elections shortly thereafter. The government does have the power to override lawmakers and pass legislation by decree under the French constitution, but that will greatly raise tensions. But finding a majority in parliament is eroding the government’s plans. https://www.ft.com/content/93ab1203-88ef-4ffe-9cc3-1107e3ce4982

FT Referendum gamble backfires for Ecuador’s government

Faced with a hostile parliament, the government organized a referendum about changes and lost. In this way its agenda stalled halfway into a four-year term, despite fulfilling Covid-19 vaccination targets and successfully restructuring debt with China. The opposition won significantly and its leader, convicted in absentia and now in exile, called for early elections. https://www.ft.com/content/3f9391bc-05d6-4701-85a0-b0efe14d5f84

February 9

FT Nigeria top court halts change of largest currency notes

The decision was taken pending the hearing of a lawsuit brought by three northern states challenging the new currency redesign. It adjourned that hearing until February 15. The move suffers from logistical problems to supply the new notes. Nigerian anti-corruption agencies and the president have alleged that some banks are hoarding the new currency. The three states are governed by the federal ruling party. The problems expose differences within this party. https://www.ft.com/content/e1f25627-bc14-41b7-b56e-2e11ccef04d3

FT New government in Brazil plans to boost racial equality

The newly recreated ministry for racial equality is led by a 38-year-old political novice from a poor neighborhood and the sister of a politician murdered 5 years ago. She faces an uphill battle, as the budget is just a fraction of what former progressive governments had at their disposal for fighting inequality. The new cabinet includes a record number of indigenous and black Brazilians as well as women. https://www.ft.com/content/811fff50-a001-48fe-b42b-f84a3118a3bb

FT Capital of Germany ordered by court to rerun chaotic local elections

Berlin is considered by some a “failed city-state”. The failure of bureaucracy culminated in dysfunctional local elections. Behind it are political culture wars. The city is run by progressive parties, but suffers from the multicultural composition of the citizenry. The conservatives, now winning in the polls, have their own controversial side. After riots the party asked police to provide the first names of those arrested. Critics suspect in this way they want to expose immigrant backgrounds of rioters. https://www.ft.com/content/f3b1ef35-ac5e-4505-9ad7-3c23015f5e31

February 10

FT How Russia’s propaganda machine is reshaping the African narrative

Aided by memories of the financial and military support the Soviet Union gave to African liberation struggles, Russia is welcome in much of the continent. In some places it is actively promoted as an alternative to the west. Russia creates an authoritarian stability model which they equate with anti-neocolonialism. Soft power through the media is actively used and covers up darker military operations. https://www.ft.com/content/d427c855-c665-4732-9dd1-3ae314464d12

FT Finland, invaded in history by Russia 10 times, has defense as a national drill

Finland has a very long border with Russia, but also a successful democracy, rule of law and a well-functioning society. Leaders from all sectors, including politics, business, government and civil society attend the prestigious National Defense Course in which participants practice responding to different types of crises. It all starts at school, has conscription for males and an integrated security mechanism. Even the U.S.A. after hurricane Katrina enquired how the system functions. https://www.ft.com/content/7c8cebc4-8107-45d8-8f58-2382277fdd0c

FT A letter to the editor on the recent discussion about a rising role of non-dollar reserve currencies

“The fundamental reasons for the dollar’s global role are that the U.S.A. remains the world’s largest and most open economy at market exchange rates; that the country respects and enforces the rule of law; that its financial markets are the largest, most liquid and least controlled and that the dollar is freely convertible. To suggest that China, Russia or Saudi Arabia can hope to replicate these attributes in the foreseeable future is to ignore reality.” https://www.ft.com/content/cd54b8ad-6367-4242-9c4a-43ab274e14ef

February 11

FT South Africa declares ‘national state of disaster’ over blackouts

The president says rolling power cuts are ‘an existential threat to our economy and our social fabric’. He pledged support for the national energy company, which has low funds for crucial maintenance and is battling the looting of power plants. He promised that funds would not be abused under cover of the disaster, acknowledging public fury at corruption and mismanagement. https://www.ft.com/content/74c75caa-d39f-4df7-b455-3b88d8363fb4

FT Moldova PM quits as Ukraine war erodes support for pro-EU government

The pro-EU government has been attempting to ram through reforms demanded by Brussels before it can begin EU accession talks, weakening public support in the post-Soviet republic where pro-Russian sentiment has deep historical roots. The PM is succeeded by her national security minister. https://www.ft.com/content/654a52e8-f90a-4b7b-9d8e-339ec0a189bc

February 13

FT The untold story of the world’s most resilient currency, that of Thailand

During the Asian financial crisis of 1998 Thailand was “ground zero”. From there the government  maintained the approach to put the currency to free float against the dollar, exercising orthodox financial policy with an open economy. Significantly, inflation has kept low. Only the Swiss franc has outperformed the Thai baht. But Switzerland does not have the same political upheaval as Thailand. https://www.ft.com/content/f280de11-48c7-4526-aa92-ad1e1b7b6ed1

FT Opposition wins rerun Berlin local election in Germany after court order (see February 9)

They see the result as a vindication of their campaign message that Berlin was a dysfunctional city that needed a radical change of course. The result is also a blow for the federal government. But the election winner is shunned by the other parties. A coalition is necessary and the early signs are that the losing parties will form that. https://www.ft.com/content/8b65e355-7031-4d99-80ef-d087a5e71255

February 14

FT Zambia debt deal with China at risk due to new demands

China holds the bulk of debts but now wants international multilateral lenders to be included in the deal. This would overturn a decades-old rule in sovereign lending that they should be exempt from debt restructuring because they act as lenders of last resort and charge little interest. China last year agreed in principle to give Zambia relief in tandem with other official creditors through a G20 process known as the common framework. China is known to be reluctant to set any precedent for taking direct haircuts on its loans to developing nations. https://www.ft.com/content/b136a36b-5822-4647-8efe-67fc18b00ea3

FT Civil unrest in Israel over planned judicial overhaul as lawmakers begin vote

The ceremonial president warned during an unusually blunt address on Sunday that the polarization sparked by the proposed judicial overhaul had brought Israel to “the brink of constitutional and social collapse”. The government steers towards government control over judicial appointments and barring the top court from striking down Israel’s quasi-constitutional “Basic Laws”. https://www.ft.com/content/29fcc89b-618b-4098-a8c5-65bcf29e976f

FT Low rise city in the Netherlands becomes global tech hub

The transformation story is akin to that of a disruptive start-up setting out with just a kitchen table, garden sheds and maverick inventors. But it has two uniquely Dutch ingredients: the polder model of government, which brings politicians, companies and unions together to find joint solutions; and Philips, the electronics conglomerate that started making lightbulbs in 1891. Interestingly, while the electronics leader lost pace its sold parts made a rise dwarfing their parent company. https://www.ft.com/content/c702c9f0-7f45-47d2-a0b3-6a6525e4b583

FT Political crisis in Peru deepens

Parliament is unable to reach an agreement on a date for early elections as polls show their unpopularity (see January 16). Civic protests continue. The current crisis has long been brewing — Peru has had six presidents in five years. A major issue is changing the constitution of 1993 which hails from an authoritarian period. https://www.ft.com/content/a353839d-4c36-446c-b680-ff7097d3918e

February 15

FT Russia’s growing trade in arms, oil and African politics

In 2019 Russia promised Africa a doubling of trade. The latest figures (2021) show only 25 percent increase. Russia works through the scheme politics first, economics second and considers the opposite approach to be “unsteady”. In reality the economic muscle of Russia is not at par with the other global powers. Russia’s political record on Africa is consistent and Africa considers Russia’s Security Council seat an asset as an ally to avoid being targeted from there. https://www.ft.com/content/cb0f2fe7-5555-497d-806c-5c4c2be15e7f

FT Tunisia launches crackdown on opposition with wave of arrests

The president of the country has ruled by decree since suspending parliament in 2021. The leaders of the moderate Islamist party and a secular party critical of the government were both arrested. The former party calls the arrests “kidnap”. Some judges, businessmen and NGO figures were also arrested. There is no unifying principle behind the arrests and it follows a referendum (see July 27) and vote for parliament (see February 1). https://www.ft.com/content/15ff4e6a-eb1d-42fa-aee4-4f425bdb6f73

FT After earthquake government of Turkey faces backlash over 2018 building regulation amnesty

The government approved 7.4mn applications within a year and a half, providing legal status to buildings that had breached a broad set of basic licensing, design and safety rules. The scheme raised  $4.2bn in building registration fees. This legalization of low quality building is becoming an issue with elections due in three months. https://www.ft.com/content/6113a9d2-25d4-4329-bb6a-0a50b1cff30c

February 16

FT  Low income countries desperately need better access to generic medicines

It is often assumed that generic drugs are affordable and widely available to those who need them. But this is not entirely true. For example, even after patent expiries open the door to generic rivals, low levels of competition between companies in smaller markets means that generics can actually be more expensive in poor countries than in wealthy ones. Ninety percent of medicines included on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines are off-patent, meaning companies can make their own versions of these key products. This opportunity should be used. https://www.ft.com/content/99d64932-fd04-488f-9c63-b3646083cbbc

FT NGOs accuse EU’s lending arm of due diligence failings in Kenya case

The European Investment Bank, has been accused by two NGOs of failing to properly investigate allegations of the fraudulent use of its funds by directors at a now-bankrupt Kenyan construction company. The newspaper is also met with unwillingness to investigate the case further. https://www.ft.com/content/cdda4973-3957-45c2-b3ff-dc80218323de

FT Elderly in China protest against health insurance reforms

Tens of thousands of Chinese pensioners took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against health insurance reforms that were introduced as cash-strapped city governments sought to control spending in the aftermath of China’s costly zero-Covid policy. This follows the government’s move to divert money from a mandatory health savings plan for workers to a state-controlled outpatient insurance fund. Funding the health system is a struggle for the government, while the pensioners see the new policy as robbery. https://www.ft.com/content/49430f0f-440f-4f36-aa77-3c433db4a2be

FT Independence movement of Scotland suffers after leader resigns

The leaving PM claims that her successor will  bring Scotland to independence from Britain. Her move is related to the national government refusing to rerun the 2014 referendum that she lost. Her plan B was to use the next general election as a de facto referendum. Her party has been in power in Scotland since 2007. https://www.ft.com/content/bbc13407-6286-43e5-9d22-6dc296c7aa9a

February 17

FT Switzerland rules out confiscating Russian assets over Ukraine war

The government says confiscation would breach national and international law. Calls in Europe intensify for the seizure of Russian wealth held abroad to help fund Ukraine’s defense and reconstruction. Switzerland has made clear that any permanent moves against assets held within its borders would be illegal. “The expropriation of private assets of lawful origin without compensation is not permissible under Swiss law,” the government said on Thursday. The EU acknowledges that the idea is complicated. https://www.ft.com/content/ec1d9ca1-0511-46e9-8ade-e92b2a05c48f

February 18

FT Poverty campaigners spur overhaul World Bank

It is advocated to choose a leader that is in touch with the needs of borrowers in poorer countries. The bank has also been criticized for being too slow to deliver finance. The average time taken to disburse funds is 465 days. The implicit agreement between the world’s richest economies that the two main Bretton Woods institutions — the IMF and World Bank — are run by a European and a US citizen respectively has also come under fire. https://www.ft.com/content/7e56b1a1-91b6-4cc4-945b-6b46b6c70553

FT Russia stamps out free speech in its society

Hundreds of cases related to anti war speech and protests are now going through the courts. Since February 24, when Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor began, the crackdown has been all-embracing, leaving virtually no corner of society untouched. Around 20,000 people were detained for political and anti war protests. Protests have virtually disappeared. One accused said to the judge: “To prove my innocence, all you have to do is open the constitution and read it.” https://www.ft.com/content/f487fb5a-42c9-4720-8fd7-658d18045520

FT China promotes its anti-corruption campaign on prime time TV in crime drama “The Knockout”

Anti-corruption action is seen as a way to shore up the credibility of the government in the one party state. The recent series has a more nuanced plot as compared to earlier broadcasts and is focusing on the decades-long rivalry between a clean cop and a crime boss. It has drawn stronger reviews. But the adherence to the party line is paramount. The policeman obeys the party hierarchy, awaiting his orders before acting. https://www.ft.com/content/abdeebc2-0bbe-4c78-83bd-a4515d814694

February 20

FT The old arguments for debt cancellation in Africa no longer apply

In an op-ed the author argues that a repeat of the 2000 campaign would ignore the need to demand stronger accountability and force much-needed institutional reform. By then the total debt in Africa had grown from 40 bn to 300 bn in two decades. 31 countries got a significant portion of their debt cancelled. Still today, after two more decades debt has grown to 700 bn, mostly from other sources than the previous creditors. They include domestic private investors, like pension funds. https://www.ft.com/content/3d486150-238e-4909-8b19-4cec9a68f5a2

FT Western pleas over Ukraine fail to sway African and South American leaders

The U.S.A. vice-president argued at a Munich security conference that “no nation is safe” in a world where “one country can violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another”. The South responds with skepticism that other problems are neglected. China cleverly frames itself as part of the developing world, a partner in defending sovereignty and development, and announced a peace plan in the coming days for the Russian invasion in Ukraine. https://www.ft.com/content/f41949bb-0812-4b43-8ced-e10ca24d2e91

FT The young are making their voice heard at Nigeria election

37mn Nigerians aged 18 to 34 who are eligible to vote on February 25. A relatively young candidate (61) is making much progress but is predicted to face an uphill battle against the powerful elite. Some experts are predicting a second-round run-off for the first time in Nigerian history. Previous Nigerian elections were plagued by low turnout — just 35 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in 2019. This is considered an advantage for the incumbent party. https://www.ft.com/content/14f58930-3aa2-4379-b2fb-af76a3d454a9

FT India’s creeping clampdown on free expression

The newspaper in an editorial exposes the government clamp down on the BBC for a documentary on the federal PM’s role as a state PM earlier in handling religious riots. Generally it is observed that the federal government warms up to media moguls, not unlike other countries like Russia, Turkey and Hungary. The global picture of decline in press freedom is worrying. https://www.ft.com/content/a17191ec-26fc-4880-9f39-11b9b5f6654f

FT Brazil rules out amnesty for rioters who stormed centers of power

The opposition had suggested an amnesty. The justice minister considers the riots a coup attempt that needs to be dealt with proportionally. He claims the military did not take sides because of the extreme violence of the rioters. https://www.ft.com/content/1da581ff-4013-44c5-ad44-4cea8cf6fa28

February 21

FT Burkina Faso announces French military task force has left the country

A flag lowering ceremony took place over the weekend. The current regime (second coup within a year after democratic elections 8 months ago) says its own troops will fight Islamists. Along with Guinea and Mali they seek to reintegrate in ECOWAS, after being expelled following the coup. The French development minister identified the withdrawal as “a matter of sovereignty”. The regime is open to other partners and has also said to be still interested in French military hardware. https://www.ft.com/content/c899cd24-696e-4df7-9b97-ee0d38c2426f

February 23

FT Developing countries’ debts mount as pandemic and strong dollar hit finances

Government debts alone hit almost 65 per cent of gross domestic product by the end of 2022, 10 percent higher than before the pandemic and an all time high. The high value of the dollar has worsened the situation. Developing countries’ debt increased by 30 %. In comparison advanced economies hold double the value in debt, but it reduced over the pandemic. https://www.ft.com/content/107cd26b-7fb0-4ff6-b698-350b8d3bee7a

FT South Africa expands public borrowing to relieve debt energy company

The financial injection is meant to fight the increasing blackouts through the ageing coal plants in the country that look increasingly beyond repair. How the influence of crime cartels is tackled is still unclear. The outgoing CEO of the national energy company was removed with immediate effect after he publicly blamed politics for the situation. https://www.ft.com/content/68c3c6d6-001f-4788-ad53-aceafb27bf20

FT Australia’s Treasurer says $2.3tn pensions pool should fund ‘nation-building’

The treasurer set out his plans to reform capitalism in a 6,000-word essay that cited Greek philosopher Heraclitus and attacked what he called “a negative form of supply-side economics”. He wants to use the enormous pool of pension funds for social investment and in this way steer away from the post-Communist neoliberalism agenda. https://www.ft.com/content/847c1cd7-be72-420d-a03d-b05d234f42f3

FT Election in Nigeria: How a third party disrupted a two-horse race

Sceptics say that the third candidate’s tiny Labour party, which has no governors and only one senator, lacks the organizational capacity to get the vote out or to properly monitor the country’s nearly 177,000 polling stations. Also the third party is primarily supported in urban and in southern areas. Yet, the election is more open than previous elections in a country that before 2050 will pass the U.S.A. as third most populated country in the world. https://www.ft.com/content/0d8f6bb7-c9f4-4c6c-832f-51dd58d6497d

February 24

FT Nigeria election tightly run due to institutional and societal setbacks

The ruling party candidate remains publicly confident of victory against his challengers. An incumbent candidate has only lost one in six elections since the country returned to democracy in 1999. The pick of a fellow Muslim as running mate — which upended two decades of dual-religion presidential tickets — was also designed to win support among the country’s largest voting blocs. But a third promising candidate has upended the usual two party contest and might trigger a run off. https://www.ft.com/content/0115daa2-f703-4cdd-b10e-e5317914124d

FT Ruling party in South Africa fights back over accusations of corruption in energy supply

The outgoing CEO of the state energy company is accused of being a “naysayer” with “rightwing ideological posture” on Thursday after he claimed in a television interview that ANC politicians were complicit in high-level graft at his company and also aired his wider opinion about politics in the country. The ruling party accused him of an “opportunistic venture into the political arena” and “undermining the efforts of patriotic South Africans”. He was laid off with immediate effect. The former CEO warned against even bigger blackouts. https://www.ft.com/content/ff18849a-2fc7-4312-bb3b-e729e9ad6f2e

FT Israel’s alarming plans to erode judicial powers

The newspaper spends an editorial with this headline on the plans to politicize the judicial power in Israel, calling it “naked illiberalism” with “consequences that even affect the west”. The newspaper admits that concern about over-reach of the legal system is legitimate, but adds that this does not warrant the “blatant power grab” on show now. The newspaper says one reason for the west to support Israel was the independent judiciary, which is now at risk. https://www.ft.com/content/d17b872f-1330-4143-b6e3-35bff95bb1f1

FT Mexico government targets election watch dog with new law

The law seeks to reduce the budget and the powers of the national election institute ahead of the 2024 election. Despite its role in the return to democracy in 2000, the government claims the institute is corrupt. The opposition now plans to bring the new law as unconstitutional before the Supreme Court. https://www.ft.com/content/30a3093b-1273-4bcd-a254-13ec6f2c1b7c

FT South Africa’s Russia stance shows it has lost the moral high ground

The newspaper’s Africa editor concludes that the country’s position has shifted from an ethically non-aligned foreign policy to a might-is-right position. This has been a gradual process but more markedly on show this year. A year ago its foreign minister called for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine and emphasized her country’s “respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states”. This week she argued: “A sustainable solution will not be found in isolating one party or bringing it to its knees.” This implicitly offers to reward Russia for its aggression. https://www.ft.com/content/02085c6c-7ae5-4dd0-817d-7ce3f49ea303

February 25

FT Nigerians go to the polls for closest-run vote in country’s democratic era

It is the end of a draining election campaign notable for the emergence of a credible alternative to the country’s two dominant political parties. The current president steps down after his two eligible terms in office. To win the presidency a candidate must secure the most votes and cross the constitutional threshold of obtaining at least 25 per cent of the ballots cast in at least two-thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital city. https://www.ft.com/content/f4463c42-29ff-4704-b37b-1037ed3da5bd

FT South Africa and Nigeria put on anti-money laundering ‘grey list’

The global anti-money laundering watchdog put the countries on the list over shortfalls in combating illicit finance and organized crime. The countries need to do more to improve their ability to fight financial crime, exposing them to greater scrutiny by investors and banks around the world. The G7-created body can ultimately “blacklist” banking systems over serious deficiencies in stopping money laundering and terrorist financing. Other countries grey-listed are UAE, Albania, Turkey and Yemen. Iran, Myanmar and North Korea are black-listed. https://www.ft.com/content/a62df5e4-f6d6-4e48-be62-6249eb5961aa

FT The Church of England can learn from Episcopalians on same-sex marriage

In an op-ed a clergy from the U.S.A. claims the recent struggle about LGBTQ people in office in the Church of England is not necessary, offering his own example as a gay clergy in a multi-cultural church in a global mega city as a proof and considering Evangelical and Reformed voices as well as opposing church provinces as detrimental. https://www.ft.com/content/140468f3-f0c9-4a0c-9f53-6ffd0990217a

NYT Nigerian politician arrested with nearly $500,000 on eve of election, police say

It concerns a politician of the main opposition party. Vote buying is a long standing issue in the country, which became more problematic with a currency note swap that the central bank was executing recently. Elsewhere the police found a smaller amount of Nigerian naira with an undisclosed politician. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/24/world/africa/nigeria-election-vote-buying.html

March 6

FT UN treaty to protect oceans agreed after decades of talks

The UN High Seas treaty aims to safeguard 30% of international waters from exploitation through fishing and mining by 2030 in an effort to protect the planet. The talks centered around support for developing nations to meet the treaty’s commitments and debate about who will benefit from marine resources. More than 60 percent of the oceans are considered international waters. The president of the UN General Assembly considers the new treaty “a massive success for multilateralism”. https://www.ft.com/content/cb44a5fc-e52a-4ae8-b32a-9b7822b00807

FT Nigeria’s new president inherits fragile nation

The aged elected president fulfills his lifelong ambition when he gets sworn in on May 29 but he inherits a dysfunctional economy. It is his task to lead fulfilling the needs of the youthful nation. He won with the slimmest majority since the return to democracy in 1999 and there is still speculation of the opposition going to court for a rerun. https://www.ft.com/content/25a73a4f-7129-48f0-a61d-e9696f50894a

FT Saudi Arabia makes itself attractive for multinationals relocating HQs

This is part of the plan to diversify the economy. Lack of clarity on tax regime was a hindrance so far and is now repaired. https://www.ft.com/content/e956333d-ea10-4b14-8c48-185570b0d057

FT Despite international pressure nothing much changed in Venezuela the last decade

The repressive government has weathered an economic crisis, sanctions, a failed drone assassination of the president and an uprising. The oil-rich economy has been destroyed by years of mismanagement. More than one in five Venezuelans has fled abroad. The regime approaches the tenth anniversary on March 8 and the president remains very much in control, using both modern and old-fashioned methods of repression and helped by authoritarian states and illegal businessmen. The UN reports thousands of extra-judicial killings and the ICC looks into investigating. https://www.ft.com/content/a868cafb-6ec5-4cb3-9ced-fb832bb2ef86

March 7

Make wellbeing central to public policy

The author claims that national governments should test all policies, new and old, to see whether they generate enough human wellbeing relative to their net cost to the state. This gives a more balanced result than focusing on growth. He points to the ‘World Wellbeing Movement’ just launched by major multinational companies and academics. There are many cost-effective policies possible in societies. The author does not mention churches, but they may be assumed among them. https://www.ft.com/content/d84cdee2-a7f7-4eb1-b812-4bfbd5e8499d

TT  Study shows Catholic women want reforms in church

The majority of the 17,200 respondents from 104 countries want more female decision-making power. The study was organized by Catholic Women Speak, an international organization, in response to the Pope’s invitation for submissions to the Synod of Bishops. The Pope has ruled out appointing women as priests. However, he has created a new commission to examine a female diaconate within the church. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/vatican-city-women-study-survey-catholic-church-sex-contraception-divorce-2023-b9xbbj58m

March 8

FT South Africa GDP shrinks 1.3% after power cuts strangle economy

This is the figure over the last quarter of 2022. According to the South African Reserve Bank the daily loss to black outs is estimated at $ 50mn. https://www.ft.com/content/c1168eef-2869-47b3-a597-471f485b7009

FT Inside El Salvador’s mega prison: the jail giving inmates less space than livestock

The new 23 hectare design of the authoritarian government is called Terrorism Confinement Center and designed to house 40,000 inmates. 6 hectares of this are the actual prison cells. The first images show chilling methods of treating prisoners. https://www.ft.com/content/d05a1b0a-f444-4337-99d2-84d9f0b59f95

FT Sri Lanka’s IMF deal edges closer as China backs debt restructure

China’s step follows similar approvals of the other major bilateral lenders, India and Japan. China had previously only offered a two-year moratorium on debt and interest repayments from Sri Lanka, a condition that officials said the IMF did not endorse. It is now up to the IMF to clear the financial deal that according to the responsible IMF staff will, along with other reforms, enable strong and inclusive growth. https://www.ft.com/content/93b679db-7e16-48fe-a98c-b7f1840a42eb

FT Greece months away from investment-grade rating, says central bank chief

The country expects to regain its investment-grade credit rating after 12 years in the junk-bond wilderness if lawmakers signal their intent to maintain reforms and take advantage of a “window of opportunity”. The country’s debt burden has been lowered significantly. The price and wage competitiveness has improved but modernization of infrastructure and the public sector remain issues. https://www.ft.com/content/1a568ff6-41ef-4dfe-8bcf-2137eeeb405b

FT Iran cracks down on newspaper that reported on rising price of meat

While the civil unrest over the female dress rule has diminished, the economic hardship for millions of Iranians continues to deteriorate. The authorities are afraid publicity of economic hardship will fuel more protests. This explains the closure of the newspaper. https://www.ft.com/content/a5f2b0e3-2198-49b7-9233-c297d5268191

FT Strikes in France over pension reform move into ‘higher gear’

There was a fresh wave of strikes in France on Tuesday as labor unions vowed to bring the country to a standstill in an attempt to force the government to abandon the planned rise in the retirement age. The government in 2020 abandoned more ambitious pension reforms due to the pandemic. The present plan serves to prove the government’s reformist credentials. https://www.ft.com/content/2023c5ca-b2d4-4cbd-8d7f-4ebbb0f68232

March 9

FT Costs of gene treatments for once incurable diseases feared too high

While the clinical experiments show remarkable results, a price tag per patient in the millions looks like a firm threshold for broad use. Previously, a therapy came under criticism for effects that would be passed on to future generations. For the current research this would not be the case. Now equity is an issue. https://www.ft.com/content/0f3e32bf-10b7-4ec2-b4e0-6792fad10929

FT In Turkey opposition candidate for presidential election faces uphill battle

The coalition candidate is from a religious minority and has a record of election defeat. Also he is known for his dull public presence. In addition the incumbent has near total media control. The hope of the coalition is that the marked differences will attract people disappointed by recent events, like the suffering economy and the earthquake drama. https://www.ft.com/content/55fc7ac9-30f2-4d08-b704-e7f5a9adec65

FT Party in China tightens grip on economy

The changes were revealed this week at the annual gathering of the country’s rubber-stamp parliament and also include big overhauls of the State Council, China’s cabinet, and government ministries. The financial changes are a step towards a more international “twin peaks” model of financial regulation, with one agency covering market conduct and consumer protection and the other focused on financial system stability and policy. In the past oversight was limited and non-banking financial industries mushroomed. In addition a new Communist party science commission is charged with the responsibility to catch up with the west in innovation and science. https://www.ft.com/content/60a7c8ad-eba8-4030-899d-ffb760d005c4

FT Violent clashes in Georgia over proposed new media law

Georgia at one time was a prospect of joining the EU. Relations have soured for years now. The new law resembles a law used in Russia to regulate foreign funding of non-governmental organizations. Other former Soviet countries on Wednesday said the new law raises serious questions on democracy in Georgia. After the clashes the government withdrew the law. https://www.ft.com/content/a9f1e05f-168c-4623-a94e-990f71891f6e

FT Government in Spain split over fixing flawed sexual consent law

The law deeply polarized the country (see January 31). The socialists in government used the conservatives in parliament to repair the law. This was against the will of their left wing coalition partner in government. The country will have national, regional and municipal elections later this year. https://www.ft.com/content/0b5f4320-e71b-462a-b982-d665ffb4d2de

March 10

FT Tunisia government plans to dissolve local authorities in latest authoritarian sweep

The largest group in the opposition controls a third of the municipalities. The government is engaged in fierce authoritarian rhetoric on several fronts, from the issues of sub-Saharan migrants to foreign lenders. The latter category is surprised by the disconnect between technocratic progress and the government’s anti-everything rhetoric. https://www.ft.com/content/bfa4158d-b3b6-4980-8e2f-94f6e31abfeb

NYT Nigeria postpones state elections amid presidential vote controversy

The elections are now planned a week later on March 18. The electoral committee says it needs more time to reset the voting machines. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/09/world/africa/nigeria-state-elections.html

March 11

FT ‘We are daring to invent the future’ — the generation that rewrote Africa’s story

The newspaper dedicates a special to the Arts in Africa. The leading article sees three generations of African writers: The early writers had taken it as their mission to write Africa into the public imagination, presenting to the world stories in which Africans were fully formed subjects with agency in their own histories. These writers were writing against a background in which Africans were presented as mute objects of colonial patronage. Then came the generation with stories of families grappling with modernity, stories of love and loss, of spirituality and religion, stories that showed a joyful Africa even in its poverty, had an audience in the world. The third generation’s mission is to change how Africa is viewed. Like one artist once said: “Africa is my audience, the west and the rest are markets.” This is the driving spirit. The issue at stake is:  “Who gets to decide what is African Writing?” https://www.ft.com/content/e1fad84a-903e-44ec-b7c5-920e88a91eac

TT Pope blames war in Ukraine on ‘empires’ and arms industry

The pope: “It’s typical of empires to put nations in second place. The battlefield is Ukraine, everyone is fighting there.” He denied that he supported Russia’s invasion. He said: “I am simply against reducing the complexity to a distinction between good and bad.” He has also decried the “cruelty” of Russian soldiers and warned the Patriarch of Moscow against becoming “the altar boy of the Russian regime”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/vatican-pope-francis-ukraine-war-imperial-interests-russia-2023-jzsxbn3rs

March 12

FT Corruption watchdog in South Africa moves to clear president in cash-in-couch incident

The finding is a major victory for the president, who has been bedeviled for the past 10 months by accusations that he tried to cover up a theft of cash from his farm to avoid scrutiny over having such a large sum of U.S. dollars stored at his property (see December 7). https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/11/world/africa/south-africa-ramaphosa-farm-burglary.html

March 13

FT Child deaths in Gambia fuel alarm over rules in ‘world’s biggest pharmacy’ India

The deaths of at least seventy babies have sparked concerns about quality control in India, the self-styled pharmacy of the world, as well as under-resourced regulatory agencies in low-income nations. The WHO in October issued an alert on “substandard” products. One worry is governments who treat everything as a public relations issue, not a public health issue. https://www.ft.com/content/72effe2f-988d-4618-bb07-16c96e81b6ee

FT Morocco takes the initiative to tackle climate change and geo political changes

The country’s finance minister said adapting the economy is necessary to meet the escalating threat from climate change, with more frequent droughts requiring investment in water technologies and an acceleration of its push into growth sectors such as car manufacturing. Investors are interested in renewables. In Morocco it is either windy or sunny. The kingdom already generates more than a third of its electricity from green sources. https://www.ft.com/content/30ecc8b7-2229-4677-a735-62e070a0e6ba

March 14

FT President of Switzerland digs heels in on arms for Ukraine

The country is in an increasingly tense domestic debate on its longstanding neutrality. Under current laws, weapons made by Swiss manufacturers can be re-sold or re-gifted only with the government’s permission, and may not be sent into active war zones. The president, a position rotating yearly in the 7 head executive, maintained that warfare is not part of the Swiss DNA. https://www.ft.com/content/c6401565-f3d3-489a-b373-e7d5fee11488

FT China verbally seals political one party system

At the end of its main national gathering the president pledged to strengthen China’s security and build the military into a “great wall of steel” that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests. He aims to better marry “development and security”, stating that “safety is the foundation of development, and stability is the prerequisite for prosperity”. The newly elected PM struck a more conciliatory note. The government is uneasy with the bad example the Russian invasion of Ukraine poses to its own claim on Taiwan. https://www.ft.com/content/bdab1b20-fb0a-4961-8524-116bd7da6b61

TT In South Africa anger mounts at ‘rock star’ lives of ministers amid government failures

Criticism of the opposition necessitates the president to defend his policy after just appointing two more ministers. According to him the government operation is not unlike other countries. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/anger-at-rock-star-lives-of-anc-ministers-amid-government-failures-0gdj85b96

NYT 10 Years on, Pope Francis faces challenges from the right and the left

The Catholic church is ideologically divided. Globally the pope has had successes but has had less success in bringing bishops along with him, something he views as essential for making lasting change. The setbacks mainly concern the situation in western nations. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/13/world/europe/pope-francis-catholic-church.html

March 15

FT Banks in Lebanon begin strike action over ‘arbitrary’ judicial decisions

The banks claim the decisions drain their already dwindling foreign currency reserves. They complained that borrowers were allowed to repay their foreign currency loans at the exchange rate in place before last month’s official devaluation, while lenders were still required to meet their obligations in foreign currencies. https://www.ft.com/content/bdbfe480-4877-421b-9087-c78fa7094740

March 16

FT Supporters of former PM of Pakistan protest over fears of his arrest

An attempt to detain the ousted PM failed on Tuesday night. Earlier (see October 22) he was accused of corruption but did not show up at a court session, fearing to be arrested. Many believe he would win new elections. The government struggles with economic hardship and failure to strike an IMF deal. https://www.ft.com/content/b3e47da1-c780-41b6-8fd4-fa080e8be3fe

FT Albania struggles to curb criminal gangs

The former basketball player and artist turned politician came to power a decade ago promising a clampdown on criminality. The contacts of the government with criminals appear to be much closer than pretended.  Municipal elections in May will test the premier’s dominance of Albanian politics. https://www.ft.com/content/4c42fa77-fca4-452d-bac3-e54e359fac36

March 17

FT Hundreds dead after Cyclone Freddy ravages Malawi and Mozambique

The president of Malawi declared two weeks of official mourning for the “national tragedy”. In Malawi alone over 80.000 people were internally displaced.  Citizens complained about inaction of the military. The cyclone has put the spotlight back on the threat to southern Africa from more powerful storms and intense rains linked to climate change. In 2019 a cyclone killed more than 1.000 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. https://www.ft.com/content/3eb30f5f-1c01-4367-9fd5-f47953ccc376

FT Ireland’s housing crisis leaves refugees and homeless in desperate plight

Thousands of Irish tenants with financial problems face the prospect of eviction from next month when a winter ban on evictions will end. The country is not known for its xenophobic protest but nevertheless suffered some over this issue. Other parties called on the government to extend the eviction ban. https://www.ft.com/content/ff153ed9-c4f5-482f-ae80-2640cb33a32d

FT 167 year old bank in Switzerland collapses due to market tensions

The tensions developed from the collapse of a tech bank in the U.S.A. In recent years the Swiss bank had its own share of failures but this is no comparison to the problems of the U.S. bank. Yet, its fate is the same. Clients panic to withdraw their money before their fear of losing it all comes through. The Mozambique “tuna bonds” scandal was one of the Swiss bank failures. Scandals like this show systematic failures in risk management. https://www.ft.com/content/18278291-772e-4caa-8910-1d7b8563ed42

FT In the Netherlands provincial elections cause an electoral earthquake

A farmer protest party triumphs in a big way. The provincial lawmakers elect national senators for the upper house of parliament in May. There their presence will go from 0 to over 20 percent. In addition the government will face less cooperation from the provincial executives. https://www.ft.com/content/dd148d90-a361-4d45-bd7c-c17f2f217ce7

March 20

FT Microbes on the farm: a solution for climate change?

The microbial fungus when applied to soil might not only improve its health but greatly enhance its ability to store carbon. But many growers remain unconvinced by the case; their effects vary widely depending on climate and soil types, they can be expensive to implement, and properly transforming soil quality can take many years. https://www.ft.com/content/71422ca3-6cc8-46c3-9f59-768a501b85f3

FT Extension agreed for Black Sea grain export deal

The agreement first launched in July has brought 25mn tons of grains and cooking oil to the global markets. The two parties, Ukraine and Russia, differ on the length of the extension. Russia says two months, Ukraine 4 months. Russia urges to reopen a pipeline for ammonia and deals for other sanction related measures. https://www.ft.com/content/4dcc5a5e-d051-4a51-8a9e-348a3bb2c59c

FT Ukraine evicts church from monastery with the claim they work for Russia

In May last year, the church that runs the monastery declared independence from the Moscow patriarchy. But the move failed to convince its smaller rival, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which broke away from Russian control in 2018. Nor has it convinced the Ukrainian government. They both say the UOC is still under Russian ecclesiastical and political control. https://www.ft.com/content/8ee619ce-151e-4484-882e-8a54be411d26

FT Brazil looks to start-ups in battle to reforest the Amazon

Companies are replanting millions of hectares and generating revenue through carbon credit sales. This is more than twice the potential of silvopasture — the integration of trees with livestock — which is considered the next most effective method. The biggest hurdle is to change the culture; until now the thought was always to use the deforested area for agriculture. https://www.ft.com/content/55e2079a-6f5a-4dcd-afc3-3cfbc378cab2

FT India’s problem: high economic growth but few extra jobs

India’s growth figures are excellent. But the growth is being driven mainly by corporate growth, and corporate India does not employ that many people per unit of output. Government jobs, considered lifelong, are also too few. One state in India recently loosened labor laws to emulate working practices in China as such factory work give more opportunities. It is thought that services would be insufficient to cater for the enormous job market. https://www.ft.com/content/6886014f-e4cd-493c-986b-1da2cfc8cdf2

March 21

FT Warming and irreversible changes to the planet greater than previously thought

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest conclusive report claims “more likely than not” in the near-term a 1.5C rise since pre-industrial times will be reached. Curbing and adapting depends on political will. https://www.ft.com/content/a9901b6a-e8eb-414b-99c5-455618cc968b

FT South Africa deploys military to prevent nationwide protests

The government was afraid of a repetition of events in 2021, when hundreds were killed in looting and organized sabotage. The radical political party claims a successful shutdown, but in the capital taxis were operating normally. Meanwhile the rolling energy blackouts were suspended due to increase in generation capacity. https://www.ft.com/content/d402e4b3-964a-4018-a04a-c18e685f93c0

FT IMF approves $3bn bailout for Sri Lanka

The IMF will disburse the loan in eight installments and monitor the progress of agreed economic restructures. https://www.ft.com/content/96b9bee1-401c-418e-b92a-3e7cfb6d59a6

FT Bank collapse will bring reputation damage to Switzerland

The authorities tried to save a major bank at great expense but in the end had to maneuver to a takeover by its eternal rival, which is now one of the largest banks in the world. In the crisis shareholders were privileged over bondholders, leading to criticism of unreliability. https://www.ft.com/content/29b0e374-075f-48b9-b4a8-519ad7dfeaa2

March 22

FT DRC claims Rwanda earns 1bn$ per year in smuggling minerals from its territory

Rwanda is accused of supporting the insurgent group M23. DRC says the evidence is 1bn$ mineral export by Rwanda while they have no minerals themselves. The finance minister calls for international sanctions against Rwanda, but so far these calls fall on deaf ears. https://www.ft.com/content/ecf89818-949b-4de7-9e8a-89f119c23a69

FT Oil minister in Venezuela resigns over corruption allegations

The minister was the architect of sanctions evasion, a big source for corruption. This resignation signals a further purge of the regime. Some suggested the aim of the resignation is hiding evidence of corruption. The president still maintains his ideological rhetoric and claims the former minister will cooperate in the anti-corruption drive. Elections are due in 2024. https://www.ft.com/content/4b8e609f-a62e-4933-b5d1-12fe248bf1dd

March 23

FT In Ukraine grain giant is fighting for survival

Once the country was a grain basket for the world with a complete river, harbor and shipping infrastructure to create the necessary logistics. Now this is all in tatters and economic risks are mounting. https://www.ft.com/content/e0d9607e-f313-4fa6-91d5-ec32039fe632

FT In France government pushes through unpopular changes in pensions

A parliamentary vote has not sanctioned the move. The government claims raising the pension age is to repair the public finances but acknowledged public anger over the government’s decision and the right to protest. All the government claims to prevent is public finances to balloon in the distant future. The president is now in his second and final term, giving him room for unpopular moves. https://www.ft.com/content/034128b7-780f-465c-9531-83454551942d

FT In Turkey ethnic minority party signals support for opposition candidate in presidential election

The main opposition bloc, which includes Islamist and nationalist parties, has shied away from formally inviting the ethnic minority party to the table. It normally reaches 12 percent of the vote. The incumbent party labels the minority party the political extension of a terrorist group. https://www.ft.com/content/681bbff7-f923-46de-99ed-15f1d462c92d

March 24

FT WHO warns over spread of virulent Marburg virus after Tanzania deaths

Marburg spreads to humans from fruit bats and is passed on through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients. Incubation ranges from 2 to 21 days. So far no vaccines are approved. It can kill up to 88 percent of those infected. https://www.ft.com/content/0fe6bbbb-6993-41c5-900a-77054e4dc4d0

FT Opposition leader in India banned from parliament due to verdict on defamation

He had insulted the PM four years ago during the election campaign. The decision came despite the court suspending his sentencing for 30 days to give him time to file an appeal. https://www.ft.com/content/e838bc56-935b-436c-b76e-4f98f79f13b8

TT Russian mercenary group tightens grip in Central African Republic

Four men in the group’s uniform attacked a French owned brewery. This is the latest in a series of attacks at French properties. It is known that the Russian cultural attaché in CAR started his own brand of beer recently. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-wagner-group-putin-africa-bomb-french-business-2023-g6n2qjp8r

TT President’s son-in-law insists he will be Uganda’s president

If so, he would beat the president’s son, nicknamed General Twitter for his social media behavior. The two do not get on with each other and the president’s son claims to be the favorite successor. The son-in-law profiles himself as somebody from a poor childhood and a strong intellect. He is appointed by the government to a committee to raise foreign trade. The president says he will run again in three years from now when he will be 81. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/uganda-president-son-museveni-kainerugaba-2023-q0gp7cgx2

March 25

Switzerland suffers identity crisis through not achieved financial expectations

The country’s sense of self as a haven for the world’s money and a beacon of neutrality is being shaken by the collapse of an over 150 years old bank. The huge bank, the locomotive of Switzerland’s industrial miracle, was weakened by years of scandal. The state was not going to use more taxpayer money to preserve the bank’s independence. The deal to sell it to its larger competitor shocked many around the world and raised questions about the stability the Swiss system sells itself on. And its political neutrality is also at stake (see March 14). https://www.ft.com/content/e74c0556-5e60-4ab2-9876-7ac687b1d021

Tensions begin to show in coalition government in Germany

The coalition partners unite over help to Ukraine but are very divided on many other issues like climate change and administration spending. This poses a risk as it is a very broad coalition. https://www.ft.com/content/6091028e-24fa-4ca2-abf0-4bb7e65498d5

TT The French consider their social contract broken

The state is widely looked to as a provider, though at a cost: at almost 60 per cent, public spending as a share of GDP is by far the highest in the EU — and punitive social charges are levied on both workers and employers to fund the welfare state. The resistance towards cutting public spending is among all ages. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-french-social-contract-is-broken-now-the-young-are-fighting-back-660bmq6kz

March 27

FT Libyan state oil chief stresses he has support across the divided country

In an effort to attract investment and boost production the oil chief appointed after the ousting by force of his predecessor claims he can travel anywhere in the divided country and has the support of both sides. He recently signed a deal with an Italian company to develop offshore gas fields and boosts his intention to serve the European neighbors with gas. https://www.ft.com/content/6882752b-826f-4de7-bd1c-238b3c82df03

FT The unstoppable rise of government rescues

The past few decades of easy money created markets so large — nearing five times larger than the world economy — and so intertwined, that the failure of even a midsize bank risks global contagion. In this culture government responds in an interventionalist mode. This induces productivity reduction and lower living standards. https://www.ft.com/content/0853917d-538f-4e86-a6a1-56f559ff4264

March 28

FT Rebellion in Iran: how far will the regime go?

Outwardly, the regime is projecting confidence that it has navigated the tumult. Yet in the streets signs of protest persist. So far, the regime has made some concessions, including turning a blind eye to women not wearing the hijab. The republic has been confronting crises with regularity since its birth. Now they also have to soon replace the aged Supreme Leader. Will they manage to pursue his hardline policy, claiming protests are a middle class problem and assuming the poor are behind the regime? https://www.ft.com/content/52d4ed75-5e40-45a5-89a5-86176d0d10fc

TT Israel protests: PM delays court overhaul “to avoid civil war”

He admitted that his proposed package of judicial reforms, which would end judges’ oversight of government, had split the country in two, and said he would delay the legislation until a new session of the Israeli parliament. This only happened after he had to fire his Defense minister and promise his firebrand security chief the control of a new volunteer “national guard”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/binyamin-netanyahu-fires-minister-who-rebelled-over-justice-reforms-3mgrb9skz

March 29

FT In Greece May 21 elections are amid criticism of the government’s handling of a deadly train crash

The previous government established a proportional representation system that will make it difficult for a single party to form a government. The incumbent still has a poll lead over the previous government, which also is not faring well in the polls. Both are suffering from criticism over various issues and fringe groups benefit. If the election winners fail to agree on a coalition, a second ballot under a semi-proportional system is expected to be held a few weeks later, by the beginning of July at the latest. https://www.ft.com/content/9f04e068-1bd6-4e4e-8fa3-5acc753a3bdf

March 30

FT How to avoid a developing world debt crisis

In the last 20 years the share of public and publicly guaranteed external debt of low and lower-middle income countries owed to bondholders jumped from 10 to 50 per cent of the total. The total developing world debt rose to a record of $98tn at the end of 2022, after governments and corporations filled their boots in recent years. A rating agency said there are nine sovereign defaulters since 2020. Heading off a developing world debt crisis should be a top priority. It is hindered by the great power struggle. The newspaper in an editorial suggests the G20 should act as a coordinating agency. https://www.ft.com/content/1bbce83b-aebe-4fd2-afd2-02e45ed5338d

FT Spain wants the young to pay for pension shortfall of elderly

Faced with an ageing population and ballooning costs, the government has opted to raise contributions rather than cut benefits. While France is in revolt over plans to lift the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64, Spain’s threshold has been 65 for decades, leaving it searching for other ways to shore up a creaking pension system while being fair to young and old. The country has mainly state pensions, not private and employer based systems. But the state also has a debt problem. Just raising taxes will create unrest. https://www.ft.com/content/0c3c40d7-cfd8-456a-8565-13ca76a3093e

FT Turkey government to slash energy bills ahead of tough election

The government seeks to win favor among voters by reducing costs for consumers and businesses. It is the latest of a thoroughly state interventionist policy, neglecting economic wisdom and also exploiting geopolitical political clout. The May election will see whether the traditional voters base of the incumbent will stand even the recent stuttering earthquake response. https://www.ft.com/content/589877b7-4dc7-4e49-a6ca-bb0041d56b43

March 31

FT Prepare for a multipolar currency world

The closed nature of China’s capital account until recently was considered an impediment to wider use of its currency. The dollar now is considered a risk due to the looming banking crisis. Russia and China agreed to do RMB trading, also with other countries. And then there is Saudi Arabia, in search of a bigger role in warming up to China. France just did its first liquid natural gas sale in RMB and Brazil has embraced the currency for some of its trade with China. All signals a multipolar currency world. https://www.ft.com/content/f8f3b2cd-6690-4f26-b81e-e972751c8799

FT President in Ecuador faces impeachment trial over corruption charge

Earlier (see February 8) parliament was strengthened by a referendum organized by the government. The high court now allows an impeachment procedure. The impeachment must be backed by 92 of the 137 legislators in the unicameral congress. If the vote to remove the president passes, he would be replaced by the vice-president, a former medical doctor and political novice. https://www.ft.com/content/4f8cbb9d-d561-4218-9df5-300b422dd4db

FT In Israel security minister outlines plans for new national guard

The plan reveals it will be used to fight “nationalist crime, terror and to strengthen governance where needed”. The plan will be discussed in the cabinet on Sunday. There is already a national guard under the police. The minister, previously convicted of inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization, has long argued for a national guard under his command, arguing that it was needed to combat lawlessness. https://www.ft.com/content/53ea0e1b-0eb2-4aa8-95fd-188b660efb70

NYT Vatican repudiates ‘Doctrine of Discovery,’ used as a justification for colonization

It is a legal concept based on 15th-century papal documents that European colonial powers used to legitimize the seizure and exploitation of Indigenous lands. The doctrine is “not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church.” One analyst: “The current action is about the rejection of the mind-set that gave rise to the colonial impulse and even to the missionary impulse of those times.” Canadian clergy pointed to the 1537 decree issued by Paul III, Sublimis Deus, in which “the rights and freedoms of Indigenous Peoples were upheld.” Scholars note that the same pope nullified this decree one year later. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/30/world/europe/vatican-repudiates-doctrine-of-discovery-colonization.html

April 1

FT From Ethiopia: Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, musician and nun, 1923-2023

Her musical career as  a child was brought to an abrupt halt by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. After the defeat of the Italians it picked up again, but she was disappointed not to be allowed to study in England. A religious epiphany followed. She received holy communion from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church after a period of torment during which she had refused food. She then retreated to the Guishen Maryam monastery in a mountainous region several hundred miles north of Addis Ababa. She was ordained as a nun aged 21. She took up music again, immersing herself in indigenous Ethiopian forms, with their distinctive five-note scales, which would leave their imprint on her own compositions. https://www.ft.com/content/006522c8-b77d-456d-9203-cace417b170f

April 2

FT The wheels of justice turn for a former U.S.A. president

The indictment sends a message that no American is above the law. The current charges are minor compared to other investigations, like his role in the assault of Capitol hill, and hold the risk that his standing with supporters will only get a boost. Yet the rule of law is the foundation upon which democracy is built. Compromising on one fatally wounds the other. https://www.ft.com/content/a392b9b5-3542-4f87-be39-4093a9e797b2

April 3

TT Burkina Faso soldiers accused of executing children

In its response the regime kicked out French journalists which is a major setback for press freedom. A video, since corroborated as authentic by the Associated Press, shows the bloody details of the killings. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/burkina-faso-soldiers-accused-of-executing-children-ps8xp38md

April 4

FT China is winning the race for the lithium of Africa

The country already dominates processing of the metal for use in electric vehicle batteries and is now investing heavily in mines, leaving western operators scrambling to keep up. Not to mention chances for countries of Africa itself. The Western investors pitch themselves as more socially responsible. In reality they are smarted out by rapid Chinese investment. https://www.ft.com/content/02d6f35d-e646-40f7-894c-ffcc6acd9b25

FT Prominent Algerian journalist sentenced to 5 years in prison

The court also ordered the closure of his media organization, which is seen as the last remaining space for free political debate in the country. He was convicted on charges related to receiving funds from abroad for “propaganda” purposes and threatening the security of the state. The journalist refused to speak to the court, as he considered the conditions for fair trial not to be met. The court decision can be appealed. https://www.ft.com/content/ebd59bd2-c2d1-4cb6-b1cc-8b8120f863d6

FT In India an old political dynasty is struggling against the ruling party

The ruling party has the advantage of religious roots in most of the population. In access, when taking office it looked like a promise to get rid of the corruption scandals of the old dynasty. Now a court case is leading to political damage of the old order (See March 24). The government claims to be following due legal process. It looks like the old dynasty is rebranding itself and is less easy to sideline than supposed. https://www.ft.com/content/17e580a4-6e5e-450a-9844-72ae3fd5ca3c

FT Montenegro voters oust president after 30 years in power

The incumbent conceded defeat on Sunday to a 37-year-old banker who promised to speed up the country’s accession talks with the European Union. The incumbent was an iconic figure in Balkan politics. The election result represents a sea change in Montenegro, the smallest country in the region with a population of just 620,000. https://www.ft.com/content/4e71740c-078a-451a-8f93-f7071e8074a1

FT Incumbent PM in Finland concedes election defeat

The PM’s party won but her Green and leftwing coalition partners suffered heavy losses. The 37 year old conceded defeat but celebrated her party’s gain of three seats. “Democracy has spoken and we have reason to be happy about this result,” she said. https://www.ft.com/content/756b91e7-2b60-4a59-a364-c3dcacd36b7e

April 5

FT Tunisia government creates a ‘hostile environment’ for Sub-Saharan migrants

In the authoritarian sweep of the current government migrants are victimized (see also March 10). This causes violence, in which migrants and some black Tunisians have been attacked in the streets and thrown out of their jobs and homes. The situation brought some countries to repatriate their citizens while the Tunisia government hopes to get EU funding for stopping migration to Europe. https://www.ft.com/content/c5304e43-785a-4fee-b9fa-115f8491c92f

FT Northern Ireland: the paramilitaries that ‘never go away’

Paramilitaries in a working-class area near Belfast control the drugs trade. Young teenagers go to them for weed and cocaine, but soon they are hooked and have racked up a “strap”, or debt. They struggle to pay because they can’t get a job until they are 16, so they are given two choices: “Take a punishment beating, or sign up”. A youth worker: “If you sign up, you get taken to a house, you put your hand on a Bible and swear to the cause. There are a couple of masked men there, and flags.” https://www.ft.com/content/7e83e463-0c45-46a6-a6a0-12668cb65dc9

FT EU calls on China to use influence with Russia to stop invasion in Ukraine

The EU argues that China is in a position to influence Russia in a constructive way. It has a responsibility. “You cannot be for half of the international order.” The EU head said the invasion in Ukraine a “watershed moment” for the bloc as it seeks to defend the internationally agreed system of sovereign borders. She travels to China with the president of France. The visit follows visits of the German and Spanish PM’s. In contrast, the U.S.A. cancelled a visit to China. https://www.ft.com/content/d9b3fa90-ed86-431a-8942-896257f60c2e

FT In India banned secessionist movement is fighting to create independent state of ‘Khalistan’

Supporters of the outlawed Khalistan separatist movement have attacked New Delhi’s diplomatic missions in San Francisco and London, where a man ripped down the Indian tricolor flag. Security analysts and local community leaders said only a minority of Sikhs endorsed separatism, and the biggest source of support for Khalistan is in the large diaspora. Some analysts say the government is giving too much credit to the separation movement by its heavy handed approach. https://www.ft.com/content/1e11a2f2-78c3-41be-ae34-1de5f226a60d

FT In France police deploy rough tactics at anti-government protests

Lawyers and human rights groups have criticized the methods used by law enforcement, such as preventive arrests to deter protesters, collect intelligence on activists and forceful crowd control methods. The government has defended the police’s actions as necessary and lawful given the unpredictable conditions at recent protests where a radical fringe of demonstrators have attacked officers with stones and explosives. https://www.ft.com/content/951e49de-69b4-4420-bcae-73a110a57171

April 6

FT IMF says “friendshoring” is risk for global productivity

By limiting investment to countries that are politically on the same line, the global productivity will be negatively influenced. The IMF recommends efforts to preserve global integration of economies as the best means of avoiding these losses and promoting global prosperity. https://www.ft.com/content/b2f66486-80e5-425e-86e7-fe432da8aeec

FT South Africa backtracks on national energy company state of disaster

The government withdraws permission for the utility to avoid reporting irregular spending in the face of public anger. The government faced legal challenges from civil society groups that said the designation threatened to exacerbate corruption. The utility warned last week that its power-station fleet would experience severe generation shortfalls every week for the next year. https://www.ft.com/content/57b519cd-46ce-4cb7-90b7-d2b4093ae7b2

FT Somalia president says ‘defeat’ of militants within sight

The president believes his latest military offensive will force the militants to come to the negotiation table. Territorial gains, mostly in central Somalia, have been accompanied by a financial crackdown and a drive to convince Somali clerics to condemn al-Shabaab as “anti-Islamic”. The offensive, which is backed by the U.S.A., Turkey, the African Union and others, comes as Somalia, a country of 17mn people, is gripped by its worst drought in decades. The Somali government has been helped by growing discontent with the jihadis’ use of extortion and forced recruitment, which has turned much of the population against them. https://www.ft.com/content/8dc5db3f-9f52-486a-b29f-741919e06875

FT Recent train crash in Greece was waiting to happen due to debt, graft and mismanagement

With the accident front and center in every public discussion, the government decided to postpone parliamentary elections by a month to May 21. The authorities spent millions of EU and Greek funds on overpriced investments that were never completed, appointed some executives without proper qualifications, and left the railway with unfit equipment and poor maintenance. https://www.ft.com/content/ec90bce4-59a5-4b32-86b7-55c63a32a357

April 8

FT Biggest city in South Africa is run down

Illegal gold miners use risky methods without being stopped, political turmoil happened after the coalition city government collapsed and wealthy inhabitants flee the city as services collapse and security worsens. https://www.ft.com/content/7e267ded-2320-4e6c-aa26-1c4be9df192c

FT UAE refuses to extradite suspected persons of corruption to South Africa

This happens despite the two countries having an extradition treaty. The UAE said in a statement that the Dubai court of appeal had rejected the extradition request for the two because it “did not meet the strict standards for legal documentation” in the extradition treaty. https://www.ft.com/content/7015565f-891f-4d01-a0e7-cf7c5507cecf

NYT Baptist Minister in Myanmar gets 6 years in prison for opposing regime

The minister is, according to the newspaper, internationally renowned for his humanitarian and community work. In 2019 he met with the president of the U.S.A. and the regime filed a defamation case against him after his return. This was dropped after the U.S.A. protested. In December he was arrested when boarding a plane to Thailand. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/07/world/asia/baptist-minister-myanmar-prison-coup.html

April 10

FT Ambition is needed to rebuild trust in multilateralism

The former president of Columbia in an op-ed argues that the upcoming IMF/World bank governors meetings have a historic opportunity to address the triple crises of climate, debt and poverty. An annual $1tn of external finance is needed. He also reminds us that previous pledges have not been met. Yet, pandemic, assault on Ukraine and rising interest rates make action urgent. The sheer scale of need demands a paradigm shift. The IFIs are the most efficient way to finance both national development and global public goods. Yet they are conservative and disinclined to innovate at scale. https://www.ft.com/content/8af4ed19-4cf5-40d6-9e94-6e0abb591556

FT Democracy struggles to take root in Gambia

The atmosphere was jubilant when the former dictator was ousted six years ago in the first constitutional transfer of power in the country since 1965. Today not much change happened in the country of 2.6 mn. The president, a security guard in London in the 2000s and one-time property developer, was little-known in Gambia when he ran for the presidency. He still uses Ecowas forces to stabilize. Despite discontent the citizens enjoy relative freedom. https://www.ft.com/content/bf93f883-12a1-4a2d-9742-1e4932f5181d

FT Pakistan’s economic crisis puts healthcare costs out of reach

Rising inflation has driven the price of treatment to unaffordable levels, forcing many families to choose between healthcare and other necessities, while shrinking foreign currency reserves have caused shortages of imported drugs and medical equipment. Meanwhile, negotiations with creditors have been severely delayed. https://www.ft.com/content/d1fa8bb9-ff22-446e-af24-83a0b6a306e7

April 11

FT Ghana’s bilateral creditors set to clear way for $3bn IMF bailout

The hope of the finance minister is at the bilateral creditors meeting (the so-called Paris club) on Tuesday to discuss whether to provide enough relief to unlock a $3bn IMF bailout agreed last year. China, which is owed $1.9bn, was expected by the finance minister to agree to a deal, despite not being a member of the Paris Club. Ghana stopped repaying debt in December. https://www.ft.com/content/5e965f1d-3cbb-4fe2-a5f1-a24ba2b18b6a

FT Landless farmers movement in Brazil steps up action

The 2 mn members movement has ties to the president. The president has pledged support for small family farms but the agriculture minister ruled out supporting invasions of productive farmland. The movement cites Brazil’s legacy of slavery and the historic absence of meaningful land reform as factors behind the country’s extreme inequality. The environment minister under the previous government called the movement “criminals”. https://www.ft.com/content/2852dec2-ed95-4c53-b68b-0085913ddf04

FT The threat of China on Taiwan

Why should America threaten to fight China, another nuclear-armed power, to defend an island of 24mn people that lies roughly 100 miles off the Chinese coast? FT’s chief political analyst sees three reasons to be worried, now that France also signaled it would not lift a finger to protect the island: The first is about the future of political freedom in the world. The second is about the global balance of power. The third is about the world economy. https://www.ft.com/content/11b82a88-57ae-44b1-8368-864f42ffac7f

April 12

FT World Bank and IMF meetings must tackle financial and climate risks

Over the past three years the global economy has been subjected to an unprecedented series of shocks. 60 % of low-income countries are at high risk of or already in debt distress. Geopolitical risks are also undermining global prospects. This week’s meetings are a crucial moment to set tackling the long term risks in motion. https://www.ft.com/content/5898c54b-1772-44b2-a73a-031487040e23

FT Poorest countries find finances under pressure from higher rates

A group of 91 lower income countries sees the size of government revenue used for foreign debt servicing rise. If you add domestic debt servicing the situation is only worse. This will hamper spending on health and education. The rise in debt servicing costs will fuel an ongoing debate over debt forgiveness. https://www.ft.com/content/049aef43-4f03-45a1-bf65-749cd44921cc

FT China pushes Uyghurs to spy on each other overseas

This happens particularly in neighboring countries that have populations with ethnic ties to this population group and is executed simultaneously with the detention of millions of Uyghurs inside China, labelled as vocational training. Tools used to coerce people include threats to their families in China. Influencing the narrative of the Uyghur treatment inside China is one of the goals. https://www.ft.com/content/1a193bc6-ee47-49ae-a965-92c0a9353544

TT President of France urges Europe to break free of economic dependence on China and US

The president believes “strategic autonomy” is vital for the “sovereignty” of the European Union. The pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine had made Europe realize that it was dependent on big powers to remedy the situation, he said. “We want allies. We want to be good friends. We want partners. But we always want to be in a situation to choose them, not to be 100 percent dependent on them.” Other western countries criticized the president’s stand as a mistake. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/macron-netherlands-holland-state-visit-2023-90gx3vzjq

NYT In Indonesia a conservative Islamic movement, spread through social media, is popular among youth

Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs said it has begun a counter narrative to challenge the movement’s momentum. The brand of conservatism it promotes, he said, “is not good for Islam in the Indonesian context.” The movement, thought to be supported by tens of millions, claims not to be against the government but is known to be active in protests, among other against newly built Christian churches. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/12/world/asia/indonesia-muslim-hijrah-youth.html

NYT Airstrike in rebel-held region of Myanmar kills at least 100

As resistance forces have become better armed, the military has doubled down on its strategy of carrying out air raids and targeting civilians. The apparent target of the attack was a celebration to mark the local resistance movement’s opening of an administration office. The Myanmar military has a long history of brutal attacks on civilians since soon after independence in 1948. In recent years pro-democracy forces have united with some armed ethnic groups in a national campaign to oust the military from power. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/11/world/asia/myanmar-airstrike.html

April 13

FT Sovereign lending in uncharted waters with China, second global lender

China has so far lent over .8 Tn and is shaking up the market with unpredictability. While domestic lending is guided by rule of law in the country, there is no international law for insolvent countries. Some consensus has been achieved over time but now one big state creditor is involved with the power to dictate terms and the patience not to make a deal if it doesn’t suit them. Some nine countries are already in “debt distress”, while another 27 countries have a high risk of falling into it. Another 26 more countries, according to the IMF, are on the watchlist. And then there are a lot of debt ridden state companies in those countries who are in need of help. https://www.ft.com/content/19add278-aa83-45f8-a84f-12750f32258f

April 14

FT President of Brazil calls for end to dollar trade dominance

The president is in Shanghai, China, for the inauguration of a former Brazilian president as head of the new Development Bank of the Brics, Egypt, Bangladesh, Uruguay and the UAE. He rhetorically asked who decides that other currencies than the dollar are of no value outside their own countries? He proposed that bilaterally countries can decide otherwise. A bank analyst said that a bigger role of the renminbi is logical as China’s global trade share is on the rise. https://www.ft.com/content/669260a5-82a5-4e7a-9bbf-4f41c54a6143

FT Former prime minister of Pakistan warns debt burden on low-income countries is unmanageable

He said his country needed “surgery” as debt is growing relative to export production. He would prioritize domestic reforms and the way the country is run over seeking debt relief. He concluded that unless dollar based export earnings are increased his own country would not be able to pay off debt, “whether it’s Chinese or Paris Club or commercial debts.” His stand is doubted as he is known for some erratic policies while in office. https://www.ft.com/content/481b1d9c-dd54-4748-8d3d-ecb2addbf081

April 15

FT Wildlife and agriculture increasingly clash in Kenya

Commercial farming is happening in government led plot allocation, threatening the migration needs of large wildlife. This in turn threatens the main attraction of tourism, the source of 10 % of the country’s GDP. The farming is also commercial and contributes to the country’s income. https://www.ft.com/content/339921c7-e0be-43f4-852b-50060184a201

April 17

FT IMF urges big push to help African nations

The head of the IMF Africa department called for a “2005 moment”. At the time 130 bn $ of debt was cancelled. This is nowhere near today as deals of countries with other foreign lenders, primarily China, are not reached. He did not call for another outright cancellation but for a more efficient debt framework. Foreign currency bonds demanded by investors yield more than 10 % over U.S.A. treasury bonds, a clear sign of distress. https://www.ft.com/content/421e8fce-b408-46ca-acd8-a3aa3524e3b9

FT Will Somalia achieve peace?

In Somalia the government seeks to create a federal state. It has to fight the jihadi’s but can it overcome the clan rivalries?  The president: “It’s not written anywhere, what Somali politics looks like. This is a gentleman’s agreement among the clans. We don’t have political parties, all we have is clans.” The government wants to change the constitution and negotiate with breakaway Puntland, but the president warns the wanted independence is not in the offering. https://www.ft.com/content/0b968db2-2b34-482b-8ab0-946c2d2cceb4

FT Sudan fighting  between parts of military cause hundreds injured and death

The military late last year agreed to hand over the government to politics (see December 6) and the fighting started just before the agreed deadline. The main army rules out talking to the revolting militia, their former allies. The army is connected to Egypt, the revolting militia to Saudi Arabia & UAE. The international world called for peace.  https://www.ft.com/content/997166c7-0b2f-48f0-a7ff-a98e7b51243e

FT China signature Belt & Road loan Initiative (BRI) turns sour

Nearly 10 % of the volume has been renegotiated and China gave even more emergency loans to prevent defaults. One analyst predicts this is only the beginning. By the end of the year a BRI forum is organized to celebrate 10 years of operation. The importance of the BRI loan system in China’s global influence policy is decreasing. https://www.ft.com/content/da01c562-ad29-4c34-ae5e-a0aafddd377c

TT Ukrainian worshippers return to disputed cave monastery

They braved police barricades outside the Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv on Sunday to celebrate the Ukrainian Orthodox Easter. This comes after the government evicted officials from the ministry on accusations of spying for Russia (See March 20). The worshippers support this move. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ukrainian-worshippers-return-to-disputed-cave-monastery-b7h95bngt

April 18

FT President and his deputy fight it out in Sudan

Both men had emerged as leaders of the transitional government after a 2019 coup that ousted the dictator that ruled over the country for 30 years. Both have bases across the country and different international backers. They have much more at stake than military control. They also have economic and financial power. Some fear these men will never give up power as the military have run Sudan most of the time since the departure of the colonialists. https://www.ft.com/content/b75628bb-e042-4116-8ba8-f6593d8432b3

FT Sudan in the middle of a war between generals

A civil war would be a disaster not only for Sudan’s 45mn people but also for the wider region. Sudan has a long coastline. The Arab neighbors have put too much faith in the military. The west thought they could push democracy and the interest of Israel by lifting sanctions. FT in an editorial concludes this all now looks naïve. “To democrats, Sudan provides a cautionary tale. Even when millions of people take to the streets, it is very hard to dissuade men with guns from power.” https://www.ft.com/content/f1d95421-0f0d-4711-b1e7-63a64f21a1a3

April 19

FT Sudan conflict might draw regional tensions

Egypt supports the leader of the regular army and is wary of Russian influence. The militia leader has been courting Russia but also has ties with Saudi Arabia and UAE, who fear that their overseas neighbor develops in a second Libya. All foreign parties seem to be interested in de-escalating the current conflict. https://www.ft.com/content/228f929d-a73f-4bb3-83b0-70707ee48348

FT Fierce fighting around Khartoum airport

The airport is in the middle of the city. The militia leader claimed he had agreed to a ceasefire but later announced further attacks. The regular army claims that the militia will be overwhelmingly defeated. Meanwhile the EU ambassador was assaulted in his own residency. https://www.ft.com/content/8ef67b47-0477-4e44-bb98-75bd5e1a803e

FT In Tunisia authoritarian crackdown continues with detention opposition leader

Three more officials of the moderate Islamist party, the biggest political group in the country since 2011, were also arrested. The arrested are charged with “incitement” charges. Responding to the actions of the authoritarian government the opposition leader said that Tunisian politics without his group would be a recipe for civil war. https://www.ft.com/content/61a0a096-7fb0-4e8c-b308-fe835c52b691

April 20

FT Mexico government tries to increase control of society by the state

The government has already given the control over construction projects and customs to the military but is now stopped by the supreme court to do the same with the national guard. The president claims the military is more reliable and suggests the army is anti-elite. “The soldiers are the people in uniform”. https://www.ft.com/content/cedc1b80-0991-4eea-9c73-b8203bddd62a

April 21

FT Sudan generals signal they will fight to the end

Both parties express rhetorical support for transition to democracy in order to plead for themselves and accuse the other party to be criminal. And they also accuse the other party of not willing to give in. https://www.ft.com/content/34940151-ca4e-4eb4-9a5b-0188beff6e9d

FT Democratic backsliding of India

The newspaper in another editorial on India’s assumed clampdown on democracy is triggered by the court rejection of an appeal by the opposition leader for his defamation case (see March 24). The newspaper considers it a trend since the present government came to power in 2014. Internationally a blind eye is given as India is necessary to counter China. https://www.ft.com/content/6c98e1aa-85da-4738-b889-fc4d76d1d0bc

April 22

FT A portrait of the challenger in Sudan

The newspaper labels the struggle in Sudan as one of marginalization and revenge. The challenger of the military chief in command is known as the “butcher of Darfur”, yet belongs to that region that is considering itself marginalized. His career was through the former dictatorship but he managed to reinvent himself in the 2019 coup and also participated with his foe in the 2021 coup. Born in 1973 his fate will now probably be sealed by either victory or total exit from power. https://www.ft.com/content/714ff5cf-7396-480a-8cbc-4b9d3f422d1a

FT Chile moves to bring lithium under state control

The government also wants to include stricter environment rules in production. The country is following other countries like Mexico, Zimbabwe and Indonesia in state control of resources. The plan is not a total nationalization but pursues majority state-owned partnerships. It also envisages more value added activity to benefit Chile itself. https://www.ft.com/content/ebd48bbc-1390-4679-99fe-682975bbdba8

FT Tennessee becomes center of U.S.A. culture wars

The state with 52 percent of citizens identifying as evangelicals (double the number compared to the national figure) is cthe enter of a social contract struggle with issues like private gun control and gender dividing citizens. Over time state politics switched the ruling party each election until 2019. The so-called gerrymandering (changing district borders to influence elections) is particularly severe here. https://www.ft.com/content/c7f2edaf-4f6e-42b6-9225-6c3bf67b41a4

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

WEA and World Council of Churches call in the U.N. on Azerbaijan for the immediate lifting of the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh: https://un.worldea.org/wea-and-wcc-call-on-azerbaijan-for-the-immediate-lifting-of-the-blockade-of-nagorno-karabakh/

April 24

FT Generals plunge Sudan into its next coup

The warring generals benefitted from the popular revolution that ousted a long standing dictator. Now they take on each other. The country never had peace since the liberation from colonialists but two dictators in the past ruled harshly for 16 and 30 years respectively. Will the citizens take hold again, the newspaper asks? https://www.ft.com/content/eec4f765-7ebc-43f4-a05e-e99781245554

FT China urges jobless graduates to take up manual work

News media highlight graduates who successfully tried their luck outside their training and go for selling in the streets. The party youth league last month criticized graduates refusing to look outside their professional aspirations. This triggers growing public anger over the economic crackdown of the government and the lack of social mobility in the country. In the background plays the looming demographic crisis of rising median age. https://www.ft.com/content/b0a85810-e8a2-4868-a88a-3049d54d101b

FT President of Brazil marks independent position in Ukraine invasion of Russia

Brazil has voted against the Russian invasion of Ukraine but refused to join sanctions against Russia or supply Ukraine with weapons. In addition the country pleads to start talking about peace despite the hostilities. “If you don’t talk about peace, you contribute to war”, the president said at the start of a European visit. One diplomat said that the position of Brazil should be seen “as its long standing ambition to be seen as a global actor, as an actor of the global south”. https://www.ft.com/content/14eb70f0-201b-41c6-af16-2c427b12acc2

April 25

FT China forced to correct diplomat’s interpretation of sovereignty

The Chinese ambassador to France publicly remarked that the Eastern European countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union “had never received sovereignty from international law perspective”. The government in China said in correction: “China respects the sovereign status of the republics after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.” https://www.ft.com/content/cfc8d303-10a8-45b0-9901-da553d161ca1

FT President of Ecuador vows to dissolve parliament if it tries to impeach him

The president claims he will fight the procedure to impeach him (see March 31) and will eventually resort to what is called the “double death” procedure where both parliament and president will face fresh elections. In the background plays drugs related corruption. https://www.ft.com/content/e19489a1-a63f-4d70-abaf-379dc63c18e2

FT Government in Columbia struggles to achieve comprehensive peace

The progressive government vowed to make “total peace” but the reliance in the country on illicit drugs related activity counters the efforts. There are many criminal gangs and people relying on their activity.  Many citizens are desperate for the government to succeed. But they also say that alternatives must prevail to the illicit sources of income from which armed groups benefit. https://www.ft.com/content/9be11107-ee3e-4070-b674-4b4af0528631

April 26

FT Sudan crisis influences situation in neighboring Chad

Thousands of refugees flock to Chad but there are also ethnic ties, particularly with the militia group fighting the main army in Sudan. Chad itself has a failed path to democracy, not unlike its Sahel neighbors. But it escapes the criticism that the others get as it is an important ally for the west in its anti-terrorism campaign. Chad may get more unstable through the Sudan turmoil. https://www.ft.com/content/5c8fb47d-1b14-444e-9c5d-caff50b48f30

FT South Africa backtracks on claim to withdraw from the ICC

The country is among the first countries to ratify the court’s statute, back in 2000. It ignored the arrest warrant for the Sudan ruler in 2015 and now is uncomfortable as organizer of the BRIC summit as the court has indicted the Russia ruler. The original suggestion to stop with the court is also supported by the widespread impression in Africa that the court is biased against the South. https://www.ft.com/content/7f985165-7d39-4dc5-be9a-da4a0ac29366

April 27

FT Former energy company chief in South Africa stays quiet over names corrupt politicians

He was questioned in a parliamentary hearing and said that he did not want to compromise any ongoing legal investigation by giving names. He stood by his earlier claims and was ready to cooperate. https://www.ft.com/content/fa779b1e-bd7b-48e2-91ea-5131cf1b0356

FT In Columbia government falls apart on progressive agenda

The president sacked seven ministers and is thinking about a “government of emergency” as he is unable to get the coalition in parliament behind some of his plans. https://www.ft.com/content/14464384-28e7-4628-843b-d7f28aa37f5e

NYT Pope gives women a vote in upcoming synod

That meeting, set to begin next October, will focus on better engaging the faithful as the church moves forward. It will include 70 non-bishop voting members, half of whom the pope wants to be women. The proportion of women voters overall would be just over 10 percent. Given the history of the church this is a big change, said one analyst. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/26/world/europe/pope-women-vote-bishops-meeting.html

April 28

FT Scientists see Horn of Africa as more prone to droughts due to climate change

The intensity of the droughts is mainly through heavier evaporating due to higher temperatures, driven by human factors. The region has never been a stranger to droughts but these intense mini droughts will have a severe impact on food security and human health. https://www.ft.com/content/b5a90d16-c053-4e24-b831-49e8cd59b2dd

The generals in Sudan and the challenge to democracy

The overthrow of the dictator in 2019 looked like a promise to political freedom. In actual fact the dictator was thrown out by the two generals and the courageous citizens demonstrating in the streets were used to create the plot. Sudan still functions as a rent seeking “limited access” society and transition to “open access” is a long process (see https://www.humanrightsjourneys.com/sdg16/). The author points to what happened over time in today’s democracies. https://www.ft.com/content/ce72371c-8d92-4a77-b8c7-95a2df770339

FT Zimbabwe opposition leader claims todays tyranny is worse than under the former dictator

He narrowly lost against the ruling party candidate in the first vote after the 2017 coup and has since suffered from a party struggle that ended in court. He refuses to boycott the upcoming election and claims his party is now stronger than before. Despite tricks by the government to influence, like indicting party officials, the opposition leader claims there will be an army of election monitors to ensure honest elections. https://www.ft.com/content/a78d9be8-3fec-48c9-92d7-cf4368e39c4d

April 29

FT In Egypt government struggles to get buyers for state asset sale

As part of a deal with the IMF the footprint of the state in the economy is bound to reduce. The government has selected 32 public sector companies to sell off but its traditional allies in the Gulf hesitate to buy. They had bailed out the government since 2011 but they recently toughened their stand. https://www.ft.com/content/4875b0b6-3a75-47fc-879e-36c0046fe952

FT In Israel right wing supporters urge government to pursue judicial reforms

A huge demonstration was staged, led by senior government ministers and lawmakers to influence the PM decision to delay the proposed reforms in search of a “wide consensus”. The demonstrators used language like bringing down “closed club of elites” and “Supreme court dictatorship”, arguing that the election result was a big referendum in support of their demands.  https://www.ft.com/content/f9680b9a-5491-4009-9991-04b5e133805c

FT In Turkey opposition leader hopes he can make a challenge to long time leader

The 73 year old former economist hopes he can challenge the two decades dominance of the 69 year old president. He is confident that the elections will not be stolen as he has teams to monitor all over the country. He lacks the charisma of the incumbent and control over media but has united a broad coalition and the support of the Kurd minority party. He himself identified recently as a member of the minority Alevi sect in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation. https://www.ft.com/content/88bd4fb5-7229-4e1b-a848-54257b42d5a5

FT New government in Brazil wants to clamp down on arms ownership

The justice minister argues it is impossible to develop a security policy with the hugely increased gun possession, while gun owners argue the murder rate in the country plummeted through gun ownership. The government has imposed measures to reduce new and existing gun ownership, while the gun lobby raises its voice against it. https://www.ft.com/content/5c73e5ed-c305-4ea1-bfe3-36aee4b66aad

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) submitted a joint report to the Human Rights Council ahead of the Universal Periodic Human Rights Review (UPR) of Canada scheduled for November 2023: https://un.worldea.org/canada-protection-of-persons-with-disabilities-human-trafficking-freedom-of-religion-report-to-the-upr-44th-session/

May 2

FT Ghana stops borrowing from its Central Bank

This is a pre-condition to acquiring an IMF bailout, in addition to renegotiating internal debt. The country is ready with 85 % of IMF requirements. The economy in recent months improved but business complains over extreme high interest rates. https://www.ft.com/content/3555f490-a1a1-4d5f-ba14-30724d7d0b0a

FT Europe wants strategic autonomy but will fail if there is too little structural homogeneity

Enormous funds are spent to achieve more independence from global markets but much is badly spent. Reliance on European funds is normalized and the internal spending in the recipient countries overlooked. The European market is still fractured and southern and eastern countries are overly dependent on the northern countries. https://www.ft.com/content/bbad3b52-5665-4937-acdf-c9b53cde699e

FT Paraguay’s ruling party wins convincing election victory

This sends a rare message of continuity in the region where other countries had clear political changes. The winning party maintains a middle position in the political spectrum. Also in Paraguay corruption is a worry. https://www.ft.com/content/01b74cfa-c66d-4b29-b8ad-4fd34994a488

FT Italy wants to make the labor market more flexible

The country wants to reduce the number of people depending on state benefits. At the same time the tax benefits of working people are increased. The government tries to distinguish between benefits for people who are able to work and those who are not. https://www.ft.com/content/265839f6-7df0-4c09-8438-c67eff55feb6

May 3

FT editorial: Democracy depends on decency and truth; media lies threaten it

The recent settlement out of court about election fraud in the U.S.A. leaves the truth unanswered and many human minds puzzled. Opinions are functioning like facts and they are something entirely different, if not checked. For something as precious as the influence of citizens this is damaging. And also for the judiciary. https://www.ft.com/content/85c9beac-ece2-4bbf-90b0-082b0ff55718

FT Kenya unrest due to rising cost of living

The opposition marched to the president’s office to hand a petition, but was dispersed by police. The opposition blames the government for not acting in good faith on the agreed talks after protests last month.

FT In France unions keep the pressure on government over pension reform

The government hopes that protest will fade. The unions time their protest agenda on initiatives in parliament to amend the decision making. https://www.ft.com/content/6e12c93d-7c25-4ee9-ace7-ef749752517a

FT Germany makes immigration easier to tap global labor talent

The labor minister claims his country will have one of the “most modern labor regimes”, relaxing qualification requirements, introducing an international advertising campaign “Make it in Germany” and better integration efforts compared to the same situation between 1960-70. https://www.ft.com/content/e859c90c-1ac4-4bf4-9660-b3a0882c2305

FT Exiled government of Tibet pushes China on sovereignty claim

The present leadership wants to claim the independence from the time before the Chinese communists marched into the Tibetan capital in 1951. It demands more than the spiritual leader. His softer approach only claimed autonomy and not complete independence for Tibet. https://www.ft.com/content/1268a5de-1344-419b-a893-6d9feecdcb5d

TT China urges other countries to respect Myanmar regime

The foreign minister visited Myanmar and said that other neighboring countries “should respect Myanmar’s sovereignty and play a constructive role in helping it achieve peace and reconciliation.” No word was said about imprisoned democratically elected leaders. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/china-urges-the-world-to-respect-myanmars-ruling-junta-63f7wgz0d

May 4

FT Elected president, cum state law professor dismantles democratic institutions in Tunisia

After the so called Arab spring in 2011 Tunisia seemed to be on a democratic course and the brokered peace in the country rendered the civil society groups the Nobel peace prize in 2015. The economic situation remained depressed. In 2019 the president won the elections as an outsider and promised improvements. From 2021 he became increasingly autocratic, culminating in arresting a key opposition leader, rejecting IMF deals and incitements against Sub-Saharan immigrants. https://www.ft.com/content/993bf045-a2f0-45fc-855b-4588dc300a5c

FT UN chief warns Sudan civil war could explode in “all-out war”

The UN chief said regional powers should influence the warring parties. He remarked that several ceasefire deals did not materialize. The South Sudan president said that both parties agreed on a place for peace talks. The Egyptian president said to a Japanese newspaper that his country was also supportive. The Sudan PM deposed in 2022 said that “war can be stopped if all efforts are combined”. https://www.ft.com/content/8e75f2b9-aa67-40a7-bbaa-25d34954b9de

FT A Supreme Court Justice of the U.S.A. in trouble of not disclosing gifts from wealthy party donor

He claims he was advised that the  gifts from his friend were not reportable. It appears that other Justices also have such problematic behavior. The Democrat party smells an opportunity for impeachment procedure that would influence the Court’s composition. https://www.ft.com/content/3e02c4c5-319e-47b6-9832-b8cbd4c715ff

FT Industry alarmed over Chile’s moves to get more national benefit for its Lithium wealth

The government is in a hurry to get majority holdings in companies. Industry is looking at other markets to divert. Only the Chile production is the lowest cost and therefore attractive. The Lithium price plummeted and in the end only Chinese investors might stay as resource claims for them are more important than profit. https://www.ft.com/content/6cbc4d6f-fc7f-4039-93fc-bf64421984bc

May 5

FT Saudi Arabia plans to execute protesters to building new mega city

The UN urged the Saudi government to reconsider. Also the UN protested against severe prison sentences of others and mistreatment of prisoners. It all concerns land evictions that are protested by the owners/possessors. One of the protesters was already shot three years ago. The defense at the time was that he opened fire first to the police. https://www.ft.com/content/0d393a6c-8227-45b8-b193-b14ac6a79c9c

FT Lebanon government ousts high profile anti-corruption judge

The ousting is the latest move in the protracted quest for accountability after the financial meltdown (see January 24 and February 7) and relates back to the struggle that started after the 2020 blast in the Beirut harbor. https://www.ft.com/content/281825db-e048-4c42-84c1-a4b5d18e1ff5

May 6

FT Newspaper evaluates constitutional monarchy in Britain

The continuity represented by monarchy reduces the chances of bending rules by incumbent power  brokers “even in advanced democracies such as the U.S.A.”. Due to its constitutional character there is mutual constraint. The monarch is above politics, but is checked by it too. https://www.ft.com/content/e95bf339-ca25-4733-b05b-33bda6a8ecc6

FT China tightens the opportunity of democracy in Hong Kong

The national government has now increased the share of government appointed representatives in the Hong Kong city council to two third. In addition elected candidates will be vetted by the national government. https://www.ft.com/content/d329bad9-0a9a-4b9d-a936-f28c41801074

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

The World Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors International, the Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, Justice For All, and the International Commission for Dalit Rights, called on India to guarantee religious freedom for minority religions: https://un.worldea.org/multi-faith-coalition-urges-india-to-address-rights-violations-against-religious-minorities/

May 8

FT Zimbabwe introduces a gold backed digital currency

With all economic figures including the value of the Zimbabwean dollar in a ruinous situation the government introduces the gold backed shadow currency. Analysts say it increases chaos and diverts from the real problem: boundless printing of money and not sufficient government income. https://www.ft.com/content/64eb2348-23a1-4786-acd8-42bfa8c1fb05

FT Government in Brazil wants to get rid of spending caps

The government at the same time commits to balanced budgets. The government wants to pursue a country without people who perish. The spending cap came after a previous government’ mismanagement and was waived several times thereafter. The bigger problem in Brazil is the government’s misallocation of funds. https://www.ft.com/content/fbc54cc6-42d6-4910-80b8-a38793f5e7e8

FT State in India shows economic miracle

The state of Karnataka with 70 mn inhabitants is bigger than most countries in the world. Its dynamics diverge from the rest of India. At elections incumbents do not necessarily have an advantage. Its average income doubled and welfare spending has tripled since 2010. Welfare flows directly to recipients through India’s national digital transfer system. In the streets poverty is less visible. https://www.ft.com/content/07a246d3-db87-4803-b900-f891c49686ad

TT Government in Egypt wants a “national dialogue” with some of the opposition

For the first time since the regime took power 10 years ago the president made a move towards some openness, quoting the economic challenges as the reason. Liberals, left-wingers and Islamists are excluded. In addition family members of an exiled opposition leader were arrested while he announced his return to stand for election. Egypt has spent lavishly and its foreign debt is mounting. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/egypt-s-president-sisi-brings-opposition-in-from-the-cold-s6w35ttfr

May 9

FT Citizens in Sudan flee in big numbers to neighboring countries

Half the country was already in need of humanitarian aid before the conflict of the warring generals. About 40.000 arrived in Egypt, primarily women and children as men in working age need a visa. The refugees are relatively well off as the journey is very expensive. https://www.ft.com/content/24c1e082-f5fe-43d0-9a9c- a4de431ce0f6

NYT Enormous floods kill more than 400 in DRC

The floods took place in South Kivu. More rain is expected. The death toll increased as many people had come to the region for a big market. The Nobel peace prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege pleaded for burial with dignity: no mass graves and taking DNA samples in advance. The government announced a day of national mourning for the catastrophe. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/08/world/africa/congo-flooding.html

May 10

FT Former PM arrested again in Pakistan

The politician, who lost a vote of confidence in April 2022, was dragged into a vehicle outside a court where he had to appear for corruption charges. Thereafter social media were experiencing security blockades. https://www.ft.com/content/df03e73c-f791-4239-860e-f8aea1dc32a0

TT In Kenya cult deaths: some bodies had missing organs

The bodies of more than 100 have been exhumed. Human organs are still used in traditional and modern medicine. This could be a case of illegal organ trade. Property transactions of deceased cult members are also in view. The government has announced regulating “unscrupulous churches and cults”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kenya-cult-deaths-victims-organs-removed-2023-cl9psm3k0

May 11

FT Mexico ruling party parliamentarians organize a vote away from opposition

The opposition had closed parliament in support of a transparency body blocked by the government. The president faces departure due to the single 6 year term limit. The ruling party came together and passed 20 laws. In addition the president presented his preferred candidates for succession. https://www.ft.com/content/e9f88130-4f7f-4b85-a435-c036aaa40a67

FT Ecuador parliament decides to go ahead with impeachment president

Parliament voted with a single majority and still needs four more votes for the needed supermajority to complete the process. The president can decide anytime until that moment to “double death” which means both parliament and presidential elections (see also April 25). https://www.ft.com/content/c3be579f-5c74-4d72-8a3b-ffd11fda4c1b

FT Columbia prefers investment in manufacturing over mining

The new finance minister, a replacement by the increasingly radical president, wants foreign investment in textiles, fertilizers and metalworking and pharmaceuticals. He wants a more equal exchange with other countries. https://www.ft.com/content/d489c7d6-0813-460a-adde-f7c458be510a

FT In Thailand wealthy family dynasty pits itself against military in politics

The daughter of a PM ousted and exiled in 2006 and at the same time a niece to the PM ousted in 2014 is challenging the military and royalist politicians. She only started in politics last year and hopes to win a convincing win in the country’s complex voting rules. Her win would be an important signal for the wider region on the issue of autocracy vs. democracy. https://www.ft.com/content/01565e62-360a-47f9-910b-67055bf92c83

TT Questions abound over arrest of former PM in Pakistan

Why does Pakistan keep arresting its former prime ministers? There is a long tradition of charging former prime ministers with corruption. The latest arrested former PM cheered on when the two before were arrested and now it’s his turn. This time however is different: the arrest was more violent. It makes clear that the military are the instigators. The former PM himself did his part in instigating by provocative tweets. At the same time the country is in economic distress and faces terrorism of the Pakistan Taliban. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pakistan-arrest-prime-ministers-imran-khan-different-5mm53d9vr

May 12

FT First deal of warring parties in Sudan seeks to protect civilians

The deal brokered and to be monitored by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.A. has humanitarian goals (one of them being “the withdrawal of forces from hospitals and clinics”). Sceptics say it is neither a truce or a ceasefire. https://www.ft.com/content/d0c244c4-4298-4467-80fa-0b46f01e1869

FT Supreme court in Pakistan declares arrest former PM illegal

One of the court members asked the former PM to restrain his supporters. He replied that he did not know what happened after his arrest. The current PM claims the violence are acts of terrorism. More members of the former PM party remain in custody. Events show that his party is a force that cannot be neglected. https://www.ft.com/content/309557e7-cf80-43a8-a951-72863bd78435

FT The president of France about sovereignty of Europe

During his tenure the president has boosted “building back” French industry to foster not only economic power but also be able to strengthen public services. From 2022 Europe also realizes the need to control its own destiny. The president: “We are no longer naïve. What is needed is a single European market, industrial policy, strategic assets, reciprocity and multilateral solidarity.” https://www.ft.com/content/7ff1123d-51b1-482c-ba86-b3a95a347df9

May 13

FT A politician in Pakistan taking on the army

The former PM walked out of court again, which judged his arrest over graft “invalid and unlawful”. His story as a populist is a long one from wealthy childhood to sport star, society celebrity to religious awakened, while taking on the U.S.A. in the course of action. Is it innovation or benefitting from chaos? The agenda is not quite clear, but his arrest could prove his opponents’ fear. If their charges would be successful, it would bar him from running in the next election. https://www.ft.com/content/4a094cf1-e16c-49ec-bbe0-079a308f2561

TT Thailand has another election season

Coups & courts have regularly trumped the ballot box where election fever pitches the pro-democracy young and rural poor against the conservative royalists. The army works in the background, having staged 13 successful takeovers (and many more failed ones) since the break with absolute monarchy in 1932. Using anti-monarchy language is having a role in restraining political success. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/thailand-election-2023-military-coup-polls-0mxgr2npg

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

The May newsletter of the United Nations liaison offices in Geneva, Bonn & New York: https://worldea.org/news/22527/wea-at-the-united-nations-updates-from-wea-united-nations-offices-in-geneva-new-york-and-bonn/

May 15

FT Ghana’s lost status as an example for Africa

The country finds itself heavily in debt, now that multiple crises hit (Ukraine, high dollar and interest rate). While the governance is relatively effective, the government still shows overstaffing (“jobs for the boys”). The country is still searching for its cohesion, with a national cathedral being built that reflects major religious buildings elsewhere. https://www.ft.com/content/bd67731c-cea0-4045-96d4-5fff001f1fd2

FT In India opposition deals national ruling party a blow in state election

The state elections show a clear victory for the opposition despite campaigning of even the federal PM. Ahead of the polls the outgoing state government scrapped 4 % reservation under affirmative action job quotas for minority Muslims (13 % of the state population). https://www.ft.com/content/b24f425c-c73c-42a4-9288-65f4dc2f0be9

FT Argentina is trying to avoid economic distress

The finance minister announced intervention by the central bank to stabilize the national currency. The country has suffered from money printing practices and in this way could well be on the road to another default. China allowed imports to be paid in Renminbi which was a temporary relief. https://www.ft.com/content/fca2505d-e489-4c79-87da-4b1185278c38

May 16

FT Incumbent consolidates advance in Turkey election

The confident and united opposition has to do soul searching for the run off on May 28. The president’s party nearly achieved absolute majority and will be hard to beat. The Turkish opposition have a history of overestimating themselves. Fractures in their coalition could harm, while the media are dominantly controlled by the incumbent. https://www.ft.com/content/9e356658-b0bd-4c48-8b21-cdaa79983707

FT In Thailand opposition took a sweeping victory in election

The young and the pushed out aristocrats have a clear majority while the military aligned and incumbent party only booked minor results. It remains a tough challenge to reform the old order. https://www.ft.com/content/70a51d5c-d13f-42de-afd5-0ef056b045fd

May 17

FT Egypt business complains about currency uncertainty

The Egyptian currency might devalue again. Government tries to have a stable currency to combat inflation but is hit by investors pulling out and reducing foreign remittances of Egyptians abroad. https://www.ft.com/content/b69bbce2-11e1-4da8-9608-b7af2a6fd329

FT Thailand election winner declares himself ready for coalition talks

The military backed current government parties are dwarfed. The main opposition party was also beaten by the young startup party. Together they have not enough votes to appoint a PM despite the clear majority. The 2017 constitution gives the military a strong voice. In addition the program of the startup party (less dominance of the Royals and ending conscription to the army) may be difficult to swallow for others. https://www.ft.com/content/16b1f836-3d66-43e9-a9f6-1c2fc4ea0ed2

FT Speaker in Brazil congress vows to block interventionalist moves of government

On an FT conference the 52 year old politician claims that fears of business for reduced competitiveness are baseless. Congress still holds a majority for the opposition and has vetoed the first measures of the president for nationalizations. https://www.ft.com/content/e546e85e-ec56-4f06-88de-6ab434be8da6

May 18

FT In Germany vice-chancellor in trouble over charges of nepotism

The former children’s book author with great oratorical skills and ideological pragmatism stumbles over his close aides’ cronyism charges, the same person that was praised for his energy policy when the Russia assault on Ukraine started. The Green party suffered in a recent state election. https://www.ft.com/content/b1b82539-c9a4-4b7b-8fbd-760fd4d35c98

FT President in Ecuador responds to impeachment procedure with triggering election

The political crisis (see May 11) stumbles into the next episode with both presidential and parliamentary elections within the next three months. The president now has six months to rule by decree. The president defended his decision in a televised address as democratic, “not because it is constitutional but it returns the power to the people”. The constitution is from 2008 and this is the first time the double elections are used to solve a political crisis. https://www.ft.com/content/ec4d7d52-afab-4e7a-802b-e4661408b722

FT Australia starts next decade with rare budget surplus

The soaring commodity prices help the new government but more spending looms over defense, welfare and energy transition. The export of the country for 60 % concerns coal, gas and iron ire. It supports the needs of China, South Korea and Japan. https://www.ft.com/content/e2dff208-cbeb-419c-b698-66e9eb09f8ec

FT Indonesia sovereign wealth fund set to start spending

The fund has long been in the making (see February 7, 2021) but benefits from investors’ interest to diversify from China spending. Unlike other sovereign wealth funds the Indonesia fund does not depend on home commodity revenue but solicits foreign investment. As a country Indonesia benefits from the stability promise sought by investors. https://www.ft.com/content/5e170ec5-0d25-4a12-8407-f39480e563d7

May 19

FT Content moderators file lawsuit against social media in Kenya

Earlier cases were won in the U.S.A. The META platform worldwide employs 40.000 people on safety and security, 15.000 of them work as content moderators. They are exposed to unspeakable horror content, in their job to filter the most toxic material. Now 184 of them have filed a case against the employer in Kenya. https://www.ft.com/content/afeb56f2-9ba5-4103-890d-91291aea4caa

FT Ghana secures IMF bailout after all creditors agree to debt restructuring

The biggest other creditor is China. China has long resisted but according to the IMF is now cooperating. This might be good news for other countries like Zambia, where a settlement is long in waiting. https://www.ft.com/content/dcbe7953-334d-4e39-890f-4bbf8d0917b1

FT South Africa balances internationally between democracy and autocracy

In an op-ed the Africa editor calls the foreign policy of the country a “study in inconsistency”. The country has not forgotten how Russia supported the fight against Apartheid, but seems to close an eye now that the same country brutally invaded Ukraine. The columnist argues that the new world order may have few rules. But at times there are limits to ambiguity, which is what South Africa finds out now. https://www.ft.com/content/87ac2fe5-1456-4533-9193-a6f527b7887d

FT In Pakistan former PM challenges top military

The popular former sports star turned politician, who lost a vote of confidence in parliament, is broadly seen as able to win a future election. He accuses the army of being behind attempts to arrest him in order to prevent him running for election and says the army top “goes against democracy, our constitution and fundamental rights”. In the background the dire economic outlook and post-floods harm seem unattended. https://www.ft.com/content/ff773270-7a48-4be3-8c87-88c9b247f4e3

May 20

FT In Germany opposition criticizes government moves to return looted African art

The so called Benin bronzes have been returned to the Nigeria government who in turn handed them to a royal figure inside the country. This triggered debate in Germany. Nigerians criticize the discussion in Germany, saying this is continued colonialism. https://www.ft.com/content/949fa139-364a-479e-9e0e-2ace83df7000

FT Iran executes three more protesters

After the protests last year four were hanged but executions had been paused. The charge in the new cases again is “killing members of the security forces”. The resumption shows that the regime considers itself powerful. https://www.ft.com/content/234464c1-75f3-4bea-9a07-e22b316130ec

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

For her “outstanding courage” and “extraordinary selflessness”, Iranian civil rights activist Mary Mohammadi was awarded this year’s St. Stephen’s Award for Persecuted Christians at a ceremony in Germany. The WEA SG attended the ceremony. In his speech he showed that the right to religious freedom is, from its historical origin, a right to change one’s faith. https://worldea.org/news/22533/young-woman-promotes-discussion-about-religious-freedom-honor-for-iranian-civil-rights-activist-and-convert-mary-mohammadi/

May 22

FT President Niger defends French role in anti-terrorism effort

The president blamed misguided anti-neocolonialist sentiment and added that the Russian private army taking the role of France in Mali has not been successful. The president has done his part in improving security and fighting corruption, but has been less successful in education. The team around him is considered weak. The country experiences rapid desertification (“500 football pitches of arable land a day lost”). https://www.ft.com/content/605566e8-4542-426a-af90-f5ceb8d6d7e7

FT Bhutan turns to crypto in search of fast growth

The country that allowed TV and internet only in 1999 is growing fast despite its emphasis on citizen happiness over economic growth. It has abundant hydro energy and also focuses on high-end tourism. A 200 $ a day levy is charged to tourists. In the new venture of crypto it follows El Salvador and Central African Republic. It looks like a risky venture though the envisioned mining part of it is the least vulnerable. https://www.ft.com/content/1590e1dd-f278-47ff-aae0-2d1f3b0003cb

FT In Iran religious conservatives unsettled due to relaxing dress codes

The female dress code has become a lightning rod of dissent. The authorities show no compromise but enforcement is limited. Both sides of the divide are unsure of how to proceed. One comment is that the authorities politically failed to show the beauties of Islam and now all emphasis is on the minor issue of dress code. https://www.ft.com/content/bdad666e-d57d-4174-8522-1fa0a7493f0e

TT In Central African Republic judge removed for opposing change of constitution

Before her removal the Constitutional Court had declared a commission invalid to draft a new constitution, allowing for more than two presidential terms. After removal of the judge a referendum on the issue was approved. The removed judge was visited by Russian security agents with the request to change her opinion. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/wagner-central-african-republic-anthony-loyd-russia-ukraine-7rl2dztsb

NYT Generals in Sudan agree to seven days ceasefire

Sudan’s warring parties have agreed to a seven-day cease-fire beginning on May 22. The sides promised to stop occupying new areas; to refrain from detaining or threatening civilians; and not to impede aid groups and workers from providing lifesaving assistance. The warring groups also agreed not to loot civilian properties or humanitarian supplies, nor to seize critical infrastructure such as electricity, fuel and water installations. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/21/world/africa/sudan-ceasefire.html

May 23

FT Africa has limited geopolitical power but takes the brunt of shocks

Actually poverty increases while the causes are external. In an op-ed the chief economist of the UN Economic Commission for Africa suggests that next month’s Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, hosted by France, is an opportunity to tackle the issue: more liquidity, debt restructuring and more share in decision making for African nations. https://www.ft.com/content/5fac406f-a4f1-493f-bac4-007bb12146e5

FT In Greece incumbent paves the way to secure majority in new election

In the election last Sunday he secured a clear win but no outright majority. Under a new system starting in June the election winner will get a 50 seats bonus. This will help him to form a government without a coalition with others. https://www.ft.com/content/ec284a96-5ed6-47bb-a9f3-5c16805fdb09

FT In Turkey nationalist presidential candidate backs incumbent for the run off

The politician had left the Nationalist Movement party to run and did better than expected. His claim is that his move is better for the stability of the country. His former party has a coalition with the incumbent and after the election the coalition again commands a majority in parliament. https://www.ft.com/content/22a2b73f-db09-487f-8e2a-80fe83f1a5b5

FT In Poland government seeks to win back support of farmers

The farmers form the backbone of the government party but suffered from the EU lifting of tariffs on Ukrainian wheat to give the country better access to the EU market. This reduced the prices the Polish farmers could get for their products. The compensation offered by the EU is not enough. The farmers feel the government mishandled the issue. https://www.ft.com/content/a5826534-3805-42d0-a2b6-9e40aa5e3190

NYT Belarus pardons hijacked activist

He was arrested after the Belarusian government forced the landing of a commercial flight he had been on that was transiting its airspace. (See May 24, 2021) https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/22/world/europe/belarus-protasevich-activist-pardon.html

May 24

FT Bulgaria breaks deadlock with power sharing deal

The EU nation had a political crisis for two years with persistent inflation, problems with decoupling the energy supply from Russia and corruption cases. Now the centrist leaders agreed to rotating premiership. Their parties still need to approve. The coalition will be an uneasy one, as local elections are run later this year. https://www.ft.com/content/298fb6e6-40bc-4769-b04b-88dbff3971f4

May 25

FT Israel government agrees to two year budget after giving in to coalition member demands

Deals were struck about funding the education system of a fervently religious community, the new national guard and new settlements on the West Bank, regarded by most of the international community as illegal. The opposition warned the PM not to take up the judicial overhaul again and considered the budget a breach of the social contract with the citizens of the country. https://www.ft.com/content/3c87f3ff-d1d5-4bff-8727-e89eb16cf26c

FT In Spain high employment en high prices give a mixed election signal

Local elections may turn in favor of the national government as the economy is doing well and the government has assisted with social security to help citizens cope with inflation.  https://www.ft.com/content/a413f6d1-f931-4b84-8c6e-d5f9522ad202

May 26

FT Genocide fugitive from Rwanda arrested in South Africa

He was arrested in a joint operation of South Africa and the UN tribunal and will have to face justice now. Three more accused are still at large. https://www.ft.com/content/90b5d499-ab54-44b7-8d30-bda1fa8d3883

FT Ukraine sees a bright digital future

The young vice-president of the country this week presented innovation, a new digital tool under the name “state and I”. It gives citizens the world’s first digital passport, enables them to get digital driving licenses, organize construction permits, register new babies, pay taxes, make digital signatures and do banking. War related functionalities, for instance for refugees, are also included. It is an example of how a hostile environment can in fact help development. https://www.ft.com/content/2c73dfbc-a25f-420b-bf2b-41fbb17e5ddb

May 27

FT Government in Pakistan cracks down on opposition party

Thousands of party supporters are detained while allegedly senior allies are persuaded to quit their links to the party. The party leader, former PM, claims his party is dismantled and even offered to negotiate. “If they can prove that the country is better off without me, I am the first to step down”. https://www.ft.com/content/a41387a1-40c6-411c-9101-864bf84ccfa4

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

Creation Care: An Evangelical voice from Asia: https://worldea.org/news/22529/creation-care-asias-voice/

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.