World’s sovereignty news clip for faith leaders, last week

September 19

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

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

FT Markets expect more drastic tightening in final quarter

Investors are pricing in a sharper surge in interest rates over the coming months after the world’s big central banks strengthened their resolve to tackle soaring prices, signaling they would prioritize inflation over growth.

FT In Spain supermarkets pushed to provide affordable staples

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

September 20

FT Nigeria’s state lost the trust of its citizens

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

FT Nigeria dollar shortage batters economy

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

FT Opposition in Mexico split by bill to boost army

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

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

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

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

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

September 21

FT Niger population explosion divides opinion

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

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

There were 214 recorded cases of violence against prominent politicians in Brazil during the first half of this year. Both main candidates in the election have made controversial remarks with the incumbent, himself attacked and hurt during the 2018 campaign, being the most prolific.

FT Ecuador deal on debt relief restructuring boosts ties with China

China increasingly offers bailouts to countries at risk of financial crises. The Ecuador agreement will extend the loans’ maturity and reduce interest rates and amortization. China has disbursed billions of dollars in emergency loans to countries in recent years in bailouts that have made China a competitor of the western-led IMF.

September 22

FT Colombia warns jungle is ‘disappearing’

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

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

The leader of Tunisia’s main opposition party and its former prime minister have been detained. The 81 and 67 year old are under interrogation because the pair allegedly helped jihadists to travel and fight for Isis. Their party claims that the case is politically motivated and related to fabricated charges going back to 2012.

September 23

FT Opposition in Turkey battles internal divisions

The ruptures appear in a disparate six-party alliance that aims to unseat the current president. The latest row, triggered by a dispute over the composition of the government if they win the election scheduled for June 2023, has served as a proxy for deeper disagreements.

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

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the UN-backed tribunal, dismissed an appeal yesterday, upholding the life sentence for genocide against the Vietnamese ethnic minority and violations of the Geneva Conventions. The former head of state, now 91 years old, was the international face of the communist regime, which was responsible for up to 1.7mn deaths, almost a quarter of the population, between 1975 and 1979.

September 24

FT Iran’s conservative women join hijab backlash

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