Ulrike Franke writes: The European Union has been busy. It has just unveiled the world’s first plans to regulate artificial intelligence, an effort that has received a lot of attention at home and abroad. There is also the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Decade, the Cybersecurity Strategy, and more. Clearly, the EU is doubling down on its self-declared role as regulatory superpower, first established with the GDPR data privacy regulation. Technology regulation is important – and probably more so than many Europeans realise. But the EU, for all its pathbreaking work on regulation, does not appear to have fully registered how geopolitical technology has become. Even more striking, while there has been some movement on this in Brussels, most EU member states have barely begun thinking about the issue.
Harsh V. Pant writes: United States (US) Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s visit to India ended on a high note, despite initial suggestions in some quarters that the Joe Biden administration was keen to take on the Narendra Modi government on what is seen by some as India’s growing “democracy deficit”.
ROUHIN DEB writes: The largest state in the Northeast with an area of 78,438 square kilometre and a sizeable population of 3.2 crores, Assam has been one of the states that has witnessed significant development over the past decade since it came out of the grapples of decades-long insurgency.
Saaransh Mishra writes: Most American combat troops have now left Afghanistan, with the remaining scheduled to depart by the end of August. Amongst a plethora of other concerns, withdrawal has caused serious apprehensions about the security of the diplomats that will stay back in Afghanistan post the withdrawal. Considering the lack of a foolproof strategy to protect these diplomats, combined with the necessity of their presence in the country — given that America wants to continue its engagements with Afghanistan — the United States (US) faces multiple conundrums with regards to their safety that do not have any uncomplicated solutions. The US has to devise a way to balance the security of its own diplomats along with the overall well-being of a future Afghanistan, which seems herculean and almost impossible at this point.
KABIR TANEJA writes for ORF: China’s foreign minister Wang Yi recently hosted a delegation of the Taliban, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Tianjin. The meeting highlighted Beijing’s balancing act — of seeing both an opportunity and a threat in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the withdrawal of United States (US) troops, now in its final stages.
Aslan Doukaev writes: In two battlegrounds 1,500 kilometers apart, veteran Chechen freelance fighters are being rebuked by those with whom they aligned against a common foe. In June, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the main rebel group in the Idlib Governorate of Syria, issued a demand that the hundreds of foreign fighters operating in the area acknowledge its leadership or disband. The HTS, which evolved out of the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, has been steadily consolidating its control over the province since 2017, sidelining rival factions and cracking down on groups that did not recognize its authority and sought to preserve their autonomy (see Terrorism Monitor, October 13, 2020). On June 27, a Syria-based journalist close to the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime reported that the HTS had asked the leader of one such group, the Chechen-led Junud al-Sham, to leave the province of Idlib, the last major stronghold for anti-government forces. “It appears that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham gave Muslim [al-]Shishani an ultimatum to either join their organization or to leave Idlib province. Muslim [al-]Shishani has refused to join Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and, therefore, they have asked him to leave Idlib altogether,” the journalist said, citing his sources (Facebook.com/ognofficial, June 27).
go to The Jamestown Foundation: Chechnya’s Veteran Fighters Have Their Backs to the Wall – Jamestown
Kseniya Kirillova writes: In the run-up to September’s legislative elections to the State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian parliament), the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) has been notably active. Traditionally, the communists are seen by Russians as a “surrogate” opposition—that is, one completely loyal to the current government. The behavior of fractions of the CPRF in the Duma has often confirmed this hypothesis: the party’s deputies, as well as its leader, Gennadiy Zyuganov, have supported the majority of legislation proposed by the ruling United Russia party, including laws that are openly repressive (Deutsche Welle—Russian service, May 26).
go to The Jamestown Foundation: Russian Communists Try to Control Popular Discontent – Jamestown
Pavel K. Baev writes: The remarks by United States President Joseph Biden at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last week (July 27) made a strong but ambivalent impression in Moscow. His warning regarding Russian misinformation and interference in the 2022 mid-term elections in the US was countered with the usual denials (RIA Novosti, July 28). Instead, the most emotional protests came in response to Biden’s assertion that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was dangerous because he presides over a weak economy. Russia boasts “nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else,” he argued (Izvestia, July 28). This was certainly a deliberate oversimplification: the US president was addressing an expert audience that surely knew better, and so the offense to Moscow was most probably intended. Indeed, Putin’s troubles are far more complicated than overseeing shrinking petro-revenues and an aging nuclear arsenal. And that complexity of challenges to his autocratic regime is key to understanding what actually makes the Kremlin leader dangerous (Ezednevny Zhurnal, July 29).
go to The Jamestown Foundation: Putin’s Paranoia, More Than Nuclear Weapons and Oil, Make Russia Dangerous – Jamestown
Al Jazeera writes: A Russian court has sentenced a key ally of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny to 18 months of restricted movement after finding her guilty of inciting people to break COVID-19 safety regulations. Lyubov Sobol was charged on Tuesday over her allegedly calling for Russians to attend an unsanctioned street protest in January in support of Navalny. She had initially been placed under house arrest.
Al Jazeera writes: A US labour board official has recommended a rerun of a landmark Amazon.com Inc union election in Alabama where employees had voted overwhelmingly against making their warehouse the online retailer’s first to organise in the United States. In the coming weeks, a regional director for the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will decide whether to order the rerun based on this recommendation, said an official with the board on Monday who asked not to be named.
Al Jazeera writes: The United States has accused Myanmar’s military generals of playing for time after coup leader Min Aung Hlaing extended the deadline for new elections, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) to step up efforts to resolve the political turmoil triggered by the power grab. Blinken is participating virtually this week in talks with foreign ministers from ASEAN, whose 10 members include Myanmar.
Al Jazeera writes: Financial firms, including British insurer Prudential, lenders Citi and HSBC and BlackRock Real Assets are devising plans to speed up the closure of Asia’s coal-fired power plants in order to reduce the biggest source of carbon emissions, five people with knowledge of the initiative said. The novel proposal, which is being driven by the Asian Development Bank, offers a potentially workable model and early talks with Asian governments and multilateral banks are promising, the sources told Reuters.
Kareem Chehayeb writes: A year after a massive explosion at Beirut Port devastated the Lebanese capital, the victims’ grieving families are still waiting for answers, accountability and justice. More than 200 people were killed and 6,500 wounded when hundreds of tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate fertiliser stored in the port for six years ignited on August 4, 2020, in what was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.
Al Jazeera writes: At least 30 corpses have washed up on the Sudanese banks of a river that abuts Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, according to two Ethiopian refugees and four Sudanese witnesses who told Reuters news agency on Monday they had retrieved the bodies. The bodies were found in the Setit River, known in Ethiopia as the Tekeze, which runs along Ethiopia’s border with Eritrea before crossing into Sudan at the point where the three countries meet.
ZHANG JUN writes: A decade ago, few economists were bullish about the growth of China’s external financial strength. But the government’s commitment to capital-market opening and renminbi internationalization – together with China’s sheer size – have fueled a rapid financial rise that will only continue.
go to Project-Syndicate: China’s Unavoidable Financial Rise by Zhang Jun – Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)
ANDRÉS VELASCO writes: There is no sound argument for applying lender-of-last-resort protection to privately issued cryptocurrencies. But regulators can prevent the all-too-predictable liquidity squeeze caused by a run on stablecoins – including by regulating them out of existence if necessary.
JEFFREY D. SACHS writes: As a powerful complement to the United Nations, the G20 has acquitted itself well by representing most of the world’s population and economic output with a limited membership. By expanding to include the African Union, it would overcome its biggest limitation without any loss of agility.
go to Project-Syndicate: The Case for a G21 by Jeffrey D. Sachs – Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)
RAGHURAM G. RAJAN writes: With growth so uncertain, it is understandable that central banks would be wary of beginning to taper monthly bond purchases before it is clear that inflation has taken off. But they would do well to recognize that prolonging quantitative easing implies significant risks, too.
Bill Sharp writes: Taiwan will vote on four referendum items on 18 December, the result of which could make or break the remainder of President Tsai Ing-wen’s time in office. The referendum was rescheduled from 28 August by the Central Election Commission due to the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan.
go to East Asia Forum: Tsai’s high stakes on Taiwan’s upcoming referendum (eastasiaforum.org)
Elliot Silverberg and Daniel Aum write: In June 2021, the United States and the European Union announced the creation of a joint trade and technology council, an initiative that aims to put democracies at the forefront of writing the rules governing digital trade. Despite their embrace of shared liberal values, the member nations will have to reconcile conflicting national interests. The council will also face resistance from China, which continues to extend the influence of its authoritarian model over the digital landscape. As nations jockey for position, the United States should expand its multilateral efforts in Asia — beginning with a three-way digital trade deal with Japan and South Korea.
go to East Asia Forum: Washington should pursue a digital deal with Seoul and Tokyo | East Asia Forum
Jessica Brandt writes: Dueling French and Russian trolls sparred with one another online as they vied for influence in multiple African countries, Facebook revealed late last year. It was the first time the platform called out individuals affiliated with a Western liberal democratic government for coordinated inauthentic behavior on its platform. The French operation, which had been underway since 2018, used fake accounts to pose as locals in target countries, commenting on content related to current events and pushing back on criticisms of French foreign policy posted by the Russian operation. “We have these two efforts from different sides of these issues using the same tactics and techniques,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said of the episode, “and they end up looking sort of the same.” That is a problem.
Carl Romer and Andre M. Perry write for Brookings: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium for the COVID-19 pandemic provided acute relief to people who were struggling to pay rent. That moratorium expired on July 31; however, neither abruptly ending it nor prolonging it will solve the problem of housing insecurity, particularly in Black-majority neighborhoods and for low-income, essential workers.
Ronald U. Mendoza writes: In 2019, the Philippines was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It finally shed its “sick man of Asia” reputation obtained during the economic collapse towards the end of the Ferdinand Marcos regime in the mid-1980s. After decades of painstaking reform — not to mention paying back debts incurred under the dictatorship — the country’s economic renaissance took root in the decade prior to the pandemic. Posting over 6 percent average annual growth between 2010 and 2019 (computed from the Philippine Statistics Authority data on GDP growth rates at constant 2018 prices), the Philippines was touted as the next Asian tiger economy.
Carl Romer, Andre M. Perry, and Kristen Broady write: According to a 2020 report by the Aspen Institute, an estimated 30 million to 40 million people in the U.S. are at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 housing crisis. Previously, a national moratorium on evictions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protected these households from losing their homes. But on July 31, that moratorium expired.
Rush Doshi writes: This introductory chapter summarizes the book’s argument. It explains that U.S.-China competition is over regional and global order, outlines what Chinese-led order might look like, explores why grand strategy matters and how to study it, and discusses competing views of whether China has a grand strategy. It argues that China has sought to displace America from regional and global order through three sequential “strategies of displacement” pursued at the military, political, and economic levels. The first of these strategies sought to blunt American order regionally, the second sought to build Chinese order regionally, and the third — a strategy of expansion — now seeks to do both globally. The introduction explains that shifts in China’s strategy are profoundly shaped by key events that change its perception of American power.
Nicol Turner Lee writes: In a few short days or weeks, most K-12 students will physically return to the classroom—at least, this is the plan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that local districts encourage mask wearing regardless of vaccination status. But some cities and school districts are still questioning such mandates, despite the rising number of vaccinated and unvaccinated people being infected by the COVID-19 Delta variant. The current immunization ineligibility among children under 12 years of age further complicates public health mitigation as some of them may become carriers of the virus to their parents and other close relatives, if not careful.
George N. Tzogopoulos writes: In July 2021, Israel expressed full support to the Republic of Cyprus in the wake of the unilateral reopening of the Varosha coastline by Turkey. Last year, it also showed solidarity with Athens during Greek-Turkish tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. While the tripartite partnership is progressing, Ankara is seeking to expand its footprint in the region and is pursuing a two-state solution in Cyprus. It is also applying a new foreign policy methodology to Greece while remaining adamant in its demands.
go to BESA Center: Turkey’s New Moves in the Eastern Mediterranean (besacenter.org)
Monika Chaudhary writes: In the 2011 census, the female literacy rate in India was 65.2 per cent. The school dropout rate for girls was 52.2 per cent. The reasons cited for the high dropout rate included the high cost of education, household or subsistence labour, desire to work, early marriage, school accessibility, safety, sanitation concerns in schools and a lack of interest in studies.
go to East Asia Forum: COVID-19 rolls back progress on female education in India (eastasiaforum.org)
Nasriddinov Salokhiddin writes: On 2 February 2021, Uzbekistan held the event of the century for Central Asia — hosting trilateral negotiations with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the construction of a 600-kilometre railroad through Afghanistan. Government officials agreed on a ‘road map’ for railroad construction that will connect Uzbekistan and other landlocked Central Asian countries to the Indian Ocean through Kabul and seaports in Karachi and Gwadar.
go to East Asia Forum: Uzbekistan’s long-awaited path to Indian Ocean trade | East Asia Forum
Aristyo Rizka Darmawan writes: The South China Sea became an important highlight of the recent ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus. All delegations agreed that maintaining peace and security in the disputed area is one of the most important issues in the region and called for unity in the defence sector. To keep the peace it will be necessary to preserve the momentum in the negotiations for a South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC).
go to East Asia Forum: Towards a rigorous Code of Conduct for the South China Sea | East Asia Forum
Ranj Alaaldin writes: Iraq is beset with crises. In the scorching summer heat, the country is suffering from electricity and water shortages, longstanding challenges that have routinely resulted in violent protests as part of wider grievances around lack of services and rampant corruption. On July 12, a hospital fire killed at least 60 people as a result of negligence and mismanagement. On July 19, the Islamic State group (ISIS) carried out a deadly attack, killing at least 35 people in Baghdad. In the midst of all this, Shiite militia groups tied to Iran routinely assassinate civilians and activists, and use rockets and drones to attack U.S. personnel, Iraqi military forces, and U.S.-aligned actors like the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
go to Brookings: Treat Iraq’s Iran-aligned militias like ISIS (brookings.edu)
Cheng Li writes: There is no doubt that the Chinese middle class is a dominant political and economic force that will have a profound impact on both China and the world. But the political outlook and worldviews of this powerful contingent are far less clear-cut. Given that the rapid rise and explosive growth of China’s middle class is a relatively recent development, its role and economic-political implications are neither predetermined nor stagnant. The dynamism and diversity of this new socioeconomic force and its transitory political role can undermine the fatalistic view about China’s future trajectory.
Faine Greenwood writes: As COVID-19 swept through the world in early 2020, technology companies scrambled to repurpose their products to fight the pandemic. This repurposing was especially pronounced in the civilian drone industry, whose companies predicted that the pandemic would prove the value of their map-making, inspection, and delivery technology. As drones were adapted for everything from monitoring social-distance requirements to delivering medical supplies, companies hoped that a historically drone-skeptical public might be won over by the technology once and for all.
Lev Nachman and Ryan Hass write: Lev Nachman recently returned to the United States after living in Taipei for more than two years, where he was a Fulbright scholar and studied social movements and political parties in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Nachman who also previously lived in Taiwan, is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. In a conversation with Brookings Senior Fellow and Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies Ryan Hass, Nachman provides insights on the relationship between Taiwanese identity and support for Taiwan independence, factors that motivate Taiwan voters, and prospects for Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election.
Brookings writes: Despair in American society is a barrier to reviving our labor markets and productivity, jeopardizing our well-being, health, longevity, families, and communities—and even our national security. The COVID-19 pandemic was a fundamental shock, exacerbating an already a growing problem of despair.
Eric Postel and Anthony F. Pipa write: Transforming the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) by expanding its resources and authorities while merging it with other financing mechanisms—including the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Development Credit Authority (DCA)—to create the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) understandably required a major sales effort. While the foreign policy elites saw the DFC as a counter to China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, advocates for international development viewed the DFC as an expansion of U.S. development leadership. And while fiscal conservatives were sold on prospective cost savings through the elimination of duplication, OPIC management told affected staff at USAID (the DCA team that was transferred to the DFC) that all of them would be offered jobs at the new DFC. Meeting all the expectations was always going to prove difficult—but one of the trickiest topics is how to best solidify the DFC-USAID relationship in order to maximize development results.
go to Brookings: Solidifying the DFC-USAID relationship (brookings.edu)
Aloysius Uche Ordu, Ali Zafar, and Jan Muench write: Since the early 2000s, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been pursuing a common currency agenda, centered on the “eco,” with the intention of reducing barriers to doing business across the region and increasing trade overall. While the implementation of the new currency has been postponed due to hurdles in macroeconomic convergence across the countries and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other challenges, many policymakers remain keen to forge ahead, with implementation now tentatively set for 2027.
go to Brookings: Is West Africa ready for a single currency? (brookings.edu)
Dick Roche writes: When the OECD launched its Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) taxation initiative, the Obama administration, while supportive of the project’s aims, was cautious. The US lead negotiator commented that in the BEPS process every other country wanted the US “to pay for lunch.”
go to Euractiv: Can President Biden deliver on global tax reform? – EURACTIV.com
Antonia Colibasanu writes: As Turkey’s dreams of joining the European Union have faded, Ankara has shifted its strategy toward the West. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s latest moves – a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the announcement of a resumption of Turkish energy exploration in the area – are meant to show that he will continue to pursue his neo-Ottoman “Mavi Vatan” (Blue Homeland) doctrine.
Euractiv writes: The European Union said on Thursday (29 July) it was pressing Iraq to help stem the flow of migrants to Belarus who are then smuggled across the border into Lithuania.
go to Euractiv: EU pushes Iraq to stem migrant flights to Belarus – EURACTIV.com
Sebastijan R. Maček writes: Slovenia’s opposition Social Democrats have called on Prime Minister Janez Janša to initiate an independent, voluntary forensic investigation of mobile devices of political leaders, journalists and civil society in the face of the Pegasus surveillance scandal.
Euractiv writes: The European Union is “very concerned about the repression” of protests in Cuba and urges the government to release all arbitrarily detained protesters, the EU said on Thursday (29 July) in its strongest statement to date on the matter.
Euractiv writes: Poland’s justice minister on Thursday (29 July) asked its Constitutional Tribunal to examine whether an article of the European Convention on Human Rights breaches the constitution, deepening an international row over the country’s judicial reforms.
Clara Bauer-Babef writes: A group of major French companies have sent a letter to Prime Minister Jean Castex proposing solutions to best support Europe in its energy transition once France assumes the six month rotating EU Council presidency at the start of 2022. EURACTIV France reports.
Euractiv writes: The European Commission on Thursday (29 July) published a guide to assess whether planned infrastructure projects are equipped to cope with climate change impacts like floods and heatwaves, a condition that must be met to receive certain EU funds.
NASA writes: On April 29, 2015, NuSTAR, Hinode, and Solar Dynamics Observatory all stared at our Sun.
go to NASA: Staring at the Sun | NASA
NASA writes: Where there’s water, there’s life. That’s the case on Earth, at least, and also why scientists remain tantalized by any evidence suggesting there’s liquid water on cold, dry Mars. The Red Planet is a difficult place to look for liquid water: While water ice is plentiful, any water warm enough to be liquid on the surface would last for only a few moments before turning into vapor in Mars’ wispy air.
INSS writes: At the start of H. E. President Isaac Herzog’s term of office, and following the many global and local developments and changes over the past six months – including a new administration in Washington, President Biden’s decision to try to return to the nuclear deal with Iran, the formation of a new government in Israel, and growing tensions in Israeli society, including clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israeli cities – the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) presented to President Herzog highlights on the main strategic challenges facing Israel and policy recommendations for addressing those challenges.
Burak Bekdil writes: Turks are hungry for fairy tales. Any feel-good news propaganda—including Erdoğan’s “The West, including the Germans, are jealous of us!” tirade—finds millions of receptive listeners in Turkey’s postmodern marketplace of absurdity.
go to BESA Center: Give War a Chance: Turkish Leader Finesses Political Defeat (besacenter.org)
James M. Dorsey writes: Widely seen as a populist with ultra-conservative leanings, Pakistani PM Imran Khan increasingly appears to reinforce widespread traditionalist attitudes that reject religious tolerance as well as the rights of women and minorities.
Arvin Khoshnood writes: Amid a fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, nightly demonstrations are occurring inside Iran—especially in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan. The protests initially concerned a water shortage and power outages, but have since turned into demonstrations demanding an end to the Islamist regime.
go to East Asia Forum: Demonstrations in Iranian Khuzestan Demand an End to the Islamic Regime (besacenter.org)
Jake Read write: At the G7 summit in June in Cornwall, participants recognised the need to defend and modernise the multilateral rules-based trade system and agreed to get behind urgent, wholescale trade reform. They acknowledged that the rulebook has long been out of date and that the world trade system is in need of repair.
go to East Asia Forum: Asia is in a critical position to kick-start global trade reform (eastasiaforum.org)
Lina Gong writes: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many disruptions to humanitarian action since 2020. As traditional donors struggled with domestic COVID-19 responses, emerging donors such as China and India seized the opportunity to increase their humanitarian footprint. Both countries provided humanitarian aid to over 150 countries and international organisations in 2020, with online technical support as one important avenue of their aid activities. Their move to online aid delivery conforms with a general trend in the humanitarian sector towards the greater use of remote humanitarian programming.
go to East Asia Forum: The rise of China and India’s remote humanitarian aid (eastasiaforum.org)
Ranj Alaaldin and Adrianna Pita write: The White House meeting between President Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was primarily framed around the future of U.S. military forces in Iraq, but in addition to the destabilizing threats of ISIS and Iran-aligned militias, Iraq is also struggling with a deep economic crisis and need for significant political reforms. Ranj Alaaldin details Kadhimi’s efforts to address Iraq’s interconnected crises and how the U.S. is still critical to Iraq’s future.
go to Brookings: What will US combat forces withdrawal mean for Iraq? (brookings.edu)
Lindsey Barrett, Laura Moy, Paul Ohm, and Ashkan Soltani write: How does a hundred-year-old agency shift its resources and focus to grapple effectively with Big Tech and some of the biggest policy puzzles of a generation? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has faced this challenge since the dotcom era. As it still scrambles to adjust, the FTC has received harsh criticism in recent years for its approvals of ballooning tech mergers and its seeming inability to deter or avert privacy scandal after privacy scandal. At the same time, popular interest in reining in Big Tech and protecting privacy has mounted. Perched at the intersection of these two issues is a wonky but fundamental problem for the agency: Do the FTC’s longstanding conflict-of-interest rules unnecessarily impede the agency’s ability to attract, retain, and deploy technical expertise that it badly needs?
Elaine Kamarck writes: Politicians almost always act in their own electoral interest. This sounds bad except that much of the time that means that they are acting in the self-interest of the people who voted for them, representing the views of the majority of their constituents. It is rare that a politician acts against his own self-interest—but then again, Donald Trump is a rare breed of politician. No politician has made it a habit of acting against his own electoral interest like Donald Trump.
Belinda Archibong, Brahima Coulibaly, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala write: Over three decades after market-oriented structural reforms termed “Washington Consensus” policies were first implemented, we revisit the evidence on policy adoption and the effects of these policies on socio-economic performance in sub-Saharan African countries. We focus on three key ubiquitous reform policies around privatization, fiscal discipline, and trade openness and document significant improvements in economic performance for reformers over the past two decades. Following initial declines in per capita economic growth over the 1980s and 1990s, reform adopters experienced notable increases in per capita real GDP growth in the post–2000 period. We complement aggregate analysis with four country case studies that highlight important lessons for effective reform. Notably, the ability to implement pro-poor policies alongside market-oriented reforms played a central role in successful policy performance
go to American Economic Association: Washington Consensus Reforms and Lessons for Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa – American Economic Association (aeaweb.org)
Tracy Hadden Loh writes: The June collapse of the Champlain Towers South multifamily condominium tower in Surfside, Fla. has called into question whether bad governance played a role in the tower’s failure. Was maintenance on the building deferred because the condo board, elected by the unit owners, had a short-term incentive to do so in order to retain power? Or are communities of individual owners, who are not real estate professionals, simply incapable of managing a complex asset like a high-rise building? Are American condominiums a 20th century experiment that have now reached a dangerous reaction point in the lab?
Adan Shibia, Eldah Onsomu, and Boaz Munga write: Unlike in much of the developed world, the promise of manufacturing to spur economic growth and jobs in Africa has remained elusive, with most of the continent’s economies facing deindustrialization. This trend is characterized by declining share of manufacturing in gross domestic product (GDP) and wage employment. All is, however, not lost considering emerging structural shifts, with services and other non-manufacturing industries promising economic transformations. These promising nonmanufacturing industries, termed “industries without smokestacks” (IWOSS), demonstrate key features of manufacturing such as high productivity, agglomeration, and job opportunities. The IWOSS sectors are diverse, cutting across financial services, horticulture, information and communication technology (ICT), tourism, transit trade, and wholesale trade. As part of a broader research project, the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative partnered with the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) to assess which of these IWOSS might be best poised to unlock jobs in Kenya.
Niharika Gupta and Sameer Sampat write: In primary school, we were both lucky to have teachers who thought we were brilliant: Ms. Darrow believed Sameer was an excellent student despite average grades, and Ms. Lewis made Niharika feel like she could survive anything. Looking back, neither of us knows why they thought this way, but we’re certain that they both truly felt this way, and their feelings made us believe it as well. Our time with these teachers made us believe in our ability to take on academic challenges, building a base of confidence that we would draw on throughout our lives.
go to Brookings: How teacher expectations empower student learning (brookings.edu)
Anthony Barr, Tracy Hadden Loh, Andre M. Perry, and Hanna Love write: In the famous post-Civil War initiative known as “40 acres and a mule,” Union General William T. Sherman promised newly freed Black households the one thing most necessary for sustaining their freedom: land. As Black minister Garrison Frazier told Sherman, freedom means having the ability to “reap the fruit of our own labor.” Unfortunately, Sherman’s promise never came to fruition, as President Andrew Johnson overturned the decision. Over a century and a half later, the unfulfilled promise of land ownership remains just as essential for the descendants of survivors of American slavery who desire economic power for themselves and their communities.
George Ingram and Helena Hlavaty write: In 2015, all members of the United Nations adopted an ambitious agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals. The agenda consists of 17 development goals to be achieved by 2030. This report examines how government donor agencies encompass SDGs in international development cooperation, covering 20 of the 30 members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). It reviews how they propose to incorporate the SDGs at the level of strategy and policy, programs, and reporting of outputs and results. Eighteen of the 20 members (excepting the United States and the European Union) have produced at least one Voluntary National Review (VNR). Although principally aimed at reporting on national progress on the SDGs, some VNRs cover international development cooperation and so are specifically noted. This review is based on how each country presents its engagement with the SDGs and does not assess the extent to which those policies and plans are translated into practice.
Robert Maxim and Mark Muro writes: Forecasters predict the economy will grow significantly in the latter half of 2021 as the U.S. continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. However, if the coming recovery resembles those in the wake of the early-2000s recession and the Great Recession, it will likely be spatially uneven, with some places making a quick recovery while other communities, both urban and rural, face continued economic distress.
George Ingram writes: In 2015, 193 nations signed on to Agenda 2030 setting forth the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The predecessor Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a narrower set of eight objectives targeted specifically at enhancing economic and social progress in lower- and middle-income countries—with first-order implications for focusing donor development assistance. In contrast, the 17 SDGs are universal—they cover a broader scope of economic, social, environmental, and political elements of development. They are designed for all countries of the world—in recognition that “sustainable development” is an ongoing process in all countries, no matter their level of economic development.
Shibley Telhami writes: President Joe Biden’s handling of the crisis that followed Israeli plans to expel Palestinians from their Jerusalem homes in May — which included Hamas firing rockets on Israel and massive Israeli bombings of Gaza, resulting in the death of over 230 Palestinian civilians and 12 Israelis — was notable for the president’s public support for Israel and pinning the blame on Hamas. Biden refused to publicly criticize Israeli actions or even push for an early end of the crisis — to the point that he faced criticism not just from Democratic progressives, but even from usually-reliable pro-Israel Democrats in Congress.
writes: Britain’s Royal Air Force has set a goal of becoming the first military service in the world to register and certify a zero-carbon aircraft.
Nathan Strout writes: The U.S. Space Force launched a new experimental satellite July 29 that will test the possibility of installing large, deployable weather sensors on small satellites.
Chris Martin writes: The British Defence Ministry has signed a £250 million (U.S. $199 million) deal with Team Tempest, a group of companies working on the country’s future combat jet, to provide digital and physical infrastructure to develop the aircraft.
writes: Germany’s Hensoldt has won a contract to supply new radars to the country’s military, according to a July 26 statement from the sensor specialist, with Israel Aerospace Industries also contributing toward the ultimate goal of modernizing Germany’s ballistic missile defense capabilities.
writes: A House panel on Wednesday advanced a proposal to authorize the Navy to make a block buy of amphibious ships for one more year, meant to save taxpayer dollars, proponents say.
go to Defense News: Sea power panel backs block buy of amphibious ships (defensenews.com)
vehicles with protection systems capable of countering unmanned aircraft systems, according to the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee’s markup of the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill, released July 28.writed: House lawmakers want answers from the Army on its plan to outfit combat
deploying to the Indo-Pacific region on a rotational basis, the chief of naval operations has confirmed.writes: The U.S. Navy no longer has concrete plans to increase the number of littoral combat ships
nationalize specialist steel components-maker Sheffield Forgemasters in order to protect the supply chain involving critical defense programs in the nuclear submarine and other sectors.writes: The British government plans to
Next Generation Air Dominance, or NGAD, future fighter jet, though it’s unclear if the committee will take action to force a change in plans.writes: The House Armed Services Committee has reservations about the Navy’s plans to transition from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet into the
The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today in Kuwait City with His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Speaker of the National Assembly Marzouq al Ghanem, and Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah to discuss regional security, joint efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, and other key issues important to the bilateral relationship. Secretary Blinken recognized two milestones in the U.S.-Kuwait relationship – the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield and 60 years of diplomatic ties – and thanked the Amir for the enduring support that has enabled close cooperation in defense, counterterrorism, trade and investment, security, education, culture, and science.
ESA writes: ESA’s Jupiter Icy moons Explorer, Juice, has successfully completed rigorous thermal tests simulating the extreme coldness of space and the warmth of the Sun at ESA’s test centre ESTEC, in The Netherlands.
go to ESA: ESA – Juice takes the heat
ESA writes: ESA’s Juice mission to Jupiter has successfully endured a month of space-like conditions inside the Large Space Simulator, the largest vacuum chamber in Europe.
TASS writes: Scientific studies into the permafrost thawing will be used to find fresh water in the Pre-Volga region. Specialists from the Laverov Federal Center for Integrated Arctic Research (FECIAR, Arkhangelsk) and the St. Petersburg State University have discovered a connection between the rate of uranium isotopes in water and the share of salt in it, FECIAR’s press service told TASS.
TASS writes: A wing of Russian Su-25 ground attack aircraft has redeployed from Russia’s Kant integrated airbase in Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan for the joint drills of Russian, Uzbek and Tajik troops at the Kharb-Maidon training ground 20 km from Afghanistan, the press office of the Central Military District reported on Thursday. “A wing of Su-25 aircraft has redeployed from the airfield of the Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan to the Gissar aerodrome in Tajikistan to participate in the trilateral exercise that will run at the Kharb-Maidon practice range in the Khatlon Region on August 5-10,” the press office said in a statement. During the drills, the crews of Su-25 close-support aircraft will hunt for a notional enemy’s camouflaged bases, deliver missile and bomb strikes against targets and practice the elements of dodging the fire by the enemy’s man-portable air defense systems, the statement says. The Russian assault aircraft will also provide fire support for motor rifle and armored units in the course of eliminating outlawed armed gangs on mountain and desert terrain, the press office specified. The Russian military contingent in the drills will mostly comprise units of Russia’s 201st military base stationed in Tajikistan. The Russian troops in the drills will include over 1,000 personnel and about 200 items of armament and military hardware. The troops will practice repelling intrusions by armed gangs and eliminating radical terrorist groups, the press office of Russia’s Central Military District reported.
TASS writes: NATO is not hiding who is the alliance’s key adversary and it’s important that the scenario of the Agile Spirit 2021 drills that kicked off in Georgia involving 12 member-states and three partner nations does not imply any hidden agenda against Russia, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously, as far as we are concerned, it is essential that the scenarios of such drills do not imply any covert steps against our country. Still, the scenarios of the drills are drawn up in NATO and the alliance is not hiding who the key foe is for them,” Peskov said, commenting on Azerbaijan’s participation in these exercises. Azerbaijan is a sovereign country and Russia appreciates its partner ties with Baku, Peskov stressed. “Azerbaijan is a sovereign state. We value our ties with Azerbaijan. These are partnership relations and there is a shared political will to further cultivate these relations,” the Kremlin spokesman pointed out. NATO’s Agile Spirit 2021 drills kicked off on July 26. The alliance’s drills involve over 2,500 troops from Azerbaijan, Great Britain, Germany, Georgia, Spain, Italy, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the United States, Turkey, Ukraine and Estonia. More than 1,500 troops are from Georgia and another 700 personnel are from the US.
TASS writes: The Russian and Chinese troops will hold joint drills in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northern China in the first half of August, Spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry Wu Qian announced on Thursday. “Based on the consensus reached between China and Russia, the Russian Armed Forces will take part in the drills West/Interaction-2021 that will run in China at the beginning and in the middle of August,” the spokesman said. The drills will run on the premises of the army training base in the town of Qingtongxia, the spokesman specified. Russia and China will set up a joint command center. Both sides will send over 10,000 troops to participate in the joint maneuvers that will also involve aircraft and artillery, he said. The drills aim to strengthen and develop a comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and China, maintain regional peace and stability and demonstrate the resolve to fight terrorism, the Chinese Defense Ministry’s spokesman stressed.
TASS writes: Russian Ministry of Defense signed a contract with Almaz-Antey on shipment of the first batch of the S-500 Prometey air defense systems, a source in the military-industrial complex told TASS. “The Russian Ministry of Defense signed a contract with VKO Almaz-Antey on shipment of over 10 Prometey systems to the Aerospace forces. Serial shipments will begin in the first half of 2022,” the source said. The source also disclosed that “state trials of the S-500 currently proceed at a proving ground in southern Russia.” The trials are expected to wrap up in late 2021. According to the source, the current variant is ground-based. “If necessary, it can become a naval one,” he added.
TASS writes: The Magistrates’ Court in Moscow has fined Google 3 mln rubles ($40,975) for refusing to localize its users’ data in Russia, a representative of the court’s press service told TASS.
TASS writes: Moscow’s powerful regional clout amid the current situation in Afghanistan will expand even further following the pullout of US troops from that country, Special Russian Presidential Representative for Afghanistan and Director of the Second Asian Department at Russia’s Foreign Ministry Zamir Kabulov told an online briefing on Thursday.
TASS writes: A meeting of the Russian-Syrian Intergovernmental Commission on trade-economic and scientific, and technical cooperation is scheduled for August in Syria, the republic’s ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad told TASS on the sidelines of the international economic summit Russia — Islamic World: KazanSummit 2021. “The Intergovernmental Commission will be held, most likely, in August in Syria. We’re now awaiting the exact date to hold the Intergovernmental Commission from the Russian side,” he said. At the end of June, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, who is a co-chair of the commission, told journalists that there are plans to sign an agreement between Russia and Syria to facilitate trade and economic relations at the next meeting. According to him, above all, the document will involve the interaction in the sphere of industry, energy, and the restoration of Syria’s infrastructure.
TASS writes: Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov noted that Russian and US interests in the Afghan settlement generally coincided
IRNA writes: Holding bilateral negotiations as well as announcements by Iranian officials are some of the signs showing that relations are getting improved between Tehran and Riyadh. The two sides cut their ties in 2016. The relations remained severed until last year when Donald Trump was defeated in US presidential election by Joe Biden. After Biden took over the White House in January this year, he made changes in US Mideast policies, including cutting the number of American military forces in West Asia. With these changes happening and progress being made in talks over the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Saudi officials changed course too.
Head of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, Jahanbakhsh Sanjabi addressing a meeting in Kermanshah on Thursday, said that the figures indicate that 95 percent of bilateral trade was exports from Iran to Iraq, which amounted to over 7.4 billion dollars in last Iranian year (March 21, 2020 to March 21, 2021).
Sanjabi noted that Iran imported commodities worth 131 million dollars in the same period.
According to the official, petrochemical products and oil materials with 2.7 billion dollars had the largest share of the Iranian exports to Iraq.
Industrial products with 1.75 billion dollars, agricultural and food industries with 1.74 billion dollars, and mineral materials with 1.2 billion dollars were exported to the neighboring country in the last Iranian year, he noted.
Iran plans to increase the volume of export to 20 billion dollars in the current and next Iranian calendar year, he said, adding that given the 40-64 billion dollars potential in Iraq’s market, Tehran hopes to attain the big share of export in the near future.
He further urged the Iranian authorities to pave the ground for exporting technical commodities and IT services to Iraq.
Referring to the fact that 47 percent of Iran’s export to Iraq is carried out through Kermanshah province, he said that the chamber of commerce is ready to negotiate with the Iraqi side to develop export of products being manufactured in Kermanshah and hold professional exhibitions.
He also welcomed setting up a joint industrial town in Ghasr-e Shirin city in Kermanshah province.
Kermanshah province located in western Iran, has two border points and five border markets in the joint borderline with Iraq. Around three billion dollars of goods are being exported from border points of Kermanshah per annum.
WILLEM H. BUITER writes: Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on labor markets, there is a spirited debate over whether the US economy is close to returning to its full potential. If it is, the US Federal Reserve is at risk of falling behind the curve.
Gita Gopinath writes: The global economic recovery continues, but with a widening gap between advanced economies and many emerging market and developing economies. Our latest global growth forecast of 6 percent for 2021 is unchanged from the previous outlook, but the composition has changed.
Keith E. Sonderling writes: After a year that witnessed unemployment reach levels unseen since the Great Depression, the Great Rehiring is upon us – and AI is likely to play a significant role in it. Employers, especially those who need to hire rapidly and in large numbers, are turning to AI-driven technologies such as resume-screening programs, automated interviews, and mobile hiring apps to rebuild their workforces. To the millions of employees who were displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, these technologies can mean a fast track back into the workplace. And to the businesses whose doors were shuttered by the pandemic, these technologies are an efficient path back to profitability.
Matthew Oliver writes: More than 1.1 million people die from hepatitis B and C every year. An estimated 296 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis B, but only 2% of those are receiving treatment. For hepatitis C, which is curable, only 21% of the 58 million people worldwide who are affected by the disease are diagnosed, and fewer than two-thirds of those are on treatment.
Mike Butcher writes: Despite their rich engineering talent, Blockchain entrepreneurs in the EU often struggle to find backing due to the dearth of large funds and investment expertise in the space. But a big move takes place at an EU level today, as the European Investment Fund makes a significant investment into a blockchain and digital assets venture fund.
Ingrid Lunden writes: Data may be the new oil, but it’s only valuable if you make good use of it. Today, a startup that has built a new kind of production analytics platform for developers, security engineers and data scientists to track and better understand how data is moving around their networks is announcing a round of funding that underscores the demand for their technology. Coralogix, which provides stateful streaming services to engineering teams, has picked up $55 million in a Series C round of funding.
Mike Butcher writes: Cast your mind back to that scene in Minority Report where all those autonomous cars are whizzing through the city. The more practically-minded of you may well have gone: “Yeah, but what about the insurance…?”.
Catherine Shu writes: Just half a year after leading SODA’s Series B, SoftBank Ventures Asia is raising its bet on the Tokyo-based sneaker resell platform. The early-stage venture capital arm of SoftBank Group announced today it has returned to lead SODA’s Series C, which currently totals $56.4 million.
Lucas Matney, Taylor Hatmaker write: Following the quarterly release of Facebook’s earnings numbers where the company’s CFO takes time to walk analysts through the nitty gritty of the company’s financials, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a moment to zoom out and wax on the company’s future goals, specifically calling out his ambitions to turn Facebook into “a metaverse company.”
Catherine Shu writes: INKR is a digital comics platform that crosses cultural and language divides, enabling creators to reach global audiences with its proprietary localization technology. Previously bootstrapped, the company announced today that it has raised $3.1 million in pre-Series A funding led by Monk’s Hill Ventures, with participation from manga distributor TokyoPop founder and chief executive Stu Levy.
Mike Butcher writes: A new trend is emerging in the world of startups and, to many, it couldn’t have come too soon. Why are there so few women in senior roles? Women going through menopause are commonly known to drop out of leadership roles, for instance. In the UK, menopause is responsible for about 14 million lost working days and 1 million premature career exits, according to research. Indeed, we only just reported on the new startup Peppy which is addressing this in employee health.
Sarah Perez writes: Spotify’s recently launched live audio app and Clubhouse rival, Spotify Greenroom, has a long road ahead of it if it wants to take on top social audio platforms like Clubhouse, Airtime, Spoon and others, not to mention those from top social networks, like Twitter and Facebook. To date, the new Greenroom app has only been downloaded a total of 141,000 times on iOS, according to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. This includes downloads from its earlier iteration, Locker Room — an app Spotify acquired to make its move into live audio.
Rebecca Bellan writes: Despite semiconductor shortages peaking during the second quarter of 2021, Ford says it delivered better-than-expected operating results by leveraging strong demand for new vehicles, like its Bronco SUV, according to its most recent earnings report.
Rebecca Bellan writes: Ford and its F-150 pickup, the automaker’s best-selling vehicle, have consistently inspired brand loyalty from pickup truck owners. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, Ford has a 54.3% loyalty rate. Now as the automaker moves to electrify its fleet, it seems to be bringing in fresh buyers.
Taylor Hatmaker writes: Facebook posted its second quarter earnings Wednesday, beating expectations with $29 billion in revenue. The world’s biggest social media company was expected to report $27.8 billion in revenue for the quarter, a 50% increase from the same period in 2020. Facebook reported earnings per share of $3.61, which also bested expectations. The company’s revenue was $18.6 billion in the same quarter of last year.
Rebecca Bellan writes: Globally, 225 million people are estimated to suffer from moderate or severe visual impairments, and 49.1 million are blind, according to 2020 data from the Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science journal. A Japanese startup that was incubated at Honda Motor Company’s business creation program hopes to make navigating the world easier and safer for the visually impaired.
Tage Kene-Okafor writes: Cairo and Dubai-based ride-sharing company Swvl plans to go public in a merger with special purpose acquisition company Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, Swvl said Tuesday. The deal will see Swvl valued at roughly $1.5 billion.
Aria Alamalhodaei writes: Electric air taxi startup Lilium has tapped German manufacturer Customcells to supply batteries for its flagship seven-seater Lilium Jet.
Ryan Lanclos writes: Casey Teske sees her mission statement as this: Understand fire. It’s that simple, and that complicated. For Teske, a fire management analyst for the US Fish and Wildlife Service Branch of Fire Management who has extensive experience in both fighting wildfires on the ground and understanding the science of its actions, that breadth of understanding is key. It’s the reason she’s often the bridge between those who fight a tactical wildfire battle in the field and those who analyze the behavior of the blaze in the office.
Thomas Wilkins and Daisuke Akimoto write for The Strategist: Japan’s new defence white paper, Defense of Japan 2021, affirms Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s continuation of his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s proactive contribution to regional peace and security.
Graeme Dunk and James Kruger write: In a recent ASPI report, Robert Clark and Peter Jennings argued for the establishment of an Australian version of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Conceptually, it’s a very good suggestion. However, we need to think deeper about how to take advantage of Australia’s pools of private capital, which are among the largest in the world due to compulsory superannuation. The problem isn’t just about overcoming current budget allocation issues in universities. We need to industrialise innovation and marry it to our strategic purposes.
Michael Shoebridge writes: Changing Defence only matters if you care about Australia’s security and understand what’s happening in the world. Organisational reform and cultural change in the Defence Department and the Australian Defence Force have a long, painful history. The most recent iterations are the ‘Pathway to Change’ reform program, the first principles review and the new transformation strategy. There’s the Brereton inquiry report and its broader consequences and resulting actions—both internally for Defence and the ADF, and at a whole-of-government level through the prime minister’s establishment of the Office of the Special Investigator to address the potential criminal matters the inquiry raised.
Amin Saikal writes: The Middle East is one of the driest regions in the world. The scarcity of water has often been touted as a source of national and interstate disputes in the area. Some scholars have predicted for some time the possibility of deadly national altercations and regional clashes over the distribution of water resources in parts of the region. Although no full-blown war has erupted so far, two current episodes illustrate this point: public protests in the Iranian province of Khuzestan and the growing discord between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over water dispensation from the Nile River. With climate change causing more droughts, the potential for conflict over water cannot be underestimated.
MILTON OSBORNE writes: The release of recent research from the Netherlands adds an additional insight into what is happening in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the country’s all-important food producing region that contributes some fifty per cent to its agricultural GDP. In a stark conclusion the research cites 2050 as the Tipping Point when the delta will no longer be able to cope with salt water intrusions, a phenomenon that is already causing the los of productive land.
go to The Interpreter: Bad news for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)
DAVID BREWSTER writes: In recent days, military advance teams from South Africa and Botswana began to deploy to northern Mozambique to support governments forces in their fight against a growing Islamist insurgency. They will join Rwandan combat troops and military training contingents from Europe and the United States. But there is little cause for optimism. There is a significant risk that current regional support for Mozambique will not achieve its objectives and that a larger international military coalition will be required to quell the fighting.
NEIL THOMAS writes: In April, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga became the first foreign leader to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. Suga’s trip marked the return of leader-level travel to Washington after the Covid-19 pandemic. Suga told reporters that his team was so excited to meet their American counterparts that “we ended up not even touching our hamburger steak.”
go to The Interpreter: Far more world leaders visit China than America | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)
EDMOND ROY writes: In the 1830’s Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay set about drafting a piece of legislation that would outlive not just him but also the empire that gave him the license to do so. Indeed, it’s a cruel irony that Macaulay’s world view, long discredited in the former colony, has found an almost sacrosanct following within successive independent Indian governments.
go to The Interpreter: India: A very colonial hangover | The Interpreter (lowyinstitute.org)
Carmen Geha writes: The magnitude, nature, and timing of the August 2020 Beirut port explosion could not have been worse for Lebanon’s faltering economy, pandemic-plagued hospitals, and crushed revolution.
Muhammad Beni Saputra writes: Indonesia’s illegal gold mining problems reveal deeper issues with local level corruption and economic inequality. In Sumatra, gold miners have complained about inconsistencies in the police’s tough security measures to eradicate mining. While there was a harsh crackdown on individual miners — with some ending up in jail — most oligarchs behind the lucrative business remain untouched.
go to East Asia Forum: Indonesia must act on illegal gold mining or fall for fool’s gold | East Asia Forum
Tian He writes for East Asia Forum: The Biden administration has proposed an ambitious plan to build an alliance of techno-democracies to counter the rapid rise of China as a technology superpower. This strategy is quietly taking shape in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, as US President Joe Biden sets out to rebuild the semiconductor sector in the United States.
go to East Asia Forum: Biden looks to techno-alliances to chip in on semiconductors | East Asia Forum
Bill Whyman writes for Brookings: Now is the time to launch a Federal Cloud Modernization “moonshot” to modernize all practical legacy civilian IT systems within a decade. COVID vividly demonstrated the importance of our IT systems to a resilient and robust economy. Yet from security breaches to delayed tax processing, the weaknesses of government IT systems are well known.
Abigael Ajuma, Michael E. O’Hanlon, and Adam Twardowski write for Brookings: The tragic conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray province continues as of this writing. About four hundred thousand are suffering acute hunger as a result, and ten times that number need aid — to say nothing of the lives being put at direct risk from the fighting as well. Essentially a power struggle between local Tigrayan leaders and the national government, the conflict shows few signs of rapid resolution. Devising a compromise outcome is difficult in such circumstances. Meanwhile, sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest country by population and most impressive recent economic success story (measured in terms of sustained growth rates) is now at serious risk, at a time when COVID-19 further compounds the dangers associated with large camps for displaced persons and weakened public health care systems that could result from warfare.