The World Today for August 01, 2017



Out of Sight…

Two years ago, the world watched in horror as more than a million people fleeing poverty and war tried to cross land and sea borders to Europe – thousands died along the way.

Now, it’s happening again: Europe now has a second migrant crisis, Bloomberg writes, and it’s a doozy.

This wave differs: It’s fewer Syrians and Afghans escaping war, and more Nigerians and Bangladeshis fleeing economic woes. It’s more driven by smugglers, and harder to stop with money and closed borders.

And Germany, in an election year, isn’t stepping up again.

Enter Emmanuel Macron, the new president of France.

Last week, he met with Fayez al-Sarraj, the UN-backed prime minister of Libya, and Khalifa Haftar, who leads an army in the east of the country. He apparently got the warring parties to agree to a ceasefire and to future talks for a “national reconciliation process,” the Economist wrote.

That could mean the beginning of the end of the chaos in Libya. The magazine noted that the vast majority of the 113,614 who have already arrived in Europe this year – 20,000 more than in the same period two years ago, according to the UNHCR – left from Libyan ports headed to Italy.

A deal with Libya could replicate the EU’s 2016 refugee pact with Turkey which helped stem flows – the bloc exchanged billions in aid and other incentives for Ankara’s help in plugging up the Aegean and Balkan routes.

Still, while Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom – the desired end stations for most refugees and their families – benefited from the deal, it left thousands of refugees stranded in Greece, a country whose faltering economy isn’t capable of housing its newfound masses, Deutsche Welle reported.

Thousands more have been stranded in Serbia after neighbors and EU-member states Bulgaria and Hungary closed their borders to them. Although the EU has offered tens of millions of dollars to Serbia to house refugees, the migrants themselves told USA Today they don’t want to stay.

In recent months, Serbian authorities have tried to provide shelter, food and medical care to thousands of refugees only to be rebuffed: They want to go to England, Germany or Sweden, and worry if they enter the Serbian system, they will be stuck there.

“I tried to leave Serbia 17 times,” said Jawad Afzali, 17, an Afghan refugee in Belgrade told the newspaper.  “Every time, they bring me back here.”

Meanwhile, the Italian government is pleading for EU aid to do what Serbia can’t. Instead, Italy’s neighbors have doubled down on fortifying their borders.

The EU has in fact created a short-term action plan to send back those rescued at sea. But it needs a long-term plan to cope with the migration overall, writes the Guardian.

Until that happens, tens of thousands will remain stuck – and thousands more will try to join them.

[siteshare]Out of Sight…[/siteshare]



Keeping the Seat Warm

Pakistani lawmakers are expected to elect a new prime minister Tuesday following the disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court last week. Ruling party stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to become the nation’s interim leader, according to the New Statesman magazine.

Still, he’s only keeping the seat warm for Sharif’s brother, Shabaz.

The younger Sharif, who is currently serving as the Chief Minister of Punjab, can’t take office immediately: He isn’t a member of parliament – yet.

He’s expected to run – and win – in a special election for the former prime minister’s seat in Punjab, a district loyal to his brother’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, within the next two months. After that, he’ll be a shoo-in, observers say, mostly due to the party’s majority in parliament.

A tough, can-do manager who sends WhatsApp messages at all hours, Shabaz takes pride in getting giant infrastructure projects done on time and on budget, according to a Reuters profile.

Shabaz is also on better terms with the military than his brother, which works in favor of both a smooth transition and continued stability, Reuters wrote.

Meanwhile, opposition politicians are criticizing the choice, saying the PML-N is turning the country into a monarchy – they’ve promised to use the judicial system to bring him down.

[siteshare]Keeping the Seat Warm[/siteshare]


A Deadly Poll

Kenyans are bracing for violence after a bitter election campaign turned deadly Monday when the nation’s top election official was found tortured and murdered, Agence France Presse reported.

With President Uhuru Kenyatta and longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga locked in a neck-and-neck race, the death of Chris Msando has stoked fears that the Aug. 8 election will see a repeat of the kind of violence that occurred 10 years ago, when political protests and ethnic battles killed more than 1,200 people.

Msando oversaw a system of electronic voter identification and vote counting seen as crucial to avoid rigging. His murder took place just as officials were getting ready to run an audit of the system – it has since been postponed.

Odinga has claimed that fraud robbed him of victory in the past two elections. In 2013, when electronic voting machines suffered widespread malfunctions, Odinga took his complaints to court, but his qualms were dismissed.

An analyst told Reuters that the loss of Msando “will definitely undermine public confidence in the outcome.”

[siteshare]A Deadly Poll[/siteshare]


A New Tune

Qatar filed a complaint Monday with the World Trade Organization against the Saudi-led trade boycott, calling it “a coercive attempt at economic isolation,” Reuters reported.

The complaint would force litigation at the WTO if the dispute is not settled within 60 days.

That development follows the boycotting countries’ reassertion on Sunday of its list of demands on Qatar, despite the coalition’s declared readiness to discuss the terms. Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, imposed the boycott almost two months ago in response to Qatar’s alleged support of terrorism.

The coalition’s demands include cutting relations with Iran, shuttering Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera and shutting a Turkish military base.

The boycott is biting Qatar, but there is little indication that the country intends to give in to the demands. The decline in foreign deposits has pinched liquidity reserves, but not to an extent that is “alarming,” Bloomberg reported.

Some analysts say Riyadh’s openness to negotiate, however slight, is a sign of things to come.  By pointing a finger at Doha’s support for terrorism, the Saudi leadership has invited scrutiny of its own policies, the Huffington Post noted, which has weakened its diplomatic leverage.

[siteshare]A New Tune[/siteshare]


Just Throw Cash At It

Feeling guilty about dishing out some cash for a laundry service? Swallow it and do it anyway – according to a new study, it might actually make you happier in the long run.

That’s because spending money to save time could reduce any qualms you have about limited time throughout the day, boosting happiness levels, according to a study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using nearly 4,500 subjects from the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands in the first round of observations, and an additional 1,800 Americans in the second round, scientists surveyed whether spending cash on activities to cut down on time – such as ordering takeout, hailing a cab or hiring household help – correlated with higher life satisfaction.

Regardless of income, all of those individuals surveyed who reported spending money to save time reported greater life satisfaction than those who didn’t, the New York Times reported.

“If there’s some task that just thinking about it fills you with dread, then it’s probably worth considering whether you can afford to buy your way out of it,” said Elizabeth Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and one of the study’s authors.

[siteshare]Just Throw Cash At It[/siteshare]

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