Africa: Plea for Reducing Foreign Aid Dependency

By Jerome Mwanda
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NAIROBI (IDN) – Whether and how African countries could reduce their dependency on foreign aid – if not do without it altogether – was a major subject of debate at the African Economic Conference in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. It was the first time since the 2011 Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, that the issue was discussed.

Convened by the Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA), the African Development Bank, (AfDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the four-day conference  from October 30 to November 2, 2012 focussed on the theme ‘Inclusive and Sustainable Development in an Age of Economic Uncertainty’.

Imagine a Hedge Fund Manager as U.S. President

By Julio Godoy
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BERLIN (IDN) – In the late summer of 1998, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, a group of German and French professors of economics organised at the University of Bremen in Germany a seminar to discuss ways to re-regulate the international financial markets. The theme could not have been timelier:

The disaster of the Mexican crisis in late 1994 had already shaken the foundations of neoliberalism in Latin America, the Asian crisis repeated the same symptoms, and it was already clear that some hedge funds, such as the Long Term Capital Management, which had been heavily speculating in Russian bonds, would sooner than later go bust.

Iran and the Empire’s ‘Dollarization’ Stick

By Eric Walberg*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

TORONTO (IDN) – The West’s attempts to destroy the Iranian economy through heightened sanctions – including most imports, oil exports and use of banks for trade operations – is having its impact. According to Johns Hopkins University Professor Steve Hanke, Iran is facing hyperinflation, with a monthly inflation rate of nearly 70% and its national currency, the rial, plummeting in value against western currencies.

Iran is the latest casualty to be placed on his Hanke-Krus Hyperinflation Index, which includes France (1795), Germany (1922), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1986), Argentina (1990), Russia (1992), Ecuador (1999) and Zimbabwe (2007) – countries which experienced price-level increases of at least 50% per month.

Africa Can Avoid Food Crises and Earn Billions

By Jerome Mwanda
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NAIROBI (IDN) – Some 19 million people in West Africa’s Sahel region are living with the threat of hunger and malnutrition, though the potential to increase agricultural production in Africa is enormous. Poor people in the slums of Nairobi pay more for their maize, rice, and other staple food than wealthy people pay for the same products in local supermarkets.

Such asymmetries are surmountable – if only African leaders would agree to improve inter-regional trade so that food can move more freely between countries and from fertile areas to those where communities are suffering food shortages, says the World Bank in a new report.

China Cautious About Building New Nuclear Plants

By Richard Johnson
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

LONDON (IDN) – More than eighteen months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 in Japan, China continues to exercise caution in returning to building new nuclear power plants. After an executive meeting, the State Council or China’s cabinet, presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, has decided not to set up any atomic plants in inland regions, but only build a few in coastal areas that have gone through adequate justification.

Within days of Fukushima accident, the Council had decided to halt approvals and licensing for new reactors until a safety plan was in place, and there was assurance that existing plants were adequately designed, sited, protected and managed.

Toward a World of Diminished Reliance on Nukes

By Robert Wood*
IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

VIENNA (IDN) – The CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty) remains central to leading us toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament. The legal ramifications of its entry into force, and the practical effects of its verification provisions, remain vital to achieving our ambition of a world without nuclear weapons.

With a global ban on nuclear explosive tests, states interested in pursuing nuclear weapons programs would have to either risk deploying weapons uncertain of their effectiveness, or face international condemnation for conducting nuclear tests.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Want Nukes Abolished

By Ramesh Jaura*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN | TOKYO (IDN) – Much to the chagrin of several millions in Japan and beyond, who are relentlessly campaigning for a nuclear weapons-free world, the government in Tokyo has declined to join an initiative calling for efforts to outlaw nukes out of concern it would affect the country’s security arrangement under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. But the mayors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as well as the Hiroshima Prefecture’s Governor remain unwavering in their impassioned commitment to abolition of nuclear weapons.

Disagreements Abound Over WMD-Free Middle East

By J C Suresh
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

TORONTO (IDN) – Negotiations for a proposed conference on ridding the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction would be difficult and the path would be long, but the “prize” – the security of the region and the world – would be worth the time and effort, the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA’s) First Committee dealing with Disarmament and International Security has been told.

Asian Countries Easing Access To Cheap Drugs

By Martin Khor*

GENEVA (IDN) – Recent government actions by Indonesia and India to issue compulsory licenses are extending the trend in Asia to increase access to cheaper medicines to treat serious ailments, especially HIV/AIDS, cancer and hepatitis B.

The supply of generic medicines, either through import or local production, has been the major method of reducing prices and making the drugs affordable to more people.

India Overrides Party Politics For A Change

By Shastri Ramachandaran*
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – Sections of New Delhi’s diplomatic circuit have been abuzz with two topics. One – in the aftermath of Brajesh Mishra’s demise on September 28, his transformation of India’s foreign policy and its security architecture – was predictable.

As principal secretary and national security adviser (from November 1998 to May 2004) to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mishra radically re-engineered India’s foreign policy, cleared the decks for the 1998 nuclear tests and, in dealing with its international fallout, re-wrote nuclear India’s terms of engagement with the world.

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