Ethiopia, 30 years after the famine

A man walks past Addis Ababa light railway

A man walks past Addis Ababa light railway /Picture from The Guardian


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE GUARDIAN DATED: OCTOBER 22 2014 BY DAVID SMITH


 

Three decades after images that shocked the world, country has become darling of the global development community – and the scourge of the human rights lobby

With an Einsteinian shock of hair and a wise man’s beard, Mulugeta Tesfakiros, just off a flight from Washington, settled into an office of glass walls and vibrant artworks in Addis Ababa. The millionaire magnate, who has gone into the local wine business with Bob Geldof, mused on the new Ethiopia: “Most of the people need first security, second food … and democracy after that.”

An hour’s drive away stand the corrugated iron watchtowers of a prison. The inmates include nine bloggers and journalists charged with terrorism. Standing in a bleak courtyard on a family visit day, they talked about how they had been tortured.

“I feel like I don’t know Ethiopia,” one said. “It’s a totally different country for me.”

This is the Janus-faced society that is the second most populous country in Africa. A generation after the famine that pierced the conscience of the world, Ethiopia is both a darling of the international development community and a scourge of the -Read more

How Ben Bradlee transformed The Washington Post

Ben Bradlee led the newspaper during the days of the Watergate scandal. Photo: AP

Ben Bradlee led the newspaper during the days of the Watergate scandal. Photo: AP /Picture from THE HINDU


TEXT FROM WASHINGTON POST DATED: OCTOBER 21 2014 BY EDITORIAL BOARD


As managing editor and then executive editor from 1965 to 1991, Mr. Bradlee liked to roam the sprawling newsroom. Once he came up to a young journalist on the National staff, hired just months before, whose story was on Page One that day. Mr. Bradlee jabbed a finger at the front-page story. “Nothing like this!” he said, with a broad, knowing smile.

There was nothing like working for him, either. His enthusiasm was infectious. When Mr. Bradlee stopped to ask what was going on, reporters eagerly shared a tantalizing idea or tip. “Worth a phone call,” Mr. Bradlee often replied, and he needed say no more. His newsroom crackled with the energy of a modern startup. A certain “creative tension” was the reality, a competition among reporters and editors to win his approval. Mr. Bradlee -Read more

Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K.


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES DATED: OCTOBER 19 2014 BY PAUL KRUGMAN


Paul Krugman /Picture from The New York Times

Paul Krugman /Picture from The New York Times

Amazon.com, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.

O.K., I know that was kind of abrupt. But I wanted to get the central point out there right away, because discussions of Amazon tend, all too often, to get lost in side issues.

For example, critics of the company sometimes portray it as a monster about to take over the whole economy. Such claims are over the top — Amazon doesn’t dominate overall online sales, let alone retailing as a whole, and probably never will. But so what? Amazon is still playing a troubling role.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s defenders often digress into paeans to online bookselling, which has indeed been a good thing for many Americans, or testimonials to Amazon customer service — and in case you’re wondering, yes, I have Amazon Prime and use it a lot. But again, so what? The desirability of new technology, or even Amazon’s effective use of that technology, is not the issue. After all, John D. Rockefeller and his associates were pretty good at the oil business, too — but Standard Oil nonetheless had too much power, and public action to curb that power was essential.

And the same is true of Amazon today.

If you haven’t been following the recent Amazon news: Back in May a dispute between Amazon and Hachette, a major publishing house, broke out into open commercial warfare. Amazon had been demanding a larger cut of -Read more

Lessons from mutiny on the bounty

The recommendations of the World Bank/IMF are presented to us, the people of the South, as scientific, objective, necessary, fair, and in the best interests of the countries where they are to be implemented. This is why the rebellion episode by the bank staff to its restructuring is so significant


FROM THE HINDU DATED: OCTOBER 21 2014 BY PETER RONALD DESOUZA


 

In the Financial Times of October 8, the columnist Shawn Donnan, reported that the World Bank was facing an internal “‘mutiny.” Yes, the word mutiny was used. The professional staff were apparently angry about several issues, a deep discontent, because of which the rebellion had been brewing over many days. The key issue was the restructuring exercise being undertaken by the President, Jim Yong Kim, to save, through both the elimination of benefits to staff on mission and also through possible lay-offs, the sum of $400 million. The restructuring exercise, staff felt, was deeply flawed both procedurally and substantively. The columnist reported some members saying that this “thing [restructuring] is affecting everything.” “We can’t do business. We don’t have the budget. It’s a mess, …” Another staff member complained that “nickel and diming” on travel budgets was causing travelling staff to have to pay for their own breakfasts. “It’s really small beer,” she said. “Has anyone ever thought about the impact of these changes on staff morale?”

Resistance against restructuring

To assuage their feelings, before the semi-annual meeting of the Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) with Finance Ministers and Central Bankers of member countries, President Jim Yong Kim had to hurriedly convene a “town hall” meeting with the staff to discuss their concerns. The issues that -Read more

Presumed Guilty in China’s War on Corruption, Targets Suffer Abuses

Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security chief, faces charges of violating party discipline. Many lawyers view his case as a test of whether party leaders are committed to legal reform. Credit Feng Li/Getty Images

Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security chief, faces charges of violating party discipline. Many lawyers view his case as a test of whether party leaders are committed to legal reform. Credit Feng Li/Getty Images /Picture from New York Times


FROM NEW YORK TIMES DATED: OCTOBER 19 2014

BY ANDREW JACOB AND CHRIS BUCKLEY


BEIJING — He was starved, pummeled and interrogated for days on end in an ice-cold room where sleeping, sitting or even leaning against a wall were forbidden. One beating left Wang Guanglong, a midlevel official fromChina’s Fujian Province, partly deaf, according to his later testimony. Suicide, he told relatives and his lawyers afterward, tempted him.

In the end, he said, he took a deal: He signed a confession acknowledging he had accepted $27,000 in bribes, wrongly believing he would be released on bail and able to clear his name of a crime he says he did not commit.

“He did what they told him to do in order to save his own life,” his sister, Wang Xiuyun, said in an interview. -Read more

The limits of autonomy

Over the years, as the RBI established a track record of performance, governments have found it sensible to confer the bank a large degree of autonomy. Governors have also understood that having the political authority on board was crucial. This informal arrangement is poised to end soon


FROM THE HINDU DATED: OCTOBER 17 2014  BY T. T. RAM MOHAN


 

At a symposium in Switzerland in May this year, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan told his audience, “The government can fire me, but the government doesn’t set the monetary policy … ultimately the interest rate that is set is set by me.”

All indications are that the position is set to change. Setting the interest rate will soon cease to be the prerogative of the RBI Governor. It’s hard to resist the feeling that the RBI’s actions over the past year will have contributed to the changes that are imminent.

In the present scheme of things, the RBI Governor consults his four Deputy Governors. There is a Technical Advisory Committee on Monetary Policy with five external members that provides advice. The Governor listens to bank chiefs and economists. But the final call on interest rates is that of the Governor alone.

In the past, RBI Governors did not think it necessary to trumpet the fact. They thought it more politic to emphasise that decisions on interest rates were made after due consultation with the government.

RBI autonomy

Discretion is warranted because the RBI’s autonomy is not sanctioned by statute. The RBI can only be as autonomous as the government wants it to be. Over the years, as the RBI established a track record of performance, governments have found it sensible to confer a large degree of autonomy on the RBI. Governors, in turn, have understood that having the political authority on board, to the extent possible, -Read more

President Pranab Mukherjee crosses Arctic Circle to meet ‘original’ Santa Claus


TEXT FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA DATED: OCTOBER 16 2014


ROVANIEMI, Finland: When President Pranab Mukherjee crossed the famed Arctic Circle on Thursday evening, becoming the first Indian head of state to do so, there was somebody even more famous eagerly awaiting to greet him with an unmistakable “Ho, ho, ho” deep-throated laugh. A chubby and merry white-bearded man, clad in a red coat trimmed with white, surrounded with mischievous-looking elves, reindeers with huge antlers and, of course, “jingle bells” playing softly in the background. Yes, Mukherjee also became the first Indian President to meet and greet the “original” Santa Claus in his “official home” on the Arctic Circle. Accompanied by daughter Sharmistha and his official delegation, Mukherjee crossed the Arctic -Read more

North and South Korea military talks end in stalemate

Kim Jong-un reappeared in public this week after 40 days out of the public eye.

Kim Jong-un reappeared in public this week after 40 days out of the public eye. /Picture from The Guardian


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM THE GUARDIAN DATED: OCTOBER 15 2014 BY JUSTIN McCURRY


 

The first military talks between North and South Korea in more than three years have ended in stalemate, with the rivals failing to narrow their differences on how to ease animosity after two shooting incidents last week.

Generals from both sides met on Wednesday at Panmunjom, the “truce village” that straddles the heavily fortified border dividing the peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.

During the meeting, North Korea repeated its demands that its neighbour ban activists from dropping leaflets and media outlets from publishing articles critical of Pyongyang, a South Korean ministry spokesman, Kim Min-seok said. South Korean delegates said they could not do so because the country was a liberal democracy, he said.

The two sides were also at odds over the sea boundary, drawn unilaterally by the US-led UN command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean war without North Korea’s consent, Kim said.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, reappeared this week after more than 40 days out of the public eye. State media coverage of his recent, but undated, visit to a residential area and energy research complex in -Read more

Rebuilding Visakhapatnam


FROM THE HINDU DATED: OCTOBER 15 2015 EDITORIAL


The level of preparedness and the response by the Andhra Pradesh and Central governments, along with their agencies, in the face of the severe cyclonic stormHudhud that ravaged Visakhapatnam on Sunday, have been commendable, and show that the lessons from previous natural calamities have indeed been learnt. Odisha was spared to a large extent, while the port city of Vizag bore the brunt of the cyclone. The airport, the naval establishments, roads, power lines, and the entire infrastructure of this garden city stand testimony to the massive scale of destruction. The disaster management teams, along with the Navy and other agencies, prepared the ground before the cyclone made landfall by evacuating about two lakh people living in vulnerable areas along the coast. And, after the storm crossed the coast, rescue and relief operations began. It is going to take a few weeks to get the basic infrastructure back in place. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu rushed to review the situation, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an aerial survey of both States on Tuesday. Mr. Naidu has asked for -Read more

Turkey Catches Fire as ISIS Burns Kobani

A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after an airstrike by an alleged alliance war plane on the ISIS targets in the west of Kobane, Syria, where Kurdish fighters are trying to defend the city, near Suruc district, Sanliurfa, Turkey, Oct. 8, 2014.

A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after an airstrike by an alleged alliance war plane on the ISIS targets in the west of Kobane, Syria, where Kurdish fighters are trying to defend the city, near Suruc district, Sanliurfa, Turkey, Oct. 8, 2014. /Picture from Time.com 


TEXT AND PICTURE FROM TIME.com DATED: OCTOBER 8 2014 BY PIOTR ZALEWSKI


The Kurds are angry that Turkey isn’t doing more to help the fight against ISIS, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won’t budge

Tension over a peace process that has yet to deliver results, fear of a possible bloodbath in a besieged Kurdish enclave in Syria’s north, and frustration with the government’s unwillingness to confront Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) jihadists came to a boil in Turkey on Tuesday night, as clashes erupted across the countrybetween Kurdish protesters, -Read more