By R. Nastranis
PARIS (IDN) - Imagine a physician telling you to get a haircut to reduce your weight. This sort of a spurious argument has been apparently used by some of the major givers of official development assistance (ODA) which fell by nearly 3 percent in 2011 for the first time in 14 years.
By Ruchita Beri *
NEW DELHI (IDN) - The fourth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit held in New Delhi on (March 29) saw steps towards greater financial integration and the establishment of a development bank. On the political front, the five leaders unanimously agreed, amongst other things, that dialogue is the way out for solving the Syrian crisis and the Iranian nuclear issue.
By J C Suresh
TORONTO (IDN) - A new report by the eminent Oakland Institute exposes a French tycoon's exploitative land grab practices in Sierra Leone. It details a pattern of coercion, lack of consultation, and failure to fairly compensate Sierra Leonean landowners who have been pressured into ceding their land to the Socfin Land Investment corporate giant.
By Richard Johnson
LONDON (IDN) - Although there have been no serious threats to global supplies since the Arab uprisings started more than one year ago, a new study predicts that oil prices will remain volatile as political developments combine with global economic gloom, and surviving regimes spend to pacify populations.
The report titled 'The Arab Uprisings and the International Oil Markets' has been authored by Professor Paul Stevens who is Senior Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Development Programme at the Chatham House, a prestigious UK think-tank.
By Devinder Kumar
NEW DELHI (IDN) - Amid little fanfare and just ahead of the opening of the National People's Congress (NPC), China announced its draft defence budget for 2012 on March 4. At 670.2 billion Yuan (US$106.4 billion) it represents an 11.2 per cent increase from last year's budget figures of 602.6 billion Yuan.
By Peter Wahl*
BERLIN (IDN) - The tension around the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) was growing before the March 13 Council meeting of European Ministers of Finance (ECOFIN). Finance ministers from nine EU countries – Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – had written a letter applying substantial pressure on the Danish presidency. In EU diplomacy such a letter is quite a strong instrument.
By Richard Johnson
GENEVA (IDN) - Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has expressed concern about rising racism and xenophobia in Switzerland, and called for an overhaul of the Swiss criminal law to do away with impunity for perpetrators of racism.
By Jaya Ramachandran
BRUSSELS (IDN) - A high-profile think-tank is pleading for assigning a critical role to the UN within a framework of far-reaching proposals aimed at averting "another civil war" after NATO's withdrawal of combat forces at the end of 2014.
By Ernest Corea*
WASHINGTON DC (IDN) - America's commemoration of International Women's Day (March 8) took place while unseemly demonstrations of gender bias, misogyny, crude insults, and efforts to limit women's access to health care were trundling along as well.
In some public references, these have been bundled together as a "war on women." The description has a touch of hyperbole, although it also fails to capture some significant aspects of what has been going on – and keeps going on.
By R. Nastranis
BERLIN (IDN) - If wishes indeed turn into reality, the world will usher in a new era coming June. Such an era will be guided by "a new vision", "a new deal" or "a renewed commitment to sustainable development". It will be characterised by "strong emphasis on social inclusion, social protection, and equity, in recognition of the fact that economic development has too often gone hand in hand with environmental degradation and increased inequality."
By David R. Leffler*
FAIRFIELD, IOWA (IDN) - Over the years Iranian leaders such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel. Such fiery rhetoric is not an encouraging indicator of enduring friendship, security and lasting peace for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Tensions are high, and these worried leaders will attend the second Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Seoul, South Korea on March 26–27.