Links & Contents I Liked 427

Hi all,

It's one of those weeks where a very eclectic set of links/post/reports has caught my attention-from Barbados becoming a republic, to crypto-mining-related power outages in Kazakhstan; bandits in Nigeria, racial discrimination at FCDO, violence against native women in the US & the garment industry in Ethiopia are all pieces of a puzzle on global power, injustices, capitalism & more...there's even a special section on celebrities, corporations, PR & various smokescreens around accountability & global responsibilities-so stay critical!

My quotes of the week
“If Sudan will open the border, a big problem will happen worldwide.”
(Top Sudan general warns country could be source of refugee influx to Europe)

Global fashion brands sourcing from Ethiopia did not seem to show much reaction to the conflict and the related reports on human rights violations, and rather remained in a ‘wait and
see’ position as long as the conflict remained limited to the Tigray region. Paradoxically, there were even new investments by manufacturers from China
(Ethiopia’s apparel export industry, the Tigray conflict, and US preferential market access)

Ninety-six percent of the time, the crimes are committed on Native land by a non-Native perpetrator. But because tribal courts and tribal police, for the most part, do not have the authority to prosecute crimes committed on reservations by non-Native perpetrators, there is rarely ever any accountability for these crimes or justice for the families of the victims. (Native American women are facing an epidemic of violence)

Development news
Praise for Prince Charles after ‘historic’ slavery condemnation
The Prince of Wales’s acknowledgment of the “appalling atrocity of slavery” that “forever stains our history” as Barbados became a republic was brave, historic, and the start of a “grown-up conversation led by a future king”, equality campaigners have said.
Uttering words his mother, the Queen, would be constitutionally constrained from saying, Prince Charles’s speech, at the ceremony to replace the monarch as head of state in the island nation, did not demur from reflecting on the “darkest days of our past” as he looked to a bright future for Barbadians.
Caroline Davies for the Guardian; congrats Barbados! And, yes, let the 'grown-up conversations' start about the impact of British colonialism!

Top Sudan general warns country could be source of refugee influx to Europe
“If Sudan will open the border, a big problem will happen worldwide.”
Matei Rosca for Politico; thanks to Europe's failed migration policy, cynical, undemocratic generals can now blackmail part of the world with the threat of sending refugees their way...

Global Humanitarian Overview 2022
In 2022, 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection.
This number is a significant increase from 235 million people a year ago, which was already the highest figure in decades. The United Nations and partner organizations aim to assist 183 million people most in need across 63 countries, which will require $41 billion.
The Global Humanitarian Overview is the world’s most comprehensive, authoritative and evidence-based assessment of humanitarian needs. It aims to fight hunger, killer diseases, gender-based violence and displacement, through plans that prioritize those who need help the most.
I'm usually a bit critical of UN 'flagship reports', but OCHA's GHO is very well presented and contains tons of interesting numbers!

The awkward arithmetic of Australia’s climate finance promise
Australian aid isn’t increasing. Australia looks set to spend $21 billion on aid between mid-2020 and mid-2025. Climate finance is meant to be “new and additional” – money on top of existing spending. Because its aid isn’t increasing, $1 billion of Australia’s $2 billion promise won’t be in any way additional. (I say $1 billion won’t be additional because Australia gave $1 billion of climate finance over the five years prior to 2020.)
Purely in terms of Australian efforts to tackle both poverty and climate change, this is bad. There’s more though. Because the aid budget isn’t increasing, existing and planned aid work with other objectives will need to be replaced by climate change projects to meet climate finance promises. This will be hard in a hurry, particularly in a pandemic. If projects aren’t replaced, something else will have to happen.
Terence Wood for DevPolicy Blog with a reminder that we will probably see a lot of 'mathmagics' in the area of #globaldev & climate (finance)...

The Bandit Warlords of Nigeria
I traveled around two states that neighbor Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina, in September and October. Both have witnessed an influx of hungry, marauding bandits who have mostly managed to evade the newly deployed troops. Nearly all the major gang leaders remain at large.
It is hard not to feel pessimistic. The federal government hasn’t demonstrated the capacity to tackle the insurgency, while state officials are often in denial of the humanitarian crisis, which is being compounded by the latest restrictions. Few internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northwest receive support from United Nations’ agencies or NGOs like those in the northeast. They are left to fend for themselves, squatting in abandoned buildings and depending on local benefactors for their meager meals.
James Barnett for New/Lines Magazine reporting from Northern Nigeria with a closer look at the 'bandits' and their low-intensity warfare with a huge human toll.
‘No room for dialogue’: How abuses by Niger’s foreign-funded army derail its anti-jihadist fight
Niger’s foreign donors have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on training and supporting its security services over the past five years as they seek to contain a growing jihadist insurgency linked to a franchise of the so-called Islamic State.
But the mostly European donors have failed to put in place strong programmes to prevent rights abuses by the army, and haven’t held the Nigerien authorities to account for the alleged deaths and disappearances of hundreds of civilians rounded up during anti-jihadist operations, local rights groups, aid officials, and foreign diplomats told The New Humanitarian.
Giacomo Zandonini, Tomas Statius & Moussa Aksar for the New Humanitarian reporting from Nigeria's neighbor.

Ethiopia’s apparel export industry, the Tigray conflict, and US preferential market access
Global fashion brands sourcing from Ethiopia did not seem to show much reaction to the conflict and the related reports on human rights violations, and rather remained in a ‘wait and see’ position as long as the conflict remained limited to the Tigray region. Paradoxically, there were even new investments by manufacturers from China, and some suppliers in Bole Lemi industrial park reported to make profit for the first time in 2021 since they started operations in Ethiopia back in 2016.
Notably, then, it was the US announcement of Ethiopia’s suspension from duty-free access to the US market that changed supplier and buyer perceptions of Ethiopia as a sourcing location. Suppliers we spoke with in Bole Lemi industrial park were now questioning whether they would continue their operations in Ethiopia in 2022, despite full order books. This is mainly due to their overwhelming dependence on the US market, which is the destination for around two thirds of Ethiopia’s apparel exports.
Lindsay Whitfield & Felix Maile for the Centre for Business and Development Studies on the complexities of trade, conflict & #globaldev in the volatile global apparel industry.

Europe Cannot ‘Treaty’ its Way Out of the Pandemic
A fundamental shift in mindsets is required to successfully counter a pandemic. Because no amount of treaty-making will cover the fact that we see people, especially in poor countries, as expendable and not deserving of protection. We now live in a multipolar world with rising nationalism and trenchant inequalities. Global solidarity requires that we share pains as well as gains. It is imperative that we privilege lives over profits, privilege equity over nationalism, and privilege social justice over corporate monopolies. This further requires that we see people in poor countries as not deserving of charity but as those with a right to human and health security. And importantly, not just within national borders but globally.
Unni Karunakara for Health Policy Watch with an important reminder that 'treaties' or global meetings won't 'solve' bigger issues around global solidarity & equity.
Native American women are facing an epidemic of violence
Indigenous women in the United States are going missing and getting murdered, at an alarming rate. A rate 10 times the national average on some reservations.
Ninety-six percent of the time, the crimes are committed on Native land by a non-Native perpetrator. But because tribal courts and tribal police, for the most part, do not have the authority to prosecute crimes committed on reservations by non-Native perpetrators, there is rarely ever any accountability for these crimes or justice for the families of the victims.
Marc Lamont Hill for Aljazeera's UpFront with a 10-minute video report.

FCDO racially discriminated against black senior civil servant, tribunal rules
The ruling follows a report last year that found that many black, Asian and minority ethnic men working in development for the government claim to have experienced prejudice at work, including racist jokes and doubts about their legality as UK citizens.
The tribunal concluded that Warner had been the victim of unconscious bias by senior colleagues assessing and conducting claims against her.
It said: “We have found that the claimant [Warner] was treated with an unwarranted degree of suspicion, that unfair assumptions were made about her, that minds were closed, that she was treated unfairly in the disciplinary process, which took an unreasonably long time.
“The explanations that we received from the respondent [FCDO] for this treatment were not just poor or unreasonable excuses. They simply did not adequately explain the degree of unfairness and unreasonableness in the treatment and we infer that the missing part of the explanation is the claimant’s race.
Rajeev Sajal for the Guardian.

Changing German Think Tanks from Within
One thing that surprised us when we started to delve into our research was that despite being the think tank community being a tight-knit network where everyone reads one another’s publications and goes to the same conferences, we encountered few spaces for professional reflection and knowledge exchange about think-tanking as a practice and profession. From diversity to recruitment and staff development, from impact measurement to ethical standards, from using artificial intelligence in research to dealing with the rise of populist parties or the decrease of trust in science – there are many challenges that German think tanks share and where all of us could benefit from a systematic exchange of experiences.
But instead of cooperation, relations between think tanks in Germany are often characterized by competition for the same funds and audiences. This leads to a situation where good practices are not shared and the professional development and collective impact of the German think tank sector falls short of its potential.
Claire Luzia Leifert for the German Council on Foreign Relations; I agree with many points the post makes in principal, but there is a corporate language about 'intrapreneurs', 'impact' and 'innovation' that rubs me a bit the wrong way. It's finding a balance between 'professionalization' and an urge to perhaps create streamlined organizations that risk missing some of the elements of being critical organizations-perhaps we also have too many of those in Berlin/Germany for example? It's an important discussion, but one that perhaps needs to be more radical on how we envision 'Think Tanks' nowadays.

Our digital lives
Cryptocurrency miners grapple with major energy crunch in Kazakhstan
Cryptocurrency miners in Kazakhstan are facing widespread electricity shortages amid a surge in mining, as reported by the Financial Times. Kazakhstan has been grappling with an overloaded energy grid as miners flock in from China, which cracked down on crypto earlier this year and banned crypto-based transactions in September.
Emma Roth for the Verge on a story that was probably unthinkable 5 years or so ago...

Advertising in the pandemic: how companies used COVID as a marketing tool
When COVID was still new and confusing, when governments were unsure about how to respond, corporate advertising sought to define the pandemic in ways that made companies – and their products – an essential part of whatever the solution might turn out to be. We found that from mid-March to the end of April 2020, companies used advertising to tell three main types of story about COVID.
Maha Rafi Atal & Lisa Richey for the Conversation.

The PR Industry Has Been a ‘Major’ But ‘Overlooked’ Influence in Climate Politics for Decades, Says Study
“Along with ExxonMobil, Koch Enterprises, Greenpeace, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, we need to add in PR firms such as Edelman, Glover Park, Cerrell, and Ogilvy.”
“Agencies like Edelman, Ogilvy, and WeberShandwick named in this report need to recognize that work for fossil fuel companies is doing significant damage to their reputation and legacy. The hard truth is that advertising and public relations agencies are essential to the fossil fuel industry’s propaganda machine, and work for fossil clients has stopped the world from adequately responding to the climate emergency,”
Nick Cunningham for DeSmog.

Celebrities and Dictators: Akon, Nicki Minaj and Others Performed for Dictators
This is true for all kinds of American industries, from the real estate developers who sell American mansions to dictators, to the American hedge fund managers who invest kleptocrats’ money. But for celebrities and their agents, agreeing to take dictators' dollars is especially embarrassing, given how these governments are often dedicated to silencing journalists, or repressing gender rights campaigners, or killing environmental activists. They might throw a good party, but the money for those parties came from overseeing some of the most anti-democratic regimes on the planet and from persecuting all those democratic, gender rights, and environmental activists who oppose them.
Casey Michel for TeenVogue.

Inside the BTS ARMY, the Devoted Fandom With an Unrivaled Level of Organization
Beyond social media, ARMY’s organization and mobilization extend into offline projects. Many of these are charity-focused, modeled after BTS’ philanthropic efforts—from launching the anti-violence Love Myself campaign with UNICEF to individually making donations on band member’s birthdays. OIAA, short for One In An ARMY, is a group that collaborates with nonprofit organizations around the world and encourages microdonations. Its first campaign, launched in April 2018 in a partnership with the nonprofit Medical Teams International, helped bring medical care to Syrians.
Kat Moon for Time; these 4 articles tackle very different aspects of corporate & celebrity culture and the complicates ways of how they usually derail social change...

Predictive Analytics for Children: New Research by The Engine Room and UNICEF
Our research found that, despite limited evidence of PA’s effectiveness in real-world implementation, it does have potential to offer benefits in certain contexts, if responsibly deployed in a way that builds upon contextual knowledge and local expertise, and if used as just one stream of information in combination with these others.
Potential benefits might include, for example, improving humanitarian crisis management or enabling more efficient resource allocation, and these benefits best reveal themselves at the population level – that is, in using predictive analytics with population-based outcomes where children are indirectly impacted. It’s worth noting, however, that though the benefits of PA are often touted as increasing efficiency, the evidence in relation to this claim is not comprehensive.
When PA is used to generate predictions that are targeted to individual children, the potential risks are significant.
Great new work by the Engine Room with lots of resources to explore!

Under the Guise of Aid: The Far-Right French NGO Allegedly Supporting War Crimes in Syria
The organization, SOS Chr├ętiens d’Orient (SOSCO, or SOS), was also an official “partner” of the French Defense Ministry at a time when the charity allegedly provided moral and material support to pro-Assad militias accused of committing war crimes. An investigation conducted by the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy and New Lines Magazine reveals new details about SOSCO’s alleged relationship with pro-Assad militias, including potentially damning testimony from witnesses that the nongovernmental organization might have directly funded one of the militias.
A new report from the New Lines Institute.

What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 217, 27 January 2017)

The BBC-Myth of a Public Service (book review)
My review may not be able to give justice to Tom Mills’ very detailed and readable account of how the BBC may have never fully reached its democratic potential.
But for media, communication and journalism students and researchers it provides ample food for thought how the past of public broadcasting relates to our messy contemporary times.
And for the (communication for) development audience it offers valuable insights into institutional transformation under the neoliberal condition and the chances and limitations of communicating social change.
Me, reviewing book about the BBC that is s
till very timely.

How Hostels Have Turned Backpackers Into “Brokepackers”
Still, what has happened recently is that brokepackers have been displaced at hostels by short-term, city-hopping flashpackers. Even if these more affluent travelers look like the backpackers of yore, they’re different in many ways. They travel on a fixed schedule and want to stay in reasonably priced hostels that they can venture out from to sample the local culture (or what they think is the local culture).
Jeanette Moreland for Sapiens on the gentrification of backpacking.


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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa