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Economy

Future

Some Historical Context On The Current Silicon Valley Implosion

Tech billionaires such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have lost far more money this year than ever before. Eccentric behavior and questionable decisions have both played a role. But there are examples in U.S. business history that have other clues.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Life isn’t always fair, especially when it comes to business. Although he had already registered dozens of patents, during the global economic crisis of the 1930s, tireless inventor Nikola Tesla found himself struggling to put food on the table. Sure, investors today associate his name with runaway wealth and business achievements rather than poverty and failure: Tesla, the company that was named after him, has made Elon Musk the richest man in the world.

Bloomberg estimates the 51-year-old’s current fortune to be $185 billion. While Musk is not a brilliant inventor like Nikola Tesla, many see him as the most successful businessperson of our century.

And yet, over the past month, many are beginning to wonder if Musk is in trouble, if he has spread himself too thin. Most obvious is his messy and expensive takeover of Twitter, which includes polarizing antics and a clear lack of a strategy.

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Why It's Time To Abolish Aid To Africa

Aid in its current form is expensive and inefficient. And it isn't needed — Africa is now a dynamic and confident continent. Europe needs a change of perspective to understand that it needs Africa as much as Africa needs Europe.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — We have a responsibility to help those in need. That is undeniable. From the earliest days of foreign aid, it was given with the best of intentions — to alleviate poverty in Africa. But since then, it has grown into an entire industry. There are so many organizations, all seeking to do good, but inefficiency and misguided assumptions mean they often fail to achieve what they set out to do.

In my opinion, the aid industry has always shown a hint of disdain towards this emerging, vibrant continent. Yes, it is a complex continent – as they all are. It is marked by poverty and war, but that is not the full picture. That is why we need a new approach. Instead of aid, Germany and the rest of the West should focus on increasing economic cooperation with Africa – as an equal partner.

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Kremlin Kids, Inc: How The Children Of Russia's Elite Keep Busy Avoiding The War

The offspring of Russia's elite were used to luxury loft apartments, expensive cars and carefree living. So how did Putin's mobilization for new troops impact them? As independent Russian news platform Vazhnyye Istorii found out, life essentially continues as normal.

There's a famous quote about war by the late Russian General Alexander Lebed that is universally true: “Let me recruit a platoon of the children of the elite, and the war will be over in a day.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Vazhnyye Istorii, as one of the few remaining independent Russian news platforms, decided to investigate what the offspring of the Russian elite thought about Russia's "partial mobilization" that was announced in late September, and whether any of them had been called up.

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Why Poland Still Doesn't Have Nuclear Power

Poland has announced plans to build its first nuclear power plant with the help of a U.S. firm. But it's not the first time the country has tried to build such a plant. So, will it actually happen this time?

-Analysis-

WARSAWPoland is surrounded by numerous nuclear power plants in the neighborhood: in Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, Belarus, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden. But we don't have our own. There are more than 500 reactors in operation worldwide, and another 55 are under construction. Most are slugging along, and their prices have risen well above the original construction costs.

The best example is Britain's Hinkley Point C power plant. The UK owns the most expensive nuclear power plant in the world. But the work is still going on, as the construction has been delayed.

The construction of a Polish nuclear power plant seemed to be underway in the 1980s, when the country was to join the ranks of nuclear-powered countries. We were to have not one but two power plants — one in Pomerania in Żarnowiec in the north of the country and another in the village of Klempicz, near the city of Poznań in the west. But the government abandoned these plans in 1990. The reasons were a lack of money, the collapsing USSR, and a lack of enthusiasm following the Chernobyl disaster.

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Green
Mohamed Ezz and Nada Arafat

Sharm El-Sheikh, What's Lurking Behind COP27 Shine

The Egyptian coastal resort has been reinvented (again) to host world leaders for the COP27, as it aims to cast a climate-financing-hungry Egypt in a favorable light. But the cosmetic changes hide years of harm to the region's ecosystem.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH — Amgad* arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh about 40 years ago, driven by curiosity like many other Egyptian youths at the time to explore this corner of Sinai, newly returned to Egypt in the wake of the 1973 war after a 15 years of Israeli occupation.

What Amgad found was a small Bedouin village sheltered within an immaculate landscape: to the east, the Gulf of Aqaba, teeming with marine creatures and jeweled with coral reefs; to the south, two Egyptian islands — now transferred to Saudi Arabia — that separated Sinai from Saudi Arabia; to the west, valleys and mountains, part of the Great Rift Valley, traversed by the Bedouin tribes who have settled in the area for centuries.

The coastline is home to 200 unique species of coral, 500 species of marine vegetation and various species of fish and marine animals, part of the Egyptian barrier reefs that marine ecology professor Mahmoud Hassan Hanafy tells Mada Masr are among the last sanctuaries for this type of marine life in the world, having demonstrated unique resilience to climate change. Onshore ecosystems also serve to protect marine life, he notes.

If, however, you’re among the thousands converging on the city this month to attend COP27, four decades separate you from the site of natural beauty that Amgad first laid eyes on.

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Society
Gaspard Koenig

The Right To Laziness — A New French Theory To Put Work In Its Proper Place

A French politician recently made the case for the "right to laziness". In the era of the “great resignation” or "quiet quitting”, the idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds. After all, history shows us that work is a very recent human passion.

-Essay-

PARIS — “The value of work” has been one of French President Emmanuel Macron and his government's priorities in recent years. Communists, too, claim that working is a source of emancipation, while the classic liberalism makes labor the core of progress. Meanwhile, the tech enthusiasts who hold the real power today also see work as the only way to save the public accounts.

Big issues are at stake here: our whole social system — from calculating pensions to paying allowances — is driven by the hunt for that next job.

In the middle of all this, Sandrine Rousseau’s dissident voice rose up. The left-leaning French economist and politician started asking for a “right to laziness.”

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Economy
Alan Shipman

Rishi Sunak — It's The Economy, Smarty

Nobody questions the new British Prime Minister's intelligence, or even his performance as Chancellor of the Exchequer. But the economic conditions after the debacle of his predecessor Liz Truss leaves little margin for error for Rishi Sunak.

As the incoming UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak has the immediate advantage of perceived success in his two years as chancellor.

His tenure ended last July when he resigned due to a difference of opinion with then-prime minister Boris Johnson over the economy. But during his time as chancellor, he is credited with rescuing households and businesses from the effects of the COVID pandemic lockdowns by launching an innovative and impressively timely furlough scheme. He reversed a “small state” approach to become the private sector’s temporary paymaster, spending an unprecedented £70 billion to shorten the recession.

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Economy
You Gao

How Cambodia Became The Hub Of Asia's Online Fraud Racket

When China cracked down on cyber crime, many involved in the industry moved to Cambodia. The Southeast Asian country has since become synonymous with online scams and forced labor. But the Cambodian government isn't just turning a blind eye — it is actively benefiting.

Cambodia has been making headlines this year for all the wrong reasons: a rising Asian leader in "internet fraud," "forced labor" and "human trafficking."

But why, in particular, has Cambodia become a hub for online scams? How did international cyber fraud become so widespread in this Southeast Asian nation of 16.7. million? The answers begin with an unlikely source — land.

There is a joke familiar to many Cambodians: only generals with two stars or more can own land in Sihanoukville, a popular beachside destination in the south of the country. That land eventually changes hands and ends up belonging to Chinese investors, who turn it into hotels, casinos and, eventually now: cyber fraud activities.

Cambodia has private ownership of land, but its domestic politics has been turbulent for decades, with property rights still unclear. Large amounts of private land is still concentrated in the hands of the political elite through violent means, such as the forced conversion of private land into state land or the eviction of residents for commercial development.

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Green
Habiba Fouad

Clean Hydrogen Production In Egypt: A Big Green Step Or More Hot Air?

As the Mediterranean region awakens to the potential of green hydrogen as a clean alternative, Egypt is still hesitant to invest heavily in the sector. For good reason?

CAIRO — When it opened in Aswan in 1963, the KIMA fertilizer plant was a clean energy producer ahead of its time. Running entirely off the surge of cheap, hydroelectric power spilling over from the Aswan Dam, it produced green hydrogen, used to make green ammonia and ultimately fertilizers, all part of a national politics of the time that was oriented toward self-sufficiency.

That the KIMA plant boasted state-of-the-art green credentials was almost a “coincidence” of the project, says Osama Fawzy, hydrogen consultant and manager of Hydrogen Intelligence platform, who attributes the decision to use renewable power at the fertilizer factory to its proximity to the dam and the relatively low cost of hydroelectric power for Egypt at the time. Yet as the natural gas and oil sectors boomed in the 1970s, KIMA’s specialized hydroelectric equipment deteriorated and was never replaced, and the plant was converted to run on cheaper natural gas in 2019.

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Green
Shaun Lavelle

Why The Netherlands' Exit From An Obscure Energy Treaty Is Such Big News For The Climate

The little-known Energy Charter Treaty protects oil and gas firms from regulation that harms their interests. The Dutch government has pulled out, and now the rest of Europe may follow.

AMSTERDAM — For many, the big climate story of the week was the two young activists who tossed tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting in London. But the real story with lasting impact was unfolding in the Netherlands, which announced on Tuesday that it intends to withdraw from the “Energy Charter Treaty” (ECT).

Environment policy experts say the Dutch exit — with Spain and Poland poised to leave — could set in motion the complete collapse of this little-known pact.

Climate activists were jubilant. Dutch politician Christine Teunissen of the Party of the Animals described it as a “huge win”. Just last week, Greta Thunberg announced that five young victims of the climate crisis were taking action against the ECT at Europe’s top human rights court.

But outside climate circles, few had even heard of a treaty that brought risks of leaving governments open to billion-dollar lawsuits by fossil fuel companies.

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Economy
Martin Redrado and Carlos Corach*

Brazil And Argentina, It's Time For A Single Market

Amid rising global tensions, Brazil and Argentina must form a strategic economic alliance that will help them interact with the world's chief powers.

-OpEd-

BUENOS AIRES — Humanity is facing some exceptional challenges and propositions that would have seemed implausible years ago. Every day we see a slight reconfiguration or axial shift in global power relations, specifically in the political, military, technological and socio-economic realms.

As a result, regionalism is replacing globalization, which, after decades of ascendancy, has being first threatened by a global pandemic and now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In this context, it is imperative to rethink inter-state relations in South America, especially between the region's two biggest states, Brazil and Argentina. Both countries need each other in order to face today's global challenges.

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Economy
Reinaldo Spitaletta

The Folly Of 'Degrowth' Economics — A View From The Global South

Those touting degrowth for the sake of the planet should remember that the majority of the earth's population has yet to taste a fraction of the material prosperity now blamed for destroying the natural world.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — A Colombian poet once said that to keep the peace in this country, people had to be kept fed. But to do so, profound changes need to be made that will tackle the causes of misery in a place like Colombia. That means industrializing the countryside, creating new fronts in employment, and, above all, developing that thing called capitalism.

James Lovelock, a pioneer of environmentalism, observed years ago that the friends of the earth had their heart in the right place, but not so much in their head. The industrialized world, he said, needn't yank itself back to primitive farming but rather the poorer countries should first industrialize their farming.

This beautiful and long-suffering homeland of ours remains today in the grip of a residual feudalism, with a countryside that grapples systematically, and fearfully, with such regular practices like paramilitaries grabbing fertile plots.

Growing calls to pursue a policy of degrowth in the world's advanced economies jibe very little with life in these parts.

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