How much material do we use to send a package? Too much. Does recycling help? Yes – but not really. Packaging material often accumulates as waste, contributing to its own "polluting weight." To solve our packaging dilemma, Finland came up with RePack: a "circular" solution for the reuse of material.
A steady increase of violence in the Sahel region of Africa over the past eight years has imposed fear and hardship on millions of the people who live there. It has also pushed the governments of Sahel countries to work together to fight terrorists.
The region's troubles have also captured the attention of European leaders, who worry that if instability there continues, it could generate a movement of migrants that might well dwarf the EU refugee crisis of 2015-2016.
But is Europe helping to make things better?
<p><a href="https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/27977/europe-has-spent-years-trying-to-prevent-chaos-in-the-sahel-it-failed?utm_source=WPR+Free+Newsletter&utm_campaign=bb8bcbed26-071720-insight-nonsubs&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6e36cc98fd-bb8bcbed26-64573333&mc_cid=bb8bcbed26&mc_eid=1400fb4cc1" target="_blank"><u><strong>The backdrop</strong></u></a><u><strong>:</strong></u> The Sahel is a band of countries at the southern edge of the Sahara that stretches across Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. For many years, fighters from the Sahel country of Mali worked for Muammar Qaddafi's security services in Libya, and the collapse of that regime in late 2011 sent large numbers of heavily armed men back to Mali. There, they used their weapons and training to capture territory for themselves in the north of that country. </p><p>Before long, the violence spread south, toppling Mali's government. Chaos prevailed as Islamist groups, terrorists, separatists, ethnic militias, and criminal gangs competed for turf. </p><p>Enter France, the region's former colonial power. The French military managed to restore Mali's government and some of its stability in 2013, but violence in the north continued. </p><p>The area of turmoil then began to expand beyond Mali into neighboring Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. In 2014, the governments of these four countries plus Mauritania formed the <a href="https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/security-disarmament-and-non-proliferation/crises-and-conflicts/g5-sahel-joint-force-and-the-sahel-alliance/" target="_blank">G5 Sahel</a> organization to manage the common threat to their stability. Together, they have a fast-growing population of <a href="https://issafrica.org/iss-today/the-g5-sahel-region-a-desert-flower" target="_blank">more than 80 million</a> people and a median age of just 16. </p><p>In 2017, having felt the shockwaves of Syria's collapse, European leaders moved urgently to avoid state collapse in the Sahel. A G5 Sahel Joint Force, with backing from the UN, the African Union, and France began military operations against armed groups operating in the region. </p><p>European leaders have launched a <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEMO_18_6670" target="_blank">comprehensive approach</a> to the region. Over the past two years, nearly two dozen European countries have contributed troops, trainers for local soldiers and police, peacekeepers, and billions of development Euros to the G5 Sahel countries. </p><p>Unfortunately, the violence has only <a href="https://acleddata.com/dashboard/#/dashboard" target="_blank">gotten worse</a>. A recent report from World Politics Review notes that there were 413,000 internally displaced people in the G5 Sahel countries at the end of 2019, and more than 5 million people now need humanitarian help. </p><p><strong>Why aren't the combined efforts of G5 Sahel and European leaders working?</strong> </p><p>First, critics warn that Sahel government forces are often unable or unwilling to distinguish between different armed groups and their motives—and civilians are dying in the crossfire. </p><p>Second, the European commitment is half-hearted. European leaders, fearful of the political fallout that comes with military casualties, are not engaging hostile forces aggressively enough to turn the tide. </p><p>Third, some locals resent the presence of Europeans, particularly French troops, inside their countries because they believe, not without reason, that they care much more about heading off refugees than about helping Africans. <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/09/mali-forgotten-war-20149691511333443.html" target="_blank">Others</a> wonder whether Europeans are there mainly to steal their natural resources. </p><p><strong>But the biggest challenge for the Sahel extends far beyond terrorists and militias.</strong> <a href="https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2019/results" target="_blank">Corruption</a> and incompetence plague national and local governments. Ramshackle infrastructure hobbles economic opportunity. And the impacts of climate change on agriculture and COVID-19 on public health are making things worse. </p><p><strong>Bottom line:</strong> Stability depends not just on the absence of violence, but on the presence of good governance and economic opportunity. Without them, neither citizens of the Sahel nor European leaders will reverse this dangerous momentum toward turmoil. </p>
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Fmr. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden on Opening Schools: “The Key is to Open Them in a Way that They Can Stay Open"
August 06, 2020
In a new interview with Ian Bremmer for GZERO World, former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says that the single most important step to reopening schools in the fall is to control infection in the community. But as of now, too many communities across the United States have lost control of the Covid-19 virus. Opening schools will only become a possibility once a majority of people start practicing the "Three 'W's" ("Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance") and local and federal governments enforce stricter protective policies. The full episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television on Friday, August 7, 2020. Check local listings.
Hard Numbers: Google deletes misinformation, Africa’s COVID testing falls short, China-India spat hits cricket, Belarus’ salaries stagnate
August 06, 2020
2,500: Google has deleted around 2,500 YouTube accounts linked to a coordinated misinformation campaign about Hong Kong, Chinese regime critics and China's coronavirus response. It's been a busy week for social media platforms cracking down on fake news, after Facebook and Twitter censored a post from US President Donald Trump for containing misinformation about COVID-19, and Brazil's Supreme Court ordered Facebook to block accounts tied to allies of President Jair Bolsonaro for spreading lies about judges.
<p><strong>10:</strong> Just ten of Africa's 54 countries account for 80 percent of all coronavirus testing carried out so far in the continent, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-africa-testing/10-countries-account-for-80-of-africa-covid-19-testing-africa-cdc-idUSKCN2521QZ" target="_blank">according</a> to the regional disease control body. Although the list includes Africa's most populous nations, the concentration of the activity reflects major shortfalls in testing across all 54 countries in Africa, where already weak health systems are struggling to cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients. </p><p><strong>293 million:</strong> Chinese smartphone maker Vivo has <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/vivo-pulls-2020-ipl-sponsor-india-china-border-row-200806111917311.html" target="_blank">cancelled</a> of a $293 million deal to sponsor India's immensely popular national cricket league for the next four years. The decision has been blamed on growing anti-China sentiment in India following a <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/whats-going-on-between-india-and-china" target="_self">deadly Himalayan border clash</a> in June. </p><strong>500:</strong> Between 1999 and 2010, the average monthly wage in Belarus jumped ten-fold, to $500— but it has stayed there since. President Alexander Lukashenkos's once-popular promise of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-election-economy/500-for-everyone-belarus-leaders-soviet-style-economy-wears-thin-for-some-voters-idUSKCN25118Q" target="_blank">"$500 for everyone</a>" has now become an internet meme for younger people, who call him "<a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/belarus-protesters-vs-psycho-3" target="_self">Psycho 3%</a>" — and will likely not vote for Lukashenko in Sunday's presidential election.
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Jim Geraghty argues in a National Review op-ed that we shouldn't blame Trump for the fact that the US has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. But though he's right that not everything is Trump's fault, Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Scott Rosenstein take out The Red Pen to show that the evidence he cites to let Trump off the hook doesn't hold water.
<p>Today we are taking our Red Pen to an op-ed entitled "<a href="https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/why-the-u-s-ranks-so-poorly-in-coronavirus-deaths-per-million/" target="_blank">Why the U.S. Ranks So Poorly in Coronavirus Deaths Per Million</a>." A very straightforward title for an oped. It was written by senior political correspondent <a href="https://twitter.com/jimgeraghty" target="_blank">Jim Geraghty</a> of the National Review.<br/></p><p>The US ranks in the top ten in per capita death rates, with as of this recording, roughly 488 deaths per million. And Geraghty argues that we shouldn't blame Trump for the fact that the US has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. Now, he's right that not everything is Trump's fault, I've made that point many times myself, but the evidence that he cites doesn't actually let Trump off the hook. So, let's dive in. </p><p>First, Geraghty are argues the coronavirus data from other countries are greatly underreported and that their actual deaths per capita might be as high or higher than the United States. He cites Indonesia, China, Russia and Bangladesh. It's safe to say that pretty much every country in the world is undercounting Covid case rates and death rate for a variety of factors like insufficient testing and plain old corruption. And the United States is no doubt, undercounting, too. But let's do the math: the US has reported, so far, about 160,000 deaths out of a population of 330 million. China has confirmed about 4,000 deaths with about 1.4 billion people. Now, very few outside observers, myself included, trust that China's numbers are accurate. But to come close to US deaths per capita, China would have to be, have them reported elsewhere, some 700,000 deaths. I mean, are we really ready to suggest that China's missed or are covering up 700,000 deaths? That's kind of insane, right? I mean, even for China, that's a crazy tall order. So, no.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://www.gzeromedia.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzOTY5Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxODk4OTQyMH0.83mUel6gk386mpcdNFCJZuDkgSksRQgS1SkGla22yKg/image.png?width=980" id="3bfde" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e912799e19989e36d01c9a0b5eabf16d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /> </p><p>Next, Geraghty writes that other countries held advantages over the US that left them better prepared to fight the pandemic, including more experience with SARS and other disease outbreaks. And I need to push back against this. The reality is the United States was in the best possible position to handle this pandemic. We have the best scientists, the best labs, and many billions of dollars a year since SARS - more than any other country - invested in pandemic preparedness. Other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, did have a lot of experience with past disease outbreaks, but they had nowhere near the resources of Washington, DC. There are many reasons the US handled coronavirus terribly, but a lack of resources and a lack of planning for this kind of pandemic is really not one of them.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://www.gzeromedia.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzOTY5NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODMwMDUxNX0.uOLnZ_CE53ibx6Doa4Sz-4JpDXVHNbR6eOECBmjNLi8/image.png?width=980" id="72045" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="63f591ecdba0caa741664280886c6b51" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /> </p><p>And then finally, Geraghty suggests that blame should be spread out to include other leaders whose decisions were off the mark early. And I completely agree that leaders at all levels of American government made mistakes early on, when information was scant, including governors like my own Andrew Cuomo in New York. And certainly, the decision to reduce hospital strain and order nursing homes to take coronavirus patients early in the pandemic was a tragic mistake that led to unnecessary deaths. Almost half of the deaths in the New York City metropolitan area were in assisted living facilities. Did not need to happen. You can't blame Trump for that. But what matters is whether leaders can change course as new information emerges and avoid politicizing science. And that's where President Trump has come up short, time and again. As the pandemic continues to rage across the United States, it's become painfully clear that the federal government failed to put together a national coordinated response. And as president of the United States, the buck and ultimately the deaths per capita, stops with the commander in chief.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://www.gzeromedia.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzOTY5OC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNjI5ODM4MX0.j1lE9er8vL3I2wIF4dvulYKXSiim7IldR1jK2mQEBA8/image.png?width=980" id="d510d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5e2f8138d9bab99755a93732208b1d49" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /> </p><p>That's our Red Pen this week. I hope you found this worthwhile. I'll see you again soon. In the meantime, stay safe and avoid people. <br/></p>
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