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Ghana, Accra, 2023-02-16. Young schoolchildren in uniform learning multiplication tables. Illustration image of children in a school in Ghana. A little girl is at the blackboard reciting in front of the class.

Photograph by Jean-Francois Fort / Hans Lucas via Reuters

To get rich, Ghana needs to wise up

About a quarter of all the chocolate you eat comes from Ghanaian cacao, so with prices at all-time highs, Ghanaian farmers should be raking it in. Instead, they’re selling at fixed prices to a government that’s struggling to settle its debts after a crushing $30 billion default last year.

On Monday, Ghana failed to reach a debt deal to restructure $13 billion in debt, breaching the terms of its International Monetary Fund bailout and pushing the country to the brink. According to the IMF, Ghana is borrowing too much in the same high-interest rate environment that led to the original default. If the government cannot formulate a plan that meets IMF standards, it risks $360 million in upcoming relief.

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A farmer opens a cocoa pod at a cocoa farm in Azaguie, Ivory Coast, October 22, 2019. Picture taken October 22, 2019.


Why Easter chocolate cost so much this year

The Easter Bunny is sweating over his chocolate bill this year thanks to rising prices. A ton of cocoa runs you a cool $10,000 today, double what it cost a month ago and triple what it cost this time last year. Still, the West African farmers who grow the world’s favorite treat have yet to see a windfall.

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An oblong repousse gold ornament with three bands of decora is displayed in this undated handout picture obtained by Reuters.

The Trustees of the British Museum/Handout via REUTERS

The UK finally returns looted treasures … for a limited time only

If someone takes your stuff and only returns it with conditions attached, you might be the victim of a mafia swindling. Or British imperialism.

The looted “crown jewels” of Ghana are being returned to the country by two prominent British museums on a three-year loan agreement, with an option to extend for another three years.

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A map showing countries in Africa and Asia that criminalize same-sex acts, by degree of punishment.

Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Criminalizing LGBTQ love

Last week, Uganda’s parliament passed legislation that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ, which puts individuals at risk of life imprisonment, or in some cases, even death. Similarly, draconian legislation over identifying as LGBTQ is under consideration in Ghana, and VP Kamala Harris’s visit to Zambia this week – for a summit celebrating democracy – is stoking anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. As of 2023, many parts of the world are still unsafe for the LGBTQ community, as same-sex acts are deemed illegal in 65 countries, from Latin America to Oceania. The death penalty is a possibility in 11 countries worldwide. We look at the range of penalties in Africa and Asia, the two continents with the highest number of countries criminalizing same-sex acts.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff walk to a helicopter on their way to Cape Coast in Accra, Ghana, Tuesday March 28, 2023.

Misper Apawu/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Zambia warns against anti-LGBTQ protests, AI scares tech leaders

Zambia warns against anti-LGBTQ protests ahead of Harris’s arrival

Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema is warning against anti-LGBTQ protests ahead of US Veep Kamala Harris’s visit Friday, part of a three-nation Africa tour aimed at shoring up US relations across Africa.

While in Lusaka, Harris will (virtually) address the Summit for Democracy, a Biden-crafted international conference designed to bolster democratic institutions and norms amid rising global authoritarianism. But dozens of Zambian opposition MPs claim the summit also aims to introduce gay rights to the country.

The opposition Patriotic Front Party reportedly plans to hold protests before the summit, but Hichilema has called for calm and for a dialogue with his opponents. Earlier this month, he vowed to maintain Zambia’s laws criminalizing consensual same-sex acts, which carry a life sentence.

This isn’t the first time gay rights have come up during Harris’s tour. In Ghana, she noted that LGBTQ rights are human rights but did not discuss the proposed Ghanaian bill to criminalize LGBTQ identification and advocacy. Harris’s visit also follows Uganda’s adoption last week of a draconian law that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ, which could involve the death penalty in some cases.

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Annie Gugliotta

Hard Numbers: Russian oil stops flowing, Ghana wants more IMF cash, Iran nuclear deal hopes, vinegar wars

0: That's how much Russian oil is currently flowing through the southern Druzhba pipeline, which transits Ukraine and services the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia. Although those three EU member states are exempt from the bloc’s ban on Russian oil, Moscow says that EU sanctions made its payments to the Ukrainian operator bounce, so Kyiv shut off the flow on Aug. 4. We are certain there will be more to this story …

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What We’re Watching: Belarusian spooks plot killings abroad, Army enters Ghana’s parliament

Did Belarus have plans to kill dissidents abroad? On Monday, the EU Observer, an online newspaper, published a recording of unclear origin that is allegedly an April 2012 conversation between a former Belarusian spy chief and two unidentified men, in which the three discuss a plan to assassinate Belarusian dissidents living under asylum abroad, including in Germany. The men discuss the names of assassination targets, the use of poison and explosives, and refer to a "special account" to fund the plans. Adding to the intrigue, is the resemblance between the methods discussed in the recording and those used to carry out the car bomb assassination in Ukraine of a Belarusian journalist in 2016. None of the targets named in the recording itself has been killed, and the dissident who leaked the recording claims that Western intelligence foiled the plans. German authorities aren't saying much about this story, but the news will again focus Europe's attention on abuses of power by the government of strongman President Alexander Lukashenko.

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What We’re Watching: Brexit endgame, Ghana’s election, China-India water war

The final act of Brexit: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen agreed on Monday to meet in person in Brussels "in the coming days" in a last-ditch attempt to reach agreement on the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU. One of the major outstanding issues is labor and environmental standards. Johnson's key supporters want as much autonomy as possible, while Brussels worries that if the UK adopts laxer protections (which cost less to obey), London could flood the EU with cheaper goods. Another (fish)bone of contention is the level of access that EU fishermen would have to British waters. If the two sides cannot get to yes this week, then we'd we well on our way to the feared "no deal" scenario in which the UK and EU, lacking a trade agreement, impose much higher tariffs on each other, potentially dealing a huge blow to economies on both sides of the English Channel.

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