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DGI Brief - Sep 6, 2016

Happy Tuesday to everyone. Today's top 5 global issues news are about #USA, #Iran, #Zikavirus, #Gabon and #France.

- USA: President Barack Obama is the first US President to visit Laos, giving way to reconciliation after the Vietnam war when US air bombed Laos into the most bombed country per capita in history. Now the US pledged $90 million to help with demining and unexploded ordinance removal. Why this matters: Truth & reconciliation are the most powerful tools for peace & security & development. Laos is positioning to become an important green energy player & good relations between the two countries will allow for greater investment & sustainable development. Also, there are estimated 80 million unexploded bombs. Laos’ population is 7 million. Meanwhile, Philippine President Duterte made explicit remarks about anyone who’d ask him about the nearly 2500 extrajudicial killings ahead of a bilateral meeting with the US President, who intended to bring up these serious human rights violations. So President Obama cancelled the meeting. Respect.

- IRAN’s oil minister said today his country would support any decision by OPEC to stabilize the oil market, after historically low oil prices that have been wreaking havoc on the economies of many oil producing countries. Iran initially opposed any calls by OPEC’s oil producing nations to freeze production and drive prices towards $50-$60 per barrel. Why this matters: we may have to pay more at the pump again, but for the greater good - the stability of many nations around the world (Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq…) and sustainable measures to keep reserves in the ground.

- The spread of Zika virus around the WORLD is attributed to both mosquito and sex transmission, previously believed to only be spread by men. The new travel advisory is for both men and women to practice safe sex or abstinence for 6 months after returning from areas with Zika virus, whether or not they show symptoms. Why this matters: we cannot afford to have a global Zika outbreak.

- GABON: The electoral race between President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family ruled Gabon since 1960s, and opposition leader Jean Ping culminated in a slim-margin win for the president. The subsequent demonstrations across the country turned violent, est. 50-100 people were killed. The government reported 3 election-related deaths. The EU election observers reported an anomaly in the voter turnout in the President’s stronghold province: there was a 99.93% voter turnout, which would mean only 47 people in the entire area didn’t vote. Why this matters: there is international pressure for the government to publish results by individual polling stations & if fraud took place, this could greatly destabilize yet another African, oil-producing country.

- FRANCE: The court in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean, upheld the burkini ban issued by local mayor last month stating it was legal as it prevented public order disruptions. Why this matters: Last month, clashes broke out over a Muslim woman who allegedly wore the burkini swimsuit on a local beach & then spread throughout the island. The top French court ruled last week the ban violates basic freedoms & is illegal unless there are “proven risks of disruptions to public order.” The Corsica court went with the exception.

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