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DGI Brief - Sep 26, 2016

Happy Monday to all. Today's top 5 global issues news are about #ElNino #Syria #Brazil #Zimbabwe and the #Philippines:

- WORLD: The El Niño weather event may be quiet since May, but it continues to cause harm across Eastern & Southern Africa, Asia & the Pacific, Central America and the Caribbean – over 60 million people are affected. El Niño caused poor or failed harvests sparking long-term consequences like low food supply, high commodity prices, loss of livestock, lack of employment, spread of water- & mosquito-borne diseases, water contamination etc. 23 countries need est. $5 billion to respond, the current appeal being only 38% funded. Why it matters: Science predicts that we will continue to have more frequent & extreme weather events globally. Can we endure the costs – in human & economic terms? There are many resilience & disaster preparedness strategies, but they require collective efforts & investment, especially through public-private sector partnerships.

- SYRIA: The water pumping station which supplies water to eastern (rebel-held) Aleppo was attacked before the weekend, leaving 250,000 residents without water. In retaliation, the pumping station that supplies water to 1.5 million people in western (government-held) Aleppo was switched off. The western part does have deep ground water wells that can serve as safe alternative, but this is not the case for eastern Aleppo. Aid groups fear that the highly contaminated well water there will result in catastrophic outbreaks of waterborne diseases, especially affecting children. Meanwhile, the US, UK & France accused Russia of war crimes at UN Security Council in New York & walked off in protest before Syrian diplomats addressed the session. Russian air campaign reportedly uses bunker-busting bombs on civilian neighborhoods to cause most damage imaginable. Why it matters: Will we finally do something? Flex our muscle against this sickening Syria-Russia alliance that is perpetuating unbelievable horror? I am encouraged by the new bluntness of the Council’s rhetoric & hope some action will be taken soon – ground those bomb dropping planes!

- BRAZIL’s Supreme Court approved a preliminary investigation into President Temer’s 2012 campaign contributions. The case comes from the state’s plea bargain deal with Sergio Machado, former head of Transpetro a wholly owned subsidiary of Petrobras, state-controlled oil company at the heart of Brazil’s largest ever corruption scandal. Machado alleges that Temer requested campaign contribution in 2012 that were legal but did result in a kickback on contracts with Petrobras. Why it matters: The preliminary investigation will then decide whether the state should press charges against Temer & others implicated in the probe. Another impeachment trial? It is heartbreaking that a country with so much potential is engulfed in so much mud. The silver lining is that the corrupt, broken political system has been brought to light & Brazil can rebuild & reform. What other choice do they have? Throw stones at a glass house?

- ZIMBABWE: The 92-year-old President Mugabe, who has ruled the country for 36 years while denying

Zimbabweans a voice, sharply criticized the UN for denying Africa a voice & called for a pullout from the UN if Africa’s demands were not met. The demands are 2 permanent seats in the Security Council & 5 non-permanent/rotating ones. Why it matters: I agree that Security Council reforms are critically needed & Africa (and Asia & the Pacific, Latin America…) need to be better represented. The world order does seem top-down driven. But calling for a pullout from the UN is ludicrous, especially for a country that has benefited so much from its membership & received hundreds of millions in aid. Even worse, Mugabe also called for the breakaway states to form a separate world body alongside China & Russia. Was one Cold War not enough?

- PHILIPPINES: President Duterte decided to “cross the Rubicon” (meaning point of no return) in ties with the US, a long-time ally & treaty partner, and vowed to forge trade & commerce alliances as well as long-term land leases with China & Russia. The Philippine peso sank to its weakest level since 2009, signaling concerns about political instability & Duterte’s unpredictability & current policies. Investors reportedly pulled cca $310 million out of the Philippine stock market in last month alone. Duterte’s response? “Go ahead, be my guest. I will open up to the other side of the ideological barrier – China, Russia, come.” Why it matters: It is easy to see why Duterte’s autocratic & extreme ideology with great disregard for human rights & democratic judicial establishments would draw him to align with similarly problematic regimes of China & Russia. It’s highly opportunistic & therein dangerous. The alliances & foreign policies so carefully built since the end of the Cold War are once again shifting into a highly polarized world. Is globalization a failed experiment that proves we really can’t get along, celebrate our similarities & respect our differences? I can’t give into that notion…

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