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ON THE AGENDA: G8 shenanigans and life in a Colombian rebel stronghold

Source: Mon, 17 Jun 2013 16:40 GMT
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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) welcomes Russia's President Vladimir Putin to the Lough Erne golf resort where the G8 summit is taking place in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman
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A sneak peek at what’s on our radar this week…

As world leaders meet in Northern Ireland for the Group of Eight summit on Monday and Tuesday, we’ll be keeping a close eye on big differences between the positions of Russia and the West on Syria, with Moscow insisting it won’t allow no-fly zones to be imposed.

But a lot of the noise coming from County Fermanagh is likely to be about corporate transparency and tax avoidance. Last week, we shone a light on how the murky world of offshore finance allows corrupt politicians to launder ill-gotten gains plundered from poor countries – so this is an issue that goes far beyond tax revenues. Indeed, corruption costs developing nations as much as £40 billion a year. Watch this space for more G8 analysis, including reactions from global experts in the form of a Google “hangout” later in the week.

In the meantime, we have a special report by Anastasia Moloney after a rare trip into a rebel stronghold in Colombia that reveals the fault lines underlying efforts to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict.

Anastasia ventured into a rebel fiefdom and drugs corridor where the only rule of law is the rule of the gun. Her behind-the-lines reportage gives gripping insight into what is at stake as President Juan Manuel Santos tries to prove he can secure control of Colombia’s neglected hinterlands, return thousands of displaced people to their land and win the hearts and minds of farming and indigenous communities. Don’t miss it.

Anastasia also has an interview with the head of the leading Colombian demining organisation on the challenges of cleaning up a country with one of the world’s highest landmine casualty rates. And, turning her attention to Haiti, she’ll be examining how drought, a poor harvest and a series of natural calamities have plunged 1.5 million Haitians into a hunger crisis.

Thursday is World Refugee Day and we’ll have info-graphics on the latest statistics from the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR. Expect depressing numbers given ongoing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and other warzones.

Our climate change reporters are hard at work this week. Megan Rowling has been working with data journalist Alex Plough to calculate the hidden cost of U.S. biofuel policy in the form of increased greenhouse gas emissions involved in shipping more and more ethanol from Brazil – which kind of defeats the point.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim comes to Thomson Reuters headquarters in London later in the week for a “Newsmaker” event. We’re expecting him to call for the scrapping of fossil fuel subsidies around the world and for a price on carbon dioxide to try to curb climate change. Laurie Goering will have the story. Laurie will also be recording a video “talking point” on education about climate change in schools in Britain and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Megan Rowling has the fascinating story of a new protocol for carbon finance that aims to benefit women. And our far-flung correspondents will be reporting from the front lines of climate change in the Himachal Pradesh mounts of India as well as Kenya, where a clever solar energy initiative is scaling up power for the poor.

On the anti-corruption front, Luke Balleny has an interview with a Finnish journalist who exposed the former Slovenian prime minister for taking bribes from a Finnish defence company.

Stella Dawson will be writing about the “Finance Curse”, an idea posited by author Nick Shaxson that countries that rely excessively on financial centres – such as Britain – suffer similar symptoms to the “Resource Curse” seen in countries with rich natural wealth. Intriguing.

Kizito Shigela will be asking if Tanzania can learn the lessons of other resource-rich countries as it seeks to cash in on an offshore oil and gas bonanza. Violence has already erupted in communities as the government, already grappling with corruption problems, starts to bring the energy to land.

Sticking with Tanzania, Katy Migiro will write about alarming evidence of torture, rape, assault, arbitrary arrest and extortion of Tanzanians who are most at risk of HIV/AIDS.

Stay tuned for all this and much more.

 

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