Sunday Conversation

Rise Of Islamist Forces In Mali Draws In France, African Troops
In an effort to stem the rise of Islamist forces in Mali, France has undertaken a bombing campaign against al-Qaeda forces, while African troops are preparing to dispatch their own.

France had previously said they would not use their military in their former colony, but reversed course after a direct appeal from the Mali government. African troops are expected to focus their energy on the northern areas.

Der Spiegel has a chronological analysis of how events on the ground hastened the need to pursue a military solution in favor of one focused primarily on diplomatic efforts.  

Growth, Not Integration, Is Key To Saving Europe’s Social Model
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barraso stated in a recent speech that “European integration provides an effective response” to a globalized world, saying that “together we are big enough to tackle issues that can no longer be solved only at national level.”

Further integration might sound promising on a theoretical level, but Daniel Gros contends in a recent article that further integration and “more European economic governance” is not the answer.

“The key to ensuring the  future of Europe’s social-security systems, and thus its social model, is faster growth. And, again, it is difficult to see how more Europe would improve the situation. The obstacles to growth are well known, and have existed for a long time without being removed. The reason is quite simple: if there were a politically easy way to generate growth, it would have been implemented already,” Gros writes.

The Butterfly Effect: How US Corn Subsidies Impact Haiti
The “butterfly effect” is the theory that one small event in one place can result in changes (good and bad) in a distant and distinct area of the world.

Foreign Policy magazine looks at one example – how the legislative logjam over a farm bill in the US can have dramatic consequences for Haitians still struggling to recover from the earthquake that shook their nation in 2010.

In addition to benefiting domestic farmers, experts acknowledge that U.S. exports may feed people cheaply in the short run, but note subsidized farming actually exacerbates poverty and food insecurity over time.

“The support that U.S. rice producers receive is a big factor in why they are a big player in the global rice market and the leading source of imported rice in Haiti,” Marc Cohen, a senior researcher on humanitarian policy and climate change at Oxfam America, explains in the article.

“If governments that preached trade liberalization in Geneva would practice it — and that includes reducing domestic support measures that affect trade — if everything was on a level playing field, that would be very helpful to Haiti.”

Can Entrepreneurs Lift The Spirits And Fortunes Of Young, Black Men?
A common finding in most economic and employment studies is that young, black men, particularly those who have been imprisoned, lag behind almost all demographic groups. The Christian Science Monitor cites a 2005 Princeton which found that “even without criminal records, black applicants had low rates of positive responses – about the same as the response rate for white applicants with criminal records.”

But a new organization – City Startup Labs has emerged that specifically targets them with the goal of creating a generation of entrepreneurs who can benefit not only themselves, but the economy as a whole.

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