Emerging Welfare States — The Economist analyzes the expansion of social welfare in Asian countries, where growing prosperity has made its leaders come under increasing pressure to build welfare states. “Asia’s tigerish economies are turning marsupial, carrying their dependants along with them as they prowl,” it wrote. If “welfare provision continues to widen and deepen, the region will host most of the world’s pensioners and patients” in the coming decades.
Drug Trafficking — Interpol warns that drug trafficking is on the rise in Central Africa, reports VOA News. South American drug cartels are exploiting “poor policing at ports and outdated traveler and cargo inspection equipment, porous land and sea borders, as well as corruption within security and customs institutions” in Central Africa to turn the region into a way station for their “cocaine route” to Europe, it explained. A bigger presence of drug traffickers in Central Africa, according to VOA, could lead to increased “piracy off its coast, illegal arms circulation, human trafficking, and general instability.”
Living Conditions Worsen — The U.N.’s mission in Gaza is questioning the livability of the city’s Forgotten Neighborhood, a 139-square-mile shantytown, notes the New York Times. “Shortages of food, water, electricity, jobs, hospital beds, and classrooms amid an exploding population,” according to a U.N. report, underscore the diminishing livability of Gaza. The situation today is worse than in the 1990s and will likely get worse as the population grows to 2.1 million by 2020, the report says.
Foreign Funding – Reuters exclusively reveals that Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, seeking re-election this Wednesday, has received financial support from anti-Islam groups in the United States. Unlike other Dutch political parties, Wilder’s Freedom Party is not subsidized by the government, hence it is not subject to stringent disclosure requirements. Wilders has remained silent on the sources of funding for his political activities, but officials in the Freedom Party have disclosed that he has no personal funds and is therefore reliant on foreign donations.
Saudi Struggles – While TIME considers whether “tiny, impoverished” Yemen could “be showing the way to vanquish al-Qaeda” (full story available to subscribers), the BBC examines Saudi Arabia’s “continuing campaign against al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism.” Although it “has enjoyed considerable success,” with the country’s atmosphere “noticeably more relaxed than it was a few years ago when the kingdom was buffeted by several major suicide bombings,” the arrests of eight suspected terrorists earlier this month is “proof that the campaign is not over.”
Northern Exile – The Daily Telegraph covers the confirmation by Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man, that he has applied for Belgian nationality. The business tycoon firmly denied that the move was prompted French president François Hollande’s plans for a 75% tax rate on earnings over €1 million, set to be implemented later this year. Arnault said: “I am and will remain a tax resident in France and in this regard I will, like all French people, fulfil my fiscal obligations.” He claimed he was seeking dual nationality for “personal reasons.”