China‘s Human Capital — The Chinese government is making a $250 billion-a-year investment to educate tens of millions of young people, reports the New York Times. The goal is to cultivate a highly-educated labor force and thereby move up the development curve. A better-educated workforce could help China become more competitive in the long run, writes the Times, but the country still faces several formidable obstacles: widespread corruption, a rigid political system, severe environmental damage, and inefficient state-owned monopolies.
Qatari Development — The BBC analyses how Qatar’s rapid economic development, powered by surging gas exports, requires the Gulf state to balance the interests of Qatari citizens and migrant workers who make up 94% of the private-sector workforce. “As Qatar continues its transformation at breakneck speed,” writes the BBC, “it faces a tricky challenge balancing the religious sensitivities of a traditionally conservative community at home with efforts to liberalize the economy, to invest heavily in Western-style education, and with the need to cater to the burgeoning expatriate population.”
Tropical Diseases — The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported unprecedented progress against neglected tropical diseases thanks to a new global strategy adopted in 2010, notes VOA News. Health officials attribute the progress to the widespread delivery of quality-assured and cost-effective medicines to treat these diseases and support from global partners. Millions of people suffering from 17 of the world’s neglected tropical diseases have benefited from receiving regular treatment in the past two years, according to VOA.
Moscow Killing — A man dubbed the “king of the Russian mafia” and the “Al Capone” of the country’s underworld has been shot dead by a sniper outside a restaurant in the middle of Moscow in a supposed contract killing, reports the Daily Telegraph and AFP. Aslan Usoyan, 75, who reportedly survived an assassination attempt in September 2010, was regarded as the most influential criminal in the former Soviet Union. His convictions mainly related to weapons and drug possession and he received a 15-year jail term in 1984 for selling counterfeit gold coins (he was released in 1991). The murder echoes the turf wars of the 1990s, and parliament deputy Alexander Khinshtein, who sits on the security committee, expressed fear that more violence may follow: “I am sure that a new criminal redistribution will begin now,” he said.
Amazon Deforestation – Cell phones are being attached to trees as part of the fight against illegal logging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, reports the Independent. The devices, which are smaller than a pack of cards and have a battery life of up to one year, transmit location data, once logs from trees in protected areas are within 20 miles of a mobile phone network. The new technology allows officials to track trees in real time, which is seen as an improvement on the traditional, slower method of monitoring via satellite images.
Jakarta Floods – Four people are reported killed and 20,000 evacuated from their homes in and around the Indonesian capital due to heavy monsoon rains which have caused severe flooding, reports Reuters. Many government offices and businesses have been forced to close and many roads leading to the city’s main airport were reportedly blocked, with most commuter train services and the bus system also shut. The rainy season has brought some of the heaviest downpours in five years, and weather officials warned that, with increasing activity of the Asian monsoon, the rains could get worse over the next few days.