Chinese Concert Rules – Elton John angered Chinese authorities by dedicating his performance in Beijing last November to the artist and activist Ai Weiwei, writes the Guardian. The authorities responded by hardening their line on foreign musicians, while the culture minister, Cai Wu, demanded that only stars with university degrees be allowed to play in China in the future. The English language edition of the state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times, attacked the British musician saying it was “disrespectful” when he “forcibly adds political content to the concert.” However, the culture ministry spokesman has denied the existence of any new regulations for foreign musicians.
Courting Chinese – Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Chinese laborers could be heading to Greenland as the country courts foreign investors to tap mineral deposits that are becoming more accessible due to rising temperatures. Last year, Greenland’s parliament passed a law to establish legal mechanisms for developing large mining projects, which included granting labor permits to migrant Chinese workers who would build the mine. However, the government’s opposition party said it would scrap the new law if it wins the scheduled parliamentary elections on March 11, warning that an influx of foreign workers could depress and disrupt the traditional way of life in the country. The European Union has urged Greenland to restrict Chinese development of rare-earth projects in the country as China accounts for 95% of the world’s rare-earth mineral supply; however, the government said it wouldn’t give preferential treatment to Europeans over Chinese.
IMF Censures Argentina – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given the Argentinian government until Sept. 29 to take “remedial measures” to comply with the fund’s rules on reporting inflation statics, the Economist reports. Since President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government seized control of the statistics institute in 2007, there has been a discrepancy between the official inflation number and that reported by independent economists, notes the Economist. The government responded to the censure by criticizing the IMF for applying “double standards” and favoring banks. If the government fails to comply with the fund’s rules, punishment ranges from Argentina losing its ability to borrow from the IMF to an eventual expulsion. According to the Economist, this is the first time the IMF has reprimanded a country in this way since its rules on members’ statistics were tightened in 2004.
Colombia, Rebels Talk – Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are making progress towards an agreement on land reform – a key point in the peace process that would end 50 years of conflict between the two, notes Reuters. Discussions on Sunday in Havana, Cuba, saw both parties saying that progress had been made, but moving at different speeds. However, negotiators did say that the public bitterness they displayed in recent weeks did not reflect what was happening at the bargaining table, reports Reuters. They are trying to end a war that dates back to the FARC’s formation in 1964 as a communist agrarian reform movement, which fought the country’s history of social inequality and unequal distribution of land. The next round of talks is set for Feb. 18.
Scottish Independence – According to legal advice published by the British government on Monday, Scotland will have to renegotiate its membership in the European Union if it votes for independence in next year’s referendum, reports the New York Times. The findings of the report were not well received by advocates for Scottish independence who view membership of the E.U. as purely a technical issue. Following the announcement from the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, last year that Scotland would have to reapply for membership, independence defenders must also face the possibility of having to adopt the euro currency.
Horsemeat Scandal – Seven French supermarket chains have removed all frozen beef meals produced by Findus and Comigel, while the horsemeat scandal has spread to 16 countries, notes the BBC. The scandal, which emerged in Ireland in early January, has also impacted distributors in the U.K., France, Sweden and Romania. Up to 100% horsemeat has been found in various brands of prepared frozen food in Britain, France and Sweden, while concerns spread that drugs used to treat horses could be contaminating the European food chain. Ongoing investigations suggest that the contamination of the beef was not accidental but the work of criminal conspiracy.