Ultra-Rich Singapore — The world’s ultra-rich are flocking to Singapore because of the city-state’s “obsession with order, predictability and control, all of which give comfort to individuals whose fortunes have recently gone down the drain in many parts of the world,” writes the Wall Street Journal. Private wealth consultancy Wealth-X estimates that roughly 1,400 individuals hold more than $160 billion of wealth in the Southeast Asian nation. Low taxes, good public security, pro-business policies and a stable government are the main reasons why rich expatriates and executives of multinational corporations are settling in Singapore, notes the Journal.
Virus Risk — Bloomberg notes that Hong Kong‘s densely-populated urban areas create conditions for viruses to spread rapidly, which could lead to devastating consequences for the city and the world. Ten years ago the severe acute respiratory virus, known as SARS, exploded in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory and spread internationally to Canada, Ireland, the U.S., Vietnam and Singapore. The risks of another outbreak are growing, according to Bloomberg, because the city has grown by more than 400,000 people in the past 10 years.
Solar Energy — China is becoming the world’s largest solar energy market and driving growth in the industry, reports Bloomberg. Experts forecast that China will surpass Germany as the No. 1 solar market in 2013 thanks to increased installations and tumbling panel prices. This year, Beijing has set its solar energy target for 10 gigawatts–triple the amount of last year’s growth. Customers and solar panel installation companies will benefit the most from the booming industry, according to Bloomberg.
DR Congo Ultimatum – The U.N. has issued an ultimatum to two units of the Democratic Republic of Congo army, saying it will cease support to their brigades unless action is taken against soldiers accused of mass rape, writes the BBC. The U.N. announced in December that it had evidence of at least 126 rapes that were carried out by soldiers in the town of Minova, south of the city of Goma, which was taken by M23 rebels in November. Around 800,000 people have fled their homes since unrest broke out last April in eastern DR Congo.
French in Mali – According to the French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French forces searching for al Qaeda-linked militants in northern Mali are currently in the Islamists’ sanctuary, notes Reuters. The minister highlighted that the French-led-offensive was dealing with one of its hardest tasks — searching for Islamist fighters hidden in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains. “ We knew this part of Mali was potentially the sanctuary of AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), and we weren’t wrong,” Le Drian explained. The French offensive began in January and has succeeded in driving most Islamist rebels from northern Mali, a position held by the rebels since April 2012.
Filipino Peacekeepers – Syrian rebels have failed to release the 21 Filipino U.N. peacekeepers that were captured Wednesday near the Syrian village of Jamlah, reports Aljazeera. According to a spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the government had expected the troops to be released on Friday morning, yet rebels say there are no ongoing negotiations to free the men. A media office calling itself the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade has said that the captives will only be released when President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have retreated from the area around Jamlah. Recent videos posted online by the rebels show the peacekeepers in good health.