G8

♦ The G8 leaders commit to shake up international corporate tax rules, and crackdown on tax evasion and the shadowy owners of shell companies. (If you want to know why it’s such a global issue, take a look through our Great Tax Race series.) They also agree to push for a Syrian peace conference – although Putin still won’t budge on Assad.
♦ President Obama’s move to increase the public flow of arms to selected Syrian rebels is probably his worst foreign policy decision since taking office, argues Marc Lynch.
♦ To ordinary Russians, a defeat of the Syrian rebels is seen as a victory over the west, says Andrei Nekrasov, a Russian film and television director.
♦ Circassians are protesting against the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, 150 years after being expelled from there.
♦ The tiny emirate of Fujairah is emerging as an increasingly important global strategic oil and logistics hub.
♦ The Global Post experiments with the language used by US journalists to write about foreign countries, by using it to write about the US.

 

G8 summit There have already been rifts over the issue of armaments in Syria.
♦ While leaders have been at loggerheads, Assad’s regime has been able to take advantage of the lack of US leadership, writes Roula Khalaf.
♦ The decision to send unspecified military support to the rebels will be dangerous, but it is more risky to stay out, says David Gardner: “Leaving Syria to its present devices will create an Afghanistan in the eastern Mediterranean”.
♦ Maureen Dowd thinks that Obama is being “schooled” by the Clintons: “After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom.”
Tax avoidance will be another G8 hot topic: Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, thinks corporate tax systems need to be simplified. If you want to read more about the debate so far, take a look through our reporting on the Great Tax Race.

♦ Mayor Bloomberg takes on a new cause: making it mandatory for New Yorkers to separate their food scraps for composting.
♦ Food for thought: is marriage in decline because there is less demand for husbands?
♦ China plans to move 250m rural residents – that’s about five times the population of South Korea – into newly constructed towns and cities over the next 12 years. Elsewhere in the world, cities are turning into vast gated communities for the one per cent.
♦ The BBC speaks to Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost everything in the 2004 tsunami.  

The Austerity Debate
Europe may have hit the political limits of how far it can go with austerity-led economic policies because of the growing opposition in the eurozone periphery, according to the president of the European Commission.
Tim Harford tells the story of Thomas Herndon, the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper that has been used to make the case for austerity cuts, and considers what it means for austerity economics.

Italy Deadlock
Choking back tears in his inauguration address, Giorgio Napolitano, who at 87 reluctantly accepted an unprecedented second mandate as Italy’s president, slammed the country’s political parties for their failure to reach agreement and for the “unforgivable” lack of political reforms.
♦ Tony Barber argues that public outrage is not bred only by economic crisis, and that politicians in Italy (and elsewhere in Europe) should get their houses in order.
♦ Italy’s political and economic torpor is epitomised in the ruined and abandoned city of L’Aquila.

Elsewhere
In northwest Pakistan, militants are using bombs as campaigning tactics ahead of the May parliamentary elections.
♦ It’s the UK’s turn to host the G8 and Richard Dowden, director of the Royal Africa Society, wants to know if it will do anything to stop companies avoiding tax in poor countries: “More important than giving aid would be to stop doing bad things to poor countries. The worst thing we – the British – do is to maintain the world’s most iniquitous secret tax havens.”
♦ In the past year, two trillion dollars has not been reported to the IRS because “ordinary Americans have gone underground, and, as the recovery continues to limp along, they seem to be doing it more and more.”
Kidnappings of ordinary Syrians are on the rise as lawlessness spreads.
♦ The byline was borne of a need to make reporters more responsible for what they wrote about the Civil War in the US.
 

By Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children

David Cameron’s speech yesterday was a source of much speculation, interpretation and voicing of opinions here at Davos, even though delivered in London. This is hardly surprising when so much hangs in the balance, not just for the future of the UK but for Europe too.

A lot is also at stake in the UK prime minister’s next speech, starting soon here. Some 2.3 million children’s lives each year, 20 percent of earning power and up to 3 percent of countries’ GDPs. This is the impact of global malnutrition on today’s children and tomorrow’s workforce.

During the height of Olympic fever last year, Cameron hosted a Hunger Summit where global leaders pledged to reduce the number of children left stunted by malnutrition by 25 million by the next Olympics in 2016. I’m hoping Cameron will keep the momentum going by announcing today a follow-up meeting in advance of the G8. This hidden issue needs the attention of the G8 and G20.