Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

Iraq rebuilding efforts

International | U.S. government chooses a Washington for-profit contractor over church groups serving in the country
by Mindy Belz
Posted 9/12/19, 10:35 am

IRAQ: A $367 million effort to rebuild communities destroyed by ISIS with U.S. taxpayer dollars has floundered on regulations and outsourcing to an American contractor. Despite repeated White House pledges of directing aid to Christian and Yazidi communities, church groups in Iraq said they’ve been bypassed in favor of a Washington for-profit contractor—one that does $1.5 billion in business with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and has a checkered past in managing similar projects in Afghanistan—a WORLD Magazine report.

BAHAMAS: The United States will not grant temporary protected status to people forced to flee Hurricane Dorian.

UNITED STATES: The Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration can start enforcing new restrictions on asylum-seekers while legal battles continue. The interim final rule, say leading resettlement groups, means many asylum-seekers with legitimate cases, fleeing credible fear of persecution and other factors supported in U.S. law, will be denied.

FINLAND: The head of the world’s foremost weather science organization issued a surprise rebuke to climate-change activists, saying that global warming “is not the end of the world.” Petteri Taalas, the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said leading meteorological scientists are under increasing assault from alarmist groups. He took particular aim at those calling for radical action like limiting the number of children—a view recently endorsed by Britain’s Prince Harry.

In our examination of USAID projects in Iraq (see above), we found required climate risk assessments were relying on “climate-resilient development” standards adopted by the Obama administration. Risk factors are based on a controversial UN study and international standards formally rescinded by President Donald Trump in 2017—and for Iraq, in an area where average summer temperatures already reach 108 degrees.

BRITAIN: Firebrand and dignified? Conservative and edgy? The remarkable tenure of John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons has come to an end, with his surprising announcement this week he was stepping down. Here’s Bercow at his best standing athwart of the pro–Boris Johnson Brexiters and the anti-Johnson Remainers.

VENEZUELA: At least 3 million have left the country since 2014, and 80 percent of the households that remain have trouble finding food. Protesters like poet Luigi Ángel Guerrero Ovalles can be shot midday without seemingly a trace: “They kill us with bullets and with fear.”  

AUSTRALIA: This map shows Australia’s potential to challenge China in its dominance of the all-important rare earth elements market.

I’M READING Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

NOTE: Globe Trot will be on vacation next week, returning Monday, Sept. 23.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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