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Musings From Abroad

Stolen passenger plane crashes

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An airline employee who stole an empty passenger plane from Seattle airport has crashed on a nearby island, BBC reports.

Authorities said the man had made “an unauthorised take-off” late on Friday local time, forcing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to close.

Two F15 fighter jets pursued the plane, which crashed in Puget Sound. The man is not believed to have survived.

The local sheriff’s office said it was “not a terrorist incident”, adding that the man was local and aged 29.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor later told reporters it appeared to be “a joyride gone terribly wrong”, according to ABC7 News, adding “most terrorists don’t do loops over the water”.

Read Also: Swedish 17th century funeral regalia stolen

Ben Schaechter was on a plane which was apparently taxiing down the runway as the stolen plane took off.

“Okay this insane,” he tweeted. “A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower. The tower ordered a full stop and they’re trying to communicate with that pilot. Whaaaaaat!”

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) issued a statement on Saturday morning saying that the two F15s were launched from Portland to intercept.

Norad said the F15s were “working to redirect the aircraft out over the Pacific Ocean when it crashed on the southern tip of Ketron island”, about 30 miles (48km) south of the airport.

“Norad fighters did not fire upon the aircraft,” it said.

Sheriff Pastor told KIRO7 news station in Seattle the man had most likely been killed in the crash.

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Musings From Abroad

France to withdraw forces from West and Central Africa

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According to three sources quoted by AFP, France intends to scale back its military deployment in West and Central Africa to about 600 soldiers in keeping with President Emmanuel Macron’s intentions to lessen France’s military footprint in the area.

Given the strong anti-French sentiment in several former colonies and the competition for influence from nations like Russia, Macron declared in February 2023 that there would be a “noticeable reduction” in the number of French troops stationed in Africa.

A strategy being discussed with allies in Africa indicates that France intends to significantly scale back its so-called “pre-positioned” forces in the continent.

Two government-affiliated sources, as well as a military source, claim that France will only maintain about 100 troops in Senegal, West Africa, down from 350 currently, and about 100 in Gabon, Central Africa.

Paris intends to maintain about 300 troops in Chad, in north-central Africa, down from 1,000 currently, and about 100 troops in Ivory Coast, on the southern coast of West Africa.

According to the three sources, the diminished presence can occasionally be increased in response to the demands of regional partners. The French General Staff was contacted by AFP, but they declined to comment.

Up until two years ago, France maintained around 5,000 troops in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the Barkhane anti-jihadist campaign, in addition to the about 1,600 forces that were pre-deployed in Gabon and West Africa. However, the juntas that took over in Mali in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in 2023 have been steadily driving it out.

Now, all three nations have security agreements in place with Russia, which has been looking to increase its influence throughout the continent. The final nation in the Sahel to get French forces is Chad, which is led by Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of Idriss Deby Itno, a former president who served for more than 30 years.

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Musings From Abroad

AfDB, IDB on $20bn IMF reserve asset donor drive

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In line with a global initiative to increase the efforts of leading multilateral development banks (MDBs) to address poverty and climate change, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Inter-American Development Banks (IDB) intend to convert each SDR into $4 in additional funding through the use of hybrid bonds and other financial instruments.

“All these countries have shown a lot of interest, and I think that with the approval from the IMF to use it (SDRs), it’s going to make that conversation a lot better,” AfDB President, Adesina said.

Japan has also pledged to help as a potential contributor of SDR, and in Europe, France has indicated interest in contributing some of its SDR for a simultaneous “liquidity guarantee” that would reimburse donors should they encounter difficulties.

“There are a lot of things that that bacon can feed – electricity, water sanitation, education,” Adesina stated, adding that he and Goldfajn have the remainder of the year to “bring the bacon home.”

The board of the AfDB separately approved a $117 billion capital increase earlier this month, and it is currently seeking an additional $25 billion for its concessional lending arm, the African Development Fund.

It aims to allocate a portion of the funds to projects like credit guarantees, which lower project financing costs by utilizing the bank’s triple-A credit rating as a halo.

It plans to use them similarly for debt-for-nature or climate swaps, which enable governments to reduce debt in exchange for safeguarding important ecosystems. Currently, Tanzania is employing them for railways linking Tanzania to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Nigeria.

The AfDB’s almost-final year in leadership, Adesina, stated that acknowledging the economic and global significance of Africa’s savannahs, rainforests, rivers, and seas is also necessary.

According to his estimation, their worth is at least $6.8 trillion, and the bank plans to adjust the GDP calculations for the continent to account for this amount. For instance, the Congo Basin is thought to be larger than the Amazon to be the world’s greatest carbon sink.

“In a world of climate change and green growth that ought to matter,” he added, saying that if “properly valued” countries like Congo and Gabon would have much better debt metrics.

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