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The Hottest Guest List in Town: Dinner at the White House for Visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

This is a joint post with Nandini Oomman.

The White House State Dinner for visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight is perhaps the biggest social event of the year in the nation's capital. The names of the 400 lucky people who have made it on to the guest list are yet to be released—the list has generated as much buzz as the event itself, both in Washington, DC and in India.

Is China Losing Interest in Africa?

Last week, the Aluminum Corp. of China, otherwise known as Chinalco, received regulatory approval to proceed with its investment of $19.5 billion in the Australian-based mining giant Rio Tinto, giving the Chinese access to a large and secure supply of iron ore, copper, aluminium and other resources in Australia and Latin America. Is this a signal that China is losing interest in Africa? Or that African governments are becoming disenchanted with their Chinese partners?

IMF Gold Sales Should Fund Low-Interest Loans for Poor Countries

On April 29, U.S. House of Representatives Democrat, Rep. Barney Frank, said that he supports authorization by the U.S. Congress of gold sales by the International Monetary Fund, on the condition that $4 billion of the proceeds go to poor countries. He also said that the U.S. Treasury backs his position. This is all good news regarding the IMF’s sale of 1/8th of its gold reserves, approximately 403 tons.

At The G-20 Summit, Nothing for Africa

Five years after Africa was centerstage at a meeting of the G7 heads of state in Gleneagles, it has all but vanished from the priorities of policymakers from the rich and emerging economies. At the G20 Summit in London this week, heads of state will debate new resources for the IMF, in the range of $250 billion. But these resources will likely be deposited in the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) facility, which will be far too expensive and out of reach of most African countries.

Spain, the G-20, and the Need for Reform of Global Governance Systems

The Spanish press reports that Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has been officially invited to the G-20 summit in London in April as well as the preparatory meeting in Berlin. Spain was invited by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (El Mundo (Spain)/Factiva). The Spanish government has campaigned vigorously to be included in the G-20, despite the fact the European Union is already represented.

The World Bank's Mess in Albania

This is joint posting with Owen McCarthy
As word leaks out that the World Bank effectively funded the demolition of homes of the very poor residents of a small village, Jale, in Albania, and then refused to speak about it for more than a year, one can only hope that the Bank will spend as much time thinking through what went wrong as it will doing damage control. The Project Appraisal Document (otherwise known as the PAD) for the Albania Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean-Up Project stated that the Albanian government and the Bank had reached an agreement that no demolitions would take place until "procedures and criteria" were in place to assist affected citizens; in fact no such agreement existed. The Bank's Board approved the project.