1) While one French national kidnapped in Somalia earlier this summer has made a successful escape, the other "security advisor" is still being held. al-Shabaab has issued their demands upon which they condition his release. Note that (they)
...say they will free the man if France stops its support for the weak UN-backed government and ends its anti-piracy patrols in Somali waters.(Bold added by me)
The group also wants African Union peacekeepers withdrawn from Mogadishu.
Gee... and all this time we've been told that the Islamists crack down on piracy when ever they take over a region of the country. Uh huh.
2) The finds of offshore oil continue to roll in. This time, it is an extension of the partly-defined Gulf of Guinea formations off the coast of Sierra Leone. It looks to be fairly big, but... that region is just barely post-conflict and has some of the weakest institutions of governance around. Developing these resources without enabling an entire new generation of Kleptocrats is going to take some responsible conduct. Given the usual observation ("T.I.A.") that seems unlikely, but I'd love to be wrong on that.
3) Lastly, here is a superb summary of the Kleptocracy in Venezuela which names the names and calls it as it is. We've touched on parts of this here at CompHyp, but this puts it all in a single picture... and it is *not* a pretty one. It is also one of the few analyses I've seen in open sources that points out the defining nature of Hugo Chavez' relationship with his cronies: They profit so long as his inherent cowardice in the face of personal danger does not leave them twisting in the wind.