Palau's president prepares for Uighurs, protects sharks

The Obama administration notified congress last week that six Uighur detainees at Guantanamo Bay have agreed to be resettled in the Pacific nation of Palau and will be transferred within the next few months. Six of these detainees have agreed to the transfer. I ask Palauan President Johnson Toribiong for the latest on his country's preperations for taking in the Uighurs:

I am preparing a place for them to stay, arranging for our community college to set up education programs for them. They'll get a crash course in the English language and our culture and our environment. We will receive them as free human beings.

Toribong also made history today by announcing that Palau was creating the world's first shark sanctuary and would ban the fishing of sharks throughout Palauan waters, an area roughly the size of France.

"Healthy shark popluations are critical to both the health of our oceans and the health of Palau's economy," he said. "The rampant, illegal and widescale removal of sharks from Palau's water deprives our ecosystem of its apex predators and our tourism of one of its main attractions."  


Power shift at the G-20

Reuters got its hands on the draft G-20 communiqué, to be issued later today, and the news agency is reporting that developing countries scored a minor coup in getting developed countries to agree to shift the balance of power within the International Monetary Fund:

It called for a shift in IMF voting by at least 5 percent, although several G20 representatives said it was a 5 percentage point shift from developed to under-represented countries. Currently, the split in voting power is 57 percent for industrialized countries and 43 percent for developing countries. The shift would make the split nearly 50-50.

The BRIC countries had called for a 7 percent shift, and the Obama administration had been pushing for 5 ... which it appears to have gotten. It would be the biggest-ever such shift, according to Reuters, but not quite as much as, say, China, might have wanted.

One other interesting change in the draft communiqué is that it says the head of the IMF should be chosen based on qualifications, not nationality. Guess that means the Europeans are going to lose their traditional IMF slot? Wonder if that means the World Bank doesn't always have to be headed by an American now, too.

The bottom line: Since last year, not only has the IMF grown vastly more powerful, it will now better represent the interests of developing countries. Yes, it's a technocratic shift that may not matter much in itself, but it's also yet another concrete sign that power in the world is shifting away from the West.