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Clooney and Prendergast testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on South Sudan. Photo: Paul Morigi / WireImage

George Clooney and John Prendergast, co-founders of the Sentry, write for Foreign Affairs, "The Key to Making Peace in Africa: Fighting Corruption Can Help End Conflict."

Why it matters: "Without taking aggressive measures to go after the spoils that drive conflict in South Sudan and other African countries, it is difficult to imagine any future other than one of deepening repression, growing famine, and spiraling warfare."

  • "[T]he fatal flaw of peacemaking in Africa: those supporting mediation lack the leverage necessary to stop corrupt figures from using their forces to bomb, burn, imprison, silence, torture, starve, impoverish, kill, and rape to maintain or gain power."
  • "South Sudan is hardly unique. Something similar plays out across many African countries torn by conflict, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. Oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, and a variety of other mineral deposits and trafficked wildlife provide immense opportunity for those in power to line their own pockets."
  • The problem: "Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa: taxpayers and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars."
  • What's needed: "A comprehensive strategy of using financial pressure for peace and human rights in South Sudan and other African war zones would cost very little. But it would give African mediators and their supporters in Washington, London, and elsewhere leverage in peace negotiations."

Go deeper: South Sudan's elite are using oil to fund conflict.

Full article coming soon at Foreign Affairs.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
19 mins ago - Podcasts

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek does a podcast on the future of podcasts

Spotify on Wednesday reported significant ad revenue growth from its podcast business, as part of its quarterly earnings disclosure.

Take a listen: Company founder and CEO Daniel Ek appeared on the Axios Re:Cap podcast to discuss how the podcast business model is changing, why he's spending big on exclusive shows and his personal favorites in both podcasting and music.

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group reaches agreement on $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

After weeks of long nights and endless Zoom calls, a bipartisan group of senators finally reached a deal on "the major issues" in their $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure package, GOP senators involved in the talks announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It could be days before the group finishes writing the bill, but the Senate can begin debating the legislation in earnest now that they have resolved the outstanding issues. The bill needs 60 votes to advance in the Senate.

After walkout, Activision Blizzard employees vow to keep fighting

Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Organizers of a Wednesday walkout at Activision Blizzard, the gaming company behind "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft," are saying the demonstration "is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore.”

Why it matters: Within the video game industry, sweeping promises for change are often followed by a handful of half-measures that fail to solve the systematic problems that caused them.