Latest Developments, July 26

In the latest news and analysis…

Change of tune
The Washington Post reports that a particularly significant group of scientists has joined the chorus of those who say UN peacekeepers likely caused the cholera epidemic that has killed thousands in Haiti since 2010:

“The findings marked a major retreat by the experts, who were part of an independent panel appointed by the United Nations and who had concluded just two years ago that incomplete evidence and the myriad factors in the epidemic’s spread — including inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure — made it impossible to assign responsibility for the introduction of the strain. Since then, the experts said, they have obtained new evidence, including microbiological samples.

The latest findings will increase pressure on the United Nations to acknowledge responsibility for introducing cholera into the country. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his top advisers had invoked the panel’s ambivalent 2010 findings in arguing that the United Nations bore no legal responsibility for the epidemic, although they said the organization was committed to lead international efforts to respond to the health crisis and improve the Haiti’s sanitation infrastructure.”

Pocket change
The Huffington Post reports on the bottom-line impact of the fine Halliburton Energy Services must pay after pleading guilty to destroying evidence related to America’s largest-ever offshore oil spill:

“The fine, as part of a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, is $200,000. That’s about how much Halliburton earns every 23 seconds, based on 2012 revenue numbers.
The fine amount is the maximum allowable under the federal statute used to calculate the penalty, which also includes a three-year probation.

Legal experts say Halliburton’s admission of guilt is more important than the fine, since it will likely bolster the government’s case in an ongoing civil trial in New Orleans to determine how to allocate blame and damages for the 2010 explosion.
Even so, the fine seems hardly sufficient given the seriousness of the crime, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
‘It seems paltry for an act that undermines the justice system,’ he said.”

Homeward bound
Politico reports on US plans to send two Guantanamo Bay detainees home to Algeria, the first “repatriation outside the Western Hemisphere” since 2010:

“ ‘As the president has said, the United States remains determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,’ [White House press secretary Jay] Carney said, and the repatriation of the two detainees — the first releases this year — are ‘in support of those efforts.’

Two Uyghurs — Chinese Muslims — were released to El Salvador in 2012, and Omar Khadr, a Canadian national, was sent home in September 2012 to finish out the remainder of his sentence.”

Unpopular war
The Washington Post’s Max Fisher speculates on the reasons why, according to a new poll, only 28% of Americans think the war in Afghanistan has been “worth fighting”:

“Support began falling in late 2011 and early 2012, when a string of high-profile incidents gave the appearance of a war spinning badly out of control. In January 2012, a video surfaced showing Marines urinating on dead Afghan insurgents. The next month, NATO troops mistakenly burned several Korans, setting off nationwide riots and more ‘green on blue’ killings. The month after that, a U.S. soldier named Robert Bales wandered off base and into a nearby village, where he killed 16 civilians, nine of them children.”

Prison numbers
The US government has released national statistics indicating that nearly one percent of American males are behind bars:

“The national imprisonment rate for males (910 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 male U.S. residents) was over 14 times the imprisonment rate for females (63 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 female U.S. residents). The female imprisonment rate decreased 2.9 percent in 2012 from 65 per 100,000 female U.S. residents in 2011.
In 2012, states with the highest imprisonment rates included Louisiana (893 per 100,000 state residents), Mississippi (717 per 100,000 state residents), Alabama (650 per 100,000 state residents), Oklahoma (648 per 100,000 state residents), and Texas (601 per 100,000 state residents).”

Funding abuses
Human Rights Watch argues in a new report that the World Bank “has closed its eyes” to the human rights risks attached to its lending policies:

“Funding decisions relating to rights concerns lack transparency and appear arbitrary and inconsistent, Human Rights Watch found.
The absence of a clear commitment not to support activities that will contribute to or exacerbate human rights violations leaves staff without guidance on how they should approach human rights concerns, or what their responsibilities are. Staff members have unfettered discretion to determine the extent to which they will consider human rights risks, take measures to mitigate or avoid harm, and even to bring problems to the attention of senior management or the board. The lack of clear procedures and policies on human rights means that people whose rights are adversely affected have no way to hold the bank to account.”

Dictating terms
The Guardian reports that despite the rhetoric about “country ownership”, donors are increasingly unwilling to let recipient governments decide how to spend aid money:

“One sign of whether donors are putting their money where their mouths are is their willingness to provide budget support – aid that goes directly to developing countries to finance their programmes.

Budget support figures are published annually by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with a breakdown by provider, and can be used as a proxy for commitment to country ownership. But, according to Ukan and Bond, global budget support fell steeply, to only $1.3bn last year from $4.4bn in 2010.”

Calling Robin Hood
Oxfam’s Jon Slater welcomes a call by British MPs for the UK to embrace a financial transaction tax:

“Their argument does not rest on the moral imperative that the financial sector should repay the damage it has done – something even the Prime Minister and Chancellor are wary of disputing. Instead the [Business, Innovations and Skills] Committee makes hard-headed economic arguments for an FTT – that it would curb damaging high frequency trading, the computer-driven casino capitalism that causes flash crashes.”

Latest Developments, April 22

In the latest news and analysis…

Double Standard
Guardian columnist Michael Cohen asks why the US reacts so strongly to “terror” and so meekly to far deadlier threats, such as gun violence and diabetes:

“So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks).

It’s not just firearms that produce such legislative inaction. Last week, a fertiliser plant in West, Texas, which hasn’t been inspected by federal regulators since 1985, exploded, killing 14 people and injuring countless others. Yet many Republicans want to cut further the funding for the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] that is responsible for such reviews. The vast majority of Americans die from one of four ailments – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease – and yet Republicans have held three dozen votes to repeal Obamacare, which expands healthcare coverage to 30 million Americans.”

Multilateral smokescreen
The UN News Centre reports that a number of international experts have called on the World Bank to ensure its investments do not contribute to human rights violations:

“[Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina] said it was no longer acceptable to use the excuse that the World Bank is precluded by its Articles of Agreement from taking human rights into consideration in the design and implementation of its policies and projects.
‘The Articles allow, and in some circumstances, enjoin the Bank to recognize the human rights implications of its development policies and activities,’ Mr. Lumina said. ‘We should not forget that States must also adhere to their international law obligations when they act through international organizations. The World Bank is no exception.’ ”

Rough trade
David McLaren argues that Canada’s push to sign bilateral trade agreements “may make things worse” in terms of human rights and the environment in partner countries:

“Since elected in 2006, his government has entered into negotiations for more than 50 free trade agreements and foreign investment protection and promotion agreements (FIPAs for short).

Our new trade partners include Mali, Tanzania, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and a whole lot of others who have no serious investments in Canada. But our mining companies have billions invested in them.

There are no provisions in these agreements for prior consultation with groups most affected. Clauses prohibiting expropriation of any kind and protecting investment so favour corporations that it is very difficult for a Third World country to buck the wishes of a Canadian-owned mining company, even if its government wanted to.”

Growing protest
The Independent reports that over half the inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison are now on hunger strike:

“The number of prisoners on hunger strike has risen to 84, an increase of 32 since last Wednesday, with 16 now receiving ‘enteral feedings,’ a process involving being force-fed via tubes.

It has been four years since President Obama pledged that the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, repeatedly criticised by human rights organisations, as well as prominent American public figures, would be closed down. Instead, his administration is now considering a $200 million renovation project, which will include the construction of a new prison building for so-called ‘high-value’ prisoners.”

Trail blazing
ECONorthwest’s Ann Hollingshead describes as “stunning” the latest European efforts to promote automatic tax information exchange and rein in tax evasion:

“Yet if these systems and agreements exist only between developed nations and tax havens—and until developing countries participate in a similar system or agreements of their own—the progress we’ve made will have little effect on economic development and acute poverty.
But this is not a note of pessimism or caveat. The news this week on automatic tax information exchange is unequivocally good. The world needs the United States and Europe to blaze this path because, in all honesty, those are the only nations with the political power necessary to turn the tide on this.”

Tax challenged
Reuters reports that the UK government has launched a legal challenge against a financial transaction tax in the euro zone:

“Britain was concerned that the planned tax would affect transactions carried out beyond the borders of countries that sign up for it, Chancellor George Osborne said on Friday.
‘We’re not against financial transaction taxes in principle … but we are concerned about the extra-territorial aspects of the (European) Commission’s proposal,’ he said on the sidelines of meetings of finance leaders at the International Monetary Fund.

A pan-EU proposal for the tax failed due to opposition from Britain, home to the City of London and Europe’s largest financial services industry, as well as other member states including Sweden.”

Food & Water Watch’s Wenonah Hauter decries the “financialization of nature”:

“This summer, President Obama will attempt to fast-track two trade deals — the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement —which are permanent power grabs by corporations and their financers. For Americans this means increased gas exports and increased imported foods, an undermining of our domestic laws and increasing corporate ownership of our natural resources. They will forever enshrine the very economic system that has lead to an ever greater imbalance in income and wealth, and increasingly frequent economic crises. And it will all be enforced by new international tribunals akin to the WTO.”

Evolution of xenophobia
Ian Birrell condemns the UK public’s “fear-fuelled contempt” of Muslims:

Indeed, it is worth pointing out that in the eight years after 9/11, the number of jihadist attacks in Europe represented less than 1% of total terrorist incidents on the continent.

We have been here before, of course. Each new wave of immigration provokes the same fears before newcomers are assimilated into evolving nations. After Irish immigration rose and Fenian bombs started going off in Victorian Britain, there were claims the country’s stability was at risk from adherents of an alien religion who owed loyalty to an authoritarian figure in Rome.

Latest Developments, October 24

In the latest news and analysis…

Unspeakable issue
The New York Times reports that, for the first time since 1988, climate change did not come up during the US presidential debates:

“Throughout the campaign, the candidates have talked a great deal about energy, but it has essentially been a competition in who could heap the most praise on fossil fuels. They tended to avoid any explicit linkage between their energy proposals and climate risk.

‘No candidate has been able to portray climate change policy as a win-win,’ Eugene M. Trisko, a lawyer and consultant for the United Mine Workers of America, said on Tuesday. ‘That’s because they understand that the root of climate change mitigation strategy is higher energy costs. It’s an energy tax, and that’s something you don’t want to talk about in a debate.’ ”

Disposition matrix
The Washington Post reports on a new American database, the “disposition matrix,” suggesting the US government intends to continue carrying out targeted killings for years to come:

“The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.
Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.”

Phantom menace
Human Rights Watch’s Bill Frelick and Bangkok-based human rights lawyer Michael Timmins slam the apparent spread of Australia’s “punitive asylum policies” to neighbouring New Zealand:

“The bill provides for the near-automatic detention for six months and beyond of so-called ‘mass arrivals’ (11 people or more) by boat or other unscheduled craft who are ‘potentially illegal.’
What mass arrivals? Notwithstanding 18th and 19th century Europeans who might have met the bill’s ‘mass arrivals’ definition, no modern-era boatload of asylum seekers has ever reached New Zealand. Even if one were to arrive, this would in no way overload New Zealand’s existing asylum system. The hypothetical ‘risk’ does not justify the abdication of principle.”

Justice deferred
The Wall Street Journal reports that the UK looks set to adopt deferred-prosecution agreements, a tool much used by US prosecutors in the fight against corporate wrongdoing, such as the bribing of foreign officials:

“Under a deferred-prosecution agreement, criminal charges would be dropped after a period of time if an organization complies with the terms of a deal, which could include the imposition fines, disgorgement and orders to implement measures to prevent future wrongdoing.

The [US] agreements don’t require a judge’s involvement, and there’s no one to question the fairness of the agreement or to second-guess its terms, as Dealbook’s Peter Henning pointed out in September.
Under the U.K. proposal, however, a judge will have the power to block an agreement if they don’t agree that the settlement is appropriate, the consultation report said.”

Stolen oil
Reuters reports that a Nigerian politician has begun campaigning for a global solution to his country’s oil-theft problem, given that an estimated 90% of Nigeria’s pilfered crude ends up on world markets:

“Oil companies say so called ‘bunkering’ — tapping into oil pipelines to steal the crude — and other forms of oil theft are on the rise in Nigeria, despite an amnesty that was meant to end a conflict there in 2009 over the distribution of oil wealth.
Yet while local gangs hacking into pipelines to steal small quantities for local refining are the most visible sign, it is industrial scale oil theft involving collusion by politicians, the military, Western banks and global organised crime that is the real drain on Nigeria’s resources, [Niger Delta politician Dele Cole] said.
‘International theft is diverting huge quantities … and the sophistication of the exercise — from breaching the pipeline, to having barges, to knowing when ships are at the port, to being paid — is major,’ he said.”

Unwanted comeback
Reuters also reports that malaria “is being transmitted from person to person within Greek borders” for the first time since 1974:

“Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe.
And with austerity budgets, a collapsing health system, political infighting and rising xenophobia all conspiring to allow pest and disease control measures here to slip through the net, the mosquitoes are biting back.”

Better than nothing
The BBC reports that 10 EU countries – including Germany, France, Italy and Spain – plan to forge ahead with a financial transaction tax despite failing to obtain the support of all 27 member countries:

“Governments across Europe have been implementing drastic austerity measures to cut debt levels, and taxing banks is seen by some as an important way to raise revenues, particularly while the economic recovery remains so fragile.
Opponents argue that unless it is adopted universally, the tax would drive business to financial centres that did not impose the tax.”

Stacked deck
The University of London’s Simon Reid-Henry argues that, while dependency theory has faced some valid criticism over the years, its focus on “the problems of uneven starting points and the structural unfairness of global capitalism” remains relevant today:

“And the underlying critique of western chauvinism (that western-style capitalist democracy is the best model for the rest) remains pertinent when people persist in talking of development ‘ladders’, for example. Perhaps more important, Frank’s belief that we too readily overlook the way that too many of the privileges of the rich nations are not only unearned but predicated upon the prior and active removal of that wealth from others is, if anything, making something of a comeback in these days of heightened discussion of inequality.”

Latest Developments, August 2

In the latest news and analysis…

USA for Africa
In a speech delivered in the Senegalese capital Dakar, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to portray her country as force for good in Africa, even if “in the past our policies did not always line up with our principles”:

“We’re also working with resource-rich nations to help make sure that their mineral and energy wealth actually improves the lives of their citizens. The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves leaving nothing or very little behind should be over in the 21st century.

We want to advance your aspirations and our shared values. We want to help more people in more places live up to their own God-given potentials. We want this to be our mutual mission. That is the work we are called to do in the 21st century.”

Top-down agenda
The Guardian reports that not everyone is happy with the makeup of the UN panel tasked with preparing a “bold yet practical” global development agenda beyond 2015:

“John Hilary from War on Want, the anti-poverty group, criticised the panel for being unrepresentative. ‘Ban Ki-moon has put together a panel of career diplomats, business leaders, politicians and professors,’ said Hilary, who strongly criticized the appointment of Cameron as co-chair. ‘Why is there no one at all from social movements, trade unions or people who are actually engaged in the struggle against poverty? Was there genuinely no room for a single representative from civil society? This is like having a panel to take forward women’s empowerment composed entirely of men.’ ”

Oil shutdown
Al Jazeera reports that a Brazilian court has given oil giant Chevron and drilling company Transocean 30 days to suspend their operations in the country:

“The court said in a statement posted on Wednesday on its website that each company will be fined 500 million reals, or about $244m, for each day they fail to comply with the suspension.

‘Two environmental accidents in the space of just four months and the lack of equipment needed to identify the origin of the leaks and contain them, shows that the two companies do not have the conditions necessary to operate the wells in an environmentally safe manner,’ Judge Ricardo Perlingeiro said in his ruling.”

FTT baby steps
The Nicolas Hulot Foundation’s Nicolas Hulot and Oxfam’s Luc Lamprière call for the right kind of precedent to be set by France’s new financial transaction tax which, they say, offers a mere hint of what a “real tax on transactions” could look like:

“If an extreme weather event causes, on average, 23 deaths in a rich country, that number is 1,052 in less developed countries. Even in the face of nature’s fury, the injustice of poverty divides humanity.
If the goal of containing our deficits is laudable, necessary even, we must not create a choice between two debts: the one owed to financial players who are now betting on the euro’s failure, and the one we have been accumulating for centuries in the countries of the South by pillaging their resources, ignoring the pandemics they face and provoking climate change that hits the poorest hardest.” [Translated from the French.]

Crop Shock
The World Development Movement’s Amy Horton presents the latest surge in cereal prices as evidence that the global food system needs urgent reform to reduce the damage caused by biofuels and financial speculation:

“The researchers [at the New England Complex Systems Institute] point out that efforts to reform the markets have been too slow, with US regulators facing a legal challenge from Wall Street and European regulation also delayed. Consequently, measures that might have limited the effect of speculators have not yet been implemented.

But power to deliver many of the necessary reforms – not least reform of the global trade system – lies with developed nations. Without a radical change of approach to our food system, including regulation to prevent financial speculators gambling on food prices, the world’s poorest people will continue to pay the highest price.”

Reconstruction business
CNNMoney reports that bakery-café chain Cinnabon has become the first US franchise in Libya, as American business interests expand in the rebuilding country:

“American business interest in Libya is growing, said Chuck Dittrich, executive director of the U.S.-Libya Business Association, a trade group representing American companies that are interested in doing business in Libya.
In April, the trade group led a delegation of 20 American companies to Libya to discuss business opportunities.
Much of the interest is coming from the energy, infrastructure and health care industries, Dittrich said. But American franchises are also taking note of Libya.”

Blocking Braille
The Guardian reports that the US and EU are blocking a treaty that would give blind people access to more books translated into Braille:

“Europe and the US are home to some of the world’s biggest publishing companies, many of which don’t like the idea of an international treaty that would restrict their intellectual property rights. Observers speculate that the Obama administration may be loth to upset the publishing industry, a major campaign supporter, this late in an election year. ‘What we can see in the [negotiating] room is that primarily it’s the business interests that dominate,’ said [Electronic Information for Libraries’ Teresa] Hackett.
Activists are hoping for a legally binding treaty, but US and European delegates have been pushing for a softer ‘instrument’ that would offer only guidelines and recommendations.”

Water rights
Inter Press Service reports that two years on from the UN General Assembly’s recognition of the human right to water, a coalition of NGOs is saying much work remains to be done if the resolution is to become a reality:

“The resolution in the General Assembly proved politically divisive, with 122 countries voting for it and 41 abstaining, but with no negative votes.
The United States abstained and so did some of the European and industrialised countries, including Britain, Australia, Austria, Canada, Greece, Sweden, Japan, Israel, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Ireland.

In its letter, the NGO coalition said the recently concluded Rio+20 summit on sustainable development affirmed ‘full and unquestioned consensus among UN Member States regarding the human right to water and sanitation’.”

Latest Developments, July 27

In the latest news and analysis…
Things left unsaid
Reuters reports on the commander of US Africa Command’s assessment of the current situation in Northern Mali and the role he sees for his country’s military within that context:

“[General Carter] Ham repeated U.S. offers to broadly assist regional efforts to try to resolve Mali’s crisis, which has displaced around 420,000 people, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
But he said putting U.S. troops on the ground could be counterproductive and refused to comment on the possibility of Washington using drones for air strikes similar to those carried out on militant targets in Yemen or Pakistan.”
Feeling fine
Reuters also reports that a Mexican investigation into HSBC’s “lax controls against money laundering” has ended with a fine that amounted to 0.16 percent of the bank’s 2011 profits:

“Last week, a [US] Senate panel alleged that HSBC acted as a financier to clients routing funds from the world’s most dangerous places, including Mexico, Iran and Syria, doing regular business in areas tied to drug cartels, terrorist funding and tax cheats.
The Senate report slammed a ‘pervasively polluted’ culture at the bank and said between 2007 and 2008, HSBC’s Mexican operations moved $7 billion into the bank’s U.S. operations.”
Fishing deal
Agence France-Presse reports that, after 15 months of negotiations, the EU and Mauritania have signed a new accord on access for European fishing boats to Mauritanian waters:

“The EU will contribute an annual 113 million euros ($138 million) in financing to Mauritania’s fishing industry, up from the 76.5 million it gave under the previous accord, [Mauritanian negotiator Cheikh Ould Baya] said.
That four-year protocol agreement on fishing will expire Tuesday.

According to official statistics, the fishing sector represents over 20 percent of budget revenue and employs more than 36,000 people in Mauritania.”
Climate complicity
New York University’s Alex Evans explains what he meant when he tweeted earlier this week that Greenpeace was “part of the problem rather than part of the solution”:

“Land grabs aren’t just happening on the ground in poor countries around the world; they’re happening in the sky as well. Consider this: the global carbon market was in 2010 worth $142 billion. That’s $13 billion more than total global aid flows in the same year. A hugely valuable new asset class has been created – literally out of thin air. And low income countries haven’t been given any. Despite the fact that their per capita emissions are a tiny fraction of everyone else’s.
Meanwhile, as richer countries keep pumping out the emissions, the size of the carbon budget that we’ll have to share out once we do finally decide to talk about it, keeps getting a little smaller every day. And, breathtakingly, this approach is described by Greenpeace and others as fair.”
Dodging Robin Hood
Bloomberg reports on some of the ways investors are likely to try to avoid France’s new financial transaction tax, which is set to take effect next week and whose revenues will go towards AIDS research:
“To escape the tax, many institutional investors will turn to so-called contracts for difference, or CFDs, offered by prime brokers that let them bet on a stock’s gain or loss without owning the shares. Traders have used it successfully to skirt the U.K.’s stamp duty.

Those who want to stay invested in France will find a way to avoid paying the tax, said Sam Capital’s Dietmar Schmitt.
‘There will be enough options to avoid the stamp duty in France,’ he said. ‘There are many loopholes. The people who are making the laws don’t understand the business.’ ”
Imperial crimes
In the wake of the British government’s admission that Kenyan prisoners were tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion, independent journalist Emanuel Stoakes calls on Britain to acknowledge its “many imperial crimes” or stop pretending to care:
“But all that happened in the past, and Britain has progressively behaved in a more civilised manner, many would argue. This may be broadly true, despite the dirty tricks evinced in the 2009 cable. Nonetheless, in responding to the Mau Mau case the UK has an opportunity to demonstrate its growing commitment to human rights as a moral, not just a policy-based, obligation. By showing some rare magnanimity, to echo the sentiments of Bishop Tutu on the subject, the UK can somehow begin to apologise for its past. By contrast, to deploy legal technicalities or to claim that too much time has passed would be to yet again fall back on expedient cruelties to avoid doing what is right.
Yet that latter, ignoble choice appears to be the one that Britain has once again taken: representing the government, Barrister Guy Mansfield QC argued without irony that for the plaintiff’s case to proceed to trial would be ‘contrary to principle and the balance of fairness.’ Astonishing.”
Legal hoops
Legal Times reports that US federal lawyers are contending with legal obstacles in attempting to revive the prosecution against former Blackwater employees they believe “wrongly killed” at least a dozen Iraqi civilians in 2007:
“A federal judge in December 2009 dismissed the government’s high-profile, controversial manslaughter case, saying that the prosecution was unlawfully built on protected statements that the guards made after the shooting. The prosecution, [trial judge Ricardo] Urbina concluded, was tainted with information that the prosecutors should never have used.

The big issue in the case remains this: keeping the prosecution team walled off from any protected, confidential information the Blackwater guards provided after the shooting.
An assistant U.S. attorney, John Crabb Jr., is on the so-called ‘filter team,’ reviewing evidence and witness statements before the trial prosecutors can review the material. Prosecutors and filter team lawyers and investigators recently returned from Iraq. There, prosecutors did not interview witnesses before filter team members spoke with them, Crabb said.”
Extracting transparency
European parliamentary advisor Benjamin Fox argues that British Prime Minister David Cameron is not following through on the commitments he made in last year’s Nigerian speech on greater extractive industry transparency:
“The perversity of the government’s position is that developing nations would need far less aid if they were allowed to get a decent chunk of revenue from exploiting their own resources. Today, even in a climate where there are no reporting requirements for extractive companies, Africa’s income from its resources is six times the amount it receives in aid.
On political, economic and moral grounds, the case for project-by-project reporting is unarguable. We should be able to see where extractive companies are operating, whether they are paying a fair price and whether governments are selling their people short by giving their country’s mineral wealth away too cheaply.”