Latest Developments, September 24

In the latest news and analysis…

Wage battle
Al Jazeera reports that protests continue in Bangladesh where garment workers are demanding an increase in the monthly minimum wage from $38 to $100:

“Western corporations that rely on Bangladeshi labor to make much of the clothing sold in their stores, including Wal-Mart, Gap and Macy’s, appeared reluctant to comment publicly on the protests — decisions that were criticized by labor-rights activists.
‘If the corporations were to send a clear message that they are willing to pay higher prices to manufacturers so they can pay higher wages to workers, that could have a real influence on negotiations,’ said Liana Foxvog, director of organizing at the International Labor Rights Forum, a U.S.-based group that advocates for workers in countries like Bangladesh.
But that’s unlikely to happen, Foxvog said.”

Serval omission
Le Mamouth blogger Jean-Marc Tanguy writes that the French military “surely forgot”, in its new detailed list of all the ammunition it has fired in Mali, to mention what actually got hit:

“…French soldiers fired 34,000 small-caliber rounds. 58 missiles were also launched, and Caesar howitzers contributed 753 shots. AMX-10RCR tanks chimed in with 80 shots and VBCI infantry fighting vehicles, nicknamed the ‘Saint Bernards of the desert’ spat out 1,250 25mm rounds.
Helicopters reportedly fired 3,500 shells and fighter jets dropped 250 bombs.” [Translated from the French.]

Laundered oil
Reuters reports that “much of the proceeds” from Nigeria’s stolen oil, estimated to cost the country $5 billion a year in lost revenue, are being laundered in the US and UK:

While oil majors like Royal Dutch Shell and Italy’s Eni are often the first to complain about theft, it is unclear how much they are losing from it. A measure of acceptable losses may be keeping them from taking determined preventive action, the [Chatham House] report said. Oil firms do not pay royalties on stolen oil.
‘Nigerian crude oil is being stolen on an industrial scale. Proceeds are laundered through world financial centres and used to buy assets in and outside Nigeria,’ said the 70-page report, entitled ‘Nigeria’s Criminal Crude’.

The report named the United States, Britain, Dubai, Indonesia, India, Singapore and Switzerland as likely money-laundering hotspots, and the United States, Brazil, China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Balkans as the most likely destination for stolen oil.

Looming coup
The New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch and UN Dispatch’s Mark Goldberg debate via Twitter the proper course of action should Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, pay a visit to UN headquarters in New York:

Goldberg: “Genocide is a uniquely horrid crime. Arresting Bashir if he comes to NYC should trump other diplomatic considerations ‪”
Gourevitch: “If US were to carry out Sudan coup d’état as you advocate, should the US then be held responsible for consequences in Sudan?”
Goldberg: “The USA would be executing the [UN Security Council’s] will when it referred the case to the ICC.”
Gourevitch: “That avoids my serious question. You call for decapitating regime – do you. Say what happens as result is irrelevant?”
Goldberg: “but yes, I do believe the int’l community bears some responsibility for helping w/ a smooth transition”
Gourevitch: “Right, it’s no simple legal/moral matter. It’s a colossal political act w/colossal political consequences & not so obvious.”

Dropping H-bombs
The Guardian reports on new evidence suggesting that US President John F. Kennedy came much closer to nuking America than any Soviet leader ever did:

“The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.
Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.”

Cultural divide
Intellectual Property Watch reports on the resumption of UN debate over a possible international agreement on the relationship between intellectual property and “genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore”

“This has been a prickly issue, as a majority of developing countries would like to have a binding legal instrument and a number of developed countries have resisted the idea of a binding instrument.

The European Union said it recognises the importance of the work of the committee and ‘looks forward to establishing a work programme’ but with the understanding that any international instrument be non-binding, flexible and sufficiently clear. There is no agreement on the nature of the instrument, the delegate of Lithuania said on behalf of the group.”

Less is more
The Globe and Mail’s Geoffrey York asks if the absence of foreign aid has strengthened democracy in the breakaway republic of Somaliland:

“Somaliland’s government survives on taxation revenue, which, in turn, requires a degree of political accountability and transparency. In contrast, there are 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where foreign aid is so massive that it equals more than half of government spending.
‘If these aid levels damage the quality of governance in recipient countries – as Somaliland’s experience suggests they may – then it might be the case that, in the long run, less money may actually do more good,’ [Stanford University’s Nicholas] Eubank wrote in a blog post.”

Resource curse
UN expert on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya argues that “economic development”, as conceived by most governments and corporations, leads all too often to the loss of self-determination and culture for those who live off the land:

“In the case of indigenous peoples, their connections to the land invariably have a longer history than the government deciding what to do with the land. According to the Rights and Resources Initiative, ownership of roughly one-half of the global south is contested, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of over two billion people. This is no surprise, since over sixty percent of the developing world’s forests are administered by governments – who all too often give it away for pennies per hectare, for the sake of ‘quick-fix’ development.”

Latest Developments, August 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Pro tips
New York University’s Sarah Knuckey has tweeted “four small suggestions” for improving media coverage of US drone strikes in Yemen:

“1/ When your only source for the number of ‘militants’ killed is ‘anonymous security official,’ highlight that fact & use ‘alleged militant’
2/ Follow it by noting the well-documented history of officials providing mistaken or false information about who was killed in a strike.
3/ Include a paragraph noting: many reports alleging civilian harm from past strikes; generalized civilian fear; strike legality debates.
4/ Ask a US official to go on record about the strike. Report their refusal to & link to Obama & Brennan’s many past transparency promises.”

Insult to injury
The Washington Post reports that a US company recently cleared of involvement in torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison wants former detainees to pay its legal expenses:

“The plaintiffs oppose the move, arguing that [CACI International] is out of time and that the request is unjust.
The plaintiffs ‘have very limited financial means, even by non-U.S. standards, and dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendants in this case,’ the filing said. ‘At the same time, plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close, difficult — and only recently arguable — grounds.’ ”

Soiled Gunners
Global Witness is calling on North London football giants Arsenal FC to cut ties with “a key Vietnamese academy partner company” accused of serious human rights abuses:

“Rubber giants Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) are accused of causing extensive social and environmental damage in and around their plantations in Cambodia and Laos, according to Global Witness’s May 2013 report and film, Rubber Barons.

Meanwhile, HAGL’s Chairman Duc has used the media to trade heavily on the company’s close relationship with Arsenal. Media reports state that HAGL is the club’s main distributor for merchandise in Vietnam, while the partnership also includes the HAGL – Arsenal JMG Academy, and saw the London club play a Vietnam XI on a recent trip sponsored by the company.”

Under wraps
McClatchy reports that US Congress actually has the ability to declassify certain documents without obtaining executive permission:

“The legislation that established the [Senate Intelligence Committee] called for it to ‘provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States.’
As a part of this oversight, Section 8 of the resolution lays out a process by which a member of the Intelligence Committee may seek the declassification of information that he or she thinks is of public interest, even if the executive branch labels the material top secret.

‘If the Intelligence Committee cannot release its most important oversight piece, that calls into question the existence of the committee. What is it for, if it cannot provide the public with its most important report?’ [Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy director Steven Aftergood] said.”

Avoiding transparency
A group of NGOs has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama expressing concern over “serious informational gaps” in American companies’ legally required reporting on their investments in Myanmar:

“Yet in three separate reports, two related investment funds, Capital Bank and Trust Company and Capital International Inc. (collectively, ‘Capital’) declined to report on their human rights, worker rights, anti-corruption, and environmental policies and procedures, arrangements with security service providers, property acquisition practices, payments to the Burmese government, or even the general nature of their investments in Burma. In fact, Capital provided no detail about the extent and nature of these investments, and justified its failure to report on the grounds that its investments in Yoma Strategic Holdings, Ltd. (‘Yoma’) are merely ‘passive.’
The fact that Capital believes it has no responsibility to manage the impacts of its investments is especially disturbing because Yoma has operations in plantation agriculture and real estate, sectors that are notorious for land confiscation, labor abuse, and environmental destruction.”

Ancestral domains
Bulatlat reports on the impacts of “development aggression” on the indigenous peoples of the Philippines:

“In 2012, of the approved mining permits of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), 60 percent of the more than a million hectares of land opened for mining are within the ancestral domains of indigenous communities. Concurrent with these mining operations are various ventures of agrofuel plantations that cover more than a million hectares in different parts of the country. Large dams, logging and new forms of land grabbing such as the use of priority and usufruct rights to privatize and commercialize indigenous lands, implementation of renewable energy projects, without genuine free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are evident in indigenous communities.”

Glomarizing drones
Wired reports that the US government is once again refusing to confirm or deny that it carries out targeted killings in order to avoid having to hand over any information regarding drone strikes:

“The [Freedom of Information Act] litigation dates to 2010, when the [American Civil Liberties Union] sued in federal court seeking records concerning the legal basis for carrying out targeted drone killings; any restrictions on those who may be targeted; any civilian casualties; any geographic limits on the program; the number of targeted killings that the agency has carried out; and the training, supervision, oversight, or discipline of drone operators.
But the Obama administration is now claiming that the government does not have to fork over any responsive documents in the ACLU’s lawsuit because, in the end, the CIA has never ‘officially’ said it has been involved, so the CIA can maintain its Glomar response.”

Total independence
The BBC reports that Zimbabwe’s newly re-elected President Robert Mugabe has said that the “indigenization” of his country’s economy represents the “final phase of the liberation struggle”:

“Foreign-owned companies are already supposed to ensure they are at least 51% locally owned – a policy which some analysts say has scared off potential investment from abroad.
Reuters news agency reports that the local operations of foreign-owned mining companies have already been targeted, while banks could be next.

His critics say much of the land seized from white farmers was either given to his cronies or to people who lacked the expertise or resources to use it productively.
He retorts that Western powers are sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy because of his anti-colonial stance.”

Latest Developments, August 1

In the latest news and analysis…

Classified massacre
ProPublica reports that the US government will not be releasing the findings of its inquiry into the killing of “perhaps thousands of Taliban prisoners of war” in Afghanistan:

“The investigation found that no U.S. personnel were involved, said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. Other than that, she said, there is ‘no plan to release anything.’
The silence leaves many unanswered questions about what may have been one of the worst war crimes since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, including why previous American investigations were shut down, and how evidence was destroyed in the case.”

Racial profiling
The Kilburn Times reports that multiple witnesses at a London Tube station say they saw “aggressive, intimidating” UK immigration officers “specifically targeting non-white individuals” in an apparent search for illegal immigrants:

“Kensal Rise resident Phil O’Shea told the Times he was threatened with arrest when he asked what was going on.
He said: ‘I thought the behaviour of the immigration officers was heavy-handed and frightening. They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work.’

Last week, the Home Office rolled out a controversial campaign where billboards warning illegal immigrants to ‘go home or face arrest’ would be driven around Brent and five other boroughs in London.”

The 82%
The US Public Interest Research Group has published a new study finding that 82 of the top 100 publicly-traded US corporations have subsidiaries in offshore tax havens:

“All told, these 82 companies maintain 2,686 tax haven subsidiaries. The 15 companies with the most money held offshore collectively operate 1,897 tax haven subsidiaries.

Bank of America: The bank reports having 316 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – more than any other company. The bank, which was kept afloat by taxpayers during the 2008 financial meltdown, now keeps $17.2 billion offshore, on which it would otherwise owe $4.5 billion in U.S. taxes.”

Historical ties
Jeune Afrique reports that France plans a “recentering” of its aid to focus on 16 African countries, 13 of which are former colonies:

“The focus countries are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Comoros, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, RD Congo, Chad, Togo and Senegal.

The government also wants to prioritize ‘transparency’ and ‘aid effectiveness.’ For assistance to Mali, therefore, a website will be launched in the coming weeks to give precise information on the projects funded.” [Translated from the French.]

Corporate responsibility
York University’s Shin Imai argues the global mining industry’s current “standards of conduct” are inadequate for regulating the overseas activities of Canadian companies:

“While these corporate social responsibility codes could be useful if well implemented, they are all voluntary, and do not have any enforcement mechanisms for addressing breaches of the code. Resource extraction is a highly intrusive, highly dangerous activity. Regulating this activity through voluntary codes is like repealing the Highway Traffic Act and leaving the regulation of Highway 401 to a voluntary code – drafted by truckers.
HudBay Minerals, for example, reports annually on its corporate social responsibility activities in a glossy fifty page report. The 2012 edition says that ‘strong community relationships are the foundation of our work.’ It is odd, then, that HudBay would assure investors of its interest in the welfare of the community, proceed to make profits out of the mine and then wash its hands of any abuses committed to produce those profits.

However, in the words of former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie, commenting on the idea that courts should start to hear cases of corporate abuse abroad, ‘there are acts that are so repugnant that they should force us to rethink our law.’ ”

Selling the coup
Ken Silverstein argues in Harper’s Magazine that the ambivalent US reaction to the recent coup in Egypt is just the latest example of America’s selective enthusiasm for democracy:

“You cannot preach about democracy then accept the outcome only if your side triumphs. In 2006, Hamas won a devastating victory in legislative elections in the Palestinian Authority. The following year, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dissolved a Hamas-led unity government and swore in an emergency cabinet, leading the Obama Administration to reinstate aid that had been suspended under Hamas’ rule. This type of hypocrisy heightens anti-Americanism, sends the message that elections are meaningless, and encourages terrorism.
On Sunday, I came across this line from Voltaire in the documentary The Act of Killing: ‘It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.’ Though the film is about events in Indonesia in 1965, it brought to mind the intellectual contortions of Egyptian-coup supporters who have justified the mass killings of Islamists in the name of democracy. Back in 1965 it was Islamic militias killing Communists in the name of democracy. The common denominator is that the killers were seen as pro-Western — and so, the trumpets are sounding once again in America.”

Nuclear dumping
The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney calls on Australia to abandon the “secrecy, exclusion and contest” underlying plans for radioactive waste disposal on Aboriginal land:

“The Muckaty plan lacks consent at home and credibility abroad. It is flawed and failing and it is time for a new approach – one that reflects and is informed by best practise, sound science and respect.

Australia has never had an independent assessment of what is the best (or least worst) way to manage our radioactive waste. Decades ago unelected bureaucrats decided a centralised remote dump was the best model and ever since a chain reaction of politicians have tried – and failed – to find a compliant postcode.”

Ironic request
Mondoweiss transcribes recent comments by Noam Chomsky who scoffs at American demands that NSA leaker Edward Snowden be returned to face punishment in the US, a country Chomsky says is “one of the leaders in refusing extradition”:

“For years Bolivia has been trying to extradite from the United States the former president who’s already indicted in Bolivia for all sorts of crimes. The US refuses to extradite him.

In fact one of the most striking cases is Latin America, again, not just Bolivia. One of the world’s leading terrorists is Luis Posada, who was involved in blowing up a Cubana airliner which killed 73 people and lots of other terrorist acts. He’s sitting happily in… Miami, and his colleague Rolando Bosch also a major terrorist… is happily there… Cuba and Venezuela are trying to extradite them. But you know. Fat chance.”

Latest Developments, February 15

In the latest news and analysis…

Onshore havens
The Economist points out that many tax havens are not actually offshore and argues that efforts to rein in financial abuses must “focus on rich-world financial centres as well as Caribbean islands”:

“Mr Obama likes to cite Ugland House, a building in the Cayman Islands that is officially home to 18,000 companies, as the epitome of a rigged system. But Ugland House is not a patch on Delaware (population 917,092), which is home to 945,000 companies, many of which are dodgy shells. Miami is a massive offshore banking centre, offering depositors from emerging markets the sort of protection from prying eyes that their home countries can no longer get away with. The City of London, which pioneered offshore currency trading in the 1950s, still specialises in helping non-residents get around the rules. British shell companies and limited-liability partnerships regularly crop up in criminal cases. London is no better than the Cayman Islands when it comes to controls against money laundering. Other European Union countries are global hubs for a different sort of tax avoidance: companies divert profits to brass-plate subsidiaries in low-tax Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands.”

Mining transparency
Reuters reports that the Guinean government has made its mining contracts public, dating back to independence, as it tries to reinvent the country’s extractive sector:

“The government is also overhauling the country’s mining code and has set up a technical committee to review existing accords, all of which are now published online on a new government website.
Guinean officials have said many of the contracts were signed under non-transparent conditions especially during the rule of a military junta before Conde’s 2010 election. The government says such accords do not benefit the country.

‘Guinea’s action is a model for other countries and demonstrates that making contracts public is possible even in challenging environments,’ Patrick Heller, senior legal adviser at Revenue Watch said in the statement.”

Assassination court
A New York Times editorial lends its weight to the idea of setting up a US court that would determine if terror suspects belong on kill lists as a way of moving toward “bringing national security policy back under the rule of law”:

“ ‘Having the executive being the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all in one, is very contrary to the traditions and the laws of this country,’ Senator Angus King Jr. of Maine said at the [CIA boss nominee John] Brennan hearing. ‘If you’re planning a strike over a matter of days, weeks or months, there is an opportunity to at least go to some outside-of-the-executive-branch body, like the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court], in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.’ ”

Mining freeze
According to Colombia Reports, a Colombian judge ordered the suspension of all mining activities in an area of nearly 50,000 hectares due to the companies’ lack of prior consultation with local indigenous populations:

“ ‘[This decision] only seeks to prevent the continued violation of the rights of indigenous peoples on their territory [arising from] disproportionate use by people outside the community, and the violence that has been occurring in the area, of which there is much evidence,’ said the judge.

While indigenous communities have a constitutional right to be consulted on the use of their land, the judge did not declare the mining concessions illegal but ordered the suspension to protect indigenous communities while the legality of the titles is determined. Some of the licenses held by the mining companies for the area reportedly do not expire until 2038 and 2041.”

Airport immolation
Agence France-Presse reports that an Ivorian deportee has been hospitalized in serious condition after setting himself on fire at Rome’s Fiumicino airport:

“He had been ordered to present himself to border police at the airport for expulsion from Italy.
The man used a fuel tank and was seen being carried away in a stretcher, wrapped in a fire blanket.”

Dangerous trend
Human Rights Watch’s Benjamin Ward argues that “hatred and intolerance are moving into the mainstream in Europe” and action is required to stem the tide:

“Too often, mainstream European politicians use intolerant or coded language about unpopular minorities. They justify such speech on the ground that the failure to discuss issues like immigration creates political space for extremist parties. But far from neutralizing extremist parties, this kind of rhetoric from government ministers and other mainstream politicians instead legitimizes their views, sending a message to voters that xenophobic, anti-Muslim, or anti-Roma sentiment is acceptable rather than a cause for shame.
Human Rights Watch staff witnessed a Greek MP from a mainstream party describe migrants as ‘cockroaches’ during a Greek Parliamentary committee hearing in November on violence against migrants.”

Immodest claims
In a letter to the Guardian, an ambulance medic takes exception to the idea that banking executives make a “modest” wage for the work they do:

“A multimillion-pound pay packet for a banker’s success or failure is not ‘modest’. We take home in a gruelling year of real blood, sweat and tears what [RBS CEO] Stephen Hester earns in six days. I wish that those who earn such sums would realise that their renumeration is not right. Perhaps they should not apply terms to themselves like ‘I have one of the hardest jobs in the world’ (Fred the Shred) until they see what others do on a fraction of their wage. What comes out of their mouths undermines millions of hard working people in this country. If an ambulance turned up to one of their children severely injured on a country road, would we seem only worth £15 an hour? As they watched as we fought for their child’s life, far from back up and hospital facilities, would they reconsider the value of jobs that do not make a profit?
Would they consider our wages modest as they apply this term to their own? Modest is a powerful word and has to be earned.”

Latest Developments, February 5

In the latest news and analysis…

Redefining imminence
NBC News reports that a confidential US government document lays out the conditions needed to ensure the “lawfulness of a lethal operation” against American citizens who are thought to be senior members of certain organizations:

“It refers, for example, to what it calls a ‘broader concept of imminence’ than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.

Instead, it says, an ‘informed, high-level’ official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been ‘recently’ involved in ‘activities’ posing a threat of a violent attack and ‘there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.’ The memo does not define ‘recently’ or ‘activities.’ ”

Conflict parasites
Olivier Roy, of the School of Advanced Social Science Studies (EHESS), argues the solution to Mali’s current conflict will require more political negotiation than military force:

“Al-Qaeda’s strategy is global and deterritorialized: it seeks to multiply confrontations, always with the West.
In a word, al-Qaeda draws on local conflicts, each of which has its own logic, in order to promote radical anti-Western sentiment and lure the West into the trap of intervention.

It would be absurd for France to hope it can dislodge al-Qaeda from the Maghreb by occupying territory: the group will just reconstitute itself a little further away.
And it would be equally absurd to aim to destroy these groups: given their small number of fighters (a few hundred) and international recruiting, nothing would be easier for them than to relocate, cross borders or come back clean-shaven and wearing jeans in Toronto or London.
Al-Qaeda is a nuisance, but not a strategic threat. To remove a big part of its power, one must ensure the local forces off which the movement wants to feed no longer have any good reason to protect it.” [Translated from the French.]

ICC detainees
Radio Netherlands reports that Congolese witnesses before the International Criminal Court are struggling to get the attention of the Dutch state, which “tries to keep people away from court and out of range of Dutch law”:

“Last month the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down the second verdict in its 10-year history: Congolese militia leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was found not guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes relating to a deadly 2003 attack in the Ituri region of DR Congo. Ngudjolo was released pending the prosecutors’ appeal, but the three Congolese witnesses who testified against him remain in custody.
The witnesses have spent almost two years in a prison cell in the ICC’s detention unit in a legal limbo one of their lawyers has compared to Guantanamo Bay. Last month they lost their first legal round in an attempt to get asylum from the Dutch state.”

Swiss plunder
The Berne Declaration alleges that Trafigura, Switzerland’s third largest company, has extensive ties with a pair of Angolan generals who dominate their country’s economy:

“In the US, laws have been passed forcing oil and mining companies to publish any payments made to governments in countries where they are active; the EU is also about to do the same. Switzerland has decided to do nothing. The lack of transparency and regulation in Switzerland provides a refuge for unscrupulous companies and contributes to enriching dictators to the detriment of the poorest peoples on the planet. Angola is but another country on the long list where Switzerland is complicit in the plundering of their natural resources.”

Right to say no
The Guardian reports, in photo essay form, on a recent gathering in Mexico, which brought together activists from across the Americas to “co-ordinate growing local resistance” to mining on indigenous lands:

“In the final moments of the gathering a declaration of intent was read out: ‘The time when the government represented absolute power is a thing of the past, we need a new relationship with the government, where indigenous peoples decide the fate of their territories. Faced with the great threat that the mining industry represents to our Mesoamerican region, we call on the people and communities of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada and Mexico to strengthen our networks of resistance and to generate broad-based partnerships based on our knowledge, where the defence of territory is the basis of our co-ordination.’ The event closed with the statement: ‘We have the right to say NO to imposed development and to define our own forms of economic, social, political and cultural production’ ”

Population boom
Inter Press Service reports that the number of inmates in US federal prisons has increased by close to 800 percent over the past three decades:

“ ‘Last year, some 95,000 juveniles under 18 years of age were put in prison, and that doesn’t count those in juvenile facilities,’ [Human Rights Watch’s Maria McFarland] noted.
‘And between 2007 and 2011, the population of those over 64 grew by 94 times the rate of the regular population. Prisons clearly aren’t equipped to take care of these aging people, and you have to question what threat they pose to society – and the justification for imprisoning them.’ ”

Fragile states
Oxfam’s Duncan Green summarizes (and quotes extensively) from a recent report that lays out some of the ways in which outside actions can further destabilize countries they are ostensibly meant to help:

“ ‘There is a strong, negative and significant association between military interventions and democracy. Military interventions have tended to destroy a state’s conflict-resolution mechanisms, often unleashed forms of politics incompatible with democracy, upset political settlements and critically weakened state systems in general.’

‘Policy makers need to consider the extent to which deregulating an economy across the board will be politically destabilising and actually undermine economic reforms….. policies that contribute to state withdrawal are often evaluated on grounds of efficiency and equity, but almost never for their impact on the institutional resilience of the state. This is a major blind spot which has far-reaching consequences for the ability of states to embark upon or return to a path of institutional consolidation.’ ”

Global new deal
UN economist Richard Kozul-Wright and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Jayati Ghosh argue the international community is “in the wrong frame of mind” for solving global problems, such as extreme poverty and environmental destruction:

“Making inequality part of the development policy agenda has already gained traction. But to make lasting progress, it will be necessary to move beyond MDG-style targets and instead consider a global new deal allowing different economic strategies providing benefits for all.

Policies of universal social protection (including basic income policies) can help repair the social contract. Along with humanitarian aid for the poorest and most vulnerable, the international community needs to guarantee adequate policy space for countries to develop measures relevant to their own contexts.”