Latest Developments, November 16

In the latest news and analysis…

Green deserts
The Guardian reports on concerns over genetically modified eucalyptus plantations, which are being hailed by some as a future source of renewable energy:

“But conservationists, long opposed to such forests because of the ecological and social damage, claim the plantations are unpopular and that GM trees encourage felling of natural forests to make way for the ‘green deserts’.
‘The dramatic and dangerous impacts of non-GM industrial eucalyptus plantations are well known and include invasiveness, desertification of soils, depletion of water, increased threat of wildfire and loss of biodiversity,’ says Anne Petermann, director of the Global Justice Ecology Project in the US. ‘In Brazil, these plantations are called “green deserts” because nothing can grow in them. Now they want to genetically engineer them, which will make them even more destructive.’
She fears GM trees will put further pressure on the Amazon by encouraging firms to move deeper into the natural forest and will displace communities.”

Recognition of rights
A new report by EJOLT (Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade) examines 24 cases of mining conflict around the world:

“The analysis helps us understand the links between mining conflicts, the quest for economic growth and the metabolism of economies as well as the role of ecologically unequal exchanges.

In mining conflicts the problem is not always one of ‘cleaner production’ or ‘environmental standards’ but more of recognition of rights. As in other social movements, recognition as a legitimate partner in the debate is as important as the distributional outcome.”

Destructive policy
Inter Press Service reports that disgraced ex-CIA head David Petraeus’s green-lighting of the punitive destruction of Afghan villages “not only violated his own previous guidance but the international laws of war”:

“Petraeus himself clearly approved the general policy allowing the destruction of villages by Flynn and other commanders in Kandahar in late 2010. Flynn told Ackerman he had sent his plan up the chain of command and believed that International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters were informed.
Carlotta Gall reported Mar. 11, 2011 [in the New York Times] that revised guidelines ‘reissued’ by Petraeus permitted the total destruction of a village such in Tarok Kalache, according to a NATO official.
Although the large-scale demolition of homes had been reported by the Times in November, it had not generated any significant reaction in the United States. But in Afghanistan, the home destruction created frictions between Afghans and Petraeus’s command over the loss of homes and livelihoods.”

Friends of corruption
Oxford University’s Paul Collier writes that rich countries have a responsibility to help, or at least stop hindering, the efforts of “decent African governments” to tackle corruption:

“But the sharp lawyers and slick public relations consultants who counter the effort for clean governance are not based in countries such as Guinea: they are in London, Paris and New York.
Similarly, the clandestine flows of dirty money essential for corruption, which [assassinated Guinean treasury head Aissatou] Boiro was trying to trace, depend on an army of facilitating lawyers, accountants and bankers. They are the people who establish shell companies and nominee bank accounts to conceal true beneficial ownership, and whip money across borders far faster than the lumbering process of inter-governmental legal co-operation. Governments such as Guinea’s bear the brunt of these ethically wretched activities, but they are beyond their capacities to address.
They are not, however, beyond our own capacities. We could turn the system of mutual legal assistance, whereby governments are supposed to co-operate to prise information out of suspected criminals and witnesses, from a sham into a reality. We could require the documents that establish shell companies and bank accounts to carry the names of the lawyers and bankers who executed them. These people could then face legal liability to ensure that the authorities could readily establish beneficial ownership. Our governments and our associations have an obligation to rein in the unscrupulous tail of our professions.”

Elastic journalism
Télérama reports on the justification given by the editor-in-chief of French weekly L’Express for its most recent cover, which shows a veiled woman walking into a social assistance office, with ‘The Real Cost of Immigration’ as the headline:

“ ‘Society is shifting to the right,’ was the gist of a non-chalant Christophe Barbier’s message. ‘L’Express cannot lose touch with that readership. The cover aims for the gut. The pages inside talk to the brain.’ Translation: L’Express has to attract readers with sensational, even reprehensible covers…if only to educate them subsequently inside through nuanced, balanced reporting. Chrisophe Barbier calls that ‘elasticity’.”  [Translated from the French.]

The limits of control
In a conversation with Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang, music legend Brian Eno discusses the invisible rules and assumptions that shape human endeavours, from music to economics:

“Once you’ve grown to accept something and it becomes part of the system you’ve inherited, you don’t even notice it any longer. We don’t even think that not employing children is anti-free market.
So whenever you talk about the free market – or free jazz! – what you really mean is ‘constrained by rules that we’ve stopped thinking about’. This seems a long way off music, but when you set out to make something, you might just inherit all the ways of making it. If you’re a Tin Pan Alley songwriter, you don’t question the fact that there are 84 notes on the piano. You’re not bothered by the fact that you can’t get in between two of them – these are just the ground rules of the working situation.”

Sign of the times
The New York Times looks into the motivations behind the UK’s decision to discontinue aid to India, which “marks a turning point in the former colonial power’s relations with New Delhi”:

“Others say Britain’s new approach stems from the absence of quid pro quo. Last year, India’s decision to select a French company over its British rival for a multi-billion dollar contract to supply fighter planes caused great furor in London, with several British politicians saying India ought to have favored the British company on account of the millions it receives in aid from Britain.
‘They believe that British aid must get a bang for its buck, which means it must spread British influence,’ said Jayati Ghosh, a professor of economics at Jawaharlal National University in New Delhi. ‘The aid is just not doing that anymore.’ ”

Latest Developments, November 15

In the latest news and analysis…

War chest
The Wall Street Journal reports that the EU is contemplating “using its checkbook” instead of sending troops to help Mali recover its northern portion from armed groups:

“The EU, which has already pledged to support the proposed West African force with training, transport, and intelligence gathering, is now discussing spending tens of millions of euros to provide equipment and monthly allowances to the roughly 3,000 troops, [European diplomats and other people familiar with the matter] said.
However, the EU is moving cautiously with its proposal, two of these people said, because it wants any military intervention in the region to appear as an African initiative, not a European one.

If approved, EU funding would come from the European Commission’s African Peace Facility, the people familiar with the matter said.”

Bribe facilitation
The Vanguard reports it has obtained a list of specific banks used to wire “huge sums” to high-ranking Nigerians:

“According to sources, such principal suspects like a former military head of state (names withheld), used the American Express Bank Annex at the Towers World Financial Centre, New York, the Seaway National Bank, Chicago, and the Bank of New York to wire over $37.5 million of the bribe money.

Another principal suspect through who the British/Israeli lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler wired huge sums to prominent Nigerians is Air Vice Marshal Abdul Dominic Bello and the banks/ account numbers through which over $68 million were wired are Lloyds Bank of London, A/C No 736827, Tri-Star, Bank of Credit and Commerce International, London, Tri-Star, American Express Bank, A/C No 2101653,Tri-Star, HSBC, A/C No 31505024, and Lloyds Bank, A/C No 0737041, Tri-Star.”

Prix Pinocchio
Friends of the Earth France has named the winners of this year’s Pinocchio Sustainable Development Awards, which are “intended to illustrate and denounce the negative impacts of some French companies that behave in total contradiction with the concepts of sustainable development that they boast of extensively”:

“This year, more than 17,000 people voted online to choose the winners among the nominated companies. Lesieur, Bolera and Areva are the big winners in 2012.

The ever-increasing number of votes for the Pinocchio prizes proves there is growing support for the fight against the impunity that French multinational companies currently enjoy regarding the social and environmental impacts of their activities, a fight waged for years by Friends of the Earth, the Research and Information Centre for Development, and Peuples Solidaires.” [Translated from the French.]

Afghan fears
The Asia Foundation has released the results of a survey that suggests, among other things, that the people of Afghanistan are far more afraid of international soldiers than of Afghan ones:

“Only 20% of respondents say they would have no fear when encountering international forces, while more than three quarters (78%) say they would have some level of fear, including 35% who say they would have a lot of fear. A high level of fear when encountering international forces could be due to night raids as well as the international forces’ relatively large presence in military operations.”

Higher fences
Agence France-Presse reports on the recurring attempts by African migrants to enter Spain’s North African exclaves, which form “the only land frontier between Africa and Europe”:

“In August, after some 60 sub-Saharan migrants forced their way across the border, Spain boosted its security by raising the height of the fence and adding video cameras and more staff.
Since then, hundreds of migrants have tried to cross over into Melilla on several occasions.
Spanish officials said that attempts to reach Spanish soil by boat have also increased over the last few weeks, as migrants try to make the most of the last remaining days of warm weather.”

Responsible loans
Human Rights Watch calls on the World Bank to incorporate consideration of human rights into its lending practices:

“Historically, the World Bank Group has dismissed human rights as a ‘political’ issue and therefore outside of its mandate as a development bank. The same was true of corruption until a former Bank president, James Wolfensohn, took the seemingly risky step of raising ‘the c-word’ and began to address the issue within the bank and in its lending. President Jim Yong Kim has a similar opportunity to modernize the bank by taking on human rights, the groups said.
‘The World Bank Group is not above international law – the bank and its member states must abide by human rights standards in their development activities,’ said Kris Genovese, senior attorney at CIEL. ‘Now is the time for the bank to move into the 21st century and, if he’s willing to show leadership andsustained engagement with member countries, Kim can realize this signature achievement.’
”

Forcible profits
The Institute for Policy Studies is calling on Canada’s government to put a stop to a Canadian mining company’s “bullying” of El Salvador:

“Despite the prospect of major environmental damage, Pacific Rim says it has the ‘right,’ under the investor–state regime allowed by investment rules in free trade agreements, to reap the profits that would have been brought by gold mining. In pursuit of these so-called lost profits, Pacific Rim is demanding up to hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation at the International Centre for Settlement of International Disputes (ICSID), an unaccountable World Bank tribunal that operates behind closed doors.
The Sierra Club ‘opposes trade and investment agreements that allow foreign corporations to attack environmental and public health protections in secret trade tribunals,’ says Ilana Solomon, trade policy expert at the Sierra Club. ‘This lawsuit by Pacific Rim, which threatens the health and safety of communities in El Salvador, is a case in point for why we oppose these secret tribunals.’ ”

Islamophobia sells
Jeune Afrique questions the motives behind French magazines’ obsession with Islam and immigration:

“Issue 3202 of L’Express, on newsstands Nov. 14, presents an investigation into ‘the real costs of immigration,’ intended to challenge ‘preconceptions’ and publish ‘shocking statistics.’ On the cover: a woman, veiled head-to-toe, enters a family allowance office. Translation: immigrants, that is to say Muslims, depend on state benefits.
Why display this prejudice on the front cover, even if it is to dispute it inside the magazine? No doubt because the image will boost sales. According to a survey published in Le Figaro on Oct. 25, 60% of French people think Islam has ‘too much’ influence and visibility in their country. And 43% of them consider it a ‘menace’ to national identity. Fear sells…” [Translated from the French.]

Latest Developments, June 7

In the latest news and analysis…

Mining fears
Accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers has published its annual report on the state of the world’s top 40 mining companies, in which it expresses concern over “resource nationalism” despite record combined profits of $133 billion in 2011:

“Ownership of resources and mining industry fiscal regimes remain high on the agenda for many governments around the world. Nations are looking to take an increasing share of profits and resources through a range of measures. Ongoing discussions and debates, formal reviews of fiscal regimes, or recently enacted changes have been seen in countries such as Australia, Chile, Ghana, Peru, and South Africa.

Governments are under pressure from local communities and other key stakeholders, and as a result, the stability that previously existed in many nations is deteriorating. High commodity prices have increased the industry’s visibility, triggering stakeholders to seek a bigger piece of the pie.”

Sales assistants
Embassy Magazine reports that the Canadian government is actively helping domestic arms manufacturers find buyers abroad:

“In the last few years, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation, has helped Canadian firms sell everything from military hardware and weapons to wiretapping technology, forensics for ballistics, surveillance, document detection, sensor systems, bulletproof vests and helmets, training, and other services.
They are partnering with government ministers to get the job done. It’s called ‘co-operative marketing,’ according to CCC president Marc Whittingham.
The way it works is that firms tell the organization which markets they’re interested in, and when corporation representatives or a minister is travelling, they are able to ‘further that pursuit,’ he said.”

Banking rules
The New York Times reports that a hearing into JPMorgan Chase’s “multibillion-dollar trading loss” has led to more talk of the need to impose stricter limits on the activities of US banks:

“Several Democrats have seized on the news of the bank’s loss, saying the case underscores a need to enforce a strict Volcker Rule.
The rule, named for Paul A. Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, would ban banks from trading with their own money, a practice known as proprietary trading. Support for the new regulations gained momentum after JPMorgan’s loss disclosure last month.
But the scope of the rule, which regulators plan to complete in the coming months, is unclear. For one, it allows banks to use hedges to offset risk. Regulators have yet to decide how broad to make that hedging exemption, prompting some Democrats to push for clarity.”

Oil troubles
Business Daily reports that the recent discovery of oil in Kenya by UK-based Tullow Oil has touched off tensions in local communities:

“The oil find in Turkana is touching on land ownership and compensation and last week a meeting to discuss the discovery aborted as locals and legislators demanded more involvement in the decisions on the black gold resource.
‘Engagement with the locals has not been smooth. We had planned a forum for Wednesday on the oil discovery but it has aborted on account of consensus. MPs from the two counties and those in relevant committees of Parliament have said they were not consulted,’ said [Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary Patrick] Nyoike.”

Hip hop wars
Columbia University’s Hishaam Aidi writes on the significance of the growing debate over hip hop in Europe:

“European government officials are increasingly worried about the influence that Muslim rap artists wield over youth, and are scrutinising hip hop practices in the immigrant neighbourhoods, trying to decide which Muslim hip hop artists to promote and which to push aside.

The debate over hip hop, Europe’s dominant youth culture, stands in for a much larger debate about race, immigration and national identity. With many of the biggest stars being Muslim, the disputes over which Muslim hip hop artists are ‘moderate’ or ‘radical’ are also disagreements over what kind of Islam to allow into the public space.”

Burma caution
Burma partnership’s Khin Ohmar argues that the international community needs to put the brakes on the sudden race to invest in her country:

“There are no such things as environmental impact or social impact assessments. There is no participation from any group that represents people’s interests in the decision-making process. Rule of law is extremely weak, with a subordinate and ineffective judiciary, arbitrary arrests, widespread corruption and a culture of impunity.
Burma is quite simply not ready. Investment, particularly in the country’s unstable ethnic areas, serves to exacerbate human rights abuses and causes major environmental and social damage. As long as the military has the biggest say in the development of Burma, the status quo won’t really change. Foreign investors should wait until the nation is reconciled before proceeding with the unabated enthusiasm currently on display.”

Big money
UC Berkeley’s Robert Reich looks at the impacts the US Supreme Court’s “grotesque 2010 Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission decision” is having on the country’s presidential election campaign:

“According to the reliable inside-Washington source Politico, the Koch brothers’ network alone will be spending $400m over the next six months trying to defeat Obama, which is more than Senator John McCain spent on his entire 2008 campaign.
Big corporations and Wall Street are also secretly funneling big bucks into front groups like the US Chamber of Commerce that will use the money to air anti-Obama ads, while keeping secret the identities of these firms.”

Fragile union
The Financial Times’ Martin Wolf writes on the inherent difficulty of maintaining an economic union without corresponding political cohesion:

“Given such uncertainty, panic is, alas, rational. A fiat currency backed by heterogeneous sovereigns is irremediably fragile.
Before now, I had never really understood how the 1930s could happen. Now I do. All one needs are fragile economies, a rigid monetary regime, intense debate over what must be done, widespread belief that suffering is good, myopic politicians, an inability to co-operate and failure to stay ahead of events.”

Latest Developments, May 23

In the latest news and analysis…

Money, power, sex
The Daily Maverick provides a roundup of the first day of the OpenForum 2012 conference in Cape Town, the focus of which is the “paradox of unequal growth.”
“[London School of Economics’ Thandika] Mkandawire was particularly wary on the subject of foreign investment in Africa, sounding a note of caution: ‘Democracies which rely on external funding are choiceless democracies. No representation without taxation!’ He also pointed out that the ‘rebranding’ of Africa carried its own dangers, since it appealed to the ‘herd instincts’ of investors who might pull out of Africa as suddenly as they arrived, spooked by what he calls the ‘CNN factor’ – the impact of the image of Africa presented by international broadcasters.
Nkosana Moyo, vice president of the African Development Bank, was more obdurate on the topic. ‘We are letting ourselves by defined by others. Why do I care what the Economist thinks about me?’ he asked. Moyo also suggested that the West’s concerns about China’s activities in Africa were extremely hypocritical given the West’s history on the continent, but seemed to hint that China’s intentions were just as harmful: ‘Africans don’t seem to realise that there is no difference between China and the West,’ he said.”

UK government hearts Shell
Amnesty International has announced it is among a group of NGOs that has submitted freedom of information requests in the hopes of finding out why the UK government has intervened on behalf of Shell against Nigerian plaintiffs in a US Supreme Court case.
“ ‘While the UK Government claims to support the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a matter of policy, it undermines that support by attempting to block judicial remedies for human rights abuses committed by a UK company in another country. The Government argues that the US may not legitimately exercise jurisdiction in this case but ignores the possibility that universal jurisdiction for gross human rights abuses committed by corporations is an important element of an international solution to holding companies accountable for their human rights impacts,’ [said Amnesty International’s Peter Frankental.”

Mine control
South Africa Resource Watch reports that the Lesotho Congress for Democracy has called for the government to become the majority shareholder in all mining companies operating in the country.
“[Former Lesotho trade minister Mpho] Malie also spoke about mining companies taking advantage of the ‘relaxed’ laws of Lesotho.
‘Foreign companies operating our mines are in a hurry; they want to maximise their profits when we are still asleep. We need to review the laws before it is too late because if we delay, we will be left with nothing as a country,’ Malie said, adding the current government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, had allowed matters to get out of hand.”

Opaque deal
Reuters reports that Swiss-based commodities giant Glencore’s decision to become the majority owner of a Congolese copper mine is likely to raise a few eyebrows.
“But Tuesday’s deal, with two related, privately controlled groups – High Grade Minerals (HGM) and Groupe Bazano – whose ownership is not disclosed by Glencore, is also likely to revive debate over the opacity of deals in one of Africa’s most promising but also most challenging mining destinations.
Glencore, a lightning rod for campaign groups since its listing last May, earlier this month faced calls for greater transparency around its deals in Congo.”

Twitter inequality
The Globe and Mail reports on the potential human rights implications of proposed changes by Twitter that would allow corporate clients to view content the authors themselves could not access.
“Inequal access to information creates an imbalance of power. This is especially important to those who posted publicly with the expectation that they’d be able to see, control and prune their postings later on. Remember that in many parts of the world, political research isn’t just policy-testing and mud-slinging; it’s a matter of life and limb for oppositions, activists and dissidents. A Twitter feed can paint a very detailed portrait of someone’s life, their activities and associations, even if no individual tweet is particularly revealing. Now, Twitter users have two options: Submit their histories for corporate or political analysis, or delete them and lose everything.”

Better Life Index
The Guardian reports on the relaunch of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index, which aims to go beyond GDP by comparing countries according to what people “think is important.”
“It’s counted as a major success by the OECD, particularly as users consistently rank quality of life indicators such as education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance above more traditional ones.

One of the major criticisms of the index was that it didn’t include inequality – and that’s changing with the relaunch with new indicators on inequality and gender plus rankings for Brazil and Russia. A couple have been removed too: Governance has been renamed civic engagement, employment rate of women with children has been replaced by the full integration of gender information in the employment data and students’ cognitive skills (e.g. student skills in reading, math and sciences) has replaced students’ reading skills to have a broader view.”

Envisioning sustainability
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie maps out his vision of the future, in which sustainable development is development, not just a “subset” of it.
“The most important change would be the involvement of rich countries as well as poor. Sustainable development tackles affluence and excess, not just poverty, and it is the high-income countries that most need to alter their resource use (with a gradually increasing burden of responsibility on middle-income countries, especially the largest ones). Financial transfers will therefore reduce in importance relative to other areas of action (such as trade and regulation). Aid agencies might develop new roles as whole-of-government enforcers of development policy coherence.”

Secular fanaticism
Columbia University’s Hamid Dabashi calls for “a radical reconfiguration of ethical principals” that transcends the religious and ethnic differences that divide people today.
“The principal facts on the ground – beaconing those visionaries – are the wretched of the earth, the masses of millions of human beings roaming the globe in search of the most basic necessities of life and liberty or else for fear of persecution. Muslims and Africans face the same ghastly discrimination in Europe as Latin American illegal immigrants do in the United States, Afghan refugees do in Iran, Palestinians (now joined by Africans) do in Israel or Philipino or Sri Lankan labourers do in the Arab world.
That fact is the ground zero of principled moral positions.”

Latest Developments, May 11

In the latest news & analysis…

Clash of Civilizations 101
Wired reports that a US military course, which has since been cancelled, taught officers that “total war” against the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from terrorists.
“In the same presentation, [Army Lt. Col. Matthew A.] Dooley lays out a possible four-phase war plan to carry out a forced transformation of the Islam religion. Phase three includes possible outcomes like ‘Islam reduced to a cult status’ and ‘Saudi Arabia threatened with starvation.’

International laws protecting civilians in wartime are ‘no longer relevant,’ Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying ‘the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki’ to Islam’s holiest cities, and bringing about ‘Mecca and Medina['s] destruction.’ ”

A more serious debate
Writing about the African edition of the World Economic Forum currently underway in Addis Ababa, Global Pacific & Partners’ Duncan Clarke decries the simplistic “leitmotif” of corrupt African politicians that dominates discussions of the continent’s economy.
“We need within Africa therefore to discern the deeper histories and underlying structures that moulded our economic worlds, plus the myriad forces that shape it today, let alone the unknown that will determine our lot tomorrow. There is more complexity in contemporary underdevelopment than flawed leadership allied to predation and visible political deficiencies. A more serious debate is needed.
Today there is an overabundant discourse on leadership, especially in the theatre of the talk shop, which somehow passes for sage insight or even sound economic analysis, providing a weak diagnostic framework for complex economic historiographies and contemporary realities.”

African growth
The Guardian reports that the Africa Progress Panel, led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, has concluded that Africa’s rapid economic growth is creating greater inequality.
“Although seven out of 10 people in the region live in countries that have averaged growth of more than 4% a year for the past decade, Annan’s study found that almost half of Africans were still living on incomes below the internationally accepted poverty benchmark of $1.25 a day.

‘It cannot be said often enough, that overall progress remains too slow and too uneven; that too many Africans remain caught in downward spirals of poverty, insecurity and marginalisation; that too few people benefit from the continent’s growth trend and rising geo-strategic importance; that too much of Africa’s enormous resource wealth remains in the hands of narrow elites and, increasingly, foreign investors without being turned into tangible benefits for its people,’ [wrote Annan in his foreword to the report.]”

Fear & loathing
A Center for Economic and Policy Research blog post examines the yawning gulf between foreign aid workers and those they are ostensibly in Haiti to help.
“And [this dynamic of fear and distrust] tragically emerged as a major reason for wasted opportunities and lives lost in the initial days and weeks after the 2010 earthquake, heightened by exaggerated media reports of ‘looting’ and potential chaos. The U.S. government, which secured a leading role for itself in the emergency relief effort, prioritized a military response over a non-military one, and generally treated the Haitian population as objects of fear to whom aid should be delivered, rather than active participants who could perhaps best act in the rescue and relief operations in their own communities.
This dynamic of fear and distrust, which estranges aid workers from the local population, may also help to explain the incredible disconnect that some in the NGO community seem to exhibit in their behavior, as documented by Michele Mitchell in her film “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” Mitchell records NGO staff dining at a posh restaurant where steak costs $34 and wine sells for $72 a bottle, across the street from an IDP camp where the very people these aid workers are supposed to serve struggle for daily survival.”

A dangerous policy
Former CIA officer Robert Grenier argues the US is repeating in Yemen mistakes it made in Pakistan.
“I do not claim deep knowledge of developments in Shabwa Province, but when I hear significant numbers of tribal militants being referred to as al-Qaeda operatives, and [al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], a small organisation dominated by non-Yemenis, being alleged to have political control of significant parts of Yemen, I react with some scepticism, and some suspicion.
One wonders how many Yemenis may be moved in future to violent extremism in reaction to carelessly targeted missile strikes, and how many Yemeni militants with strictly local agendas will become dedicated enemies of the West in response to US military actions against them.”

Drone journalism
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism calls on Western media to provide more balanced reporting on the US drone war as it enters “a new phase” in which host-government cooperation has been withdrawn.
“Part of the justification for the US carrying out drone strikes without consent is their reported success. And naming those militants killed is key to that process. Al Qaeda bomber Fahd al-Quso’s death was widely celebrated.
Yet how many newspapers also registered the death of Mohamed Saleh Al-Suna, a civilian caught up and killed in a US strike in Yemen on March 30?
By showing only one side of the coin, we risk presenting a distorted picture of this new form of warfare. There is an obligation to identify all of those killed – not just the bad guys.”

Corporate warfare
Global voices reports on “unrest” in Guatemala involving community opposition to the construction of a hydroelectric dam by a Spain’s Hidralia Energia.
“In late April 2012, allegations of land mines placed around the hydroelectric company to protect it from any disruptive actions triggered a series of protests where citizens expressed their concern and demanded that the company be expelled from the community. Protesters denounced the mined field at the offices of the police, and later demanded protection and action from the army.”