Latest Developments, June 25

In the latest news and analysis…

Green light for blue helmets
Reuters reports that the UN Security Council has unanimously approved the start of peacekeeping operations in Mali on July 1:

“The 15-member Security Council unanimously approved in April a mandate for the 12,600-member force, to be known as MINUSMA, but its deployment had been subject to a council review on Tuesday of Mali’s security situation. French troops will support the peacekeepers if needed to combat Islamist extremist threats.

Once the U.N. peacekeeping force is deployed, France will continue to handle counterterrorism and peace enforcement operations as needed in Mali, while the U.N. blue helmets will handle traditional peacekeeping duties of policing and trying to ensure new violence does not erupt.”

History dismissed
The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson comments on US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s description of her colleagues’ “demolition” of the Voting Rights Act as “hubris”:

“Perhaps she’s right; but it could also be said that the majority ruling was built more on resentment of a particularly petulant kind: grudging about the need to remember an unpleasant past and to be mindful of the marginalized; offended by the idea that anyone would consider certain parts of the country more racist than others, or, really, that anyone is particularly racist at all these days.

‘As applied to Shelby County, the VRA’s preclearance requirement is hardly contestable,’ Ginsburg wrote, and the same could be said about Alabama as a whole. Ginsburg quoted an F.B.I. investigation of Alabama legislators who referred to black voters as ‘Aborigines’ and talked about how to keep them from the polls: ‘These conversations occurred not in the 1870’s, or even in the 1960’s, they took place in 2010.’”

Dangerous liaisons
In the wake of last week’s deadly attack on a UN compound in Mogadishu, Inner City Press reports on allegations that the actions of one UN agency operating in Somalia may be putting the organization’s personnel in danger:

“Now Inner City Press has exclusively been provided by whistleblowers with detailed complaints about the UN Mine Action Service’s David Bax, including that he shares both genetic information and physical evidence from bombings with American intelligence services, including through shadow private military contractor Bancroft Global Development.
According to the whistleblowers, this combined with Bax and ‘his’ Denel contractors traveling armed around Mogadishu leads to a perception that they and the UN have taken sides, and helps to make them a target.”

Militarized border
Agence France-Presse reports that US lawmakers are pushing for a military “surge” along the border with Mexico to prevent illegal immigration:

“Twenty thousand new border patrol agents, hundreds of miles of fencing, billions of dollars in drones, radar and sensors: US lawmakers are proposing a militaristic remedy to staunch illegal immigrant flow from Mexico.

In Washington, the ‘border surge’ proposal is already being compared with the ‘surge’ of US war troop reinforcements that president George W. Bush ordered to Iraq in 2007.
‘That military reference makes sense because it is going to militarize hundreds of American communities in the Southwest,’ said veteran Senate Democrat Patrick Leahy.
He sneered that the border security modification ‘reads like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton,’ one of the nation’s largest defense and energy contractors.”

Gulf Intervention
Radio France Internationale reports on the French military presence in the Gulf of Guinea, off Africa’s west coast:

“Since 1990, France has maintained a ship on a near permanent basis in the region as part of Operation Corymb. Currently, the frigate Touche-Tréville is patrolling the area. This ship intervened to assist the oil tanker MT Adour, attacked near the Togolese capital Lomé on the night of Wednesday June 19 to Thursday June 20. Its crew has since been freed. The Navy stresses, however, that ‘Operation Corymb’s mission is to protect French citizens and interests in the region. At this time, this boat is not dedicated to the fight against piracy.’ ”

African debt redux
Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Hamid Rashid ask if the new enthusiasm for sovereign-bond issues in Africa is paving the way for “the world’s next debt crisis“:

“Signs of default stress are already showing. In March 2009 – less than two years after the issue – Congolese bonds were trading for 20 cents on the dollar, pushing the yield to a record high. In January 2011, Côte d’Ivoire became the first country to default on its sovereign debt since Jamaica in January 2010.
In June 2012, Gabon delayed the coupon payment on its $1 billion bond, pending the outcome of a legal dispute, and was on the verge of a default. Should oil and copper prices collapse, Angola, Gabon, Congo, and Zambia may encounter difficulties in servicing their sovereign bonds.

Countries contemplating joining the bandwagon of sovereign-bond issuers would do well to learn the lessons of the all-too-frequent debt crises of the past three decades. Matters may become even worse in the future, because so-called ‘vulture’ funds have learned how to take full advantage of countries in distress. Recent court rulings in the United States have given the vultures the upper hand, and may make debt restructuring even more difficult, while enthusiasm for bailouts is clearly waning.”

GM dispute
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa’s Million Belay and the African Biodiversity Network’s Ruth Nyambura reject the UK environment minister’s claim that Africa needs genetically modified crops:

“It is a myth that the green revolution has helped poor farmers. By pushing just a few varieties of seed that need fertilisers and pesticides, agribusiness has eroded our indigenous crop diversity. It is not a solution to hunger and malnutrition, but a cause. If northern governments genuinely wish to help African agriculture, they should support the revival of seed-saving practices, to ensure that there is diversity in farmers’ hands.
But GM crops pose an even greater threat to Africa’s greatest wealth. GM companies make it illegal to save seed.”

Growth for some
King’s College London’s Andy Sumner looks into the “winners and losers” of global growth between 1990 and 2010:

“Third, one can say that 15% of global consumption growth from 1990 to 2010 went to the richest 1% of global population. At the other end of the distribution, the 53% under $2 in 1990 benefitted from less than an eighth of that global growth; and the 37% on less than $1.25 a day benefitted by little more than a twentieth of that growth.”

Latest Developments, January 8

In the latest news and analysis…

Cabinet pick
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes that US President Barack Obama’s nomination of drone czar John Brennan as the new head of the CIA presents an opportunity for the country (and the world) to move beyond “gray wars with gray rules”:

“What if Senators use his confirmation hearings to force a public debate about the legality and transparency of Obama’s drone strike program and the need for meaningful Congressional oversight of the program? The hearings could also initiate a conversation about the legacy of Bush era torture, other aspects of the Bush war on terror, and the areas of continuity between the two administrations on civil liberties issues.

‘We absolutely should have this debate,’ Steve Clemons, a foreign policy expert at the New America Foundation, tells me. ‘We still live with the legacy of the world that Dick Cheney and George Bush built — one that is not internationally sanctioned. One of the ways Obama and Brennan can restore America’s global leverage is to help lay out a blueprint for a new global social contract for a world with wars like those of today.’ ”

Development profiteering
The Guardian reports on calls for the World Bank, the British government and private investors to return “excessive” profits from a smelting project in Mozambique that uses 45% of the country’s electricity:

“The report calculates that foreign investors, governments and development banks have received an average of $320m (£199m) a year from the smelter, in contrast to the Mozambique government’s $15m. In other words, for every $1 paid to the Mozambique government, $21 has left the country in profit or interest to foreign governments and investors.

To attract foreign investors, the Mozambique government exempted Mozal from taxes on profit and VAT, levying only a 1% turnover tax, while allowing all profit from the smelter to be taken offshore. BHP Billiton, the mining group, owns 47% of Mozal, while Japan’s Mitsubishi owns 25%. The other two equity investors are the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (24%) and the government of Mozambique (4%).”

Strange catch
Agence France-Presse reports that fisherman have retrieved a crashed US drone in the waters off the central Philippines:

“In an interview with AFP last year, President Benigno Aquino confirmed that the Philippines has been allowing US drones to overfly its territory for reconnaissance flights, but were not allowed to make strikes.
About 600 US forces have been rotating in the southern Philippines since 2002 as part of the US government’s global war on terror.
However the drone was found in Masbate, many hundreds of kilometres from the Muslim insurgency-racked areas where no US troops are known to operate.
Masbate is one of the areas where communists waging a decades-long rebellion have long operated.”

Not this time?
Reuters reports that although the Central African Republic has experienced the “most frequent and blatant French military interference” in post-independence Africa, France insists it will not take sides in the country’s latest conflict:

“Despite appeals by [CAR President Francois] Bozize to ‘our cousins’ Paris and Washington for help, France said its several hundred troops in its landlocked former colony were there solely to protect French nationals and interests and not the local government.
‘This time the message was very clear, that “we are not here to save the regime”,’ said Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director for International Crisis Group.”

Opaque investments
Johns Hopkins University’s Deborah Brautigam argues America’s foreign direct investment in Africa must become more transparent:

“At least as posted on the website of the OECD’s statistics bureau, the US claimed that 2010 FDI data by US companies in twelve African countries (almost all resource-rich) was ‘confidential’. What’s more, in 2010 the second most popular destination for US FDI flows to Africa was … Mauritius (a tax haven) where US firms sent $1860 million.”

Breach of trust
George Washington University’s Lynn Goldman and Johns Hopkins University’s Michael Klag argue the US must take steps to atone for its role in precipitating the lethal violence that has been unleashed against polio vaccine providers in Pakistan:

“A massive vaccination effort like this one requires a bond of public trust, one that was broken by the CIA. The U.S. took the first step toward repairing the atmosphere of mistrust by admitting to the sham vaccination effort. Now, the president and Congress must take the next step by erecting a firewall between public health programs, like the global polio initiative, and espionage or other covert operations conducted by the CIA.
They should follow action taken by former Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver, who in 1961 won assurances from President John F. Kennedy that they would not infiltrate the ranks of the Corps. Shriver believed ties to the CIA could jeopardize the Peace Corps’ mission and put young volunteers at risk, especially in countries that were already suspicious of the program.”

Military throwback
The Sunday Times reports that a group of businessmen is assembling “Britain’s first private navy in almost two centuries” to take on piracy off Africa’s east coast:

“Its armed vessels – including a 10,000-ton mother ship and high-speed armoured patrol boats – will be led by a former Royal Navy commodore. He is recruiting 240 former marines and other sailors for the force.

The Britons intend to sail under a sovereign flag which will give them the legal right to carry their weaponry into harbour, rather than cache them on platforms in international waters.
[Simon] Murray is chairman of Glencore, one of the world’s largest commodities traders. He is backing the new force alongside other investors.”

Chain liability
Inter Press Service reports that Switzerland’s parliament is looking to tackle “wage dumping” by holding general contractors responsible for labour abuses committed by their subcontractors:

“The buck is passed around, and there are several victims: The workers don’t earn what they deserve, correctly employed labourers face pressure on their wages, and properly operating companies are confronted with unfair competition.

Swiss labour unions have demanded laws making general contractors legally accountable for misconduct by its subcontractors, so-called ‘chain liability’. General contractors are only freed from responsibility if they can show to have ensured that their subcontractors abide by the law.
The neo-liberal lobby along with the Swiss Employers’ Association has launched a much weaker counter-proposal. They want general contractors to be freed of any legal responsibility if their direct subcontractor simply signs a contract pledging to respect Swiss wage and labour conditions.”

Latest Developments, September 21

In the latest news and analysis…

Non-intervention
Agence France-Presses report that a top NATO general has said the alliance currently has no intention of taking military action in Syria:

“ ‘The political process has to be pushed forward, sanctions need to take effect. At the moment, this situation cannot be solved by the military in a responsible way,’ [Germany’s Manfred Lange] told a briefing.
He added that with little prospect of action at the United Nations ‘it is clear that the Alliance doesn’t have any military plans on Syria.’ ”

Haven links
The Guardian reports that 68 British lawmakers have “directorships or a controlling interest in companies linked to tax havens”:

“It soon became apparent that many Parliamentarians who are able to influence tax laws have taken up positions as directors and non executive directors in major companies with offshore links.
There are 27 Tories – six of whom are MPs – 17 Labour peers, three Lib Dem peers and another 21 are either crossbench or non-affiliated peers.”

Questionable secrecy
The Associated Press reports that a US federal appeals court’s judges seemed “skeptical” about the need for CIA secrecy on the use of drones for targeted killings:

“The CIA initially refused to admit or deny that it had any relevant records and said that merely confirming the existence of material would reveal classified information. That refusal to confirm even the existence of a record is a Cold War-era legal defense known as the Glomar response after the Glomar Explorer, a ship built with secret CIA financing to try to raise a Soviet submarine from the ocean floor.
But [government lawyer Stuart] Delery told the court that the government was no longer making that claim.

But he said the spy agency can’t provide the number, nature or categorization of those records without disclosing information protected under [Freedom of Information Act] exemptions.”

Launderers anonymous
The Economist calls “depressing” a new study into the extent that countries comply with their pledges to get tough on shell companies:

“Posing as consultants, the authors asked 3,700 incorporation agents in 182 countries to form companies for them. Overall, 48% of the agents who replied failed to ask for proper identification; almost half of these did not want any documents at all. Contrary to conventional wisdom, providers in tax havens, such as Jersey and the Cayman Islands, were much more likely to comply with the standards than those from the [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], a club of mostly rich countries. Even poor countries had a better compliance rate, suggesting the problem in the rich world is not cost but unwillingness to follow the rules. Only ten out of 1,722 providers in America required notarised documents in line with the [Financial Action Task Force] standard.”

Know your clients
The Wall Street Journal reports that US regulators are proposing new rules to crack down on money laundering over the objections of the financial sector:

“Under current practices, banks verify data only on larger foreign-controlled accounts and on some accounts that the banks, using their own guidelines, deem high risk. Banks and other financial institutions also already file some reports, including reports on suspicious activity and transactions over $10,000 under the Bank Secrecy Act.
But Treasury officials are proposing vastly expanding the universe of covered activity in a bid to deter criminal activity and terrorist financing and stop firms from taking on shell companies without knowing ownership details. Treasury wants financial institutions to understand who owns or controls an account and keep detailed records that law-enforcement officials can access.

The department may eventually extend the rules to mortgage lenders, casinos, gemstone dealers and others. These nonbank businesses already face some anti-money-laundering program requirements under U.S. law, though they are not nearly as extensive as for banks.”

Piracy insurance
Reuters reports that a decrease in piracy off the coast of Somalia means “tougher times” for London-based providers of marine kidnap and ransom insurance:

“Brokers and insurers say a key factor in the downturn is the spread of on-board armed security, which has allowed shipowners to negotiate discounts of up to 50 percent on their premiums in recognition of the reduced risk of being hijacked.
Guards equipped with guns are seen as the best deterrent as no ship carrying them has ever been seized, although critics say they risk escalating conflict with heavily-armed pirates.
Governments including Britain last year dropped their opposition to armed maritime guards, triggering a big increase in their use. [Special Contingency Risks’ Will] Miller says about two thirds of his clients now deploy armed security, compared with just 10 percent in 2010.”

Tintin in the doghouse
Reuters also reports on the cooling relationship between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the fictional journalist/adventurer Tintin whose first adventure was set in the former Belgian colony and portrayed the inhabitants as “fat-lipped, childlike savages”:

“Earlier this year a Congolese man studying in Belgium tried and failed to have the book banned on the grounds of racism. Some stores in Britain have banished it to the top shelves, where only adults can see it.
Even Tintin’s creator Herge later re-wrote parts of the story, toning down the more extreme stereotypes which sprang from Belgium’s colonisation of Congo, which was brutal even by the standards of the day.”

New thinking needed
The New School for Social Research’s Tarak Barkawi argues the nation-state, which he describes as the “historic vehicle of the rise of Western world power,” is increasingly unable to deal with today’s global problems:

“More generally, in a context of economic decline, Western politicians have little to offer their citizens but more austerity. So they pander to petty nationalisms and prejudices. In the United Kingdom, British conservative politicians have stoked racism against immigrants. Much like militant Islam, they offer little but hate to their constituents because they have no positive, attractive policy.
The result is perverse. In a globalised world, the UK desperately needs migrants who contribute everything from investment to hard work to its economy. It also needs foreign students to keep its university sector – one of its most successful export industries – financially viable for British students. But anti-immigrant populism – much of it directed at Africans and Muslims – has led to a clampdown on foreign students. Universities are being incorporated into the UK’s border control regime. Foreign students have options; they and their money are likely to start going elsewhere in greater numbers.”

Latest Developments, August 21

In the latest news and analysis…

Moment of silence
Following the official announcement that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is dead, the Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder explains why he is not weighing in on the challenges of the succession:

“Why do you want your analysis of Ethiopian politics to be intermediated by a European? Isn’t that a little bit, well, racist?

I want to focus mainly on holding my own government and society to account for our impact on the world.
Our choices make a huge difference to the lives of people in developing countries.  Our policies on trade and corruption affect their economic development; our approach to financial markets and the environment spill over into the lives of people we have never met.  If we choose to use it, we have the power to lift people out of poverty by giving more aid, and managing it better.
These issues interest me most because they are properly mine to help fix.”

Mining repression
The Unemployed People’s Movement’s Ayanda Kota argues that last week’s “massacre” of Lonmin miners by South African police underscores the mining industry’s inextricable link to the country’s massive inequality:

“Mining has been central to the history of repression in South Africa. Mining made Sandton to be Sandton (a district in Johannesburg known as “Africa’s richest square mile”) and the Bantustans of the Eastern Cape to be the desolate places that they still are. Mining in South Africa also made the elites in England rich by exploiting workers in South Africa. You cannot understand why the rural Eastern Cape is poor without understanding why Sandton and the City of London are rich.”

Chemical threats
The Los Angeles Times reports that US President Barack Obama has opened the door for an American military intervention in Syria, saying the Assad regime’s use or movement of chemical weapons would be a “red line”:

“Obama said he has not ‘at this point’ ordered the U.S. military into action. But he said his administration has ‘put together a range of contingency plans,’ including a response if it appears Assad’s forces are preparing to use poison gas or biological weapons in a bid to stay in power.”

Somali roadmap
Roland Marchal of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) argues that current attempts by foreign powers to restore stability in Somalia, which has just inaugurated a new parliament, are likely to do more harm than good:

“One of the strategic weaknesses of the outgoing transitional Parliament and Government (TFG), set up in 2004, was its lack of popular legitimacy. The new institutions are likely to have no more legitimacy since the whole roadmap process appears to be overly-influenced by foreigners, especially through the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, and by corruption. Shockingly, MP seats can be bought for a few thousand US dollars.
Though the country is still at war and public debates are nearly impossible, the USA and UK pushed for a new constitution to be endorsed. The Constitutional Assembly was left with no choice but to endorse a draft constitution (at a cost of $13m) since it would be implemented anyway as a new Provisional Constitution. Many elders saw that debate on the Constitution as very divisive and the whole exercise illegitimate, rather than being a basis to express shared values.”

Anti-piracy offensive
The BBC reports that an EU committee believes Europe “must” continue to use warships off the coast of Somalia in order to defeat the region’s pirates:

“Its chairman, Liberal Democrat Lord Teverson, said: ‘Operation Atalanta has clearly made real progress in reducing the threat of Somali piracy. However if the situation is to continue to improve it is important the pirates know the international commitment to stop their activities is real and ongoing.
‘To ensure this Operation Atalanta should now have its remit extended beyond 2014.’ ”

Dirty work
The Mindanao Examiner reports that a Philippine general has rejected a Canadian mining company’s version of events that left one smallscale miner dead and six others injured:

“[Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III] said police filed criminal charges against 7 private security guards working for [TVI Resources Development].
‘Using the pieces of evidence gathered to include accounts from several witnesses and sworn statements of the complainants, cases of two counts frustrated murder and six for attempted murder have been filed at a local court against the seven security guards of the TVIRD who are all under the Big JR private security agency,’ Cruz said in a statement sent to The Manila Times.
Cruz branded the security guards as members of a ‘pseudo-organization employed by the said mining company to execute dirty works’ commonly known among miners in Balabag area as ‘K9′.”

Bad tenants
The Daily Guide reports that mining companies operating in Ghana are not paying their dues to the country’s government or its people:

“Though the mining companies continue to exploit the nation’s non renewable resources they have failed to pay the paltry sum of GH50p annually for ground rent per acre of land under concessions entrusted to them.

The operations of two multinationals in the last five years is reported to have displaced 50,000 people in a number of communities where the big companies work, destroying their farms, homes and livelihood.
The major concern of people, who have suffered this plight, has been over the payment of low compensations for their loss.
Mining companies pay one-off compensation of about GH¢20.00 for a cocoa tree, which may not cover the farmer’s earnings from a cocoa tree for one year.
Their activities deny farmers of their earnings from their long-term investment in cocoa, which has economic life of about 50 to 60 years.
The unpaid compensations translate into subsidies that the poor farmers provide to the multinational companies.”

Liberation geography
Columbia University’s Hamid Dabashi writes on the altering of geography at Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in New Delhi:

“Perhaps the most fantastic aspect of this festival was the fact that it had categorically discarded the ghastly colonial concoction code-named ‘the Middle East’ and termed it appropriately ‘West Asia’. That very simple turn of phrase had liberated a whole habitat of humanity from a colonial legacy.

We as Asians or Arabs are no longer located to the East of a colonial officer who once drew an imaginary line to his East and called its vicinities the middle, near, or far of his East. Asia has long awaited its moment of full self-recognition, as has Africa – and, by extension, Latin America. Upon this axis, there is no longer any ‘West’, nor, a fortiori, any false hostility between ‘the East and the West’. Transcending these destabilising metaphors is the threshold of our emerging liberation geography. ”

Latest Developments, April 3

In the latest news and analysis…

Aid and inequality
New data suggest aid actually increases the gap between rich and poor in recipient countries, according to Helmut Schmidt University’s Dierk Herzer and the Kiel Institute’s Peter Nunnenkamp.
“All in all, there is little reason for being optimistic and expecting foreign aid to be effective in alleviating poverty in recipient countries even if it had no discernible average growth effects. Calls on donors to strengthen the conditionality of aid, focus on countries with less corruption and better governance, and prevent leakage by stricter monitoring and closer involvement of the poor in aid delivery are insufficient even if such measures help restrict local rent-seeking. Better accountability is also required on the part of donors. Aid agencies tend to ignore their own incentive problems which prevent aid from reducing inequality. Public outrage in the North about corruption in the South abstracts from the selfish aid motives that lead donors to favour rich local elites. Overcoming the gap between the donors’ rhetoric on pro-poor growth and inequality-increasing aid allocation is no easier than overcoming rent-seeking and leakage in the recipient countries.”

Beyond aid
War on Want’s John Hilary argues it is time to “move beyond aid in any discussion of social and economic justice” and calls for a “radical reorientation” of the global economy towards a system that is not stacked in favour of rich countries.
“Sadly, the millennium development goals agreed in 2000 drew attention away from this pressing agenda. By focusing on the symptoms of human poverty rather than its underlying determinants, the goals have arguably diverted attention from the real business of development. Reclaiming that agenda will be a key part of moving the debate forward beyond 2015.
But perhaps the greatest problem with aid is that it perpetuates the colonial myth that the countries of the global south require ‘our’ intervention to save them from themselves.”

Provoking piracy
The Guardian quotes a Senegalese fisherman who suggests overfishing by foreign boats off Senegal’s coast will lead to violence if left unchecked.
“The catches are already down 75% on 10 years ago because of the foreign fishing boats. They destroy our gear. If this goes on there will be a catastrophe. Until now we haven’t taken any direct action against the foreign fishermen. Once we took the captain from one of the vessels and we beat him around the balls.
For sure, in 10 years time people will go fishing with guns. They are desperate. When people had enough to eat and drink, Senegal was a calm country. As the situation becomes more difficult it will become more and more like Somalia. We will fight for fish at sea. If we cannot eat, what do you expect us to do?”

New paradigm
The UN News Centre reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said a new economic model is necessary in order for sustainable development to become possible.
“ ‘Gross National Product (GDP) has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured. Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York.

‘We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,’ the Secretary-General told the meeting’s participants.”

 

Affirmative action ban
The Associated Press reports that a US federal court has upheld California’s ban on university admission policies that take race, ethnicity or gender into consideration.
“At least six states have adopted bans on using affirmative action in state college admissions. Besides California and Michigan, they include Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Advocates of affirmative action say such bans lead to the exclusion of minority students and less campus diversity.
In California, the year after ban was adopted, the number of black, Latino and Native American students at the University of California’s most prestigious campuses — Berkeley and Los Angeles — plummeted by 50 percent, according to the plaintiffs cited in the court opinion.”

Happy science
Columbia University’s Earth Institute has released the first edition of the World Happiness Report, in which it explains the “new science of happiness.”
“Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).”

EU transparency
The Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s Bishop Stephen Munga argues that the EITI is useful but limited.
“It provides information at a national level, but does not enable communities to know how much wealth was generated in their locality and should therefore be returned to them. It is also voluntary. Governments decide whether to sign up. Only 35 have done so, leaving dozens of resource-rich countries with no publically available information.
This is why we need robust EU legislation revealing information at project level and published in all countries where EU companies work. Information must be relevant to local communities and attributed to the projects in their area. If not, legislation will simply not achieve its intended aim.”

Food racism
Le Monde reports on the debate in Austria over attempts to change traditional food names that “perpetuate racial prejudice.”
“The rightwing press was quick to jump on the story. Would it be necessary to change ‘Moor in a shirt’ to ‘Othello,’ asked the Kronen Zeitung tabloid, always eager to ridicule political correctness, while a commentator with the daily Die Presse slammed the ‘paternalistic lobby’ and the ‘professional indignants.’

‘Words are a key part of collective identity,’ counters SOS-Mitmensch’s Alexander Pollack. ‘And Austrians proved that by insisting, when they joined the EU, on keeping their own food names, notably for vegetables. If potatoes [erdäpfel in Austria, kartoffel in Germany] are taken so seriously here, the fight for human dignity and respect for others must be too.’” (Translated from the French.)