Latest Development, October 17

In the latest news and analysis…

Excess deaths
The Los Angeles Times reports on a new study that claims nearly half a million people died as a result of the Iraq War and its fallout:

“In a study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, researchers concluded that at least 461,000 ‘excess’ Iraqi deaths occurred in the troubled nation after the U.S.-led invasion that resulted in the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein. Those were defined as fatalities that would not have occurred in the absence of an invasion and occupation.

Of those deaths determined to be the result of direct violence, the study attributed 35% to coalition forces, 32% to sectarian militias and 11% to criminals. Contrary to public perception of mayhem in Iraq, bombings accounted for just 12% of violent deaths. The overall majority of violent deaths, 63%, were the result of gunfire.”

“Fucking natives”
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reports on the anti-fracking standoff between Canadian police and First Nations protesters at Elsipogtog:

“Heavily armed RCMP officers, some clad in full camouflage and wielding assault weapons, moved in early Thursday morning to enforce an injunction against a Mi’kmaq barricade that has trapped exploration vehicles belonging to a Houston-based firm conducting shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.

Tensions were high on both sides as the raid unfolded.
‘Crown land belongs to the government, not to fucking natives,’ APTN’s Ossie Michelin heard one of the camouflaged officers involved in the raid shout to protestors.”

Angry students
Agence France-Presse reports that thousands of French students have taken to the streets in protest over the deportation of foreign-born peers:

“Leonarda Dibrani was detained during a school trip earlier this month and deported to Kosovo with her parents and siblings, in a case that has raised questions over France’s immigration policies, shattered the unity of the ruling Socialist party and landed France’s popular interior minister Manuel Valls in hot water.

Last month, [Valls] caused an outcry by saying most of the 20,000 Roma in France had no intention of integrating and should be sent back to their countries of origin.

Last year, 36,822 immigrants were deported from France, a nearly 12 percent rise from 2011 that the Socialist government attributes to a steep rise at the beginning of the year when former president Nicolas Sarkozy was still in power.”

Leaking billions
The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports on Tanzania’s efforts to rein in “illicit transfers”, estimated to cost the country five percent of GDP annually:

“Some of the biggest multinationals operating in Tanzania aggressively avoid paying tax there by using tax havens such as Luxembourg and the Netherlands, he added. Several of them are registered in London.
‘Tanzania has agreements with more than 19 countries, some of them very old. With the United Kingdom, (we agreed) a tax treaty and investment treaty in 1963. We only had 12 graduates. Part of the campaign should be to review all these agreements,’ said [Zitto Kabwe, chairman of the parliamentary committee on public accounts], whose committee will present its report in February next year.
Seven of Tanzania’s top 10 taxpayers in the extractive and communications sectors use tax havens to the detriment of the country’s economy, he said. Two of the three largest mobile phone companies in the country are registered in the tax havens of the Netherlands and Luxembourg, costing Tanzania a large amount of revenue.”

Counting slaves
The Guardian reports on criticism of “the first index to attempt to measure the scale of modern-day slavery on a country-by-country basis”:

“Bridget Anderson, deputy director of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford, who has researched and written about human trafficking, said any attempt to gather ‘unjust situations’ across the planet and label them as ‘slavery’ is already getting off on the wrong foot.
‘I wouldn’t find it useful. You have a definitional problem, everything depends on the definition and if you use tricky words like “forced”, you are already straying into difficult territory,” she said.
‘Say with sex trafficking: if you are dealing with people who have very constrained choices, and you are so horrified with the choices, you say you are not allowed to make that choice, it’s too terrible for me on my nice sofa to tolerate. Is it right that you shut that choice down?’”

Ocean decline
Former Chilean finance minister Andrés Velasco argues that “improved governance mechanisms” are needed to end the degradation of the world’s oceans:

“Degradation is particularly serious in the one substantial part of the world that is governed internationally – the high seas. These waters are outside maritime states’ exclusive economic zones; they comprise two-thirds of the oceans’ area, covering fully 45% of the earth’s surface.
It is not enough to document that the losses are big. Obviously, the next question is what to do about it. No single official body has overall responsibility for the high seas. So, even if the economic losses turn out to be much higher than previous estimates, there are currently few effective mechanisms to bring about change. The basic pillar of ocean governance, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, was established 30 years ago. Since then, huge technological advances have occurred, and demand for resources has increased massively.”

Help wanted
The BBC reports that the UN is appealing for more troops and equipment for MINUSMA, its peacekeeping mission in Mali:

“The UN force, which took over security duties in July, has less than half of its mandated strength of more than 12,000 military personnel.

‘We are faced with numerous challenges,’ [the UN's special representative to Mali, Bert Koenders] told the UN Security Council.
‘The mission lacks critical enablers – such as helicopters – to facilitate rapid deployment and access to remote areas to ensure the protection of civilians. Troop generation will have to accelerate.’ ”

Latest Developments, September 11

In the latest news and analysis…

Buying time
The Associated Press reports that US President Barack Obama, in a nationally televised speech on Syria, said the military strikes he has been pushing for might not be necessary:

“Citing the new diplomatic efforts, Obama said in his speech Tuesday night that he had asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation he has been seeking to authorize the use of military force against Syria — a vote he was in danger of losing.
Obama’s move gives crucial time for negotiations on a Russian proposal for international inspectors to seize and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile as efforts to avert retaliatory U.S. missile strikes shift from Washington to the United Nations.

Obama said the Russian initiative ‘has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.’
But the 16-minute speech generally made the case for military action.”

Less welcoming
Reuters reports that the “trickiest task” facing Norway’s newly elected Conservatives will be integrating an “anti-immigration, anti-tax” party into the new government:

“Although Progress has toned down its rhetoric, it is seen by some as too radical for government, and once had among its members Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011 in a gun and bomb attack targeting Labour.

Bringing Progress into government could force [Conservative leader Erna] Solberg to make concessions on spending, taxes and perhaps even make a symbolic gesture on immigration. But any shift is likely to be mild, analysts said.
In immigration, Norway’s hands are tied by international treaties, which limit its room to maneuver. And the economy desperately needs new workers as unemployment is under 3 percent and a steady influx of workers keeps the labour market from overheating.”

Nothing to see here
The BBC reports on British Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that no UK territory is a tax haven anymore, now that some of the world’s most notorious offshore financial centres, such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, have promised to become more transparent:

“In the House of Commons on Monday David Cameron said he no longer considered it ‘fair’ to use the label, after recent efforts to ensure transparency.

The three Crown dependencies [The Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey] all refer to themselves as International Finance Centres, which mean they are in the business of tax avoidance which is legal, as opposed to tax evasion, which is illegal.
‘It is very important that our focus should now shift to those territories and countries that really are tax havens,’ continued Mr Cameron.”

Contested values
The Globe and Mail reports that Canada’s federal government has suggested it will fight Quebec’s proposed “charter of values” if the province’s lawmakers vote to adopt it:

“ ‘We would challenge any law that we deem unconstitutional, that violates the fundamental constitutional guarantees to freedom of religion,’ Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney told reporters in Ottawa. ‘Freedom of religion is a fundamental, universal value inscribed in our own Constitution, and this government will defend it vigorously.’
Mr. Kenney said he is ‘very concerned about proposal that would discriminate unfairly against people based on their religion, based on their deepest convictions.’

Polls in Quebec suggest that a majority of the residents of that province support what the [Parti Québécois] is trying to do. ”

Dutch diversions
The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations has released a new report suggesting that the Netherlands is the “biggest tax sink” for companies from crisis/austerity-stricken Portugal:

“The large financial flows from Portugal to the Netherlands and back again, show that investments from and to Portugal are not real ‘investments’ but rather ‘round-trip’ investments, in which Dutch letterbox companies are used to avoid paying taxes in Portugal. In the SOMO report a case study is used to show how the Portuguese energy company EDP uses ‘The Dutch Connection’ to pay considerably less taxes in its home country.”

Euro coal
350.org’s Tim Ratcliffe and Bankwatch’s Fidanka McGrath urge the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to stop its “retrograde” financing of overseas coal plants:

“Between 2006 and 2011, while the current energy policy was in place, 48% of the EBRD’s $8.9bn (£5.6bn) energy portfolio went to fossil fuels. Support for coal actually increased in this period, from €60m (£50m) to €262m.

In July, the EBRD released a draft of its new energy sector strategy, a roadmap for the next five years for investment and policy initiatives. Although the strategy claims, ‘the bank will promote the transition to a low-carbon model throughout the energy sector’, the document would keep the bank on course with fossil fuel development, providing no significant restrictions on the development of oil, gas, or coal mining and far too few constraints on coal power plants. The policy would also open the door for other controversial, dirty energy sources such as shale gas.”

Unintended consequences
Bloomberg reports on the warnings of “the world’s largest political risk consultancy” regarding the International Criminal Court trials of Kenya’s top two politicians:

“ ‘The start of President [Uhuru] Kenyatta’s and Deputy President [William] Ruto’s trials could slow the legislative agenda, potentially pushing petroleum and mining code revisions into the first half of next year,’ Clare Allenson, an Africa associate with Eurasia Group, said in an e-mailed note on Sept. 5. Delays to policy making may be caused by ‘weeks long’ absences by the accused and while lawmakers who support the pair travel to the court to show their political loyalty, Allenson said.

‘Members of parliament risk raising local tensions over the allegations as the witness testimony on human rights violations comes to light,’ Allenson said. ‘Further politicization of the cases could cause low level unrest in areas most impacted by the violence, particularly the southern Rift Valley and the outskirts of Nairobi.’ ”

RWP revisited
Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans argues that the current Syria crisis has made the concept of “responsibility while protecting” more appealing than ever:

“The reality is that if an un-vetoed majority vote is ever going to be secured again for tough action in a hard mass atrocity case—even action falling considerably short of military action—then the issues at the heart of the backlash that has accompanied the implementation of the Libyan mandate, and the concerns of the BRICS states in particular, simply have to be taken seriously. Those issues and concerns reflect the views of a much wider swathe of the developing world.”

Latest Developments, August 29

In the latest news and analysis…

Syria divisions
The Wall Street Journal reports that the US/UK push for military intervention in Syria seems to have encountered “resistance and possible delays”:

“[President Obama’s comments] also appeared to moderate U.S. officials’ earlier signals that an attack could be mounted ‘in coming days’ in response to what they call clear-cut indications that Syria used chemical weapons in attacks around Damascus early on Aug. 21. Activists and residents say more than 1,000 people died in the attacks.

A senior administration official said that while the U.S. and U.K. are coordinating closely, domestic British considerations won’t necessarily slow the U.S. decision on military action. ‘We’re making our own decisions in our own timeline,’ the official said.
In the U.S., House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) sent a letter to President Obama demanding a clear explanation of any military action against Syria before it starts, and criticizing the president’s level of consultation with lawmakers. Separately, 116 House lawmakers—98 Republicans and 18 Democrats—signed a letter to Mr. Obama, demanding he seek congressional authorization for a military strike.”

War’s alternatives
The Guardian’s Seumas Milne argues that foreign military intervention will do more harm than good to Syrians:

“More effective would be an extension of the [UN] weapons inspectors’ mandate to secure chemical dumps, backed by a united security council, rather than moral grandstanding by governments that have dumped depleted uranium, white phosphorus and Agent Orange around the region and beyond.
In any case, chemical weapons are far from being the greatest threat to Syria’s people. That is the war itself and the death and destruction that has engulfed the country. If the US, British and French governments were genuinely interested in bringing it to an end – instead of exploiting it to weaken Iran – they would be using their leverage with the rebels and their sponsors to achieve a ceasefire and a negotiated political settlement.
Instead, they seem intent on escalating the war to save Obama’s face and tighten their regional grip.”

Bad company
Les Echos reports that France has added three UK dependencies to its tax haven blacklist:

“The list of territories considered uncooperative on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes now has 10 members.
Three territories have been added to the blacklist: Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Jersey. Seven other territories continue to be considered opaque and uncooperative: Botswana, Brunei, Guatemala, the Marshall Islands, Montserrat, Nauru and Niue.” [Translated from the French.]

Mining hostage
The CBC reports that a Colombian rebel group has released a Canadian mining company executive abducted seven months ago:

“The National Liberation Army, known by its Spanish initials ELN, had demanded [Gernot] Wober’s employer halt exploration at the Snow Mine property in Sur de Bolivar state, claiming the land was stolen from local communities. Last month, Toronto-based Braeval Mining Corp. said it was pulling out of Colombia.

The ELN’s commander, Nicolas Rodriguez, said in a statement posted on the group’s website that Wober’s release was ‘a humanitarian act.’ ”

Unmanned proliferation
Deutsche Welle reports that the US is offering to sell drones to Germany:

“The US government could deliver to Germany four unarmed MQ-9A Predator B drones, including ground control stations, the Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported in their Wednesday edition, citing a defense ministry answer to a request from the Left party’s parliamentary faction.
The US ‘Letter of Offer and Acceptance’ was submitted June 13, the newspaper reported. It could be possible to convert the four drones into their combat-ready version, called the Reaper, according to the SZ. However, should Germany want combat drones, a new request would have to be made to the US government.”

MLK + 50
The Boston Globe reports on events in Washington marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech:

“But as Obama and a parade of speakers before him made clear, King’s dream remains a work in progress, with voting rights issues again at the forefront and with black Americans facing the same kind of high unemployment rate and other problems that helped spark the march a half a century ago.

‘[Barack Obama]’s good and will only get better,’ [Rev. Jesse] Jackson said. ‘But we need a response to our pain from him. [There are] 2.5 million Americans in prison, half of them African-Americans. Respond to that. These urban ghettos, foreclosed homes, closed schools, closed libraries, closed medical units — we need a response.’

‘The gap in wealth between races hasn’t lessened, it’s grown,’ [Obama said].”

White lives
Amnesty International’s Ann Burroughs calls on US President Barack Obama to stop trying to wage a “global war” that places more value on the lives of some than others:

“Though not rife with the blatant racism that underlay apartheid, these abusive practices persist because the rights and dignity of non-Americans are treated as expendable. Imagine for a moment the U.S. government killing, without explanation, 17 white, Christian Americans in Utah, whom the media termed right-wing ‘suspected militants’ though the government provided no evidence to prove it. Or imagine American prisons holding 89 white Christian American ‘extremists’ without charge or trial, including 56 who a government task force had cleared to leave.
President Obama has sought to distance himself from the abusive post-9/11 policies of torture and rendition, and his Administration has repudiated some of the most Islamophobic rhetoric dominating debates about national security. Yet the message that Guantanamo and secret drone strikes send to the world is that white American lives are worth more than brown or black lives.”

Not on the guest list
Ben Rawlence writes in the New Yorker about an NGO-organized film festival, held at the world’s largest refugee camp, to which Dadaab’s residents were largely not invited:

“Alas, the refugees did not watch ‘Sentinelle di Bronzo,’ nor did they watch most of the other films in the festival, which, it turns out, is not for the refugees at all but, rather, for the aid workers in their fortified compound…The sum total of the festival in the refugee camp itself was a morning of short documentaries made by refugees and shown on large TVs in tents guarded by armed police. The audience was entirely made up of children who sat quietly on mats for a short while but who showed far more excitement at the traditional dances that followed.”

Latest Developments, August 15

In the latest news and analysis…

Window dressing
The New York Times reports the US is cancelling war games but so far maintaining massive military aid to Egypt, as President Obama said the violent crackdown against protestors in Cairo means “traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual”:

“Mr. Obama’s announcement, though less sweeping than other potential steps like suspending $1.3 billion in American military aid to Egypt, is the first concrete American response to the violence, which American officials for weeks have urged the Egyptian authorities to avoid.
The joint military exercises, known as Bright Star, were scheduled to start next month.

The president said he had asked his national security staff to study whether further measures were warranted, given the widespread bloodshed in Cairo and other cities.”

Workers in diapers
ABC News reports on alleged “problems” at a Korean-owned factory in Honduras that makes parts for American cars:

“For starters, workers at this factory claim that the company has restricted bathroom time so severely that some female employees have actually chosen to wear diapers on the assembly line to avoid wetting themselves.
Workers also accuse the company of firing almost anyone who joins the factory’s union, especially those who take on leadership roles. Union leaders claim that Kyungshin-Lear forces pregnant women to stand up for hours as they assemble electrical wiring systems for U.S. cars, and say that the company has violated workers’ rights to privacy by placing video cameras in the factory’s bathrooms.”

Tax-haven aid
The Guardian reports that the “investment arm” of the UK government’s aid agency is routing much of its money through tax havens:

“A Guardian analysis of data released in response to a Freedom of Information request reveals how the CDC spent almost £180m of a total £375m of development money via Mauritius, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Guernsey, Jersey and Vanuatu.

Wholly owned by [the Department for International Development], CDC is supposed to be a ‘pioneering investor’ in developing countries. Its net investments count as official aid, and towards meeting the UK commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income as aid. Coalition development secretaries have pushed for increased private sector investment as a core plank of British aid policy.

Development experts said the CDC’s use of tax havens undermined the UK’s efforts to help poor countries.”

Sweet deal
Reuters reports that Italian oil giant Eni has agreed to pay the Mozambican government a single-digit tax rate on the $4.2 billion sale of a gas field stake:

“Analysts had estimated that the oil and gas group’s tax bill on the deal could be as high as $1.35 billion if Mozambique imposed capital gains tax of 32 percent – a fixed rate its parliament tried to make law in December.
President Armando Guebuza has put the draft law on hold.
‘On the face of it, it seems to me a very good rate indeed,’ Mediobanca Securities oil analyst Andrea Scauri said.”

Trade over democracy
Trent University’s Paula Butler and York University graduate student Evans Rubara question the legality of the new Canada-Tanzania investment agreement if, as it seems, the negotiations were not “subject to a legitimate democratic process”:

“Given Canada’s stated commitment to supporting transparency in governance practices in countries of the Global South, did Canada take any steps to encourage or enable the Tanzanian government to popularize the content of the proposed investment agreement, educate the citizenry and provide forums for discussion and debate?
Notably, the official signed version of the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement between the United Republic of Tanzania and Canada is written only in Canada’s two official languages – English and French – and not in Kiswahili. Does a Kiswahili translation exist, and if so, has it been circulated to Tanzanian stakeholders such as parliamentarians, local governments and civil society organizations? It appears not.”

Rights of nature
Environment & Energy Publishing reports on an American environmentalist who is calling for “a paradigm shift in how laws — and, thus, the courts — view nature”:

“The nation’s most important environmental laws, [the Earth Law Center’s Linda Sheehan] argues, condone the degradation of natural resources and threats to public health by allowing polluters to continue discharging contaminants, albeit within permit limits. The laws view the environment as property, she contends, instead of taking a more holistic view. Nature, she argues, has inherent legal rights.
Welcome to the ‘rights of nature’ movement, which Sheehan compares to earlier crusades to secure full rights of citizenship for African-Americans and women. Both groups, she notes, were once considered property.”

Fear & loathing in Yemen
Reuters reports on the anger stoked among Yemenis by the recent spate of US drone strikes in their country:

“Drones have killed at least 37 people in just over two weeks amid extra security measures that have frayed Yemeni nerves.
In Sanaa, a U.S. reconnaissance plane buzzed overhead for hours each day and security checkpoints mushroomed across the capital during the normally joyous Muslim Eid al-Fitr feast.
‘[President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi] has done nothing for Yemen, except to let American planes kill people whose guilt is not known,’ complained Majida al-Maqtari, a Sanaa school teacher who said she had voted for Hadi in the last election but would back an opponent next time.”

Diminishing renewables
The Copenhagen Consensus Center’s Bjørn Lomborg scoffs at the notion that the world is relying more and more on renewable energy sources:

“The most renewables-intensive places in the world are also the poorest. Africa gets almost 50% of its energy from renewables, compared to just 8% for the [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]. Even the European OECD countries, at 11.8%, are below the global average.
The reality is that humanity has spent recent centuries getting away from renewables. In 1800, the world obtained 94% of its energy from renewable sources. That figure has been declining ever since.”

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.”