Latest Developments, August 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Warehouses for forgetting
The Washington Post reports that US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced plans to dial down America’s war on drugs by doing away with charges requiring mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug offences:

“He also introduced a policy to reduce sentences for elderly, nonviolent inmates and find alternatives to prison for nonviolent criminals.

‘We must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is, in too many ways, broken,’ Holder said. ‘And with an outsized, unnecessarily large prison population, we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to deter and to rehabilitate — not merely to warehouse and to forget.’
‘A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities,’ Holder said Monday. He added that ‘many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate these problems rather than alleviate them.’ ”

Stopping stop-and-frisk
Reuters reports that a US Judge has ruled the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics unconstitutional, describing them as “indirect racial profiling”:

“[U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin], who presided over the 9-week trial without a jury, ruled the effectiveness of ‘stop and frisk’ was irrelevant.
‘Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime – preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example – but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,’ the ruling said.”

Dash for oil
The Financial Times reports on concerns over the “unusual” oil exploration deal signed between Somalia and ex-UK Conservative leader Michael Howard’s month-old company:

“The deal has unsettled some industry observers who had expected a public licensing round for all the oil blocks. Other more experienced companies had also been queueing up for contracts to undertake surveys. They say it is unusual for Soma, once it has gathered the data, to be able to cherry-pick the best dozen blocks.

‘The UK is promoting transparent and accountable government [but it] hosted a conference and invited all of us,’ said a diplomat who follows Somalia closely. ‘Then that momentum was used to promote British business interests: that could maybe have been more transparent.’ ”

Not-so-imminent threats
The New York Times quotes a “senior” American official as saying the US has “expanded the scope of people we could go after” with drones in Yemen:

“ ‘Before, we couldn’t necessarily go after a driver for the organization; it’d have to be an operations director,’ said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate intelligence issues. ‘Now that driver becomes fair game because he’s providing direct support to the plot.’

Senior American intelligence officials said last week that none of the about three dozen militants killed so far in the drone strikes were ‘household names,’ meaning top-tier leaders of the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But the American official said the strikes had targeted ‘rising stars’ in the Yemen network, people who were more likely to be moving around and vulnerable to attack. ‘They may not be big names now,’ the official said, ‘but these were the guys that would have been future leaders.’ ”

Erasing colonialism
The Guardian reports that by renaming the Caprivi Stip the Zambezi Region, Namibia has “wiped off the map” some of its colonial history:

In 2004 Germany apologised for the colonial-era genocide that killed 65,000 Herero people through starvation and slave labour in concentration camps. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half their population during what a recent book referred to in its title as The Kaiser’s Holocaust.

Today there is still anger among indigenous communities who live in poverty and demand reparations from Germany, their shanty town homes contrasting with vast German-owned farms. [What Dawid Knew author Patricia Glyn] added: ‘The Nama people I researched are still living in a ghetto. They put up a magnificent challenge to the Germans but they are landless. Changing a couple of names doesn’t really crack it. It’s very little and very late.’ ”

Toxic dumping
Euractiv reports that African countries have called for a crackdown on e-waste imports from Europe where it is cheaper to export than to dispose of old electronics:

“Nations that are parties to the Bamako Convention on the export of hazardous waste to Africa met in the Malian capital in June for the first time since the international agreement was agreed in 1991.
In its final declarations, released on Tuesday (6 August), the African representatives called for enforcement of the convention and for tougher national laws.
The Bamako meeting marked “the first time that African parties have by themselves called for rigorous action to prevent e-waste dumping,” said a statement from the Basel Action Network, an environmental group that campaigns against the trade in toxic waste.”

The hardest word
Author John Grisham argues that the US should atone for war on terror “mistakes” such as the incarceration of Nabil Hadjarab, a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France before spending the past 11 years at the Guantanamo Bay prison:

“Hundreds of other Arabs have been sent to Gitmo, chewed up by the system there, never charged and eventually transferred back to their home countries. (These transfers are carried out as secretly and as quietly as possible.) There have been no apologies, no official statements of regret, no compensation, nothing of the sort. The United States was dead wrong, but no one can admit it.

First, admit the mistake and make the apology. Second, provide compensation. United States taxpayers have spent $2 million a year for 11 years to keep Nabil at Gitmo; give the guy a few thousand bucks to get on his feet. Third, pressure the French to allow his re-entry.
This sounds simple, but it will never happen.”

Genocidal team name
Satirical newspaper the Onion “reports” on a new study showing that the Washington Redskins‘ name is “only offensive if you take any amount of time whatsoever to think about its actual meaning”:

“ ‘It has the potential to come across as a degrading relic of an ethnocentric mentality responsible for the destruction of an entire people and their culture, but that’s only if you take a couple seconds to recognize it as something beyond a string of letters,’ [said lead researcher Lawrence Wagner]. Wagner recommended that the NFL franchise should change their name to something more appropriate and historically accurate, such as the Washington Racist Fucks.”

Latest Developments, June 6

In the latest news and analysis…

Torture money
The BBC reports that in announcing a settlement package for victims of colonial-era torture in Kenya, the UK government said it “sincerely regrets” the abuses while rejecting any legal liability for them:

” ‘The British government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration,’ [UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said].
‘The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence.’
Mr Hague said 5,228 victims would receive payments totalling £19.9m following an agreement with lawyers acting for the victims, who have been fighting for compensation for a number of years.
The compensation amounts to about £3,000 per victim and applies only to the living survivors of the abuses that took place.
Mr Hague said Britain still did not accept it was legally liable for the actions of what was a colonial administration in Kenya.”

Bilderberg thaw
Comedy writer Charlie Skelton says that the 2013 edition of the Bilderberg conference marks a departure from the elite gathering’s “cold war policy of disengagement and secrecy” as mainstream news media converge on the event for the first time:

“Four Bilderbergs ago (has it been that long?) there were barely a dozen people outside the conference in Greece. The relationship with the press back then was simple: arrest them. Follow them, harass them, chase them out of town.

Never mind the steady stream of limousined technocrats and hedge-fund billionaires humming up the hill. The weird ritual of ducking delegates, tinted windows and rings of steel. Up on the hill, an ugly looking steel and concrete fence, a paranoid scar on the landscape. But over here in the paddock, in front of news crews, this is where Bilderberg changed.”

Violence silence
The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project has lodged a complaint with the Ontario Securities Commission over a Canadian mining company’s “poor disclosure” concerning violence near its silver project in Guatemala:

“According to Securities Commission requirements, Tahoe Resources must file material changes ‘forthwith’. Company disclosure, however, has been both insufficient and inaccurate.

‘As the company’s only mine project, investors, and the public in general, need to know about the implication of its employees in such an egregious attack, as well as widespread and ongoing opposition to the mine,’ remarked Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada.”

War on pot
Postmedia News reports on a new American Civil Liberties Union study revealing the racial component of US anti-marijuana measures:

“The study shows that literally in every state and community in the U.S. there is a huge racial disparity in marijuana arrests despite the fact that the rate of marijuana use is about identical between whites and blacks.
On average, 3.73 times more blacks are arrested than whites. In some states, this rate rises to five.

The study shows that blacks are targeted no matter where they live, where they go, wealthy or poor, within small or large black communities.”

Unhappy shareholders
The New York Times reports that Walmart’s board of directors will face “largely symbolic” opposition at its annual shareholders’ meeting over perceived ethical lapses:

“A group of investors, including pension plans from Connecticut and Sweden and the United Automobile Workers medical benefits trust, is sponsoring a shareholder proposal related to an inquiry over Wal-Mart Stores’ potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The proposal asks that Wal-Mart disclose whether the company is holding current and former executives financially responsible for breaching company policies.
Calpers, the nation’s largest public pension fund, which owns about $400 million in Wal-Mart shares, says it continues to be concerned about the Mexico inquiry, and it is troubled by recent Wal-Mart supply-chain issues. It says it will vote against several board members and support several shareholder proposals.
‘We’re extremely concerned about Wal-Mart’s monitoring on its supply chain — the fires and deaths in Bangladesh, and other concerns about supply-chain issues in the U.S.,’ said Anne Simpson, senior portfolio manager for investments at Calpers.”

Post-2015 miss
The Green Economy Coalition’s Emily Benson writes that a UN panel’s recommendations for the Millennium Development Goals’ successors were disappointing on the sustainability front:

“The Panel falls short of recognising all of our planetary boundaries, arguably one of the most important research developments in the last decade. It reiterates the commitment on CO2 levels and insists on the need for sustainable consumption and production. But most of the emphasis is on the role of efficiency gains from production and technological advances, rather than tackling issues of how we consume – particularly in rich countries. Taken together, their goals do not measure progress in staying within our ecological limits.”

Evicted and uncompensated
IRIN reports on the plight of 250 people forced from their homes by construction of a mine owned by South Africa’s Anglogold Ashanti, just one of several such incidents in Tanzania in recent years:

“The area, which resembles a refugee camp and is known by residents as Sophiatown – or colloquially, Darfur – is inhabited by farming families who were displaced in 2007 to make way for one of the country’s largest gold mines.

The resettlement issue sparked a legal battle between Mine Mpya’s residents and Anglogold Ashanti. According to the company, no compensation was paid upon eviction because a High Court ruling found that ‘those on the land had no legal rights of occupancy.’ ”

Unburnable fuels
EJOLT’s Nick Meynen writes that European climate and energy policies are “mutually exclusive”:

“While [the Directorate-General for Energy] wants to open Europe for a new source of fossil fuels, [the Directorate-General for Climate Action] is working to prevent 2°C or more of global warming. In 2009, the EU has committed itself to this goal in Copenhagen. Scientists now know that in order to stand a reasonable chance of keeping below 2°C, around 80% of all known fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground as burning them would cause too much global warming. Even The Economist recognizes that we are faced with huge amounts of unburnable fuels. Policymakers in the EU, who read The Economist, know that this liberal magazine is not some environmental activist group crying wolf on the coming apocalypse without checking their sources. But instead of debating which reserves will be kept under the ground and how, the recent EU Energy Summit concluded with the message that Europe needs a shale-gas revolution. If that plan goes ahead, something is deeply rotten in the way policy is made in the EU. The simple truth is that the EU needs to choose which policy it wants: more or less fossil fuels? You can’t have both.”

Latest Developments, April 4

In the latest news and analysis…

Massive leak
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports on the findings of its investigation into offshore financial secrecy, which involved combing through 2.5 million leaked documents:

“The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.
The records detail the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories.
The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization.”

Vested interests
The New York Times reports that a “potent alliance of agribusiness, shipping and charitable groups” is opposing possible changes to US food aid:

“The administration is proposing that the government buy food in developing countries instead of shipping food from American farmers overseas, a process that typically takes months. The proposed change to the international food aid program is expected to save millions in shipping costs and get food more quickly to areas that need it.
The administration is also reportedly considering ending the controversial practice of food aid ‘monetization,’ a process by which Washington gives American-grown grains to international charities. The groups then sell the products on the market in poor countries and use the money to finance their antipoverty programs.
Critics of the practice say it hurts local farmers by competing with sales of their crops.”

Commodified culture
The New York Times also reports that efforts by the Hopi tribe of Arizona to stop an auction of sacred objects in Paris illustrate “a paradox in the way artifacts are repatriated around the world”:

“When a nation like Italy or Cambodia claims ownership of an object in the United States, it typically invokes international accords that require American officials to take up the cases.

The United States does not have similar accords that it could cite in support of the Hopi claim on the Paris auction items. Several experts and activists said the United States had never viewed its own cultural patrimony as a priority because the country is relatively young, has long embraced the concept of free trade and has not historically focused on the cultural heritage issues of American Indians.”

Peace enforcement
The Century Foundation’s Jeffrey Laurenti argues that the UN Security Council’s decision to add a combat force to the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo “could profoundly alter the world’s international security landscape”:

“The unanimous U.N. vote masked some very real concerns that the organization will lose its global moral authority if it becomes associated with fighting wars rather than halting them. Guatemala’s Gert Rosenthal voiced the worry that the United Nations could forfeit its unique role as ‘honest broker’ between adversaries — especially when domestic armed factions are challenging a government.
Yet this is a risk he and the rest of the council were willing to take, given the 15-year deadly record of armed spoilers in eastern Congo. France’s ambassador Gérard Araud celebrated their expected neutralization as ‘a step toward peace enforcement.’ ”

Seed money
The Guardian’s John Vidal writes that the “legendary power” of the US farm biotech industry just got even more spectacular with the signing of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act:

“A revolving door allows corporate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies; US embassies around the world push GM technology onto dissenting countries; government subsidies back corporate research; federal regulators do largely as the industry wants; the companies pay millions of dollars a year to lobby politicians; conservative thinktanks combat any political opposition; the courts enforce corporate patents on seeds; and the consumer is denied labels or information.

According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, [the new legislation] hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems.”

Cockroach effect
The Economist explains why Colombia’s reduced cocaine production is not necessarily cause for celebration:

“History suggests that Peru’s dramatic reining in of coca production in the 1990s helped push the business into Colombia. Now that Colombia is cutting down, the industry seems to be moving back into Peru, where production of coca has increased by some 40% since 2000. The trafficking business, meanwhile, has been taken on by Mexican ‘cartels’, with appalling results in Mexico. Drug-policy geeks call this the ‘balloon effect’: pushing down on drug production in one region causes it to bulge somewhere else. Latin Americans have a better phrase: the efecto cucaracha, or cockroach effect. You can chase the pests out of one corner of your house, but they have an irritating habit of popping up somewhere else.”

No smoking
Oxfam’s Duncan Green calls for a global campaign against tobacco which kills 6 million people worldwide each year, more than any other cause of death:

“Latin America’s new curbs on smoking face resistance from the industry. Philip Morris International, an American tobacco company, has filed a claim against Uruguay at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, an arm of the World Bank, claiming that the country’s anti-smoking measures violate a bilateral investment treaty.

A major tobacco company, Philip Morris, is trying to block the Uruguayan Government’s attempts to limit the devastation. According to a briefing by [the International Institute for Sustainable Development], the company brought the case in 2010 and ‘is challenging three provisions of Uruguay’s tobacco regulations: (1) a ‘single presentation’ requirement that prohibits marketing more than one tobacco product under each brand, (2) a requirement that tobacco packages include “pictograms” with graphic images of the health consequences of smoking (such as cancerous lungs), and (3) a mandate that health warnings cover 80% of the front and back of cigarette packages.’ Philip Morris’ own version of events confirms this.
The ICSID says that the suit is ongoing, with a tribunal meeting in Paris last February.”

Latest Developments, March 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Non-European pontiff
Reuters reports that the Argentine cardinal who has become Francis I, the first ever Latin American pope, faces “sharp questions” about the role he played decades ago in his country’s Dirty War:

“ ‘History condemns him. It shows him to be opposed to all innovation in the Church and above all, during the dictatorship, it shows he was very cozy with the military,’ Fortunato Mallimacci, the former dean of social sciences at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, once said.
His actions during this period strained his relations with many brother Jesuits around the world, who tend to be more politically liberal.
Those who defend [Jorge] Bergoglio say there is no proof behind these claims and, on the contrary, they say the priest helped many dissidents escape during the military junta’s rule.”

Investor bias
Reuters also reports that Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has proposed a bill to “annul” his country’s investment protection treaty with the US:

“Correa, who won a sweeping re-election victory in mid-February, said over the weekend that the OPEC-member country could go bankrupt because arbitration tribunals always rule that Ecuador should pay damages to foreign investors when there is a dispute.
‘These (investment) treaties favor foreign investors over human beings. Anyone can take us to an arbitration tribunal without first going to a national court,’ he said on Saturday.

Ecuador has signed 23 investment protection treaties, which has allowed foreign companies to file 39 arbitration requests at the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), state-run media said on Monday.”

Shareholder battle
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Chevron is moving to block activist shareholders that want the US oil giant to settle a multibillion-dollar lawsuit over alleged environmental destruction in Ecuador:

“ ‘I’ve never had a case of a company playing such hardball tactics against its own shareholders this way,’ said Simon Billenness with Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

‘The feeling among institutional shareholders is we really have to draw a line in the sand here, because we can’t have companies using these tactics against shareholders in the future,’ he said.”

Changing tactics
The BBC reports that Guatemala is looking for bold new ways to deal with drug trafficking beyond what the country’s interior minister calls a “failed” military campaign:

“This idea, being put forward by Guatemala to decriminalise and regulate the international trade in drugs such as heroin and cocaine, is unequivocally condemned by Britain and other Western governments.

Guatemala is not yet clear on how decriminalisation would work. The idea of legal containers of cocaine being loaded onto ships in port might be far-fetched, but with the drugs trade undermining fragile states such as Afghanistan and Burma, its initiative for change is gaining support.”

Getting worse
Al Jazeera reports on the state of the Guantanamo Bay prison more than four years after US President Barack Obama promised to shut down the controversial facility on his first day in office:

“ ‘I think we need to understand what we mean when we talk about closure, we don’t mean transfer or prosecute which is what many of the critics of Guantanamo would like to see happen. When the US government talks about closing Guantanamo, they talk about moving some set of detainees to some other place where they continue to be detained without charge,’ [according to Georgetown University’s Jennifer Daskal].”

Unintended consequences
Makerere University’s Mahmood Mamdani calls the International Criminal Court “the single factor with the most influence” in Kenya’s recent presidential election:

“Whereas the 2010 referendum had a de-ethnicising effect on Kenyan politics, the involvement of the ICC had the opposite effect, re-ethnicising Kenyan politics, with more and more ethnicities organising politically and centrally. The result is that the country has re-divided into two large ethnic coalitions.

The ICC process has polarised politics in Kenya because the electoral process did not unfold on a level playing field. Led by individuals who stand charged before the ICC, one side in the electoral contest is, and so it can not contemplate defeat. The simple fact is that, if defeated, they would lose all.
Everyone knows that the worst thing to do in a contest is to leave your opponent without an escape route. If you do that, you turn the contest into a life-and-death struggle. You transform adversaries into enemies.”

Reporting differently
Cornell University’s Mukoma Wa Ngugi writes that “Western journalists have been left behind by an Africa moving forward”:

“For western journalism to be taken seriously by Africans and Westerners alike, it needs Africans to vouch for stories rather than satirizing them. I am not saying that journalism needs the subject to agree with the content, but the search for journalistic truth takes place within a broad societal consensus. That is, while one may disagree with particular reportage and the facts, the spirit of the essay should not be in question. But Africans are saying that the journalists are not representing the complex truth of the continent; that Western journalists are not only misrepresenting the truth, but are in spirit working against the continent. The good news is there have been enough people questioning the coverage of Africa over the years that Western journalists have had no choice but to do some soul searching. The bad news is that the answers are variations of the problem.”

Radical shift
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie argues that the language of development has changed drastically in the last few years:

“Three words: universality, sustainability and equality – like a non-violent French revolution, all are now unshakeably central to the post-2015 agreement. The absurd conceptualisation of countries as either developed or developing; the ruinous failure to integrate the environment into development; the self-serving attempt to relegate the distribution of wealth to an afterthought – all now consigned to the dustbin.
Where the [Millennium Development Goals] narrative implied we were marching boldly towards the ‘end of development’, to paraphrase Francis Fukuyama’s declaration, such a philosophy will be roundly rebuffed by the new [Sustainable Development Goals] narrative, which calls for profound action in countries that were once self-described as ‘developed’ as much as in much poorer countries.”

Latest Developments, November 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Fallout risk
Agence France-Presse reports that a top Mauritanian politician is warning that foreign military intervention in neighbouring Mali could have “devastating” consequences for the wider region:

” ‘This country which has for a long time been seen as a model of democracy is like a volcano about to erupt,’ national assembly president Messaoud Ould Boulkheir said a day after West African leaders gave the green light to sending 3,300 troops to northern Mali to wrest control from the Islamists.
‘If this volcano awakens, it will dump incandescent ashes over its neighbours,’ he told parliament.”

No air strikes
The Associated Press reports that France’s defense minister has said neither his country nor the EU would use military force to help reunite Mali:

“[Jean-Yves] Le Drian, speaking to reporters in Paris, reiterated France’s longstanding stance that it will not send ground forces in support of the planned international effort led by African troops in Mali. But this time, he sought to make clear that that would mean no French attacks from the air either.
‘As for air support, neither Europe nor France will intervene militarily,’ Le Drian told the European American Press Club. ‘When we say no troops on the ground, that means “troops in the air” too … But bringing in information, intelligence is another thing.’
Other officials have indicated that France could use drones to provide surveillance for ground forces from other countries that are deployed to Mali.”

Corruption pays
The Financial Times reports that European oil giants Shell and Eni have come under fire over a $1.1 billion payment they made last year for a deepwater oil concession off Nigeria’s coast:

“Global Witness says that if the multinationals knew the money would be paid to [Malabu Oil & Gas], the deal could test anti-corruption laws in the UK, US and Italy, ‘for the reason that a substantial monetary “reward” ended up being paid to a company controlled by an individual, who had arguably abused his public position to obtain OPL 245 in opaque circumstances during the Abacha dictatorship’.
The deal illustrates why proposed new EU transparency laws must require extractive industry companies to report payments to governments on a project-by-project basis, according to Simon Taylor, director of Global Witness. Details of the OPL 245 settlement would not have been made public were it not for the New York case.”

News wars
The Associated Press reports that the US military is bankrolling a pair of news websites as part of a “propaganda effort” in Somalia and North Africa:

“[], which launched in February, is slowly attracting readers. The military said that Sabahi averages about 4,000 unique visitors and up to 10,000 articles read per day. The site clearly says under the ‘About’ section that it is run by the U.S. military, but many readers may not go to that link.

The military said there are nine writers who work for Sabahi from Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti and Somalia. The other site — — concentrates on Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
Africom says the websites are part of a larger project that costs $3 million to pay for reporting, editing, translating, publishing, IT costs and overhead. It believes the project is paying dividends.”

Man-made disaster
The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Mark Weisbrot calls on the UN to make amends for causing Haiti’s ongoing deadly cholera epidemic:

“There hadn’t been any cholera in Haiti for at least 100 years, if ever, until some UN troops from South Asia dumped human waste into a tributary of the country’s main water supply. Since then, more than 7,600 Haitians have died and over 600,000 have gotten sick.

After the earthquake, there was much talk about ‘building back better’ in Haiti, with disappointing results. The very least that the international community can do is to fix the damage that its members themselves have caused since the earthquake. That means starting right now, with the urgency that any other country would expect in matters of life and death.”

Ending prohibition
The Open Society Foundations’ Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch argues that last week’s votes in favour of legalizing marijuana by two US states “will drive drug-policy debates worldwide”:

“Given that the US is the biggest backer of the international ‘War on Drugs,’ Colorado and Washington voters’ decision is particularly bold. Regulating marijuana – and the initiatives that could soon follow – has the potential to reduce violence at home and abroad, spare young people from undeserved criminal records, and reduce stigma among vulnerable people.”

Eyeing resources
Inter Press Service reports on growing concerns over Canada’s changing relationship with Africa:

“As the Canadian trade minister and his delegation head to West Africa early next year to unearth opportunities in the extractive resource industry and infrastructure sector, the [Canadian Council for International Cooperation] is also continuing to seek the strengthening of Canadian companies’ corporate social responsibility policies, especially in relation to African mining activities.
“This has very rarely been beneficial for African countries,” [the CCIC’s Sylvie] Perras argued. “We say that it creates jobs, or it creates revenue, but when we look at it more closely, it’s not necessarily the case.”
Mineral-heavy countries have not spurred economic development for their local populations, according to a CCIC backgrounder, as high unemployment rates, debt and poverty are widespread in mining communities.”

Questionable priorities
Satirical newspaper The Onion draws on the salacious media treatment of former CIA head David Petraeus’s resignation to question the American public’s news priorities:

“As they scoured the Internet for more juicy details about former CIA director David Petraeus’ affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, Americans were reportedly horrified today upon learning that a protracted, bloody war involving U.S. forces is currently raging in the nation of Afghanistan.

Sources confirmed that after reading a few paragraphs about the brutal war, the nation quickly became distracted by a headline about Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash’s alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy.”