Latest Developments, August 23

In the latest news and analysis…

With rebel forces having overrun Moammar Gadhafi’s main Tripoli compound, the international community – despite the occasional voice that cautions “the game isn’t over yet” and the long-time leader’s vow to fight to the death – is increasingly discussing a post-Gadhafi Libya, Middle East and world. The Christian Science Monitor’s Scott Baldauf wonders if Africa will miss Gadhafi who, for all his well-publicized faults, also was the “the single-largest contributor to the budget of the African Union, a prime aid donor for poor African countries, and a dependable advocate for pan-African cooperation.” UC Irvine historian Mark LeVine presents an “initial Libyan scorecard” on which the big losers – aside from Gadhafi and his close associates – include the UN because of NATO’s flagrant disregard for the rules of engagement set out by Security Council resolutions and the International Criminal Court because it will once again look like a dispenser of victors’ justice. But Open Society’s Alison Cole says it is “crucial for the maintaining of international justice that the ICC arrest warrants are implemented through the transfer of the three suspects to The Hague,” regardless of whether or not Libya is willing and able to conduct the trials itself.

In other prominent legal news, a New York judge has dismissed sexual assault charges against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn because the prosecution had lost faith in the reliability of the alleged victim as a witness, despite “the finding of Strauss-Kahn’s semen in three places on Diallo’s hotel uniform.” Commenting on an unrelated case, a UN official has called on the US to do more to protect women from domestic violence.

The Guardian’s Jason Burke writes about the 9/11 wars and their cost, estimating the total numbers of dead at 250,000 and of injured at 750,000: “This may be fewer than the losses inflicted on combatants and non-combatants during the murderous major conflicts of the 20th century but still constitutes a very large number of people.” The Council on Foreign Relations’ Stewart Patrick instead focuses on the “bright spots” of international efforts against perceived terror threats over the last decade. He points to “a more robust legal architecture to combat this scourge,” as well as agreements regarding money laundering and nuclear weapons. Patrick also says the US “has renounced torture, as well as extraordinary rendition and ghost prisons,” though the Nation’s Jeremy Scahill’s recent work on Somalia suggests that may not be the case. Meanwhile, Sudan is not happy it is still stuck on the US terror list, even after agreeing to last month’s secession of South Sudan. “We have been promised time after time … that once a peace agreement is passed, Sudan will be lifted from the list of countries harboring terrorism,” according to former Sudanese ambassador to the US, Mahdi Ibrahim. “But each time we realize the bar is raised.”

As for the war on drugs, Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza says countries with large numbers of drug users should “not put all the blame on drugs producing countries, but rather assume the responsibility as the countries to which drugs are destined.”

A subsidiary of Canada’s Barrick Gold is in talks with the Tanzanian government “over allocating mining areas to artisanal miners” around one of its projects, a measure the country’s home affairs minister described as “the only way” to restore peace to the surrounding area. The company says May clashes between villagers and police caused seven deaths at its North Mara mine.

Bloomberg reports Finland’s Nokia Siemens surveillance technology is being used by Bahraini intelligence against democracy activists who say they were tortured as a result of their text messages. But the company has done nothing illegal, according to the report: “Companies are free to sell such equipment almost anywhere. For the most part, the U.S. and European countries lack export controls to deter the use of such systems for repression.”

Acclaimed author Arundhati Roy suggests there is a suspicious level of corporate support for India’s proposed anti-corruption law: “At a time when the State is withdrawing from its traditional duties and Corporations and NGOs are taking over government functions (water supply, electricity, transport, telecommunication, mining, health, education); at a time when the terrifying power and reach of the corporate owned media is trying to control the public imagination, one would think that these institutions — the corporations, the media, and NGOs — would be included in the jurisdiction of a Lokpal bill. Instead, the proposed bill leaves them out completely.” She continues, writing that “by demonising only the Government they have built themselves a pulpit from which to call for the further withdrawal of the State from the public sphere and for a second round of reforms — more privatisation, more access to public infrastructure and India’s natural resources.”

The Center for Global Development’s Lawrence MacDonald says construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would connect Canada’s “tar sands” to refineries in Texas would amount to dropping “the world’s biggest carbon bomb” on India and other countries threatened by rising sea levels and adverse weather conditions. “Perhaps it’s time that India and other developing countries hard hit by runaway climate change turn the tables and start asking tough questions about U.S. energy policy in general and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline in particular,” according to MacDonald. He says now is the time to speak up as the State Department holds hearings ahead of a decision on whether or not to approve the project by the end of the year.


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