Latest Developments, March 20

In the latest news and analysis…

Mining tax
The BBC reports that Australia’s senate has passed a controversial 30-percent tax on coal and iron mining companies.
“The Australian government originally announced a 40% mining tax in May 2010, but that set off intense opposition from the mining companies.
That opposition was central to the Labor party’s decision in June to replace Kevin Rudd as prime minister with Ms Gillard.
She then negotiated a 30% tax with the mining giants.”

Libyan airstrike victims
Amnesty International’s Sanjeev Bery writes that NATO “has not fulfilled its responsibility to the survivors” a year on from the start of its military intervention in Libya.
“But scores of Libyan civilians who did not directly participate in the conflict were killed as a result of the airstrikes, and many more were injured.  In the four months since the end of the military campaign, NATO has yet to contact survivors or share information resulting from its investigations.

NATO officials have a duty to ensure that a prompt, independent, impartial, and thorough investigation is conducted.  They also have a duty to investigate whether NATO participants in the conflict violated international humanitarian law in striking Mustafa [Naji al-Morabit]’s home.
Finally, all victims of violations of international humanitarian law — and their families – must receive reparations.  The air strikes campaign may be over, but for civilian victims, the suffering continues.”

Ultrasound legislation
In a guest post on the Whatever blog, an anonymous physician calls for “a little old-fashioned civil disobedience” in response to proposed legislation in several US states that would make transvaginal ultrasounds mandatory for women considering an abortion.
“I do not feel that it is reactionary or even inaccurate to describe an unwanted, non-indicated transvaginal ultrasound as ‘rape’. If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise.

Our position is to recommend medically-indicated tests and treatments that have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio… and it is up to the patient to decide what she will and will not allow. Period. Politicians do not have any role in this process. NO ONE has a role in this process but the patient and her physician. If anyone tries to get in the way of that, it is our duty to run interference.”

Namibian genocide
Pambazuka News and AfricAvenir International present a collection of articles disputing the current German government’s claim that the country bears “relatively light colonial baggage.”
“Germany, which has done commendable remembrance work about the Holocaust, seems to have forgotten or deliberately buried its violent colonial past. A past that hides the first genocide of the 20th century, planned and executed by the Second Reich or Kaiserreich. A past that laid not only the foundation for racist theories and pseudoscientific medical experiments on humans – in this case Africans supposed inferiority was to be proven – but also produced, with its concentration camps in Africa, the blueprint for the later Nazi death camps. The way in which Germany tries to silence this past seems to prove Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab right when he assumes that the reason for this genocide not being discussed and treated like the Holocaust is mainly due to the fact that it was aimed against black people: ‘Germany apologised for crimes against Israel, Russia or Poland, because they are dealing with whites. We are black and if there is therefore a problem in apologising, that is racist.’ ”

Misguided assistance
In a New York Times op-ed, Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama opposes “increased military action” in Uganda and its wider region as advocated in the viral video Kony 2012.
“The locals never forgot that Mr. Kony’s nine lives were licensed by the politics of the posse that has been hunting for him. Some northern politicians accused the Ugandan government of criminal negligence or settling old political scores. Others, outraged by the conditions the government had subjected them to, sympathized with Mr. Kony. Most were simply tired of war and supported peace talks to end the conflict. If America backed an ambitious regional political solution instead of a military one, it is quite possible that the L.R.A. and other militant groups would cease to exist. But without such a bargain, the violence won’t end.
Killing Mr. Kony may remove him from the battlefield but it will not cure the conditions that have allowed him to thrive for so long.”

Undermining justice
Daraja’s Ben Taylor argues a settlement payment made by UK defence company BAE Systems to Tanzania without any admission of guilt may do more harm than good.
“There is no satisfactory conclusion for the people of Tanzania, where the investigation’s premature closure undermines the cause of justice and accountability. As Tanzanian media tycoon Reginald Mengi tweeted (in Swahili): ‘The radar money has been paid. Nobody has been prosecuted. They say there’s no evidence. Is the war on corruption just words?’ ”

Sharing racism’s burden
The City University of New York’s Gloria Browne-Marshall argues for the continued necessity of affirmative action ahead of a big test before the US Supreme Court later this year.
“America, like other nations, has a flaw in its societal fabric. In other countries, it may be religion, class, caste, color – here it is race. It is an American plight.
Ending affirmative action after only thirty years ignores the vestiges of the last 300 years. As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor explained in Adarand v. Pena, the ‘unhappy persistence of both the practice and the lingering effects of racial discrimination against minority groups in this country is an unfortunate reality, and government is not disqualified from acting in response to it.’ ”

Human rights chain responsibility
University of West England doctoral student David Kisiaky makes the case for a “contractual requirement on every relevant person and business in a supply chain to promote the respect and protection of human rights” as an alternative to the unbridled pursuit of profits.
“Several individuals and organisations including the UN now believe that one of the ways of rectifying such disparities [between the world’s rich and poor] is to require all businesses to adopt a moral legal culture which will ensure that human rights are respected ‘across their entire business operation, including their supply chains.’

There comes a time when our social order requires the formulation of new normativities. But above all, the implementation of new moral norms requires the authoritative force of positive law for the norms to have any meaningful and wide-reaching practical benefit to humanity.”

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