Latest Developments, October 25

In the latest news and analysis…

Cheap oil
Reuters reports on a study that suggests “cut price deals” between politicians and multinational oil companies have cost Nigeria billions in lost revenue over the last decade:

“Nigeria LNG, a company jointly owned by the [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation], Shell, Total and Eni had paid the country for gas at cut-down prices before exporting it to international markets, the report said.
Total and Eni declined to comment because they invest in but do not operate Nigeria LNG, the role played by Shell.
‘The estimated cumulative of the deficit between value obtainable on the international market and what is currently being obtained from NLNG, over the 10 year period, amounts to approximately $29 billion,’ the report said.”

Pollution problems
The Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross have released a new report that claims toxic pollution from industrial sites imposes a “global burden of disease” comparable to that of malaria and tuberculosis:

“E-waste is the general term for electronic waste from discarded computers and printers, cell phones, televisions and other related consumer products. Consumer demand drives the technological innovation that creates a cycle of obsolescence in which new devices are turned over almost yearly. This constant stream of new products results in an urgent and complex waste problem, it is estimated that 500 million computers became obsolete in the U.S. between 1997 and 2007, and computers represent only a small percentage of e-waste. Total global e-waste estimates number between 20 and 50 million tons annually. The waste is rarely processed in developed countries; an estimated 70 percent of it is imported to China. In the Blacksmith Institute’s database there are almost 50 sites polluted by e-waste, potentially putting close to 600,000 people at risk. Of the 50 sites, majorities are located in China with Africa and South America holding several sites as well.”

Water futures
The City University of New York’s Frederick Kaufman argues that the establishment of a “global water commodities market” must not be allowed to happen:

“Making money come out of the tap means that fresh water must be given a price anywhere it is traded — a global price that can be arbitraged across the continents. Those in Mumbai or midtown Manhattan who understand the increasing value of water in the world economy will speculate on this undervalued ‘asset’, and their investments will drive up the cost everywhere. A water calamity in China or India — and the food inflation, political instability and humanitarian crisis that will surely follow — will reverberate in price spikes from London to Sydney. This is how bankers will profit.
Economists have begun to model a global water-based futures market featuring financial puts, calls, shorts, longs, exchange-traded funds, indices of indices, options piled on top of options, and all sorts of opportunity for over-the-counter swaps.”

Dead activists
The Mex Files reports that two opponents of a Canadian-owned mine have been shot dead in northern Mexico:

“[Ismael Solorio Urrutia] had met with Chihuahua officials last week to complain about threats against him, his family and members of El Barzon by employees of the Cascabel mine in Ejido Benito Juarez (San Buenaventura Municipio). The mine is owned by the Canadian firm Mag Silver. Both Solorio and his son, Eric, were physically attacked by mining company employees on 13 October.

As of right now, members of El Barzon, and other groups are occupying the state capital building, demanding  Governor César Duarte provide answers to what they are calling a ‘Crime of State’. El Observador (Chihuahua, Chihuahua) is reporting that unofficial sources are saying four persons were detained by the army as the supposed hitmen, but — as always — who pulled the trigger is less important than who ordered the triggers pulled.”

Risky project
The Bank Information Center reports that the Inter-American Development Bank has agreed to finance hydroelectric projects in Panama that violate its own policy:

“An IDB audit confirms that the Bank approved the loan to co-finance two dams in Panama despite knowledge that the project fails to meet Bank safeguards. The Pando y Monte Lirio dams will divert 90 percent of the River’s water, together with 25 other similar dams in construction or planned for the Chiriquí Viejo River, will transform it into a series of isolated pools with obvious harm to the region’s biodiversity and people that depend on the river.

There is still no acceptable cumulative impact study. The ecological flows study represents the single most important risk assessment instrument, which the client has repeatedly missed deadlines to produce.”

Kill list redux
Wired’s Spencer Ackerman describes the Obama administration’s newly revealed so-called disposition matrix as a “permanent robotic death list”:

“There’s a rhetorical consensus in Washington that, as Romney said at Monday’s debate, the U.S. ‘can’t kill our way out of this mess.’ It’s spoken so often it’s a cliche. But in practice, killing appears to be the mainstay of U.S. efforts: nearly 3,000 people have been slain by drone strikes, according to a Post online database, including an undisclosed number of civilians. And the security agencies are preparing for even more.

Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that’s his legacy. Administration officials embraced drone strikes because they viewed them as an acceptable alternative to conventional ground warfare, which it considered too costly and too public, but the tactic has now become practically the entire strategy.”

Trade negligence
Amnesty International’s Alex Neve and Kathy Price argue that the Canadian government is not living up to its promise to monitor the human rights impact of its free trade deal with Colombia:

“The trade deal opens the door for ever greater numbers of Canadian companies to join the influx into Indigenous lands. That in turn gives rise to the troubling possibility of Canadian companies being implicated in human rights violations or benefiting from abuses that have already taken place.

To win Liberal Party support for implementing legislation, the government did agree to yearly human rights reports after the deal was launched, but the reports lack credibility since they are prepared by the two governments themselves and have no teeth to act on recommendations.
By law, the first report was due four months ago, in mid-May. Shockingly, it contained no information at all about human rights impacts. The government said it was too early and that there was not yet enough information to assess.”

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