Latest Developments, July 30

In the latest news and analysis…

Official xenophobia
The Guardian reports on divisions within the British government over a campaign telling illegal immigrants to “go home” and a possible move to require residents of certain countries to pay a security deposit before visiting:

“A day after the Liberal Democrat business secretary, Vince Cable, called the campaign ‘stupid and offensive’, a No 10 [Downing Street] spokesman said [UK PM] David Cameron disagreed, adding that the posters and leaflets were attracting ‘a great deal of interest’.
In a separate move, Lib Dem sources said that a Home Office plan to force visitors from certain Asian and African countries to pay a £3,000 bond before being allowed to visit the UK had not been agreed within the coalition. Reports saying the plan had been signed off prompted a particularly angry reaction from India.”

Mali election
Reuters reports that Mali’s presidential vote went fairly smoothly on Sunday, suggesting “world powers, especially France” were right to insist on the hastily organized election:

“Chief EU observer Louis Michel said on Monday the election took place in a calm atmosphere and participation exceeded 50 percent in some places.
Turnout at some polling stations visited by Reuters on Sunday was more than 50 percent, while participation in previous presidential elections has never exceeded 40 percent.
‘No major incidents were reported even though there were some imperfections,’ Michel told journalists in Bamako.
Some Malians had difficulty finding polling stations and thousands displaced by the war are likely to have missed the vote as they would not have received the newly-printed ID cards.”

Opinion shift
The Guardian reports on a new poll indicating that for the first time since the 9/11 attacks, more Americans are worried about their civil liberties than the threat of terrorism:

“Among other things, Pew finds that ‘a majority of Americans – 56% – say that federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism efforts.’ And ‘an even larger percentage (70%) believes that the government uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism.’ Moreover, ‘63% think the government is also gathering information about the content of communications.’ That demonstrates a decisive rejection of the US government’s three primary defenses of its secret programs: there is adequate oversight; we’re not listening to the content of communication; and the spying is only used to Keep You Safe™.”

Global citizenship
The New York Times marks the passing of Garry Davis, the “self-declared World Citizen No. 1” who believed the end of nation-states would mean the end of war:

“The One World model has had its share of prominent adherents, among them Albert Schweitzer, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Einstein and E. B. White.
But where most advocates have been content to write and lecture, Mr. Davis was no armchair theorist: 60 years ago, he established the World Government of World Citizens, a self-proclaimed international governmental body that has issued documents — passports, identity cards, birth and marriage certificates — and occasional postage stamps and currency.

In November 1948, six months after renouncing his [US] citizenship in Paris, Mr. Davis stormed a session of the United Nations General Assembly there.
‘We, the people, want the peace which only a world government can give,’ he proclaimed. ‘The sovereign states you represent divide us and lead us to the abyss of total war.’ ”

Charitable-industrial complex
Peter Buffett, chairman of the NoVo Foundation and son of multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, discusses the dangers of “philanthropic colonialism” and “conscience laundering”:

“Inside any important philanthropy meeting, you witness heads of state meeting with investment managers and corporate leaders. All are searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left.

As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to ‘give back.’ It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.
But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.”

Unmanned & warrantless
The Washington Times reports that the FBI has told the US Congress it does not see any need to obtain case-by-case permission for drone surveillance:

“Then, in a follow-up letter [Senator Rand] Paul released Monday, [assistant director for the FBI’s congressional liaison office Stephen D.] Kelly said they don’t believe they ever need to obtain a warrant to conduct drone surveillance as long as it’s done within guidelines.
He said they take their lead from several Supreme Court cases that don’t deal directly with drones but do cover manned aerial surveillance.”

Smear tactics
Inter Press Service reports that the efforts by American “vulture capitalists” to make huge profits off Argentina’s 2001 debt default go well beyond the courtroom:

“The public relations effort, which focuses on Argentina’s increasingly friendly relations with Iran, comes as the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is weighing whether to side with Argentina before the Supreme Court in its battle with Wall Street.

That the White House is backing away from its earlier defences of Argentina indicates that the millions of dollars U.S. hedge funds have spent lobbying members of the administration, Congress and the press are starting to change the debate, with Iran about as popular as Iraq was in 2002.”

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