In the latest news and analysis…
ProPublica reports that the US government will not be releasing the findings of its inquiry into the killing of “perhaps thousands of Taliban prisoners of war” in Afghanistan:
“The investigation found that no U.S. personnel were involved, said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. Other than that, she said, there is ‘no plan to release anything.’
The silence leaves many unanswered questions about what may have been one of the worst war crimes since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, including why previous American investigations were shut down, and how evidence was destroyed in the case.”
The Kilburn Times reports that multiple witnesses at a London Tube station say they saw “aggressive, intimidating” UK immigration officers “specifically targeting non-white individuals” in an apparent search for illegal immigrants:
“Kensal Rise resident Phil O’Shea told the Times he was threatened with arrest when he asked what was going on.
He said: ‘I thought the behaviour of the immigration officers was heavy-handed and frightening. They appeared to be stopping and questioning every non-white person, many of whom were clearly ordinary Kensal Green residents going to work.’
Last week, the Home Office rolled out a controversial campaign where billboards warning illegal immigrants to ‘go home or face arrest’ would be driven around Brent and five other boroughs in London.”
The US Public Interest Research Group has published a new study finding that 82 of the top 100 publicly-traded US corporations have subsidiaries in offshore tax havens:
“All told, these 82 companies maintain 2,686 tax haven subsidiaries. The 15 companies with the most money held offshore collectively operate 1,897 tax haven subsidiaries.
Bank of America: The bank reports having 316 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – more than any other company. The bank, which was kept afloat by taxpayers during the 2008 financial meltdown, now keeps $17.2 billion offshore, on which it would otherwise owe $4.5 billion in U.S. taxes.”
Jeune Afrique reports that France plans a “recentering” of its aid to focus on 16 African countries, 13 of which are former colonies:
“The focus countries are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Comoros, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, RD Congo, Chad, Togo and Senegal.
The government also wants to prioritize ‘transparency’ and ‘aid effectiveness.’ For assistance to Mali, therefore, a website will be launched in the coming weeks to give precise information on the projects funded.” [Translated from the French.]
York University’s Shin Imai argues the global mining industry’s current “standards of conduct” are inadequate for regulating the overseas activities of Canadian companies:
“While these corporate social responsibility codes could be useful if well implemented, they are all voluntary, and do not have any enforcement mechanisms for addressing breaches of the code. Resource extraction is a highly intrusive, highly dangerous activity. Regulating this activity through voluntary codes is like repealing the Highway Traffic Act and leaving the regulation of Highway 401 to a voluntary code – drafted by truckers.
HudBay Minerals, for example, reports annually on its corporate social responsibility activities in a glossy fifty page report. The 2012 edition says that ‘strong community relationships are the foundation of our work.’ It is odd, then, that HudBay would assure investors of its interest in the welfare of the community, proceed to make profits out of the mine and then wash its hands of any abuses committed to produce those profits.
However, in the words of former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie, commenting on the idea that courts should start to hear cases of corporate abuse abroad, ‘there are acts that are so repugnant that they should force us to rethink our law.’ ”
Selling the coup
Ken Silverstein argues in Harper’s Magazine that the ambivalent US reaction to the recent coup in Egypt is just the latest example of America’s selective enthusiasm for democracy:
“You cannot preach about democracy then accept the outcome only if your side triumphs. In 2006, Hamas won a devastating victory in legislative elections in the Palestinian Authority. The following year, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas dissolved a Hamas-led unity government and swore in an emergency cabinet, leading the Obama Administration to reinstate aid that had been suspended under Hamas’ rule. This type of hypocrisy heightens anti-Americanism, sends the message that elections are meaningless, and encourages terrorism.
On Sunday, I came across this line from Voltaire in the documentary The Act of Killing: ‘It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.’ Though the film is about events in Indonesia in 1965, it brought to mind the intellectual contortions of Egyptian-coup supporters who have justified the mass killings of Islamists in the name of democracy. Back in 1965 it was Islamic militias killing Communists in the name of democracy. The common denominator is that the killers were seen as pro-Western — and so, the trumpets are sounding once again in America.”
The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney calls on Australia to abandon the “secrecy, exclusion and contest” underlying plans for radioactive waste disposal on Aboriginal land:
“The Muckaty plan lacks consent at home and credibility abroad. It is flawed and failing and it is time for a new approach – one that reflects and is informed by best practise, sound science and respect.
Australia has never had an independent assessment of what is the best (or least worst) way to manage our radioactive waste. Decades ago unelected bureaucrats decided a centralised remote dump was the best model and ever since a chain reaction of politicians have tried – and failed – to find a compliant postcode.”
Mondoweiss transcribes recent comments by Noam Chomsky who scoffs at American demands that NSA leaker Edward Snowden be returned to face punishment in the US, a country Chomsky says is “one of the leaders in refusing extradition”:
“For years Bolivia has been trying to extradite from the United States the former president who’s already indicted in Bolivia for all sorts of crimes. The US refuses to extradite him.
In fact one of the most striking cases is Latin America, again, not just Bolivia. One of the world’s leading terrorists is Luis Posada, who was involved in blowing up a Cubana airliner which killed 73 people and lots of other terrorist acts. He’s sitting happily in… Miami, and his colleague Rolando Bosch also a major terrorist… is happily there… Cuba and Venezuela are trying to extradite them. But you know. Fat chance.”