Latest Developments, August 7

In the latest news and analysis…

Battlefield Yemen
UPI reports on the recent escalation of the American drone campaign in Yemen and the possibility of a US Joint Special Operations Command strike:

“JSOC is the special operations unit that killed U.S.-born Yemeni cleric and al-Qaida member Anwar al-Awlaki with Hellfire missiles in Yemen two years ago next month.
The unit, part of the U.S. Special Operations Command, cooperates closely with the CIA, which resumed drone strikes in Yemen 11 days ago to disrupt al-Qaida’s terrorism plot, the BBC and The Washington Post reported.
The campaign — with four strikes in rapid succession — ends a period in which U.S. drone activity in Yemen has been relatively rare, the Post said.
It’s not clear if the renewed attacks, including a strike in Yemen’s eastern Marib region Tuesday, curbed the danger, U.S. officials told the Post, acknowledging they didn’t know if senior al-Qaida operatives in Yemen had been killed.”

Outsourcing refugees
Al Jazeera reports that Australia (area: 7,692,024 km²) has signed a new deal with Nauru (area: 21 km²) which has agreed to take sea-faring asylum seekers off its hands:

“The memorandum of understanding is similar to a deal [Australian Prime Minister Kevin] Rudd struck with Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill a fortnight ago.
Mr Rudd says refugees who arrive in Australia will be sent offshore for processing and will be free to ‘settle and reside in Nauru’.

The announcement comes just a fortnight after asylum seekers being held on Nauru rioted, causing extensive damage to the facility there.
In its economic statement yesterday, the Federal Government said its offshore processing plan was expected to cost $1.1 billion.
The latest announcement is part of Labor’s move to ensure no asylum seeker that arrives in Australia by boat will be resettled in Australia.”

Somali oil
The Financial Times reports that Somalia’s government has given first dibs on oil exploration to former UK Tory leader Michael Howard’s “newly formed” company:

“The weak new government, the most representative in years, said earlier this year the broken state was too fragile to risk oil exploration because it was likely to pit different regions and warlords against each other. UN investigators also said in a report this year that inconsistencies in the legal framework regulating oil ‘risk exacerbating clan divisions and therefore threaten peace and security’.

The UK has hosted a Somalia conference two years running, including a day dedicated to business deals attended by oil executives, and this year opened an embassy within the secure airport area in Mogadishu. A diplomat from the UK also beat Norway to head up the UN mission to Somalia.”

Drug deal
Intellectual Property Watch reports that Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has agreed to reduce the cost of an HIV-related drug by up to 90 percent in some countries:

“In the past, [the Medicines Patent Pool] has received criticism for leaving key middle-income countries out of its licensing agreements. The prevalence of patients diagnosed with [cytomegalovirus] retinitis is 14.0% (11.8-16.2%) of people living with HIV in Asia, 12.0% (4.2-19.9%) in Latin America, and 2.2% (1.3-3.1%) in Africa, according to the MPP release.
Despite CMV prevalence in Latin America, major countries in the region such as Brazil and Mexico, are missing from the new agreement with Roche.”

Unaccountable peacekeeping
A new report out of Yale University argues the UN “caused great harm to hundreds of thousands of Haitians” by introducing cholera to a country it was meant to stabilize:

“ ‘The U.N.’s ongoing unwillingness to hold itself accountable to victims violates its obligations under international law. Moreover, in failing to lead by example, the U.N. undercuts its very mission of promoting the rule of law, protecting human rights, and assisting in the further development of Haiti,’ [co-author Tassity] Johnson said.

The report calls for setting up a claims commission, as well as providing a public apology, direct aid to victims, infrastructural support, and adequate funding for the prevention and treatment of cholera. It also emphasizes that the prevention of similar harms in the future requires that the U.N. commit to reforming the waste management practices of its peacekeepers and complying with its contractual and international law obligations.”

War on coal
Princeton University’s Peter Singer argues that we will have to leave “about 80%” of known fossil fuels in the ground in order to save the planet:

“The dividing lines may be less sharp than they were with apartheid, but our continued high level of greenhouse-gas emissions protects the interests of one group of humans – mainly affluent people who are alive today – at the cost of others. (Compared to most of the world’s population, even the American and Australian coal miners who would lose their jobs if the industry shut down are affluent.) Our behavior disregards most of the world’s poor, and everyone who will live on this planet in centuries to come.

In these circumstances, to develop new coal projects is unethical, and to invest in them is to be complicit in this unethical activity.”

Paranoid nation
The Economist calls the extent of the US government’s prioritization of security over liberty “unjust, unwise and un-American”:

“The indefinite incarceration of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay without trial was a denial of due process. It was legal casuistry to redefine the torture of prisoners with waterboarding and stress positions as ‘enhanced interrogation’. The degradation of Iraqi criminals in Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, extraordinary rendition and the rest of it were the result of a culture, led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, that was both unAmerican and a recruiting sergeant for its enemies. Mr Obama has stopped the torture, but Guantánamo remains open and the old system of retribution has often been reinforced.

Every democracy needs its secrets. But to uncover the inevitable abuses of power, every democracy needs leaks too.”

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