Latest Developments, September 4

In the latest news and analysis…

Democratic pledge
Le Monde reports on French President François Hollande’s shift toward possibly allowing MPs to vote on military intervention in Syria:

“French socialists have forged a doctrine on sending armed troops abroad. In a 2000 report, François Lamy, a Socialist MP from Essone, pointed to the example of other major democracies to call for a change to the constitution. He proposed it stipulate that ‘the use of French forces outside national territory be subject to parliamentary consultation beforehand’.
The report was presented by the defense commission, one of whose members was François Hollande, the Socialist Party’s first secretary at the time. In keeping with his own and his party’s earlier position, François Hollande called for a parliamentary vote on February 26, 2003 over the possibility of a French intervention in Iraq. Ten years later, with circumstances as they are, it is incumbent upon him to show that the president of the Republic is keeping faith with the pledges of the former first secretary of the Socialist Party.” [Translated from the French.]

War of choice
The Washington Post reports on a new poll suggesting that Americans “widely oppose” missile strikes against Syria:

“Nearly six in 10 oppose missile strikes in light of the U.S. government’s determination that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people. Democrats and Republicans alike oppose strikes by double digit margins, and there is deep opposition among every political and demographic group in the survey. Political independents are among the most clearly opposed, with 66 percent saying they are against military action.

The public expresses even wider opposition to arming Syrian rebels, which President Obama authorized in June. Fully seven in 10 oppose arming rebels, including large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents.”

Turning off the taps
The Associated Press reports that US President Barack Obama’s “top national security aides” have advised him to cut off it massive military aid to Egypt following July’s coup:

“Such a step would be a dramatic shift for an administration that has declined to label Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s July 3 ouster a coup and has argued that it is in U.S. national security interests to keep the aid flowing. It would also likely have profound implications for decades of close U.S.-Egyptian ties that have served as a bulwark of security and stability in the Middle East.
The officials say the recommendation has been with Obama for at least a week but they don’t expect him to make a decision until after the full Congress votes on his request for authorization for military strikes on Syria, which is not expected before Monday.”

Swedish asylum
The Local reports that Sweden has decided to let all its Syrian refugees stay in the country permanently:

“Sweden is the first country in the EU to offer permanent residency to refugees from Syria, news agency TT reported.
The decision covers all asylum seekers from Syria who have been granted temporary residency in Sweden for humanitarian protection.

The decision means that the roughly 8,000 Syrians who have temporary residency in Sweden will now be able to stay in the country permanently.
They will also have the right to bring their families to Sweden.”

Dwindling stockpiles
The Cluster Munition Coalition reports on the past year’s “record-breaking progress” toward eradicating the weapon that was widely banned by a 2008 treaty:

“During 2012, the Netherlands finished the total destruction of its once-massive stockpile of cluster munitions and together with Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and others, destroyed a total of 173,973 cluster munitions and 27 million submunitions—the most in a year since the convention’s adoption and far exceeding 2011 totals, when states destroyed a total of 107,000 cluster munitions and 17.6 million submunitions.

Major stockpilers have indicated they will complete destruction years in advance of the deadline, including Denmark and the UK (by the end of 2013), Italy and Sweden (in 2014), and Germany and Japan (in 2015).”

Costly objection
iPolitics reports that a First Nation in Western Canada may have to compensate the federal government for challenging a proposed Canada-China investment treaty:

“With just under a month to decide whether or not they’ll appeal a federal court dismissal of their Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) duty-to-consult legal challenge, the Hupacasath First Nation find themselves having to consider the possibility of a hefty cost award.

A government spokesperson told iPolitics that they’ve yet to determine their legal costs, but the Hupacasath have come up with their own rough estimates for what the government has spent defending the challenge.
‘They had five lawyers in the courtroom, compared to our two,’ said Brenda Sayers, an elected Hupacasath councillor.
Add to that the expert witnesses the government flew in from around the world, she said, such as Christopher Thomas — a research fellow at the National University of Singapore — and it starts to add up quickly.”

Taxes for Africa
The Africa Progress Panel has called on G20 countries, where most multinational companies are based, to take responsibility for “tax avoidance and evasion”:

“In Africa, tax avoidance and evasion cost billions of dollars every year. One single technique – transfer mispricing – costs the continent more than it receives in either international aid or foreign direct investment. Transfer mispricing includes the undervaluing exports in order to understate tax liability. Africa loses precious opportunities to invest in health, education, energy, and infrastructure.”

Institutional racism
The UN News Centre reports that a group of UN experts has called on the US government to examine laws that “could have discriminatory impact on African Americans”

“ ‘States are required to take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists,’ said the Special Rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere.
According to the 2011 US Department of Justice Hate Crime Statistics, 71.9 per cent of the total number of victims of hate crimes reported to the nation’s law enforcement agencies were victims of an offender’s anti-black bias.”

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