Latest Developments, September 26

In the latest news and analysis…

World Cup slaves
The Guardian reports that migrant workers from Nepal have been dying “at a rate of almost one a day” as Qatar prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

“The investigation found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022.
According to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.

The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament.”

Iron politics
Le Monde reports that Western intelligence agencies believe French, South African and Israeli mercenaries working for a “diamond king” are planning a coup in Guinea:

“The CIA document refers to Beny Steinmetz Group Resources, owned by diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz, which is in open conflict with the Guinean government over rights to part of Simandou, the world’s biggest untapped iron ore deposit.

According to the American document quoted by Le Canard Enchaîné, an Israeli security consultant who works closely with BSG helped to form a political front organization, the National Party for Renewal, ‘without doubt funded by BSG’. The party drew up a ‘memo seized by Guinean investigators’ that pledges to maintain BSG’s Simandou mining rights if the party is part of a future government.” [Translated from the French.]

The J word
La Croix reports that France, eager to gain international support for military intervention in the Central African Republic despite opposition from the US and Rwanda, is talking up the threat of radical Islam:

“French diplomats have caught on and are no longer hesitating to talk of ‘sectarian’ confrontations between Muslims and Christians. François Hollande spoke repeatedly in such terms at the UN General Assembly. ‘You are sure to get the Americans’ attention’ if you talk about a risk of jihad, of conflict between Chirstians and Islamists,’ said CCFD-Terre Solidaire’s Zobel Behalal.” [Translated from the French.]

Toxic neighbour
The Economist reports on the tensions between a Canadian-owned gold mine and surrounding communities in the Dominican Republic:

“The investment was presented by both the government and [Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation, owned by Barrick Gold and Goldcorp] as including a clean-up of Rosario’s toxic mess and the installation of systems to keep local watercourses clean. But residents are suing PVDC, claiming that the new mine is poisoning rivers, causing illnesses and the death of farm animals.

PVDC says that, together with local people, it conducts regular, public tests on water and air.
But community leaders say they have no knowledge of such tests. The company has not answered requests to provide the dates on which they were conducted. Tests by the environment ministry, released only after a freedom of information request, found the water in the Margajita river downstream from the mine to be highly acidic, as well as containing sulphides and copper above legal limits.”

Blunt talk
In a Democracy Now! interview, independent journalist Jeremy Scahill discusses US President Barack Obama’s “really naked declaration of imperialism” at the UN General Assembly this week:

“I mean, he pushed back against the Russians when he came out and said I believe America is an exceptional nation. He then defended the Gulf War and basically said that the motivation behind it was about oil and said we are going to continue to take such actions in pursuit of securing natural resources for ourselves and our allies. I mean, this was a pretty incredible and bold declaration he was making, especially given the way that he has tried to portray himself around the world.”

Unfair planet
The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews writes that the world is 17 times more unequal than the US (which is, in turn, more unequal than Tanzania), with no relief in sight:

“It’s another reminder that, while extreme poverty in the United States is very real, the biggest inequalities, by far, are at the global level. ‘The political instruments for reducing income inequality between the richest 10 per cent and the poorest 40 per cent of the world’s population do not exist,’ author Lars Engberg-Pedersen notes. ‘Progressive taxation, provision of social security, etc. are country-level instruments, and official development assistance comes no way near addressing global inequality.’ ”

Financial complicity
The Oakland Institute’s Alice Martin-Prevel calls the World Bank “an accomplice in global land grabs” and questions some of its fundamental assumptions:

“The report rekindles the assumptions that land registration would somehow give farmers access to low-cost credit to invest in their parcels, improve their yields, and that Africa has abundant ‘surplus land’ which should be delineated and identified in order to be acquired by land developers. (In its 2012 report Our Land, Our Lives, Oxfam debunked the myth of Africa’s ‘unused land,’ showing that most areas targeted by land deals were previously used for small-scale farming, grazing and common resources exploitation by local communities.) Not only are these postulations yet to be proven, but they also assume that customary rights and traditional landownership are part of an underefficient system that needs transformation. The report’s recommendations thus include proposals such as ‘demarcating boundaries and registering communal rights,’ ‘organizing and formalizing communal groups,’ and ‘removing restrictions on land rental markets.’ ”

African drones
Peter Dörrie writes in Medium that “the future of drone warfare, both with and without actual bombs, is in Africa and the future is now”:

“Drones, both armed and unarmed, have likely been active from the U.S. military’s only permanent base on the continent at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti for some years, as well as from more recently established bases in neighboring Ethiopia. Niger is home to the latest deployment of drones to the continent and from their base at Niamey — the Reapers can theoretically cover much of western and central Africa.

While governments may rave about the potential of drones, Africans are well aware of the ambiguous role that Predators and Reapers have played in Pakistan. Especially armed drones — and inevitable civilians lives lost — will produce backlash on the streets and give armed groups an opportunity to style themselves as the underdog fighting against the evil empire.
Then there is also the slippery slope of mission creep.”

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