Latest Developments, March 26

In the latest news and analysis…

UN peacemaking
Reuters reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has recommended a peacekeeping force for Mali as well as the creation of a parallel combat force:

“In a report to the 15-member Security Council, Ban recommended that the African force, known as AFISMA, become a U.N. peacekeeping force of some 11,200 troops and 1,440 police – once major combat ends.
To tackle Islamist extremists directly, Ban recommended that a so-called parallel force be created, which would work in close coordination with the U.N. mission.
Diplomats have said France is likely to provide troops for the smaller parallel force, which could be based in Mali or elsewhere in the West Africa region.
‘Given the anticipated level and nature of the residual threat, there would be a fundamental requirement for a parallel force to operate in Mali alongside the U.N. mission in order to conduct major combat and counter-terrorism operations,’ Ban wrote.
The parallel force would not have a formal U.N. mandate, though it would be operating with the informal blessing of the Security Council. The report did not specify a time limit for the mission.”

Cataract of weaponry
The New York Times reports that the CIA is helping arm Syria’s rebels:

“From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The scale of shipments was very large, according to officials familiar with the pipeline and to an arms-trafficking investigator who assembled data on the cargo planes involved.

These multiple logistics streams throughout the winter formed what one former American official who was briefed on the program called ‘a cataract of weaponry.’ ”

Old habits
Agence France-Presse reports that France sent an additional 300 troops “to ensure the protection of French and foreign citizens” in the Central African Republic as rebels toppled President François Bozizé over the weekend:

“A tactical command post has been set up in the capital Bangui.
There were already 250 French troops stationed in the Central African Republic.
France has a military base in Gabon, home to a reserve of prepositioned forces regularly deployed during regional crises. Reinforcements had already been sent to Bangui in December during the first rebel offensive.” [Translated from the French.]

Big mistake
Agence France-Presse also reports that France has offered “sincere condolences” after a fatal incident in the Central African Republic’s capital where French troops guarding the airport opened fire:

“Two Indian citizens were killed. The injured Indians and Chadians received immediate assistance from French troops who took them to a medical unit, a defense ministry statement said.
In all, five Indians and four Chadians were injured, according to military spokesman Thierry Burkhard. The Indians are civilians who were working for foreign companies in the Central African Republic and the Chadians are police officers, members of the Central African Multinational Force (FOMAC), he said.” [Translated from the French.]

Investing in Africa
Reuters reports that new UN data reveals a surprising picture of foreign direct investment in Africa:

“Malaysia was the third biggest investor in Africa in 2011, the latest year for which data is available, behind France and the United States, pushing China and India into fourth and fifth positions.
France and the United States also have the largest historical stock of investments in Africa, with Britain in third place and Malaysia in fourth, followed by South Africa, China and India.”

Unintended consequences
The New York Times reports that back in 2011, the European Union “planted a time bomb” in Cyprus’s banking system that led to this week’s bailout/austerity agreement:

“[Former Cyprus finance minister Kikis Kazamias] was in Brussels as European leaders and the International Monetary Fund engineered a 50 percent write-down of Greek government bonds. This meant that anyone holding these bonds — notably the then-cash-rich banks of the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus — would lose at least half the money they thought they had. Eventual losses came close to 75 percent of the bonds’ face value.

‘We Europeans showed tonight that we reached the right conclusions,’ Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany announced at the time.
For Cypriot banks, particularly Laiki Bank, at the center of the current storm, however, these conclusions foretold a disaster: Altogether, they lost more than four billion euros, a huge amount in a country with a gross domestic product of just 18 billion euros. Laiki, also known as Cyprus Popular Bank, alone took a hit of 2.3 billion euros, according to its 2011 annual report.”

Sovereignty delayed
Jeune Afrique reports that France, which tested chemical weapons in the Algerian Sahara well into the 1970s, has signed a secret agreement to clean up the contaminated area:

“The existence of this facility for testing chemical and biological weapons was first revealed by the French press in October 1997. But, at the time, information highways were less efficient. The news had no effect on Algerian public opinion. In France, it led only to a superficial discussion on the use of chemical weapons. Fifteen years later, the return of B2-Namous in the news is having a far greater impact, stoking interest in an old state secret that neither Paris nor Algiers want to declassify. Algeria, whose ‘restored sovereignty’ long served to legitimize those in power, only recovered all of its territory 16 years after independence. Until 1978, about 6,000 sq km of its Saharan land, in the Beni Ounif region, on the border with Morocco, remained under French military control.”
[Translated from the French.]

Orphan MDG
The Guardian reports on new hope for the “global partnership” of the neglected eighth Millennium Development Goal:

“Devoid of clear targets, MDG8 talks in general terms about an open, rule-based trading and financial system, dealing with debt burdens, providing access to affordable essential medicines, and increasing access to new technologies. Goal eight also mentions fostering links between the public and private sector to drive better development.

Taxation has emerged as a key issue in terms of global partnerships as rich countries have failed to deliver on trade – the Doha trade round that was supposed to have benefited developing countries remains moribund – and development assistance is shrinking because of austerity in the west. The sums at stake are enormous.”

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Latest Developments, February 7

In the latest news and analysis…

French exit strategy
Reuters reports that France is calling for UN peacekeepers to take over from the “African-led military mission” in Mali by April:

“According to diplomats at the United Nations, the Security Council is looking at adopting a resolution at the end of February or early March to replace the current African mission under the United Nations.
It would then take 45-60 days to ‘re-hat’ them as U.N. forces, which would involve a reduction of their number, the diplomats said.

French sources said the exact role of French troops in Mali under a U.N. mandate would have to be defined.”

Alternative Mining Indaba
The Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis writes that South Africa’s annual mining mega-convention, the Mining Indaba, is being accused of “deliberately excluding any potentially oppositional voices, like those of civil society or – crazy idea – miners”:

“A venture now in its fourth year, the [Alternative Mining Indaba] aims to give voice to mining’s critics, and members of mining-affected communities. Made up of a collective of NGOs and faith-based organisations, the impetus for the initiative came from Tanzania, where mining communities complained of toxic effects on health. ‘For 18 years the Mining Indaba has been meeting and talking about dividing up mineral resources, but there is no representation of people that live in these areas and are most seriously inconvenienced,’ Mandla Hadebe, programme manager for the Economic Justice Network, told the Daily Maverick.
The group of protestors carried signs bearing the words ‘Remember the slain of Marikana’, ‘No To Tax Dodgers’, and ‘If It’s Not Okay In Canada, It’s Not Okay In Africa!’ ”

Sharing the wealth
Bloomberg reports that Zambia’s state-controlled investor is calling on foreign mining companies such as Vedanta and Glencore to contribute higher dividends:

“Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, privatized its mining industry between 1996 and 2001, maintaining minority stakes ranging from 10 percent to 21 percent in the companies, which it holds through ZCCM. The degree to which the country benefits from its copper resources has become a point of political contention, with the government accusing mining companies of avoiding as much as $2 billion a year in tax.
ZCCM wants the companies in which it has shareholdings to alter their dividend policies to improve transparency and increase payouts, [ZCCM CEO Mukela] Muyunda said in the Jan. 31 interview. He said dividends are the last priority for some companies, and this ‘doesn’t work for us.’ ”

Missed opportunity
Global Witness argues the European Commission’s proposed new legislation on financial crime does not go far enough in two key areas:

“Criminals currently find it easy to abuse European companies to hide their identity and therefore their assets. ‘Who owns and controls European companies should not be secret,’ said Robert Palmer, campaigner at Global Witness. ‘The names of the ultimate, beneficial, owners should be made public.’ A European Commission study found that public registries of the beneficial owners of companies would be more cost effective than other options.
Instead, under the Commission’s proposal, companies will only be required to know themselves who their ultimate owners are. This will be of limited help.

The proposal does not do enough to tackle professionals that facilitate tax evasion. ‘The Commission proposal allows bankers, lawyers and accountants who facilitate tax evasion to get away with it. They should face money laundering charges for this insidious activity which costs developing countries billions every year’ said Alex Marriage, Policy and Outreach Analyst at [the European Network on Debt and Development].”

Open secret
Gawker’s Adrian Chen tears into some of America’s most respected news organizations for decisiding not to report on a drone base in Saudi Arabia for more than a year after learning about it:

“In the case of the Saudi drone base, the Times and the Post weren’t protecting a state secret: They were helping the CIA bury an inconvenient story.
Reading the Times and Post stories on the Saudia Arabia drone base used by the CIA to assassinate American cleric Anwar al-awlaki in Yemen, one is left with the impression that its existence had become known for the first time today. In fact, the Times of London reported 18 months ago that the CIA was ‘launching daily missions with unmanned Predator aircraft from bases in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.’ ”

Not budging
Inter Press Service reports that the World Bank is standing by its forestry policies despite both internal and external criticism:

“ ‘The allocation of large logging concessions, millions of hectares, to mostly foreign companies is still the prevailing model in many countries in the Congo Basin to manage forests,’ Susanne Breitkopf, a Washington-based senior political adviser on forest and climate with Greenpeace International, told IPS, referring to the vast tropical rainforests that cover six countries in Central Africa.
‘That clashes with local use by communities, and economically the local communities are not benefitting from this. As it turns out, these are often low-paid, low-quality jobs without contracts. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we found that over time local communities are often poorer than when the companies arrive.’ ”

History matters
Based on his experiences at last month’s World Economic Forum, Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz writes that the global financial crisis has reduced the West’s power but has not necessarily changed how the rest of the world feels towards it:

“In response to one development expert’s heartfelt despair that unfair trade treaties and unfulfilled promises of aid have cost the developed countries their moral authority, [a mining company executive from a developing country] retorted: ‘The West never had any moral authority.’ Colonialism, slavery, the splintering of Africa into small countries, and a long history of resource exploitation may be matters of the distant past to the perpetrators, but not so to those who suffered as a result.”

Force majeure
Mining.com reports that uranium supplies are under threat due to a huge storm in Kazakhstan and unrest in the Sahel:

“State-owned Kazatomprom has since reported that operation of the affected uranium mines has been halted, and that repair of the power transmission lines could take anywhere between one to five months. Analysts estimate that the power outage could lead to a shortfall in uranium supply of up to 21 million pounds.

Areva’s two uranium operations in Niger have an estimated total output of 10.9 million pounds of uranium this year, much of which could be disrupted if conflict spreads from Mali to Niger, where France has already taken the precaution of dispatching special forces soldiers and helicopters.”

Latest Developments, January 16

In the latest news and analysis…

“Neocolonialist” war
Le Monde reports that former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has urged his country to stick to a supporting role for African troops in Mali’s conflict:

“I want to warn against allowing the French action in Mali to turn into a neocolonialist undertaking.

Air strikes in the country’s north and east would hit civilian populations and would replicate the pointless destruction of the war in Afghanistan. They would no doubt have the same political results.” [Translated from the French.]

Give peace a chance
Agence France-Presse reports that the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation has called for a ceasefire in Mali, which is one of the world body’s 57 member states:

“OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the military offensive is ‘premature’ and called for ‘an immediate ceasefire in Mali and for all parties to go back to the negotiations which were led by Burkina Faso’ in December, in a statement.
Ihsanoglu, who ‘expressed his deep concern over the military escalation’ also called for ‘maximum self-restraint from all parties at this critical time in order to reach a peaceful solution to this conflict,’ the statement said.”

Arms fit for a king
Pro Publica reveals “the fullest picture yet” of US arms sales to the Kingdom of Bahrain during the Gulf state’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations:

“The list includes ammunition, combat vehicle parts, communications equipment, Blackhawk helicopters, and an unidentified missile system.

The U.S. has long sold weapons to Bahrain, totaling $1.4 billion since 2000, according to the State Department. The sales didn’t come under scrutiny until security forces killed at least 19 people in the early months of the crackdown in 2011. (Dozens have died since then.)
The administration put a hold on one proposed sale of Humvees and missiles in Fall 2011 following congressional criticism. But Foreign Policy reported that other unspecified equipment was still being sold without any public notification.”

Siemens suit
Reuters reports that a former Siemens employee is suing the German electronics giant, which he says fired him for trying to expose “a kickback scheme” on sales of medical equipment to hospitals in China:

“Siemens agreed to pay $1.6 billion in 2008 to resolve U.S. and German charges that it violated foreign anti-bribery laws through its business in countries that ranged from Argentina and Venezuela to Bangladesh.
As part of that settlement, the company also agreed to implement and maintain a robust program to comply with [the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] and retain an independent consultant to monitor that program and report on its development to the U.S. Justice Department.
Liu said the evidence he uncovered showed that the company intentionally evaded the due diligence policies put in place to comply with its 2008 plea agreement.”

Tax advice
A new report by the European Network on Debt and Development offers suggestions for ways the EU can take on the “acute challenge” of illicit financial flows from poor countries:

“A first step is to implement a robust interpretation of the Financial Action Task Force’s set of recommendations from February 2012. In Europe, the review of the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) in 2013 will be one of the biggest opportunities. The report recommends that this political opportunity is used to:
• Create publically available government registers of the real owners and controllers of companies, trusts and other such legal structures.
• Make all tax evasion a predicate offence of money laundering
• Improve compliance with and enforcement of anti-money laundering rules and introduce credible sanctions.”

Superfood concerns
The Guardian reports that the rapid growth in demand for quinoa on the international market is causing problems in the Andean communities that grow the plant:

“That global demand means less quinoa is being eaten in Bolivia and Peru, the countries of origin, as the price has tripled. There are concerns this could cause malnutrition as producers, who have long relied on the superfood to supplement their meagre diets, would rather sell their entire crop than eat it. The rocketing international price is also creating land disputes.

Bitter battles are being fought over prime quinoa-growing land. Last February dozens of people were hurt when farmers fought with slings and sticks of dynamite over what was once abandoned land.”

Knowable unknowns
OpenOil’s Johnny West asks how much of the abundant literature on Nigeria’s Niger Delta are based on “ground up, not top down” research:

“Forty years on, what we know about the peoples and societies of the Delta is scant at best. Just as Michael Herr said for American grunts Vietnam was not a country but a war, the Niger Delta is not a place and group of people but an issue – a multi-billion dollar headache or a contention in ongoing ideological debates, depending on where you stand.
Now [the Max Planck Institute’s Olumide Abimbola] is setting out to fill that gap by compiling a complete bibliography of ground level research, and then gearing up Nigeria’s social science faculties to start filling the void. But the fact we’ve got this far without this is mind-boggling and begs the question: what do we know about the people of southern Iraq, the Yusuni native Ecuadoreans, or the peoples of West Papua – apart from their relationship to the Black Stuff?”

Non-European thinking
Columbia University’s Hamid Dabashi writes that the act of “thinking and acting in terms at once domestic to their immediate geography and yet global in its consequences” is increasingly not just a European prerogative:

“The question is rather the manner in which non-European thinking can reach self-consciousness and evident universality, not at the cost of whatever European philosophers may think of themselves for the world at large, but for the purpose of offering alternative (complementary or contradictory) visions of reality more rooted in the lived experiences of people in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America – counties and climes once under the spell of the thing that calls itself ‘the West’ but happily no more.

Reduced to its own fair share of the humanity at large, and like all other continents and climes, Europe has much to teach the world, but now on a far more leveled and democratic playing field, where its philosophy is European philosophy not ‘Philosophy’, its music European music not ‘Music’, and no infomercial would be necessary to sell its public intellectuals as ‘Public Intellectuals’.”

Latest Developments, January 10

In the latest news and analysis…

Sense of urgency
Agence France-Presse reports that France is urging “rapid deployment” of international troops to Mali where combat between government and rebel forces started this week:

“Preparations are underway for the deployment to Mali of an international force approved by the UN on Dec. 20, to occur in stages and with no defined timetable.
The African force is to consist of 3,300 troops, with a European mission of 400, of which 250 will be trainers. The deployment of the EU mission, to be commanded by an as-yet undesignated French general, is expected to launch in February, according to Paris.” [Translated from the French.]

Dangerous goods
The Vanguard reports that Nigerian authorities have quarantined a ship thought to have sailed from the UK carrying toxic e-waste:

“Confirming this to Vanguard, Public Relations Officer of Tin-Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr. Chris Osunkwo, said that [the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency] had written to the Command informing them that they have intelligence report that a vessel which is erroneously called M.V. Mavia, was coming into the country with two container loads of e-waste.
Osunkwo said that the NESREA officials in the letter said that the vessel should not be allowed to discharge, adding that the inspection would be done onboard the vessel before it is sent back to it’s country of origin.”

Unwanted food
The Guardian reports on new findings that up to half the world’s food, about 2 billion tons worth, is wasted each year:

“The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) blames the ‘staggering’ new figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with ‘poor engineering and agricultural practices’, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities.

In the UK as much as 30% of vegetable crops are not harvested due to their failure to meet retailers’ exacting standards on physical appearance, it says, while up to half of the food that is bought in Europe and the US is thrown away by consumers.
And about 550bn cubic metres of water is wasted globally in growing crops that never reach the consumer. Carnivorous diets add extra pressure as it takes 20-50 times the amount of water to produce 1 kilogramme of meat than 1kg of vegetables; the demand for water in food production could reach 10–13 trillion cubic metres a year by 2050.”

No gold
Reuters reports that Colombia has announced it will create a wilderness park and ban mining in an area where a Canadian company wants to dig for gold:

“Eco Oro, formerly known as Greystar Resources, had faced opposition from local authorities, the country’s inspector general and environmental groups. They called its Angostura gold project a threat to the delicate Andean ecosystem.
The move by the country’s environment ministry to create the park effectively rules out any mining in an area of more than 12,000 hectares in northern Santander province.”

Colonial murder
7sur7 reports that British government documents implicate top Belgian diplomats in the killing of Burundian independence hero Prince Louis Rwagasore half a century ago:

“The documents in question are telexes exchanged between James Murray, the British ambassador in Bujumbura at the time, and the Foreign Office, as well as a confidential report by Belgium’s prosecutor. They indicate that Roberto Régnier, Burundi’s colonial governor, repeatedly spoke of ‘the need to kill Rwagasore’.” [Translated from the French.]

Mutual destruction
Domini Social Investments’ Adam Kanzer argues that without proper social and environmental guidelines, mutual funds “can be a very effective way of promoting broad social harm”:

“If there’s anything we’ve learned from the financial crisis, it is that even the most arcane financial decisions can have real-world impacts. Such is the case when you allocate billions of dollars to companies that make military-style assault weapons. We can no longer pretend that these decisions are morally neutral – they are not.
Standard-setting is not foreign to index management. Both the index managers and the stock exchanges set all sorts of financial and governance standards. The OMX Nordic Exchange actually has a standard to ‘investigate’, and presumably to ultimately delist, companies that have committed ‘serious or systematic violation of human rights or other ethical international norms’ including those that manufacture chemical weapons or land mines. They placed these standards under the heading “marketplaces with integrity.” After OMX’s acquisition by NASDAQ, it is unclear where those standards now stand. Some exchanges, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, require listed companies to produce sustainability reports. Dow Jones, MSCI and FTSE all maintain indices that include social and environmental standards.”

Mercury treaty
Human Rights Watch criticizes wealthy countries for opposing inclusion of “a stand-alone article on health” in what is expected to become the Minamata Convention, an international agreement aimed at limiting the negative impacts of mercury:

“At the last round of negotiations, in July 2012, Western governments – in particular Canada, the United States, and European Union members – rejected including a stand-alone article on health, contending that treaty is primarily about the environment.
They indicated that including health strategies might interfere with the health sector and drive up the cost of the treaty’s implementation. They also said that current references to health strategies in the draft text were sufficient. Their stance caused a heated debate with Latin American and African governments, whose representatives wanted a stronger health article.
‘The position of the United States, Canada, and the European Union has been disappointing,’ [Human Rights Watch’s Juliane] Kippenberg said. ‘Wealthier countries should recognize that environmental and health strategies on mercury go hand in hand, and provide financial support for both.’ ”

Too much information
Radio France Internationale reports that a new investigation by French newspaper Libération raises questions about why the country’s military issued a fake death certificate for one of a pair of French gendarmes killed in the first days of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide:

“For Libération, the answer may lie in the activities of the two gendarmes in Kigali. They were working, according to the newspaper, on radio transmissions by the French embassy, the French development mission and the Rwandan army. Did they stumble upon information about those responsible for the shooting down of President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994, the event that triggered the genocide?” [Translated from the French.]

Latest Developments, December 21

In the latest news and analysis…

Warpath
The Globe and Mail reports on concerns that foreign military intervention in Mali, which has just received unanimous backing from the UN Security Council, could have “unintended consequences”:

“The rebel takeover of the north has already forced nearly 500,000 people to flee their homes or become refugees in neighbouring countries, and a new confidential UN report has warned that another 400,000 people could be pushed out of their homes if there is military intervention in the north.
‘No clear plan exists to ensure that a military intervention would not exacerbate the already disastrous humanitarian situation,’ said Alexandra Gheciu, a University of Ottawa professor who specializes in international security.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has warned that the military intervention would have a high humanitarian cost that has been largely ignored so far.”

No way back
Think Africa Press’s James Wan takes issue with a European court ruling that Chagos Islanders, who were evicted from their homeland by the British to make way for a military base, relinquished their right to return 30 years ago when a group of them accepted $6 million in compensation:

“Firstly, the argument does not hold for the several hundreds of islanders deported to the Seychelles rather than Mauritius where the compensation was paid. ‘We were completely excluded from compensation’, Bernadette Dugasse told Think Africa Press earlier this year. ‘Chagossians from Seychelles were not even given half a penny, not even a teaspoonful of land.’ The full ruling barely acknowledges this.
Secondly, the suggestion that the exiled Chagossians could have pursued the matter in the courts had they ‘preferred’ is dubious at best. According to Mark Lattimer, executive director of Minority Rights Group, ‘it is frankly ridiculous to expect that a people from the Indian Ocean, some of who were illiterate, and who have been thrown into abject poverty, to have the means and the wherewithal to pursue the British government in the English court’.
In fact, even the notion that Chagossians who did get compensation renounced their right to return rests on shaky ground. Putting aside the fact that the compensation was derisory, it is notable that the documents were in English, which most Chagossians did not speak, and that many were illiterate and had to sign with thumbprints. Although the UK government claims that lawyers were present to explain the documents, many islanders have long insisted they had no idea they were signing away their right to return, and that had they known they would never have accepted the compensation.”

First Nations rising
The Dominion’s Martin Lukacs writes that the Idle No More protests currently taking place in Canada have the potential to “reset aboriginal-state relations”:

“Billions have indeed been spent – not on fixing housing, building schools or ending the country’s two-tiered child aid services, but on a legal war against aboriginal communities. Every year, the government pours more than $100m into court battles to curtail aboriginal rights – and that figure alone went to defeating a single lawsuit launched by two Alberta First Nations trying to recover oil royalties essentially stolen by bureaucrats.

Parliament will soon debate a bill that would break up reserves – still, mostly, collectively held – into individual private property that can be purchased by non-native speculators. The undeclared agenda of government policy is the same as it was a century ago: a grab for resource-rich lands, and the assimilation of aboriginal nations.”

Death to capital punishment
Amnesty International reports on the latest UN General Assembly vote on the death penalty, in which 111 states voted for abolition:

“New votes in favour included Central African Republic, Chad, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Tunisia. As a further positive sign, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia moved from opposition to abstention. Regrettably, Bahrain, Dominica and Oman changed their abstention to a vote against the resolution, while Maldives, Namibia and Sri Lanka went from a vote in favour to an abstention.”

Investment dangers
Paint Our World’s Priya Virmani is not convinced that the arrival in India of global supermarket chains will help the country’s farmers:

“Yet if the intervention of big supermarket chains lifts farmers, why do American and European farmers need to be heavily subsidised? Predatory pricing – the precedent set by the biggest supermarkets – threatens smaller retailers as monopolistic practices take place.

More [foreign direct investment] brings with it the promise of improving India’s growth figures. But these indicate the overall temperature of an economy and not the temperature of its disparate parts. When the temperature of India’s bottom of the pyramid, at around 800 million people, is at an opposite end of the spectrum to that of the other much more opulent India then growth in itself cannot be considered an indication of the health of the majority.”

Lump of coal
The Guardian reports that protesters dumped coal outside the London offices of GCM Resources over its plans to develop a massive open-pit mine in Bangladesh:

“An official complaint to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been made by the World Development Movement and the International Accountability Project, saying the company would forcibly evict up to 130,000 people if the project went ahead. The complaint mentions a UN report from earlier this year warning that ‘access to safe drinking water for some 220,000 people is at stake’.
The company claims the mine will displace 40,000 people but create 17,000 jobs.”

Miner changes
Bloomberg reports that South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has decided against nationalizing mines, but is considering a number of other ways to increase the country’s benefits from mining:

“The party is considering a ‘resource rent’ tax or higher royalties to extract more revenue from the industry, said Enoch Godongwana, head of the ANC’s economic transformation committee.

The ANC agreed today to classify certain minerals as strategic, which the government wants to manage through measures including targeted export controls in order to ensure security of supply, Godongwana said. Iron ore, coal, copper, copper, zinc and nickel are amongst minerals being considered for classification, according to the ANC’s document.”

Death traps
EarthPeople’s Anna Clark argues that the US has outsourced much of the injustice it has eliminated from its own economic system:

“Due to the relentless pursuit of low-cost labour and the lack of accountability inherent in a global supply chain, companies will have to learn to work with labour rights groups to mandate and track compliance.
Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, for example, agreed to work with watchdog groups to introduce new fire safety standards at their supplier factories. Gap Inc, which operates the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta brands, instead decided to go it alone with its own corporate-controlled programme.
With limited oversight by worker organisations and no transparency, such measures are not good enough to protect vulnerable workers.”