Latest Developments, June 5

In the latest news and analysis…

House cleaning
The Guardian reports that UK Prime Minister David Cameron is urging all of Britain’s oversees territories, including some of the world’s most notorious tax havens, to sign agreements on sharing tax information:

“Britain has made a clampdown on corporate and individual tax avoidance the central theme of its chairmanship of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on 17 and 18 June, and Cameron has decided that he cannot be a credible chair of the summit if he is not seen to be trying to put Britain’s own house in order.

The precise constitutional relationship between the UK and the overseas territories is a matter of dispute, but some aid agencies claim the UK can in effect force the crown dependencies to close down the tax loopholes.”

War on drones
The Associated Press reports that new Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pledged to end US drone strikes in his country:

“ ‘This daily routine of drone attacks, this chapter shall now be closed,’ Sharif said to widespread applause. ‘We do respect others’ sovereignty. It is mandatory on others that they respect our sovereignty.’
But he gave few details on how he might end the strikes. Many in Pakistan say the strikes kill large numbers of innocent civilians – something the U.S. denies – and end up breeding more extremism by those seeking retribution.”

Freeze ended
The Financial Times reports that Argentina’s top court has lifted a freeze on assets belonging to US oil giant Chevron, which stemmed from a $19 billion environmental damages ruling in Ecuador:

“The asset freeze had been ordered by Argentine judge Adrián Elcuj Miranda last year under a treaty to which Ecuador and Argentina are signatories.
However, legal action continues on having the Ecuador judgment legally validated by an Argentine court, according to Enrique Bruchou, an Argentine lawyer co-ordinating efforts to seek enforcement of the ruling outside Ecuador. The same judge is hearing that case.

Plaintiffs maintain that Chevron’s subsidiaries cannot be excluded from the environmental damages suit.”

The company you keep
The Guardian reports on the guest list for this year’s summit of the “secretive” Bilderberg group which brings together political and business leaders from Europe and North America for informal talks:

“A list of about 140 participants, made up almost overwhelmingly of white males but described as ‘a diverse group of political leaders and experts from industry’, was published on Monday by the organisation. It included only 14 women.

Attenders from financial backgrounds include Marcus Agius, the former chairman of Barclays who quit the post in the wake of the Libor interbank lending rate scandal, as well as Douglas J Flint, group chairman of HSBC Holdings plc, which was hit with a $1.9bn (£1.25bn) fine last December over allegations it had acted as banker for rogue states, terrorists and drug lords.
Peter Sutherland, the chairman of Goldman Sachs International, and Michael J Evans, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs & Co, are the participants from the investment banking giant whose involvement in the sale of high-risk mortgage related investments has borne much of the blame for causing the 2008 global financial crisis.”

Big farming
The Thompson Reuters Foundation reports on calls for the UK to stop funding a G8 food scheme for Africa described by critics as representing “a new wave of colonialism”:

“More than 25 UK campaign groups are urging British Prime Minister David Cameron to withhold 395 million pounds pledged to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition over the next three years.

One major concern is a requirement that African nations change their seed laws, trade laws and land ownership at the expense of local farmers and local food needs.
Campaigners also fear it will allow big multinational seed, fertiliser and agrochemical companies such as Yara, Monsanto, Syngenta and Cargill to set the agenda.”

Sahel security
Voice of America reports on “stepped up” security at Western installations in the Sahel following attacks on foreign-owned gas and uranium facilities since France’s military intervention in Mali began earlier this year:

“ ‘It [France] gets not far short of 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power – that’s by far the highest proportion in the world. It uses around 12,500 tons of uranium per year. Not far short of a third of that comes from Niger already,’ said [Imperial College London’s Malcolm] Grimston.

‘[French state-owned nuclear giant] Areva has invested something like 1.5 billion euros [almost $2 billion] in the new [Imouraren] mine in Niger. That is a very key area, and I think France will be very keen to maintain its long-term interest and its long-term security in that area,’ he said.”

Oil City
Le Monde reports on the changes – so far, not for the better – in the Ghanaian city of Takoradi since the UK’s Tullow Oil began production at the offshore Jubilee oil field in 2010:

“Local radio journalist Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie has seen the city change rapidly but without any real improvement in the daily lives of Ghanaians. ‘For the moment, there are additional problems for poor people.’
The arrival of expatriate workers led to an explosion of housing and land prices. ‘A room rented out at 40 cedis [US$20] now costs 80 or 100. Bit by bit, residents have had to leave for the suburbs,’ the journalist explained. A tour of the city centre, where huge hotel complexes have sprung up, demonstrates this real estate madness.

For now, oil production has created few jobs. The men working on the offshore rigs are expats.” [Translated from the French.]

State of siege
The Associated Press reports on “the fear that rules” the area surrounding a mining project in Guatemala owned by Canada’s Tahoe Resources:

“Protesters say the project, called El Escobal, will drain or pollute the local water supply, and hundreds of people have blocked roads and burned buildings to stop it from going forward. That’s tested President Otto Perez Molina, who sent in hundreds of troops and suspended the right to hold public gatherings in four townships near the mine in early May. It was the second time during his 16 months in office that he has declared a state of siege in response to protests against a foreign-run mining project.

[Oscar Morales, president of the Community Development Council] said eight community consultations of 4,222 adults found that nearly all of them opposed the mine. He said he wants to hold another legally binding community consultation about the mine, but municipal governments have refused.”

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Latest Developments, May 27

In the latest news and analysis…

European arms
The Guardian reports that EU sanctions against Syria have “collapsed” due to disagreement over supplying arms to rebels:

“Michael Spindelegger, the Austrian vice-chancellor and foreign minister, voicing anger at the outcome, directly blamed the collapse on the UK, with the sanctions regime ending at midnight on Friday.

He added that France joined Britain in demanding a lifting of the arms embargo, in order to supply weapons to what they call the ‘moderate’ opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but that the other 25 member states were opposed”

Mali election
Agence France-Presse reports that Mali will hold the first round of presidential elections on July 28, keeping to a timetable insisted upon by France, whose troops have led the fight against Islamist rebels in its former colony:

“Acting president Dioncounda Traore has said that neither he nor his ministers will stand in the polls, which will go to a second round on August 11 if required.

Paris has said about 1,000 soldiers will remain in Mali beyond this year to back up a UN force of 12,600 peacekeepers that is to replace [the International Mission for Support to Mali] gradually from July and will be responsible for stabilising the north.

The international community hopes the July elections will produce an effective government but Mali’s national electoral commission has voiced concerns about the tight timeframe.”

French intervention
Reuters reports that French special forces helped kill suspects in the twin bombings of a Nigerien military camp and a French-owned uranium mine, meaning that French troops have now killed people in at least four African countries (after Mali, Somalia and the Central African Republic) so far this year:

“The coordinated dawn attacks killed 24 soldiers and one civilian and damaged machinery at Areva’s Somair mine in the remote town of Arlit, a key supplier of uranium to France’s nuclear power programme. The attacks raised fears that Mali’s conflict could spread to neighbouring West African states and brought an Islamist threat closer to France’s economic interests.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM television that special forces had intervened at the request of Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou. France stationed special forces in northern Niger to help protect its desert uranium mines, providing one-fifth of the fuel for France’s reactors.”

Pascua Lama on hold
The Associated Press reports that Chile has blocked a mining project owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold and imposed the maximum fine over “very serious” environmental violations:

“After a four-month investigation, the Environmental Superintendent said all other construction work on Pascua-Lama must stop until Barrick builds the systems it promised to put in place beforehand for containing contaminated water.

Chile’s regulator noted that while Barrick itself reported failures, a separate and intensive investigation already begun by the agency’s own inspectors found that the company wasn’t telling the full truth.
‘We found that the acts described weren’t correct, truthful or provable. And there were other failures of Pascua Lama’s environmental permit as well,’ said the superintendent, Juan Carlos Monckeberg.”

Racialized justice
Reuters reports that Ethiopian prime minister and current African Union chairman Hailemariam Desalegn has denounced the International Criminal Court for its seemingly exclusive focus on Africa:

“The Hague-based court was set up to bring the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice – a mission that Hailemariam said it has lost sight of.
‘The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity but now the process has degenerated into some kind of race-hunting,’ Hailemariam told reporters at the end of African Union summit in Addis Ababa. ‘So we object to that.’
During the summit, African leaders backed a Kenyan proposal for the tribunal to refer its cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy for alleged crimes against humanity back to Kenya.”

Food protests
The Associated Press reports that organizers said protests against US agribusiness giant Monsanto took place in more than 50 countries over the weekend:

“Organizers said ‘March Against Monsanto’ protests were held in 52 countries and 436 cities, including Los Angeles where demonstrators waved signs that read ‘Real Food 4 Real People’ and ‘Label GMOs, It’s Our Right to Know.’

Protesters in Buenos Aires and other cities in Argentina, where Monsanto’s genetically modified soy and grains now command nearly 100 percent of the market, and the company’s Roundup-Ready chemicals are sprayed throughout the year on fields where cows once grazed. They carried signs saying ‘Monsanto-Get out of Latin America’ ”

Hoarding secrets
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia has said its response to a deadly “SARS-like virus” has been hampered by a Dutch lab’s patent rights:

“[Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Health Minister Ziad Memish] said [the coronavirus] was taken out of the country without permission and Saudi Arabia only learned of its discovery from ProMED, a U.S.-based internet-based reporting system.
The Rotterdam-based Erasmus lab then patented the process for synthesizing the virus, meaning that anyone else who wanted to use their method to study it would have to pay the lab.
The patenting had delayed the development of diagnostic kits and serologic tests for the disease, Memish said.”

Asylum denied
A new report by Amnesty International accuses governments around the world of enacting immigration policies that threaten the rights and even the lives of people fleeing conflict in their home countries:

“The European Union implements border control measures that put the lives of migrants and asylum-seekers at risk and fails to guarantee the safety of those fleeing conflict and persecution. Around the world, migrants and asylum-seekers are regularly locked up in detention centres and in worst case scenarios are held in metal crates or even shipping containers.
The rights of huge numbers of the world’s 214 million migrants were not protected by their home or their host state. Millions of migrants worked in conditions amounting to forced labour – or in some cases slavery-like conditions – because governments treated them like criminals and because corporations cared more about profits than workers’ rights. Undocumented migrants were particularly at risk of exploitation and human rights abuse.”

Latest Developments, May 23

In the latest news and analysis…

Perpetual war
The Washington Post provides a transcript of US President Barack Obama’s speech (complete with interruptions) laying out his vision of national security, including the use of drone strikes and the Guantanamo Bay prison:

“To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance, for the same progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away also demands the discipline to constrain that power, or risk abusing it.

Now, this last point is critical because much of the criticism about drone strikes, both here at home and abroad, understandably centers on reports of civilian casualties. There’s a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties and nongovernmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in every war.
And for the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss.

We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root. And in the absence of a strategy that reduces the wellspring of extremism, a perpetual war through drones or special forces or troop deployments will prove self-defeating and alter our country in troubling ways.

The original premise for opening Gitmo, that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention, was found unconstitutional five years ago. In the meantime, Gitmo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.

Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. I’m willing to cut [Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin] who interrupted me some slack because it’s worth being passionate about. Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children?”

Gitmo upgrades
USA Today reports that despite President Obama’s apparent enthusiasm for shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon is seeking nearly half a billion dollars for “maintaining and upgrading” the controversial facility:

“The budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 calls for $79 million for detention operations, the same as the current year, and $20.5 million for the office of military commissions, an increase over the current amount of $12.6 million. The request also includes $40 million for a fiber optic cable and $99 million for operation and maintenance.
The Pentagon also wants $200 million for military construction to upgrade temporary facilities. That work could take eight to 10 years as the military has to transport workers to the island, rely on limited housing and fly in building material.”

Mine attack
The Guardian reports that a uranium mine run by French state-owned nuclear giant Areva has been hit by one of a pair of simultaneous suicide bombings in Niger:

“Areva, the world’s second largest uranium producer, said that its mine was ‘badly damaged’ forcing it to stop production.
Although Areva has been attacked by [al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb] in the past – with five French workers taken hostage at the site in 2010 – the latest attacks are the first of their kind in Niger. Niger has been singled out as a target for its role in the military intervention in Mali, for its relationship with France – which obtains 20% of its uranium from Niger – and with the US, which signed an agreement this year to establish a new military base in the country.”

Lagarde in court
Agence France-Presse reports that the stakes are “huge” for the International Monetary Fund as its chief appears for questioning in a French court over her role in a corruption case:

“Criminal charges against [Christine] Lagarde, 57, would mark the second scandal in a row for an IMF chief, after her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn, also from France, resigned in disgrace over an alleged assault on a New York hotel maid.

[Prosecutors] have suggested Lagarde, who at the time was finance minister, was partly responsible for “numerous anomalies and irregularities” which could lead to charges for complicity in fraud and misappropriation of public funds.”

Moving down
Human Rights Watch has released a new report in which it alleges that many of the families who were relocated to make way for foreign-owned coal projects in Mozambique now lack reliable access to food, water and employment:

“The 122-page report, ‘What is a House without Food?’ Mozambique’s Coal Mining Boom and Resettlements,’ examines how serious shortcomings in government policy and mining companies’ implementation uprooted largely self-sufficient farming communities and resettled them to arid land far from rivers and markets. These communities have experienced periods of food insecurity or, when available, dependence on short-term food assistance financed by Vale and Rio Tinto.

According to 2012 government data, approved mining concessions and exploration licenses cover approximately 3.4 million hectares, or 34 percent of Tete province’s area. Coal mining accounts for roughly one-third of these.
This figure jumps to roughly six million hectares, or approximately 60 percent of Tete province’s area, when licenses pending approval are included. Not all exploration activity leads to mining projects, but the high concentration of land designated for mining licenses contributes to conflicts over land use.”

Stockholm riots
The BBC reports that the fourth night of rioting in Sweden’s capital saw the violence spread beyond Husby, a “deprived, largely immigrant suburb”:

“Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said the rioters were a ‘mixture of every kind of people’.
Activists in the Husby area have accused police of racist behaviour – an accusation greeted with scepticism by the police themselves.

The Stockholm police spokesman said rioting had occurred in both deprived parts of the city and parts that would be considered ‘normal’.”

G8 roadmap
Oxfam’s Ben Phillips lays out what he believes the G8 must do to start tackling international tax dodging and land grabbing:

“On land, success at the G8 would include a land transparency initiative, and regulatory guidance to G8 companies and investors, so that the G8 is not complicit in land grabbing. As French Development Minister Pascal Canfin said this week, ‘Without transparency and without protections, land investment can end up as looting. Where the Voluntary Guidelines are not being followed, land investment shouldn’t follow.’
On tax, success at the G8 would include a public registry of the ultimate owners of offshore assets, a deal on sharing of tax information not only between rich countries but with the poorest countries too, and – as they hold one third of the offshore wealth – these agreements must include, in full, all the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.”

Latest Developments, April 6

In the latest news and analysis…

Endless mission
Reuters reports that France’s foreign minister has expressed the desire to have a permanent French military presence in Mali:

“ ‘France has proposed, to the United Nations and to the Malian government, a French support force of 1,000 men which would be permanent, based in Mali, and equipped to fight terrorism,’ [French Foreign Minister Laurent] Fabius said before leaving Bamako after a one-day visit.
A diplomatic source in Paris said France hoped to have the [UN] peacekeeping force approved by the Security Council within three weeks, and to have it deployed by the end of June or early July in time for scheduled presidential elections.
A clause in the U.N. resolution will allow [UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] to request the rapid intervention of France’s 1,000 troops, which would be deployed under a bilateral deal with Mali, the source said.”

Gitmo scolding
The UN News Centre reports that UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has said she is “deeply disappointed” by the failure of the US government to fulfill its promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay:

“ ‘Some of [the prisoners] have been festering in this detention centre for more than a decade,’ Ms. Pillay said. ‘This raises serious concerns under international law. It severely undermines the United States’ stance that it is an upholder of human rights, and weakens its position when addressing human rights violations elsewhere.’

‘We must be clear about this: the United States is in clear breach not just of its own commitments but also of international laws and standards that it is obliged to uphold. When other countries breach these standards, the US – quite rightly – strongly criticizes them for it.’ ”

Uranium discontent
Agence France-Presse reports on a protest held by about 2,000 students against French nuclear giant Areva in Niger’s capital:

“Marchers held aloft placards saying ‘No to exploitation and neo-colonialism’ and ‘No to Areva’.
‘The partnership in the mining of uranium is very unbalanced to the detriment of our country,’ said Mahamadou Djibo Samaila, secretary general of the Union of Niamey University Students that organised the protest.

The government of Niger, one of Africa’s poorest countries, complained late last year that its four-decade-old deal with Areva to mine its vast uranium deposits was unfair and should be changed.”

Robot wars
The University of Sheffield’s Noel Sharkey explores the potential limitations and dangers of “fully autonomous robot weapons”:

“Is anyone thinking about how an adaptive enemy will exploit the weaknesses of robot weapons with spoofing, hacking or misdirection?
Is anyone considering how unknown computer programs will interact when swarms of robots meet? Is anyone considering how autonomous weapons could destabilize world security and trigger unintentional wars?
In April this year in London, a group of prominent NGOs will launch a large civil society campaign to ‘Stop Killer Robots.’ They are seeking a new legally binding preemptive international treaty to prohibit the development and deployment of fully autonomous robot weapons.”

Toothless treaty
Former Reuters columnist Bernd Debusmann writes that the recently approved UN arms trade treaty is not at all certain to succeed in “throttling the flow of arms to the world’s killing fields”:

“Russia and China, the world’s second- and fourth-largest arms exporters respectively, abstained. So did 22 other countries that have misgivings about the agreement. Iran, North Korea and Syria – all subject to arms embargoes – voted against.
So did, in a manner of speaking, a domestic American pressure group, the National Rifle Association, whose extraordinary influence on the U.S. Congress is almost certain to result in the senate blocking ratification of the treaty.

The United States is by far the world’s largest arms exporter and if it stayed on the sidelines, along with Russia and China, the Arms Trade Treaty would lack teeth.”

Segregated cities
The Guardian’s Gary Younge argues that the uneven and unfair distribution of wealth in US cities means “chaos will spread randomly and episodically”:

“The problem starts with poverty. Infant mortality rates for black families in Pittsburgh are worse than in Vietnam; male life expectancy in Washington, DC is lower than it is the Gaza Strip.
Poverty rates in some black and Latino neighbourhoods in almost every city are higher than 50%. In some, violence is rampant. By one estimate, between 20% and 30% Chicago school children have witnessed a shooting. The US now has more people in its penal system than the Soviet Union did at the height of the gulag system.”

Poverty makers
Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk of /The Rules and Joe Brewer of Cognitive Policy Works argue that global poverty is created by an “industry that includes private companies, think tanks, media outlets, government policies, and more”:

“This isn’t to suggest that there’s a dark, smoky room somewhere in which a small cabal plots to cause immeasurable misery just because they can. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. In truth, it happens in big boardrooms and political conferences, where people create rules and execute strategies to ‘maximise self-interest’ as economists say, by extracting wealth from others. This is largely driven by a maniacal focus on short-term profit or advantage while ignoring one of its primary effects – the impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people. Wilful ignorance, though, as any legal scholar will tell you, is no defence in law. It’s about time we applied the same standard to our economic rules and realities.”

Latest Developments, January 24

In the latest news and analysis…

Uranium lockdown
Reuters reports that France is sending “special forces and equipment” to Niger to protect uranium mines operated by French state-owned nuclear giant Areva:

“Areva has been mining uranium in Niger for more than five decades and provides much of the raw materials that power France’s nuclear power industry, the source of 75 percent of the country’s electricity.

The military source confirmed a report in weekly magazine Le Point that special forces and equipment would be sent to Areva’s uranium production sites in Imouraren and Arlit, but declined to go into further details.”

Mali blue helmets
Foreign Policy reports that US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has “quietly floated” the idea of a UN peacekeeping force in Mali once France’s military offensive ends:

“Rice made the remarks in a closed-door session of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday evening, though she noted that the Obama administration had not yet officially decided to back a force of blue helmets.

Rice said that the original U.N. plan — which envisioned the Malian army as the ‘tip of the spear’ in a military offensive against the Islamists — is no longer viable, according to an official present at the meeting. She said the mission would likely shift from a combat mission to a stabilization mission, requiring a long-term strategy to hold territory and build up local institutions. French combat forces are unlikely to remain in Mali to do that job. ‘We need to be open to a blue-helmeted operation,’ she said, according to another official at the meeting.”

More drones
The Los Angeles Times reports that the past few days have seen a “significant escalation” of US drone strikes in Yemen:

“The flurry of strikes in Yemen comes as the administration is considering codifying a set of procedures and policies governing how targeted killings are carried out — how militants are added to kill lists, who reviews the evidence and which government agencies get a say. The so-called counter-terrorism playbook is not yet complete, an official said this week.

It is impossible to verify whether all those killed were Al Qaeda militants, as some news reports from the region have suggested.”

Big waste
The UN is calling for an end to practices – by consumers, retailers and governments – that lead to a third of the world’s food being wasted:

“ ‘In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tons annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,’ said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva. ‘This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.’
In Europe and North America, the average waste per consumer is between 95 and 115 kilograms per year, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and Southeast Asia each throw away only six to 11 kilograms annually.”

Human safaris
Survival International is celebrating an Indian Supreme Court order banning tourists from a road that cuts through a tribal reserve in the Andaman Islands:

“Survival has been campaigning for many years for the road through the Jarawa tribe’s reserve to be closed. It first alerted the world that tour operators were treating the Jarawa like animals in a zoo in 2010. Survival, and Andaman organization Search, had called for tourists to boycott the road.

The latest court order comes a year after the world was shocked by an international exposé of Jarawa women being forced to dance in exchange for food.”

Exporting emissions
Inter Press Service reports that environmentalists are looking to US President Barack Obama’s handling of the country’s coal reserves as a test of the commitment to tackling climate change he expressed in his inauguration speech:

“ ‘The big story out of the United States is the expansion of the country’s coal export – this is the biggest domestic threat to the climate,’ Kelly Mitchell, a campaigner with Greenpeace, an environment watchdog, told IPS.
‘Contrasted with the country’s great successes over the last couple of years in moving away from coal use, we’re now seeing risk of those emissions moving offshore.’

‘There is a little hypocrisy in this situation. The U.S. is moving forward to reduce emissions while at the same time the federal government is allowing a huge uptick in exports. That means we’re not living up to our responsibility to address the climate problem.’ ”

Accidental hostilities
Former NATO secretary general Javier Solana and the Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer lay out the two principal reasons they fear the prospect of “attacks in cyberspace” between nations in the years ahead:

“ First, unlike the structure of Cold War-era ‘mutually assured destruction,’ cyber weapons offer those who use them an opportunity to strike anonymously. Second, constant changes in technology ensure that no government can know how much damage its cyber-weapons can do or how well its deterrence will work until they use them.
As a result, governments now probe one another’s defenses every day, increasing the risk of accidental hostilities. If John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are confirmed as US secretaries of state and defense, respectively, the Obama administration will feature two prominent skeptics of military intervention. But high levels of US investment in drones, cyber-tools, and other unconventional weaponry will most likely be maintained.”

Differing views
The Guardian reports that the CEO of the world’s second-biggest brewing company has argued that “business can fix” Africa’s problems, a view not shared by everyone in the audience:

“Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at a session called De-Risking Africa, alongside the Nigerian and South African presidents, [SABMiller’s Graham] Mackay insisted that throwing the continent’s markets open to more investment would boost growth.
‘Trust in economic growth to solve the problems of the continent,’ Mackay said. ‘Economic growth comes from the private sector: business will fix it, if it’s allowed to.’

But Paul Kagame, of Rwanda, stressed that Africans had to trust themselves – not outsiders – to solve their problems. Speaking from the audience, he said: ‘For me, the major problem I see is that Africa’s story is written from somewhere else, and not by Africans themselves.’ ”