Latest Developments, March 22

In the latest news and analysis…

Teetering regime
Le Figaro reports on growing international concern, particularly in former colonial ruler France, over the rapid advance of rebels toward the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui:

“The situation appeared serious enough for France, which has a contingent of about 250 troops on the ground, to ask for a UN Security Council meeting on Friday night. Paris had placed its troops based in Libreville, Gabon on standby. But most of its forces are currently waging war in Mali. ‘If we are involved in CAR,’ said French President François Hollande late last year, ‘it isn’t to protect a regime. It’s to protect our citizens and interests and in no way to intervene in the internal affairs of a country.’ ” [Translated from the French.]

RIP Chinua Achebe
To mark the passing of “the grandfather of African literature,” the Africa Report reprints a Chinua Achebe interview conducted by fellow Nigerian novelist Helon Habila in 2007:

“I for one always resisted the idea that this is ‘The Achebe School’. Personally, I didn’t want a school at all, and looking back at that generation and you not being aware what it was like to grow up in a situation in which you have no literature, in which you do not belong to the stories that are told, a period in which you went to school and passed through school, and you did not hear anything about yourself throughout that period — unless you went through that, it will be difficult to understand why there was all this to-do about writing our own stories, crafting our own style and so on.

There are many people walking around in Britain today who do not accept that the colonial period adventure was not fair to the people on whom it was unleashed.”

End of CIDA
The Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder and Addis Ababa University’s Lucas Robinson argue that the Canadian government’s decision to merge its international development agency into the ministry of foreign affairs is an opportunity “to move the debate ‘beyond aid’ ”:

“But people from developing countries are clear that development policy must mean more than giving aid. They want to benefit more from the resources and services they supply to the world. They do not want aid as compensation for unfair global trade rules; they want the rules changed. They do not want compensation for the damage done to the environment by industrialized countries; they want the destruction of our planet to stop.
We need to look beyond the management of aid, for which their organizations are designed, to a much broader agenda and new ways of working if we are to deal with the growing array of challenges that require global solutions, including climate change, macroeconomic imbalances, inadequate financial regulation, tax avoidance, inequality, environmental degradation, dislocation, insecurity and corruption.”

Mining murder
Oxfam has condemned the kidnapping of four Guatemalan men, one of whom was subsequently found dead, who opposed a mining project owned by Canada’s Tahoe Resources:

“Local groups had organized a community consultation in which citizens cast votes in favor or against the mining project known as ‘The Escobal.’ The project is located 2.5 kilometers east of the San Jose, municipal head of San Rafael Las Flores. Its operations would impact more than 3,000 people living in the area.
After the consultation, the four leaders, known for defending the rights of local citizens, were kidnapped.”

Sweetheart deal
The Guardian reports that Shell is being accused of paying a mere $20 in annual rent for each of a pair of South African filling stations built on land obtained during apartheid:

“The Shell anomaly is being investigated by South Africa’s parliamentary oversight committee on rural development and land reform. Stone Sizani, its chairman, said: ‘It’s a huge unfairness on the part of Shell to the community there. They’re making huge sums of money from those filling stations and what they’re paying is the equivalent of an indigent family for a piece of land.’
He added: ‘Nobody can explain how Shell got such a piece of land. Even if it was done during apartheid, Shell should be feeling ashamed.’
Shell obtained permission to occupy (PTO) during the apartheid era, when black people were not permitted to obtain title deeds to land.”

Bad paint
The Cameroon Tribune reports on a study suggesting that two-thirds of new paint being sold in the central African nation contains hazardous levels of lead:

“The study, in the May issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, revealed lead concentrations are as high as 50 percent by weight in household paint being sold by Cameroon’s largest paint company, Seigneurie – a subsidiary of the U.S. Company PPG. This concentration is more than 5,000 times the allowable limit in the U.S.

The new study is the first one which provides the names of paint companies and the lead concentrations for all 61 paints tested.”

Drone expansion
The Washington Post reports that Niamey, the capital of Niger, is “the newest outpost in the U.S. government’s empire of drone bases”:

“Like other U.S. drone bases, the Predator operations in Niger are shrouded in secrecy. The White House announced Feb. 22 that Obama had deployed about 100 military personnel to Niger on an “intelligence collection” mission, but it did not make any explicit reference to drones.
Since then, the Defense Department has publicly acknowledged the presence of drones here but has revealed little else. The Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military missions on the continent, denied requests from a Washington Post reporter to interview American troops in Niger or to tour the military airfield where the drones are based, near Niamey’s international airport.”

Less tolerance
Le Monde reports that a new study shows that intolerance is on the rise in France and racist acts and threats increased by 23% last year:

“In all, 55 percent of people surveyed said Muslims are ‘a group on the fringes of society’ (up four points since the 2011 report) and 69 percent believe ‘there are too many immigrants in France today,’ a 10 point increase since 2011. ‘We are seeing a dangerous desensitization to racist comments,’ according to the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights.

If ‘racism’ is ‘relatively stable’ (up two percent), anti-Muslim ‘racism’ (up 30 percent) and particularly ‘antisemitism’ (up 58 percent) have shown the biggest increases.” [Translated from the French.]

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Latest Developments, January 17

In the latest news and analysis…

War behind closed doors
Reporters Without Borders is calling for journalists, both local and foreign, to be granted access to the conflict zone in Mali:

“Forced to comply with military directives that are keeping them far from the areas of operation by preventing them from going beyond the city of Ségou, the international and local media have been calling it a ‘war behind closed doors.’
The French and Malian authorities are preventing journalists from getting within 100 km of the areas where fighting is taking place. It is particularly difficult of find out what is happening in the embattled city of Gao, where phone networks have been down since the start of the week, preventing any contact with local residents, journalists or anyone else.”

Perfect record
The Associated Press reports that the International Criminal Court has launched a formal investigation into war crimes in Mali, thereby maintaining the Hague-based court’s apparently exclusive focus on Africa:

“The Mali probe is the Hague-based court’s eighth investigation — all of them in Africa.
The 10-year-old court also has opened investigations in Libya, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic and Kenya.
Suspects indicted so far include Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. The court also indicted former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but closed the case when he was killed by rebels who toppled his four-decade regime.”

We the oil & gas companies
The Hill reports that a trio of US senators is contending that a lawsuit by business groups threatens the ability of Congress to make energy policy:

“Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ex-Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), in a court filing Thursday, defend [Securities and Exchange Commission] rules that will force oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.
Their brief in the case notes that oil and business groups have challenged not only the specifics of the rule, but Congress’s power, in the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, to force the disclosure.”

Rules of the game
In an interview with the Guardian, outgoing Oxfam head Barbara Stocking says she believes the “humanitarian spirit” has changed fundamentally since she got into the development business:

“And I think we’ve shifted in understanding that it’s not just the poor places that need to be changed, but our habits. But it’s hard to get across the message that it’s us lot, who are actually using all the global goods, who need to change. Not poor people.

I think we recognise more that poverty is about power and politics more generally – and that while charity or aid may be necessary, actually the rules of the game have to be changed if anything’s going to happen.”

Cloak of respectability
The World Development Movement’s Miriam Ross makes the case for companies that behave badly overseas to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange:

“Richard Lambert, former director general of [the Confederation of British Industry], wrote in the Financial Times: ‘It never occurred to those of us who helped launch the FTSE 100 index 27 years ago that one day it would be providing a cloak of respectability and lots of passive investors for companies that challenge the canons of corporate governance such as Vedanta…Perhaps it is time for those responsible for the index to rethink its purpose.’
In November, John McDonnell MP made the case in parliament for Vedanta and other ethically contentious mining companies to be strongly regulated by the FCA, including possibly de-listed ‘because of their behaviour in the developing world.’

A listing on the London Stock Exchange gives companies like Vedanta access to vast financial resources, as well as a cloak of legitimacy, however thin. As long as the City of London is home to mining companies that pursue profit at the expense of the lives of people in the countries in which they operate, it will hold part of the responsibility for the crimes they commit.”

Haven for fraud
The Guardian reports on the UK’s support for fraud-facilitating offshore secrecy in places like the British Virgin Islands:

“The BVI’s system of offshore secrecy is underwritten by the UK government, which ultimately controls the behaviour of the Caribbean islands. It is popular among property firms in the City of London, which are allowed by the British government’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to conceal the identities of owners on the UK’s public Land Registry, by putting premises in the name of such BVI vehicles.
More than 1m BVI companies have now been incorporated since the launch of their offshore system in the 1980s, according to the latest figures, and it is the world’s biggest provider of offshore entities.”

Democracy in crisis
The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities’ Slavoj Žižek argues a recent Slovenian court decision is “a symptom of a global tendency towards the limitation of democracy”:

“The idea is that, in a complex economic situation like today’s, the majority of the people are not qualified to decide – they are unaware of the catastrophic consequences that would ensue if their demands were to be met.

What is new today is that, with the financial crisis that began in 2008, this same distrust of democracy – once constrained to the third world or post-communist developing countries – is gaining ground in the developed west itself: what was a decade or two ago patronising advice to others now concerns ourselves.”

Latest Developments, December 7

In the latest news and analysis…

African pivot
The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama administration is considering asking congress for authorization to “pursue extremist groups” in Africa:

“The move, according to administration and congressional officials, would be aimed at allowing U.S. military operations in Mali, Nigeria, Libya and possibly other countries where militants have loose or nonexistent ties to al Qaeda’s Pakistan headquarters. Depending on the request, congressional authorization could cover the use of armed drones and special operations teams across a region larger than Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the officials said.”

Safety second
Bloomberg reports that Walmart last year dismissed as too expensive safety improvements at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 textile workers have died since 2005:

“At the April 2011 meeting in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, retailers discussed a contractually enforceable memorandum that would require them to pay Bangladesh factories prices high enough to cover costs of safety improvements. Sridevi Kalavakolanu, a Wal-Mart director of ethical sourcing, told attendees the company wouldn’t share the cost, according to Ineke Zeldenrust, international coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, who attended the gathering. Kalavakolanu and her counterpart at Gap reiterated their position in a report folded into the meeting minutes, obtained by Bloomberg News.
‘Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories,’ they said in the document. ‘It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.’ ”

Drug shortage
Reuters reports that international sanctions against Iran may be precipitating a healthcare crisis:

“Government hospitals and pharmacies report a widespread lack of drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, blood disorders and other serious conditions. Iranian media highlighted the shortages earlier this month through the case of a teenager who died of hemophilia after his family failed to find his medicine.
Both the United States and the European Union say their embargoes do not target trade in humanitarian goods. But cutting off Iran’s banking system from the outside world has touched every sector of the economy, resulting in spiraling food prices, a plunging Iranian rial, deepening unemployment and now, hitting health care, analysts and traders say.”

Unfair shares
Reuters also reports on a study that found that nearly 20 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa’s black majority “directly owns” less than 10 percent of the country’s main stock market:

“Despite the ruling African National Congress’ drive for ‘black economic empowerment’, under which firms are set black ownership and other targets, millions of blacks remain trapped in poverty and excluded from the formal economy.

‘If you look at the demographics of this country, what would be normal is that no less than 50 percent of the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) should be owned by black people,’ ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said.”

Europe beyond aid
The Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder writes that Europeans may “more than pull their weight in aid to developing countries” but that does not mean they shine at development cooperation:

“So if European countries are serious about development – and not just giving aid – then we must also consider how European policies on trade, investment, migration, environment, technology and security all affect the developing world.
Improvements in any of these policies could have much more impact on poverty and prosperity in poor countries than any increase in the quantity or quality of aid we are likely to make.  Taken together, they are far more important than aid for creating the conditions for development. Yet they get relatively little attention in development circles.”

Legal first
The Jakarta Globe reports that an Indonesian anti-corruption court has made a Japanese businessman the country’s “first foreign graft convict”:

“[Shiokawa] Toshio, the president director of Onamba Indonesia, was proven guilty of bribing Imas Dianasari, an ad hoc judge with the Bandung Industrial Relations Court, over a labor dispute case involving the electrical wire manufacturer.
The court ruled in favor of the company and allowed it to discontinue the employment of workers who had joined a labor strike, shortly before Onamba’s human resources manager Odi Juanda gave Imas the Rp 200 million [US $20,800] bribes.”

Conflicting rights
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has released a report on a case of industrial pollution in Peru that “illustrates the conflict between international human rights law and investors’ protection”:

“People from La Oroya have brought a case against the State of Peru for failing to protect their right to health, before the Inter-American Commission. Parents of children with high blood lead levels have attempted to get redress in the US, where the parent company is located through a class action. In an attempt to stop the proceedings before the US Court of Missouri, at the end of 2010, the Renco Group launched an international artbitration claiming its rigths as a foreign investors, guaranteed by the Free-Trade Agreement between Peru and the United States, had been violated by Peru, and asking for at least 800 million USD as compensation.”

Congo’s riches
Bloomberg offers a portrait of Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler whose investments in the DR Congo have left him with a hand in nearly a tenth of the world’s cobalt production, as well as “a roster of critics”:

“His Gibraltar-registered Fleurette Properties Ltd. owns stakes in various Congolese mines through at least 60 holding companies in offshore tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands.

‘Dan Gertler is essentially looting Congo at the expense of its people,’ says Jean Pierre Muteba, the head of a group of nongovernmental organizations that monitor the mining sector in Katanga province, where most of Congo’s copper is located.
‘He has political connections, so state companies sell him mines for low prices and he sells them on for huge profits. That’s how he’s become a billionaire.’
In the eight months preceding November 2011 elections, in which [Joseph] Kabila won a second five-year term, companies affiliated with Gertler bought shares in five mining ventures from three state-owned firms, according to minutes of board meetings, company filings and documents published later. The state companies didn’t announce the sales.”

Latest Developments, November 28

In the latest news and analysis…

Beyond aid
The Center for Global Development’s Owen Barder argues that over the past decade, “there has been very little overall progress in the policies of rich countries which affect prospects in poor countries”:

“But people from developing countries are clear that development policy today must mean more than giving aid. With growing economic success, they want to benefit more from the resources and services which they supply to the world. They do not want aid as compensation for global trade rules which are stacked against them: they want the rules changed. They do not want merely to be compensated for the damage done to the environment by industrialised countries; they want the destruction of our shared planet to stop.

Aid agencies and campaigners make a powerful case for increases in aid, and for improving its quality. But many have neglected the other issues which developing countries are increasingly demanding must be addressed and which are likely to be at least as important. This paralysis in the face of a changing agenda should come as no surprise. All aid agencies have to spend their budget wisely and avoid waste (or worse). But working to improve the policies on fisheries, patents or tax is always discretionary, however important it might be. Nobody in the government department responsible for these policies will complain if the development ministry leaves them alone. The people who stand to lose are in developing countries: and they have no voice and no vote when these priorities are set.”

US exceptionalism
The Hill reports that US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will exempt US airlines from EU carbon fees:

“The White House had been under pressure from environmental groups to veto the bill. Those advocates want Obama to address climate change more forcefully in his second term, and said the emissions bill provided an opportunity to chart a new course.

‘However, there is a silver lining here — the administration has appointed high level representatives to pursue a global solution for aviation and climate,’ [the World Wildlife Fund’s Keya] Chatterjee said. ‘The White House now must endorse a global, market-based measure to rein in carbon pollution from aviation. If they do, we are optimistic that the U.S. can work with [International Civil Aviation Organization] to develop a package of policies that will reduce our share of global emissions.’ ”

Right to development
350.org’s Bill McKibben, the Environmental Rights Action’s Nnimmo Bassey and Focus on the Global South’s Pablo Solon call the COP 18 climate talks currently underway in Doha “the time to act for the future of humanity and Nature”:

“Rich countries who have poured most of the carbon into the atmosphere (especially the planet’s sole superpower) need to take the lead in emission reductions and the emerging economies have also to make commitments to reduce the exploitation of oil, coal and gas. The right to development should be understood as the obligation of the states to guarantee the basic needs of the population to enjoy a fulfilled and happy life, and not as a free ticket for a consumer and extractivist society that doesn’t take into account the limits of the planet and the wellbeing of all humans.”

Killer fashion
Al Jazeera provides a roundup of the global clothing lines who were customers of the Bangladeshi garment factory where a fire killed “at least 110 people” over the weekend:

“Survivors and witnesses told AFP that workers, most of them women, tried to escape the burning factory, which supplied clothes to international brands including Walmart, European chain C&A and the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung company.
Order books and clothing found at the site show the company was also making clothing for Disney Pixar, Sears and other Western brands.
The Associated Press news agency reports that blue and off-white shorts from ENYCE, the label now owned by Hip Hop mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, were piled and stacked in cartons on the floor.”

Pipeline colonialism
A First Nations group in Canada’s westernmost province has issued a letter to “the illegitimate colonial governments of Canada and British Columbia, and to all parties involved in the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline project” warning against attempts to bring a natural gas pipeline through their territory:

“Under Wet’suwet’en law, the people of these lands have an inalienable right to their traditional territories, and the right to defend it. Even by Canadian law, the Supreme Court Dalgamuukw case decision explicitly recognizes the authority of hereditary chiefs, not elected Indian Act bands or councils. As such, any further unauthorized incursion into traditional Wet’suwet’en territory will be considered an act of colonialism, and an act of aggression towards our sovereignty.”

Tackling offshoring
Global Witness’s Rosie Sharpe argues that the opacity of the global financial system is a major contributor to the perpetuation of poverty:

“Why don’t Congolese citizens know who bought the rights to six of their country’s best copper and cobalt mines? Because they were bought by anonymous firms registered in the British Virgin Islands. And, what’s more, these companies bought them at a snip – in some cases just a 20th of their estimated value – and then sold some of them on for much, much more. Someone pocketed a fortune, but hidden company ownership means neither we, nor Congolese citizens, can know who.

If we want to make poverty history, we have to make corruption history. And if we want to make corruption history, we have to make anonymous companies history. Global Witness has been calling for the names of the true, beneficial owners of companies and other corporate vehicles to be made public. Nominee directors and shareholders should have to declare themselves as such and say who they’re working for.”

Minimum tax
Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett makes the case for a minimum tax on America’s wealthiest people:

“I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.”

Latest Developments, November 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Martial plan
Deutsche Welle reports that a new proposal for a military intervention in northern Mali could include troops from “two or three non-African nations”:

“West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS says it has agreed on a plan to recapture northern Mali using 3,300 troops. ECOWAS leaders meeting in Abuja said they still favor talks with Islamist insurgents holding the area.

Briefing reporters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, [Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane] Ouattara, who is ECOWAS’s chairman, said the plan would be sent to the United Nations for approval by the end of November.

There is not total unanimity on how to end the conflict. Neighboring Algeria would prefer a negotiated solution to the conflict. France, Mali’s former colonial master, which has several citizens held hostage by al Qaeda-linked groups in the Sahara, supports a swift war scenario.”

Big deal
Press Trust of India reports that the Pentagon has said the sale of billions worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia “will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the US”:

“Saudi Arabia plans to buy 20 military transport planes and five refuelling aircraft along with related defence equipment, worth an estimated USD 6.7 billion, from the US, the Pentagon has said.

‘Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale of 20 C-130J-30 Aircraft, 5 KC-130J Air Refuelling Aircraft, 120 Rolls Royce AE2100D3 Engines (100 installed and 20 spares), 25 Link-16 Multi-functional Information Distribution Systems, support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, US Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related logistics support,’ [the Defense Security Cooperation Agency] said.”

Evergreening
Intellectual Property Watch reports on a new study that found tactics used by pharmaceutical companies could hold off generic competition, in some cases, by decades:

“The article looked at two key antiretroviral drugs to manage HIV, ritonavir (Norvir) and lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), and identified 108 patents that could delay generics until 2028. That is 12 years after the expiration of the patents on drugs’ base compounds and 39 years after the first patents on ritonavir were filed.

The authors said some of the secondary patents were questionable, and called for stricter patentability standards, greater transparency, and more opportunities to challenge patents.”

Motion denied
The Hill reports that extractive industry groups have failed to persuade the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it should hold off on requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments:

“The SEC rejected claims that initial compliance costs would be burdensome. Claims of competitive harm are too speculative to warrant a stay, the SEC said.
The order is the latest move in a long-running battle over rules required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The industry favors disclosure carried out under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a voluntary, multilateral group that brings together energy-producing nations, companies and civil society organizations.”

Nigerian spill
The Guardian Nigeria reports that oil giant Mobil is trying to contain a new spill off the country’s coast:

“According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the spill from the Atlantic coastline in Ibeno, which started on Friday, has hit the shoreline.
Oily sediments have deposited on the shoreline in Ibeno, Esit Eket, Eastern Obollo and other settlements along the coast.
Heavy equipment, chemicals, hoses and oil spill containment equipment were being moved from the jetty to the fields.”

Cui bono
The New York Times reports on the broken promises and dashed hopes of Mozambique’s foreign investment-fuelled economic boom:

“The coal deposits in Moatize represent one of the biggest untapped reserves in the world, and the Brazilian mining company Vale has placed a big bet on it. But to get to the coal, hundreds of villagers living atop it had to be moved. The company held a series of meetings with community members and government officials, laying out its plans to build tidy new bungalows for each family and upgrade public services. As the prospect of huge new investments in their rural corner of the world beckoned, villagers anticipated a whole new life: jobs, houses, education, and even free food.
Things didn’t work out that way. The houses were poorly built and leaked when it rained. The promised water taps and electricity never arrived. Cateme is too far from the mine for anyone here to get a job there. The new fields are dusty and barren — coaxing anything from them is hard.”

Strategy adjustment
Veteran journalist Ian Birrell argues “the aid debate has been mugged by economic reality” and calls for new thinking in the fight against global injustice:

Inequality is moving up the political agenda across the world. In the west, there is justified concern over bonus-chasing bankers and plutocrats who plunder profits while cutting wages for workers. In the developing world, the issues are even more stark. But we need to recognise the pace of change on the planet. If we really want to help the world’s poor, we could liberalise immigration controls and tackle issues such as tax evasion and corruption with far tougher action against money-laundering and all those in our own countries who assist the corruption. We can do the most good by abandoning an antiquated way of talking about aid.

Robbing Africa
Journalist and filmmaker Anas Aremeyaw Anas asks why rich countries “frown publicly about corruption, yet turn a blind eye to its fruits”:

“We do not say that all of Africa’s woes are the fault of others outside the continent. Nor do we assume that criminality is the only reason why Africa, despite its many natural riches, has been kept in poverty.
But we did come away wondering why the outside world feeds Africa with one hand and takes from it with another. Why cannot the resources for aid be directed into fighting this obvious problem? Is it not about time that something was done to stop those stealing our wealth, and those helping them steal it, from evading responsibility prosecution for their crimes?”