Latest Developments, December 13

In the latest news and analysis…

New trade accord
The European Parliament has approved a free trade agreement with Colombia and Peru, which will involve “a further limitation of export and import tariffs” between the trading partners, according to Colombia Reports:

“Human and labor rights organizations had objected the bill, claiming Colombia was not in compliance with international labor and human rights norms. Opponents within the [European Parliament] had claimed that the pact would additionally increase the risk of illegal money flows between the world’s two largest producers of cocaine and the world’s second largest cocaine consumer market.”

Pacific militarization
Reuters reports that the US military looks set to increase its number of troops, ships and aircraft in the Philippines:

“ ‘What we are discussing right now is increasing the rotational presence of U.S. forces,’ Carlos Sorreta, the foreign ministry’s Assistant Secretary for American Affairs, told reporters. A five-year joint U.S.-Philippine military exercise plan would be approved this week, he added.
The size of the increase in the U.S. military assets in the Philippines, a former U.S. colony, was unclear.
But it comes as the Philippines, Australia and other parts of the region have seen a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel under Washington’s so-called ‘pivot’ in foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia announced last year.”

Resource war
Iraqi politicians are warning that US oil companies “could be responsible for causing a civil war” if they proceed with drilling in disputed areas, according to Iraq Oil Report:

“Both the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have deployed thousands of troops near the contested border between north and south, including land where the American companies ExxonMobil and Hunt Oil have agreed to drill for oil.
In some areas, the opposing forces are less than a mile apart, well within the range of each other’s weapons.
‘If Exxon starts drilling, they will find tanks around them,’ said Sami Alaskary, a member of Parliament and influential adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.”

Big deal
The Guardian’s John Vidal writes that the much-maligned UN climate talks that took place recently in Doha did produce “one landmark agreement ” that will change future negotiations:

“Countries agreed to the principle of ‘loss and damage’, to help victims of climate change. The door is now at least half open for countries to be recompensed for slow onset events such as rising sea levels, continual droughts and storms.
Opinions are divided over what could practically emerge. There will be further meetings and discussions in the coming months and an international mechanism is expected to be set up next year. Financial experts like PwC say it could be a massive climate-risk insurance facility. Developing countries hope it could be a new fund to specifically channel money to countries experiencing damage linked to climate change.”

Papua New Guinea guinea pigs
Reuters reports that a dispute between Papua New Guinea and a Canadian company is threatening a “groundbreaking” but controversial mining project that aims to extract gold from the ocean floor:

“The impoverished country has a long legacy of mining projects derailed by environmental disasters, landowner uprisings and corruption.
Mining from vessels is seen as a way of avoiding some of the landowner disputes that have plagued other projects. Still, the project has been criticised for failing to adequately assess environmental risks.
‘No one knows what the impacts of this form of mining will be,’ said Wences Magun, national co-ordinator for Mas Kagin Tapani, a Papua New Guinea environmental group.
‘Communities want to know what concrete steps the prime minister will now take to ensure we are not being used us as guinea pigs in a sea bed mining experiment.’ ”

Plane denial
Agence France-Presse reports that French state-owned nuclear giant Areva has denied giving millions as a controversial “bonus” to uranium-rich Niger for the purchase of a pair of jets:

“Areva gave Niger ‘no-strings, non-targeted budgetary assistance worth 17 billion CFA francs (about €26 million),’ Zakari Oumarou, parliamentary president of the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNSD), told AFP.
‘The government of Niger then decided to allocate 10 billion CFA francs (€15 million) for the purchase of a presidential plane, for which the state had already set aside 4 billion CFA francs (€6 million) in the 2013 budget,” he said, emphasizing that the purchase was ‘a necessity’ given the ‘weight of years’ of the current aircraft.

But Areva denied having given any such budgetary assistance. ‘No payment was made by the company,’ insisted a spokesperson contacted by AFP in Paris.” [Translated from the French.]

Chixoy revisited
Jubilee Debt Campaign’s Nick Dearden suggests the World Bank has not learned the right lessons in the 30 years since it helped fund a Guatemalan hydroelectric project whose construction involved hundreds of murders:

“It is unlikely that Chixoy would have been able to go ahead without the backing of the banks, yet their internal reports made no mention of the massacres.
Today, as former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt is brought to trial in Guatemala on counts of genocide, the survivors of the Chixoy massacre have still not received reparations – despite an acceptance by the banks that they are owed something.

Although the massacre at Chixoy was certainly extreme, it is symptomatic of a problem that goes to the heart of the World Bank’s idea of what development is. The best role the World Bank can play is to make reparations for the damage it has done – and clear the way for people who believe development is about people’s rights rather than corporate profits.”

Martial comfort
My Own Private Guantanamo’s Matt Cornell discusses the imagery of contemporary American warfare:

“Drones aren’t very iconic in the Western imagination, perhaps because we don’t look at them. They ‘look’ at the enemy, extending our predatory gaze to the corners of the globe. Appropriately, the key image from ‘the greatest manhunt in history’ is not the rumored photo of bin Laden’s corpse, but a picture of the most powerful people in the world, huddled around a television, watching his killing unfold in real time, as if at a 24 viewing party.
Drones embody two things that have come to define the post-9/11 era: unlimited surveillance and a war without borders. When I saw the Camo Snuggie in a drugstore the other day, I took it as an accidental visual metaphor for modern warfare. Here is a white man, wearing the camouflage of a soldier but far from a battlefield, swaddled and safe from harm, pushing buttons on a remote control.”

Latest Developments, December 11

In the latest news and analysis…

Syrian plan
The Independent reports on “secret Syria talks” aimed at drawing up plans to provide the country’s rebels with training, as well as military support from air and sea:

“The head of Britain’s armed forces, General Sir David Richards, hosted a confidential meeting in London a few weeks ago attended by the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE, and a three-star American general, in which the strategy was discussed at length. Other UK government departments and their counterparts in allied states in the mission have also been holding extensive meetings on the issue.

The training camps can be set up in Turkey. However, the use of air and maritime force would, in itself, be highly controversial and likely to lead to charges that, as in Libya, the West is carrying out regime change by force.
Furthermore, any such military action will have to take place without United Nations authorisation, with Russia and China highly unlikely to back a resolution after their experience over Libya where they agreed to a ‘no-fly zone’ only to see it turn into a Nato bombing campaign lasting months.”

Weak deal
The Guardian reports that environmental and anti-poverty groups are unhappy with the lack of progress made during the UN climate talks that ended in Doha over the weekend:

“ ‘A weak and dangerously ineffectual agreement is nothing but a polluters charter – it legitimises a do-nothing approach whilst creating a mirage that governments are acting in the interests of the planet and its people,’ said Asad Rehman, head of climate and energy at Friends of the Earth. ‘Doha was a disaster zone where poor developing countries were forced to capitulate to the interests of wealthy countries, effectively condemning their own citizens to the climate crisis. The blame for the disaster in Doha can be laid squarely at the foot of countries like the USA who have blocked and bullied those who are serious about tackling climate change. Our only hope lies in people being inspired to take action.’ ”

Too big to indict
The New York Times reports that US authorities have decided not to indict banking giant HSBC over alleged laundering of Mexican drug money, for fear that “criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks

“Instead, HSBC announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to a record $1.92 billion settlement with authorities. The bank, which is based in Britain, faces accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move money illegally through its American subsidiaries.
While the settlement with HSBC is a major victory for the government, the case raises questions about whether certain financial institutions, having grown so large and interconnected, are too big to indict.”

Private aid
The Guardian reports on War on Want’s criticism of the UK’s increasing use of the private sector to deliver aid to Africa, a strategy the NGO contends “will do little to reduce poverty”:

“ ‘In fact [Department for International Development]-funded expansion of corporate control over agriculture in Africa is a sure way of increasing long-term vulnerability,’ [War on Want director John Hilary said].

War on Want also attacks the government for using aid to promote the commercial interests of some of the world’s most profitable food, drink and agrochemical corporations.
The report says that DfID-sponsored programmes which have funded projects in Africa and Asia with multinationals include the alcohol companies Diageo and SABMiller and the food giant Unilever. It also tracks support for initiatives to develop sales networks for agrochemical companies such as Syngenta and Monsanto. DfID is, for example, set to contribute £395m to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative that involves 45 of the largest multinational corporations investing $3bn (£1.86bn) in African agriculture.”

Suspended justice
Reuters reports that a French court has given no jail time to ex-soldiers it found guilty of murdering an Ivorian man in 2005:

“The incident – in which [Firmin] Mahe was suffocated with a plastic bag in an armored vehicle after his arrest – erupted into a diplomatic scandal after it was found the soldiers tried to cover up the crime.

The court gave Colonel Eric Burgaud, who had given the order to kill, a suspended sentence of five years, while his adjunct who had admitted to carrying out the murder, Guy Raugel, received a suspended four-year sentence.
Brigadier Chief Johannes Schnier, who helped in the killing, was handed a suspended sentence of one year. Another soldier who drove the vehicle during the killing was acquitted.”

Continent-specific justice
Inner City Press reports on concern in some diplomatic circles that the International Criminal Court’s new prosecutor is picking up where her predecessor left off, targeting only Africans for indictment:

“Another Security Council source, from a country that has signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, expressed to Inner City Press dismay at the ‘mechanism’ announcement over the weekend that new ICC prosecutor Fatima Bensouda is now looking into indicting the M23 and its supporters.
Opponents of Joseph Kabila get indicted by the ICC, from [Jean-Pierre] Bemba to Bosco [Ntaganda], the complaint runs. And what has been accomplished? Let the ICC at least try an indictment in another continent and see how it goes. Or why not look at Kabila or those in his administration, as well?”

Bloc party
The Associated Press reports that not everyone was celebrating as European Union leaders gathered in Oslo to collect this year’s Nobel Peace Prize:

“Three Peace Prize laureates — South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Adolfo Perez Esquivel from Argentina — have demanded that the prize money of $1.2 million not be paid this year. They said the bloc contradicts the values associated with the prize because it relies on military force to ensure security.
Amnesty International said Monday that EU leaders should not ‘bask in the glow of the prize,’ warning that xenophobia and intolerance are now on the rise in the continent of 500 million people.”

Institutionalized assassination
The Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman argues that the biggest problem with America’s drone strikes is not the remoteness of the killings but the secrecy surrounding them:

“To make the spread of drone warfare less likely – and to prevent abuses in America’s own programme – drones need to be reclaimed from the realm of covert warfare. The CIA may relish its conversion into a paramilitary force. But wars should be fought by the military and openly scrutinised by politicians and the press. Anything else is just too dangerous for a free society and for international order.”

Latest Developments, December 6

In the latest news and analysis…

Historical responsibility
The Associated Press reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has placed the onus for tackling climate change on wealthy nations:

“Ban’s comments echoed the concerns of China and other developing countries, which say rich nations have a historical responsibility for global warming because their factories released carbon emissions into the atmosphere long before the climate effects were known.
‘The climate change phenomenon has been caused by the industrialisation of the developed world,’ Ban said. ‘It’s only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility.’ ”

Resource alienation
The Daily Nation reports that Canadian firm Bedford Biofuels’ planned jatropha plantation on 120,000 hectares of Kenyan land “has raised questions about land ownership for the first time between neighbours”:

“ ‘When waters ebb, farmers plant rice. The Pokomo have planted rice for centuries. During the floods, pastoralists drive out herds… that’s the traditional way of using the land, keeps the ecosystem functioning,’ explains Ms Serah Munguti, communications and advocacy manager at Nature Kenya.
But environmentalists like Ms Munguti say the arrival of foreign companies like Bedford Biofuels, who come to the delta armed with ambitious plans for large-scale, intensive farming, might disrupt the system.
That, according to Ms Munguti, promises to heighten tribal tensions.
‘The conflict comes because everybody wants the water. The Tana Delta as it is today is a recipe for disaster,’ argues Munguti. ‘There is already conflict over limited resources. Then you look at all the projects that have been proposed and you can imagine what we are setting ourselves up for.’ ”

Middlemen
The New York Times reports that the US gave the green light for Gulf states to supply arms to Libyan rebels during last year’s civil war, but as a similar scenario plays out in Syria, America is worried that weapons are going to “some of the wrong militants”:

“The administration has never determined where all of the weapons, paid for by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, went inside Libya, officials said. Qatar is believed to have shipped by air and sea small arms, including machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition, for which it has demanded reimbursement from Libya’s new government. Some of the arms since have been moved from Libya to militants with ties to Al Qaeda in Mali, where radical jihadi factions have imposed Shariah law in the northern part of the country, the former Defense Department official said. Others have gone to Syria, according to several American and foreign officials and arms traders.”

Betting the farm
A new report by the Oakland Institute asks if “you know what your pension fund is doing in Africa”:

“In recent years, the private financial sector has already invested between $10 to $25 billion in farmland and agriculture with little to no oversight; given current investment trends, this amount might double or triple in the coming years. Although agricultural funds are portrayed as positive social investment to help alleviate hunger and the effects of climate change, evidence demonstrates that large land deals are often detrimental to food security, local livelihoods, and the environment–yet little is known about the specific firms and funds driving this investment.”

Camp Integrity
Wired reports that following a $22.3 million no-bid deal, US special forces in Afghanistan are now based at a facility owned by America’s “most infamous private security company”:

You might think that Blackwater, now called Academi, was banished into some bureaucratic exile after its operatives in Afghanistan stole guns from U.S. weapons depots and killed Afghan civilians. Wrong. Academi’s private 10-acre compound outside Kabul, called Camp Integrity, is the new headquarters for perhaps the most important special operations unit in Afghanistan.

But the commandos won’t be the only U.S. military tenants at Camp Integrity. A Pentagon agency called the Counter-Narcoterrorism Program Office also uses Camp Integrity as a base of operations to aid in its war on Afghanistan’s drug lords. Academi provides the office’s small Kabul cell with, among other things, ‘a secure armory and weapons maintenance service.’ ”

Duty to protect
Debbie Stothard of the International Federation for Human rights (FIDH) argues that since the UN adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, “access to justice for those affected has not improved”:

“Company-based grievance mechanisms may be useful for preventing harm and facilitating resolution of minor problems, however, they can in no way replace State-based mechanisms in cases involving egregious violations.
Of course, the best solution for a victim is to have access to an independent court where he/she lives. However, too often, the judicial system where the harm occurs is weak or unable to provide for an effective remedy. This is why we also need to remind home states of multinational companies of their duty to protect and insist that they provide effective avenues to remedy in cases where host states lack the capacity or will to do so.
The UN Working group could explore and recommend how home States, as part of their duty to protect, could facilitate access to justice for victims of human rights abuses in third countries involving corporations under their jurisdiction.”

Major shift
Inter Press Service reports on the IMF’s change of heart regarding government measures to control cross-border financial flows, though critics say more changes are needed:

“ ‘Arguably more important is to ask if the IMF will similarly relent on its manic obsession with keeping inflation extremely low in developing countries,’ [Delhi-based development consultant Rick Rowden] says.
‘Is the IMF now also suddenly in favour of trade protection and subsidy support for building domestic industries? Are they suggesting developing countries actually should ‘discriminate’ and against foreign investors and tilting the playing field in favour of building up domestic firms? I think not.’
He continues: ‘While the IMF’s about-face on capital controls is promising, the oft-cited pronouncements of the death of the Washington Consensus are quite premature.’ ”

Treaty violation
Radio France Internationale reports that Chadian President Idriss Déby, on an official visit to Paris, sought to set the record straight concerning a French NGO accused of attempting to smuggle children out of his country:

“I never, repeat never, pardoned members of Zoe’s Ark. Let there be no doubt. We have a treaty with France. They were convicted, and I respected the treaty. The kidnappers were freed without our consent. It’s a violation of the treaty. I’ve never said it before but today I’m saying it: It’s a violation of the treaty. In principle, the kidnappers should not only serve time in France but must also pay €6 million in compensation.” [Translated from the French.]

Latest Developments, December 4

Traffic jam, Fraser Canyon, Canada

In the latest news and analysis…

Rehabilitation
The Guardian reports that the question of whether or not rich countries should compensate poor communities suffering from the effects of climate change has become “a major new issue” at the ongoing UN climate talks in Doha:

“The concept is new for both science and policy, say observers. In the past, the debate was about how poorer countries could adapt their economies to climate change and reduce, or mitigate, their emissions with assistance from rich countries.
But in a little-noticed paragraph in the agreement that came out of the Cancún, Mexico, talks in 2010, the need ‘to reduce loss and damage associated with climate change’ was recognised by all countries. In legal terms, that potentially opens the door to compensation – or, as the negotiators in Doha say, ‘rehabilitation’.”

Red line
The Washington Post reports that US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have again warned Syria’s government against deploying or using chemical weapons, without making it clear what they might do about it:

“The administration has never publicly spelled out how it would respond, but one option is an airstrike to destroy supplies before they can be weaponized. Once the chemicals were ready for deployment, however, airstrikes would no longer be viable as they could release deadly agents.

Syria is suspected to possess the world’s third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons after the United States and Russia.”

Euro drone
Wired reports that a number of European governments are hoping the inaugural test flight of the nEUROn is the first step towards the continent’s “future of flying killer robots”:

“In fact, the nEURON won’t actually join any European air forces. Much like the U.S. Navy’s stealthy X-47B — which, as David Cenciotti of The Aviationist  notes, the drone kinda resembles — it’s just a demonstrator aircraft, meant to show that European companies can successfully develop an attack-sized, stealthy unmanned plane. Concept proven, the follow-on aircraft will both evade radar and release air-to-ground missiles, the Euros hope, thereby putting them at the front of the pack in emerging drone technology.”

Selling children
Reuters reports that a trial has begun in Paris for employees of French NGO Zoe’s Ark that was accused of kidnapping children from Chad for adoption in France:

“They face up to 10 years in prison and 750,000 euros ($975,400) each in fines for fraud, for being an illegal intermediary in an adoption and for aiding foreign minors to stay illegally in France.
The trial, which is expected to last until mid-December, relates to the charity’s activities in France before its workers left for Chad. Over 350 French families were promised a child from Sudan’s conflict-ridden Darfur region and paid up to several thousand euros each in the expectation of adopting.”

Weapons footprint
The Global Post reports on the international impacts of the enthusiasm that America, as the world’s biggest importer and exporter of firearms, has for guns:

“The [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] says US companies increased production by 2 million between 2006 and 2010, bringing the total to nearly 5.5 million.
Three manufacturers produce about a quarter of that total. The top maker of pistols and rifles, Sturm, Ruger & Company, has facilities in Arizona and New Hampshire. Other major players include Smith & Wesson in Massachusetts, which produces the most revolvers, and Maverick Arms in Texas, the leading shotgun manufacturer.
Those companies also top the list of American firearms exporters, shipping about 110,000 guns, or 45 percent of total exports, in 2010.”

New politics
The Guardian’s George Monbiot argues that the future welfare of the planet and its inhabitants depends on changing the prevailing distribution of political power:

“In other words, the struggle against climate change – and all the crises that now beset both human beings and the natural world – cannot be won without a wider political fight: a democratic mobilisation against plutocracy. This should start with an effort to reform campaign finance – the means by which corporations and the very rich buy policies and politicians.

But this is scarcely a beginning. We must start to articulate a new politics, one that sees intervention as legitimate, that contains a higher purpose than corporate emancipation disguised as market freedom, that puts the survival of people and the living world above the survival of a few favoured industries. In other words, a politics that belongs to us, not just the super-rich.”

Words of caution
The Associated Press reports that the head of US Africa Command has warned against a hasty military intervention in northern Mali, arguing “negotiation is the best way”:

“Army Gen. Carter Ham said that any military intervention done now would likely fail and would set the precarious situation there back ‘even farther than they are today.’

The African Union has been pressing the U.N. to take immediate military action to regain northern Mali, and Ham said that military intervention may well be necessary. But he said the African-led collaborative effort that has worked in Somalia may be the right model to use in Mali. That effort generally involves intelligence and logistical support from the United States, as well as funding and training, but the fighting is led by African nations and does not include U.S. combat troops on the ground.”

Defending squatting
The Open University’s Steven Rose puts a positive spin on squatters, who currently face hostile laws and public opinion in Europe but make up over 10 percent of the world’s population:

“These squat neighbourhoods are often referred to as slums, shanty towns, favelas or bidonvilles. They are often characterised as grim places, with poor sanitation, high crime rates, drug gangs, and other problems. But it’s often a misconception, says Robert Neuwirth, author of Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters. He spent two years living in slums in four of the world’s largest cities: Mumbai, Nairobi, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. ‘They’re not criminal enterprises. They’re not mafias,’ he says. ‘These are people, law-abiding citizens, workers. People who wait on the tables and clean the rooms in the tourist hotels. People help each other and take care of each other. These were wonderful places to live, once you step beyond the fact that they don’t have a sewer system.’

What the squatting dispute boils down to is a split between those who consider private property to be sacred, and those who would prioritise the right to shelter. Few people would happily forfeit a second home to squatters, but nor does it feel morally justifiable for a nation to have an estimated 930,000 empty homes while people sleep on the streets.”

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.”