Latest Developments, August 13

In the latest news and analysis…

Warehouses for forgetting
The Washington Post reports that US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced plans to dial down America’s war on drugs by doing away with charges requiring mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug offences:

“He also introduced a policy to reduce sentences for elderly, nonviolent inmates and find alternatives to prison for nonviolent criminals.

‘We must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is, in too many ways, broken,’ Holder said. ‘And with an outsized, unnecessarily large prison population, we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to deter and to rehabilitate — not merely to warehouse and to forget.’
‘A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities,’ Holder said Monday. He added that ‘many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate these problems rather than alleviate them.’ ”

Stopping stop-and-frisk
Reuters reports that a US Judge has ruled the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk tactics unconstitutional, describing them as “indirect racial profiling”:

“[U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin], who presided over the 9-week trial without a jury, ruled the effectiveness of ‘stop and frisk’ was irrelevant.
‘Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime – preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example – but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,’ the ruling said.”

Dash for oil
The Financial Times reports on concerns over the “unusual” oil exploration deal signed between Somalia and ex-UK Conservative leader Michael Howard’s month-old company:

“The deal has unsettled some industry observers who had expected a public licensing round for all the oil blocks. Other more experienced companies had also been queueing up for contracts to undertake surveys. They say it is unusual for Soma, once it has gathered the data, to be able to cherry-pick the best dozen blocks.

‘The UK is promoting transparent and accountable government [but it] hosted a conference and invited all of us,’ said a diplomat who follows Somalia closely. ‘Then that momentum was used to promote British business interests: that could maybe have been more transparent.’ ”

Not-so-imminent threats
The New York Times quotes a “senior” American official as saying the US has “expanded the scope of people we could go after” with drones in Yemen:

“ ‘Before, we couldn’t necessarily go after a driver for the organization; it’d have to be an operations director,’ said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate intelligence issues. ‘Now that driver becomes fair game because he’s providing direct support to the plot.’

Senior American intelligence officials said last week that none of the about three dozen militants killed so far in the drone strikes were ‘household names,’ meaning top-tier leaders of the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But the American official said the strikes had targeted ‘rising stars’ in the Yemen network, people who were more likely to be moving around and vulnerable to attack. ‘They may not be big names now,’ the official said, ‘but these were the guys that would have been future leaders.’ ”

Erasing colonialism
The Guardian reports that by renaming the Caprivi Stip the Zambezi Region, Namibia has “wiped off the map” some of its colonial history:

In 2004 Germany apologised for the colonial-era genocide that killed 65,000 Herero people through starvation and slave labour in concentration camps. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half their population during what a recent book referred to in its title as The Kaiser’s Holocaust.

Today there is still anger among indigenous communities who live in poverty and demand reparations from Germany, their shanty town homes contrasting with vast German-owned farms. [What Dawid Knew author Patricia Glyn] added: ‘The Nama people I researched are still living in a ghetto. They put up a magnificent challenge to the Germans but they are landless. Changing a couple of names doesn’t really crack it. It’s very little and very late.’ ”

Toxic dumping
Euractiv reports that African countries have called for a crackdown on e-waste imports from Europe where it is cheaper to export than to dispose of old electronics:

“Nations that are parties to the Bamako Convention on the export of hazardous waste to Africa met in the Malian capital in June for the first time since the international agreement was agreed in 1991.
In its final declarations, released on Tuesday (6 August), the African representatives called for enforcement of the convention and for tougher national laws.
The Bamako meeting marked “the first time that African parties have by themselves called for rigorous action to prevent e-waste dumping,” said a statement from the Basel Action Network, an environmental group that campaigns against the trade in toxic waste.”

The hardest word
Author John Grisham argues that the US should atone for war on terror “mistakes” such as the incarceration of Nabil Hadjarab, a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France before spending the past 11 years at the Guantanamo Bay prison:

“Hundreds of other Arabs have been sent to Gitmo, chewed up by the system there, never charged and eventually transferred back to their home countries. (These transfers are carried out as secretly and as quietly as possible.) There have been no apologies, no official statements of regret, no compensation, nothing of the sort. The United States was dead wrong, but no one can admit it.

First, admit the mistake and make the apology. Second, provide compensation. United States taxpayers have spent $2 million a year for 11 years to keep Nabil at Gitmo; give the guy a few thousand bucks to get on his feet. Third, pressure the French to allow his re-entry.
This sounds simple, but it will never happen.”

Genocidal team name
Satirical newspaper the Onion “reports” on a new study showing that the Washington Redskins‘ name is “only offensive if you take any amount of time whatsoever to think about its actual meaning”:

“ ‘It has the potential to come across as a degrading relic of an ethnocentric mentality responsible for the destruction of an entire people and their culture, but that’s only if you take a couple seconds to recognize it as something beyond a string of letters,’ [said lead researcher Lawrence Wagner]. Wagner recommended that the NFL franchise should change their name to something more appropriate and historically accurate, such as the Washington Racist Fucks.”

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Latest Developments, January 10

In the latest news and analysis…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Developments, October 25

In the latest news and analysis…

Cheap oil
Reuters reports on a study that suggests “cut price deals” between politicians and multinational oil companies have cost Nigeria billions in lost revenue over the last decade:

“Nigeria LNG, a company jointly owned by the [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation], Shell, Total and Eni had paid the country for gas at cut-down prices before exporting it to international markets, the report said.
Total and Eni declined to comment because they invest in but do not operate Nigeria LNG, the role played by Shell.
‘The estimated cumulative of the deficit between value obtainable on the international market and what is currently being obtained from NLNG, over the 10 year period, amounts to approximately $29 billion,’ the report said.”

Pollution problems
The Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross have released a new report that claims toxic pollution from industrial sites imposes a “global burden of disease” comparable to that of malaria and tuberculosis:

“E-waste is the general term for electronic waste from discarded computers and printers, cell phones, televisions and other related consumer products. Consumer demand drives the technological innovation that creates a cycle of obsolescence in which new devices are turned over almost yearly. This constant stream of new products results in an urgent and complex waste problem, it is estimated that 500 million computers became obsolete in the U.S. between 1997 and 2007, and computers represent only a small percentage of e-waste. Total global e-waste estimates number between 20 and 50 million tons annually. The waste is rarely processed in developed countries; an estimated 70 percent of it is imported to China. In the Blacksmith Institute’s database there are almost 50 sites polluted by e-waste, potentially putting close to 600,000 people at risk. Of the 50 sites, majorities are located in China with Africa and South America holding several sites as well.”

Water futures
The City University of New York’s Frederick Kaufman argues that the establishment of a “global water commodities market” must not be allowed to happen:

“Making money come out of the tap means that fresh water must be given a price anywhere it is traded — a global price that can be arbitraged across the continents. Those in Mumbai or midtown Manhattan who understand the increasing value of water in the world economy will speculate on this undervalued ‘asset’, and their investments will drive up the cost everywhere. A water calamity in China or India — and the food inflation, political instability and humanitarian crisis that will surely follow — will reverberate in price spikes from London to Sydney. This is how bankers will profit.
Economists have begun to model a global water-based futures market featuring financial puts, calls, shorts, longs, exchange-traded funds, indices of indices, options piled on top of options, and all sorts of opportunity for over-the-counter swaps.”

Dead activists
The Mex Files reports that two opponents of a Canadian-owned mine have been shot dead in northern Mexico:

“[Ismael Solorio Urrutia] had met with Chihuahua officials last week to complain about threats against him, his family and members of El Barzon by employees of the Cascabel mine in Ejido Benito Juarez (San Buenaventura Municipio). The mine is owned by the Canadian firm Mag Silver. Both Solorio and his son, Eric, were physically attacked by mining company employees on 13 October.

As of right now, members of El Barzon, and other groups are occupying the state capital building, demanding  Governor César Duarte provide answers to what they are calling a ‘Crime of State’. El Observador (Chihuahua, Chihuahua) is reporting that unofficial sources are saying four persons were detained by the army as the supposed hitmen, but — as always — who pulled the trigger is less important than who ordered the triggers pulled.”

Risky project
The Bank Information Center reports that the Inter-American Development Bank has agreed to finance hydroelectric projects in Panama that violate its own policy:

“An IDB audit confirms that the Bank approved the loan to co-finance two dams in Panama despite knowledge that the project fails to meet Bank safeguards. The Pando y Monte Lirio dams will divert 90 percent of the River’s water, together with 25 other similar dams in construction or planned for the Chiriquí Viejo River, will transform it into a series of isolated pools with obvious harm to the region’s biodiversity and people that depend on the river.

There is still no acceptable cumulative impact study. The ecological flows study represents the single most important risk assessment instrument, which the client has repeatedly missed deadlines to produce.”

Kill list redux
Wired’s Spencer Ackerman describes the Obama administration’s newly revealed so-called disposition matrix as a “permanent robotic death list”:

“There’s a rhetorical consensus in Washington that, as Romney said at Monday’s debate, the U.S. ‘can’t kill our way out of this mess.’ It’s spoken so often it’s a cliche. But in practice, killing appears to be the mainstay of U.S. efforts: nearly 3,000 people have been slain by drone strikes, according to a Post online database, including an undisclosed number of civilians. And the security agencies are preparing for even more.

Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that’s his legacy. Administration officials embraced drone strikes because they viewed them as an acceptable alternative to conventional ground warfare, which it considered too costly and too public, but the tactic has now become practically the entire strategy.”

Trade negligence
Amnesty International’s Alex Neve and Kathy Price argue that the Canadian government is not living up to its promise to monitor the human rights impact of its free trade deal with Colombia:

“The trade deal opens the door for ever greater numbers of Canadian companies to join the influx into Indigenous lands. That in turn gives rise to the troubling possibility of Canadian companies being implicated in human rights violations or benefiting from abuses that have already taken place.

To win Liberal Party support for implementing legislation, the government did agree to yearly human rights reports after the deal was launched, but the reports lack credibility since they are prepared by the two governments themselves and have no teeth to act on recommendations.
By law, the first report was due four months ago, in mid-May. Shockingly, it contained no information at all about human rights impacts. The government said it was too early and that there was not yet enough information to assess.”

Latest Developments, September 7

In the latest news and analysis…

Chemical danger
Reuters reports that the UN is warning of growing health and environmental damage caused by the “increasing misuse of chemicals”:

“Poisonings from industrial and agricultural chemicals are among the top five leading causes of death worldwide, contributing to more than a million deaths every year, [the UN Environment Programme] said in a statement of its Global Chemicals Outlook.

Scientists have only assessed the risks of using a fraction of an estimated 140,000 chemicals marketed worldwide, in everything from plastics to pesticides, UNEP said.

The study also said rich nations are failing to recycle electronic waste, such as from old computers or television sets.
‘Estimates suggest that up to 75 per cent of the e-waste generated in Europe and approximately 80 per cent of the e-waste generated in the United States goes unaccounted for,’ it said.”

Behind closed doors
Amnesty International is calling on negotiators of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to ensure intellectual property provisions “adhere to core principles of transparency and uphold human rights”:

“Specifically, leaked TPP draft text neglects protections for fair use and standard judicial guarantees – such as the presumption of innocence – and includes copyright provisions that could compromise free speech on the internet and access to educational materials.
Moreover, draft TPP provisions related to patents for pharmaceuticals risk stifling the development and production of generic medicines, by strengthening and deepening monopoly protections.”

Charter cities
The Guardian reports that Honduras is about to embark on “one of the world’s most radical neo-liberal economic experiments” by establishing new settlements designed to attract foreign investment:

“The Central American nation hopes the plan for model development zones, which will have their own laws, tax system, judiciary and police, will emulate the economic success of city states such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
But even as the government signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with a group of international investors on Tuesday, opponents tried to lodge a suit at the supreme court for the arrangement to be declared illegal because the ‘state within a state’ risked undermining national laws, sidestepping labour rights, worsening inequality and creating a modern-day enclave that impinged upon the territory of indigenous groups.”

Universal means universal
Save the Children’s Alex Cobham writes about the proposed Framework Convention on Global Health that aims to “ensure health coverage for all”:

“[Researchers] have calculated, for example, that collectively, health inequalities between countries result in around 20 million lives lost each year (i.e. this is the size of the gap between outcomes in high-income and other countries), and that this has held over the last 20 years. This is roughly one third of all deaths over the period…
The fourth of ten points in the post-2015 document, in full, is this:
4. ‘Universal’ as universal: ‘Universal’ must be truly universal. No population should be
excluded because of legal or other status (e.g., undocumented immigrants, stateless people). Similarly, universal should entail 100% population coverage. Less than truly universal coverage as a goal may enable countries to forego the efforts required to ensure coverage for the most difficult-to-reach populations, who are often the most marginalized.

Business-lobby victory
Southern Illinois University’s Mike Koehler, a.k.a. the FCPA Professor, writes that US regulators have adopted a more business-friendly definition of “foreign officials” in new rules pertaining to overseas corporate behaviour:

“By so concluding, not only did the [Securities and Exchange Commission] quietly adopt a [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] reform proposal advanced by the Chamber [of Commerce], but it also contradicted an enforcement theory at issue in several of its prior FCPA actions.

With the SEC’s conclusion in its Section 1504 final rules that a company owned by a foreign government is a company that is at least majority-owned by a foreign government, the SEC will be hard pressed to allege in future FCPA enforcement actions that an entity with less than 50% foreign government ownership or control is an instrumentality of a foreign government and that its employees are ‘foreign officials’ under the FCPA.”

Unhealthy speech
Inspired by two contrasting court decisions on tobacco packaging in Australia and the US, Princeton University’s Peter Singer calls for laws that “level the playing field between individuals and giant corporations”:

“Whether to prohibit cigarettes altogether is another question, because doing so would no doubt create a new revenue source for organized crime. It seems odd, however, to hold that the state may, in principle, prohibit the sale of a product, but may not permit it to be sold only in packs that carry graphic images of the damage it causes to human health.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 100 million people died from smoking in the twentieth century, but smoking will kill up to one billion people in the twenty-first century.”

Inhumane laws
Human Rights Watch’s Ricardo Sandoval-Palos argues that US immigration laws lead to serious rights violations:

“Is it really in the United States’ interest to have policies generating such a level of fear among unauthorized immigrants that sexual violence or other abuses go unreported?
The United States government is entitled to regulate immigration. But it must do so in a fair manner that respects internationally recognized human rights standards—values the U.S. claims to promote and respect.”

Not easy being green
Reuters reports that US-based Herakles Capital has withdrawn its application for membership of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil following complaints over its project in Cameroon:

“Kuala Lumpur-based certification body RSPO said in a statement on Tuesday that Herakles had issued a written withdrawal of its application on Aug. 24, before the organisation could check the allegations made against the firm.

Greenpeace and other organisations had filed a complaint with RSPO alleging that Herakles’ project violated Cameroonian laws. The groups also said the area earmarked for the plantation was in a biodiversity hotspot and ‘would disrupt the ecological landscape and migration routes of protected species.’ ”

Latest Developments, March 15

In the latest news and analysis…

BAE pays up
The Guardian reports UK-based defence company BAE Systems has “finally” paid for textbooks to Tanzanian schools as a settlement over bribes it allegedly paid 10 years ago.
“BAE was fined £500,000 in 2010 for concealing payments of $12.4m to Sailesh Vithlani, a marketing adviser in Tanzania, in connection with the radar deal. The company agreed with the [Serious Fraud Office] to make an ex-gratia payment equivalent to the size of the contract to the Tanzanian people. MPs on the international development committee last year strongly criticized BAE for dragging its feet over the payment. BAE wanted the payment to be described as a ‘charitable contribution’ to Tanzania in negotiations over the drafting of the memorandum of understanding.”

The problem with sanctions
The Atlantic’s Max Fisher argues the long list of products recently bought online by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad shows that Western sanctions against out-of-favour regimes punish the wrong people.
“International economic sanctions have been a popular tool of the West since the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations came to see them as a low-cost, low-risk alternative to military action. But a growing body of academic research has found that they are ineffective at pressuring governments to change their ways. ‘The probable effectiveness of economic sanctions is, generally, negative,’ Johan Galtung wrote in 1967, and he seems to have been right.”

E-waste
Agence France-Presse reports on a new study that suggests Africa will produce more e-waste than Europe within five years.
“ ‘There is population growth … and there is the penetration rate — there are increasing numbers of people with access to these devices,’ [the Basel Convention on hazardous waste’s Katharina] Kummer Peiry said.
‘You have to bear in mind that there are efforts undertaken at all levels to increase access — it’s part of development,’ she said, describing the growth of both the population and the penetration rate as ‘exponential.’

In Africa ‘in the last decade, the penetration rate of personal computers has increased by a factor of 10, while the number of mobile phone subscribers has increased by a factor of 100,’ the report said.”

Emptied islands
The University of Oxford’s Sarmila Bose writes about a new book on the Chagos Islands whose inhabitants “were unceremoniously removed from their homeland by a joint operation of the United Kingdom and the United States” four decades ago to make way for a military base.
The Island of Shame is a discomforting read, especially for British and American readers who will probably find themselves cringing at the well-documented account of the deceit and inhumanity, not only of their forbears in the past, but also of policymakers today. For many years, now the Chagossians have been fighting an uphill battle to obtain justice through the courts. Verdicts in the English courts had gone in favour of the Chagossians in 2000, 2006 and 2007 until the House of Lords overturned them all and ruled in favour of the British government. The Chagossians have now petitioned the European Court of Human Rights. Possibly as a pre-emptive action in case they win at the European Court, the last Labour government declared the Chagos Archipelago a ‘marine protection area’, which would restrict fishing and therefore human re-settlement. The Chagossians have had to take legal action against this ‘green’ initiative as well.”

Silicon Valley’s exceptionalism
Reuters Breakingviews’ Rob Cox takes on the myth that America’s high-tech business leaders operate according to higher moral standards than their counterparts in other industries.
“The original robber barons had decent intentions when they built railroads to connect America’s emerging cities and drilled oil wells that fueled the nation’s growth, but their empires still needed to be regulated, reined in, and in some cases broken up by vigilant watchdogs. Lofty words and ideals are fine for motivating employees and even for spurring sales, but they can also serve as cover for motives that clash with the broader interests of consumers and society. We need more than fancy promises in IPO prospectuses to ensure that the rise of the Silicon Valley engineer is good for the world.”

History’s limits
Oxfam’s Sally Baden suggests Ha-Joon Chang’s new book on agricultural policy focuses so much on lessons from the past that it neglects some fast-evolving new realities.
“We have moved from a situation of a lack of both public and private investment in agriculture to private funds actively seeking opportunities in developing country agriculture. But quite often this investment is driven by biofuels mandates, lack of other investment opportunities, the promise of increasing land values or by food-importing countries’ and companies’ concern with security of supplies of food and commodities, rather than the concerns of long-term agricultural development. Governments need to responsibly promote and regulate this investment with an eye to its consequences for small–scale farmers and national food security. European governments need to stop providing indirect incentives for landgrabbing and developing country governments need to provide adequate safeguards – for both people and the environment – from predatory or speculative investment.”

Drug money
Global Financial Integrity’s EJ Fagan argues that transnational drug syndicates’ huge financial resources do not “just magically disappear into the criminal underworld,” which means they end up in the global banking system.
“We can’t expect to curtail 100% of all money laundering by organized crime syndicates. However, we can do a much better job than we are currently doing. A report by [the United Nations Office of Drugs] finds that less than 1% (probably around .02%) of laundered money is seized and frozen. This is a laughably low number. It is too cheap and too easy for drug lords to move their drug money into Western banks. If we were to increase that number to, say, 5%, drug lords would be looking over their shoulders a lot more often. They would have more trouble operating large, complex organizations. Central American law enforcement would be much more able to beat them back.”