Latest Developments, June 22


In the latest news and analysis…

Epic fail
The Guardian reports that major NGOs are slamming world leaders for their unwillingness to make firm commitments at the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development:

“ ‘They say they can’t put money on the table because of the economic crisis, but they spend money on greedy banks and on saving those who caused the crisis. They spend $1 trillion a year on subsidies for fossil fuels and then tell us they don’t have any money to give to sustainable development,’ [said Greenpeace’s Daniel Mittler]”

ACTA rejected
Reuters reports that the European Parliament’s trade committee has voted down the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which enjoyed the support of the European Commission but faced widespread public opposition:

“The cross-party vote is a signal the legislature will reject ACTA in a final vote on July 4, the first time the European Parliament would write off an international trade agreement since an increase in its powers in 2008.
[British MEP David] Martin said the European Parliament has the authority to ratify commercial treaties, meaning that rejection would preclude any EU member state from signing up on its own.”

Refugee drownings
The Associated Press reports that “scores” of people thought to be asylum seekers may have drowned after a ship capsized between Indonesia and Australia:

“Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, is closer to Indonesia than the Australian mainland. It is a popular target for a growing number of asylum seekers, many from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, who attempt to reach Australia on overcrowded fishing boats from Indonesia – sometimes with deadly consequences.”

Renditions Inc.
Reprieve has released the first in a series of investigations outing companies alleged to have benefited from the CIA practice of sending suspected terrorists to “black sites,” in this case, a secret prison in Poland:

“The documents show how:
– Private military contractor DynCorp Systems and Solutions arranged the trip for the US Government at a cost of over $330,000
– A Gulfstream jet, identified as N63MU and operated by First Flight / Airborne Inc. carried out the mission
– The round trip from Washington DC passed through Anchorage and Osaka, picked up the prisoners in Bangkok, and transported them via Dubai to the remote Szymany airfield in Poland, before returning via London Luton
– Trip planners Universal Weather and Aviation arranged logistics for the trip”

New pharma plan
Intellectual Property Watch reports that a new pharmaceutical industry initiative, the HIV Medicines Alliance, ostensibly aimed at facilitating access to HIV treatments for poor people, is raising questions about whether it represents a “good-faith effort”:

“Looking at the draft charter from early June, the initiative aims to encourage companies to share in-kind support and patented products royalty-free to least-developed countries under arrangements with generics companies, and demonstrates flexibility on industry’s part.
But it could stop short of a firm commitment to lower prices and availability. For instance, the draft language states that it would ‘work to enable the availability of medicines developed through this Alliance at the lowest possible prices,’ which is perhaps different than stating that the medicines will be available and at prices poor populations can afford.
The new initiative, organised by the Wellcome Trust, reportedly involves Johnson & Johnson and Merck, two companies that have declined to enter negotiations with the [Medicines] Patent Pool.”

Robin Hood in America
Inter Press Service reports that 52 financial sector professionals have signed a letter calling on the US Congress to adopt a financial transaction tax:

“The tax would cover stock trading, derivatives and other financial instruments, but, proponents say, would have a significant impact only on so-called high-frequency trades, in which computer-driven speculators typically hold stocks for mere milliseconds.
‘These taxes will rebalance financial markets away from a short-term trading mentality that has contributed to instability in our financial markets,’ the letter stated. ‘The primary role of financial markets is to raise investment, allocate resources efficiently, and mitigate risk. However, much of today’s financial activity does not contribute to these goals.’ ”

Secret talks
The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason expresses surprise at the apparent lack of public concern over the “clandestine nature” of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations:

“According to Public Citizen, the trade deal would limit the extent to which signatory countries could regulate foreign firms operating within their boundaries, effectively giving them greater freedoms than domestic firms.
It also reveals that all of the countries except Australia have agreed to terms around the operation of foreign tribunals, which would arbitrate disputes. The tribunals would be staffed by private-sector lawyers who would rotate between acting as judges and acting as advocates for the investors who might be suing a particular government over a TPP-related matter. Talk about a potential conflict of interest.”

Green recession
The Land Institute’s Stan Cox argues that the fixation “at the top of the global economy” on perpetual growth and ever greater profits makes it impossible to achieve environmental sustainability:

“If we regard limitless growth of the human economy as being essential, then we are asking for the impossible. We’ll burst through all nine of those [planetary] boundaries (and others), ecosystems worldwide will crash, and that will succeed in doing what we failed to do: to put a permanent stop to economic growth.
Reversal of growth could instead be achieved preemptively, to ward off such a collapse. The burden of that intentional contraction, however, must be borne by the rich corporations, governments, and populations of the global North, because that’s where the sheer volume of growth has been greatest, with a corresponding impact on the ecosphere. Impoverished nations, on the other hand, have contributed far less to global breakdown and must be permitted some headroom for the growth required to meet people’s basic needs.”

Latest Developments, April 22

In the latest news and analysis…

French right
Agence France-Presse reports that the National Front’s Marine Le Pen finished third with nearly a fifth of all votes cast in the first round of France’s presidential election, the highest total for the  “anti-immigrant, anti-European, far-right party” in its 40-year history.
“Calling for ‘economic patriotism’ and vowing to leave the eurozone, she railed against globalisation and the ‘Islamisation’ of France, initially gaining some ground with attacks on the production of Islamic halal meat.
[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy sought to steal her thunder on two key issues for the far-right — immigration and security — with his calls for fewer immigrants and his handling of deadly attacks lat month by an Islamist extremist in Toulouse.

Analysts see [Marine Le Pen] as part of a new age of far-right leaders across Europe seeking to shake off the fascist stigma of their predecessors.

Like her father, Marine Le Pen has not avoided causing outrage with outspoken comments. Last year she compared Muslims praying in the streets outside overcrowded mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.”

Turning IMF conditionality on its head
Reuters reports that the International Monetary Fund has secured nearly half a trillion dollars in new funding from G20 nations but in return, emerging economic powers are demanding more say in how the institution is run.
“The battle over the next round of voting reforms begins with the elaborate formula for setting the quotas that determine each nation’s voting share, how much it must contribute to the Fund and how much it can borrow. The formula takes into account the size of each economy, foreign-exchange reserves and trade.
The current formula fails to capture the massive changes that have taken place globally since the IMF was founded after World War Two, especially the rise of emerging economic powers. Now that emerging markets are being asked to bulk up the Fund’s coffers to battle a crisis centered in Europe, their leverage to push for more change has increased.
‘Our demands are mostly for reforms, and those reforms are always finding obstacles,’ said Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega. ‘It’s very easy for the Europeans to get the money and not do any reforms.’ ”

Generic ruling
Reuters also reports that a Kenyan court has ruled the country’s lawmakers must ensure efforts to crack down on counterfeit drugs do not impede access to generic drugs.
“Generic medicines constitute the lion’s share of medicines used in Kenya, and have enabled poor people in the developing country to get the necessary treatment for various ailments.
A previous court order issued before Friday’s ruling had blocked the act from coming into force, and Friday ruling means lawmakers will now have to amend the bill to clearly distinguish between generic and counterfeit drugs.”

Lobbying against transparency
ProPublica reports that media companies behind many of America’s top news organizations are fighting against greater transparency of US political funding.
“The corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism — NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Politico, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and dozens of local TV news outlets — are lobbying against a Federal Communications Commission measure that would require broadcasters to post political ad data on the Internet.

In a speech this week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski excoriated the broadcasters as working ‘against transparency and against journalism.’ ”

Improving mining contracts
The BBC cites Guinea as an example of the growing number of African countries that are renegotiating what they view as “abusive” mining contracts with foreign companies.
“The Guinean state will now receive a 15% free stake in all mining projects for the country’s flagship minerals – bauxite, iron, gold and diamonds.
The secretary general of Guinea’s mining ministry, Guillaume Curtis, says the new legislation was a response to ‘mining contracts with abusive clauses that made it impossible to increase the state’s revenue’.
Export taxes are now indexed on global metal prices and fiscal exemptions have been cut.
‘Yes, there are heavy investments, but the eight-to-12-year tax holidays given by our countries are exaggerated,’ Mr Curtis says.”

The Guardian reports that the head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development – an organization it describes as “an intellectual counterweight to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank” – has criticized the international community’s apparent unwillingness to undertake fundamental global financial reforms.
“As for reforms, [UNCTAD secretary general Supachai Panitchpakdi] identified as key greater disclosure of information from the likes of hedge funds on the kinds of financial instruments they were trading.

At a time of austerity, Supachai said it was time to move beyond official development assistance from rich countries, which has declined for the first time in 15 years. He argued a financial transactions tax, or Tobin tax, would achieve a dual function, helping to curb the power of international finance while also providing funds for developing countries.
‘It would not be expensive for the financial services industry,’ he said. ‘That argument is an excuse for masters of the universe to remain masters of the universe.’ ”

Global law
Open Society’s James Goldston writes that despite the international community’s rhetorical enthusiasm for the “rule of law,” there remains much disagreement on the concept’s meaning and how it should be implemented.
“Many developing countries want more ‘international’ law to restrain the U.S. and other veto-wielding Permanent-5 powers on the UN Security Council, a body sorely in need of reform. By contrast, western donor governments are keen to focus on ‘national’ rule of law needs in conflict regions of Africa and the Middle East.”

Uncivilized Europeans
South African satirical newspaper Hayibo reports that Africans have been shocked by recent “uncivilized antics” by Europeans.
“Africans say they have little hope that Europe will ever become civilized, after a week in which Spain’s King Carlos went on an elephant-killing spree and the Swedish Culture Minister was entertained by a racially offensive cake.

‘I don’t want to sound racist, and some of my best friend are white, but let’s be honest: violence is hard-wired into their DNA,’ said [Libreville resident August] Mwanasa. ‘I mean, Europeans killed over 20 million other Europeans in the 1930s and 1940s. That’s barbarism on a scale unprecedented in history.’ ”

Latest Developments, March 14

In the latest news and analysis…

ICC’s big day
The Independent reports that even as the International Criminal Court handed down its first ever verdict – finding Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty of recruiting and using child soldiers – questions remain about the court’s ability to overcome the challenges it faces.
“The complicated nature of building cases in the absence of international legal precedent and the necessity of gaining support from states for its intervention, as well as the uneven support for the Rome treaty by major powers such as the United States, have undermined the court’s efforts to gain acceptance. The ICC and its controversial outgoing chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, have been criticised in some quarters for focusing exclusively on Africa. In an effort to weaken the accusations of an anti-African bias the ICC has appointed Fatou Bensouda from the Gambia to replace the departing Argentinian.”

Voluntary solutions
The Guardian reports not everyone is impressed by a new set of proposed “voluntary global guidelines” on land governance and resource rights that would theoretically address the issue of mass land grabs by foreign investors in poor countries.
“ ‘The breadth of participants, including governments, has seen the content watered down to secure consensus. Value for the immense time and money invested in producing the guidelines may be hard to come by,’ said Liz Alden Wily, an international land tenure specialist.  ‘These are only guidelines after all, not binding on the very governments, companies, elites and investors who are already so heavily involved in land and resource capture.’
She said the time and money might have been better spent reframing international trade law, on which resource exploitation so heavily depends, and ‘bringing feeble human rights law up to scratch. Or invested in mobilising the millions of poor affected by policies and laws.’
Alden Wily added: ‘It will be interesting to see if the global aid community promoting these guidelines will spend the same effort to translate the advice into 150 languages and get copies down to every poor community in the developing world. That’s a billion copies right there.’ ”

Water rights
Reuters AlertNet reports that NGOs were unable to get the World Water Forum declaration amended to include “an unequivocal commitment to the U.N.-recognised rights to water and sanitation.”
“…Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch – a small U.S.-based NGO – described the declaration as ‘a step backwards for water justice’, noting that signatures had not even been collected from nations that endorsed it. “The entire event itself is a corporate tradeshow parading as a multilateral forum,” she added.

The firms supporting the event include French energy giant EDF, Veolia Eau, Bouygues Construction, HSBC and JCDecaux.”

WHO woes
Intellectual Property Watch reports on allegations that the private sector is using “financial leverage to gain undue influence” in the cash-strapped World Health Organization.
“A recent piece for the non-governmental Third World Network made the assertion based on developments such as the presence of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates sharing the stage with WHO Director General Margaret Chan at the WHO members annual meeting last year, and the presence of industry interests at a civil society meeting before last year’s UN summit on non-communicable diseases.

Chan has sought repeatedly to assure member states that the WHO understands the necessary line between any stakeholders. But some see industry links in the reform proposals emerging from the WHO, the group said.”

Environmentalists, Martians and terrorists
The Huffington Post reports that the campaign by Canada’s ruling party against environmental groups took a “jaw-droppingly bizarre” turn when a Conservative senator asked “if environmentalists are willing to accept money from Martians,” would they also take money from Al Qaeda, Hamas or the Taliban?
“Many environmentalists are upset with [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper’s seeming obsession with the millions they receive each year in charitable funding from the U.S., while ignoring the millions more spent in Canada each year by foreign business interests.
Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell pointed out that the Tories have no trouble with foreign funding as long as it benefits it’s own causes, such as the National Rifle Association petitioning to kill the long gun registry.
‘Funding flows in all directions across borders, and to somehow single out a subset just because you don’t like the stance of certain organizations and then demonize them for it for receiving the funding…is really a reprehensible treatment,’ Peter Robinson, the chief executive officer of the David Suzuki Foundation told HuffPost.”

Tax haven runaround
EUobserver reports the EU’s top tax official is running into opposition from certain member countries over attempts to tackle tax avoidance in Switzerland.
“Algirdas Semeta told EUobserver that bank secrecy makes it impossible to say how much potential tax income is being lost even as EU countries cut wages and public services amid the financial crisis. But it is likely to be big bucks: Switzerland currently hands over €330 million a year in tax payments to EU countries, while its banks manage €1.5 trillion of private wealth.”

Bizjet bribes
Tulsa World reports an American aviation company and its German parent have agreed to a deal with US authorities over alleged bribes paid to Mexican officials between 2004 and 2010.
“In many instances, Bizjet allegedly paid the bribes directly to the foreign officials. On other occasions, Bizjet is accused of funneling the bribes through a shell company owned and operated by a person who was then a Bizjet sales manager.
The Justice Department also stated that Lufthansa Technik — which it described as Bizjet’s “indirect parent company” — also entered into an agreement with DOJ in connection with the purported unlawful payments by Bizjet and the directors, officers, employees and agents involved in the conspiracy.”

Bankers vs. Robin Hood
Intelligence Capital’s Avinash Persaud compares the London banking industry’s arguments against a proposed financial transaction tax, aka the Robin Hood Tax, to past denials of the link between cigarettes and cancer.
“Listening to some London bankers, you would think that a 0.1% tax would usher in a nuclear winter. Bankers are effectively saying that, while they justify their high pay with claims of superior creativity, credibility and connectivity, all of that cannot compete with a tax on each transaction of just one tenth of one per cent. If, despite the industry receiving billions in implicit public subsidies and guarantees, the largest sector in the UK economy hangs by such a thin thread, its value-added must be seriously questioned.”

Latest Developments, January 30

In the latest news and analysis…

Future worth choosing
The BBC reports on a new UN Global Sustainability Panel document that makes 56 recommendations for a world where the “true costs to people and the environment” drive policy decisions.
“Governments would build the true environmental costs of products into the prices that people pay to purchase them, leading to an economic system that protects natural resources.
Goods would be labelled with information on their environmental impact, enabling consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.
With UN support, governments would adopt indicators of economic performance that go beyond simple GDP, and measure the sustainability of countries’ economies.
Governments would change the regulation of financial markets to promote longer-term, more stable and sustainable investment.”

Sea traffic
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has released a new report that finds 61 percent of “reported cases of sanctions-busting or illicit transfers of arms, drugs, other military equipment and sensitive dual-use goods that could be used in the development of missiles and weapons of mass destruction” over the last two decades have involved ships with ties to EU, NATO or OECD member states.
“It is not surprising that companies based in the world’s richest maritime states and those that have historically played the greatest role in the development of maritime trade own the greater share of ships in the world merchant fleet. However, it is notable that companies subject to the laws of those states with the most developed legal systems, law enforcement, intelligence and foreign policy establishments are nevertheless over-represented among the beneficial owners of ships reported as involved in destabilizing military equipment, dual-use goods and narcotics transfers: the same group of states account for only 54.5 per cent of ships over 1000 [gross tonnes] in the world merchant fleet.”

French FTT
The Telegraph reports France’s embattled president has unilaterally pledged to implement a 0.1 percent financial transaction tax as of August if he is re-elected.
“President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trailing heavily in the polls ahead of April’s election, said France would go it alone in a bid to “create a shock” and inspire other European countries to follow his lead. That is despite vocal opposition from other EU leaders, not least David Cameron.”

Drone creep
The New York Times reports Iraqi officials are angry that the US is using “surveillance drones” to provide security for its embassy, consulates and personnel.
“It foreshadows a possible expansion of unmanned drone operations into the diplomatic arm of the American government; until now they have been mainly the province of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.
American contractors say they have been told that the State Department is considering to field unarmed surveillance drones in the future in a handful of other potentially “high-threat” countries, including Indonesia and Pakistan, and in Afghanistan after the bulk of American troops leave in the next two years. State Department officials say that no decisions have been made beyond the drone operations in Iraq.”

Coward’s war
The Guardian’s George Monbiot argues the growing sophistication of drones allows the governments that use them to “snuff out opposition of any kind, terrorist or democrat” with ease and impunity.
“In October last year, a 16-year-old called Tariq Aziz was travelling through North Waziristan in Pakistan with his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan. Their car was hit by a missile from a US drone. As always, their deaths made them guilty: if we killed them, they must be terrorists. But they weren’t. Tariq was about to start work with the human rights group Reprieve, taking pictures of the aftermath of drone strikes. A mistake? Possibly. But it is also possible that he was murdered out of self-interest. If you have such powers, if you are not held to account by Congress, the media or the American people, why not use them?”

Broken food system
Drought and Famine are both normal and predictable, given a global food system “built on inequality, imbalances and – ultimately – fragility,” according to UN special rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter.
“The solution is therefore twofold: we must plan adequately for the food crises that emerge within our broken food system, and we must finally acknowledge how broken it is. Only when we are honest about hunger will the world’s most vulnerable populations receive the short-term aid and long-term support that they need.”

Corporate responsibility
Speaking at the Public Eye awards ceremony, where UK finance giant Barclays and Brazilian super-miner Vale were named the worst companies of the year, Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz stressed how far we are from a world where the majority of companies behave ethically and sustainably.
“When I look at the finalists for this year’s Public Eye awards, two things immediately strike me. For one, it is remarkable how ubiquitous some of the firms with the most deplorable practices are in contemporary life. This year’s nominees are companies in fields as diverse as finance, energy, mining, and electronics. Even the most socially aware consumer would be hard pressed to avoid buying their products and services, directly or indirectly.

What is needed is not just a recognition of what is wrong with, say, their environmental and labor practices, but systemic improvements—to incentive structures, legal frameworks, and our expectations and demands of corporations, as global citizens.”

Drugs in Africa
Former UN secretary General Kofi Annan argues the growing importance of West Africa as a transit point for the drug trade threatens to undo many of the positive developments of recent years in the region.
“We need to take action now before the grip of the criminal networks linked to the trafficking of illicit drugs tightens into a stranglehold on West African political and economic development. That can only achieved through a strong, well-co-ordinated and integrated effort led by West African states with the strong backing of the international community. In particular, the region needs more help from those countries that are producing and consuming these drugs.”

Colonial fantasies
Africa is a Country’s Sean Jacobs writes about a recent spate of media reports suggesting an upswing in nostalgia for colonial Africa.
“Two days ago, The Guardian (of all publications) put up a travel piece with this introduction: ‘I was alone in the middle of deepest, darkest Congo. Worse still, I was being chased by eight angry tribesmen in two dugout canoes – and they were gaining on me.’ We figured it must be a joke.”

Latest Developments, January 27

In the latest news and analysis…

Arms sale loophole
Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reports that, following congressional opposition to a proposed sale of US arms to Bahrain due to human rights concerns, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a repackaged sale without formally informing Congress or the public.
“Our congressional sources said that State is using a legal loophole to avoid formally notifying Congress and the public about the new arms sale. The administration can sell anything to anyone without formal notification if the sale is under $1 million. If the total package is over $1 million, State can treat each item as an individual sale, creating multiple sales of less than $1 million and avoiding the burden of notification, which would allow Congress to object and possibly block the deal.
We’re further told that State is keeping the exact items in the sale secret, but is claiming they are for Bahrain’s “external defense” and therefore couldn’t be used against protesters. Of course, that’s the same argument that State made about the first arms package, which was undercut by videos showing the Bahraini military using Humvees to suppress civilian protesters.”

Responsibility while protecting
Former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans surveys the extent of the damage done to the “responsibility to protect” principle by disagreements over how NATO handled its Libyan intervention.
“The better news is that a way forward has opened up. In November, Brazil circulated a paper arguing that the R2P concept, as it has evolved so far, needs to be supplemented by a new set of principles and procedures on the theme of “responsibility while protecting” (already being labeled “RWP”). Its two key proposals are a set of criteria (including last resort, proportionality, and balance of consequences) to be taken into account before the Security Council mandates any use of military force, and a monitoring-and-review mechanism to ensure that such mandates’ implementation is seriously debated.”

WEF women
The Guardian’s Jane Martinson argues the World Economic Forum in Davos “has a woman problem.”
“Although the days are long gone when one female delegate was asked to leave an event because security assumed she must be a spouse without the required permit, the majority of the women in Davos are not there as participants. Only newcomers to Davos seem to consider this fact remarkable, with the odd feminist exception such as Helen Clark. The former prime minister of New Zealand turned administrator of the United Nations Development Programme called the female participation rate ‘pathetic’. The leader who appointed so many senior women to her cabinet that Benetton ran an airport advertising campaign welcoming visitors to the ‘women’s republic of New Zealand’ called for organisers to commit to the millennium development goal of 30% female participation by 2015. ‘Or why not next year? They should just go and look for the women. In one stroke, participation would go up.’ ”

Forgetting about poverty
Time’s Roya Wolverson argues that, with all the talk about inequality, absolute poverty seems to have dropped of the World Economic Forum’s radar.
“What’s missing in the WEF discussions is the perspective of the poor.  Unfair trade practices and poor working conditions in the developing world, issues that made it onto the WEF agenda a decade ago and keep rearing their ugly head, haven’t been raised at all. Instead, the conversation is acutely focused on the plight of the Western worker and his dwindling pension plan.”

Bad medicine
Intellectual Property Watch reports that the World Health Organization’s executive board has come up with a proposal for an international mechanism that would deal with  “counterfeit and substandard medical products” medicines without taking on thorny IP and trade issues.
“A contentious issue around counterfeits has been the suspicion on the part of some developing countries that concerns about counterfeit and substandard medicines are being purposely confused with trade in legitimate generic medicines from those countries. Removing intellectual property and trade from WHO discussions likely minimises the possibility of confusion.”

Bad money
Reuters reports on how difficult it is for financial regulators to overcome the client privacy provisions of Western banks in order to take action against “undesirable assets and clients.”
“ ‘Our current arrangements for the creation of trusts and the setting up of companies anonymously have created an environment which is permitting kleptocrats to move their loot around (and commit) tax evasion on a monstrous scale,’ said Anthea Lawson, head of the Banks and Corruption Campaign at Global Witness, a non-government organisation which campaigns against money laundering and corruption.
Those determined to hide money have numerous devices at their disposal: for example it is possible to establish an offshore company which belongs to an offshore trust behind which may be another trust, all spread across multiple jurisdictions and set up by an associate of a person on a sanctions list.”

War on finance
The Economist says that François Hollande, the French Socialist Party’s presidential candidate, has “declared war on global finance.”
“The financial industry, he said, had grown into a nameless, faceless empire that has seized control of the economy and society. To tackle the enemy and restore the French dream, Mr Hollande wants to separate banks’ ‘speculative’ activities from their lending arms. He would outlaw ‘toxic’ financial products, keep banks out of tax havens and ban stock options for all companies except start-ups.”

Tackling inequality
British Labour leader Ed Miliband lays out some proposals for a fairer economy.
“I support proposals for a financial transactions tax levied equally on the major trading centers from Hong Kong and Singapore to Wall Street and the City of London. The British government needs to show more leadership on this issue in Europe — and all members of G-20 need to help make it happen.
Britain loses billions of pounds in revenues because of outdated rules that allow our richest citizens to keep their money in off-shore tax havens. Tax authorities need to know about income and wealth hidden behind front companies, trusts and other complex financial products. If these rules cannot be changed by international agreement, progressive governments should go ahead and do it themselves.”