Latest Developments, May 8

In the latest news and analysis…

Big deal
Inter Press Service reports that closed-door talks are set to resume around the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership – potentially the biggest trade deal ever signed by the US – with major implications for global health.
“While U.S. global health policy has seen significant strengthening over the past five years, passage of the TPP ‘would start rolling this back,’ warns Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines Program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group here.
Worldwide over the past 10 years, prices for HIV-related medicines, for instance, have fallen by 99 percent, largely driven by competition from generic drugs. While the fight against generics by large pharmaceutical interests has largely shifted away from the WTO, Maybarduk suggests, the TPP agreement signals the next iteration of that effort.
‘The TPP could well be the worst that we have seen,’ Maybarduk says. ‘Not only does it run contrary to the U.S.’s own pledges on global AIDS work, but the TPP will set the template for the entire Asia- Pacific region. That could have an impact on half of the world’s population.’ ”

Tackling overfishing
The Guardian reports that Senegal’s new government has revoked the fishing licenses of 29 foreign trawlers.
“Hunger is growing in Senegal and other Sahelian countries, but much of the catch by the foreign fleets ends up in Britain and the EU after being exported from ports like Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. Local fishing industry leaders in Senegal, Cape Verde, Mauritania and elsewhere say catches from inshore fishing have been decimated in the past 10 years because of overfishing. In addition, many other ‘pirate’ trawlers operate illegally in west African waters, further decimating stocks.
‘Senegal’s only resource is the sea,’ said Abdou Karim Sall, president of the Fishermen’s Association of Joal and the Committee of Marine Reserves in West Africa. ‘Unless something changes there will be a catastrophe for livelihoods, employment and food security.’ ”

Financial services hype
Juraj Dobrila University’s Milford Bateman argues that the “financial inclusion agenda” promoted by the World Bank is “nonsense.”
“First, as ever, there is the overarching effort to try to get the poor to uncritically accept the tools the rich have used to acquire their great wealth and become powerful. Finance is one of these tools. By claiming that helping the poor to ‘manage their money better’ will rapidly lead to economic and social benefits, the promoters of the financial inclusion agenda hope the poor will abandon any possible interest in supporting the collective capabilities and initiatives that history shows have massively empowered them. I would include here trade unions, social movements, strongly regulated labour markets, universal healthcare, public sector employment, a ‘developmental state’ and, most of all, the programmed redistribution of wealth and power.”

The East London Communities Organisation’s Muhammad Abdul Bari writes that Europe’s “counter-jihad movement” poses a serious threat to the continent’s communal harmony.
“It is disheartening that a continent that had learnt many lessons in such a hard way, after the devastation of the two World Wars, and which prides itself in equality and human rights, is allowing itself to be influenced by the forces of intolerance and hate. It is now open season to malign Muslims because of their religious and cultural practices. Yet Muslim immigrants arriving after the war joined in the effort to rebuild the economies of war-torn Europe in the 1950s. In almost every field of life, Muslims have been an integral part of the European tapestry. Muslims are today at home in Europe, have been contributors to its past and are stakeholders in its future.
Yet the language and rhetoric used by the Far Right and the level of political expediency in mainstream European politics is mind boggling. The hate mongers are apparently succeeding in swapping a racist agenda for an Islamophobic one. The lacklustre response from European leaders has paved the way for anti-Muslim bigotry to move closer to the mainstream.”

Bribery’s cost
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Global Financial Integrity’s Clark Gascoigne argues that the sort of bribery Wal-Mart is alleged to have committed in Mexico is neither victimless nor unavoidable.
“Environmental regulations exist for many reasons—to protect the health, safety and well-being of the community. If environmental laws were circumvented to build a new Wal-Mart supercenter too close to an important watershed, for example, drinking water could be contaminated and people could become sick or die.

While bribery is pervasive in Mexican society, it is very difficult for small businesses and local residents to escape paying up. They don’t carry the weight needed to change an entire society. However, a major company like Wal-Mart—with the promise of bringing thousands of jobs to local Mexican communities—has the leverage needed to say no to corruption and still conduct business. The company, apparently, chose not to do that.”

Immigration targeting
The Globe and Mail reports on concerns that Canada’s immigration policy is moving away from 50 years of trying to remove race and national origin from the equation.
“Overall it would be a mistake, says [Dalhousie University’s Howard Ramos], to conceive of the uneven outcomes for different immigrant groups as evidence that immigration was failing.
‘Immigrants in Canada have a high degree of integration. This [language] policy doesn’t reflect that success at all. It’s creating a problem where I don’t necessarily think a problem exists,’ he says. ‘The points system was introduced to correct the injustices of focusing on culture and language too heavily. It was a society and a time that was much more ethnocentric – and I don’t think it’s a time we should try and return to.’ ”

Democracy undone
Inter Press Service reports on some of the problems bilateral investment treaties pose for governments wishing to implement sound public policy.
“ ‘Foreign investors may challenge, in an international arbitration process, any change in law and policy to protect the environment and public health, to promote social or cultural goals, or to grapple with financial or economic crises. However, it is impossible to predict the outcome with any precision because each will depend in large part on the composition of the arbitral tribunal deciding the case, which consists of three highly-paid individuals, typically specialized in commercial rather than public law,’ [according to the International Institute for Sustainable Developments Nathalie Bernasconi].

‘A lack of transparency, unpredictability and conflicts of interest have simply become unacceptable. This discontent has led countries like Australia to disfavor investor-state dispute settlement entirely and others to terminate their investment treaties.
‘Watching these developments, countries like Brazil, which never ratified any of its investment treaties, must count themselves lucky,’ she added.”

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 28

In the latest news and analysis…

Syrian math
Embassy Magazine’s Scott Taylor compares fatalities in Arab-Spring Syria and US-occupied Iraq.
“According to the US State Department, approximately 10,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting over the past 12 months (this figure includes both pro-regime security forces and rebel fighters).
As a counterweight to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s moral outrage at the Syrian violence, one need only look at the previous nine years, during which America occupied Syria’s neighbour.
In the US response to armed uprisings and inter-ethnic violence in Iraq, the lowest official estimate of casualties published by the Iraqi Body Count Project puts the death toll as of January 2012 at over 272,000.
While the death toll fluctuated during those years, the rough math brings us to an annual loss of 30,000 Iraqi lives per year—three times that of the current ‘unacceptable’ level of civil war violence in Syria.”

Pakistan’s drone opposition
The Associated Press reports Pakistan recently rejected concessions offered by US officials scrambling to save their drone campaign after “a series of incidents throughout 2011” damaged the two countries’ relationship.
“CIA Director David Petraeus, who met with Pakistan’s then-spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha at a meeting in London in January, offered to give Pakistan advance notice of future CIA drone strikes against targets on its territory in a bid to keep Pakistan from blocking the strikes — arguably one of the most potent U.S. tools against al-Qaida.
The CIA chief also offered to apply new limits on the types of targets hit, said a senior U.S. intelligence official briefed on the meetings. No longer would large groups of armed men rate near-automatic action, as they had in the past — one of the so-called ‘signature’ strikes, where CIA targeters deemed certain groups and behavior as clearly indicative of militant activity.”

Global Compact housecleaning
The Guardian reports that the UN Global Compact – “the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative” – is set to kick out more than 750 businesses over the next six months.
“Non-governmental organisations have long criticised the Global Compact, which promotes 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption, because it has no effective monitoring and enforcement provisions.
They also accuse businesses of using it to oppose any binding international regulation on corporate accountability and for benefitting from the Global Compact’s logo, a blue globe and a laurel wreath, which is very similar to the UN logo, while continuing to perpetrate human rights and environmental abuses.”

Climate change ruling
Reuters reports that an Australian court has ruled Swiss mining giant Xstrata can proceed with developing a massive coal mine despite arguments that it will contribute to climate change.
“The case against the 22 million metric tons (24.2 million tons) per year open-cut Wandoan coal mine is the first to use climate change as the primary argument against the development of a mine, according to Friends of the Earth.
Xstrata argued in the case that stopping the Wandoan coal project would not affect the total amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, since the coal that it would have produced by Wandoan would be replaced by coal produced elsewhere.
The Land Court agreed, saying in its ruling, ‘It is difficult to see from the evidence that this project will cause any relevant impact on the environment.’ ”

ICC’s Africa problem
Harvard Law School graduate student Nanjala Nyabola argues that the International Criminal Court has yet to earn the confidence of Africans, a problem that is especially troubling because all 28 people indicted by the court so far come from Africa.
“The answer may lie in investing universal jurisdiction in various African supreme or high courts, simply by passing statutes that give these courts authority to try cases related to the most egregious violations of human rights on the continent.
Using the judiciaries of smaller states in Africa that have succeeded in earning the confidence of their people provides an alternative that takes alleged offenders out of the immediate context of the crimes but still respects the idea of ‘African solutions for African problems’. Mauritius, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana – these are all nations with the capacity (albeit with significant assistance) to set up special chambers akin to those in Cambodia to try such cases.”

Misguided Principles
The University of Ottawa’s Penelope Simons argues that the UN’s current framework on addressing corporate human rights impunity is “misconceived.”
“[This article] seeks to demonstrate the problems with the [UN secretary-general’s special representative for business and human rights (SRSG)]’s approach by arguing that, along with the interventions of international financial institutions in the economies of developing states, one of the most significant impediments to corporate human rights accountability is the structure of the international legal system itself… It is argued that powerful states have used international law and international institutions to create a globalised legal environment which protects and facilitates corporate activity and, although the SRSG identified symptoms of this reality during his tenure, he did not examine the deep structural aspects of this problem. This article demonstrates that such an examination would have revealed the crucial need for binding international human rights obligations for business entities in any adequate strategy aimed at addressing corporate impunity.”

Third British Empire
Author Dan Hind argues that although its days of colonization and slave trading are over, Britain is now at the centre of a new imperial enterprise whose “signature crime is tax evasion.”
“Nowadays, if you believe what you’re told by respectable historians and broadcasters, Britain has turned its back on its imperial past and is trying as best it can to make its way as an ordinary nation. The reality is somewhat more complicated. One day, perhaps history will describe a third British Empire, organised around the country’s offshore financial infrastructure and its substantial diplomatic, intelligence and communications resources. Having given up the appearance of empire, the British have sought to reclaim its substance.”

Symmetry of slaughter
Syndicated columnist Gwynne Dyer contrasts the public discourse surrounding recent mass murders committed by a Muslim man in France and an American soldier in Afghanistan.
“Predictably, Marine Le Pen, leader of the extreme right National Front, called on French voters to ‘fight…against these politico-religious fundamentalists who are killing our Christian children, our Christian young men.’
The incumbent right-wing president, Nicolas Sarkozy, says much the same thing, but less bluntly.

As for the Bales atrocity, it is already being written off by the American media and public as a meaningless aberration that tells us nothing about US foreign policy or national character.”

Latest Developments, March 27

In the latest news and analysis…

Red Cross hotel
The Center for Economic and Policy Research questions Red Cross priorities as the humanitarian organization considers building a luxury hotel and conference center on Port-au-Prince land it bought with Haiti earthquake relief funds.
“Considering the hundreds of people who have recently been forcibly evicted – with some recently having been burned out of their camps in suspicious arsons – couldn’t this be space that the Red Cross could offer them, rather than using it for a commercial venture that might not even be viable?
The Red Cross’ post-quake spending and use of funds, as the largest NGO operating in Haiti, has been controversial almost since the beginning. News that some ‘funds donated by national Red Cross agencies for quake recovery’ – much of which almost certainly came from individuals who believed their money would be used for emergency relief – might instead be used for a risky commercial venture (and one that caters to NGO’s and tourists) could provoke more controversy.”

Mosque outreach
The American Civil Liberties Union reports it has obtained documents indicating the FBI used a “mosque outreach” program to gather intelligence on American Muslim groups and their members “without any suspicion of wrongdoing.”
“The documents also show that the FBI categorized information about American Muslims’ First Amendment-protected and other entirely innocuous activities, as well as mosque locations, as ‘positive intelligence’ and disseminated it to agencies outside the FBI. As a result, the agency wrongly and unfairly cast a cloud of suspicion over innocent groups and individuals based on their religious beliefs and associations, and placed them at risk of greater law enforcement scrutiny as potential national security threats. None of the documents indicate that the FBI told individuals interviewed that their information and views were being collected as intelligence and would be recorded and disseminated.”

Suspicious skin
The Global Post reports a German court has ruled that certain police can use the colour of a person’s skin as justification for demanding to see identification.
“However, judges ruled that skin color was reasonable grounds on which to carry out ID checks, since the train route in question is often used by illegal immigrants to enter Germany. Since police cannot check every passenger’s papers, they must select which people to ID based on their ‘border policing experience,’ the judgment said.
The officers are therefore allowed to make their choice ‘according to external appearance’ and without concrete grounds for suspicion, Agence France Presse reported.”

Drug talk
Former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda writes that the “failed war on drugs” will loom large in discussions at next month’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia.
“Recently inaugurated Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, together with [Colombian President Juan Manuel] Santos and other heads of state, question today’s punitive, prohibitionist approach, owing to its enormous costs and meager results, and propose a different strategy: legalization.
Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden to Mexico and Central America a few weeks ago to forestall this trend, and he may have partly succeeded. Nevertheless, whereas only a smattering of political leaders and intellectuals advocated legalization in the past, nowadays officials are coming ‘out of the closet’ on drugs in droves. Those who used to say that they favored a debate on the issue now support legalization; those who opposed it now accept the need for debate; and those who continue to oppose legalization do so on moral, rather than rational, grounds.”

Crying foul
UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, argues the international community must look at the big picture and get serious about accountability if sustainable development is to become a reality.
“What are framed as development policies often end up doing very little to help the most marginalised communities, and sometimes end up harming them. Meanwhile, the effects of genuine development policies can easily be overridden by industrial and infrastructural projects, trade agreements, and other external factors that tip the balance against small-scale farmers and fishers. It is therefore essential to be able to cry foul when missing policies, misguided policies, or the sum total of policies, work against sustainable development.”

Talk is cheap
Inter Press Service reports on a group of legal experts who are looking to hold world leaders to the promises they make at June’s Rio+20 sustainable development summit.
“ ‘We are really tired of declarations,’ Antonio Herman Benjamin, judge of the Supreme Court of Brazil, told an international gathering of legal experts here Monday. Despite some progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, most governments have failed to fulfil their obligations.
As a result, the court has launched a new initiative to promote role of law in advancing sustainable development. It is known as the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Stability.
The Congress’s scores of members from around the world include senior judges, prosecutors, legal scholars, auditors and development experts. They plan to focus on the problems and obstacles that hinder the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.”

Immigration detention
Author Edwige Danticat writes in the New York Times that new US immigration guidelines recommend the bare minimum of human rights for detainees, more than 110 of whom have died in custody since 2003.
“The new [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] guidelines are not perfect. They do not offer, for example, alternatives to jail-like detention, even for unaccompanied minors, the elderly, the disabled or pregnant women. But they are a step forward. In addition to medical care, safe water and limited recreation, they also require that staff members not perform strip searches on detainees of the opposite sex and that detainees not be used for medical experiments or for clinical trials without informed consent. They will crack down on sexual assault by staff members, contract personnel or other detainees and suggest that victims of sexual abuse be given access to emergency medical treatment.”

Good intentions
Northeastern University’s Aziza Ahmed argues we must “interrogate the consequences of advocacy efforts,” however noble the cause may appear.
“First, anti-sex trafficking activism has an extremely negative impact on HIV programs. Sex workers are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV. A key victory for anti-sex trafficking organizations was the insertion of the anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO) into the US Leadership Act for HIV/Aids, TB, and malaria. This provision requires that organizations agree to oppose prostitution and sex trafficking. The APLO has the effect of disempowering sex worker organizations who refuse to sign on, shutting health services for sex workers, and alienating sex workers from public health programs.”

Latest Developments, December 12

In the latest news and analysis…

Canada out of Kyoto
The New York Times reports that mere hours after the international community agreed at the Durban climate change conference to extend the Kyoto Protocol, Canada has become the first country to withdraw from the accord.
“‘Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,’ the environment minister, Peter Kent, told reporters shortly after returning from South Africa. He added that Canada would work toward developing an agreement that includes targets for developing nations, particularly China and India.
‘What we have to look at is all major emitters,’ Mr. Kent said.
Under the Kyoto Protocol’s rules, Canada must formally give notice of its intention to withdraw by the end of this year or else face penalties after 2012.
The extent of those penalties, as well as Canada’s ability to redress its inability to meet the treaty’s emission reduction targets, is a matter of some debate.”

Trade mispricing
Global Financial Integrity’s Sarah Freitas writes that the Philippines lost an estimated $142 billion due to illicit financial flows over the last decade, but that corruption and bribery accounted for a relatively small part of that amount .
“The study found that the majority of the illicit outflow, US$113.7 billion, is due to the mispricing of imported and exported goods. Trade mispricing is a phenomenon where individuals and corporations use fraudulent commercial invoices to smuggle money out of the country, usually in order to facilitate tax evasion. A large corporation or very wealthy individual in the Philippines will trade with a counterpart in another country, but will manipulate the price and quantity of exported goods to send more money offshore than represented by what they report to the government. The individual or corporation then collects the extra money later, usually in a bank account in a tax haven or secrecy jurisdiction.
This means that while the Philippines has seen significant outflows from corruption, bribery, and kickbacks, their biggest priority when addressing illicit capital flight should be to tackle trade-related tax evasion.”

Slow start
The Guardian reports that after 40 years of mining uranium in Niger, the French state-owned company Areva has agreed to begin monitoring the health of its employees.
“Deaths from respiratory infections occur at almost twice the national average in Arlit, according to Greenpeace. In a 2010 report, the organisation found water wells in Akokan contaminated with radiation levels up to 500 times higher than normal, and radioactive scrap metal for sale at local markets. Meanwhile, mining activity has drained almost 300bn litres of water from aquifers, key water sources in the desert.”

Biofuel crimes
A new report produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Transparency International suggests the troubles with the growing biofuel industry go beyond issues of food security.
“The drive to find alternative energy sources to mitigate climate change has resulted in a rush of money to related investments in countries. Yet many countries with governance and corruption challenges are considered among the most attractive destinations for biofuel investment.
In the case of Colombia, the rapid expansion of the cultivation of palm oil has been linked to reports of paramilitaries, hired by private interests, allegedly pushing poor communities off their land to increase the available area for planting.”

Boycott fever
Forbes blogger E.D. Kain writes about the Florida Family Association’s efforts to get companies to pull their advertising dollars from TLC’s reality TV show All-American Muslim, a campaign the group claims has succeeded with 65 of the 67 companies it pressured.
“The FFA’s statement on the matter reads: ‘‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law… The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.’”

Durban disappointment
Oxfam’s Tim Gore argues that the final deal that came out of the Durban climate summit prioritized legal obligations over ambition and equity.
“Many developing countries are concerned the terms of the new agreement will pressurise them to act in the same vein as developed countries. The impassioned appeals of India and others to keep fairness at the heart of the new regime are not reflected in the text of the final agreement, which makes no distinction between the relative effort required by large and small historic and per-capita polluters, or between the richest countries and those where millions of people still live in poverty and hunger.”

In a Q&A with People of Colour Organize!, British Green politician and activist Derek Wall discusses the concept of ecosocialism and answers whether “zero growth” is possible in a capitalist system.
“The short answer is no. Firms compete to make profit. Those who make the most profit can reinvest in capital and with more efficient machinery they out compete other firms.
Firms have to make profit to survive. It’s not a case of wicked capitalists but instead a system with a built in growth imperative.
The problem is, from declining oil to diminishing fish stocks, an environmental wipeout is occurring.”

Dangerous game
In an Al Jazeera interview, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs talks about the madness, as he sees it, of the American financial system.
“And the problem that the Occupy Wall Street and other protesters have is: you don’t deserve it, you nearly broke the system, you gamed the economy, you’re paying mega fines, yet you’re still in the White House you’re going to the state dinners, you’re paying yourself huge bonuses, what kind of system is this?
When I talk about this in the United States, I’m often attacked, ‘oh, you don’t believe in the free market economy’, I say, how much free market can there be? You say deregulate, the moment the banks get in trouble, you say bail them out, the moment you bail them out, you say go back to deregulation. That’s not a free market, that’s a game, and we have to get out of the game. We have to get back to grown-up behaviour.”