Latest Developments, November 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Scary TPP
The International Business Times offers up five “scary provisions”, including one relating to affordable medicines, found in a purported chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership published by Wikileaks:

“ ‘The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has proposed measures harmful to access to affordable medicines that have not been seen before in U.S. trade agreements,’ Public Citizen stated Wednesday. ‘These proposals aim to transform countries’ laws on patents and medical test data, and include attacks on government medicine formularies. USTR’s demands would strengthen, lengthen and broaden pharmaceutical monopolies on cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS drugs, among others, in the Asia-Pacific region.’
The TPP would limit access to medicines by expanding medical patents’ scope to include minor changes to existing medications; instituting patent linkage, a regime that would make it more difficult for many generic drugs to enter markets; and lengthening the terms of patents by forcing countries to extend patents’ terms during lengthy review processes.”

Dirty rubber
Global witness is calling on the World Bank, among others, to stop investing in a company the NGO has accused of land grabbing in southeast Asia:

“Vietnamese rubber giant Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) has failed to keep to commitments to address environmental and human rights abuses in its plantations in Cambodia and Laos, Global Witness said today. The campaign group says the company now poses a financial and reputational risk to its investors, including Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation, and recommends they divest.”

Western onus
Xinhua reports that China is calling on rich countries to keep their past climate promises, including the financial ones, at this month’s climate change negotiations:

“The UN determines that developed countries should be held accountable for the accumulated high levels of greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial era.

For the period from 2013 to 2020, developed countries are obliged to further cut their carbon emissions as well as providing funding and technologies to help developing nations handle challenges caused by climate change, [Chinese COP 19 delegate Su Wei] said.
‘Finance holds the key to the success of the Warsaw conference,’ Su said, urging developed countries to keep their promises made in previous climate talks.
Developed countries have agreed to jointly provide 100 billion US
dollars per year by 2020 for developing countries to better cope with climate change, which is far from implementation.
‘I hope we can make concrete progress in facilitating the operation of financial and technical transfer from developed countries at the Warsaw talks,’ he said.”

Thinking bigger
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports on the argument that, “with climate-changing emissions still growing despite 20 years of negotiations and agreements to limit them”, consensus should not be the top objective at the current COP 19 climate summit:

“ ‘It’s ambition that’s needed, from my point of view,’ says Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow on climate change at the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development.
Right now, ‘everybody is willing to do something’ – a big change from the 2009 Copenhagen talks, when many countries were still refusing to budge – ‘but the cumulative amount that comes to is insufficient,’ he says. ‘So raising the ambition collectively of everyone is the key. The issue of inclusion has already been solved. Ambition has not.’

The problem is that negotiators tend to have fixed positions. No major developed countries have increased the ambition of their emissions reduction commitments so far in Warsaw, for instance.”

Muscular soft power
The Independent reports that both Western and non-Western powers are deploying troops across Africa for “not entirely altruistic” reasons:

“The last British campaign in Africa was 13 years ago in Sierra Leone, but the UK is currently training forces in three states that are anything but calm. General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the Army, said: ‘We have got three relatively new things which don’t involve significant numbers of people but nevertheless are pointers to the future: Somalia, Mali and also the training of Libyan militias for integration into the military.’

‘If the world’s one remaining superpower is taking soft power seriously and the emerging one, China, is also starting on that path, soft power of a muscular variety can only get more traction,’ said Robert Emerson, a security specialist. ‘Conflicts will not go away from Africa any time soon, but we are seeing major adjustments in dealing with them. It will be fascinating scene of competition for influence in the future.’ ”

A baby step too far
The Guardian reports that even conservative reforms to some “potentially disastrous” kinds of US food aid may not happen:

“The Senate bill includes changes to the food aid programme that would at least partly satisfy reformists. These include a small expansion of a pilot programme that allows food aid to be bought locally, as well as restrictions on the use of monetisation. The House version largely maintains the status quo, while eliminating local sourcing and actually encouraging organisations to monetise food aid.
‘We’re seeing a lot of intransigence on the part of the House in terms of getting anything done,’ said Eric Munoz, a senior policy adviser at Oxfam America. He admitted he was ‘not at all confident … that the [final] bill will include the reforms to food aid that the Senate has proposed’.
The Senate provisions marked a step in the right direction, said Munoz, but even if its reforms were adopted, they would amount to ‘only an incremental step toward where we ultimately need to go’.”

Haunted by loss
Madiha Tahir responds to criticism of her newly released documentary “about drone survivors and the families of the dead” in Pakistan:

“The springboard for the narrative is a speech by President Obama delivered this year in which he claims to be haunted by the loss of civilian life resulting from his policies. We make the frame clear by beginning with this speech followed by a guiding question: ‘What does it mean to be haunted by loss?’ It should be clear that to answer that question by saying ‘Because, Taliban’ is utterly nonsensical.

While [Malala Yousafzai] has commanded the attention of President Obama – to whom she was not shy about voicing her opposition to drone attacks – nine-year-old Nabila, who travelled to the US this month to deliver testimony to Congress about the bombing that killed her grandmother and injured the little girl, was received by a paltry five members out of the 435 US House of Representatives. There has been a studious disinterestedness in the stories of drone survivors. They don’t sell. That’s the broader context for ‘Wounds’.”

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Latest Developments, October 2

In the latest news and analysis…

Lived poverty
Results from Afrobarometer’s poll of over 50,000 people in Africa suggest the continent’s rapid economic growth is doing little to reduce poverty:

“This data, based on the views and experience of ordinary citizens, counters projections of declining poverty rates that have been derived from official GDP growth rates. For the 16 countries where these questions have been asked over the past decade, we find little evidence for systematic reduction of lived poverty despite average GDP growth rates of 4.8% per year over the same period. While we do see reductions in five countries (Cape Verde, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe), we also find increases in lived poverty in five others (Botswana, Mali, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania). Overall, then, despite high reported growth rates, lived poverty at the grassroots remains little changed. This suggests either that growth is occurring, but that its effects are not trickling down to the poorest citizens (in fact, income inequality may be worsening), or alternatively, that actual growth rates may not match up to those being reported.”

Out of the club
Reuters reports that Gambia is quitting the Commonwealth, a group of 54 mostly ex-British colonies, calling it a “neo-colonial institution“:

“ ‘The government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism,’ read a statement broadcast on state television.”

Sugar rush
Oxfam has released a new report alleging the sugar needs of big Western food and beverage companies are fuelling land grabs around the world:

“This includes a fishing community in Pernambuco State, Brazil fighting for access to their land and fishing grounds, after having been violently evicted in 1998 by a sugar mill, which provides sugar to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. In Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil indigenous communities are fighting the occupation of their land by sugar plantations supplying a mill owned by Bunge. Coca-Cola buys sugar from Bunge in Brazil but says it does not buy from this particular mill. In Sre Ambel District in Cambodia, 200 families are fighting for land from which they were evicted in 2006 to make way for a sugar plantation. The plantation has supplied Tate & Lyle Sugars, which sells sugar to franchises that manufacture and bottle products for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Associated British Foods, through their ownership of Illovo, Africa’s biggest producer of sugar cane, has also been linked in media reports to land conflicts in Mali, Zambia and Malawi.”

Asia pivot
Al Jazeera reports on a new military agreement between the US and South Korea for “tailored deterrence” against North Korea:

“South Korean defence ministers agreed on Wednesday to review the timing and transfer of wartime command control of their combined forces on the Korean peninsula from US military to South Korea, a joint statement said.
While South Korea is scheduled to take over wartime operational command in 2015, there have been calls in the government for it to be postponed while North Korea continues to push ahead with its nuclear weapons and long-range missile programmes.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel listened ‘very seriously’ to their apprehensions.”

Counterproductive closures
Al Jazeera reports that plans by UK banking giant Barclays to shut down remittance sending to Somalia over terrorism fears could backfire in a number of ways:

“ ‘No one is going to let their loved ones starve to death. Money will be sent no matter what,’ said Mohamed Ibrahim, chairman of the London Somali Youth Forum.
‘The money will be sent through underground channels, which are hard to monitor, and only result in criminalising the hardworking members of the community.’
Another worry for community leaders is the account closures could be used by al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab as a recruitment opportunity.
‘If you cut off people’s only income, they will find other ways of making a living and al-Shabab will surely take advantage and offer an alternative source of income,’ Ibrahim said.
In the UK, the remittance industry is also one of the biggest employers in the Somali community, providing jobs directly to hundreds of people. Barclays’ move will instantly render them unemployed.”

Fossil fuel binge
The World Development Movement’s Alex Scrivener uses Borneo to illustrate the harmful effects of British institutional investments on communities half a world away:

“Throughout East Kalimantan, there are many communities like Segading that have been devastated by coal mining.
The shocking truth is that 83 per cent of the coal production of East Kalimantan is extracted by companies with a link to Britain’s financial sector. For example, Bumi plc, which owns big stakes in both Bumi Resources and Berau Coal, raised £707 million on the London Stock Exchange when it floated in 2010. Much of this money will have come from big institutional investors such as pension funds, which supposedly invest on behalf of ordinary pension scheme holders across Britain.
It’s time to call time on the British banks’ fossil fuel binge. We need urgent regulation to control the flow of money to fossil fuel companies so that banks and pension funds are held to account for the impact of their investments.”

High price
Agence France-Presse reports on the ongoing protests in Romania over a Canadian-owned project that promises to become Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine:

“Gabriel Resources hopes to extract 300 tonnes of gold with mining techniques requiring the use of thousands of tonnes of cyanide.
It promises 900 jobs during the 16-year extraction period, as well as economic benefits.
But academics and environmentalists say the [Rosia Montana] mine is an ecological time bomb and threatens the area’s Roman mining galleries.”

Law avoidance
Global Witness refutes arguments opposing legally binding rules for companies regarding the trade in conflict minerals:

“Instead of legislation, [Forbes’s Tim Worstall] advocates a voluntary, industry-led scheme which focuses on ‘fingerprinting’ minerals at processing plants to combat the conflict minerals trade. Any argument for voluntary measures to address the problem is seriously flawed. A decade and a half of UN and NGO reports exposing the links between conflict and minerals in eastern DRC failed to compel companies to look more closely at their supply chains. It is only since the US introduced legislation that companies have significantly changed their behaviour.”

Latest Developments, September 26

In the latest news and analysis…

World Cup slaves
The Guardian reports that migrant workers from Nepal have been dying “at a rate of almost one a day” as Qatar prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup:

“The investigation found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022.
According to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.

The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament.”

Iron politics
Le Monde reports that Western intelligence agencies believe French, South African and Israeli mercenaries working for a “diamond king” are planning a coup in Guinea:

“The CIA document refers to Beny Steinmetz Group Resources, owned by diamond magnate Beny Steinmetz, which is in open conflict with the Guinean government over rights to part of Simandou, the world’s biggest untapped iron ore deposit.

According to the American document quoted by Le Canard Enchaîné, an Israeli security consultant who works closely with BSG helped to form a political front organization, the National Party for Renewal, ‘without doubt funded by BSG’. The party drew up a ‘memo seized by Guinean investigators’ that pledges to maintain BSG’s Simandou mining rights if the party is part of a future government.” [Translated from the French.]

The J word
La Croix reports that France, eager to gain international support for military intervention in the Central African Republic despite opposition from the US and Rwanda, is talking up the threat of radical Islam:

“French diplomats have caught on and are no longer hesitating to talk of ‘sectarian’ confrontations between Muslims and Christians. François Hollande spoke repeatedly in such terms at the UN General Assembly. ‘You are sure to get the Americans’ attention’ if you talk about a risk of jihad, of conflict between Chirstians and Islamists,’ said CCFD-Terre Solidaire’s Zobel Behalal.” [Translated from the French.]

Toxic neighbour
The Economist reports on the tensions between a Canadian-owned gold mine and surrounding communities in the Dominican Republic:

“The investment was presented by both the government and [Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation, owned by Barrick Gold and Goldcorp] as including a clean-up of Rosario’s toxic mess and the installation of systems to keep local watercourses clean. But residents are suing PVDC, claiming that the new mine is poisoning rivers, causing illnesses and the death of farm animals.

PVDC says that, together with local people, it conducts regular, public tests on water and air.
But community leaders say they have no knowledge of such tests. The company has not answered requests to provide the dates on which they were conducted. Tests by the environment ministry, released only after a freedom of information request, found the water in the Margajita river downstream from the mine to be highly acidic, as well as containing sulphides and copper above legal limits.”

Blunt talk
In a Democracy Now! interview, independent journalist Jeremy Scahill discusses US President Barack Obama’s “really naked declaration of imperialism” at the UN General Assembly this week:

“I mean, he pushed back against the Russians when he came out and said I believe America is an exceptional nation. He then defended the Gulf War and basically said that the motivation behind it was about oil and said we are going to continue to take such actions in pursuit of securing natural resources for ourselves and our allies. I mean, this was a pretty incredible and bold declaration he was making, especially given the way that he has tried to portray himself around the world.”

Unfair planet
The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews writes that the world is 17 times more unequal than the US (which is, in turn, more unequal than Tanzania), with no relief in sight:

“It’s another reminder that, while extreme poverty in the United States is very real, the biggest inequalities, by far, are at the global level. ‘The political instruments for reducing income inequality between the richest 10 per cent and the poorest 40 per cent of the world’s population do not exist,’ author Lars Engberg-Pedersen notes. ‘Progressive taxation, provision of social security, etc. are country-level instruments, and official development assistance comes no way near addressing global inequality.’ ”

Financial complicity
The Oakland Institute’s Alice Martin-Prevel calls the World Bank “an accomplice in global land grabs” and questions some of its fundamental assumptions:

“The report rekindles the assumptions that land registration would somehow give farmers access to low-cost credit to invest in their parcels, improve their yields, and that Africa has abundant ‘surplus land’ which should be delineated and identified in order to be acquired by land developers. (In its 2012 report Our Land, Our Lives, Oxfam debunked the myth of Africa’s ‘unused land,’ showing that most areas targeted by land deals were previously used for small-scale farming, grazing and common resources exploitation by local communities.) Not only are these postulations yet to be proven, but they also assume that customary rights and traditional landownership are part of an underefficient system that needs transformation. The report’s recommendations thus include proposals such as ‘demarcating boundaries and registering communal rights,’ ‘organizing and formalizing communal groups,’ and ‘removing restrictions on land rental markets.’ ”

African drones
Peter Dörrie writes in Medium that “the future of drone warfare, both with and without actual bombs, is in Africa and the future is now”:

“Drones, both armed and unarmed, have likely been active from the U.S. military’s only permanent base on the continent at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti for some years, as well as from more recently established bases in neighboring Ethiopia. Niger is home to the latest deployment of drones to the continent and from their base at Niamey — the Reapers can theoretically cover much of western and central Africa.

While governments may rave about the potential of drones, Africans are well aware of the ambiguous role that Predators and Reapers have played in Pakistan. Especially armed drones — and inevitable civilians lives lost — will produce backlash on the streets and give armed groups an opportunity to style themselves as the underdog fighting against the evil empire.
Then there is also the slippery slope of mission creep.”

Latest Developments, September 17

In the latest news and analysis…

Offense first
The Hill reports that the US, which was already sending weapons to Syria’s rebels, has now also cleared obstacles to sending them defensive equipment:

“The United States is prevented from shipping gas masks and other ‘non-lethal’ protective equipment related to chemical weapons use under mandates in the Arms Export Control Act.
Obama’s announcement effectively eliminates those rules for ‘international organizations… [and] select vetted members of the Syrian opposition, including the Supreme Military Council,’ [National Security Council Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden] said in a statement Monday.”

Global corporate accountability
Ecuador’s government has announced that nearly 100 countries supported its call for a “binding international instrument” concerning transnational companies and human rights:

“The Declaration led by Ecuador and adopted by the African Group, the Group of Arabic Countries, Pakistan, Kirgizstan, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Peru, gathers up the concerns of the countries from the South regarding the flagrant human rights violations caused by the operations of transnational corporations, that in many countries, they have left as large debts, large effects on local communities and populations, including many indigenous peoples.

This joint Declaration constitutes a milestone within the Human Rights Council of the UN, since for the moment; Ecuador has been the only country that has defended the idea of generating an international instrument about businesses and human rights. Nevertheless, after a hard work of lobbying carried out by the Ecuadorian delegation in Geneva, it has been possible to add support, especially of countries from the South which demand more equity and responsibility on behalf of the great transnational forces.”

ICC backlash
Reuters reports that the International Criminal Court could lose a big chunk of its membership due to its perceived lack of balance:

“Officials say suggestions are being made in the African Union for a pullout from the Hague court by the 34 African signatories to the Rome Statute that created it.
‘There is a proposal in the African Union, which will likely come in January, for all AU member countries to withdraw from the ICC because the court is seen to be targeting only African leaders,’ Tanzania’s government spokesman Assah Mwambene said.
The walk-out proposal could come even sooner, possibly at an extraordinary AU summit before the year end, following expected criticism of the ICC at the U.N. General Assembly this month.

All 18 cases so far before the ICC are against Africans, in eight countries. Most were either initiated or supported by the governments of those states.”

No number, no list
The Blog of Legal Times reports that the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the US government’s claim that divulging even the vaguest of information pertaining to drone strikes could threaten national security:

“[Justice Department lawyer Amy] Powell argued that the CIA’s ‘no number, no list’ response—where the government deems exempt from disclosure even the number of pages of any responsive document—is appropriate.
The ACLU lawyers said in their papers that the CIA failed to show why the government should be allowed not to describe the content of any single document.”

Crosses and veils
The Montreal Gazette reports the results of a public opinion poll on Quebec’s proposed “charter of values”, which suggest many of the Canadian province’s inhabitants share their government’s selective interpretation of secularism:

“Two proposals in the package do get large approval. Fifty-four per cent of Quebecers agree that the crucifix should remain over the speaker’s chair of the National Assembly. Thirty-eight per cent disagree.
And a big 90 per cent of Quebecers agree public servants giving services or Quebecers receiving services should do so with their faces uncovered.”

Oil displacement
The Monitor reports on the impacts of oil exploration on land tenure in Uganda:

“The discovery of oil and gas has also caused the appreciation of land value even in rural areas that are now getting transformed into urban centres. The resources have also attracted investors and speculators who are acquiring chunks of land to strategise how to profiteer from the nascent industry. The oil industry has also sparked off a scramble for land that at times has left some communities to be displaced by new landlords that are procuring pieces of land from individuals that were formerly owned communally.”

Miner threat
The Globe and Mail reports that a Canadian company is demanding Romania approve what would be Europe’s largest open-pit gold mine or face a massive lawsuit:

“ ‘If the lower house [of parliament] does reject the project, we will go ahead with formal notification to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties for up to $4-billion,’ [Gabriel Resources CEO Jonathan] Henry said in a phone interview. ‘Our case is very strong and we will make it very public that Romania’s effort to attract foreign investment will suffer greatly.’

The Rosia Montana project has been held up by well-organized and well-funded protesters, ranging from local farmers who do not want their properties seized to make way for the enormous mine to billionaires such as George Soros and celebrities such as Vanessa Redgrave, for about 15 years.”

Expendable labour
The Guardian reports that a number of Western clothing brands are being accused of doing too little for the victims of Bangladesh’s deadliest industrial accident:

“The international union IndustriALL has called for brands to contribute $33.5m to those injured and the families of those who died in the accident with a further $41m to come from the Bangladeshi government and factory owners. While all the brands which met in Geneva said they were prepared to put up at least some cash, no agreement was reached on the structure or scale of compensation, partly because 20 brands which were invited did not attend including Walmart, Mango and the Zara owner, Inditex.
Samantha Maher of campaign group Labour Behind the Label, who attended the talks, said: ‘It is almost six months since Rana Plaza collapsed. After all the hand-wringing, workers are still facing a life of desperation when half of those brands whose products they were making have turned their back on them.’”

Latest Developments, August 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Pro tips
New York University’s Sarah Knuckey has tweeted “four small suggestions” for improving media coverage of US drone strikes in Yemen:

“1/ When your only source for the number of ‘militants’ killed is ‘anonymous security official,’ highlight that fact & use ‘alleged militant’
2/ Follow it by noting the well-documented history of officials providing mistaken or false information about who was killed in a strike.
3/ Include a paragraph noting: many reports alleging civilian harm from past strikes; generalized civilian fear; strike legality debates.
4/ Ask a US official to go on record about the strike. Report their refusal to & link to Obama & Brennan’s many past transparency promises.”

Insult to injury
The Washington Post reports that a US company recently cleared of involvement in torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison wants former detainees to pay its legal expenses:

“The plaintiffs oppose the move, arguing that [CACI International] is out of time and that the request is unjust.
The plaintiffs ‘have very limited financial means, even by non-U.S. standards, and dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendants in this case,’ the filing said. ‘At the same time, plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close, difficult — and only recently arguable — grounds.’ ”

Soiled Gunners
Global Witness is calling on North London football giants Arsenal FC to cut ties with “a key Vietnamese academy partner company” accused of serious human rights abuses:

“Rubber giants Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) are accused of causing extensive social and environmental damage in and around their plantations in Cambodia and Laos, according to Global Witness’s May 2013 report and film, Rubber Barons.

Meanwhile, HAGL’s Chairman Duc has used the media to trade heavily on the company’s close relationship with Arsenal. Media reports state that HAGL is the club’s main distributor for merchandise in Vietnam, while the partnership also includes the HAGL – Arsenal JMG Academy, and saw the London club play a Vietnam XI on a recent trip sponsored by the company.”

Under wraps
McClatchy reports that US Congress actually has the ability to declassify certain documents without obtaining executive permission:

“The legislation that established the [Senate Intelligence Committee] called for it to ‘provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States.’
As a part of this oversight, Section 8 of the resolution lays out a process by which a member of the Intelligence Committee may seek the declassification of information that he or she thinks is of public interest, even if the executive branch labels the material top secret.

‘If the Intelligence Committee cannot release its most important oversight piece, that calls into question the existence of the committee. What is it for, if it cannot provide the public with its most important report?’ [Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy director Steven Aftergood] said.”

Avoiding transparency
A group of NGOs has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama expressing concern over “serious informational gaps” in American companies’ legally required reporting on their investments in Myanmar:

“Yet in three separate reports, two related investment funds, Capital Bank and Trust Company and Capital International Inc. (collectively, ‘Capital’) declined to report on their human rights, worker rights, anti-corruption, and environmental policies and procedures, arrangements with security service providers, property acquisition practices, payments to the Burmese government, or even the general nature of their investments in Burma. In fact, Capital provided no detail about the extent and nature of these investments, and justified its failure to report on the grounds that its investments in Yoma Strategic Holdings, Ltd. (‘Yoma’) are merely ‘passive.’
The fact that Capital believes it has no responsibility to manage the impacts of its investments is especially disturbing because Yoma has operations in plantation agriculture and real estate, sectors that are notorious for land confiscation, labor abuse, and environmental destruction.”

Ancestral domains
Bulatlat reports on the impacts of “development aggression” on the indigenous peoples of the Philippines:

“In 2012, of the approved mining permits of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), 60 percent of the more than a million hectares of land opened for mining are within the ancestral domains of indigenous communities. Concurrent with these mining operations are various ventures of agrofuel plantations that cover more than a million hectares in different parts of the country. Large dams, logging and new forms of land grabbing such as the use of priority and usufruct rights to privatize and commercialize indigenous lands, implementation of renewable energy projects, without genuine free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are evident in indigenous communities.”

Glomarizing drones
Wired reports that the US government is once again refusing to confirm or deny that it carries out targeted killings in order to avoid having to hand over any information regarding drone strikes:

“The [Freedom of Information Act] litigation dates to 2010, when the [American Civil Liberties Union] sued in federal court seeking records concerning the legal basis for carrying out targeted drone killings; any restrictions on those who may be targeted; any civilian casualties; any geographic limits on the program; the number of targeted killings that the agency has carried out; and the training, supervision, oversight, or discipline of drone operators.
But the Obama administration is now claiming that the government does not have to fork over any responsive documents in the ACLU’s lawsuit because, in the end, the CIA has never ‘officially’ said it has been involved, so the CIA can maintain its Glomar response.”

Total independence
The BBC reports that Zimbabwe’s newly re-elected President Robert Mugabe has said that the “indigenization” of his country’s economy represents the “final phase of the liberation struggle”:

“Foreign-owned companies are already supposed to ensure they are at least 51% locally owned – a policy which some analysts say has scared off potential investment from abroad.
Reuters news agency reports that the local operations of foreign-owned mining companies have already been targeted, while banks could be next.

His critics say much of the land seized from white farmers was either given to his cronies or to people who lacked the expertise or resources to use it productively.
He retorts that Western powers are sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy because of his anti-colonial stance.”