In the latest news and analysis…
Radio France Internationale reports that negotiations are underway over where foreign troops will be based for a looming military intervention in Mali:
“Time and again, Mali declared there was no need for foreign troops in Bamako to secure institutions, but those troops were welcome in the North to fight Islamist forces. To which the international community responded there was no way its troops would go directly to the North, straight into the lion’s den.
Both sides have softened their position and in the end, the following solution is taking shape: foreign headquarters could be located in Koulikoro, 50km from Bamako. But Bamako’s airport will be the hub for aerial operations.” [Translated from the French.]
The UN’s right to food expert has urged world governments to “take urgent steps to protect, sustain, and share the benefits” of fisheries and oceans:
“ ‘“Ocean-grabbing” – in the shape of shady access agreements that harm small-scale fishers, unreported catch, incursions into protected waters, and the diversion of resources away from local populations – can be as serious a threat as “land-grabbing,”’ [Olivier] De Schutter said as he unveiled a new report on fisheries and the right to food.
The UN expert called on governments to rethink the models of fisheries that they support, highlighting that small-scale fishers actually catch more fish per gallon of fuel than industrial fleets, and discard fewer fish. ‘Industrial fishing in far-flung waters may seem like the economic option, but only because fleets are able to pocket major subsidies while externalizing the costs of over-fishing and resource degradation. Future generations will pay the price when the oceans run dry,’ he said.”
Reuters reports that Argentina’s lower house has voted 131 to 2 in favour of lowering the country’s voting age from 18 to 16:
“Skeptics say the new law is aimed at drumming up support for the president before legislative elections scheduled a year from now. Supporters say the measure aims to bring Argentina in line with progressive countries such as Ecuador and Brazil that have already extended voting right to people as young as 16.
[President Cristina] Fernandez-allied lower house member Diana Conti said the bill ‘is neither opportunistic nor demagogic,’ but rather seeks ‘to widen the electoral base of our democracy.’
More than a million new voters are estimated to be eligible to cast ballots now that the bill has passed both houses. The Senate approved the measure earlier this month.”
MDG blind spot
A new Save the Children report argues that the successors to the Millennium Development Goals must include a global strategy for tackling inequality, not just extreme deprivation:
“Consideration of how to tackle capital flight and to strengthen domestic taxation measures will be key to increasing domestic revenues. It is now widely accepted that illicit financial outflows (dominated by corporate tax evasion) dwarf receipts of aid.
Progressive taxation plays a critical role in raising revenues to fund social protection mechanisms and universal access to basic services, and also in establishing the social contract between states and citizens upon which effective political representation and accountability depend.
A major issue for the post-2015 framework is to what extent it should emphasise both domestic budgetary transparency and the international financial transparency between states that is necessary to combat illicit flows.”
The Environmental Defense Fund’s Gernot Wagner calls for scientific and governance measures to be taken now in preparation for the inevitable turn to geoengineering as a quick, cheap fix against climate change:
“Imagine a country badly hit by adverse climate changes: India’s crops are wilting; China’s rivers are drying up. Millions of people are suffering. What government, under such circumstances, would not feel justified in taking drastic action, even in defiance of world opinion?
Once we reach that tipping point, there won’t be time to reverse warming by pursuing collective strategies to move the world onto a more sustainable growth path. Instead, speed will be of the essence, which will mean trying untested and largely hypothetical techniques like mimicking volcanoes and putting sulfur particles in the stratosphere to create an artificial shield from the sun.
That artificial sunscreen may well cool the earth. But what else might it do? Floods somewhere, droughts in other places, and a host of unknown and largely unknowable effects in between. That’s the scary prospect. And we’d be experimenting on a planetary scale, in warp speed.”
Deutsche Welle reports that there were more money laundering cases in Germany last year than at any time since the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act came into effect in 1993:
“An especially clever trick is to legalize dirty money by running it past insolvency proceedings. Lately, it’s not only commodities that are exchanged, but services between larger networks of companies which are difficult to control. Even the trade of CO2 emission certificates is now being used as a means for money laundering.
Yet another problem arises when illegally acquired money is transfered to non-involved third parties to circumvent confiscation. In 2010, the authorities succeeded in only 150 out of 600 preliminary proceedings on this front.According to a study published by the Tax Justice Network that examined 70 countries, Germany is one of the biggest havens for tax evasion – ranking even before Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg or Jersey.”
Le Soleil reports that an Australian-owned mining project in Senegal is proving rather unpopular with the local population:
“Come to see how things are coming along for Grande Côte Opérations, a company specialized in the extraction and separation of sand, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, was greeted, along with his delegation, by angry crowds, demanding more participation in the project. According to the spokesman for the youth of Diogo, Mansour Diop, the protesters want more jobs and a better handling of compensation for their ancestral lands which have been given over to the company.
In their view, the rate of compensation has been too low. Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye said he was sympathetic to the claims of people who have seen their agricultural land expropriated by this large-scale project.” [Translated from the French.]