Latest Developments, May 29

In the latest news and analysis…

Off the radar
The BBC reports that the British military has been accused of “unlawful detention and internment” at a base in Afghanistan:

“UK lawyers acting for eight of the men said their clients had been held for up to 14 months without charge.

Phil Shiner, lawyer for eight of the men, said: ‘This is a secret facility that’s been used to unlawfully detain or intern up to 85 Afghans that they’ve kept secret, that Parliament doesn’t know about, that courts previously when they have interrogated issues like detention and internment in Afghanistan have never been told about – completely off the radar.’ ”

Total corruption
The Wall Street Journal reports that a French prosecutor has recommended that the CEO of oil giant Total and the company itself both stand trial on corruption charges:

“Under French law, magistrates can prosecute corporations, not just individuals.

In the mid-2000s, French prosecutors began looking into a series of possibly illegal payments Total made to Iranian officials allegedly to secure contracts. In 2007, a few months after he was appointed chief executive of Total, [CEO Christophe] de Margerie was questioned for 48 hours by French police investigating whether the company paid bribes to win contracts.”

Dear Dave
The Citizen reports that Tanzania’s shadow finance minister, Zitto Kabwe, has written a letter asking British Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to prevent the flow of wealth from poor countries to tax havens:

“ ‘I call on you to demonstrate your leadership at the (G8) Summit by putting in place aggressive sanctions against British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies which continue to provide cover for the siphoning of billions of dollars of our tax revenue,’ says Mr Kabwe in the letter he handed to the UK High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam on Monday.

He said aid by UK and other development partners is dwarfed when the amount that Tanzania loses every year to tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance is taken into account.
‘To a large extent, these tax evasions and avoidance are done by multinational corporations, most of them registered in the United Kingdom. This is a constant challenge for our country – a challenge that undermines the same foundations of accountability that we are striving to strengthen and uphold,’ he says.”

Bribery climbdown
The Financial Times reports that the UK is considering watering down its anti-bribery legislation, a move that would “undermine the government’s promises to clamp down on corruption”:

“The review will focus on so-called ‘facilitation payments’, according to a summary of a meeting held in March by the ‘Star Chamber’, a top-level group charged with cutting red tape across Whitehall.
Such payments involve officials being paid bribes to allow or speed up a service, such as a customs check or border crossing. They are illegal under the Bribery Act, and are the main difference between UK legislation and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

While the act gave the Serious Fraud Office sweeping powers to prosecute bribery anywhere in the world, as long as a company or its employees had a link to the UK, the only prosecutions so far have been of low-level civil servants.”

Involuntary migration
Columbia University’s Saskia Sassen argues that we should not call it migration when land grabs push people “off their land and into poverty”:

“When a foreign government acquires 2.8m hectares of land in Congo and another such tract in Zambia to grow palm for biofuels, it expels faunas and floras, and all other uses of that land. It creates a tabula rasa, where once there were smallholder economies generating livelihoods for local people. No matter how modest those livelihoods may have been, they made the local people productive and enabled them to govern their lives and lands.

In effect, expulsions are being rebranded as migrations, a phenomenon that will not cease anytime soon, given the ongoing search for land for crops, mining and water by governments and firms from a growing number of countries.
The generic term ‘migration’ tends to obscure the fact that our firms and government agencies, and those of our allies, may have contributed to expulsions.”

Financial secrets
Global Witness’s Gavin Hayman reminds readers that money laundering and financial secrecy are not strictly “offshore” activities:

“On the contrary, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other mainstream financial centers are at the heart of the action. Indeed, most of the shell companies implicated in the World Bank study were registered in the US. And British, American, and European banks are routinely reprimanded (but rarely prosecuted) for handling the proceeds of crime. Just last year, it was revealed that HSBC enabled Mexican drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through the US financial system.

At this year’s meeting, G-8 leaders should develop an effective action plan that focuses on the causes, rather than the symptoms, of poverty, and that lays the groundwork for a system that protects citizens from the depredations of corruption and bad governance. A genuine commitment to increasing financial transparency would carry huge potential benefits for the world’s poorest people, while fostering more equitable economic growth worldwide.”

Sound and fury
The New York Times asks if the hour-long national security speech US President Barack Obama delivered last week will actually put an end to his administration’s human rights violations:

“For now, officials said, ‘signature strikes’ targeting groups of unidentified armed men presumed to be extremists will continue in the Pakistani tribal areas.
Even as he talked about transparency, he never uttered the word ‘C.I.A.’ or acknowledged he was redefining its role. He made no mention that a drone strike had killed an American teenager in error. While he pledged again to close the Guantánamo prison, he offered little reason to think he might be more successful this time.”

Elder’s warning
In an interview with Le Reporter, former Malian cabinet minister and author of Mali’s national anthem Seydou Badian Kouyaté warns against uncritically welcoming France’s military intervention against the West African country’s Islamist rebels:

“What’s behind all this? And we, naively, our usual trust caused us to raise the French flag in front of our houses, our shops and in the street. We sang the praises of [French President François] Holland. We named our babies the name Hollande, etc.

It’s about gold and oil and other things, with maybe a view to Algeria. That’s what the West wants.” [Translated from the French.]

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Latest Developments, July 17

In the latest news and analysis…

Mau Mau trial
The Standard’s Kenfrey Kiberenge writes that a lawsuit brought by elderly Kenyans against the British government highlights “the West’s double standards” in matters of human rights:

“Britain is a strong backer of an ICC case in which four Kenyans face charges of crimes against humanity related to the 2008 poll violence which left more than 1,000 people dead. Questions to any British official about these cases attract a uniform answer: let justice run its course.
Why then is the same administration seeking to have the Mau Mau case struck out on a technicality?”

Bad advice
The World Food Programme is predicting that 1.6 million Malawians will need food assistance over the next few months, in part because of the currency devaluation demanded by the IMF:

“The recent devaluation of the national currency by 49 percent, coupled with soaring inflation at 17.3 percent, has produced sharp increases in the prices of basic goods and services, pushing the cost of living to unsustainable levels for many Malawians. Food prices have been particularly affected by high transport costs due to increases in the price of fuel. Retail maize prices have already increased by 50 percent compared to the same time last year, and are expected to increase in the lean season.”

AU first
The Mail & Guardian reports that South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has become the first female head of the African Union Commission:

“At a news conference earlier in the day before the vote, Dlamini-Zuma sought to dispel fears that South Africa might seek to use the AU post to try to dominate the continent.
Some smaller countries had argued that her candidacy broke an unwritten rule that Africa’s dominant states should not contest the AU leadership.
‘South Africa is not going to come to Addis Ababa to run the AU. It is Dlamini-Zuma who is going to come to make a contribution,’ she told reporters.”

Classified euphemism
The Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko quotes Newsweek’s Daniel Klaidman to illustrate the extent of the Obama administration’s drone-policy opacity, particularly when it comes to the CIA’s practice of killing “individuals who are deemed guilty not based on evidence, but rather on their demography”:

“Signature strike has gotten to be sort of a pejorative term. They sometimes call it crowd killing. And it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. If you don’t have positive ID on the people you’re targeting with these drone strikes. So the CIA actually changed the name of signature strikes to something called TADS. I had the acronym but I didn’t know what it stood for. I had a couple of words. I kind of figured it out. Terrorist, T for terrorist, S for strike and I was trying to find out what does the A-D stand for. Eventually I figured it out. It was Terrorist attack disruption strike. And I was going to put it in Newsweek. And actually it was the excerpt from my book. And various agencies from the government were very unhappy about that. I sort of could not understand why. They said, well, it’s a classified term. And I said, well, why would it be classified? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s just a term to describe a particular kind of activity that we know takes place. They asked me not to print it. You know, I printed it anyway.”

Top of the charts
The Financial Times reports on a new survey that found the UK oil and gas sector has faced more bribery prosecutions than any other industry in the last four years:

“The study by Ernst & Young found that of 26 completed cases since 2008, oil and gas made up nearly one-fifth of prosecutions. The industry saw five completed cases, compared to three each in the medical goods, insurance, and engineering and construction sectors.
Most of them involved payments made abroad, or kickbacks to foreign government officials.”

Controversial philanthropy
The Independent suggests that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s decision to devote millions to the development of genetically modified crops “could be the most significant PR endorsement for the controversial technology”:

“The Microsoft founder and his wife have established themselves as major players in global health and development over the past 16 years, having donated £26bn. Only last week Melinda Gates was in London to pledge $560m (£360m) to improve family-planning services across the developing world. But the Foundation’s support for GM crops has attracted criticism, as has its investment in Monsanto – one the world’s largest GM seed producers.”

Bank Recidivism
Reuters reports that HSBC’s claims to have left its money-laundering days behind may be premature:

“Former employees in [HSBC’s New Castle, Delaware, anti-money laundering office] describe a febrile boiler-room environment overseen by managers uninterested in investigating transactions with possible links to drug trafficking, terrorist financing, Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions, and other illegal activities. Instead, they say, the single-minded focus was on clearing out the paperwork as fast as possible. ”

Too much help
Inter Press Service reports that not everyone thinks the billions in aid pledged to Afghanistan last month will be entirely helpful::

“The plan ‘Toward Self-Reliance’ promoted by the international community and endorsed by the Afghan government is grounded in a similar oxymoron: the call for the Afghan state to get back its sovereignty and ownership is made by those who are preventing it from happening.
The presence of foreign armies and of the international community ‘is one of the major elements that prevents the State, the political system, the ruling elite, from gaining full legitimacy,’ [the London School of Economics’] Antonio Giustozzi tells IPS. ‘Not necessarily because the foreigners pre-empt that, but because any government that relies on external support to stay in power does not have legitimacy.’ ”

Latest Developments, May 30

In the latest news and analysis…

Creative accounting
The New York Times reports on the Obama administration’s controversial approach to labelling drone strike casualties.
“It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year [John] Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the ‘single digits’ — and that independent counts of scores or hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.
But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number could be so low.”

Lagarde’s taxes
The Guardian reports that IMF head Christine Lagarde, who recently stirred controversy by bluntly suggesting that Greeks ought to pay their taxes, does not pay taxes.
“As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes.

According to Lagarde’s contract she is also entitled to a pay rise on 1 July every year during her five-year contract.”

Rules needed
Reuters reports that Oxfam is stepping up its calls for “legally binding global rules on weapon and ammunition sales” in the run-up to a UN conference aimed at establishing an international arms trade treaty.
“There are no internationally agreed rules governing global conventional weapons sales, the United Nations says, and Oxfam says there are more regulations applicable to the banana trade than to weapons.
The aid agency also said the estimated $4.3 billion annual global trade in ammunition is growing at a faster rate than the trade in guns and must be included in any arms treaty.

The United States, Syria and Egypt are among countries that have objected to the inclusion of ammunition controls in any global arms treaty, according to Oxfam.”

Avaaz ethics
The New Republic raises questions about NGO competition and self-promotion with an investigation of claims made by human rights group Avaaz about its role in Syria’s conflict.
“On the morning of February 28, the activist organization Avaaz reported that it had coordinated [photojournalist Paul] Conroy’s escape to Lebanon and that 13 activists within its network had been killed in the effort. ‘This operation was carried by Syrians with the help of Avaaz,’ read the press release. ‘No other agency was involved.’

A week after his escape, I called Conroy, who was recovering in a London hospital, to ask him about Avaaz’s role. ‘I can sum it up in one word,’ he said. ‘Bollocks.’ ”

Place premium
The Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenny writes about the impact of the country where one lives on one’s earning power.
“So the overwhelming explanation for who is rich and who is poor on a global scale isn’t about who you are; it’s about where you are. The same applies to quality-of-life measures from health to education. And that suggests something about international development efforts: If there’s one simple answer to the challenge of global poverty, it isn’t more aid or removing trade and investment barriers (though those can all help). It’s removing barriers to migration.

Unfortunately, politicians don’t seem to care about whether people born on the wrong side of the tracks have the motivation to cross over, or how much the planet benefits when they do. Instead we’ve erected a huge electrified fence to keep people out. The evidence on the place premium suggests immigration restrictions are probably the greatest preventable cause of global suffering known to man.”

State capture
Queen’s University’s Toby Moorsom writes about the danger Africa’s mining boom poses to the continent’s fragile states.
“Capital is not withdrawing from Africa, but instead, the processes of extraction are becoming more obvious as the economic basis of societies are under severe strain.

The reason we need to worry about these mining investments is not simply because of the human rights violations, the displacement of populations and the pollution of land that accompany them. More than that, we need to be aware of the fact that mining increases the rewards for those forces able to capture the state – regardless of how they go about accomplishing it. Warlords have little need to control the productive activities; they just need to have some control over the proceeds – or at least portions of them.”

With friends like these
Jubilee Debt Campaign’s Nick Dearden argues the World Bank and IMF have played a significant role in the famine and malnutrition that periodically drag Niger into the international media spotlight.
“After many years, debt cancellation for Niger was seen, even by the IMF, as unavoidable. Debt relief allowed Niger to improve education and increase access to safe drinking water. But it came with strings. A 19% sales tax on basic foods and rapidly rising prices put food further out of the reach of ordinary people. The sale of emergency grain reserves, a policy that has already caused famine in Malawi in 2002, did further damage to the population’s vulnerability.
These policies fed into the 2005 famine, a crisis caused not primarily by natural catastrophe – food was available but unaffordable – but by an appalling set of policy decisions. Even during a crisis there was no let-up in economic dogma. The IMF told the Niger government not to distribute free food to those most in need.”

North-South divide
In an Inter Press Service Q&A, former Brundtland Commission staffer Branislav Gosovic says the traditional divide between rich and poor countries remains “deep and intense” on the eve of the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development, which he prefers to call Stockholm+40.
“It should not be surprising that developing countries are rather suspicious of the ultimate motivations and practical implications of the recently launched concept of ‘green economy’ and of the institutional moves to create a specialised agency on environment.

The other conflict, less visible to the eye, has to do with the nature of the dominant socioeconomic order, or paradigm, which is challenged globally as non-sustainable socially and environmentally. This conflict is present within the North and within the South. There has been little progress in practice on fundamental issues of this kind.”

Latest Developments, May 1

In the latest news and analysis…

Drone admission
The Washington Post reports the Obama administration has, for the first time, “formally acknowledged” its use of drones to conduct targeted killings abroad.
“[White House counterterrorism adviser John] Brennan’s speech was also noteworthy, however, for what he withheld. He did not disclose how many people have been killed, list all the locations where armed drones are being flown or mention the administration’s increasing reliance on ‘signature’ strikes, which allow the CIA to fire missiles even when it doesn’t know the identities of those who could be killed.

Brennan cited respect for the ‘sovereignty’ of other countries, even though a CIA drone strike in Pakistan on Sunday came just weeks after that country’s Parliament voted unanimously to demand that such operations end.
In a question-and-answer session, Brennan declined to discuss the use of signature strikes, which are based on intelligence showing suspicious behavior rather than confirmation of the location of someone on the CIA or military target list.”

May Day test
Reuters says that protests planned for May 1 will provide a “crucial test” of ongoing support for the Occupy movement in the United States.
“Dozens of actions are planned across the country, though there is some skepticism over how many people will turn out and whether it will spell Occupy’s resurgence. The event was first billed as a ‘General Strike,’ but organized labor declined to sign on to that call.

‘If you look closely at movements, they don’t follow a sort of straight trajectory upwards. They stumble, fall, have reverses – sometimes, they’re crushed,’ [former journalist Chris Hedges] said. But Hedges cautioned that writing off Occupy based on the success of May Day would be ‘short-sighted.’ ”

Swiss arrest
The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest legal troubles for Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, as a former executive has been arrested in Switzerland over his dealings in North Africa where he helped his ex-employers “win billions of dollars in projects” from Libya’s deposed Gadhafi regime.
“SNC is under investigation by Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which executed a search warrant against the company on April 13, raiding its Montreal headquarters. The World Bank temporarily debarred a unit of the company as it investigates alleged corruption in a project it funded in Bangladesh. S&P lowered its outlook on the firm earlier this month, citing, among other things, the scandals engulfing the company.”

International justice
The Guardian’s George Monbiot argues that by punishing only “crimes committed by vassal states,” international law fails ordinary people everywhere.
“The bid for power, oil and spheres of influence that Bush and Blair launched in Mesopotamia, using the traditional camouflage of the civilising mission; the colonial war still being fought in Afghanistan, 199 years after the Great Game began; the global policing functions the great powers have arrogated to themselves; the one-sided justice dispensed by international law. All these suggest that imperialism never ended, but merely mutated into new forms. The virtual empire knows no boundaries. Until we begin to recognise and confront it, all of us, black and white, will remain its subjects.”

Media death
Arizona State University’s G. Pascal Zachary points to a recent photo of a dead African boy on the front page of the New York Times as the latest evidence of a double standard in the way American news media display death.
“The disturbing photo might seem appropriate — unless one considers that the children killed by, for instance, American drone attacks in Yemen or Pakistan, never receive similar photographic display. So even on the narrow grounds of newsworthiness, the contradictions are evident and ample: for mysterious ‘reasons,’ dead Africans can be displayed in lavish fashion — this photo of this dead boy was in color! — while death inflicted by Americans cannot be displayed. Neither are the deaths experienced by Americans in combat suitable for front page photographic treatment (or inside the paper either).

This sort of Western bias against Africans remains unconscious, embedded in a set of corrosive meta-narratives that deserve critical engagement with a goal of, someday, replacing them with tropes that do not demean and diminish Africans under the guise of promoting sympathy for them.”

Beyond 0.7%
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie contends that the ongoing dispute over the Falklands/Malvinas is “a much bigger test of the UK’s commitment to development” than is its willingness to allot 0.7% of GDP to aid.
“The reason the Malvinas issue is felt so keenly across Latin America is that it is a reminder of Britain’s history of economic imperialism in the region. The role Britain played in extracting resources and wealth from Latin America over the past two centuries, with little benefit to the local population, is well known, even if it is the Spanish who are most associated with colonialism. As [Argentinian foreign minister Hector] Timerman puts it: ‘We have 21st-century challenges, and Argentina is still fighting against a 19th-century power.’ Of course, British people have next to no knowledge of this, just as they know little of their imperial history in general.”

Eating plants
The University of the Basque Country’s Michael Marder argues that new evidence suggesting plants communicate with each other and form memories raises questions that lead us to the “final frontiers of dietary ethics.”
“The ‘renewable’ aspects of perennial plants may be accepted by humans as a gift of vegetal being and integrated into their diets.
But it would be harder to justify the cultivation of peas and other annual plants, the entire being of which humans devote to externally imposed ends. In other words, ethically inspired decisions cannot postulate the abstract conceptual unity of all plants; they must, rather, take into account the singularity of each species.”

Export processing zones
The Guardian’s John Vidal writes that foreign corporations operating in Bangladesh’s Chittagong export development zone are treated “royally” while providing questionable social and economic returns.
“Bangladesh has a deep energy crisis, with demand massively outsripping supply, yet companies in the zone get cheap, reliable power, as well as generous 10-year tax holidays, freedom from red tape, duty-free imports, immunity from national laws, cheap labour and low rents. In Chittagong, companies pay just $2.20 monthly to rent a square metre of space, and I was told that the annual rent paid to the Bangladesh government by all the factories on the giant site was just $4m a year.

Their critics say [EDZs] favour the export market rather than the domestic market, exploit poor countries, and allow relaxed environmental and safety standards.”

Latest Developments, April 19

In the latest news and analysis…

Yemen drones
The Washington Post reports the CIA is seeking permission from the White House to launch drone strikes in Yemen against targets whose identity it does not know.
“Securing permission to use these ‘signature strikes’ would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.
The practice has been a core element of the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan for several years.

‘How discriminating can they be?’ asked a senior U.S. official familiar with the proposal. Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen ‘is joined at the hip’ with a local insurgency whose main goal is to oust the country’s government, the official said. ‘I think there is the potential that we would be perceived as taking sides in a civil war.’ ”

Wrong place, wrong time
The Associated Press reports that the US has released two apparently innocent Chinese Uighur men from the Guantanamo Bay prison to El Salvador, making them the first detainees released or transferred in over a year.
“Their release brings the prisoner population at the U.S. base in Cuba to 169, including three more Uighurs who officials are eager to resettle in a third country.
Uighurs at Guantanamo posed a huge diplomatic headache for the U.S. government. Twenty-two of them were captured at the start of the Afghanistan war and shipped to the base in Cuba because officials suspected they had links to al-Qaeda. But it turned out they were not terrorists and had merely fled their homeland in search of opportunities and freedom abroad.

U.S. courts and officials blocked efforts to settle the men in the United States and the prisoners were left in limbo.”

Embassy protests
The Kuwait Times, meanwhile, reports that family members of two Kuwaiti nationals still held at Guantanamo Bay without charge have begun holding daily two-hour protests outside the American embassy in Bayan.
[Khalid Al-Odah, the father of one of the detainees] said the current president is even worse than the previous one. ‘In fact, during Bush’s regime most detainees were released, but now only a few were released and they were even sent to a third nation and not their home country. Obama only talks much, but he is not practically helpful,’ he charged.
‘Our lawyer there is still working on the case, but there is no result yet. The American government won’t allow a fair trial for them, and this is illegal and against human rights. We are also dealing and meeting with different NGOs and international organizations to help us in this injustice. We need support from the public, as the Kuwaiti government is not active,’ concluded Al-Odah.”

Financial accomplices
Inter Press Service reports that Swiss banks are increasingly under the microscope in Europe over their alleged role in tax evasion and money laundering.
“If ‘private banks (are) accomplices of tax evasion and money laundering they should be prosecuted by German justice, even if the banks have their headquarters abroad, and the crimes mentioned are also committed abroad,’ [German opposition leader Sigmar] Gabriel said.

The legal conflicts with Switzerland on tax evasion also highlight the futility of the decades-long international fight against tax evasion, mostly within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its associated Financial Action Task Force (FATF).”

Dying languages
Al Jazeera reports that Australia has the world’s highest rate of  “language extinction,” with only about 10 percent of its indigenous languages still spoken regularly.
“The suppression of indigenous languages was an intrinsic part of the often violent methods employed by the British against the Aboriginals when conquering the continent. The resulting extreme marginalisation of the Aboriginal people can still be seen in modern Australia, where Aboriginals were neither allowed to vote in elections nor to settle freely until the 1960s. Even today, various government policies target Aboriginal communities but do not apply to other Australians.”

Intensifying protests
Manuela Picq, most recently a visiting professor and research fellow at Amherst College, writes that violence related to mining projects is not new in the Americas, but the “extent and intensification” of the protests are.
“The smaller and larger indigenous mobilisations taking place simultaneously across Latin America are inevitably local, in that they contest projects in their communities, but they cannot be trivialised as isolated or anecdotal incidents. These mobilisations are of international relevance because they have successfully mobilised thousands of peoples, indigenous and non-indigenous, over long periods of time and across territories, crafting political demands, and often forcing governments to reframe policies. Most importantly, indigenous mobilisation has been able to bring environmental politics to the streets, turning natural resources, water, and consultation into public political issues. The growing constellation of mobilisations across the region points towards deeper societal changes in the making.”

Ending Françafrique
Le Nouvel Observateur asks France’s 10 presidential candidates what measures are needed to put an end to Françafrique, the name given to the perceived neocolonial nature of the relationship between France and its former African colonies.
“Françafrique, that collection of influence networks and shady connections between African heads of state and French politicians dating back to the 60s, is the manifestation of the permanent hold of French imperialism over its former colonies. Françafrique is also and especially the pillage of wealth and exploitation of workers in Africa by Total, Bouygues, Bolloré and many others. We will only be able to put an end to it when we tackle the unbridled domination of the economy by these capitalist groups,” [wrote Workers’ Struggle (Lutte Ouvrière) candidate Nathalie Arthaud.] (Translated from the French.)

Defending renationalization
The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Mark Weisbrot argues that Argentina’s unorthodox economic policies, highlighted most recently by a move to renationalize a Spanish-controlled oil company, do not deserve the bad press they get.
“It is interesting that Argentina has had such remarkable economic success over the past nine years while receiving very little foreign direct investment, and being mostly shunned by international financial markets. According to most of the business press, these are the two most important constituencies that any government should make sure to please. But the Argentinian government has had other priorities. Maybe that’s another reason why Argentina gets so much flak.”