Latest Developments, July 5

In today’s news…

The World Bank takes on inequality and pushes for shared growth in China. But some experts wonder if development policy is what China really needs, and some countries want a say in how China handles its exports.

A quarter of all Somalis are now displaced. And as drought persists and cereal prices skyrocket, charities are stepping up their campaigns for emergency famine relief in the Horn of Africa, and others are calling for long-term solutions.

A new UN report is calling for drastic, worldwide, long-term changes to how we live. And it wants them fast. According to the accompanying press release:  “Humanity is close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, and needs a technological revolution greater – and faster – than the industrial revolution to avoid “a major planetary catastrophe,” according to a new United Nations report.” The report also makes it clear that lowering global inequality must be done right or it will compound ecological problems: “Business as usual is not an option. An attempt to overcome world poverty through income growth generated by existing ‘brown technologies’ would exceed the limits of environmental sustainability.”

US sanctions halt food shipments to Iran, while global sanctions ostensibly aimed at preventing the development of Iranian nuclear weapons are laying a beating on nearby Dubai’s economy.

An airstrike in Afghanistan’s Helmand province has just become the first confirmed instance of a UK drone killing civilians, thereby making more difficult the British military’s task of winning over public opinion at home regarding the controversial unmanned aircraft.

Less than a week into its existence, the UK’s anti-bribery law is already having an impact.

Douglas Glover argues Wikileaks and the Arab Spring have brought an end to the age of diplomacy.





Latest Developments, June 30

In today’s news…

The US announced yesterday it had conducted a drone attack in Somalia, bringing to at least six the number of countries in which the CIA has conducted unmanned lethal attacks, after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. A report out last week from the Oxford Research Group looks into the legal black hole of drone strikes. Its lead author recently argued: “It is high time to implement a global casualty recording mechanism which includes civilians so that finally every casualty of every conflict is identified. The law requires it, and drones provide no exemption from that requirement.” American officials declined to answer any questions about the Somali incident.

Transparency International asks what a good code of conduct for the defence industry might look like. Unsurprisingly, it does not look like wiring $9 million to the head of the Jordanian intelligence agency in order to ease the delivery of oil to American forces in Iraq, as new court filings suggest a Florida billionaire may have done in 2007.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury calls World Bank climate adaptation loans “a form of trickery that will push us deeper into poverty”. The loans, he argues, will compound the hardship caused by climate change by increasing the debt load of countries such as Bangladesh.

A UN expert on foreign debt and human rights suggests Greece’s proposed austerity measures could threaten its citizens’ basic human rights, including the rights to water, food and adequate housing.

African governments look to forge a multilateral agreement aimed at protecting their tax revenues from harmful practices, such as transfer pricing by multinational corporations.

The Economist identifies Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam as the emerging markets whose economies are most likely to overheat. Pakistan and South Africa are among the least likely.