Latest Developments, May 23

In the latest news and analysis…

Money, power, sex
The Daily Maverick provides a roundup of the first day of the OpenForum 2012 conference in Cape Town, the focus of which is the “paradox of unequal growth.”
“[London School of Economics’ Thandika] Mkandawire was particularly wary on the subject of foreign investment in Africa, sounding a note of caution: ‘Democracies which rely on external funding are choiceless democracies. No representation without taxation!’ He also pointed out that the ‘rebranding’ of Africa carried its own dangers, since it appealed to the ‘herd instincts’ of investors who might pull out of Africa as suddenly as they arrived, spooked by what he calls the ‘CNN factor’ – the impact of the image of Africa presented by international broadcasters.
Nkosana Moyo, vice president of the African Development Bank, was more obdurate on the topic. ‘We are letting ourselves by defined by others. Why do I care what the Economist thinks about me?’ he asked. Moyo also suggested that the West’s concerns about China’s activities in Africa were extremely hypocritical given the West’s history on the continent, but seemed to hint that China’s intentions were just as harmful: ‘Africans don’t seem to realise that there is no difference between China and the West,’ he said.”

UK government hearts Shell
Amnesty International has announced it is among a group of NGOs that has submitted freedom of information requests in the hopes of finding out why the UK government has intervened on behalf of Shell against Nigerian plaintiffs in a US Supreme Court case.
“ ‘While the UK Government claims to support the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a matter of policy, it undermines that support by attempting to block judicial remedies for human rights abuses committed by a UK company in another country. The Government argues that the US may not legitimately exercise jurisdiction in this case but ignores the possibility that universal jurisdiction for gross human rights abuses committed by corporations is an important element of an international solution to holding companies accountable for their human rights impacts,’ [said Amnesty International’s Peter Frankental.”

Mine control
South Africa Resource Watch reports that the Lesotho Congress for Democracy has called for the government to become the majority shareholder in all mining companies operating in the country.
“[Former Lesotho trade minister Mpho] Malie also spoke about mining companies taking advantage of the ‘relaxed’ laws of Lesotho.
‘Foreign companies operating our mines are in a hurry; they want to maximise their profits when we are still asleep. We need to review the laws before it is too late because if we delay, we will be left with nothing as a country,’ Malie said, adding the current government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, had allowed matters to get out of hand.”

Opaque deal
Reuters reports that Swiss-based commodities giant Glencore’s decision to become the majority owner of a Congolese copper mine is likely to raise a few eyebrows.
“But Tuesday’s deal, with two related, privately controlled groups – High Grade Minerals (HGM) and Groupe Bazano – whose ownership is not disclosed by Glencore, is also likely to revive debate over the opacity of deals in one of Africa’s most promising but also most challenging mining destinations.
Glencore, a lightning rod for campaign groups since its listing last May, earlier this month faced calls for greater transparency around its deals in Congo.”

Twitter inequality
The Globe and Mail reports on the potential human rights implications of proposed changes by Twitter that would allow corporate clients to view content the authors themselves could not access.
“Inequal access to information creates an imbalance of power. This is especially important to those who posted publicly with the expectation that they’d be able to see, control and prune their postings later on. Remember that in many parts of the world, political research isn’t just policy-testing and mud-slinging; it’s a matter of life and limb for oppositions, activists and dissidents. A Twitter feed can paint a very detailed portrait of someone’s life, their activities and associations, even if no individual tweet is particularly revealing. Now, Twitter users have two options: Submit their histories for corporate or political analysis, or delete them and lose everything.”

Better Life Index
The Guardian reports on the relaunch of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index, which aims to go beyond GDP by comparing countries according to what people “think is important.”
“It’s counted as a major success by the OECD, particularly as users consistently rank quality of life indicators such as education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance above more traditional ones.

One of the major criticisms of the index was that it didn’t include inequality – and that’s changing with the relaunch with new indicators on inequality and gender plus rankings for Brazil and Russia. A couple have been removed too: Governance has been renamed civic engagement, employment rate of women with children has been replaced by the full integration of gender information in the employment data and students’ cognitive skills (e.g. student skills in reading, math and sciences) has replaced students’ reading skills to have a broader view.”

Envisioning sustainability
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie maps out his vision of the future, in which sustainable development is development, not just a “subset” of it.
“The most important change would be the involvement of rich countries as well as poor. Sustainable development tackles affluence and excess, not just poverty, and it is the high-income countries that most need to alter their resource use (with a gradually increasing burden of responsibility on middle-income countries, especially the largest ones). Financial transfers will therefore reduce in importance relative to other areas of action (such as trade and regulation). Aid agencies might develop new roles as whole-of-government enforcers of development policy coherence.”

Secular fanaticism
Columbia University’s Hamid Dabashi calls for “a radical reconfiguration of ethical principals” that transcends the religious and ethnic differences that divide people today.
“The principal facts on the ground – beaconing those visionaries – are the wretched of the earth, the masses of millions of human beings roaming the globe in search of the most basic necessities of life and liberty or else for fear of persecution. Muslims and Africans face the same ghastly discrimination in Europe as Latin American illegal immigrants do in the United States, Afghan refugees do in Iran, Palestinians (now joined by Africans) do in Israel or Philipino or Sri Lankan labourers do in the Arab world.
That fact is the ground zero of principled moral positions.”

Latest Developments, April 30

In the latest news and analysis…

Land grab data
The Guardian reports on a new database of international land deals that indicates the rate at which investors are gobbling up Africa’s agricultural land.
“Researchers say 754 deals have been identified on the continent, covering 56.2m hectares – or roughly the size of Kenya.
Little evidence of job creation or other benefits to local communities could be found among the hundreds of largely export-oriented projects, said the report. In some cases, it adds, investors have secured hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime farmland at little to no cost. One deal in South Sudan, for example, has reportedly granted a Norwegian investor a 99-year lease for 179,000 hectares at an annual cost of just $0.07 a hectare.

But, so far, few large-scale projects have been established on the millions of hectares bought or leased for agricultural activities, according to the report, which says less than 30% of documented deals are thought to be in production. It suggests that some investors may have underestimated the challenges associated with their projects, while other deals are likely to be purely strategic and speculative investments.”

Suicidal tendencies
Reuters reports that workers at a Chinese factory owned by Apple supplier Foxconn have once again threatened mass suicide just weeks after the two companies came up with a “landmark agreement” to improve working conditions.
“The deal was agreed almost two years after a series of worker suicides at Foxconn plants focused attention on conditions at Chinese factories and sparked criticism Apple’s products were built on the backs of mistreated Chinese workers.
On Tuesday, Apple reported that its fiscal second-quarter net income almost doubled after a jump in iPhone sales, blowing past financial market expectations.”

Shell games
Amnesty International has slammed oil giant Shell for its response to allegations it has caused serious environmental damage in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
“Shell says more than 70% of spills in the Niger Delta over the last five years were caused by sabotage or leaks caused by thieves. But such claims by Shell on the proportion of oil spilled as a result of illegal activity are not credible. Based on new evidence, more than half the oil spilled in the Niger Delta during 2008 – and possibly as much as 80 per cent – was due to operational failure, not sabotage.”

Defining crisis
The Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders writes that “people with decent but ordinary employment” in places like London, Nairobi, Toronto and Mumbai can no longer afford housing.
“ ‘Every time house prices fall, the national newspapers say there is a housing crisis,’ says Alan Gilbert, a housing-policy specialist at the University College of London. ‘I would argue otherwise – the housing situation is better when house prices are stable or falling – because that means that demand is being outstripped by supply.’

If we really wanted housing to be profitable and plentiful, we’d tax owners on the annual rise in value of their property – a Land Value Tax.”

Who’s afraid of UNCTAD?
Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Jayati Ghosh analyzes last week’s contentious UN Conference on Trade and Development in Doha, which suggested the north-south divide is alive and well.
“The governments of the United States and other developed countries are keen to export what they see as democracy to different parts of the world, and to point out (with respect to countries that try to control information and freedom of speech) that it is impossible to control the spread of ideas. Clearly, they need to learn the same messages themselves, especially with respect to ideas and economic analysis.”

Power shift
OpenOil’s Johnny West calls on resource-rich countries to stand up to extractive industry multinationals.
“The IMF makes two surprising observations in its consultation document, albeit in carefully coded language. The first is that oil and mining companies might be ‘under-taxe’ relative to their profits and internal rates of return. The second is that ‘in some cases, governments might benefit from separating exploration from extraction – for example, by auctioning known deposits to the highest bidder’.
Behind these mundane words lies scope for a considerable shift in thinking.”

Post-neoclassical thinking
The Fung Global Institute’s Andrew Sheng argues that “sacrifice in the interest of unity” is the only path to a sustainable global economy.
“Meanwhile, existing political systems promise good jobs, sound governance, a sustainable environment, and social harmony without sacrifice – a paradise of self-interested free riders that can be sustained only by sacrificing the natural environment and the welfare of future generations.
We cannot postpone the pain of adjustment forever by printing money. Sustainability can be achieved only when the haves become willing to sacrifice for the have-nots.”

Economist accountability
Harvard University economist Dani Rodrik suggests his colleagues should take responsibility for the real-world damage their ideas can cause.
“In the aftermath of the financial crisis, it became fashionable for economists to decry the power of big banks. It is because politicians are in the pockets of financial interests, they said, that the regulatory environment allowed those interests to reap huge rewards at great social expense. But this argument conveniently overlooks the legitimizing role played by economists themselves. It was economists and their ideas that made it respectable for policymakers and regulators to believe that what is good for Wall Street is good for Main Street.
Economists love theories that place organized special interests at the root of all political evil. In the real world, they cannot wriggle so easily out of responsibility for the bad ideas that they have so often spawned. With influence must come accountability.”

Latest Developments, April 26

In the latest news and analysis…

International justice
Following the guilty verdict delivered against former Liberian President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Oxford University’s Christine Cheng discusses some of the problems with international justice as currently practiced.
“Courts build their legitimacy partly based on the cases that they choose to hear. By focusing predominantly on Africans, there is a real worry that the ICC will be perceived by non-Western countries as providing a cloak of legitimacy for the US and other Western nations to achieve their political aims— despite the fact that the ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has explicitly stated that the ICC is not a court ‘just for the Third World.’
What the international community needs to guard against is allowing the ICC to become a tool that Western liberal democracies can impose on developing country leaders who have fallen out of political favour. For the ICC to remain viable, neither can it be perceived as the backdoor by which Western powers target their political enemies.”

Quake aid
The Center for Global Development’s Vijaya Ramachandran and Julie Walz look into where US funds intended for quake relief in Haiti ended up going.
“The U.S. Department of Defense, which took responsibility for security in Haiti in the aftermath of the quake, was the largest recipient. The remainder of the funds went to large international NGOs, private contractors, and other agencies of the U.S. government such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). As we have blogged previously, less than one percent went to the Government of Haiti to rebuild public institutions. And Haitian-led NGOs have barely received any money at all.

Contracts to Haitian firms remain few and far between. Following a request from Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch, USAID released data on its procurement from local contractors in Haiti. Local contracts add up to $9.45 million, which is only 0.02 percent of total contracts awarded by USAID. Over 75 percent of USAID funds went to private contractors inside the Beltway (located in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia).”

Bioeconomy
Inter Press Service reports that critics of the new US National Bioeconomy Blueprint say it emphasizes economic interests at the expense of social and environmental ones.
“ ‘The bio-economy approach offers politicians in industrialized countries an opportunity to be seen to be doing something about meeting ill-defined “renewable energy targets”, while maximizing opportunities for economic growth and securing a constant supply of energy,’ [the Global Forest Coalition’s “Bio-economy Versus Biodiversity” report] warns. “There is precious little concern about the environment, or about impacts in other countries, apart from the usual platitudes about providing jobs.’ ”

Maid in India
A new Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations/India Committee of the Netherlands report details rights abuses at Indian textile plants that supply Western clothing companies.
“For real change, scale is needed. Corporate and other initiatives, certification bodies and business associations should push their members to commit to real action, or discipline them. The voluntary character of compliance activities should urgently become more binding. Freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively are key rights that enable workers to defend their rights. Both manufacturers and buyers should actively ensure these rights are respected.”

Laws of war
Lawyer Chase Madar argues a Wikileaks-obtained video showing US helicopters killing a number of unarmed Iraqis – an act that may well have been legal – is “an indictment of the laws of war as we know them.”
“Let’s be clear: What killed the civilians walking the streets of Baghdad that day in 2007 was not ‘war crimes’ but war. And that holds for so many thousands of other Afghan and Iraqi civilians killed by drone strikes, air strikes, night raids, convoys, and nervous checkpoint guards as well.
Who, after all, writes the laws of war? Just as the regulations that govern the pharmaceutical and airline industries are often gamed by large corporations with their phalanxes of lobbyists, the laws of war are also vulnerable to ‘regulatory capture’ by the great powers under their supposed rule. Keep in mind, for instance, that the Pentagon employs 10,000 lawyers and that its junior partner in foreign policy making, the State Department, has a few hundred more. Should we be surprised if in-house lawyers can sort out ‘legal’ ways not to let those laws of war get in the way of the global ambitions of a superpower?”

Good aid, bad aid
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie asks if some donors are better than others.
“The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, certainly seems to think so, urging poor countries at an aid conference in Busan, South Korea, to ‘be wary of donors who are more interested in extracting your resources than in building your capacity’. It is hard to imagine a more absurd statement from a US official, given the country’s leading role in previous scrambles for Africa – not to mention its weak record (with other donors) of ‘building capacity’ over more than 50 years of aid-giving. From the cold war to aid conditionality supporting its own interests, to the pouring of money into the Horn of Africa after the 9/11 attacks, the US pretty much wrote the book on how to use aid to ensure strategic interests. Clinton should remember John Kennedy’s assertion in 1962: ‘Aid is a method by which the United States maintains a position of influence and control around the world … I put it right at the top of the essential programmes in protecting the security of the free world.’ ”

Population bomb
In an interview with the Guardian, Stanford University’s Paul Ehrlich argues that both the numbers and behaviour of people pose a threat to the future of humanity.
“[Human population and consumption] multiply together. You have to be deal with them together. We have too much consumption among the rich and too little among the poor. That implies that terrible thing that we are going to have to do which is to somehow redistribute access to resources away the rich to the poor. But in the US we have been doing the opposite. The Republican party is wildly in favour of more redistribution, of taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich.”

Latest Developments, April 25

In the latest news and analysis…

Setting a precedent
The Uxbridge Gazette reports on an asbestos-related UK court ruling that the plaintiff’s lawyers say represents a landmark in the fight for corporate accountability.
“Historically, parent companies have been able to avoid any liabilities arising from work undertaken at its subsidiaries, treating them as separate entities where one company cannot be found responsible for the actions of another. Todays (Wednesday) decision will mean that parent companies can be held liable for the practices of their subsidiaries irrespective of the corporate veil, according to Mr Chandler’s legal team.
The judgment, it believes, will not only have far reaching ramifications for companies in this country with subsidiaries in the UK but also multinational companies headquartered in the UK with subsidiaries in developing countries.”

Chief’s letter
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reports that Canada’s top First Nations chief, Shawn Atleo, has written a letter to the federal government slamming its lack of consultation over proposed changes to environmental assessments of industrial projects as “unlawful and unconstitutional.”
“At stake but not mentioned in Atleo’s letter is Enbridge’s massive Northern Gateway Pipeline project which is broadly opposed by First Nations. The project, however, is backed by the Conservative government which says piping Alberta bitumen to the British Columbia coast to satiate China’s oil-thirsty economic machinery is in Canada’s national interest.
‘Thirty years after the Constitution recognized and affirmed Aboriginal and Treaty rights, it is an alarming development that Canada would take such steps that will potentially further undermine processes that already do not adequately address clear duties for consultation and accommodation,’ wrote Atleo, in the letter, dated the April 20, 2012.”

Dam tensions
Inter Press Service reports on the labour troubles plaguing hydroelectric dam construction in Brazil.
“A year ago, [trade unionist Altair Donizete de Oliveira] had predicted that unrest would break out again at Jirau because the dam is being built by a consortium controlled by a foreign company, the French utility GDF Suez.
Analysing the factors fuelling the conflicts, Oliveira said ‘Brazilian companies have a heart,’ while foreign firms only use cold logic based on technical considerations. He also mentioned cultural differences.”

Writing about Africa
Morehouse College’s Laura Seay writes that the simple solution to poor Western media coverage of Africa is to follow the BBC model of hiring African journalists.
“There’s no reason that other major media providers couldn’t hire local reporters to improve their coverage as well. Rather than relegating them to second-tier or co-author status, why not hire Africans as country or regional correspondents? A reporter does not have to be Caucasian to provide objective and well-written reporting from the continent, and in many cases, this reporting is more nuanced than that of an international correspondent who spends five days reporting a story. For example, by far the most thoughtful reporting and analysis on Ugandan reactions to the Kony 2012 viral video came not from American journalists, but from Ugandan reporter Angelo Izama who, to the New York Times‘ credit, was able to publish an opinion article in its pages. Why can’t the Times hire Izama or someone equally qualified to report on Uganda full time?”

Post-2015 problem
Anti-poverty activist Lysa John and Oxfam’s Stephen Hale argue the discussion around establishing successors to the Millennium Development Goals is distressingly one-sided.
“Where are the voices of the poor in this process? The conversation at present is overwhelmingly between northern governments and thinktanks. The most glowing achievements in the MDG success story have been the result of social and economic initiatives in the global south. Most believe that traditional donor countries have failed to meet the commitment for aid and partnership spelled out in the infamously catch-all goal eight – to develop a global partnership for development.
This really matters. Unless there is far broader involvement and ownership of the next round of goals, there will be no agreement on them. Developing countries and the ‘emerging’ economies must be co-creators of this process. The UN plans to consult civil society in 50 countries. But civil society groups and coalitions in the south need financial support to help them carry out their own independent reflection and mobilisation on this, not simply an invitation to participate in the UN consultation.”

Many centres
In a Q&A with IRIN, Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom discusses the concept of polycentrism as it relates to managing the planet and its resources.
“Part of my discouragement with the international negotiations is that we have gotten riveted into battles at the very big level over who caused global change in the first place and who is responsible for correcting [it]. It will take a long time to resolve some of these conflicts. Meanwhile, if we do not take action, the increase to greenhouse gas collection at a global level gets larger and larger. While we cannot solve all aspects of this problem by cumulatively taking action at local levels, we can make a difference, and we should.

We need to get out of thinking that we have to be moving the same everywhere. We need to be recognizing the complexity of the different problems being faced in a wide diversity of regions of the world. Thus, really great solutions that work in one environment do not work in others. We need to understand why, and figure out ways of helping to learn from good examples as well as bad examples of how to move ahead.”

Aiming high on the ATT
Oxfam’s Ed Cairns presents a new paper that argues national governments must not compromise in the quest for a tough Arms Trade Treaty at this summer’s UN negotiations.
“But there’s no point in any new regulation unless it works – to make the market operate for the public good. And that applies every bit as much to a UN conference to agree a useful Arms Trade Treaty. The vast majority of governments want an effective Treaty that will have a practical impact on curbing the irresponsible arms deals that fuel human rights abuses or war crimes – or waste a vast amount of money that could be better spent on, say, development. But like every idea for effective regulation, there are those who want to water it down.  On the arms trade, they’re governments like Syria and Iran, and – an odd companion – the US, which may have made a catastrophic error when it insisted that the process to agree the Treaty should be by consensus.”

Latest Developments, April 3

In the latest news and analysis…

Aid and inequality
New data suggest aid actually increases the gap between rich and poor in recipient countries, according to Helmut Schmidt University’s Dierk Herzer and the Kiel Institute’s Peter Nunnenkamp.
“All in all, there is little reason for being optimistic and expecting foreign aid to be effective in alleviating poverty in recipient countries even if it had no discernible average growth effects. Calls on donors to strengthen the conditionality of aid, focus on countries with less corruption and better governance, and prevent leakage by stricter monitoring and closer involvement of the poor in aid delivery are insufficient even if such measures help restrict local rent-seeking. Better accountability is also required on the part of donors. Aid agencies tend to ignore their own incentive problems which prevent aid from reducing inequality. Public outrage in the North about corruption in the South abstracts from the selfish aid motives that lead donors to favour rich local elites. Overcoming the gap between the donors’ rhetoric on pro-poor growth and inequality-increasing aid allocation is no easier than overcoming rent-seeking and leakage in the recipient countries.”

Beyond aid
War on Want’s John Hilary argues it is time to “move beyond aid in any discussion of social and economic justice” and calls for a “radical reorientation” of the global economy towards a system that is not stacked in favour of rich countries.
“Sadly, the millennium development goals agreed in 2000 drew attention away from this pressing agenda. By focusing on the symptoms of human poverty rather than its underlying determinants, the goals have arguably diverted attention from the real business of development. Reclaiming that agenda will be a key part of moving the debate forward beyond 2015.
But perhaps the greatest problem with aid is that it perpetuates the colonial myth that the countries of the global south require ‘our’ intervention to save them from themselves.”

Provoking piracy
The Guardian quotes a Senegalese fisherman who suggests overfishing by foreign boats off Senegal’s coast will lead to violence if left unchecked.
“The catches are already down 75% on 10 years ago because of the foreign fishing boats. They destroy our gear. If this goes on there will be a catastrophe. Until now we haven’t taken any direct action against the foreign fishermen. Once we took the captain from one of the vessels and we beat him around the balls.
For sure, in 10 years time people will go fishing with guns. They are desperate. When people had enough to eat and drink, Senegal was a calm country. As the situation becomes more difficult it will become more and more like Somalia. We will fight for fish at sea. If we cannot eat, what do you expect us to do?”

New paradigm
The UN News Centre reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said a new economic model is necessary in order for sustainable development to become possible.
“ ‘Gross National Product (GDP) has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured. Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York.

‘We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,’ the Secretary-General told the meeting’s participants.”

 

Affirmative action ban
The Associated Press reports that a US federal court has upheld California’s ban on university admission policies that take race, ethnicity or gender into consideration.
“At least six states have adopted bans on using affirmative action in state college admissions. Besides California and Michigan, they include Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Advocates of affirmative action say such bans lead to the exclusion of minority students and less campus diversity.
In California, the year after ban was adopted, the number of black, Latino and Native American students at the University of California’s most prestigious campuses — Berkeley and Los Angeles — plummeted by 50 percent, according to the plaintiffs cited in the court opinion.”

Happy science
Columbia University’s Earth Institute has released the first edition of the World Happiness Report, in which it explains the “new science of happiness.”
“Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).”

EU transparency
The Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s Bishop Stephen Munga argues that the EITI is useful but limited.
“It provides information at a national level, but does not enable communities to know how much wealth was generated in their locality and should therefore be returned to them. It is also voluntary. Governments decide whether to sign up. Only 35 have done so, leaving dozens of resource-rich countries with no publically available information.
This is why we need robust EU legislation revealing information at project level and published in all countries where EU companies work. Information must be relevant to local communities and attributed to the projects in their area. If not, legislation will simply not achieve its intended aim.”

Food racism
Le Monde reports on the debate in Austria over attempts to change traditional food names that “perpetuate racial prejudice.”
“The rightwing press was quick to jump on the story. Would it be necessary to change ‘Moor in a shirt’ to ‘Othello,’ asked the Kronen Zeitung tabloid, always eager to ridicule political correctness, while a commentator with the daily Die Presse slammed the ‘paternalistic lobby’ and the ‘professional indignants.’

‘Words are a key part of collective identity,’ counters SOS-Mitmensch’s Alexander Pollack. ‘And Austrians proved that by insisting, when they joined the EU, on keeping their own food names, notably for vegetables. If potatoes [erdäpfel in Austria, kartoffel in Germany] are taken so seriously here, the fight for human dignity and respect for others must be too.’” (Translated from the French.)