Latest Developments, March 27

In the latest news and analysis…

Red Cross hotel
The Center for Economic and Policy Research questions Red Cross priorities as the humanitarian organization considers building a luxury hotel and conference center on Port-au-Prince land it bought with Haiti earthquake relief funds.
“Considering the hundreds of people who have recently been forcibly evicted – with some recently having been burned out of their camps in suspicious arsons – couldn’t this be space that the Red Cross could offer them, rather than using it for a commercial venture that might not even be viable?
The Red Cross’ post-quake spending and use of funds, as the largest NGO operating in Haiti, has been controversial almost since the beginning. News that some ‘funds donated by national Red Cross agencies for quake recovery’ – much of which almost certainly came from individuals who believed their money would be used for emergency relief – might instead be used for a risky commercial venture (and one that caters to NGO’s and tourists) could provoke more controversy.”

Mosque outreach
The American Civil Liberties Union reports it has obtained documents indicating the FBI used a “mosque outreach” program to gather intelligence on American Muslim groups and their members “without any suspicion of wrongdoing.”
“The documents also show that the FBI categorized information about American Muslims’ First Amendment-protected and other entirely innocuous activities, as well as mosque locations, as ‘positive intelligence’ and disseminated it to agencies outside the FBI. As a result, the agency wrongly and unfairly cast a cloud of suspicion over innocent groups and individuals based on their religious beliefs and associations, and placed them at risk of greater law enforcement scrutiny as potential national security threats. None of the documents indicate that the FBI told individuals interviewed that their information and views were being collected as intelligence and would be recorded and disseminated.”

Suspicious skin
The Global Post reports a German court has ruled that certain police can use the colour of a person’s skin as justification for demanding to see identification.
“However, judges ruled that skin color was reasonable grounds on which to carry out ID checks, since the train route in question is often used by illegal immigrants to enter Germany. Since police cannot check every passenger’s papers, they must select which people to ID based on their ‘border policing experience,’ the judgment said.
The officers are therefore allowed to make their choice ‘according to external appearance’ and without concrete grounds for suspicion, Agence France Presse reported.”

Drug talk
Former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda writes that the “failed war on drugs” will loom large in discussions at next month’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia.
“Recently inaugurated Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, together with [Colombian President Juan Manuel] Santos and other heads of state, question today’s punitive, prohibitionist approach, owing to its enormous costs and meager results, and propose a different strategy: legalization.
Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden to Mexico and Central America a few weeks ago to forestall this trend, and he may have partly succeeded. Nevertheless, whereas only a smattering of political leaders and intellectuals advocated legalization in the past, nowadays officials are coming ‘out of the closet’ on drugs in droves. Those who used to say that they favored a debate on the issue now support legalization; those who opposed it now accept the need for debate; and those who continue to oppose legalization do so on moral, rather than rational, grounds.”

Crying foul
UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, argues the international community must look at the big picture and get serious about accountability if sustainable development is to become a reality.
“What are framed as development policies often end up doing very little to help the most marginalised communities, and sometimes end up harming them. Meanwhile, the effects of genuine development policies can easily be overridden by industrial and infrastructural projects, trade agreements, and other external factors that tip the balance against small-scale farmers and fishers. It is therefore essential to be able to cry foul when missing policies, misguided policies, or the sum total of policies, work against sustainable development.”

Talk is cheap
Inter Press Service reports on a group of legal experts who are looking to hold world leaders to the promises they make at June’s Rio+20 sustainable development summit.
“ ‘We are really tired of declarations,’ Antonio Herman Benjamin, judge of the Supreme Court of Brazil, told an international gathering of legal experts here Monday. Despite some progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, most governments have failed to fulfil their obligations.
As a result, the court has launched a new initiative to promote role of law in advancing sustainable development. It is known as the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Stability.
The Congress’s scores of members from around the world include senior judges, prosecutors, legal scholars, auditors and development experts. They plan to focus on the problems and obstacles that hinder the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.”

Immigration detention
Author Edwige Danticat writes in the New York Times that new US immigration guidelines recommend the bare minimum of human rights for detainees, more than 110 of whom have died in custody since 2003.
“The new [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] guidelines are not perfect. They do not offer, for example, alternatives to jail-like detention, even for unaccompanied minors, the elderly, the disabled or pregnant women. But they are a step forward. In addition to medical care, safe water and limited recreation, they also require that staff members not perform strip searches on detainees of the opposite sex and that detainees not be used for medical experiments or for clinical trials without informed consent. They will crack down on sexual assault by staff members, contract personnel or other detainees and suggest that victims of sexual abuse be given access to emergency medical treatment.”

Good intentions
Northeastern University’s Aziza Ahmed argues we must “interrogate the consequences of advocacy efforts,” however noble the cause may appear.
“First, anti-sex trafficking activism has an extremely negative impact on HIV programs. Sex workers are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV. A key victory for anti-sex trafficking organizations was the insertion of the anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO) into the US Leadership Act for HIV/Aids, TB, and malaria. This provision requires that organizations agree to oppose prostitution and sex trafficking. The APLO has the effect of disempowering sex worker organizations who refuse to sign on, shutting health services for sex workers, and alienating sex workers from public health programs.”

Latest Developments, March 7

In the latest news and analysis…

Kony 2012 reaction
In response to the controversy over a viral video calling for action against Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, This is Africa’s Angelo Opi-aiya Izama argues the sins of which the film has been accused are all too common.
“Critics of Invisible Children are also likely to be critics of foreign aid and by extension the place of Western charities in the mis-education of western publics about the realities of Africa. The real danger of the game-show type ‘pornography of violence’ that Invisible Children has made so appealing also has a dangerous hold on policy types in Washington DC whose access to information and profiles of issues is as limited.
Recent examples of the impact of evangelizing NGO’s can be seen from the distortions of the Save Darfur Coalition to a recent mining ban in the DRC under the guise of saving hapless Africans. The simplicity of the “good versus evil”, where good is inevitably white/western and bad is black or African, is also reminiscent of some of the worst excesses of the colonial era interventions. These campaigns don’t just lack scholarship or nuance. They are not bothered to seek it.”

The business of nuclear weapons
Inter Press Service reports on a new study that shines light on the financial world’s links to nuclear arms and calls for a “global campaign for nuclear weapons divestment.”
“In a foreword to the report, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu Writes, ‘No one should be profiting from this terrible industry of death, which threatens us all.’
The South African peace activist has urged financial institutions to do the right thing and assist, rather than impede, efforts to eliminate the threat of radioactive incineration, pointing out that divestment was a vital part of the successful campaign to end apartheid in South Africa.
The same tactic can – and must – be employed to challenge man’s most evil creation: the nuclear bomb, he added.”

A different world
Intellectual Property Watch reports that a “collegium of scientists, philosophers and former heads of state” has issued an appeal for global governance.
“During a press conference, collegium representatives presenting the appeal described weakened international organisations unable to reach agreements or ‘imposing essential global regulations.’ They presented the concept of shared sovereignty, and called for redefined territorial jurisdictions to introduce a ‘justice system with global reach,’ and to strengthen the principle of international security, including ‘a duty toward future generations and the biosphere.’ ”

Playing with food
Wired Science reports on new evidence supporting claims that commodity speculation is driving up global food prices and increasing the risk of a dangerous bubble.
“In their ideal form, commodity markets should contain ‘70 percent commercial hedgers and 30 percent speculators. The speculators are there to provide liquidity. In the summer of 2008, it was discovered that it’s now 70 percent speculation and 30 percent commercial,’ said Michael Greenberger, former director of the [US Commodity Futures Trading Commission]’s Division of Trading and Markets. ‘Now reports are coming out that it’s 85 percent speculation and 15 percent commercial. You have markets dominated by people with no real interest in the economics of supply and demand, but who are taking advantage of bets authored by Wall Street that prices will go up.’ ”

Sarkozy’s right turn
The Guardian reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has declared there are “too many foreigners” in the country.
“The French president is already under attack by religious leaders and from within his own party for veering to the right and stoking anti-Muslim sentiment by forcing the marginal topic of halal meat into the centre of his campaign. He has now vowed to cut immigration by half and limit state benefits for legal migrants.
‘Our system of integration is working increasingly badly, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school,’ he said in a three-hour appearance on a TV politics debate show.”

Losing doctors
Time’s Matt McAllester writes that the funneling of doctors from poor countries to rich is not the only kind of  “brain drain” the former are facing.
“The medical brain drain from poor countries gets a fair amount of attention in international health circles, and initiatives both private and public are trying to resolve the shortage of doctors. The teaching hospital in Lusaka where Desai trained, for example, is one of 13 sub-Saharan medical schools receiving support from a United States-financed $130 million program to generate more and better graduates. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provided money to Zambia’s ministry of health to recruit and retain doctors. Western aid agencies, many financed by donors like Bill and Melinda Gates, have also hired local doctors at higher salaries. But apparent solutions can create further problems; many of the doctors hired by aid agencies are doing research. They don’t see patients. Frustrated public health officials in Zambia and other developing countries call this the ‘internal brain drain.’ ”

Post-Cold War hubris
The seeds of “the social (and antisocial) grassroots demonstrations that are mushrooming in affluent Western societies” lay in the collapse of the USSR, according to Sergei Karaganov of Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics.
“First, social inequality has grown unabated in the West over the last quarter-century, owing in part to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and, with it, the threat of expansionist communism. The specter of revolution had forced Western elites to use the power of the state to redistribute wealth and nurture the growth of loyal middle classes. But, when communism collapsed in its Eurasian heartland, the West’s rich, believing that they had nothing more to fear, pressed to roll back the welfare state, causing inequality to rise rapidly. This was tolerable as long as the overall pie was expanding, but the global financial crisis in 2008 ended that.”

No going back
University of London PhD student Aaron Peters argues against a return to “statist capitalism” as a solution to the current economic crisis.
“[Andrew] Kliman’s concern is that the ‘left’ will over time adopt an underconsumptionist position. For those passionate about ecological sustainability and not simply reducing human beings to units capable of economic maximisation this is of grave concern.
Not only are high levels of growth an undesirable goal and an utterly insufficient rubric for assessing the ‘common wealth’, it is also simply not possible to return to the annualized GDP growth of the post-war ‘golden age’.”

Latest Developments, February 21

In the latest news and analysis…

Perpetual growth
The Guardian reports on a new UN-commissioned study that argues the international community needs to take “dramatic action” if it wants to “avert a collapse of civilisation.”
“ ‘The rapidly deteriorating biophysical situation is more than bad enough, but it is barely recognised by a global society infected by the irrational belief that physical economies can grow forever and disregarding the facts that the rich in developed and developing countries get richer and the poor are left behind.
‘The perpetual growth myth … promotes the impossible idea that indiscriminate economic growth is the cure for all the world’s problems, while it is actually the disease that is at the root cause of our unsustainable global practices’, [the authors] say.”

Plundering Somalia
Inter Press Service reports on a new paper criticizing international policy towards Somalia, with one of the authors suggesting this week’s London summit on the country’s future “seeks mainly to rally public opinion around more violence, more intervention, and more counterterrorism options” rather than promoting a holistic approach to problem solving.
“[Global Policy Forum’s James] Paul said the violence-prone naval approach [to halting piracy] has not worked, because it ignores the illegal foreign fishing and toxic waste dumping that is taking place off the Somali coast.
The fishing and dumping provokes the piracy and has led ordinary Somalis to approve the piracy as a legitimate form of national defence.
But powerful members of the Security Council, notably the U.S. and the UK, have blocked any action on fishing and dumping.
‘They pretend that there is no information about the matter, even while their naval fleets are closely monitoring the movement of all ships in Somali waters,’ Paul said. ‘So much for root causes and holistic approaches. Violence is virtually the only option allowed onto the table in London.’ ”

UN responsibility
The New Media Advocacy Project’s Abby Goldberg writes about a legal petition that calls on the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti to compensate and apologize to victims of a deadly cholera outbreak thought to have been caused by UN personnel.
“If the petition is successful, it will be the first case in history in which the UN takes legal responsibility for harm caused by their personnel.

The UN must consider the legal request and how to respond, not only for Haitians, but also for the success of peacekeeping operations globally. This case is about Haiti, but it is also about the UN and a changing world. As one of the lawyers who filed the case said, ‘there is a difference between immunity and impunity. Impunity cannot be tolerated.’ The UN can, and must, do better.”

Emission friction
Oxfam’s Duncan Green is baffled by widespread international opposition to the EU’s plan to charge airlines flying in and out of Europe for their carbon emissions, given that three-quarters of the greenhouse gases taxed would come from European and American carriers.
“The main objection to the EU’s policy is that it applies to air-miles clocked up outside European airspace. But the vast majority of emissions captured by the EU [Emission Trading Scheme] scope are from EU and US operators.  By implication, if India and others genuinely want developed countries to act to cut GHG emissions it would seem against their own interest to try to block the EU ETS, because obviously the EU would never apply it just to its own carriers – so if they were to be successful they’d also prevent us doing something about the large majority of emissions from EU/US carriers.”

Re-inventing the World Bank
Former World Bank executive Ana Palacio says the debate over the US monopoly on the institution’s presidency is “legitimate,” but thinks the organization requires far more significant reforms.
“Just as reconstruction finance gave way to development lending over the course of the Bank’s history, its current focus on banking operations should be reconsidered, as the organization’s main source of added value now lies in its formidable potential as a center of knowledge and a coordinator of international policies.

Today, the international community should look for a World Bank president who is attuned to ordinary people’s growing refusal to tolerate glaring global inequalities, and who understands that development is more than GDP growth. Such a leader, regardless of his or her country of origin, will reinvent the World Bank for the century ahead.”

Universal energy
The Steps Centre’s Rob Byrne and Jim Watson highlight the argument that the world’s poor should not be required to take a low-carbon approach to achieving universal energy access.
“[Practical Action’s Teodoro] Sanchez estimates that half the world’s energy-poor could switch to cooking on sustainable biomass and half to liquefied petroleum gas. Furthermore, half could access electricity from diesel generators while the other half do so from renewable sources. If these plans were implemented, he argues, the increase in global CO2 emissions would be less than 2% above 2005 levels.
If the world takes climate change seriously, this increase could easily be absorbed by cuts in industrialised country emissions and further action to slow emissions growth in the rapidly developing countries (especially China). The cost of this up to 2030 would be about $570bn (including capacity building and institutional costs); less than 3% of the estimated global energy investments needed during the same period.”

Questioning development
And, finally, a piece from last week by the Latin American Center of Social Ecology’s Eduardo Gudynas who argues sustainability will require a profound questioning of the concept of development and a recognition of the rights of nature. 
“The social and environmental crisis is so serious that it is now time to put aside minor adjustments and reforms, and instead address the root causes of resistance to the idea of development. We must adopt an approach whereby the term ‘sustainable development’ no longer requires the suffix ‘development’. The civil society programme in Rio+20 should not focus simply on fixing the superficial problems of development: it is necessary to look for alternatives to the entire body of ideas about development.

If sustainable development strengthens its demands for change, it must abandon the traditional idea of development and thus break with the anthropocentric ethics that are characteristic of Western cultural tradition.”

Latest Developments, February 6

Apologies for the mini hiatus. Couldn’t be helped, unfortunately. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

In the latest news and analysis…

Recipient charity
The Telegraph reports on new evidence suggesting British aid to India is more important to the donor than to the recipient who dismissed the so-called assistance as “a peanut in our total development exercises.”
“According to a leaked memo, the foreign minister, Nirumpama Rao, proposed ‘not to avail [of] any further DFID [British] assistance with effect from 1st April 2011,’ because of the ‘negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by DFID’.
But officials at DFID, Britain’s Department for International Development, told the Indians that cancelling the programme would cause ‘grave political embarrassment’ to Britain, according to sources in Delhi.”

Earth 2.0
The Guardian reports on growing concerns that a small group of scientists advocating geoengineering and powerful backers such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson could have “a disproportionate effect” on decisions regarding the appropriate limits to impose on projects offering planet change as a solution to climate change.
“ ‘We will need to protect ourselves from vested interests [and] be sure that choices are not influenced by parties who might make significant amounts of money through a choice to modify climate, especially using proprietary intellectual property,’ said Jane Long, director at large for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US, in a paper delivered to a recent geoengineering conference on ethics.
‘The stakes are very high and scientists are not the best people to deal with the social, ethical or political issues that geoengineering raises,’ said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace. ‘The idea that a self-selected group should have so much influence is bizarre.’ ”

Reinforcing bad behaviour
The Guardian also reports Swiss-based commodities giant Glencore was the World Food Programme’s biggest wheat supplier over the past eight months in spite of the UN agency’s pledge to buy from “very poor farmers” and allegations that the kind of speculation of which Glencore is accused increases the likelihood of food crises.
“Glencore admitted that it bet on a rising wheat price after drought in Russia, according to investment bank UBS. “[Glencore’s] agricultural team received very timely reports from Russia farm assets that growing conditions were deteriorating aggressively in the spring and summer of 2010, as the Russian drought set in … This put it in a position to make proprietary trades going long on wheat and corn,” UBS said in a report to potential investors, disclosed by the Financial Times.
On 3 August 2010 the head of Glencore’s Russian grain business, Yury Ognev, urged Moscow to ban grain exports, according to the UBS report. Two days later Russian authorities banned wheat exports, which forced prices up by 15% in two days.”

Seed emergency
The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology’s Vandana Shiva argues seed patenting has led to huge profits for international biotech corporations but poverty, hunger and even death for India’s farmers.
“As a farmer’s seed supply is eroded, and farmers become dependent on patented GMO seed, the result is debt. India, the home of cotton, has lost its cotton seed diversity and cotton seed sovereignty. Some 95 per cent of the country’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto – and the debt trap created by being forced to buy seed every year – with royalty payments – has pushed hundreds of thousands of farmers to suicide; of the 250,000 farmer suicides, the majority are in the cotton belt.”

Cuts both ways
In arguing the international community must come together to embrace sustainable development, South African President Jacob Zuma and Finnish President Tarja Halonen, who are co-chairs of the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, recognize representative democracy’s potential to provide both hope and of challenges.
“The tyranny of the urgent is never more absolute than during tough times. We need to place long-term thinking above short-term demands, both in the marketplace and at the polling place.”

Central bank capture
Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz appears baffled and horrified by the European Central Bank’s opposition to a “deep involuntary restructuring” of Greece’s sovereign debt.
“The final oddity of the ECB’s stance concerns democratic governance. Deciding whether a credit event has occurred is left to a secret committee of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, an industry group that has a vested interest in the outcome. If news reports are correct, some members of the committee have been using their position to promote more accommodative negotiating positions. But it seems unconscionable that the ECB would delegate to a secret committee of self-interested market participants the right to determine what is an acceptable debt restructuring.

The ECB’s behavior should not be surprising: as we have seen elsewhere, institutions that are not democratically accountable tend to be captured by special interests. That was true before 2008; unfortunately for Europe – and for the global economy – the problem has not been adequately addressed since then.”

Third way
Columbia University’s Joseph Massad calls for the international community to avoid the false choice between Syrian fascism and US imperialism.
“The monumental loss of Iraqi lives and the destruction of their country as well as the ongoing destruction and killings in Libya belie the Syrian exile opposition’s call for imperial invasion of Syria as the way to peace, democracy and to stop the ongoing carnage in the country.

Unlike Fred Halliday and his pro-imperialist Arab and non-Arab acolytes, we need never choose between imperialism and fascism; we must unequivocally opt for the third choice, which has proven its efficacy historically and is much less costly no matter the sacrifices it requires: fighting against domestic despotism and US imperialism simultaneously (and the two have been in most cases one and the same force), and supporting home-grown struggles for democratic transformation and social justice that are not financed and controlled by the oil tyrannies of the Gulf and their US imperial master.”

Latest Developments, January 31

In the latest news and analysis…

PMC impunity
David Isenberg, author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq, argues that even after high-profile scandals in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the mechanisms for dealing with sexual violence committed by private military contractors (PMCs) remain toothless.
“What should be done in the future? [University of Illinois graduate student Angela] Snell calls for a three-fold solution: First, victims should file complaints against the United States in international courts, under the theory that the United States is liable for its contractors’ acts, because it has condoned them by failing to punish them and even actively discouraging their prosecution; second, victims should sue individual perpetrators in the United States under the [Alien Tort Statute], both to compensate victims and to deter contractors from future violence; third, and finally, the United States must act to close the jurisdictional gap that allows PMCs to escape prosecution by signing and supporting international treaties, developing its own stricter system of criminal liability for PMCs, and using contract mechanisms to enforce standards of conduct for PMCs.”

Poor forum
Despite its promise to focus on the Great Transformation, last week’s World Economic Forum was distinctly lacking in “radical new thinking” on sustainable development, according to the Global Institute for Tomorrow’s Chandran Nair.
“Although there were interesting sessions on Asia, rarely did they focus upon the need for the region to reject the current consumption-led growth model, which thrives on under-pricing resources and fails to acknowledge limits, and instead adopt an alternative developmental trajectory. Much of the discussion was based on a Western narrative, and therefore focussed on the political imperative of how to maintain lifestyles, whilst only addressing sustainability issues at the periphery.
This perspective seems to ignore the realities in Asia, where the challenges are very different. There, the priority is not to about how to maintain lifestyles but how, in 2050, five to six billion Asians will be able to live in the most crowded and resource constrained part of the world. Central to this is the need to alleviate poverty through fair and equitable access to vital resources.”

Fashion racism
A group of 31 public figures have signed an op-ed slamming the French edition of fashion magazine Elle for a recent article on the politico-sartorial statements of the “black-geoisie.”
“Elle magazine informs us that when it comes to fashion in 2012, the ‘the “black-geoisie” has internalized all the white codes.’ Moreover, ‘chic has become a plausible option for a community that had been stuck until now with its streetwear codes.’ Yes indeed, whereas Blacks spent decades dressing like ‘scum’ in a hood, they have finally understood, thanks to the teachings of Whites, that they were better off paying more attention to their appearance. Such is the substance of an article published Jan. 13 in the favourite weekly of housewives belonging to the ‘white-geoisie’ (since, apparently, we must now distinguish members of the bourgeoisie according to race) entitled ‘Black Fashion Power’ that tries to analyze the reasons behind the red-carpet success of African-American stars.” (Translated from the French.)

Worst-kept secret
The Independent reports that US President Barack Obama has admitted for the first time what everyone already knew, that the CIA is using drones for “very precise precision strikes” inside Pakistan.
“Washington’s use of drones in Pakistan has long been a source of anger for many Pakistanis. While US officials claim the strikes are an important tool in its arsenal, many in Pakistan say they undermine the country’s sovereignty and often hit innocent civilians. The New America Foundation, a US think-tank, estimates drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in the past eight years. Last year, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism said it believed that of those killed, as many as 775 were civilians, including 168 children.”

Drones for human rights
The Genocide Intervention Network’s Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Mark Hanis, on the other hand, argue drones can be used to protect innocents around the world, starting with Syria.
“Imagine if we could watch in high definition with a bird’s-eye view. A drone would let us count demonstrators, gun barrels and pools of blood. And the evidence could be broadcast for a global audience, including diplomats at the United Nations and prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

Drones can reach places and see things cell phones cannot. Social media did not document the worst of the genocide in the remote villages of Darfur in 2003 and 2004. Camera-toting protesters could not enter the fields where 8,000 men and boys were massacred in Srebrenica in 1995. Graphic and detailed evidence of crimes against humanity does not guarantee a just response, but it helps.”

Staying grounded
But Daniel Solomon argues on his Securing Rights blog that using drones to document abuses could actually hamper human rights efforts over time by reducing the role of local populations.
“In a recent essay, Joshua Foust highlighted the relative decline of human intelligence (HUMINT) tradecraft and capacity as a decisive consequence of the Obama administration’s drone-heavy ISR operations. Human rights organizations confront a similar dilemma–often, relative to the official intelligence community, monitoring-and-reporting groups like Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, and Amnesty International operate more advanced, broader, and deeper human intelligence networks in conflict-affected states. Local partnerships, empowerment networks, and storytelling capabilities represent the life-blood of an effective human rights organization. It’s easy to see how, with an increased emphasis on drone technology, those capacities would wither, with unfortunate consequences for the crucial art of human rights advocacy.”

Technological salvation
Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs lays out a technological vision for reining in human injustice and destructiveness in the Anthropocene era before suddenly concluding that solving such problems may require more than reducing inefficiencies.
“Yet getting from here to sustainable development will not just be a matter of technology. It will also be a matter of market incentives, government regulations, and public support for research and development. But, even more fundamental than policies and governance will be the challenge of values. We must understand our shared fate, and embrace sustainable development as a common commitment to decency for all human beings, today and in the future.”