Not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade, but the picture of our Prime Minister and leaders of most of the other nations of the world “speed dating in first class” with corporate leaders and sundry other ultra rich and famous at DAVOS, is not a pretty one. A hundred billionaires bending the ears of the most influential politicians of the day has got to be bad news for the rest of us. Continue reading
Not one but two trade deals, the TPP and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) are percolating over the holiday period. The TPP will allow corporates to set the rules for over 40% of world trade. TISA will break open financial and other services, even essential infrastructure and social services, to make it easier for corporates to come in and take control, profits, and our privacy off to whatever tax haven they are registered in. Continue reading
This week the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Programme. We officially learned that the US was running a state sanctioned torture programme on people detained at the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base until 2009, and probably at other detention centres as well. The programme was allegedly designed by two ex Navy psychologists whose company was paid $81 million by the US government for its work.
What happens now? There is no excuse for torture, anytime, anywhere. The perpetrators must be held accountable. Continue reading
Free trade deals are poison. Ask El Salvador.
Oceania Gold, a New Zealand listed company, is suing the El Salvadorian government to tune of US$300 million in the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a tribunal linked with the World Bank, for lost profits. El Salvador, a water-impoverished nation, refuses to grant them water rights to their main river to use and contaminate with the likes of cyanide and arsenic as part of a gold mining operation they have planned. Continue reading
Does New Zealand have a housing problem that is caused by too many people and not enough houses? Dunedin Methodist Mission CEO Laura Black sees it differently. She sees our problem not as a shortage of houses but as a mismatch between where the affordable houses are and where the people wanting a house live. Continue reading
The free trade deal with South Korea is hardly earth shattering news. Yet it is being seriously hyped up by the government and those industries that might benefit eventually – the deal takes a full 15 years to take effect and doesn’t include some fairly big ticket items like frozen deer velvet.
Is this overexcitement a cynical PR stunt, an attempt to quell rising opposition to free trade deals? Certainly there were those who were displeased with the large turnouts to the nationwide day of action protesting the TransPacific Partnership ‘trade’ agreement. There is even talk now of big businesses launching a pro-TPP fighting fund. Continue reading
It is a sad day for New Zealand when someone standing up for peace and freedom is lambasted as sounding as if she had just dropped in from San Francisco circa 1967. The throwaway comment from one journalist was “doesn’t everyone?” Well, no!
The arms trade was worth at least $395 billion dollars in 2012 (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) with 86% of the trade coming from United States based companies. A similar amount is spent most years. Clearly some people and organizations do quite nicely out of armed conflicts and are no doubt very happy for them to continue ad infinitum. Continue reading