TOKYO — The United States and Japan agreed Friday on a new timetable for the return to Japan of a Marine airfield and other military bases on Okinawa, moving to solve a long-festering issue that has bedeviled America’s ties with its largest Asian ally.
By agreeing to a clear timetable for the return of 2,500 acres, both nations are hoping to entice Okinawans to drop their opposition to the air base, which Washington and Tokyo want to move to another part of the island but which many Okinawans want to move off the island. Fierce local opposition has kept Japan from being able to follow through on a deal originally made in 1996 to allow the base and its noisy aircraft to be relocated to a less populated area of the island. Continue reading U.S. and Japan Agree on Returning Okinawa Land→
From the very first moment of his unexpected election as Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina has embraced a series of small departures from established tradition.
He took his papal name from a great nonconforming saint of the Middle Ages — and one that no other pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church has taken. He then refused to stand on an elevated platform that would separate him from his “brother cardinals,” and asked the people of Rome to bless him rather than receive his blessing. He even insisted on returning to his hotel to settle his account (as though his credit were in any doubt). Continue reading Pope Francis and a new vision of Catholic reform→
Shell Nigeria, the largest oil and gas company in that country, has been condemned for environmental damage and human rights abuses resulting from its activities. The District Court of The Hague has recently held that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria was liable for damages and ordered compensation. This sentence can be interpreted as a success towards opening up future avenues to penalize multinationals when they are responsible for environmental damage and other abuses.
Transnationals and extractives companies have been operating in Africa without almost no fear of punishment for their irregular practices. Africa’s economic growth has been deprived of income from their natural resources and, in many cases, foreign companies have avoided their responsibilities for social and environmental damage. Shell Nigeria, having been exempt from liability on so many occasions, has finally been told to pay compensation to a farmer whose land was affected by an oil spill. Continue reading Natural Resources and Social Responsibility: an important step forward→
The World Bank Group (WB-G) has been preparing the ground for the private investment in Africa by encouraging the commercialization of farmland through its investment and structural adjustment programs in Africa. Equally, the World Bank has been supervising land reforms in several African countries, with the aim to establish a western-styled property system. The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) is building on this preparatory work and promotes private sector interest in African agriculture. In what follows we offer a brief overview of the World Bank’s role in the commercialization of farmland and then an introduction to the MCA. Continue reading The World Bank and the private sector: partners in land grabbing?→