Ultra-Rich ‘Philanthrocapitalist’ Class Undermining Global Democracy: Report

Common Dreams

As foundations and wealthy individuals funnel money into global development, what “solutions” are they pursuing?

Download the report by Miserior, Global Policy Forum and Brot für die Welt

Sarah Lazare, staff writer


From Warren Buffett to Bill Gates, it is no secret that the ultra-rich philanthropist class has an over-sized influence in shaping global politics and policies.

And a study (pdf) just out from the Global Policy Forum, an international watchdog group, makes the case that powerful philanthropic foundations—under the control of wealthy individuals—are actively undermining governments and inappropriately setting the agenda for international bodies like the United Nations.

The top 27 largest foundations together possess assets of over $360 billion, notes the study, authored by Jens Martens and Karolin Seitz. Nineteen of those foundations are based in the United States and, across the board, they are expanding their influence over the global south. And in so doing, they are undermining democracy and local sovereignty. Continue reading Ultra-Rich ‘Philanthrocapitalist’ Class Undermining Global Democracy: Report

Trans-Pacific Agreement would impact the price of medicines

Latin American Press

Health unions warn that the agreement could generate a trade monopoly that would eventually lead to an increase in the cost of medicines.

peru-1Non-governmental health organizations and Peruvian doctors unions have made no secret of their concerns following the announcement made by President Ollanta Humala on Oct. 5, when he informed the country about how successfully the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations had ended. For these institutions, the signing of the trade agreement would cause the price of medicines in Peru to increase considerably.

The TPP, which brings together 40 percent of the world economy, is the most ambitious economic treaty in the world. There are 12 countries that comprise it: besides Peru are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, the United States and Japan, the latter two being the main protagonists. This multilateral agreement encompasses 23 areas, among which is the chapter on Intellectual Property Rights, which is the most sensitive point for Peru at the moment.
The great fear of the health unions lies in the possibility that the patent protection period, which in Peru is considered to be 20 years, is extended, thereby creating a state monopoly in favor of some pharmaceutical industries. But it was the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism herself, Magali Silva, who went to the media and dismissed the rumors. Continue reading Trans-Pacific Agreement would impact the price of medicines

US Catholic Bishops Urge End to Surge of Deportation Actions

America Magazine
Kevin Clarke
mig-a1Noting recent enforcement actions conducted by the Department of Homeland Security which resulted in the deportation of 121 individuals, “primarily mothers with children,” in a prepared statement, the bishops who chair the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network called for the deportations to be halted. The bishops suggest that sending migrant children and families back to their home countries “would put many of them in grave danger because they would face threats of violence and for some, even death.” The bishops urged the administration “to end this practice and not engage in such future enforcement actions targeting immigrant women and children, as they terrify communities and are inconsistent with American values.” Continue reading US Catholic Bishops Urge End to Surge of Deportation Actions

Tell President Obama: Stop ICE Raids of Immigrants Fleeing Violence


As  many of us were celebrating Christmas with our loved ones, news of immigration raids provoked fear and despair in immigrant communities across our nation. The Obama Administration, specifically Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, indicated that the raids were intended to deport families fleeing violence in Central America that entered the United States in recent years and had been denied asylum. We know that these vulnerable families are provided very little information about their rights and are in many cases denied legal assistance when presenting their case in immigration court. Email President Obama now and let him know that this unjust treatment of our immigrant sisters and brothers MUST end.

Since the latest raids began on January 2, more than 121 Central American adults and children have been taken into custody and placed into deportation proceedings. We are hearing heartbreaking stories of children who were taken from their homes in the middle of the night and families that were torn apart. Reports from around the country indicate that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is using many of the actions to detain and deport a broader group of immigrants than families recently here from Central America. Fear in the immigrant community is extremely high. Continue reading Tell President Obama: Stop ICE Raids of Immigrants Fleeing Violence

Loneliness and Memories, Syrian Refugees Struggle in Safe Spaces

InterPress Service

Silvia Boarini

Syrian refugee Emelline Mahmoud Ilyas stands outside the UNRWA community centre in Zarqa. Jordan 2015. Credit: Silvia Boarini/IPS

ZARQa, Jordan, Jan 11 2016 (IPS) – Emelline Mahmoud Ilyas is an outgoing 35-year-old mother of three from Syria. Sitting in a community center in Zarqa, Jordan, where she just held a meeting with Jordanian and Syrian parents on the subject of childcare, she remembers the ‘journey of death’ that led her family to the Hashemite Kingdom.

Huddled in a ditch by the border next to her husband and her three children, while explosions went off all around them, she was certain that even if her body survived, her mind would forever remain trapped in that ditch. Little did she know that in the space of two years she would be helping other struggling Syrian refugees and destitute Jordanians to turn their lives around in her adoptive city of Zarqa. Continue reading Loneliness and Memories, Syrian Refugees Struggle in Safe Spaces

‘Alarming’ outbreak of violence in new area of South Sudan uproots 15,000, UN reports

UN News Centre


8 January 2016 – Fighting between armed groups and Government soldiers and an apparent breakdown in law and order in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state, with hundreds of houses burned down or looted, has uprooted 15,000 people over the past five weeks, and 500 a day are now pouring into Uganda, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

“Sporadic gunfire is commonplace, and there has also been an increase in crime involving car-jacking, attacks on Government property, looting of civilian homes and sexual assaults reportedly by armed youth,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva. Continue reading ‘Alarming’ outbreak of violence in new area of South Sudan uproots 15,000, UN reports

Okinawa sues Tokyo in bid to stop move of US air base


Move deepens decades-long row over American troop presence on southern Japanese island, many residents want base removed.


Local authorities on Okinawa sued the central government of Japan in an attempt to stop the relocation of a U.S. air base, deepening their decades-long row over the heavy American troop presence on the southern Japanese island.

The Okinawa government says the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism illegally suspended the prefecture governor’s cancellation of approval for reclamation work needed to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a less-populated part of the island called Henoko. Continue reading Okinawa sues Tokyo in bid to stop move of US air base

Kenya’s smart greenhouse texts when your tomatoes need watering

Award-winning greenhouses designed by two Kenyan students allow farmers to control temperature, humidity and soil moisture on their mobile phones.

The Guardian
Murithi Mutiga in Nairobi

Illuminum Greenhouses run on solar power and the irrigation system can be turned off and on by text message. Photograph: Illuminum Greenhouses

Best friends Brian Bett and Taita Ng’etich were enjoying their first semester in university – until they ran out of money.

“It’s always exciting starting college and there is so much going on so it was a lot of fun,” says Ng’etich. “But then we ran low on cash and we didn’t want to go back to our parents offering explanations. We decided to start a business instead to try and make our own money.” Continue reading Kenya’s smart greenhouse texts when your tomatoes need watering

Rented trees offer ‘sustainable Christmas’ in Germany

Deutche Wella


Two entrepreneurs are renting thousands of living Christmas trees to homes across Germany – in a bid to reduce the number of wasted firs after the festive season. Environmental groups are skeptical.

Nat King Cole sang about it and Brenda Lee rocked around it – for most people, Christmas without a tree would be no Christmas at all. Possibly dating as far back as the 15th century in Germany, the tree tradition became a fixture in many Christmas celebrations when its popularity began to spread in the 19th century. Continue reading Rented trees offer ‘sustainable Christmas’ in Germany

Climate deal ‘to keep rises well below 2C’

Text of Paris Agreement

The French president (left) called on nations to adopt “the first universal agreement on climate”.

Organizers of climate talks in Paris have released details of a proposed landmark deal to curb climate change.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the final draft of the deal was fair, “legally binding” and would limit warming to “well below 2C”. Continue reading Climate deal ‘to keep rises well below 2C’