Environment

Iraq’s New Patent Law

When Former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator L. Paul Bremer III left Baghdad after the highly publicized “transfer of sovereignty” in June 2004, he left his imprint through 100 orders that he enacted as chief of the occupation authority in Iraq. Among them is Order 81 regarding “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety.”1 This order amends Iraq’s original patent law of 1970, and unless and until it is revised or repealed by a new Iraqi government, it wields the status and force of a binding law.2 With important implications for farmers and the future of agriculture in Iraq, this order is yet another important component in Washington’s attempts to radically transform Iraq’s economy.

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The Kyoto Protocol, and Beyond

The first thing to say about Kyoto’s entry into force (Feb 16th) is that it is a significant victory, won particularly by the Europeans, over social and economic complacency, cash-amplified, flat-earth pseudo-science, the carbon cartel, and, of course, the Bush administration. The second is that, if it’s not soon followed by other victories, deeper and even more challenging ones, the Earth’s climate will soon—think 2050 or even sooner—be transformed into one that is far more inhospitable, and even hostile, than even most environmentalists imagine.

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A Carbon Rush at the World Bank

As the Kyoto Protocol comes into force this month, a carbon rush is gaining steam in the financial industry. Investors predict that the carbon trade could become one of the largest markets in the world with a trading volume of $60 – $250 billion by 2008 and some unlikely actors are gearing up to profit from this new, invisible market. Foremost among them is the World Bank.

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The Toxic Border

In early September 2002, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM) put out a call to border activists, urging them to act quickly to salvage one of the few remaining complaints filed under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC)—the case of mistreated workers at Customtrim/Autotrim. Inside the cavernous San Diego Convention Center, the CJM had learned, the temporary Binational Working Group on Occupational Safety and Health was holding a secret discussion between U.S. and Mexican government officials, supposedly to find ways of protecting the safety and health of maquiladora workers.

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Law of the Sea Being Delayed by Far Right Cadre

The mining industry and environmentalists are onboard. As are liberals and conservatives in the U.S. Senate, but ratification of the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty is being held up by half a dozen right-wing Republican senators backed by a coalition of national groups who see the agreement as another step toward world government.

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Corporate Welfare for Jumbo Shrimp

Pity the U.S. shrimp industry. Over the last decade, shrimp have evolved from a delicacy only the rich could afford to the most popular seafood in America. The problem is, Gulf Coast trawlers can only catch 10% of the country’s demand. The rest comes from imports, and 230 U.S. companies, joined together in the Southern Shrimp Alliance, feel that is unfair.

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Bolivia’s Referendum About More Than Gas

President Carlos Mesa won a stunning political victory last month when Bolivian voters overwhelmingly approved a five-point referendum, endorsing his plans to develop Bolivia’s gas reserves. Surrounded by energy-hungry neighbors, Bolivia’s reserves are estimated at more than 50 trillion cubic feet, about as much as Kuwait and second only to Venezuela on the continent. They are valued at approximately $70 billion.

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U.S. Aid for Tsunami-Hit Nations Falls Short

As the full extent of the destruction and death the tsunami wrought in South Asia becomes clear, significant aid pledges are finally pouring in. While the U.S. is beginning to respond, little attention is being paid in the public debate to the need for effective development assistance for South Asia in the medium to long term. Comparisons of what the U.S. is doing for disaster relief relative to other nations are obscuring the need for a sober assessment of how well U.S. aid measures up compared to the actual need. The White House is drafting its 2006 budget this month, so this is an important opportunity to expose how the U.S. falls short when it comes to providing aid commensurate with its wealth.

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