The global farm grab is on
April 11th, 2013
08:55 AM ET

The global farm grab is on

By Michael Kugelman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Michael Kugelman is the senior program associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and lead editor of The Global Farms Race. You can follow him @michaelkugelman. The views expressed are his own.

This week in Washington, the World Bank is hosting its annual conference on land and poverty. The Bank has identified improved land governance as this year’s theme. It’s a wise decision, given that poor land governance in developing world agricultural settings has spawned a destabilizing global trend – one fueled, in part, by financial support from the Bank itself.

In recent years, food-importing regimes from Asia and the Gulf, spooked by high food prices and lacking the land and water resources to grow crops at home, have obtained land overseas to use for agriculture. Private investors from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, recognizing the profit potential of precious agricultural land, have joined this scramble for the world’s soils. Nearly $30 billion in private capital is projected to be invested in farmland by 2015, and pension funds and asset managers have recently joined forces to attract even more capital for farmland financing.


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Topics: Africa • Ethics
What are Occupiers really fighting for?
A large gathering of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street Movement attend a rally in Union Square on November 17, 2011 in New York City. (Getty Images)
April 18th, 2012
09:55 AM ET

What are Occupiers really fighting for?

Editor’s Note: Dr. Maha Hosain Aziz is a Professor of Politics (adjunct) in the Master’s Program at New York University, a Senior Analyst at geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat and an Asia Insight Columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek.

By Maha Hosain Aziz – Special to CNN

Occupy Wall Street has been about more than just corporate greed and income inequality. Occupy protesters around the globe may not realize it but, at various points in the past six months, many have been fighting for the same cause as the peasant communities of rural Vietnam during the 1930s - the moral economy.

Theorists have typically used moral economy rhetoric to explain rural movements where protesters felt their basic right to subsistence was being threatened. In the case of Vietnam, the onset of colonial capitalism in the Great Depression contributed to a food crisis for peasant farmers, prompting significant protests. In effect, an informal contract had been broken between the governing power and the governed involving the individual’s basic right to feed himself.

Today, a similar “contract” has been broken between governing powers and the governed.

Since its global launch in October 2011, the Occupy movement has effectively evolved to challenge governments for depriving citizens of their basic right to subsistence in the Great Recession (or its aftermath) - to work, afford basic goods, or in some cases keep their homes. FULL POST

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Topics: Ethics • Global • Protests
Singer: Europe's ethical eggs
Caged battery hens in a chicken farm in Catania, Sicily on October 29, 2005. (Getty Images)
January 12th, 2012
04:31 PM ET

Singer: Europe's ethical eggs

Editor's Note: Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal LiberationPractical EthicsThe Ethics of What We Eat, and The Life You Can Save. For more from Singer, visit Project Syndicate's website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter.

By Peter Singer

Forty years ago, I stood with a few other students in a busy Oxford street handing out leaflets protesting the use of battery cages to hold hens. Most of those who took the leaflets did not know that their eggs came from hens kept in cages so small that even one bird – the cages normally housed four – would be unable to fully stretch and flap her wings. The hens could never walk around freely, or lay eggs in a nest.

Many people applauded our youthful idealism, but told us that we had no hope of ever changing a major industry. They were wrong. FULL POST

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Topics: Animals • Environment • Ethics
How much would you pay to save your sick pet?
A pair of handicapped boxers. (Worldcrunch)
November 28th, 2011
10:17 PM ET

How much would you pay to save your sick pet?

Editor's Note: The following article comes from Worldcrunch, an innovative, new global news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. This article was originally published in Die Welt.

By Elke Bodderas, Worldcrunch

BERLIN – Maxi is seven years old. If he were a person, not a cat, he would be a young-looking guy in his mid-40s. Thomas, a student in Hanover, adopted Maxi from an animal shelter, and loves Maxi so much that he found the money for a kidney transplant when his four-pawed pal would otherwise have died. The whole thing cost Thomas 15,000 euros [about $20,000], including the flight to the United States, where the operation took place.

“Maxi stood by me when I was very sick,” Thomas told the German newspaper Bild. “He’s my alter ego. ”

A “new” cat kidney costs 15,000 euros, chemo and radiotherapy for a dog suffering from cancer cost around 18,000 euros [about $24,000]. By comparison, a new titanium hip joint – at a mere 5,000 euros [about $6,650] – is something of a bargain. And compared to that, the cost of the physiotherapy needed to round out treatment seems like peanuts. FULL POST

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Topics: Animals • Ethics • Europe • Health • Odd
Killing Awlaki was illegal, immoral and dangerous
File photo of a US Predator UAV armed with a missile. Attacks by such aircraft have risen in recent days in Libya. (Air Force Photo)
October 1st, 2011
03:48 PM ET

Killing Awlaki was illegal, immoral and dangerous

Editor’s Note: Mary Ellen O’Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and
Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at University of Notre Dame Law School.

By Mary Ellen O’Connell – Special to CNN

Every American adult knows what an armed conflict is.  The U.S. is engaged in armed conflict in Afghanistan and Libya.  It engaged in combat in Iraq from 2003-2011. Thus, every American knows that the U.S. is not engaged in an armed conflict in Yemen - not a real armed conflict.  Nevertheless, President Obama placed an American citizen in Yemen on a kill list.  Anwar al-Awlaki and several other people were killed on September 30 by a “barrage” of missiles launched from drones operated by the CIA.

The president and his officials know that it is unlawful to kill persons in this way outside of armed conflict hostilities.  So they have been asserting the U.S. is in a worldwide “armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces.”  This assertion defies common sense.  So officials also assert we have a right to kill persons who pose an “imminent” threat under the law of self-defense.  In fact, the law of self-defense, found in the U.N. Charter, permits force in self-defense on the territory of a state if the state is responsible for a significant armed attack.  Yemen is not responsible for any significant armed attacks. FULL POST

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Topics: Ethics • Global • Law • President Obama • Terrorism
Which is the safest country for animals?
A Chinese researcher injects a monkey with an experimental solution at a laboratory in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in May 2004. China has since drafted new regulations to save laboratory animals from unnecessary pain and inhumane treatment. (Getty Images)
August 12th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Which is the safest country for animals?

Editor's Note: Heather Moore is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation

By Heather Moore – Special to CNN

The thought-provoking new film Rise of the Planet of the Apes may have people talking long after they leave the Cineplex. In the film, a scientist genetically modifies a young chimpanzee to create a new breed of ape with human-like intelligence. The chimpanzee matures quickly, escapes from his cage and recruits an army among thousands of caged apes. They revolt, and a war breaks out between the species.

While much of the movie is obviously science fiction, hundreds of chimpanzees really are used in laboratory experiments in the U.S.—the only developed country that still conducts invasive experiments on chimpanzees. These animals are cut open, addicted to drugs, kept in isolation, or inoculated with infectious agents—all legally. The U.S. Animal Welfare Act (AWA) does not prohibit any experiment, no matter how cruel or irrelevant. It simply sets minimum housing and maintenance standards for confined animals. FULL POST

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Topics: Animals • Ethics
A planet for all apes
August 9th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

A planet for all apes

Editor's Note: Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal LiberationPractical EthicsThe Ethics of What We Eat, and The Life You Can Save. For more from Singer, visit Project Syndicate's website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter.

MELBOURNE – Two new movies released this month – one a science-fiction blockbuster, the other a revealing documentary – raise the issue of our relations with our closest non-human relatives, the great apes. Both dramatize insights and lessons that should not be ignored.

Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the seventh film in a series based on Pierre Boule’s 1963 novel, Planet of the Apes, about a world populated by highly intelligent simians. Publicity for the new film claims that it is “the first live-action film in the history of movies to star, and be told from the point of view of, a sentient animal.” Yet no live apes were used. FULL POST

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Topics: Animals • Culture • Ethics • Global
June 20th, 2011
11:33 AM ET

Corruption and the Arab Spring

Editor's Note: Stuart Levey is Senior Fellow for National Security and Financial Integrity at the Council on Foreign Relations. He previously served as the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

By Stuart Levey

From Tunisia to Yemen, the corruption of Middle Eastern regimes has played a significant role in motivating the Arab Spring. Former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and his family now face trial in absentia for, among other crimes, money laundering and drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, Egyptian courts have charged former President Hosni Mubarak with corruption and sentenced in absentia his former finance minister, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, to 30 years in prison on charges of corruption and embezzlement of public money. Frustration with cronyism and corruption is a key grievance of those protesting in the streets in Libya, Syria, and Yemen as well.

These corrupt leaders have managed to stash much of their collected wealth abroad, despite international obligations designed to prevent such looting. The Arab Spring has thus highlighted the inadequacy of current international efforts against corruption.

If global leaders are serious about strengthening anticorruption efforts in response to the Arab Spring, they should build on recent improvements in an unlikely place: Switzerland.


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Topics: Ethics • Europe • Middle East
Le Weiner Scandal: the French react
June 17th, 2011
02:20 PM ET

Le Weiner Scandal: the French react

By , Global Post

With France still reeling from the news that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, formerly one of its most esteemed politicians, faces sexual assault charges in Manhattan, congressman Anthony Weiner's recent travails have inspired the obligatory Gallic derision.

And the reaction shows that little has changed in the Parisian media. FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Ethics • Europe • Sex
When prevention is better than relief
May 13th, 2011
10:03 AM ET

When prevention is better than relief

Editor’s NotePeter Singer is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and author of Practical EthicsOne World, and The Life You Can SaveYou can read more from him at Project Syndicate.

By Peter Singer

When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March, Brian Tucker was in Padang, Indonesia. Tucker was working with a colleague to design a refuge that could save thousands of lives if – or rather, when – a tsunami like the one in 1797 that came out of the Indian Ocean, some 600 miles southeast of where the 2004 Asian tsunami originated, strikes again.

Tucker is the founder and president of GeoHazards International, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce death and suffering due to earthquakes in the world’s most vulnerable communities. FULL POST

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Topics: Ethics