Afghanistan: Towards a new Jihad?

The insurgency in southern Afghanistan is intensifying, spreading west and eastwards. In eastern Afghanistan, large portions of territory are already under the control of the insurgents, who are penetrating deeper into Afghan towards Kabul, where propaganda teams of Taleban have already been sighted. Is Afghanistan sliding towards a new jihad? Can the Taleban in turn eject the Americans and their allies? Dr Antonio Giustozzi, who is a research fellow at LSE, is an expert on insurgency and statecraft, and has wide experience of Afghanistan. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed book ‘War, Politics and Society in Afghanistan 1978 – 1992, published by Georgetown University Press in 2003.


The Thames Gateway: A breakthrough or a catastrophe?

The Thames Gateway is the largest urban regeneration programme in Western Europe, posing challenges to its government sponsors on an unprecedented scale: quality management vs. the need to deliver new homes quickly; infrastructure requirements vs. an aversion to major public expenditure commitments; effective project management vs. local authority fiefdoms; and accommodating London’s middle class exodus vs. local demand for affordable housing. If this one can’t be done right, what hope is there for any major Government programme? Are politicians and civil servants up to the task? Do they care? Nigel Kersey will discuss these issues. He is Director of the London Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and author of the report ‘Thames Gateway: From Rhetoric to Reality’ .


Undermining global security: Arms brokers and military supply chains

The increasing business of state outsourcing of military procurement to international networks of private arms dealers, brokers, private transport contractors and other intermediaries is worsening the already lax controls on the globalised arms trade. This system enables such networks to help fuel conflict and repression Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America at huge cost in human life and suffering. Brian Wood, is the Research and Policy Manager for Amnesty International on the arms trade – see www.amnesty.org – and the Control Arms Campaign – see www.controlarms.org. He has written and co-written many hard-hitting analyses for AI and others of how abuse of arms across the world contribute to grave human rights violations, for example in Sudan and the DRC, and how arms brokers and shippers operate – for example, “The Arms Fixers” – on www.nisat.org.


Why subsidise rich landowners? It’s time for a land value tax

Site values grow as the result of community activity – new roads, transport links, shops, offices, policing and other services. So why should the community not be repaid for the benefit it creates for the landowner? An Land Value Tax (LVT) on economic rent – the amount of money the land would generate if leased – is the only fair way to ensure social justice. Dave Wetzel, Vice -Chair of Transport for London, and Chair of the Professional Land Reform Group and the Labour Land Campaign, proposes an LVT that would replace many existing taxes – one that would be good for business, good for those struggling to buy houses, and good for the Chancellor.


India, the mysterious miracle: Is there an ‘Indian model’ of development?

India’s economic growth rate is now the second-fastest in the world. But although it’s progress is having a profound global impact, this has not been achieved by following the usual policy prescriptions. Dr. Sinha, a lecturer in the department of development studies and chair at the Centre for South Asian studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, will discuss the country’s unique approach to development. He teaches and researches in the areas of the history of global development, anti-capitalist and counter-systemic movements and neo-liberalism


Water and Politics: The power and the fury

Water sustains life: without it, humans cannot survive for more than a few days. And yet this precious fluid is becoming increasingly politicized as the debates about control and ownership of water itself, and of the many organizations which govern its use, gain force. Maggie Black is a writer and editor on watery affairs. She has worked in this capacity for the World Bank, Water Aid, DFID and the EC, and also for the World Commission on Dams, although this assignment came to grief. As a result she visited the Narmada Valley in India where large dams are being famously opposed, and wrote a special issue of New Internationalist entitled ‘Do or die: the people versus development in the Narmada Valley’. Her books include ‘From Handpumps to Health’, (UNICEF); Water: ‘Life Force’ (New Internationalist Publications) and ‘The No-Nonsense Guide to Water’, (Verso and NI); and ‘Water: A Matter of life and Health’, (OUP Delhi)


The Evo Morales election victory: what does it mean for South America?

Last December’s landslide election victory of Evo Morales in Bolivia’s presidential elections sent ripples throughout Latin America. As the first indigenous-born leader of an overwhelmingly indigenous country, Morales’s inauguration brought indigenous groups from all over the Western Hemisphere to La Paz. Morales’ election also challenged issues such as privatisation, economic integration and the US position on coca eradication. How far will Morales be able to go in implementing his agenda for change, and what will it mean for other countries in Latin America in a year when most of them also have elections? And how will the United States respond? John Crabtree is a Research Associate at Oxford University’s Centre for Latin American Studies. He is the author of ‘Peru under Garcia: Opportunity Lost’ (Macmillan, 1992), ‘Fujimori’s Peru’ (ILAS, 1998), and ‘Patterns of Protest: Politics and Social Movements in Bolivia’ (Latin America Bureau, 2005). Venezuela Information Centre


Big Pharma: corporate wealth versus public health

There is a growing sense that the vast profits of drug companies and their control of research agenda might not be good for our health. Sophisticated marketing and PR, not scientific excellence, have helped corporations to preside unchallenged over matters of life and death. Jackie Law has written about healthcare for 25 years; for seven of these she worked as associate editor of Scrip Magazine, a monthly international pharmaceutical title. She left in September 2004 to write her ‘Big Pharma’, published in February 2006.


The rise of America’s theocratic right: democracy in peril

terri_murrayAcademic Theologian and film maker Terri Murray outlines the origins, ideology, and political agenda of the Christian Right in America. Terri Murray did her undergraduate degree at New York University and holds a Masters in Theology from the University of London. She is co-author of “Moral Panic: Exposing the Religious Right’s Agenda on Sexuality” (Cassell, 1985), and has published articles on Christian ethics and other related topics in Philosophy Now Magazine, Tikkun Magazine, Journal of Social Philosophy And Women Against Fundamentalism Journal. She is managing director of Blacksheep DV Productions and is currently working on a documentary titled “One Nation, Under God” about the political agenda of the theocratic right.


On to Iran?

Richard Drayton looks at the variety of interests at stake in a possible conflict between the West and Iran. He will trace the place of Persia in imperial geostrategies from the end of the nineteenth century to the present, and examine how the public in Britain and the United States is being manipulated into support of another post-Iraq military campaign. Dr Richard Drayton is Senior Lecturer in Imperial and extra-European History since 1500 at the University of Cambridge.