Friday, April 08, 2016

another let them eat cake .000001% squeals like a fat piglet caught under a gate....,

NYTimes |  Gee, G.E.

After Bernie Sanders singled out General Electric’s tax avoidance and extensive overseas operations as an example of corporate “greed” and “selfishness,” Jeff Immelt, G.E.’s chief executive, penned a long, snarky op-ed for The Washington Post that went beyond defending the company, and appeared to take sides in the Democratic nominating contest. His comments were particularly unseemly on the eve of hotly-contested primaries in New York and Connecticut, G.E.’s corporate home bases.

In an interview with the editorial board of The New York Daily News, Mr. Sanders said:
General Electric was created in this country by American workers and American consumers. What we have seen over the many years is shutting down of many major plants in this country. Sending jobs to low-wage countries. And General Electric, doing a very good job avoiding the taxes. In fact, in a given year, they pay nothing in taxes. That’s greed. That is greed and that’s selfishness. That is lack of respect for the people of this country.
Asked “how does that destroy the fabric of America?”  Mr. Sanders issued a broader condemnation:
I’ll tell you how it does. If you are a corporation and the only damn thing you are concerned about is your profits. Let’s just give an example of a corporation that’s making money in America, today, but desiring to move to China or to Mexico to make even more money. That is destroying the moral fabric of this country. That is saying that I don’t care that the workers, here have worked for decades. It doesn’t matter to me. The only thing that matters is that I can make a little bit more money. That the dollar is all that is almighty. And I think that is the moral fabric.
G.E.’s controversial tax avoidance strategies, its shedding of domestic jobs and its heavy reliance on political lobbying to get what it wants have been well-documented. That, and Mr. Sanders, clearly got Mr. Immelt’s goat.

100 CEO's have more saved up for retirement than 41% of U.S. families combined...,

theatlantic |  And now, courtesy of the Center for Effective Government, a nonprofit, and the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank, here is another: Together, 100 American CEOs have more saved up for retirement than 41 percent of American families combined.

The CEO with the largest nest egg on the report’s list was David C. Novak, the former chief of Yum Brands (which owns KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell), and now its executive chairman. At last count, Novak had nearly $250 million in his retirement account, according to the report, which got its data on CEOs from companies’ SEC filings.

For the purposes of comparison, the average Yum employee had about $70,000 in his or her 401(k). That means the Novak’s retirement savings are more than 3,330 times the size of the typical Yum employee’s, which makes the ratio of average CEO pay to average worker pay—300:1—look relatively small.

The report, in a way, obscures the crisis at hand. The comparison it’s making—between 100 exceedingly well-paid executives and tens of millions of Americans—suggests intolerable corporate excess. As the report makes clear, on the CEO side of the equation, there are beefy retirement accounts flush with more than $4.5 billion. But on the typical-American side of the equation, there are a huge number of people who have practically nothing saved up—for all American households nearing retirement age, the median retirement-account balance is about $12,000. So, it’s not so much that these CEOs have a lot (they do) but that everyone else has next to nothing.

With that in mind, the fact that 100 CEOs have saved up more than 41 percent of Americans is stunning but not surprising. Over the last few decades, companies have moved away from providing their workers with pensions, which used to offer a degree of security in retirement. But during that transition, pensions weren’t reliably replaced with retirement-savings accounts, such that now only about 40 percent of private-sector American workers have any kind of employer-provided or subsidized retirement plan, such as a pension or a 401(k). Everyone else is on their own.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

the end of ordinary politics...,

thearchdruidreport |  In the same way, the word “racist” in the mouths of the pundits and politicians who have been applying it so liberally to the Trump campaign is a dog whistle for something they don’t want to talk about in so many words. What they mean by it, of course, is “wage class American.”

That’s extremely common. Consider the recent standoff in Oregon between militia members and federal officials. While that was ongoing, wags in the blogosphere and the hip end of the media started referring to the militia members as “Y’all-Qaeda.” Attentive readers may have noted that none of the militia members came from the South—the only part of the United States where “y’all” is the usual second person plural pronoun. To the best of my knowledge, all of them came from the dryland West, where “y’all” is no more common than it is on the streets of Manhattan or Vancouver. Why, then, did the label catch on so quickly and get the predictable sneering laughter of the salary class?

It spread so quickly and got that laugh because most members of the salary class in the United States love to apply a specific stereotype to the entire American wage class. You know that stereotype as well as I do, dear reader. It’s a fat, pink-faced, gap-toothed Southern good ol’ boy in jeans and a greasy T-shirt, watching a NASCAR race on television from a broken-down sofa, with one hand stuffed elbow deep into a bag of Cheez Doodles, the other fondling a shotgun, a Confederate flag patch on his baseball cap and a Klan outfit in the bedroom closet. As a description of wage-earning Americans in general, that stereotype is as crass, as bigoted, and as politically motivated as any of the racial and sexual stereotypes that so many people these days are ready to denounce—but if you mention this, the kind of affluent white liberals who would sooner impale themselves on their own designer corkscrews than mention African-Americans and watermelons in the same paragraph will insist at the top of their lungs that it’s not a stereotype, it’s the way “those people” really are.

Those of my readers who don’t happen to know any people from the salary class, and so haven’t had the opportunity to hear the kind of hate speech they like to use for the wage class, might want to pick up the latest edition of the National Review, and read a really remarkable diatribe by Kevin Williamson—it’s behind a paywall, but here’s a sample.  The motive force behind this tantrum was the fact that many people in the Republican party’s grassroots base are voting in their own best interests, and thus for Trump, rather than falling into line and doing what they’re told by their soi-disant betters. The very idea!  It’s a fine display of over-the-top classist bigotry, as well as a first-rate example of the way that so many people in the salary class like to insist that poverty is always and only the fault of the poor.

May I please be frank? The reason that millions of Americans have had their standard of living hammered for forty years, while the most affluent twenty per cent have become even more affluent, is no mystery. What happened was that corporate interests in this country, aided and abetted by a bipartisan consensus in government and cheered on by the great majority of the salary class, stripped the US economy of living wage jobs by offshoring most of America’s industrial economy, on the one hand, and flooding the domestic job market with millions of legal and illegal immigrants on the other.

That’s why a family living on one average full-time wage in 1966 could afford a home, a car, three square meals a day, and the other necessities and comforts of an ordinary American lifestyle, while a family with one average full time wage in most US cities today is living on the street. None of that happened by accident; no acts of God were responsible; no inexplicable moral collapse swept over the American wage class and made them incapable of embracing all those imaginary opportunities that salary class pundits like to babble about. That change was brought about, rather, by specific, easily identifiable policies. As a result, all things considered, blaming the American poor for the poverty that has been imposed on them by policies promoted by the affluent is the precise economic equivalent of blaming rape victims for the actions of rapists.

In both cases, please note, blaming the victim makes a convenient substitute for talking about who’s actually responsible, who benefits from the current state of affairs, and what the real issues are. When that conversation is one that people who have a privileged role in shaping public discourse desperately don’t want to have, blaming the victim is an effective diversionary tactic, and accordingly it gets much use in the US media these days. There are, after all, plenty of things that the people who shape public discourse in today’s America don’t want to talk about. The fact that the policies pushed by those same shapers of opinion have driven millions of American families into poverty and misery isn’t the most unmentionable of these things, as it happens. The most unmentionable of the things that don’t get discussed is the fact that those policies have failed.

It really is as simple as that. The policies we’re talking about—lavish handouts for corporations and the rich, punitive austerity schemes for the poor, endless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, malign neglect of domestic infrastructure, and deer-in-the-headlights blank looks or vacuous sound bites in response to climate change and the other consequences of our frankly moronic maltreatment of the biosphere that keeps us all alive—were supposed to bring prosperity to the United States and its allies and stability to the world. They haven’t done that, they won’t do that, and with whatever respect is due to the supporters of Hillary Clinton, four more years of those same policies won’t change that fact. The difficulty here is simply that no one in the political establishment, and precious few in the salary class in general, are willing to recognize that failure, much less learn its obvious lessons or notice the ghastly burdens that those policies have imposed on the majorities who have been forced to carry the costs.

warren beatty got blacklisted from hollywood for just pretending Trump...,

zerohedge |  Some people think that truth is relative. At least my relatives do. Try telling your friends and family that all truth passes through Three Stages, from ridicule to violent opposition to eventual acceptance, according to that guy Schopenhauer again, who must have been a lot of fun at parties. My friends and family remain at stage one.

In an essay called Bulworth In 2013, artist Jim Kirwan remarked: “Warren Beatty made Bulworth in 1998 to warn America about what this country had become . . . The film is about a disillusioned Senator who tires of the lies and begins to tell it like it is.  No other major filmmaker has dared to produce, much less chosen to put these topics before the public.” 

Bulworth quickly insults or provokes everyone he meets, from Black civic leaders to Jewish movie moguls to a roomful of the Senator’s corrupt corporate donors.  While on a fundraiser, Senator Bulworth visits the home of some Hollywood heavyweights and is asked bluntly by one of them: “Senator, do you think those of us in the entertainment business need government help in determining limits on sex and violence in today’s films and television programs?” 

Bulworth replies: “You know the funny thing is, how lousy most of your stuff is. You make violent films, you make dirty films, you make family films, but just most of them are not very good, are they? Funny that so many smart people could work so hard on them and spend so much money on them and, I mean, what do you think it is? It must be the money, huh. It must be the money, it turns everything to crap you know. Jesus Christ how much money do you guys really need?” 

And that is how you get black-listed from Hollywood, despite all the Oscars you have won in the past. Talk truth to power and damn if they don’t try to ruin you. 

Bulworth continues on in his suicidal mission. Warren Beatty is masterful and marvelous, like Trump on truth serum or steroids. Intoxicated with his candor, Senator Bulworth begins to rhyme, to a roomful of stunned corporate backers. “And over here, we got our friends from oil/ They don’t give a shit how much wilderness they spoil/ They tell us they are careful, we know that it’s a lie/ As long as we keep driving cars, they’ll let the planet die/ Exxon, Mobil, the Saudis and Kuwait, if we still got the Middle East, the atmosphere can wait/ The Arabs got the oil, we buy everything they sell/ But if the brothers raise the price, we’ll blow them all to hell.” 

Imagine Trump saying something like THAT? 

So ask yourself this, dear reader: When has ONE candidate managed to provoke and then UNITE the hysterical Left liberals and the entrenched, super rich & powerful oligarchs of the Extreme Right against him? Not to mention uniting the puppets and pundits of the mainstream media? Has that ever happened in American history? Before Bulworth? Before Trump? 

Consider the growing list of powerful, special interests arrayed against Donald Trump. Billionaire corporate heads oppose Trump. Dozens of them flew down to Sea Island, Georgia to devise ways to remove Trump from the Republican ticket. “”What we see at Sea Island is that, despite all their babble about bringing the blessings of democracy to the world’s benighted, AEI, Neocon Central, believe less in democracy than in perpetual control of the American nation by the ruling Beltway elites,” wrote Patrick Buchanan. “If an outsider like Trump imperils that control . . . the elites will come together to bring him down, because behind party lines, they’re soul brothers in pursuit of power.” 

Speaking of soul brothers, another billionaire, and self-confessed Nazi collaborator, George Soros backs BlackLivesMatters.  Soros provided in excess of $30 million in “seed” money to BLM.  Tweeted top BLM activist and rapper Tef Poe: “ If Trump wins, young niggas such as myself are fully hell bent on inciting riots everywhere we go.”

Billionaires bankrolling ghetto brothers to burn and riot? And NO outcry from the American media, naturally.  Fist tap Don.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

no this let them eat cake type bish did not say this isht right'chere!?!?!?!?

bloomberg |  The global economy is beset by an array of political risks, from terrorism to the U.K.’s potential departure from the European Union, at a time when growth is at best mediocre, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

The world outlook is clouded by “weak growth, no new jobs, no high inflation, still high debt -- all those things that should be low and that are high,” Lagarde said in an interview in Frankfurt on Tuesday with Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua. The downside risks have increased and “we don’t see much by way of upside,” she said.

The International Monetary Fund’s view of the world economy has dimmed over the last six months, exacerbated by China’s slowdown, lower commodity prices and the risk of financial tightening in many countries. The Washington-based fund, which will hold its spring meetings starting April 15, is warning that political populism now also poses a growing risk to the economic order, fueled by income inequality and the ongoing fallout from last decade’s financial crisis.

“What we fear is this sort of very new mediocre,” Lagarde said in the interview after delivering a speech at Frankfurt’s Goethe University. In the talk, she urged governments to front-load structural reforms that can boost growth potential and warned that monetary policy can’t bear the burden for supporting output alone.

Lagarde, 60, a former French finance minister, used a quotation from Goethe’s “Faust,” in German, to chastise governments for not doing enough on the reform or fiscal-spending front to prevent economies from slipping into torpor.

“The message well I hear, my faith alone is weak,” she said. “There is always a good reason not to act. But that would be precisely the wrong move. The growth momentum is weak, risks are probably on the rise, and confidence is sorely lacking.”

wikilieaks calls for panama papeles to be released in full

belfasttelegraph |  Mr Hrafnsson, who worked on the ‘Cablegate’ leak of diplomatic documents in 2010, suggested the withholding of documents is understandable to maximise the impact, but said that in the end the papers should be published in full for the public to access.

He told RT's Afshin Rattansi on Going Underground: "When they are saying this is responsible journalism, I totally disagree with the overall tone of that.

"I do have a sympathy to stalled releases, we certainly did that in WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011 with the Diplomatic Cables… but in the end the entire cache was put online in a searchable database.
"That is what I’d want to see with these Panama Papers, they should be available to the general public in such a manner so everybody, not just the group of journalists working on the data, can search it."

The reports are from a global group of news organisations working with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The consortium have been processing the legal records from the Mossack Fonseca law firm that were first leaked to the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Shell companies are not necessarily illegal. People or companies might use them to reduce their tax bill legally, by benefiting from low tax rates in countries like Panama, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

But the practice is frowned upon, particularly when used by politicians, who then face criticism for not contributing to their own countries' economies.

Because offshore accounts and companies also hide the names of the ultimate owners of investments, they are often used to illegally evade taxes or launder money.

Presenter Rattansi mentions that the ICIJ is funded by the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment think tank, the Rockefellers and George Soros.

panama papeles clip chilean head of Transparency International

reuters |  While Delaveau is not accused of illegal activity, the leaks called into question his post at Transparency International, a German-based organization that seeks to monitor and root out corporate and political corruption worldwide.

According to CIPER, Delaveau, a lawyer, acts as a representative for Turnbrook Corporation, DK Corporation, Heatlhey International Inc, Turnbrook Mining Ltd and Vizcachitas Ltd, all of which are domiciled in the Bahamas.

Delaveau also serves as a director for Turnbrook Mining, which owns 51.6 percent of Los Andes Copper, a Canadian exploration and development company currently focused on a mine project north of Chile's capital, Santiago.

Delaveau could not be reached for comment.

In response to questions from CIPER, he said he was a director only at Turnbrook Mining and that his relations with the other companies were consistent with his role as a lawyer and legal clerk.

He added in an interview with a local radio station that he was "extremely surprised" by the "gray, dark area" of Mossack Fonseca.

Delaveau's resignation came hours after Chile's tax authority announced the beginning of an "intense follow-up" of the Chileans mentioned in the Panama Papers, who range from ex-soccer stars to newspaper magnates.

The disclosures also come as Chile deals with political and corporate corruption scandals that have left Chileans angry with the entire professional class and eroded the government's popularity.

panama papeles reveal that like fish, world soccer still rots from the head...,

theguardian |  The new head of world football has been caught up in the sport’s corruption scandal because of documents that have been revealed by the Panama Papers leak.

Files seen by the Guardian will raise questions about the role Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, played in deals that were concluded when he was director of legal services at Uefa, European football’s governing body.

According to records, Uefa concluded offshore deals with one of the indicted figures at the heart of an alleged “World Cup of fraud” despite previously insisting it had no dealings with any of them.

The emergence of the contracts from 2003 and 2006, which were co-signed by Infantino, link Uefa for the first time to one of the companies involved in the huge unfolding scandal that has brought down former Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Uefa has denied any wrongdoing by any of its officials or any other marketing partner.

It said the contracts were all above board. Fifa has previously insisted Infantino had no dealings with any of the officials currently under investigation – or their companies. Infantino said he was “dismayed” by the reports and “will not accept that my integrity is being doubted”.

The disclosures are based on the leak of 11m documents from the files of the offshore financial law firm Mossack Fonseca, which were obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with the Guardian and other news organisations.

capitalism will devour democracy unless...,

libertyblitzkrieg |  The IMF’s austerity package is inhuman because it will destroy hundreds of thousands of small businesses, defund society’s weakest, and turbocharge the humanitarian crisis. And it is unnecessary because meaningful growth is much more likely to return to Greece under our policy proposals to end austerity, target the oligarchy, and reform public administration (rather than attacking, again, the weak).

To give a monstrously exaggerated but terribly instructive parallel of the IMF’s logic, if Greece is nuked tomorrow the economic crisis ends and its macroeconomic numbers are “fixed” as long as creditors accept a 100 percent haircut. But, if I am right that our numbers added up just as well, while allowing Greece to recover without further social decline, why did the IMF join Berlin to crush us in 2015?

For decades, whenever the IMF “visited” a struggling country, it promoted “reforms” that led to the demolition of small businesses and the proletarisation of middle-class professionals. Abandoning the template in Greece would be to confess to the possibility that decades of anti-social programs imposed globally might have been inhuman and unnecessary. 

To recap, the Wikileaks revelations unveil an attrition war between a reasonably numerate villain (the IMF) and a chronic procrastinator (Berlin). We also know that the IMF is seriously considering bringing things to a head next July by dangling Greece once more over the abyss, exactly as in July 2015. Except that this time the purpose is to force the hand not of Alexis Tsipras, whose fresh acquiescence the IMF considers in the bag, but of the German Chancellor. 

Will Christine Lagarde (the IMF’s Managing Director with ambitions of a European political comeback) toe the line of her underlings? How will Chancellor Merkel react to the publication of these conversations? Might the protagonists’ strategies change now that we have had a glimpse of them? 

While pondering these questions, I cannot stem the torrent of sadness from the thought that last year, during our Athens Spring, Greece had weapons against the troika’s organised incompetence that I was, alas, not allowed to use. The result is a Europe more deeply immersed in disrepute and a Greek people watching from the sidelines an ugly brawl darkening their already bleak future.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

capitalism's peak crisis?

Time |  Voters know at a gut level that our system of global capitalism is working mainly for the 1 %, not the 99 %. That’s a large part of why both Sanders and Trump have done well, because they tap into that truth, albeit in different ways. The Panama Papers illuminate a key aspect of why the system isn’t working–because globalization has allowed the capital and assets of the 1 % (be they individuals or corporations) to travel freely, while those of the 99 % cannot. Globalization is supposed to be about the free movement of people, goods, and capital. But in fact, the system is set up to enable that mobility mainly for the rich (or for large corporations). The result is global tax evasion, the offshoring of labor, and an elite that flies 35,000 feet over the problems of nation states and the tax payers within them.

Where do we go from here? I think we’re heading towards a root to branch re-evaluation of how our market system works–and doesn’t work. The debate over free trade is part of that re-evaluation. The calls for a global campaign against tax evasion are, too. I think there will also be intense scrutiny about the ease with which financial capital can move around the world – we’ve already seen that with the hoopla over tax inversions, but we’ll see a lot more backlash, in new areas.

“I expect that the populist backlash will be intense and will impact everything from high-end real estate to PACs (effectively political shell companies),” says one of my favorite sources, Peter Atwater, a behavioral economist. “Voters are increasingly angry at the seeming transience of the financial/corporate/political elite. The 1% can move anywhere they want—and profit handsomely from the relocation, but the 99% can’t. Worse, the 99% are left with the aftermath—the empty buildings of a deserted Detroit, the toxic waste from chemical plants in West Virginia or the unsustainable tax liabilities of Puerto Rico.”

sets the standards for financial institutions in identifying their customers...,

Source: Dirty Little Secrets

Source: Dirty Little Secrets

Source: Dirty Little Secrets

Trump explains how you pay for a border wall - and - stop the 1% from sheltering trillions offshore...,

WaPo |  Starting on “day 1,” Trump writes, he would issue a warning to Mexico that unless it pays his desired amount, he will promulgate a new federal provision that would lead to a sweeping confiscation of funds sent by Mexicans in the United States who lack documentation of their “lawful presence.”

On “day 2,” Trump continued, “Mexico would immediately protest.” But he would declare that Mexico must choose between the enforcement of his provision or acquiescing.

To explain how he would have the standing to pursue his aggressive strategy, Trump begins by citing a provision in the Code of Federal Regulations that sets the standards for financial institutions in identifying their customers.

That provision, Trump says, makes it possible for the executive branch to “issue detailed regulations on the subject.” He predicted that Mexico would react by initially balking, then doing what he wants.
Trump writes that “if the Mexican government will contribute $__ billion to the United States to pay for the wall, the Trump Administration will not promulgate the final rule, and the regulation will not go into effect.”

Many academics and economists have said that Trump’s notion of impounding remittances could have devastating consequences, harming poor communities and families who rely on funds from abroad to provide food and shelter.

Other aspects of Trump’s plan include“trade tariffs, or enforcement of existing trade rules,” “cancelling visas” and “visa fees.” Trump leaves open the option of using those methods to coerce Mexico.

“Our approvals of hundreds of thousands of visas every year is one of our greatest leverage points,” Trump writes. “We also have leverage through business and tourist visas for important people in the Mexican economy.”

Trump ends with a scathing critique of Mexico, claiming that it has “taken advantage” of the United States for years through “gangs, drug traffickers and cartels” responsible for “the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity.”

“We have the moral high ground here, and all the leverage,” Trump concludes.

how Valodya the star of the panama papers when he ain't even in it?

RT |  The smear campaign against Putin comes a week after his press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Western media intended to launch a new slander attack against the Russian president, while he also expressed regret that reporters’ professionalism is often “sacrificed to political demands.”

“Another piece of spin, which is claimed to be sensational and objective, will happen in the nearest days. We have received some excessively-rich requests that, however, in their form were more like questions at an interrogation,” Peskov said.

He explained that the letters contained some personal questions about Putin, as well as questions about the Russian president’s family, his childhood friends and some businessmen.

“They are repeating themselves. ‘Is it true that the amount of your personal accumulated wealth is about US$40 billion?’ ‘Is it true that you possess gigantic residences, mega-yachts and other assets?’
On Sunday, Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) released the biggest leak in journalistic history, posting 11.5 million documents from a Panama law firm online and providing “rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows.”

SZ said it received the law firm’s documents a year ago from an anonymous source who “wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return.” 

The German paper obtained further documents in an investigation that followed, involving “400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries.”

Mossack Fonseca Has 441 U.S. Clients: Who Are They?

zerohedge |  It also does not explain why according to primary data compiled in Fusion's interactive universe, one can find an abundance of US-based nodes in the client/company/shareholder and beneficiary map (highlighted in blue).

Indicatively with 441 clients, the US is among the countries with the most clients served by Mossack Fonseca. 

So who are these 441 clients, and why has the ICIJ decided not to reveal any of them?
Or perhaps it will all be revealed in due course. 

According to a tweet by a tech editor at Germany's Suddeutsche Zeiting - the outlet that received the original leak - there will be more disclosures forthcoming.

Monday, April 04, 2016

seriously, not even a single solitary 1% perp from israel or the u.s. in this spectre leak?!?!?!

winteractionables |  Curiously, in the initial illustration when you click by country, not a single individual from the United States or Israel is listed.

Clearly, this kind of leak is subject to tremendous abuse in the hands of a Crime Syndicate controlled media. ICIJ Mansu Shrestha who “leaked” the files, is directly funded by the Open Society Foundations of George Soros.
Recent ICIJ funders include: Adessium Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Omidyar, Oak Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts and Waterloo Foundation,  Atlantic Philanthropies of New York, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Democracy Fund, Ford Foundation, David B. Gold Foundation, Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund,
Rockefeller Family Fund, The Stanley Foundation, Law Office of Steven Birnbaum, Isadore Sadie Dorin Foundation, The Grodzins Fund, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, Michael and Ina Korek Foundation Trust, The Harman Rasnow and Eleanor Rasnow Trust, Rotberg Comens Bray Foundation, Skeist Family Charitable Trust

if mossack fonseca is only one of the five biggest purveyors of offshore secrecy, who are the other four?

irishtimes |  Mossack Fonseca & Co. had a problem in Vegas.
Legal papers filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas claimed that the Panama-based law firm had created 123 companies in Nevada that had been used by a crony of Argentina’s former president to steal millions of dollars from government contracts. A subpoena demanded that Mossack Fonsecaturn over details about any money that had flowed through the Nevada companies.
Mossack Fonesca didn’t want to provide this information. For a firm that specializes in setting up hard-to-trace offshore companies for clients around the world, confidentiality is a must.
The law firm tried to block the subpoena by denying that its Las Vegas operations, run by a company called M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada) Limited, were part of the Mossack Fonseca group.
The firm’s Panama-based co-founder, Jürgen Mossack, testified under oath that “MF Nevada and Mossack Fonseca do not have a parent-subsidiary relationship nor does Mossack Fonseca control the internal affairs or daily operations of MF Nevada’s business.”
But secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other media partners raise new doubts over that sworn testimony.
Not only do they show that the Nevada subsidiary was wholly owned by Mossack Fonseca but that, behind the scenes, the firm took steps to wipe potentially damaging records from phones and computers to keep details of their clients from the United States justice system.
One email from 2014, for instance, instructs that any link between Mossack Fonseca’s central computing system in Panama and the Nevada office “has to be obscure to the investigators.” Other emails report that IT operatives working via remote control from Panama “tried to clean the logs of the PC’s in the Nevada office” and planned to run a “remote session to eliminate the traces of direct access to our CIS” - the firm’s computer information system.
The documents even show that a firm employee traveled from Panama to Vegas to whisk paper documents out of the country. “When Andrés came to Nevada he cleaned up everything and brought all documents to Panama,” a Sept. 24, 2014 email said.
In comments to ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca “categorically” denied hiding or destroying documents that might be used in an ongoing investigation or litigation.
The more than 11 million documents obtained by ICIJ - emails, bank accounts and client records - represent the inner workings of Mossack Fonseca for nearly forty years, from 1977 to December 2015 . They reveal the offshore holdings of individuals and companies from more than 200 countries and territories .
They recount example after example of ethical and legal wrongdoing by some clients and provide evidence of a firm happy to act as a gatekeeper to the secrets of its clients, even those who turn out to be crooks, members of the Mafia, drug dealers, corrupt politicians and tax evaders.
The files show that business has been good.
Today, Mossack Fonseca is considered one of the world’s five biggest wholesalers of offshore secrecy. It has more than more than 500 employees and collaborators in more than 40 offices around the world, including three inSwitzerland and eight in China.

what are the panama papers?

theatlantic |  News organizations from around the world have published investigations based on a massive trove of leaked documents they say reveal corruption and questionable business dealings of world leaders, politicians, sports stars, and others.

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said Sunday it received encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based company that sells offshore shell companies around the world, from an anonymous source more than a year ago. The leak amounts to approximately 11.5 million documents—or 2.6 terabytes’ worth of data—on 214,000 shell companies spanning a period between the 1970s and 2016.

The documents, which have been dubbed the “Panama Papers,” contain mostly emails, PDF files, and photo files belonging to Mossack Fonseca, one of the largest providers of offshore financial services. They may represent the world’s biggest-ever leak of classified information.

“The data provides rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows,”Süddeutsche Zeitung said in its report. “It proves how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung shared the information with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news outlets in nearly 80 countries. Almost 400 journalists have combed through the documents over the past year.

Some of the products of that research were published Sunday. The BBC reportedthe leak reveals information about 72 current or former heads of state, including Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, and Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi. 

It reported Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stored millions of dollars of investments in Iceland’s major banks in an offshore company. The Guardian reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s associates secretly moved as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Juan Pedro Damiani, the Uruguayan lawyer who is president of the country’s most popular soccer team and a FIFA ethics expert, managed companies through which FIFA members may have received bribes.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Wikileaks Reveals IMF Plan To "Cause A Credit Event In Greece And Destabilize Europe"

zerohedge |  One of the recurring concerns involving Europe's seemingly perpetual economic, financial and social crises, is that these have been largely predetermined, "scripted" and deliberate acts. 

This is something the former head of the Bank of England admitted one month ago when Mervyn King said that Europe's economic depression "is the result of "deliberate" policy choices made by EU elites.  It is also what AIG Banque strategist Bernard Connolly said back in 2008 when laying out "What Europe Wants"
To use global issues as excuses to extend its power:
  • environmental issues: increase control over member countries; advance idea of global governance
  • terrorism: use excuse for greater control over police and judicial issues; increase extent of surveillance
  • global financial crisis: kill two birds (free market; Anglo-Saxon economies) with one stone (Europe-wide regulator; attempts at global financial governance)
  • EMU: create a crisis to force introduction of “European economic government”
This morning we got another confirmation of how supernational organizations "plan" European crises in advance to further their goals, when Wikileaks published the transcript of a teleconference that took place on March 19, 2016 between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis - Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF's European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF Mission Chief for Greece.

using rapgenius to expose the pro-israel bias of the nytimes...,

mondoweiss |   “Awful + NYT forgoes context,” lamented Jewish Voice for Peace on Twitter this morning, linking to Isabel Kershner’s dreadful wallow into Israel’s “polarized” psyche, following Cpl. Elor Azarya’s videotaped Mar. 24 street murder of wounded Palestinian Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif.

Like much Times coverage of Israel and Palestine, Kershner’s story entirely erases Palestinian history and views. The report treats as commonplace the growing incitement by Israel’s top politicians to kill suspects on site. It describes a “surge” in Palestinian violence with not a word about the 68 years of repression and 49 years of occupation that led to it. It reports the divided views of a Jewish society said to be torn about punishing its own war criminals, with no mention of how the Palestinian population feels about the incident–or the decades of ethnic tyranny that preceded it.

Kershner’s piece is exactly the kind of Israel-centric bias that media activists like James North and sites such as TimesWarp and The Intercept do a heroic job of deconstructing. More than once these critics have managed to get the Times itself (or at least its public editor) to acknowledge deep flaws in the paper of record’s Middle East reporting.

But what if everyone could fix these awful Times mistakes and omissions, reaching readers right on its page? Newly expanded (which began in 2009 as Rap Genius, a site for marking up hip-hop lyrics) now “lets you add line-by-line annotations to any page on the Internet.” It’s controversial; not every publisher likes having its site marked up by potentially hostile readers–like me, in this case. I decided to give it a try.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

how DO you respond to someone taking over your country and ruining it?

The hobbit-folk had previously enjoyed a society largely free of the affliction called “government.” Frodo and his friends were mortified to encounter a regimented dystopia in which the shire-riffs –who had been peripheral under the old order – were enforcing an ever-growing list of rules handed down by an unseen “Chief.” The shire-riffs themselves weren’t intimidating, but behind them lurked a band of “Ruffians” who looked upon the inhabitants of the Shire with disdain and were prepared to inflict mortal harm on anybody who resisted the Chief’s decrees.

Farms and homes, once self-sufficient, had been ravaged by officials called “Gatherers” and “Sharers,” although the bounty that was gathered in the Chief’s name was never shared with the populace. The verdant countryside, which once thrived under the husbandry of private landowners, had been despoiled by those acting on the “authority” of the new government. Any residents of the Shire who resisted that “authority” were hauled away to “lock holes.”

Furious over what had been done to their home and steeled by their experience in battle, Frodo and his companions sounded the tocsin and organized the Hobbit-folk to “scour the Shire.” This meant driving the Ruffians and their adherents from the land, including any shire-riffs who remained loyal to the usurpers. Frodo gave strict instructions to avoid bloodshed where possible. The Chief – as it happens, Saruman in disguise – would not relinquish power without extracting a price in blood.
The “scouring,” as portrayed by Tolkien in “Return of the King,” is distant kindred to Homer’s account of Odysseus dealing with the interlopers who had plundered his home and sought to seize control of Ithaca during his lengthy absence. “I will not stay my hand till I have paid all of you in full,” Odysseus told the men who had sought to steal everything he cherished, including Penelope. “You must fight, or flee for your lives.”

In dealing with the shire-riffs – or, to use the more familiar term, sheriffs – who had become oppressors, Frodo, and his friends were more merciful than Odysseus and Telemachus had been. As Sauron had expected, many of those who had been public servants found it intoxicating to exercise power over the “little folk.” Others, disgusted by what they had become, threw away their badges of authority and were welcomed into the righteous rebellion against the Chief and his enforcers.

comprehensive example of coherent coalitional killing and kin-selection...,

WaPo |  The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law.

The "Equitable Sharing Program" gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law, particularly in instances where local law enforcement officers have a relationship with federal authorities as part of a joint task force. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize.
The Justice Department had suspended payments under this program in December, due to budget cuts included in last year's spending bill.

"In the months since we made the difficult decision to defer equitable sharing payments because of the $1.2 billion rescinded from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, the financial solvency of the fund has improved to the point where it is no longer necessary to continue deferring equitable sharing payments," spokesman Peter J. Carr said in an email Monday.

While he didn't specify exactly where the new funding came from, Carr noted that the program is partly funded by the cash and other property seized under the program.

"The Asset Forfeiture Fund acts in many ways like a revolving fund," he explained in a follow-up email. "Forfeited proceeds are being deposited throughout the year to replenish the funds that are simultaneously flowing out of the Asset Forfeiture Fund to pay for approved agency expenses." He noted that when the Justice Department announced the suspension  in December, it remained "very eager to resume payments as soon as it is fiscally feasible to do so."

concise example of coalitional killing and kin-selection...,

vice |  The truth is street violence isn't determined by the police chief when you have a city with a high black and brown unemployment rate, according to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the RainbowPUSH Coalition, which is headquartered on the city's South Side. In 2015, the jobless rate in Illinois was 12 percent for African Americans and 7.2 percent for Hispanics.

"You can't police poverty, you have to eliminate it," Jackson tells VICE. "We have vacant lots, closed schools, recycled poverty. There's a growing sense of recycled desperation."

Residents tend to agree Chicago has to look at the systemic factors behind people killing one another, such as community disinvestment. Moore points to the work of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, where researchers are concerned with the access and flow of illegal guns.

"It's probably more important to look at overall trends and what works and what isn't working," she tells me. "It's easy to get caught up in the number, and sometimes the solutions become more military- than investment-based."

A recent University of Illinois at Chicago report on youth joblessness highlights a source of desperation: 88 percent of black youths ages 16 to 19 were jobless in 2014, and 85 percent of Latino youths were unemployed, compared with 29 percent of young people nationally.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Killing the Host

unz |  CHRIS HEDGES: We’re going to be discussing a great Ponzi scheme that not only defines not only the U.S. but the global economy, how we got there and where we’re going. And with me to discuss this issue is the economist Michael Hudson, author ofKilling the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy. A professor of economics who worked for many years on Wall Street, where you don’t succeed if you don’t grasp Marx’s dictum that capitalism is about exploitation. And he is also, I should mention, the godson of Leon Trotsky.
I want to open this discussion by reading a passage from your book, which I admire very much, which I think gets to the core of what you discuss. You write,
“Adam Smith long ago remarked that profits often are highest in nations going fastest to ruin. There are many ways to create economic suicide on a national level. The major way through history has been through indebting the economy. Debt always expands to reach a point where it cannot be paid by a large swathe of the economy. This is the point where austerity is imposed and ownership of wealth polarizes between the One Percent and the 99 Percent. Today is not the first time this has occurred in history. But it is the first time that running into debt has occurred deliberately.” Applauded. “As if most debtors can get rich by borrowing, not reduced to a condition of debt peonage.”
So let’s start with the classical economists, who certainly understood this. They were reacting of course to feudalism. And what happened to the study of economics so that it became gamed by ideologues?
HUDSON: The essence of classical economics was to reform industrial capitalism, to streamline it, and to free the European economies from the legacy of feudalism. The legacy of feudalism was landlords extracting land-rent, and living as a class that took income without producing anything. Also, banks that were not funding industry. The leading industrialists from James Watt, with his steam engine, to the railroads …
HEDGES: From your book you make the point that banks almost never funded industry.
HUDSON: That’s the point: They never have. By the time you got to Marx later in the 19th century, you had a discussion, largely in Germany, over how to make banks do something they did not do under feudalism. Right now we’re having the economic surplus being drained not by the landlords but also by banks and bondholders.
Adam Smith was very much against colonialism because that lead to wars, and wars led to public debt. He said the solution to prevent this financial class of bondholders burdening the economy by imposing more and more taxes on consumer goods every time they went to war was to finance wars on a pay-as-you-go basis. Instead of borrowing, you’d tax the people. Then, he thought, if everybody felt the burden of war in the form of paying taxes, they’d be against it. Well, it took all of the 19th century to fight for democracy and to extend the vote so that instead of landlords controlling Parliament and its law-making and tax system through the House of Lords, you’d extend the vote to labor, to women and everybody. The theory was that society as a whole would vote in its self-interest. It would vote for the 99 Percent, not for the One Percent.
By the time Marx wrote in the 1870s, he could see what was happening in Germany. German banks were trying to make money in conjunction with the government, by lending to heavy industry, largely to the military-industrial complex.
HEDGES: This was Bismarck’s kind of social – I don’t know what we’d call it. It was a form of capitalist socialism…
HUDSON: They called it State Capitalism. There was a long discussion by Engels, saying, wait a minute. We’re for Socialism. State Capitalism isn’t what we mean by socialism. There are two kinds of state-oriented–.
HEDGES: I’m going to interject that there was a kind of brilliance behind Bismarck’s policy because he created state pensions, he provided health benefits, and he directed banking toward industry, toward the industrialization of Germany which, as you point out, was very different in Britain and the United States.

How Hedge Funds are Blood-Funneling the Life Out of Argentina

NYTimes |  PERHAPS the most complex trial in history between a sovereign nation, Argentina, and its bondholders — including a group of United States-based hedge funds — officially came to an end yesterday when the Argentine Senate ratified a settlement.

The resolution was excellent news for a small group of well-connected investors, and terrible news for the rest of the world, especially countries that face their own debt crises in the future.
In late 2001, Argentina defaulted on $132 billion in loans during its disastrous depression. Gross domestic product dropped by 28 percent, 57.5 percent of Argentines were living in poverty, and the unemployment rate skyrocketed to above 20 percent, leading to riots and clashes that resulted in 39 deaths.

Unable to pay its creditors, Argentina restructured its debt in two rounds of negotiations. The package discounted the bonds by two-thirds but provided a mechanism for more payments when the country’s economy recovered, which it did. A vast majority of the bondholders — 93 percent — accepted the deal.

Among the small minority who refused the deal were investors who had bought many of their bonds at a huge discount, well after the country defaulted and even after the first round of restructuring. These kinds of investors have earned the name vulture funds by buying up distressed debt, then, often aided by lawyers and lobbyists, trying to force a settlement.

The companies involved included some of the best-known vulture funds, including NML Capital, a subsidiary of Elliott Management, a hedge fund co-led by Paul Singer, a major contributor to the Republican Party, as well as Aurelius Capital and Dart Management. NML, which had the largest claim in the Argentina case, was the lead litigant of a group of bondholders in New York federal courts.

For a long time, Argentina refused to pay the holdouts. The funds tried all sorts of ways to change the country’s position, including, at one point, having an iconic Argentine ship seized in Ghana.

Then a 2012 ruling by Judge Thomas Griesa of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York threw the game in the vulture funds’ favor, ruling that Argentina had to pay them back at full value, a cost to Argentina of $4.65 billion. NML, for example, would get a total return of 1,500 percent on its initial investment, according to our calculations, because of the cheap prices it paid for the debt and because of a “compensatory” interest rate of 9 percent under New York law.

The ruling, which became effective in 2014, did something else: Judge Griesa issued an injunction blocking Argentina from paying anything to the creditors who had accepted the deal until it had paid the vultures in full.

The judge gave the vultures the weapon they needed: Argentina had to either pay them off or renege on the default they had negotiated, ruining the country’s credit in the future and threatening its recovery.