Category Archives: Governance

Panama Papers: The case of the silent watchdog


Back in the fictional London of 1897, if criminals struck the prominent, there was only one person to call, Sherlock Holmes.

In The Adventure of Silver Blaze, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about the case of a famous racehorse, abducted before a major race.

After visiting the scene of the crime, a rural farm, Holmes discusses his findings with Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard, when the Inspector asks a question:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Needless to say, as Holmes had correctly inferred, the case was an inside job.

Fast forward 119 years and the same question is equally relevant in the wake of the Panama Papers leak, that massive cache of data revealing the names of the members of the global elite — including some of the planet’s mpost powerful drug cartels and criminal syndicates — who available themselves of the services of a Panamanian law firm specializing in create covert tax shelters hidden under a bizarre network of pseudonyms and false fronts.

It’s been three months since the documents were first leaked to journalists and findings were reported in some of the planet’s leading publications and many governments have requested their own copies.

Many governments, except the government of the world’s richest nation, where no requests have come from the Department of Justice of those committees of the House of representatives and Senate charged with oversight of the institutions of power.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The inaction raises questions about the response by Congress and the Obama administration to the unprecedented leak that rocked governments in Iceland, Pakistan and the United Kingdom and prompted investigations worldwide.

“The biggest financial scandal involving offshores is greeted with a yawn by U.S. law enforcement officials?” said Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor and money-laundering expert in Miami. “It doesn’t make any sense that a pot of evidentiary gold is going unpursued by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

In the weeks following the April 3 publication of stories across the globe about hidden offshore fortunes, President Barack Obama vowed to work with Congress to tackle reform aimed at offshore companies. His Justice Department declared that it “takes very seriously all credible allegations of high-level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the U.S. financial system.”

Yet as of June 23, Panama said it had not received a single request from the United States for access to the data seized by Panamanian authorities from Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers, said Sandra Sotillo, spokeswoman for Panamanian Attorney General Kenia Porcell.

On Capitol Hill, there is also little movement.

Obama’s proposed legislation to change reporting on the true owners of companies does not appear to have found any sponsor. The White House did not respond to questions.

Odd, ain’t it?

Or maybe not, considering all that dark money that fuels the American political machine. . .

Quote of the day II: Google, the imperial censor


From Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California, writing in U.S. News & World Report:

Google, Inc., isn’t just the world’s biggest purveyor of information; it is also the world’s biggest censor.

The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently been accused of banning postings on specific topics, and a recent report suggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block.

When Google’s employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political candidate or business, opinions and votes can shift, reputations can be ruined and businesses can crash and burn. Because online censorship is entirely unregulated at the moment, victims have little or no recourse when they have been harmed. Eventually, authorities will almost certainly have to step in, just as they did when credit bureaus were regulated in 1970. The alternative would be to allow a large corporation to wield an especially destructive kind of power that should be exercised with great restraint and should belong only to the public: the power to shame or exclude.

If Google were just another mom-and-pop shop with a sign saying “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” that would be one thing. But as the golden gateway to all knowledge, Google has rapidly become an essential in people’s lives – nearly as essential as air or water. We don’t let public utilities make arbitrary and secretive decisions about denying people services; we shouldn’t let Google do so either.

The Obama/Clinton lethal Asian agenda dissected


In Asia, far more than in the United States, the past is present, and nowhere more so than in Japan, where the Obama administration, following policy guidelines laid down by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State, is reigniting tensions and imperial ambitions thought stifled by defeat in World War II.

In the latest edition of The Empire Files, her weekly series for teleSUR English, Abby Martin interviews Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University.

Kuznick is a specialist in the history of America’s decision to use nuclear weapons on an already defeated Japan, and has followed closely the decision of the Obama administration to revive Japan’s military under the right wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In do so and at the express urging of Barack Obama, the Abe government has scrapped legislation drafted by the post-World War II U.S. occupation government barring Japan from possessing an offensive military and has revived Cold War strategies in pursuit of what Hillary Clinton called America’s new Pacific Century.

It’s a chilling story, critically important for understand just what a Clinton presidency would mean for a world already trembling on the brink of yet another economic collapse in the wake of the Brexit.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Untold History of Imperial Japan & the Bomb

Program notes:

Obama’s high-profile trip to Hiroshima was accompanied by a media storm that gave endless justifications for the US use of the atomic bomb on Japanese civilians. The myths are widely accepted in society, and underpin the notion of American exceptionalism.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Peter Kuznick, co-author with Director Oliver Stone of the bestselling book and HBO series “The Untold History of the United States,” about the real story behind the use of the atomic bombs—as well as the untold history of Imperial Japan, its role today for the US Empire, and the danger for new war on the horizon.

Duplicitous Clintonian secrecy strikes once again


As noted in our previous post, Hillary Clinton has not problems with lying when it serves her own interests.

But just as with her spouse, she can’t seem to help lying even when there’s a distinct possibility that she’ll be found out.

From the Associated Press come two stories featuring notable examples of the Clintonian propensity.

The particular version of prevarication in both cases the lying by omission/

First, from the most recent story:

An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as secretary of state identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded or omitted the names of those she met. The fuller details of those meetings were included in files the State Department turned over to AP after it sued the government in federal court.

The missing entries raise new questions about how Clinton and her inner circle handled government records documenting her State Department tenure — in this case, why the official chronology of her four-year term does not closely mirror the other, more detailed records of her daily meetings.

At a time when Clinton’s private email system is under scrutiny by an FBI criminal investigation, the calendar omissions reinforce concerns that she sought to eliminate the “risk of the personal being accessible” — as she wrote in an email exchange that she failed to turn over to the government but was subsequently uncovered in a top aide’s inbox.

The AP found the omissions by comparing the 1,500-page calendar with separate planning schedules supplied to Clinton by aides in advance of each day’s events. The names of at least 114 outsiders who met with Clinton were missing from her calendar, the records show.

And the second instance, from a 23 June AP story:

Former Secretary Hillary Clinton failed to turn over a copy of a key message involving problems caused by her use of a private homebrew email server, the State Department confirmed Thursday. The disclosure makes it unclear what other work-related emails may have been deleted by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

The email was included within messages exchanged Nov. 13, 2010, between Clinton and one of her closest aides, Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin. At the time, emails sent from Clinton’s BlackBerry device and routed through her private clintonemail.com server in the basement of her New York home were being blocked by the State Department’s spam filter. A suggested remedy was for Clinton to obtain a state.gov email account.

“Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible,” Clinton responded to Abedin.

Clinton never used a government account that was set up for her, instead continuing to rely on her private server until leaving office.

The email was not among the tens of thousands of emails Clinton turned over to the agency in response to public records lawsuits seeking copies of her official correspondence. Abedin, who also used a private account on Clinton’s server, provided a copy from her own inbox after the State Department asked her to return any work-related emails. That copy of the email was publicly cited last month in a blistering audit by the State Department’s inspector general that concluded Clinton and her team ignored clear internal guidance that her email setup violated federal standards and could have left sensitive material vulnerable to hackers.

What is it with these Clintons?

Is it because they simply feel entitled to prevaricate whenever it suits their own interests?

We guess that all depends on what the meaning of is is, right?

Quote of the day: Hillary, Donald, and the L-word


And the “L” doesn’t stand for lovable.

From former political speechwriter and current Wall Street Journal and The Times Literary Supplement contributor Barton Swaim, writing in the Los Angeles Times:

After abusing the word “lie” and its cognates for decades, we are faced with a choice between two pathologically dishonest candidates—and we have no word strong enough to call them what they are. Donald Trump’s lies are wanton and preposterous, whereas Hillary Clinton’s are more obviously calculated to win approval, but both have exhibited a tendency to say things that are manifestly and peremptorily false.

Consider only the most egregious instances. Trump insists that “thousands” of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on 9/11, a shockingly stupid invention from which he nonetheless refused to back down; that he warned the U.S. government of Osama bin Laden’s danger before 9/11, though there is no record of this instance of his sagacity; that the 9/11 hijackers’ wives “knew exactly what was going to happen,” though the hijackers were almost all unmarried; that the Bush White House tried to silence his opposition to the Iraq War, though there was no opposition from Trump to silence.

Clinton’s career offers a similarly dizzying array of bogus claims—that she had known nothing about the firing of White House travel office employees in 1993, though she had orchestrated it; that she deplaned in Bosnia under sniper fire; that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Everest when she was 5; that she was a fierce critic of NAFTA “from the very beginning” when in fact she worked to get it passed; that she “did not email any classified material to anyone,” though of course she did, many times.

These and similar claims by both candidates are not exaggerations or embellishments or just twisted renditions of the facts. They’re . . . well, they’re the commonest word in politics. And so not much of anything.

And a parallel, concise commentary tweeted by Edward Snowden:

BLOG Snowden vote

The Brexit Boogie: A vote that shook the world


Is the world headed into another Great Recession even before that shockwaves of the last one have settled down?

When one of the world’s two major financial centers pulls out of its continental base, there’s good cause for concern.

But that’s just one of the issues raised by Thursday’s vote.

Here’s a roundup of rumbles. . .

British buyers remorse?

Even before the dust settled, Brits were flocking online to sign a petition for a do-over.

From Agence France-Presse:

More than two million people have signed a petition calling for a second referendum, after a shock vote to pull Britain out of the EU, an official website showed Saturday.

The website of the parliamentary petition at one point crashed due to the surge of people adding their names to the call for another nationwide poll following Thursday’s historic vote.

“We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60 percent based (on) a turnout less than 75 percent there should be another referendum,” says the petition.

The blame game begins

Guess who’s catching the heat?

Hint: He’s already resigned his job in disgrace.

From euronews:

Blame for the failure to convince British voters to remain in the European Union lies at the door of David Cameron, European Commissioner Günther Oettinger told Euronews.

The Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society told Euronews that the decision by the Prime Minister to “order” the Commission to stay “out of the game” was a mistake.

Asked whether Cameron was to blame, Oettinger responded: “ I think so, yes. What he did is not acceptable.”

The Commissioner insisted that Scotland and Northern Ireland, which both voted overwhelmingly for ‘remain’, could only rejoin the European Union as independent nations. He predicted that Scotland would “probably” split from the rest of the United Kingdom.

And fear runs rampant

Shrinks call it Separation Anxiety Disorder, and it’s an ailment running rampant these days, especially in Berlin.

From Sky News:

Germany fears France, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Hungary may follow the UK and leave the EU, a government paper says.

The finance ministry strategy paper expresses concern that the UK’s historic vote may trigger a Brexit domino effect across Europe, according to the German newspaper Die Welt.

It recommends that the EU enters into negotiations aimed at making the UK an “associated partner country” for the remaining 27 nations.

As it stands, the UK’s exit may cause Germany’s contribution to the EU’s budget to rise by 3bn euros (£2.44bn) a year, the paper adds.

And there’s good cause to worry, reports Reuters:

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union fired up populist eurosceptic parties across the continent on Friday, giving fresh voice to their calls to leave the bloc or its euro currency.

Right-wing and anti-immigrant parties in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and France demanded referendums on membership of the union, while Italy’s 5-Star movement said it would pursue its own proposal for a vote on the euro.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch anti-immigrant PVV party, said he would make a Dutch referendum on EU membership a central theme of his campaign to become prime minister in next year’s parliamentary election.

“I congratulate the British people for beating the political elite in both London and Brussels and I think we can do the same,” Wilders told Reuters. “We should have a referendum about a ‘Nexit’ as soon as possible.”

After the jump, Boldness in Bratislava, a British downgrade, trillions in losses, the pain in Spain, grief in Greece, troubles in Tokyo, and a Schadenfreude alert. . . Continue reading

Brazil coup leader implicated in mega-bribe


If the allegation is true, Brazil’s acting president pocketed one of the largest bribes in history.

And the allegation would go a long way to explain why Michel Temer and his neocon compatriots were so eager to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

From teleSUR English:

Brazil’s acting President Michel Temer allegedly received a bribe of US$296 million that Engevix company owner Jose Antunes Sobrinho paid through intermediaries, Brazilian magazine Epoca reported Saturday.

The report cited allegations by the executive in efforts to secure a plea bargain with federal authorities.

In his proposed plea bargain, Antunes alleges that Joao Batista Lima, owner of the Sao Paulo-based architecture firm Argeplan and a close friend of Temer, had received work contracts in exchange for granting bribes to the current Brazilian head-of-state.

Lima, a former military police colonel, has repeatedly been accused of being the “key person involved in the dirty work” between companies and PMDB politicians.

If his plea bargain request is granted, Antunes says that he can prove Temer received a bribe of US$296 million in exchange for a construction contract that was awarded to Argeplan to build the Angra III nuclear-generation unit, which forms part of Brazil’s sole nuclear power plant.