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Elie Faras, once again, said it like it is and I salute him–the words speak for themselves:

It’s the epitome of irony when the country that gave the world the masterminds and executioners of 9/11, whose soil gave birth to Bin Laden and other infamous terrorists that have killed innocents the world over, whose money has funded terrorism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Europe and America, whose entire existence is about destabilizing as […]

via Cancer Of Arabism, Breeder of Terrorism, And Radical Islam Harborer Saudi Arabia Is Walking All Over Lebanon’s Reputation & Sovereignty Because We Allow It — A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares

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On the Prowl…

It has been quite a week.     It began with the Paradise Papers–here is quite a snapshot of it courtesy of the team at Transparency International:

 

This week, the Paradise Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its partners, showed us how the rich and powerful are able to hide and hoard their wealth through complex and opaque financial structures.

The sheer volume of the Paradise Papers documents (13.4million in all) hints at a vast, secret parallel financial universe where the reporting requirements that the rest of us are subject to do not apply.

Public figures, such as the Queen and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, are shown to have hidden offshore investments, while companies involved include household names such as AppleNike and Uber.

You might think: “So what? This isn’t necessarily illegal.”

Well, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.

The documents show that even the compliance manager at offshore law firm Appleby found plenty to worry about, like large amounts of money that were “definitely tainted”, and proceeds of alleged corruption infiltrating the business.

They reveal activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo by mining giant Glencore, which appears to have secured under-valued extraction licenses with the help of a powerful lobbyist that it loaned $45million to.  

The documents also reveal how the company that manages Angola’s sovereign wealth fund used this money to finance its other projects. And how Kazakhstan’s former oil minister built up a vast personal fortune obscured behind a labyrinthine network of companies held by a corporation called Meridian.

“This was possible, in part, thanks to Kazakhstan’s notorious corruption and weak rule of law,” write the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “But it was the Meridian founders’ exploitation of the international financial system that enabled them to hide their riches from the eyes of their own people.”

That’s the problem here, and that’s why we’re calling for tougher controls on the offshore financial markets.

Secrecy can lead to corruption, and the kinds of structures exposed in the Paradise Papers are the tools of the trade that the corrupt use to launder their ill-gotten gains.

    News from Transparency International banner2  

#Paradisepapers: Time to clean up the offshore financial havens 

‘Paradise Papers’ show how the rich and powerful around the world are able to avoid paying tax and keep their business dealings secret. The mechanisms they use can also benefit the corrupt, and must be made more transparent.

     Transparency International warns climate summit to demand accountability to prevent corruption

In our latest report we analyse progress made by four key multilateral climate funds: Although progress has been made to increase transparency, accountability and integrity policies, there is still more to be done.

         Corruption in the news this week Latest Stories European Union : MEPs probing ‘private’ expenses oppose transparency 
EUobserver ( 11 November, TI mention)

MEPs leading a probe into how members of the parliament spend millions of euros of taxpayers’ money opposed transparency moves to make the same funds public and accountable.

      Saudi Arabia : How the Saudi Arabia corruption crackdown will play out 
The Guardian (10 November)

On the face of it, nothing much in Saudi Arabia has changed as a result of the sweeping crackdown last weekend. But scratch the surface, and it soon becomes apparent that everything has changed for the kingdom’s business and economic elite, some of whom opposed the reform plans.

      Global : Ex-SBM executives plead guilty in U.S. to Petrobras bribe charges 
Reuters (9 November)

Two former executives at Dutch oil services company SBM Offshore NV have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that they participated in a scheme to bribe officials at three foreign state-run oil companies, including Brazil’s Petrobras.

      Israel : Police complete fifth questioning of PM Netanyahu in corruption probes 
The Jerusalem Post (9 November)

Police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the fifth time  on Thursdayover his involvement in corruption cases 1000 and 2000. In Case 1000, the “gifts affair,” it is suspected that Netanyahu accepted expensive gifts from different businessmen.

    Focus on: Paradise Papers Global : What to know about the ‘Paradise Papers’ leak 
TIME (6 November)       Global : Paradise Papers: Apple shifted billions offshore to avoid tax 
DW (7 November, TI mention)     Blog/Opinion Global : Why aren’t the streets full of protest about the Paradise Papers? 
The Guardian (10 November)       USA : Commerce Secretary offshores his ethics 
Bloomberg (6 November)

As the World was dealing with this, then there is the case of Roy Moore–a symbol of the profound challenges we have in our World as so eloquently laid out by Professor Turley:

Alabama Auditor Defends Roy Moore: “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

by jonathanturley

Murillo_immaculate_conceptionAlabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has long been controversial and I will readily admit to being one of his most vocal critics over his defiance of legal authority and extremist views.  However, he is now perfectly radioactive after allegations that he initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s.  Perhaps the strangest defense came from Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler (right) told the Washington Examiner that, if Moore did engage in pedophilia, it was “much ado about nothing.”: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” In the meantime, Moore has called his multiple accusers as people engaging in “intentional defamation.”  What is clear is someone is lying.  If Moore is telling the truth, the next step would presumably be a defamation lawsuit.  The same can be said for these four women who have now been called liars.  This is a time when a little litigation would go a long way.

Re

It has been quite a 24 hours as the Democrats have pulled out some major wins in this off-year election which is bad news for the President as he is traveling in Asia.  What caught my eye was Rick Perry’s nonsense that was featured by Professor Turley that is telling–this is not as bad as one of the other characters, Wilbur Ross, that the New York Times noted in its’ DealBook this morning–this is as the so-called Tax Reform Bill that the Speaker and others have been pushing will add 1.7 Billion Dollars to the deficit…

Here is the “snapshot” that blew me away on Wilbur Ross:

The Forbes article accusing the commerce secretary of inflating his net worth has been the talk of Wall Street and Washington. Here’s how declarations of Mr. Ross’s net worth have evolved over the past two years:
• $2.9 billion, according to a Forbes estimate in 2016
• Less than $700 million, according to Mr. Ross’s financial disclosure forms after his nomination to lead the Commerce Department
• $3.7 billion, Mr. Ross told Forbes last month, arguing that the bulk of his assets were in a trust
Dan Alexander of Forbes pulls no punches in asserting that the financier has been dishonest about his assets, and the magazine has pulled Mr. Ross from its list of the richest people in America. From the article:
It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities.
A former Ross colleague told Forbes, “Wilbur doesn’t have an issue with bending the truth.” A spokesman for the Commerce Department, responding to the FT, pointed to the Forbes article’s use of several anonymous sources.
In related news: A Trump administration official says that Mr. Ross will sell all of his holdings in shipping companies tied to associates of Vladimir Putin, which were disclosed in the so-called Paradise Papers. (CNBC)

..and so Rick Perry, here it is–this is as China is moving on to Green Energy and the World is evolving big time–as the President himself likes to say..sad!!!!!

With the expanding allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein and others, Energy Secretary Rick Perry appears to have the answer: fossil fuels. That’s right, more fossil fuel less sexual assault.

via Rick Perry: More Fossils Fuels Means Fewer Rapes — JONATHAN TURLEY

It has been an interesting and  busy Monday and it is not even over yet by any means!!   I have been reading up on the so called “tax plan” as I saw how those of us @ordinaryfaces are slated to be saddled with a Tax Increase and as the President called the tragedy in Texas a Mental Health Issue–not understanding that a  terrorist is a terrorist.  The President’s Son took to twitter to saw how “law-abiding” gun owners must be protected to muddy the issue and as Kelly Ann Conway again talked about how everyone has to “shut up” basically.   This is as I saw this on the “Paradise Papers” courtesy of the Center for Investigative Journalists-quite a read:

 

The Paradise Papers

Remember the Panama Papers? It was a massive 2015 document leak that exposed a system in which offshore companies enable crime and corruption. The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that followed, led by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), was a collaboration among more than 100 newsrooms across the world. It led to a flurry of resignations and indictments and took down leaders in Iceland and Pakistan.

This week, Reveal journalists teamed up with ICIJ for a new bombshell: The Paradise Papers. 

This time around, the action is centered on more than 13 million confidential files leaked to Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the ICIJ’s global team of more than 300 journalists. Many of the confidential documents, emails and voicemails come from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm. The leaks shed light on how corporate giants move their cash from one offshore tax haven to another.

The Paradise Papers also raise questions about Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ financial ties to Russian companies.

And they disclose how Facebook and Twitter received backing from Kremlin-controlled Russian banks. This comes at a time when the two tech giants are facing scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department and Congress.

This global collaboration involves a team of journalists from 67 countries. Reveal is the first U.S. public radio show and podcast to tell the story through audio. Don’t miss this episode, and stay tuned for a series of partners’ text stories on our site in the coming days.

HEAR THE EPISODE

NEW DIGS

More on the Paradise Papers.

Meanwhile, there is a lot going on beyond the shores of the United States.    My  man Elie Faras once again takes to his blog to expose the profound state of affairs in Lebanon after Hariri’s Saudi Masters ordered him to resign plunging Lebanon into Chaos.   Why he resigned from Saudi Arabia is still baffling as Crown Prince Mohammad  continues his power move–a move that has rendered Yemen a failed state, has destroyed the Gulf Cooperation Council and has increased tensions with Iran:

The state of the Future Movement seems to be in full blown meltdown as even their ministers cannot keep face while being interviewed about the resignation of Saad Hariri on Thursday. Minister of Displaced Affairs Mouin Merhebi was being interviewed by NBN reporter Linda Meshleb earlier today when, after asking him about a meeting the […]

via Misogynistic Lebanese Minister Mouin Merhebi Sexually Insults Reporter Linda Meshleb — A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares

It has been an interesting day to start the day as the Prime Minister of Lebanon resigned–while in Saudi Arabia.    Elie Fares  is one of the most perceptive bloggers on the Middle East Today and what he noted about the true reality in Lebanon is a must-read for anyone–and for those of us who know about the Hariri family–they owe everything to Saudi Arabia as she continues her  proxy war with Iran,  bullies Qatar while trying to show a “Moderate Face” to the World with recent pronouncements by the Crown Prince about his hope for a more “moderate Islam”.

Nothing says patriotism and Lebanese sovereignty as much as your own prime minister announcing his resignation, and subsequently a nail in the coffin of Lebanese governance, all the way from a foreign country, on one of their megaphone TVs nonetheless. Saad Hariri, who has been back as prime minister for nearly 11 months now, in […]

via Hariri Resigns As Lebanese Prime Minister All The Way From Saudi Arabia, Because Patriotism — A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares

It has been quite a weekend as news has hit that the first charges are forthcoming in the Mueller Investigation and as the “Spin machine” in Washington is in full gear.  As our team is going to be “dark” this week at the Daily Outsider,  I’ll be seeing how things play out this week before formally commenting–the comments by Professor Turley, though, is still worth noting as the World awaits…

Onward to the New week and new month with all its’ possibilities!!!

Last night, the media was thrown into a frenzy with news that special counsel Robert Mueller has secured the first charges in his investigation into Russian election interference. Despite the fact that the name or names of those indicted have not been released and the specific charges were not disclosed, the report was heralded as […]

via Mueller’s Mountain Or Molehill? Prosecutors Mum on First Charges In Russian Investigation — JONATHAN TURLEY

Out & About w/Thoughts…..

As I am writing this, I am listening to Al Jazeera as there is coverage about the Catalan Secession from Spain–it is being witness to history as Spain has triggered Article 155 to install direct rule from Madrid.    This is as I was reading earlier today during my “think hour” about the War against The Holy Father which blew me away.

As I reflected upon quite a month and finished off curation in support of The Daily Outsider and my own rounds over Twitter, I ran across this courtesy of Jonathan Lockwood Huie which is indeed an inspiration as I say onward to November with all its’ possibilities:

Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have
the possibility of being great.
– Cher

There’s something liberating about not pretending.
Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk.
– Drew Barrymore

With courage you will dare to take risks,
have the strength to be compassionate,
and the wisdom to be humble.
Courage is the foundation of integrity.
– Keshavan Nair

People do not wish to appear foolish.
To avoid the appearance of foolishness,
they are willing to remain actually fools.
– Alice Walker

All Life is a risk – even crossing the street, or sitting in your easy chair.
So relax, don’t worry, and live the most productive and enjoyable life you can.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

In this image from video from Senate Television, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks on the Senate floor Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, at the Capitol in Washington. Flake announced he will not run for re-election in 2018. (Senate TV via AP)

It is a tragic day in America today as I saw Jeff Flake, the Junior Senator from Arizona, has decided not to seek re-election.    He gave voice to many of us when he talked about what is right and noted and reminded us all about Federalist 51–a very powerful 7 Minutes:

//fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=politics/2017/10/24/senator-jeff-flake-full-remarks-no-re-election-2018.cnn&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

I salute Senator Flake for the courage of his conviction.

Working Away….

I spent the past 24 hours as I worked on supporting the team at the Daily Outsider with curation work for the week and reflecting upon the week, the month and the year that has been.   Earlier, I finished off visits to my Social circles and finalized my weekly “Random Thoughts” on my visit and other thoughts as well.

I had been yearning for the politics as depicted by the West Wing and how visionary Lawrence O’Donnell and the rest of the production team at The West Wing was to show a way of the possible–as for instance, President Bartlett’s Successor brought his Republican Rival into the Cabinet and showed a way of the possible about hope.

I spent the day with the family yesterday and cherished every second of it. As I “got back to work”, one of the things I was blown away was how the 5 Ex-Presidents came together for Hurricane Relief–joined by President Trump. I welcomed how President Trump reflected upon how these 5 Living Ex-Presidents exemplified Public Service not withstanding the unfortunate public stance he had taken. I also picked up this that was done as a tribute to John Spencer of the West Wing about one person who was truly an example that all of us in real life aspired to–Whether one agrees with the politics depicted or not–it is in the end about serving.

My continued sense of hope is sustained as I joined a number of Community Commitments that included:

  • At my Son’s High School as dedicated teachers went through an Exercise on the Great California Shakeout;
  • At the monthly PTSA meeting at my Son’s high school as saw the selfless souls in action and most importantly, how some 59 of our young achieved the TEAL Service Award giving back some 1500 Hours of community service to our Community;
  • At my local Catholic Parish as selfless souls supported the less fortunate
  • At Camporall 2017 (an event by the local Scouting district) on how selfless souls worked for four days straight to create a haunted house that over 200 Scouts enjoyed;
  • ..and how all Scouts helped to raise some 600 Lbs of Food in support of Scouting For Food 2017 as our community gears up for that day of service.

Onward…..

It has been an extremely challenging 24 hrs yet again.  I was just numb when I saw coverage when the widow of Sergeant Johnson received a call from the President.  According to Congresswoman Wilson of Florida, Sergeant Johnson could not get a open casket funeral as she noted that the President told the Widow: “..he knew what he was signing up for..”.    I was numb when I heard it.

What is unfortunate is how President Trump failed miserably in leadership especially as he tried to deflect his lack of empathy–this is not even noting the bigger question of what we were doing in Niger anyway as he continues his attack on President Obama.     This is as President Trump also went after Senator John McCain yet again and politicized the death of General Kelley’s Son.

I was so proud to share the gofundme page set up for Sergeant Johnson’s Children that had raised over $ 126,000.  Trumpism has also manifested its’ ugly face In Alabama–as I send my thanks to Professor Turley for underscoring how dangerous the candidacy of Roy Moore is.    I noted on Twitter that he’s America’s Ayatollah and I hope the good people of Alabama will see him for the Fraud that he is:

It appears that the Senate race in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones is now a dead heat. The tie in the normally reliable red state reflects controversial views of Moore who was twice removed from his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying federal court orders. One […]

via “The Very Definition Of Tyranny”: Roy Moore Calls For Justices To Be Removed For Voting For Same-Sex Marriage — JONATHAN TURLEY