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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Beyond Panama: What the World Really Needs is the #DelawarePapers

Published on Wednesday, April 06, 2016

by Common Dreams

Beyond Panama: What the World Really Needs is the #DelawarePapers

'That giant sucking sound you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the U.S.A.'

by Nika Knight, staff writer

Panama saw populist protests on Wednesday in response to Panama Papers revelations that the nation's lax tax laws are providing a haven for the world's wealthiest to stash their cash. But in the United States, where observers note that corporate greed is surely not lacking, the leak has yet to produce such a grassroots display of outrage.

This may be because U.S. one-percenters have largely escaped the leak unscathed (more Czech nationals were named in the documents than Americans), and also because wealthy Americans already call one of the world's foremost tax havens their home.

Beyond Panama

"The U.S. is one of the easiest places to set up an anonymous shell company to move ill-gotten gains around the world. It’s also one of the most popular places to do so for the criminal and corrupt," writes the UK-based anti-corruption group Global Witness.

Mossack Fonseca, the tax advisory firm whose documents were leaked in the Panama Papers, had set up offices in Nevada and Wyoming—two of the most egregious tax havens in the U.S.—so as to better enable the firm to take advantage of those states' lax laws on behalf of its international clients.

The phenomenon is not a new one. "Already the largest location for managing foreign wealth," the Economist wrote back in February, the U.S. "has picked up business as regulators have increased information-exchange and scrutiny of banks and trust companies in Europe and the Caribbean. Money is said to be flowing in from the Bahamas and Bermuda, as well as from Switzerland."


Tens of thousands in Peru protest against presidential candidate Fujimori

Tens of thousands in Peru protest against presidential candidate Fujimori

A huge crowd of people has taken to the streets of Lima to protest presidential frontrunner Keiko Fujimori. The demonstration came on the 24th anniversary of her ex-president father's notorious power-grab.



Anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 people marched on the streets of the Peruvian capital on Tuesday night amid concern over Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's notorious ex-president, who is predicted to win the upcoming election.

The protest occurred on the 24th anniversay of her father Alberto Fujimori's move to dissolve the country's parliament. The elder Fujimori, who governed Peru from 1990 to 2000, is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses.

While his daughter is topping the polls in Peru, she appears to lack the support needed to gain a simple majority. Nevertheless, many protestors fear that if she were to win during Sunday's election, she would simply be a repeat of her father.

In an effort to put her detractors at ease, Fujimori published a statement online promising not to follow in her father's footsteps.


Scientists Are Using Virtual Reality to Help Conserve Jaguars

Scientists Are Using Virtual Reality to Help Conserve Jaguars

Michele Debczak

Virtual reality is primed to change the entertainment industry, but the new technology could have an impact on science as well. As reported by Mashable, scientists from Australia are now finding ways to use VR to choose better habitats for jaguars in Peru.

That was one of the objectives of a recent expedition led by Kerrie Mengersen of Queensland University of Technology's School of Mathematical Sciences. While visiting the Peruvian jungle, Mengersen and her team used GoPros to film 360-degree footage of various habitats. Along with mathematical and statistical modeling, the virtual reality experiences are intended to give scientists an immersive view of an environment without having to be there in person. This could prove useful when choosing sites for jaguar corridors, the large areas of land the cats use to travel between different parts of the jungle.

When viewing a habitat virtually, experts will be able to search for nearby water sources, signs of human life, or fruiting trees that could potentially attract prey. Having a better understanding of these factors could help conservationists make smarter decisions when buying land and building wildlife corridors.

Jaguars are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, with only around 15,000 of them still alive in the wild today. Anyone can get a virtual look at the footage captured on Mengersen's expedition using Google Cardboard or a similar VR device.


(Short article, no more at link.)

Panama Papers Revelations Have Only Just Begun, Investigative Editor Says

Source: Time Magazine

Panama Papers Revelations Have Only Just Begun, Investigative Editor Says
Melissa Chan @melissalchan
5:49 PM ET

“This is the start, not the end"

More explosive revelations will be uncovered in the Panama Papers, including the offshore dealings of hundreds of Americans, according to a lead editor of the nonprofit news organization that helped break one of history’s largest data leaks.

The release of 11.5 million confidential documents from the obscure Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca has caused a global firestorm, leading to the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister and the head of global corruption watchdog Transparency International’s Chile branch on Tuesday.

But the fallout from the yearlong investigation is far from over, according to Michael Hudson, the senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the documents. “We see more coming out,” Hudson, 54, told TIME on Tuesday. “We’ve done a lot of searches and a lot of work, and we’ve obviously found what we believe is important information, but we’re going to continue working on reporting. This is the start, not the end.”

At least 200 Americans who are linked to offshore companies have been discovered in the records — some of whom have been convicted of serious financial crimes, Hudson said. The New York-based editor, who has worked for the ICIJ for more than four years and joined the project six months after it began, said that information will trickle out as hundreds of journalists across the globe continue to pore over the papers. “We’re still looking,” Hudson said. “We’re still digging.”

Read more: http://time.com/4282811/panama-papers-icij/

Military deployed to protect Colombian school children

Military deployed to protect Colombian school children

Government responds to mafia threats with show of military force


By Richard McColl

BOGOTA, Colombia

Soldiers were deployed Monday to parts of northern Colombia to combat violence and threats from a paramilitary group that imposed a 48-hour blockade of the area.

Forty towns in 15 departments were paralyzed economically as business owners and schools were threatened should they open during the blockade that also resulted in the deaths of nine policemen.

“Colombia has never before given in to criminals using acts of violence like this,” said President Juan Manuel Santos during a press conference.

“We will continue strike at their criminal structures until they understand that there is no alternative than to surrender to Colombian justice,” he added.

The Usaga Clan, an off-shoot of former right-wing paramilitary groups formed to combat the country’s leftist guerrillas and which nominally demobilized in 2006, number an estimated 3,000 fighters and receives its income from drugs trafficking, illegal mining and extortion.


Argentina’s New Order

Argentina’s New Order

Newly elected Argentine president Mauricio Macri has inaugurated harsh austerity measures and quashed dissent.

by Adam Fabry

Argentina’s New Order

Newly elected Argentine president Mauricio Macri has inaugurated harsh austerity measures and quashed dissent.


It’s been four months since multi-millionaire businessman Mauricio Macri took office as president of Argentina, narrowly defeating Daniel Scioli — the uninspiring candidate of the Peronist ruling party Frente para la Victoria — in last November’s elections.

The win was a coup for the unapologetically pro-market, but ideologically neoconservative Cambiemos coalition, ending a twelve-year stretch of Peronist leadership. Since he was sworn in last December, Macri has wasted little time rolling back the populist policies of the Kirchner era.

In his inaugural speech Macri offered a potpourri of promises: ending the confrontational politics of his populist predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; creating an independent judiciary; fighting corruption and drug trafficking; maintaining welfare programs; and eliminating poverty.

However, since then, Macri has moved swiftly to reconfigure the Argentinean economy along explicitly neoliberal lines — to the joy of domestic capitalists and international corporations alike. To do so he has relied on an unprecedented number of “emergency decrees” (similar to executive orders in the US) to bypass Congress — where the Frente para la Victoria has a majority in both houses.


Where are all the Americans in the Panama Papers?

the panama papers universe

Where are all the Americans in the Panama Papers?

April 4, 2016 3:52 p.m.

This weekend, Fusion and more than 100 other media organizations started publishing the Panama Papers, a global investigation into the secrets of offshore finance. So far it has yielded huge revelations about heads of state and politicians around the globe. Some of the biggest names to come out of the files include close friends and associates of Vladimir Putin, as well as the prime minister of Iceland, the president of Argentina, and the family of Chinese president Xi Jinping. But we haven’t seen a lot of high-wattage U.S. names in the headlines.

So far, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has only been able to identify 211 people with U.S. addresses who own companies in the data (not all of whom we’ve been able to investigate yet). We don’t know if those 211 people are necessarily U.S. citizens. And that figure covers only data from recent years available on a Mossack Fonseca internal database — not all 11.5 million files from the leak.

In other words, that 211 number comes from just a small sliver of the data. “It’s a complete underestimate,” says Mar Cabra, head of the data and research unit at the ICIJ. Finding a precise number of Americans in the data is difficult.

Not surprisingly, though, a lot of people are asking: If this is the biggest data leak in history – and our biggest window ever onto the offshore world – where are all the Americans? After all, an estimated $150 billion in potential U.S. tax revenues disappears into offshore tax schemes each year, according to a 2014 Senate subcommittee report. We asked top experts in offshore finance to break down the American-related aspects of the Panama Papers leak.


Financial Oversight and Colonialism in Puerto Rico

April 4, 2016
Financial Oversight and Colonialism in Puerto Rico

by Matt Peppe

118 years after U.S. troops landed at Guánica, Puerto Rico, the liberal political site the New Republic asks, “Why Are We Colonizing Puerto Rico?” The occasion for this comically tardy acknowledgment of Puerto Rico’s colonial status is a Republican proposal to deal with the island’s $72 billion debt problem by allowing a cabal of unelected technocrats carry out austerity measures against the will of the Puerto Rican people. Or, as the bill puts it: “To establish an Oversight Board to assist the Government of Puerto Rico … in managing its public finances.”

The Republican plan most certainly would “spell disaster for vulnerable Puerto Rican citizens, and create a bonanza for private corporations looking to take over public functions,” as David Dayen writes in the New Republic piece. But Dayen is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
As I reported recently, vulnerable Puerto Ricans are already facing disaster in the form of cuts to social programs and oppressive increases in taxes. Private corporations have already taken over public functions, including the island’s largest airport and its largest highway. Former Governor Luis Fortuño created the Public Private Partnership Authority to allow the firesale of public assets to corporate vultures nearly seven years ago.

Alternative plans have been advanced in the Senate and the Obama administration. Both of these would allow restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt, which the House Republican plan would not. While the Republican legislative proposal for Puerto Rico is vastly inferior to either of the other options, neither the Democratic Senate plan nor the White House plan would be fair to Puerto Rico’s residents.

The Senate plan would grant priority for pensions over bondholders. This would directly challenge the outrageous clause in Puerto Rico’s colonial Constitution which mandates that if revenues are ever insufficient to cover appropriations, the interest on public debt must be paid before anything else.


Argentine Teachers' Strike Against Macri Massive Success

Argentine Teachers' Strike Against Macri Massive Success

[font size=1]
Teachers' unions hold massive strike. | Photo: @EdgardoRovira

Published 4 April 2016
President Macri and his government faced yet another protest against their very unpopular austerity measures, among other issues.

Teachers from public and private schools in Argentina held their first national strike Monday since Mauricio Macri became president in December to protest the government's failure to comply with agreements reached with teachers' unions in February regarding salaries and working conditions.

The demonstrators, who gathered early in the morning, marched to the Ministry of Education, while across the country college professors from all national universities were expected to join the strike to demand the government begin salary negotiations and talks on other work-related issues.

The Education Workers' Confederation and the Union of Private School Teachers, the two unions that bring together elementary and high school teachers in Argentina, said they will also protest against the massive layoffs in the public sector.

María Laura Torre, secretary of the Education Workers' Confederation, said that the observance of the national strike was very high and that the call had proved very successful.



Whoopee! [/center]

El Salvador’s State of Emergency Threatens Activists

By Juliana Britto Schwartz • @JulianaBrittoS • 3 days ago

El Salvador’s State of Emergency Threatens Activists

In the face of record-breaking rates of violence, the government of El Salvador is considering declaring a state of emergency in the country’s most violent municipalities, suspending certain constitutional rights for residents of those cities.

The crisis in El Salvador has reached such horrific proportions that more homicides were registered in 2015 than any year during the country’s civil war. Today approximately 116 out of every 100,000 people are murdered, and women and children are disproportionately targets of that violence. Unsurprisingly, emigration from El Salvador is becoming increasingly gendered as well, as thousands of women are choosing to make the journey North and seek a safer life in the United States.

Now as government security efforts have failed, President Salvador Sánchez Cern is considering the use of a state of emergency to curb the violence. However activists have expressed concern that this would be just another step within the government’s hardline strategy, one which has only delivered no positive results, only more murders. Perhaps worse, it would allow the government to regulate or ban public meetings, monitor mail, phone, and digital communications of its citizens, and even restrict their freedom of movement.

I’ve written before about the effects that states of emergency can have on communities of color. In Guatemala, a government-imposed state of prevention stopped indigenous women opposing the construction of a cement factory from organizing or even safely walking to work. In Ferguson, Black Lives Matter activists fighting police brutality were faced with increased policing of their community when the National Guard was sent in to “keep the peace.” I wrote about how gender and policing came together in two communities that might seem quite different:

“For black protestors in Ferguson or indigenous residents in San Juan Sacatepequez, the enemy is the same. The police serve as an arm of the state, which represents capitalism and white supremacy, and sees gender-based violence as a tool of war. Knowing that, ultimately, the enemy remains the same across region, language, and culture, how can we work collectively to demand justice for all of us?”

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