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Showing posts from August 4, 2015

The Challenges of Fighting Money Laundering

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[Banksters at play in the corporatocracy. If it was laundering for ISIS or narcos the Feds would take your house and every last dime. If it's HSBC or Chase, it's the cost of doing business, which means take it from the dividends of retirees. *RON*]

By Peter J. Henning, White Collar Watch, New York Times, 3 August 2015

The Watergate credo to “follow the money” is the reason for a number of laws that require banks, credit unions and money-transmission businesses to keep track of who their customers are and report suspicious transactions. These financial firms are the first line of defense against money laundering, and recent cases highlight just how difficult it is for the government to police the tidal waves of cash that wash through the banking system.

The effort to combat money laundering is never-ending because criminals always seek new ways to move the proceeds of crime. It is a battle that requires constant vigilance, and is not so much…

Hundreds of Civilians Credibly Reported Killed in First Year of Coalition Airstrikes, Airwars Study Finds

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[In modern warfare it sucks to be civilian. A six-month investigation into alleged civilian and 'friendly fire' deaths from Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has identified more than 120 incidents of concern to June 30th. Between them these events account for 459-591 alleged civilian fatalities. In stark contrast, the Coalition has investigated just ten incidents – and has so far conceded just two civilian deaths in thousands of airstrikes across Iraq and Syria since August 2014. *RON*]
By Chris Woods, AirWars.org / Common Dreams, 3 August 2015

A six-month investigation into alleged civilian and ‘friendly fire’ deaths from Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has identified more than 120 incidents of concern to June 30th according to an Airwars report published today – three times more problem events than the Coalition itself was aware of.

Airwars believes that for 57 of these incidents, there is sufficient publicly-available evide…

Malaysian prime minister had $700m of 'donations' in bank account – watchdog

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["Critics skeptical after anti-corruption agency says huge fortune in Najib Razak’s personal accounts came from unnamed donors, not state fund 1MDB." This is the political and economic environment that Petronas is accustomed to operate within. See Michael de Jong heads to Malaysia to try and close LNG deal. *RON*]
Kate Lamb, The Guardian, 4 August 2015
Beleaguered Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has effectively been cleared by the country’s anti-corruption body, following a financial controversy that has shaken the legitimacy of his government.

The Malaysian anti-corruption commission (MACC) announced that $US700m in accounts held by the prime minister had come from donors – not, as has been alleged, from the debt-laden state development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The MACC investigation found the funds deposited into the accounts of the prime minster were a “contribution from donors, and not from 1MDB”, the commission…

Methane Leaks May Greatly Exceed Estimates, Report Says

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[It was already believed that any purported benefits of LNG over other fossil fuels come close to being negated by methane leakage. Christy Clark, are you listening? "...when the device malfunctions, there is no way to determine the magnitude of the error without independent measurement at the time, so the missed emissions could be extremely high — perhaps tenfold to a hundredfold for a particularly large leak, he said. Researchers have found that a relatively small number of leaks produce most escaped methane, he wrote, so an instrument that under reports large leaks might skew official assessments" *RON*]

By John Schwartz, New York Times, 4 August 2015

A device commonly used to measure the methane that leaks from industrial sources may greatly underestimate those emissions, said an inventor of the technology that the device relies on.

The claim, published Tuesday in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, suggests that the amount of escape…

G20 countries pay over $1,000 per citizen in fossil fuel subsidies, says IMF

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[The IMF has said that fossil fuels are subsidized to the tune of $10 million per minute, which is greater than the total health spending of all governments. "World’s leading economies still paying trillions in subsidies despite pledges to phase them out, new figures show." Canada, not surprisingly, is above average. Harper gives $1,283 away, per Canadian, to the fossil fuel industries every year. *RON*]
Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 4 August 2015
Subsidies for fossil fuels amount to $1,000 (£640) a year for every citizen living in the G20 group of the world’s leading economies, despite the group’s pledge in 2009 to phase out support for coal, oil and gas.

New figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show that the US, which hosted the G20 summit in 2009, gives $700bn a year in fossil fuel subsidies, equivalent to $2,180 for every American. President Barack Obama backed the phase out but has since overseen a steep rise in fed…

Food insecurity and hunger a 'hidden crisis' in Australia, says Foodbank CEO

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[Australia's Tony Abbott is, if anything, an even bigger fan of austerity than Stephen Harper. "Foodbank Australia, and other welfare support groups, are struggling to meet rising demand from the nation’s underemployed and struggling families." In Canada, food banks started up, unsurprisingly, in the Reagan era, and were intended to be a temporary measure. At present, nearly 3/4 of a million Canadians use food banks, and more than one third of these people are children. *RON*]

Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 4 August 2015

Food insecurity is a “hidden crisis” in Australia, welfare groups have warned, with increasing numbers of people unable to afford enough food for themselves or their families.

Foodbank Australia, an organisation that provides food for those in need, said demand had increased by 8% in the most recent financial year, compared with the previous year. About 516,000 Australians now rely on Foodbank’s services each month.

The…

Anti-austerity: A political revolution

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["As austerity punishes and pauperises more people, the counter-arguments to it are becoming more mainstream." *RON*]

Rachel Shabi, Al Jazeera, 4 Aug 2015

If you're a dedicated neoliberal, it might feel lately as though attempts to discredit Western anti-austerity politicians is a bit like playing whack-a-mole: No sooner is one progressive dealt with, when another one pops up.

This, at any rate, is one way to read the unexpected rise of incongruous progressive left political candidates, on both sides of the Atlantic.

On the US side, we have Bernie Sanders, the septuagenarian Vermont senator, who seems to be giving Hillary Clinton a run for her (extremely well-connected and deep-pocketed) money in the Democratic leadership race.

As Canadian economy leaves little to feel good about, investors stay in reactive mode

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[Stay-the-course Harper continues in "I deny reality and replace it with my own" mode: Canada's economy takes centre stage in campaign's first day, as Harper 'optimistic' of turnaround, "Harper began Canada’s longest election campaign in more than a century by touting his economic stewardship." See also: Technical recession looms as Canada's economy shrinks for fifth month in row, and 'The quarter is looking ugly': What economists are saying about Canada’s shrinking economy. *RON*]

Joe Chidley, Financial Post, 3 August 2015

For the millions of Canadians who are unemployed or underemployed, or who are struggling to make mortgage payments even though interest rates are super-low, or who feel they’re doing more work for pretty much the same pay year after year after year, or who are seeing the prices of food and other goods rise because of the plummeting loonie, or who will have to put off that trip to…