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[personal profile] airiefairie

A sad picture indeed. Desolate, crumbling buildings, gargantuan financial losses, and exponential growth of crime. These are just some of the characteristics of Rio de Janeiro, just one year after the Rio Olympics.

Last month, the Brazilian government placed 8,500 soldiers on the streets of the city to curb the endless shoot-outs and armed robberies perpetrated by the various street gangs. Control over public security has been almost completely lost in Rio, speaker of parliament Rodrigo Maya recently admitted.

This statement told the whole story about the utter failure in pacifying the drug wars in Rio, which was supposed to happen way before last year's Olympics. Instead, the number of casualties after police raids has doubled for the last four years. People from the many favelas, the poor ghettos, say there is hardly a day when they haven't heard gun shots in the neighbourhood.

Read more... )
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[personal profile] luzribeiro
"The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have involved Russians for years, making the boundaries fuzzy so Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be taking a wide-angle approach to his two-month-old probe."

Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions

"The roots of Mueller’s follow-the-money investigation lie in a wide-ranging money laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last year, according to the person.

FBI agents had already been gathering information about Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to two people with knowledge of that probe. Prosecutors hadn’t yet begun presenting evidence to a grand jury. Trump fired Bharara in March."

Read more... )
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[personal profile] luzribeiro
This comes very timely for the monthly topic.

"President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it."

Well, there's no explaining this one away. Will Trump Jr take the fall for the entire Russian Scandal? Only time will tell.

But Putin and Trump pinkie-swore there was no collusion. So it must be all right.

If true, with Don Jr.'s "confession" that yeah, he thought he was going to get dirt on Hillary, and that they discussed sanctions Obama imposed on Russian individuals in 2014 that resulted in Russia rescinding an agreement with the US to adopt Russian children, then Don Jr., Manafort, and Kushner engaged in a "quid pro quo" discussion with a foreign government, which is the very definition of collusion. I guess someone must have mentioned that to Junior, since he immediately lawyered up.

I have a feeling that Trump will be responsible for a return to record high employment numbers, just as he claimed he would deliver during his campaign. Unfortunately, that will be due exclusively to all the staff and lawyers Robert Mueller will have to hire in order to investigate the Trump administration. ;-)
[identity profile]
One thing sticks out now when the subsidiary organisations to the UN are now asking for urgent humanitarian aid to Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda. These are exactly the countries whose corrupt cynical politicians have almost nothing in common with democracy. They routinely violate human rights and start ethnic and religious conflicts. As for Somalia, it has stopped being a real country a long time ago. That country is consistently ranked at the very bottom in the corruption index. South Sudan, while drowning in oil, has millions of refugees as its main export, in the wake of the bloodbath that is the ethnic conflict there. And the previously promising new player Eritrea has become the African version of North Korea: encapsulated, sealed, shut down to the rest of the world, and ruled by a clique that amasses wealth from drug, arms and human trafficking.

But no other country underlines the connection between bad governance and hunger as much as Ethiopia. This strategically important country in the Horn of Africa is the motherland of coffee. The Blue Nile and the two rainy seasons are a perfect condition for having record agricultural output, and the country has Africa's second largest labour force. But instead of prosperity, Ethiopia has suffered famine crises since the 70s, and refugee floods, and massacred protesters, and opposition activists spending a lifetime behind bars. When nearly 85 people live off rural, agricultural lifestyle, and the authoritarian government bans land ownership and gives out seeds for the crops only to trusted party members, this is a sure recipe for a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. But this obviously isn't discouraging a number of Western governments from pouring loads of cash onto countries like Ethiopia, with no strings attached.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Trump Team’s Ties To Russia Face Sharper Scrutiny Amid New House Probe And Explosive Reports
Pressure grows for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigations into the scandal.

So let's see. The guy whose meetings with Russians the FBI is supposed to be investigating as part of their larger inquiry into the Trump campaign's ties to the Kremlin, is now being put in a position where he would be able to exert control over the FBI? How's that for a move, eh?

So when specifically asked about any possible contacts with Russian officials, Sessions says, "I did not have communications with the Russians” - and his spokeszombie says, "He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign - not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee". That's disingenuous and in no way exonerates Sessions at all.

Lying under oath. He should be prosecuted. Perjury, after all, is what did Bill Clinton in. It's about time this racist midget is held to account. He's terrorized elderly black voters, disrespected women, and pushes an agenda of mass incarceration - I say give him the opportunity to experience a little of his own tough love.

So what have we got so far )
[identity profile]
Originally posted by [ profile] debunkgpolitics at The Office of Congressional Ethics Stays Intact

Additionally, the previous article about this topic is a reminder of the importance in having a free press and being vigilant. Though one may not always agree with certain outlets, they provide information that would not otherwise receive attention and offer a different perspective to help us strengthen or reevaluate our views. They also monitor their competitors, especially those with different political views, and report any impropriety of their opponents for viewers to know the truth. Still, many of these outlets promote their own agenda by the manner in which they report news or do not cover certain stories. Thus, constituents must also analyze the world around them based on their own observations. That people held their elected officials accountable for questionable behavior here showed who is rightfully in charge of the government.

Of course, one can argue that, even with the Committee, corruption thrived among Democrats and Republicans, which is a theory of how Trump got elected. Corruption is unacceptable, regardless of who lowers his or her standards.
[identity profile]

For more than two months there have been massive protests in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), demanding that President Park Geun-hye step down. The protests have been the largest since the the June Democratic Uprising of 1987 which forced the end of a military dictatorship. As a result of relative cultural isolation, there was not exactly enormous commentary of the events in the Anglophone press, although the events themselves were reported in a matter-of-fact sort of manner.

Read more... )

The continuing interest in the influence of the daughter of a cult-leader over the president of RoK is fascinating itself as an oddball story. But that in itself is not sufficient to explain the collapse in their public support or that millions of people took the streets demanding their resignation. The cause of that - and keeping in mind that the big protests occurred after the financial revelations - was undoubtedly the massive degree of corruption and extortion between RoK's government and the chaebol, the conservative, paternalistic, corporate families. The personal shame of Park Geun-hye is that she was caught; the national shame of the Republic of Korea is that this corporate-government collusion is business as usual. The reaction from millions of ordinary Koreans who are tired and angry is understandable enough, even if is not understand by many corporate and government leaders. What is being witnessed here is the most significant transformation in the opinion of Korean people towards their governing and corporate elites in over thirty years.

Thanks to Derick Y., in Seoul, for his advice and information
[identity profile]
Trump's biz dealings with his Indian biz pals at a time he's supposed to be transitioning from businessman to president are already raising quite a few eyebrows, and pointing attention to the potential myriad of conflicts of interest he may be facing in the years to come. 4 to 8 long years in which his detractors may wear themselves out of whining, by the way (they've had quite a kick-start in the first weeks). And for a good reason. This is a unprecedented time in many respects, including the president-elect's blurring of the line between personal and public interest.

What's he going to be, commander-in-chief or real-estate mogul in chief? He's got to make up his mind, and quick.

On the other hand, the most surprising thing would be if anyone acted surprised that this is happening - they've elected a real-estate billionaire mogul for prez, remember? What do you expect from a billionaire mogul?

On the other hand, his former opponent's shady links and ties to persons and organizations with questionable reputations (including nations that she knew for sure have funded America's enemies), might have been the main torpedo that sank her ship. But I digress. Right back to Trump now.

All his nightmare appointments aside (climate deniers for environment, WTF?), this is a guy who has put all his three adult children on his transition team. They're also going to be running his businesses. And this, just for starters. He's got 4 years and 1 month left (at least) to keep it up in the same style, and thus remain in history as the most corrupt president ever. Or not. We shall see. But the first signs are not very promising.
[identity profile]
"Donald Trump was in a tuxedo, standing next to his award: a statue of a palm tree, as tall as a toddler. It was 2010, and Trump was being honored by a charity — the Palm Beach Police Foundation — for his “selfless support” of its cause. His support did not include any of his own money. Instead, Trump had found a way to give away somebody else’s money and claim the credit for himself."

Full WaPo article here.

Here's the thing. Until 2008, Trump's foundation was doing pretty fine, as far as charity goes. But then... a few things changed...

First, Trump stopped giving money to his charity. Instead, he started "delegating" this to others, convincing them to give money to his foundation, then gave the money to charity and made it look as if the donations were coming from him like before. Now, as legal as that may be, in terms of being ethical, it doesn't get the cake. It's not just unethical, it's disgusting.

Second, Trump started using his foundation as his personal piggy-bank. There was an occasion where during an auction, Trump was the highest bigger for a signed football jersey; at another auction, he was the biggest bidder for a huge portrait of himself. On both occasions, he used money for these bids that didn't come from his own purse - he used funds from his "charity" foundation. Other donors' money, remember?

There's more, of course. Much, much more. The article is pretty extensive in that respect. Of course Trump is either going to outright deny all of this, or make some bullshit excuse, or just declare "What's your problem, we want to make America great again!" And of course, none of the above is going to deter the mindless Trump supporters who are still going to vote for him no matter what.

Crooked Hillary, you say, Donald? What about your own crooked practices!?
[identity profile]
First there was the Russian hacking into the DNC's emails, and Trump's call for the Russians to hack into his opponent's communications; then there were the allegations of deep Russian connections amidst Trump's highest-ranking aides... And now, somewhat logically, comes this.

Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief

Another day, another piece of drama coming from Putin's general direction.

His campaign already in tatters, The Donald alienating everybody left and right, and evading every and any attempts by the public to compel to him to settle upon a coherent message, this might be one of the last nails in his coffin (although we've learned time and time again that underestimating Trump is the direst mistake one could possibly make, as far as elections go).

Whatever the final outcome, we now know for sure that Trump's chief campaign manager has been a mercenary lobbyist for Putin's crony in the Ukraine, the deposed and discredited Viktor Yanukovych. And that doesn't bode well for a hypothetical Trump administration (Heaven forbid!) which is going to be supposed to put America's interests first and foremost at the international stage.

We've talked about a bunch of neocons recently endorsing Hillary, and this potentially meaning that her administration could adopt neo-Bushonian policies; what about a bunch of Putin pals effectively running the administration of a candidate who has actually indicated that he'd "delegate" most of his domestic and foreign policy to his surrogates while retaining as his only prerogative the Making of America Great Again!?
[identity profile]
So this is what it was all about?

Clinton sought secret info on EU bailout plans as son-in-law's doomed hedge fund gambled on Greece

Germany was obviously the country that would pay the greatest amount to bail out Greece, so insight into Germany's plans could pay off big for holders of government bonds bought at fire sale prices. This inevitably leads to a perception of a conflict of interest for Hillary Clinton, even if she never breathed a word to her son-in-law. But she might not even have had to.

Can we say "culture of corruption"? (Because we're going to talk about money and ethics in politics). The fact that Mezvinsky chose a field of investing directly affected by the diplomacy of the United States while his mother-in-law was in charge of that is rather damning. In a way, it is too bad that Mezvinsky lost his investors' money, because at least that way there is no smoking gun for Hillary's corrupt influence. But the bad taste from it all remains nevertheless. And the whole debacle with those emails isn't helping much in that respect, either.

Worst thing here is, this is providing ammo to Trump, who's been trailing rather far behind Hillary as of late. This election is definitely going to be unpredictable.
[identity profile]
Last evening the Brazilian parliament saw the longest session in its entire history. Never before have the Brazilian MPs shown such zeal as yesterday, during the impeachment vote against president Dilma Rousseff. Certainly not at the time the important measures against corruption were being discussed, or the urgently needed reform of the Brazilian political system. The impeachment procedure was supported by 367 MPs. Only 137 were against.

Dilma stands accused of having exaggerated the data about the government budget during her first term (2011-2014) in order to be re-elected. The real data would've probably cost her presidency in 2014. So she forged it.

OK, but let`s take a step back here )
[identity profile]
I'm intrigued by the level of apathy inherent to that case. I suspect it is insurmountable. The Snowden leaks did nothing, this will probably pass right over the heads of the peasantry as well. Really, what are we actually expecting to happen? The Snowden leaks have had an impact and are talked about constantly in reference to government snooping - but so what? Are we expecting some sort of revolution? Meh.

Sure, these leaks will probably have a somewhat bigger impact because the press love to bring people down a peg or two, and with specific people being named it's easier for people to focus their attention. I would expect a few important people to suffer serious setbacks in their careers and a few prosecutions too where applicable. And that's about it.

I hate to sound cynical, but... )
[identity profile]
Most of us must have heard about this already...

What are the Panama Papers? A guide to the biggest leak in history

From the website dedicated to the leak:

"Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Suddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world. These shell firms enable their owners to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady.

In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak. Ultimately, SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with. The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.

The data provides rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows. 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: from politicians, Fifa officials, fraudsters and drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.

While this is potentially huge, it is hardly a surprise - and it is not going to change anything. )
[identity profile]
It is no secret that everyone who would venture into Iran (say, on a business trip) would sooner or later come into the focus of the so called Revolutionary Guard. Indeed, this institution seems to be running everything in Iran - from the transportation links with the airport (where you are first supposed to set foot into the country) to border control, airport management, international ports, and all trade. These guys decide which goods would enter the country and which would stay banned. They do not pay customs fees and taxes, they answer to nobody about the nature of their trade activities, and they are the perfect vehicle to the black market, which in turn is a perfect source of revenue for the elite guard.

The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, as the full name of that institution says, has ground armies, a navy, and air forces, and controls Iran's strategic arsenal. It has more than 120 thousand elite soldiers. What's more, the guardians of the Islamic Revolution are basically a huge corporation - they run all sorts of businesses, from clinics and road-building companies, to railways and city subways. They are also heavily involved in the oil and gas sector; they build dams and mines, etc.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Putin's son-in-law boosted by $1.75 billion Russian state loan

So, a company controlled by Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov has recently been granted cheap financing worth 1.75 billion dollars from the state. He is 33 year old, is married to Putin's youngest daughter Katerina Tikhonova, and owns 20% of Sibur, the largest oil chemical company in Russia. The loan was granted by the national social aid fund, and will be used for building a gigantic industrial project in the northern region of Tyumen. The little documentation on the deal that has been made available to the public shows that the interest on the loan is 2%, which is about 4 times lower than the usual market rates.

Shamalov's wedding to Katerina was done with grandiosity at a skiing resort north of Saint-Petersburg in 2013. A huge amount of money was spent on that event, and all guests had given vows of discretion about it. The resort itself, called Igor, is owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, Putin's old friend and "personal banker", and also by an offshore company registered in Cyprus, of whose shareholders very little is known.

Kirill, 31 at the time, was already a rising star on the Russian business scene. But his wealth started surging only after the wedding to the president's daughter. Katerina is heading a project of the Moscow state university, worth 2.7 billion dollars. In just a year and a half, Kirill acquired a significant share of the biggest Russian chemical company Sibur. The value of these shares is now being assessed at about 2.85 billion.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Wikileaks releases audiotapes allegedly showing fraud in Obama and Bush administrations

"Tapes reportedly provide evidence that a programme intended to encourage the hiring of disabled people was mired in corruption"

Last month WikiLeaks published 30 hours worth of negotiations involving top managers of a number of US companies. These companies were participants in a program initiated by the US federal government, AbilityOne. Today, the budget of that program is close to 3 billion dollars. On the surface, it looks very noble: it is supposed to create 50 thousand jobs for disabled people. According to the plan, the US government was supposed to be funding these companies, which in turn would be obligated to hire disabled people.

The bulk of the AbilityOne funds (2.3 billion dollars) are passing through an NGO called SourceAmerica. However, the fund is in a close cooperation with the military industry - Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc. The leaked conversations reveal that about half of the AbilityOne funds have been misappropriated. And the intended recipients, the disabled people, have received nothing of that.

The names of 13 top administration members in the immediate circle of the president are being mentioned in this corruption scheme - 10 from president Obama's team, another 3 from president Bush's team.

That`s not helping Western-style democracy win hearts and minds, is it? )
[identity profile]
Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini Are Barred From Soccer for 8 Years

The fish starts stinking from the head first, as our local proverb goes. A good first step to clraning up the nest of corruption that is FIFA, has been made. The head has been cut. Actually both heads (including that of UEFA). Let's see if they'll actually have the guts to reform world football, or we'll just be served more of the same old stuff.

Isolated Blatter devastated by Fifa ban

Oh, poor little thing! Now you're being betrayed, eh? And when you were messing up the world's favorite game, and turning it into your private enterprise, when you were putting your loyal cronies on all possible positions of influence, you didn't feel betrayed, eh? When you were turning the other way in the face of all the massive bribery and corruption, back then, your dignity wasn't being stomped upon, right?

I have no sympathy for greedy weasels like this - not even as human beings. No matter what you do, sooner or later, it all comes back at you. Thank goodness this day has come in football way earlier than expected.
[identity profile]
Greetings, ye fellow indifferent popcorn-munchers smart folks who care so much about the rest of the world! Some of you may've heard about the events in Romania by now. Although it all happened so fast. Indeed, at first sight, the situation has developed at speed light. Last Tuesday evening, 20 thousand Romanians went on the streets in Bucharest to protest. On Wednesday morning, the prime minister Victor Ponta had already resigned. "I can conduct any sort of political battle, but I cannot fight the people", he said. Actually, the people on the street were just the last straw for a prime minister who had already been discredited beyond repair. He was already standing trial on charges of corruption. The public were just fed up with him at this point, and were determined to demand that he finally take responsibility. After his resignation, the protests haven't lost any of their steam though, and they're now calling for snap elections. The protesters believe Ponta's downfall is only the beginning of a total overhaul of the Romanian political elite that has been long overdue.

The reason for these protests was the deadly fire at a Bucharest night club a week earlier, where more than 40 people died. The protesters have put the blame squarely on the corrupt authorities - indeed, the club had been given license without the due security inspections. The angry response to the tragedy has now grown into demands for political change. The people's indignation has evolved into a real revolution of some sorts. The sad thing is that a lot of people had to die in order to get this momentum. Those deaths could've been prevented if the laws were being respected by the rulers. Now it's become clear that a mere change of government would not suffice to solve the problem. People are expecting much more. And the president Klaus Iohannis is aware of that.

Read more... )
[identity profile]
Gotta love those nice banks (who, of course, being corporations, are people - and the best people of all sorts of people). The taxpayers bailed them out during the financial crisis because they were too-nice-to-fail, and yet, after having the bulk of that money to give huge bonuses to themselves for a job well done, they then turn around and do this:

Lawsuit accuses 22 banks of manipulating US Treasury auctions

"Twenty-two financial companies that have served as primary dealers of U.S. Treasury securities were sued in federal court on Thursday, in what was described as the first nationwide class action alleging a conspiracy to manipulate Treasury auctions that harmed both investors and borrowers. The State-Boston Retirement System, the pension fund for Boston public employees, accused Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, and 14 other defendants of illegally trying to profit on the sale of Treasury bills, notes and bonds at investors' expense."

Sounds good, eh? Go, justice, go! Finally, the bad, bad banksters will end up where they belong: behind bars. Right?

Wait, what are you saying? Not so fast, you say? If anyone gets caught at all, their most probable punishment will be a two-year stint on the South of France, a GulfStream jet, and 5-star resort all-inclusive expenses paid for by ourselves the stupid, unwashed, gullible serfs who'll be always footing the bill for their corruption?

Banksters breaking the law, oh say it ain`t so.. Shocked, I am shocked! )

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Divisive Rhetoric


"Favoring multiculturalism is something Westerners give a lot of lovely lip service to until they have to actually do it."

September 2017

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