Don’t trust that guy! The Lord Mayor of London!

London eyes partnership with Turkey’s business sector

lord mayor

Does he look evil? Read on . . .

This headline caught my eye in our English language daily yesterday. Coincidentally I have been reading a fascinating book about the world of offshore finance (why hadn’t I read it before?), and how it screws the world in the interests of corporate bankers and their cronies.

On the face of it, you might think Turkey should be happy to have “London” taking an interest in their economy. But the truth is – this guy doesn’t represent London at all. His clients are the shady world of international finance and the mega-rich. This is an excerpt from the news item, followed by a few relevant quotes from Nicholas Shaxon’s book, Treasure Islands:

London wants to be a partner of growth in Turkey’s business sector, said Lord Mayor of the City of London Charles Bowman.

Bowman said he is excited about visiting Turkey this week and has five objectives during the visit.

They include providing reassurance that in the context of Brexit, London and U.K. financial and professional services will remain preeminent and to enhance the strong ties between Turkey and the U.K. built over a number of years.

Bowman said the other objectives are to develop, harness and leverage bilateral opportunities in trade, investment and business, innovation in financial and professional services and engaging with Turkish communities and businesses with relation to Business of Trust—a program run by the Lord Mayor of London.

Underlining that as Lord Mayor of London, he is acting as the U.K.’s principal spokesperson for and on behalf of the U.K.’s financial and professional services, Bowman said those services employ 2.3 million people across the country.

The sector is home to and houses 250 banks within London itself, more than any other international financial center. [London] is a national, European and international jewel,” he said.

 “We have a strong relationship with Turkey built over a number of years. And this visit… there is no sense of accident behind the fact that we are traveling to Turkey. We scheduled early in my year, and I am really looking forward to leveraging, developing and harnessing those opportunities to further grow what is already a strong relationship,” said the Lord Mayor.

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treasure islandsExtracts from “Treasure Islands: Dirty Money, Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole Your Cash”, by Nicholas Shaxson

Few British people, let alone anyone else, know that the City of London is the most important financial center in the global offshore system. London provides endless loopholes for U.S. financial corporations, and many U.S. banking catastrophes can be traced substantially to those companies’ London offices.

Another important role for London has concerned a seemingly arcane practice known as “rehypothecation,” a way of shifting assets off banks’ balance sheets. The U.S. has firm rules to curb the abuses, but London does not—so ahead of the latest crisis, Wall Street investment banks simply went off to London where they could do it without limit. A little-noticed IMF paper in July 2010 estimated that by 2007 the seven largest players in the market—Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Merrill/BoA, Citigroup, and JPMorgan—had shifted $4.5 trillion off their balance sheets in this way. So this London-based practice injected trillions more debt into the financial system than would otherwise have been the case. The City of London and Wall Street banks got rich off this—and ordinary Americans will pay for it for years to come.

[The City of London has a] kind of money-laundering filter that lets the City get involved in foreign dirty business but at sufficient distance to minimize the stink.

“In America they send hundreds of people to jail: in this country bankers don’t go to jail,” explains the British author and publisher Robin Ramsay. “There are no consequences in London.” Though Americans may roll their eyes at this, as they consider the financial crimes that have gone unpunished at home in the wake of the latest financial crisis, there is no doubt that London’s tolerance for abusive or criminal financial behavior is in a class of its own.

The head of the Corporation of London is the Lord Mayor of London—not to be confused with the mayor of London, who runs the much larger greater London municipality that contains the City, geographically speaking, but has no jurisdiction over its nonmunicipal affairs. And this separation of powers matters.

When the Queen visits the City, she stops at the boundary at Temple Bar and waits for the Lord Mayor of the City, accompanied by assorted City Aldermen and Sherriffs. This tourist ceremony, in which the Queen touches the Lord Mayor’s sword, strikingly highlights the political discontinuity between the City and the rest of Britain. When heads of state visit Britain the Lord Mayor throws more lavish banquets than the Queen. Each year the Chancellor, Britain’s finance minister, makes a speech at the Guildhall, the seat of City government, and at the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House, in which they justify how they have been serving the interests of finance.

In 1937, Britain’s then prime minister Clement Attlee became one of few politicians to have raised the issue. “Over and over again we have seen that there is in this country another power than that which has its seat at Westminster [the parliament]. The City of London, a convenient term for a collection of financial interests, is able to assert itself against the Government of the country.”

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Another spoilt, privileged, overpaid sportsperson

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks

No doubt haranguing the referee, like so many spoilt, entitled, overpaid, privileged sports stars.

No, I’m not talking about Serena Williams. This one is Enes Kanter, a professional NBA basketball player for the New York Knicks, and, according to Time Magazine, “an outspoken critic of Turkey’s authoritarian regime.”

I’m including the full text of the Time article below – but to save you time, I’m going to first address some of the guy’s outrageous points:

  • “It has been too dangerous for me to set foot in Turkey for three years”– If you want to be a revolutionary reformer, Enes, at least have the guts to take the consequences! How many times did the Brits put Mahatma Gandhi in prison? Chelsea/Bradley Manning spent seven years in jail for whistle-blowing the US Government. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange can’t go home either – and Assange isn’t even a US citizen! Stop crying and expecting the NBA and the US government to bail out you and your big mouth!
  • “[President] Erdogan does not respect that right [to express my beliefs and opinions]  in me or anyone else, and is willing to crush anyone who criticizes him.” Yet further on in his article, Kanter says “Five years ago . . . thousands of Turkish people flooded the streets to defend our democracy over the bulldozing of a beloved park in Istanbul. On the first anniversary of the coup attempt [ie last year, 2017!], thousands marched to demand back their right to free expression, assembly, and political opinion. In April, they came out in force again to oppose changes that would allow Erdogan to continue ruling with impunity. And . . . the opposition candidate won 30.6% of the vote in the snap presidential election in June.” Clearly there is freedom enough in Turkey to do these things! What exactly does Kanter want to do?
  • “The last time I visited, the government destroyed my brothers’ school and threw my dentist and his wife in prison.” Who destroyed the school? Destroyed a school? I don’t believe this! And they threw your dentist in prison? And his wife? Come on, son!
  • “Erdogan blames Gulen and his followers for the coup. It is a crazy claim.” It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that Gülen and his people were behind the unsuccessful coup attempt; and it’s 99% sure that they were tools of the CIA and the US government. If Kanter spent the night of the coup with Fethullah Gülen, small wonder Turkish authorities want to speak with him! “We spent the night praying for our country.” The whole night praying! I suspect the secular Kemalists would also be suspicious of such a devout Muslim!

Take a look at some of the inflammatory words Kanter uses in his article:

  • My father has been targeted for persecution by the Turkish government and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • I’m a follower of Fethullah Gulen, a preacher and scholar whom Erdogan has deemed Public Enemy Number One.
  • Erdoğan is willing to crush anyone who criticizes him.
  • Erdogan was a dictator-in-the-making for a long time
  • the economy is in shambles—a direct result of Erdogan’s purge – [Not the USA and their financial backers?]
  • My friends and family have told me that I wouldn’t recognize the country anymore. They say people are unhappy and scared. [If I had a son like this, I’d be worried too!]
  • Erdoğan’s regime has forced the country into darkness.
  • In September, I’ll be attending the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York, presented by the Human Rights Foundation, to give voice to the silenced people of Turkey and to shed light on Erdogan’s crimes.

__________________________________________________

Well, here’s the whole sorry article, if you can be bothered reading it:

NBA Player Enes Kanter: I’ve Spoken Out Against Turkey’s President Erdogan and Now I Can’t Go Home

This month, my dad will face trial in Turkey for “membership of a terror group.” He is a university professor, not a terrorist.

serena-williams-0908-super-tease

At least she didn’t blame Trump

My father has been targeted for persecution by the Turkish government and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because of his association with me. I am a vocal critic of Erdogan’s dictatorial regime, and I’m a follower of Fethullah Gulen, a preacher and scholar whom Erdogan has deemed Public Enemy Number One. Because I play in the NBA, I am lucky enough to have a public platform, so I’ve used every opportunity to make sure everyone knows about Erdogan’s cruelty and disdain for human rights.

If you speak out against Erdogan, it can affect your whole life and everyone around you. It has been too dangerous for me to set foot in Turkey for three years. The last time I visited, the government destroyed my brothers’ school and threw my dentist and his wife in prison. The regime arrested and charged a man for links to Gulen after I took a picture with his child, and went after a comedian after he exchanged a few tweets with me. Last year, Erdogan canceled my passport and put out an international warrant for my arrest. That means I am now stateless and pretty much can’t leave the United States. It’s interfering with my career, too. 

But far worse are the consequences it has had on my family. My siblings have been bullied in school. Our friends are too afraid to be associated with us. My father lost his job as a professor at a public university and now, if he loses the trial, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

tantrum

Who do you think you are? The referee?

I’m not a criminal or a radical. I’m not “dangerous.” I’m a human being with opinions and beliefs that I have a right to express. Erdogan does not respect that right in me or anyone else, and is willing to crush anyone who criticizes him.

Erdogan was a dictator-in-the-making for a long time, but things escalated after a coup attempt in July 2016. Erdogan blames Gulen and his followers for the coup. It is a crazy claim.I was with Gulen in his house in Pennsylvania that night, and he was as shocked and fearful for Turkey as the rest of us. We spent the night praying for our country.

Since then, Erdogan has used the coup attempt as an excuse to go after his political opponents and critics by targeting anyone with a perceived connection to Gulen—real or imagined. In two years, according to Turkey Purge, a website set up by a small group of young journalists that tracks the government crackdown, Erdogan’s government has arrested more than 80,000 people and detained more than 142,000. He has dismissed nearly 4,500 judges and prosecutors that he doesn’t agree with, a move that seriously weakens rule of law. He’s taken aim at free speech and press freedom by arresting 319 journalists and shutting down 189 independent media outlets.Turkey now has more journalists in jail than any other country. He is even going across international borders, persecuting supposed Gulenists in Turkmenistan, Malaysia, Kosovo, and more.

In some ways, it’s working. Without independent news outlets, and with social media under strict surveillance, it’s hard to get a real senseof what’s happening on the ground, and even harder to hear opposition voices. My friends and family have told me that I wouldn’t recognize the country anymore. They say people are unhappy and scared.They are struggling because the economy is in shambles—a direct result of Erdogan’s purge.I love my country and its people so much. As a follower of Gulen’s Hizmet philosophy, I believe in education, equality, and democracy. It pains me to see how Erdogan’s regime has forced the country into darkness.

C - Rasheed Wallace

Who makes the rules around here, huh?

People often ask me why I continue to speak out if it’s hurting my family. But that’s exactly why I speak out. The people Erdogan is targeting are my family, my friends, my neighbors, my classmates. I need to speak out, or my country will suffer in silence.

And I am lucky. When I became the target of the regime, the NBA and the U.S. government came to my defense and brought me back to safety, to a country where my rights are protected. I want to use this privilege to make sure the people of Turkey are heard.

So here it is: Five years ago, when Turkey was more free than it is now, thousands of Turkish people flooded the streets to defend our democracy over the bulldozing of a beloved park in Istanbul. On the first anniversary of the coup attempt, thousands marched to demand back their right to free expression, assembly, and political opinion. In April, they came out in force again to oppose changes that would allow Erdogan to continue ruling with impunity. And despite the risks in opposing Erdogan, the opposition candidate won 30.6% of the vote in the snap presidential election in June.

What all of these people are saying is that the status quo just isn’t good enough. This is not what many of us want for our beautiful country. We want democracy and freedom. We want to be able to express our opinions freely and without fear. We want free media and a strong civil society. We want more.

In September, I’ll be attending the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York, presented by the Human Rights Foundation, to give voice to the silenced people of Turkey and to shed light on Erdogan’s crimes. Let’s all make sure to hold the world’s dictators accountable.

 

Footprints of the Banking Conspiracy

proofIf you need evidence that transnational finance demons use their money power to control the world, read on:

International credit rating agency Standard and Poor has downgraded Turkey’s “sovereign debt rating” from BB/B to BB/B-, sending a loud, clear message to finance moguls of the world to stop lending the country money.

The action is a little surprising given that S&P reviews its ratings at regular intervals, and this is an unscheduled one-off move.  On the other hand, it may not be so surprising, considering the fact that Turkey’s much-criticised president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has chosen to put his own credibility and that of his governing party on the line by calling an early general election on 24 June.

It is no secret that Mr Erdoğan has seriously upset just about everyone in the corridors and hidey holes of global power since his newly-formed AK Party swept into power out of the political blue in 2003. He and his team put a stop to Turkey’s chronic triple-digit inflation almost overnight. They managed to keep their country out of George Dubya Bush’s dishonest and disastrous invasion of Iraq despite strong US pressure to add Muslim credibility to their Christian crusade. Mr Erdoğan has repeatedly called out the United States, Israel and European big-wheels for their shameless aggression and hypocrisy. In spite of all the chaos in neighbouring countries, Mr Erdoğan’s government has transformed Turkey from an economic basket-case to one of the world’s growing power-houses, where, as even nay-sayers have to admit, most of the people are now in the middle-income rather than the dirt-poor bracket.

grasping bankersWhile serving as mayor of Istanbul back in the 1990s, Mr Erdoğan was actually convicted and jailed by Turkey’s financial-military elite, allegedly for his radical Islamist agenda. Since his party became the government they have had fifteen years to drag the country back to a mythical nightmare past of fundamentalist Shariah law – and have not yet done so. On the contrary, alcohol is freely consumed in public parks and street cafes even during the fasting month of Ramazan, and the range of available alcoholic beverages, local and imported, has broadened remarkably. Other Muslim countries and even non-Muslim South America are avid consumers of Turkish TV series showcasing life in contemporary Turkey.

In spite of a record that would see leaders of less fortunate countries lionised, beatified, or even deified, Mr Erdoğan has had to deal with a relentless barrage of criticism and worse from a significant minority of his own fellow citizens. In the early years he was successful in pulling the teeth of Turkey’s virtually omnipotent military which had overthrown four democratically elected governments from 1960 to 1997. In doing so he enlisted the assistance of Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet organisation, whose tentacles had extended into every area of government. Possibly the Gülenists were disappointed at not being sufficiently rewarded for their cooperation, because subsequently they turned against Erdoğan and threw their weight behind the forces seeking to oust him.

cause of warThe climax of their efforts was an attempted military coup on 15 July 2016, whose success many of AK Party’s vociferously “democratic” opponents would somewhat perversely have welcomed. Not surprisingly, there has been an ongoing state of emergency and a roundup of suspects involved in the failed coup. Call it a witch hunt if you will – but France lived in a state of emergency for two years with much less justification; and security measures within Turkey are remarkably low-key and minimally disruptive of everyday life. I am more nervous at airports in New Zealand, Australia and the USA than on the streets of Istanbul – despite the warnings I regularly receive from my embassy in Ankara to avoid this city.

So why have S&Ps downgraded Turkey’s credit rating to virtual junk status? Well, first of all we should consider just how much credibility Messrs Standard and Poor really have in terms of evaluating risky investments. There is powerful evidence to indicate that they and other “reputable” credit rating agencies played a major role in the global financial crisis of 2007-08.

According to Wikipedia: “Credit ratings of AAA (the highest rating available) were given to large portions of even the riskiest pools of loans in the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market. When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, many loans went bad due to falling housing prices and the inability of bad creditors to refinance. Investors who had trusted the AAA rating to mean that CDO were low-risk had purchased large amounts that later experienced staggering drops in value or could not be sold at any price. For example, institutional investors lost $125 million on $340.7 million worth of CDOs issued by Credit Suisse Group, despite being rated AAA by S&P.

credit ratersCompanies pay S&P, Moody’s and Fitch to rate their debt issues. As a result, some critics have contended that the credit ratings agencies are beholden to these issuers and that their ratings are not as objective as they ought to be, due to this ‘pay to play’ model.

In 2015, Standard and Poor’s paid $1.5 billion to the U.S. Justice Department, various state governments, and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to settle lawsuits asserting its inaccurate ratings defrauded investors.”

So maybe Mr Erdoğan and his people have fallen behind in the payment of their protection money. Or maybe (more likely, in my opinion) there is something far more sinister going on.

The S&P mafia claim: “The downgrade reflects our concerns over a deteriorating inflation outlook and the long-term depreciation and volatility of Turkey’s exchange rate. The rating action also reflects our concerns over Turkey’s deteriorating external position and rising distress in the externally leveraged private sector.”

henry fordThe exchange rate of the Turkish Lira is indeed dropping against the $US, the Euro and £ sterling – none of which feature among the list of growing economies in the world; and what growth they do have is largely attributable to consumer spending and real estate prices. And of course, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: downgrade a country’s credit rating and their currency will lose value in the “money markets”. When a country’s currency loses value against the $US, imports inevitably become more expensive, pushing up the internal inflation rate.

What is surprising is that, despite the plunging exchange rate of the Turkish Lira, the government has managed to keep internal inflation relatively low and continue economic growth.

Well, one of my readers rightly upbraided me recently for seeming to champion unbridled economic growth on a finite planet (thanks Dr Bramhall), and she was absolutely right. Unfortunately, it is the United States of America that set(s) the standard for the rest of the world to follow. They flaunt their lifestyle and inspire others to climb the same dizzying heights of consumer-driven wealth. Does it occur to them that the world’s limited resources will be exhausted long before three billion Chinese and Indians get anywhere near the average US household income?

to big to feelA sad fact of life in today’s world is, if you don’t have a nuclear arsenal (eg Israel, North Korea), the United States will bully you unmercifully. Surely that’s what is behind Zionist Netanyahu’s recent war-mongering publicity stunt against Iran. “There’s only room for one nuclear power in the Middle East – and we’ll obliterate anyone who disagrees.”

I do continue to ride my bicycle to work, recycle our rubbish and take re-usable shopping bags to the supermarket. I fear, however, that I am in a dwindling minority, and I don’t hold out much hope for the long-term future of Planet Earth.

Armageddon coming up?

 

If I were at all inclined to religious fundamentalism, I’d say God must be just about ready to blast these people with a major disaster . . .

Anyone want to buy a dinosaur? Two on sale in Paris

dinosaur for sale

Length of diplodocus skeleton – 27 metres. Length of our entire house – 14 metres! Damn! It won’t fit!

The skeletons of an allosaurus and a diplodocus are up for auction in Paris this week, marketed as hip interior design objects for those with big enough living rooms.

“The fossil market is no longer just for scientists,” said Iacopo Briano of Binoche et Giquello, the auction house that is putting the two dinosaurs under the hammer on April 11.

“Dinosaurs have become cool, trendy; real objects of decoration, like paintings,” the Italian expert said, citing Hollywood actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicolas Cage as fans of such outsize prehistoric ornaments.

Cage, however, did hand back the rare skull of a tyrannosaurus bataar, a close cousin of T. rex, that he bought in 2007 after it was found to have been stolen and illegally taken out of Mongolia.

Dinosaur bones are increasingly gracing collectors’ cabinets, with another huge skeleton, that of a theropod, expected to fetch up to 1.5 million euros when it goes up for auction in June.

“For the last two or three years the Chinese have become interested in palaeontology and have been looking for big specimens of dinosaurs found on their soil, for their museums or even for individuals,” Briano said.

The new buyers are now bidding against multinational corporations as well as ultra-rich Europeans and Americans, the “traditional” buyers of dinosaur skeletons, Briano added.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/anyone-want-to-buy-a-dinosaur-two-on-sale-in-paris-130074