Thoughts on Transparency and Corruption – and who’s telling the story

I want to preface what follows with a clear statement that I love my country. New Zealand is the land of my birth, the land where my children grew up, and I am always proud to acknowledge it as my homeland. I also love my adopted country, Turkey, for other reasons entirely. However, in neither case does that love blind me to the fact that both countries have their weaknesses and problems.

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Martial law in Paris? Over one guy with a machete?

One thing I find difficult to understand, though, is how those two countries are depicted in international media. Turkey is unrelentingly portrayed as a land torn by internal divisions, corruption and violence. New Zealand, on the other hand, despite much evidence to the contrary, still manages to retain a reputation for squeaky cleanliness in nature and government, a South Sea paradise of equality and opportunity.

Well, let’s start with Turkey. An article in Time Magazine in January trumpeted, A Relentless Cycle of Terror Threatens to Tear Turkey Apart”. “The bloodshed,” we read, “has become endemic over the past year and a half, as Kurdish separatist militants and Islamic State jihadists have slaughtered hundreds, and an abortive military coup attempt left more than 200 people dead and sparked a wave of repression by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

Another source maintained that “martial law” is in force in Turkey, and the country is under threat of “military intervention” by NATO.

The recently released Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Turkey 75th out of 176 countries, equal with Bulgaria, Kuwait and Tunisia, behind the Solomon Islands and Burkina Faso, but marginally ahead of Brazil, China and India. On that list, New Zealand is ranked 2nd in the world for “perceived” lack of corruption (more on that later); the United States is 18th, and Estonia, 22nd. Well, I don’t want to single out Estonia for unfair attention, but I can’t help observing that, according to the CIA World Factbook, that tiny Baltic state is a growing producer of synthetic drugs; increasingly important transshipment zone for cannabis, cocaine, opiates, and synthetic drugs since joining the European Union and the Schengen Accord; potential money laundering related to organized crime and drug trafficking is a concern, as is possible use of the gambling sector to launder funds; major use of opiates and ecstasy.”

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From Freedom House. Apparently the green countries are free

An organization calling itself Freedom House has also just released a report entitled Freedom in the World 2017. Ranking all countries from 100 (Blissfully free) to 0 (Miserably enslaved), New Zealand again scores at the top end (98). The USA registers a creditable 89, while Turkey’s rating of 38 places it in the seventh group out of ten, in descending order.

OK, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here defending Turkey. Merely, I will observe that, if your intentions are bad, you can blacken pretty much anyone’s name. Paris, I understand, remains on “a high state of terrorist alert” fifteen months after 130 people were killed (slaughtered?) in a series of attacks by ISIL operatives. The state of alert continues and was justified, apparently, when a guy with a machete attempted to “storm” the Louvre Museum, and was shot by police before he could actually harm anyone. Turkey’s state of alert, on the other hand, is labelled “martial law”, and its government is accused of carrying out a “wave of repression”, despite having narrowly avoided overthrow by a military coup in July that left hundreds of civilians dead. I’m not making light of the tragedy in Paris, but come on, people!

When I first came to Istanbul in 1995, platoons of soldiers jogging around the streets carrying automatic weapons were a common feature of urban life. Martial law, high state of alert or whatever, I haven’t seen such sights here for years.

What about New Zealand, then? Well, despite scare-mongering implications by senior government spokespersons, the last hint of terrorism,” according to a recent Bloomberg article, “came a generation ago, when French spies bombed a Greenpeace campaigning ship docked in Auckland harbor in 1985.The focus of that article was New Zealand’s emergence as a popular bolthole for the mega wealthy.” The reason, they suggest, is the country’s location about as distant as you can get from normal terrorist targets without actually leaving planet Earth.

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NZ’s former Prime Minister dining with China’s richest man

 

Maybe those Bloomberg people are right – though if the world is indeed “going to hell in a handbasket”, as Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom reckons, the greed of those “mega wealthy” parasites would be one of the main reasons. But New Zealand may hold an additional attraction besides its isolation and natural beauty. The notorious Panama Papers, leaked to the world’s media in April 2016, brought to light documents hacked from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. Among the revelations:

  • Details from the Panama Papers show how a stream of foreign cash became a torrent flooding into New Zealand trusts in order to avoid tax offshore.
  • Tens of thousands of Panama Papers documents reveal how New Zealand, Niue, The Cook Islands and Samoa have become prime destinations for the rich to hide their financial secrets.
  • Wealthy Latin Americans are using secretive, tax-free New Zealand shelf companies and trusts to help channel funds around the world.
  • Mossack Fonseca actively promoted New Zealand as a good place to do business due to its tax-free status, high levels of confidentiality and legal security.
  • The number of foreign trusts in New Zealand has surged to almost 10,700 this year from less than 2,000 ten years ago, according to Inland Revenue figures.
  • At the centre of the New Zealand operation is Roger Thompson, a former Inland Revenue employee. His accountancy firm – Bentleys, in the heart of Auckland’s business district – is the New Zealand agent for Mossack Fonseca.

Well, I don’t know about Mexican or other Latin American tycoons, but I do know that a controversy has arisen recently over the granting of New Zealand citizenship to “technology billionaire and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel”. The story broke when it was learned that Thiel had bought a 193-hectare waterfront estate on Lake Wanaka, near Queenstown – playground for the wealthy in NZ’s South Island. Apparently Mr Thiel was made a citizen at a private ceremony at the New Zealand consulate in Santa Monica, USA, in August 2011. It seems he failed to meet the usual requirements for citizenship, even admitting he had no intention of living in the country, but allegedly donated $NZ1 million to the relief effort after the devastating 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, and got fast-tracked.

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Countries said to be implicated in the Panama papers in red. What colour is Turkey?

It’s a worthy cause, of course, and you can’t criticise the guy for that – but there does seem to have been a certain amount of shady stuff surrounding the rebuild of NZ’s third largest city. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was established in 2011 to oversee reconstruction, but seems to have been plagued by suggestions of mismanagement until it was disestablished in April 2016, with the city still far from recovered. Panel members for instance, were reportedly being paid $1,000 a day for their services, and staff numbers at one stage ballooned to 357. I don’t know if there’s any connection to Peter Thiel’s generous donation, but three former high-level CERA employees are currently under investigation for having abused their positions as public servants to carry out lucrative private property deals.

Another interesting foreign national awarded NZ citizenship under highly questionable circumstances is a gentleman known variously as Yong Ming Yan, Liu Yang, William Yan and Bill Liu. Despite warnings from the Department of Internal Affairs, evidence that the guy was using fraudulent documents, the vast sums he loses gambling in Auckland’s Skycity casino and his Number 5 ranking on the Chinese Government’s list of most-wanted criminals, the NZ Government is in no hurry to hand him over, and he is said to have recently cut a secret deal with the NZ police after $40 million of his assets had been frozen on suspicion of money-laundering – the charge he is wanted for in China.

In view of the above, you may be surprised to learn that Peter Thiel’s name does not appear on National Business Review’s Rich List for New Zealand. Nor is there a single Chinese name, in spite of the fact that Wang, Lee, Chen and Liu have overtaken Smith as the top four surnames in Auckland. The Neo-con National Government frequently reassures local citizens that the remarkable influx of immigrants from China is totally unrelated to the explosion of prices that has seen Auckland become the 20th most expensive city in the world to buy a house, with an average selling price of $911,800. According to that source, you can buy cheaper in Berlin, Madrid or Dubai!

Those people compiling the Corruptions Perceptions Index made some interesting observations in their report, one of which was “This year’s results highlight the connection between corruption and inequality, which feed off each other to create a vicious circle between corruption, unequal distribution of power in society, and unequal distribution of wealth.” Well, no surprises there, but in the light of that, let’s consider a recent UNICEF report stating that “As many as 28 per cent of New Zealand children – about 295,000 – currently live in poverty.” An article in the New Zealand Herald quoted the mayor of a region in the North Island as saying, “subcultures of poverty” persisted in the area despite years of central Government programmes.

“Our failure to deal with entrenched poverty means we are turning our young people into unskilled dependants and, in some cases, drug addicts, gang members and criminals,” he said.

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Auckland, with the population of Philadelphia, PA, and Phoenix, Arizona

In the mean time, guys like Yong Ming Yan, or whatever his real name is, can steal money from China (at least $129 million, they claim), launder it in New Zealand, lose $300 million in Auckland’s Skycity casino without jumping off the harbour bridge – and be rewarded with citizenship. What’s next? A knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday honours? For sure the Skycity owners will be pretty happy with the guy who made such a generous contribution to their $1 billion revenue last year. I can’t see the obvious benefits to New Zealand, though, given that those owners apparently live in Australia, and most of the profits go offshore.

All of which led me to ask, who is compiling the statistics and writing those reports about freedom and corruption in the world? So I checked out Freedom House. According to its own website:

Freedom House was established in 1941 in New York City . . . with the quiet encouragement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to encourage popular support for American involvement in World War II at a time when isolationist sentiments were running high in the United States.

Having been created in response to the threat of one great totalitarian evil, Nazism, Freedom House took up the struggle against the other great twentieth century totalitarian threat, Communism, after the end of World War II. The organization’s leadership rightly believed that the spread of democracy was the best weapon against totalitarian ideologies. Freedom House embraced as its mission the expansion of freedom around the world and the strengthening of human rights and civil liberties here at home. As a result, Freedom House strongly endorsed the post-war Atlantic Alliance, as well as such key policies and institutions as the Marshall Plan and NATO.”

Wikipedia provides further insights. I didn’t check out all the board members, but four names caught my eye: Kenneth Adelman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Donald Rumsfield and Paul Wolfowitz. Mr Adelman was a long-term member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, a “lifelong neo-con activist” who was a big supporter of the US destruction of Iraq, and outspoken proponent of the discredited claim that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Brzezinski, clearly of good Protestant Anglo-Saxon stock, is known, among other achievements, for cosying up to Communist China, overseeing the transition of Iran from an important US ally to a major terrorist threat, and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan to oppose the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld was US Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford, and again under George Dubya Bush. He was a major organiser of US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and supporter of using “enhanced interrogation techniques” on unconvicted prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Wolfowitz is another neo-conservative, former president of the World Bank and once considered by the George Dubya administration as possible head of the CIA.

FREEDOM House? Phooey to them, say I! What value would you place on any report of theirs?

As a conclusion that may or may not be relevant to the present discussion, I read reports of an interview with President Donald Trump the other day. Apparently he had appeared on the Fox News channel where the interviewer was giving him a hard time about his refusal to criticise Russia’s Vladimir Putin, demanding to know how he could lend support to “a killer”. Trump’s quoted response?

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That’s Him saying it, up there on The Mount

“There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

I have to tell you, the big DT went up considerably in my estimation. The USA has had a few presidents in recent years making political capital out of their Christian faith. This, however, is the first time I have heard one echo the words of that religion’s eponymous founder quoted in Matthew 7:5.

“You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

CIA apologizes to Turkey over ISIL oil trade allegations

Look at this! Two years ago it was all over the international news media! Turkey is buying oil from ISIS/Daesh! And now the CIA are apologizing for having got it wrong! What an absolute disgrace! How can you come out with such allegations without being 100% sure you’ve got your facts right?

What will we hear next? We’re terribly sorry we supported that coup attempt on 15 July. We genuinely thought we were doing the right thing. We apologise for using the money markets to undermine the Turkish Lira – it was all a perfectly understandable misunderstanding. How dare you, America! Who do you think you are? Playing God to shape the world in your image – when you don’t even know yourselves.

john_kerry_pathological_liar_over_syria“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the CIA have apologized to Turkey over allegations in 2014 about oil trade between Ankara and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of a U.N. Security Council meeting in 2014, Kerry had said they had information that Turkey was importing oil from ISIL, a Foreign Ministry official told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that Çavuşoğlu denied this claim at the time.

“We know who gave you this information. Some Arab countries are reacting to us because of disagreements over the Egypt issue. They are conducting a campaign on the issue. This is a very serious accusation,” Çavuşoğlu told Kerry at the time, according to the official.

After requesting the document of the allegations in a number of meetings with Kerry, Çavuşoğlu was given a file that included information on coordinates in Turkey.

The file was then investigated by Turkish intelligence agencies, and Ankara determined that the coordinates belonged to an asphalt worksite of Kilis Municipality, on the border with Syria.

After this information was conveyed to the U.S., Kerry apologized and the CIA filed a written apology to Ankara, said the official.

He also refuted claims that the U.S. provided heavy weapons to the People’s Protection units (YPG) in Syria. “We don’t have such information, and the U.S. has also categorically refused the claims,” said the official.”

And look at the weasel words in that denial! “We don’t have such information.” What, you don’t have information on who you are supplying weapons to?

“We categorically refuse the claims.” Not “deny”, you understand, just “refuse” – whatever that means. And tell me what “categorically” means in this context.

Read more

The epic fail of the American electorate

Well, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Washington Post, but this Petula Dvorak seems to have some useful words for American citizens . . . if they have ears to hear.

Hey, America, do you like this election?

No?

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Vote for a corrupt donkey or an elephant in a china shop – and let’s see what you get

But this is what you created.

You, America, stopped listening to facts you didn’t agree with, stopped reading newspapers or watching broadcasts that didn’t entertain you or confirm what you already believed, stopped trying to understand legislation and policy, stopped bothering to engage in civil discussion or master the basics of civic responsibilities.

You, America, blame Washington for everything that’s wrong with this country, but then you tell pollsters that the federal government isn’t doing enough to help you.

You, America, actually believe that reality television is real. And that politics is a form of reality TV. And so, we have an election that’s more “American Idol” than U.S. Constitution.

Canvassers this week actually found voters who thought they could vote online.

What? There’s not an app for that?

You realize we’re probably just one election cycle away from a Kardashian in office. Because, what the heck? Let’s try something new!

Read the whole article

Turkey’s 15 July coup attempt had nothing to do with America – Where’s the proof?

It’s not so easy to catch them red-handed – but they are perfectly happy to admit they do it, at home and abroad. This one from the New York Times:

Hillary Clinton Liked Covert Action if It Stayed Covert, Transcript Shows

Hillary Clinton longs for the days when Americans knew how to execute a covert action abroad and not spill the details to reporters.

17clintonspeeches-superjumboAddressing a Goldman Sachs event in 2013, in one of the speeches that WikiLeaks published on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton gave a tough-minded, realpolitik answer to the question of how to handle a problem like Syria. If the best chance of success was to act secretly inside that country, she made clear, she had no problem doing that.

She went on to say — as her audience already knew because of revelations in the news media — that as secretary of state she had advocated secretly arming the Syrian opposition and moving forcefully to counter the Russians, who at that point were supporting President Bashar al-Assad but had not yet fully entered the conflict.

“My view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene,” she said in answer to a question from Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, which paid Mrs. Clinton about $225,000 a speech to give what felt like an insider’s view of the making of American foreign policy, months after she left office.

But she quickly acknowledged that “we used to be much better at this than we are now.” “Now, you know, everybody can’t help themselves,” she added, and officials go out to “tell their friendly reporters and somebody else: ‘Look what we’re doing, and I want credit for it.’

And another one:

Donald Trump rallies infiltrated by paid Hillary Clinton operatives, investigation reveals

Agents working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign paid professional agitators to incite violence at Donald Trump rallies, an explosive investigation has revealed.

In a new hidden-camera sting by conservative activist group Project Veritas, undercover journalists infiltrated two political consulting companies with ties to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

In the 16-minute video, Democratic operatives are caught out describing how paid agents “infiltrate” to stage fake grassroots protests to create a sense of “anarchy” at Donald Trump events.

The agents notably lay claim to the violent Chicago protests in March, which forced Trump to cancel his rally and left two police officers seriously injured.

“It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherf*****,” Scott Foval, founder of consulting firm the Foval Group told an undercover journalist.

“I’m saying we have mentally ill people, that we pay to do s***, make no mistake. “Over the last 20 years, I’ve paid off a few homeless guys to do some crazy stuff, and I’ve also taken them for dinner, and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel, and a shower. And I put them in a program.

“Like I’ve done that. But the reality is, a lot of people, especially our union guys, a lot of our union guys … they’ll do whatever you want. They’re rock’n’roll.

“When I need to get something done in Arkansas, the first guy I call is the head of the AFL-CIO [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organisations] down there, because he will say, ‘What do you need?’ And I will say, ‘I need a guy who will do this, this and this’. And they find that guy. And that guy will be like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it’.”

Joe Biden’s Turkey tightrope

The vice-president has the difficult task of reassuring Ankara that Washington is committed to its NATO ally.

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JB: Sorry I’m late. Wish I could have come sooner 🙂 RTE: What’s six weeks between friends?

Septuagenarian US vice-president is currently in Turkey, smiling for the cameras and his home audience, and talking down to Turkey’s leaders while delivering veiled threats about “friendship”. This article on politico.com has some interesting insights into the relationship:

ISTANBUL — Smoke rose over the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Jarabulus Wednesday morning as Turkish tanks rolled across the border in a major operation that could pit two U.S. allies against each other.

The campaign began just hours before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ankara to discuss the fallout of last month’s failed coup. But while Turkey was moving against the Islamic State with Washington’s support, its operation was aimed not only the jihadists, but also the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

Speaking in Ankara, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the attack on Jarabulus — the last stretch of northern border territory held by the jihadists — had begun at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, targeting “terror groups which constantly threaten our country.”

After a suicide bombing killed 54 guests at a Kurdish wedding on Saturday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu vowed to “cleanse” the country’s border region of ISIL, which had previously used Turkey’s porous frontier as a gateway to its self-declared caliphate.

Erdoğan added that the operation would also target Kurdish fighters in Syria. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG militia an extension of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose three-decade war against the Turkish state has killed some 40,000 people.

The trouble for Turkey is that while the U.S. and the rest of NATO have listed the PKK as a terror group, they see the YPG as their most effective ally in the fight against ISIL. Earlier this month, with American support, the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) — a coalition dominated by the Kurds — retook the strategic city of Manbij in northeastern Syria.

But while Manbij’s liberation was greeted with enthusiasm in the West, it caused consternation in Ankara. It meant that the Kurds had moved West, across the Euphrates river, which Ankara had once declared a “red line.” It also meant that they were free to move north towards Jarabulus, a town just south of the Turkish border.

Had the Kurds been able to capture Jarabulus and surrounding areas, they would have connected the two Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria, creating a de facto autonomous state along Turkey’s border. This would have fulfilled a longstanding dream of the Kurds but it would have been anathema to Ankara, which fears that an autonomous Kurdish entity in Syria would pour oil on the flames of its own Kurdish conflict.

Turkey is determined for Syria to retain its territorial integrity and will take matters into its own hands if required to protect that territorial unity,” Erdoğan warned on Wednesday.

Turkey is killing two birds with one stone,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe. “The military objective of this operation is ISIS, but the political objective is the Kurds.”

After bombarding Jarabulus for two days, Turkish tanks and special forces entered Syria alongside several hundred Syrian rebel fighters. By early Wednesday afternoon, the joint operation had succeeded in retaking two villages and the Syrian rebels reached the center of the town under Turkish and U.S. air cover.

Syrian Kurdish leaders responded with anger. Salih Muslim, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), wrote on Twitter that Turkey was now in the “Syrian quagmire” and would be defeated like the Islamic State. Redur Xelil, a spokesperson for the YPG militia, denounced Turkey’s intervention as an act of “blatant aggression.”

As tensions rise between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, Ankara’s foray into Syria may be yet another headache for Biden, who has the difficult task of reassuring Ankara that the U.S. is committed to its NATO ally amid surging anti-American sentiment following the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkey blames the coup on Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gülen and has demanded his extradition — a request that has so far been met with reluctance from U.S. authorities. Erdoğan has also long criticized the West’s support for Syria’s Kurds, describing it as the equivalent of holding “live grenades with the pins pulled.”

In Ankara on Wednesday, Biden launched a charm offensive, praising the bravery of the Turkish people during the coup attempt, lauding their efforts against the Islamic State and declaring that the country had “no better friend” than the United States. He also warned the Syrian Kurds that they would lose U.S. support if they did not retreat to the Euphrates’ eastern bank.

His speech was well received. But with two of their allies on a collision course, the U.S. will have to watch Turkey’s next steps closely.

Read the whole article

Guilty and Guiltier – One law for the 99% and . . .

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It’s just a beautiful game. Yeah, sure!

Well, at least he’s been sentenced to jail, even if he’ll never actually see the inside of a cell. Argentinian and Barcelona football superstar Lionel Messi has been handed a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud – and his father was apparently in on the business too whereby the Spanish government and taxpayers were defrauded of €4.1 million.

Pretty much everyone knows the round-ball game, most of its administrators and many of its top players are corrupt as hell – though fans touchingly continue to take matches and tournaments seriously. I can’t see it getting any better if courts don’t start treating the crooks they catch the same as they would the rest of us.

Tax evasion is bad enough when we wage and salary-earners, and pension beneficiaries, have no escape from the internal revenue sharks. But what about taking your nation into an unjustified and unprovoked violent invasion of another country far from your own borders, assisting in the destruction of that country’s infra-structure, collaborating in the deaths of tens of thousands of that country’s innocent citizens, and creating in the process a chaotic power vacuum that has totally destabilised the entire region? Thirteen years after the event, Former LABOUR Party Prime Minster Tony Blah expresses no regret for his genocidal actions – and Knight of the Realm Sir John Chilcot, after a seven-year investigation, stops well short of demanding that Blah be brought to justice for his war crimes.

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What went on under the blanket?

As for multi-millionaire, Roman Catholic convert, man-of-the-people Tone, he has this to say: “The intelligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong, the aftermath turned out to be more hostile, protracted and bloody than ever we imagined…. and a nation whose people we wanted to set free from the evil of Saddam became instead victims of sectarian terrorism. For all of this, I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe.”

Well, we expect weasel words from politicians, so we shouldn’t be surprised – but notice that Blah ‘expressed’ sorrow and regret rather than actually feeling it. Is there an apology wrapped in all that BS or not? If so, it’s for stuff done in the passive voice, by agents unknown. ‘Our’ intentions were pure – is that the royal ‘We’? As far as I remember, United Nations inspectors were quite clear at the time. They had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction; so whose ‘intelligence’ was being ‘assessed’ and by whom? Anyone with half a brain understands that PM Blah knowingly and deliberately misled the British Parliament and its constituents. And for what purpose? I would be interested to see a statistical comparison of the number of Iraqi citizens who died under the Saddam regime, and those who have died as a direct result of the Bush family invasions.

Still, that’s in the past, except for the ISIS/Daesh bogey spawned in the chaos created by poodle Blah and his owner George Dubya. However, it’s starting to look very much as though the world’s exemplary democracy, the United States of America is about to elect its first woman president. That’s Hillary Clinton, who knowingly and deliberately used her private email server for official business while she was Secretary of State; who lied about what she had done to investigators, and tried to cover her tracks.

In spite of that, the FBI investigation has decided that she should not face criminal charges. Apparently she and her ‘aides’ were merely ‘careless’ and despite ‘evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information’, there is ‘no evidence’ that Mrs Clinton had a deliberate intention.

Cartoonist Gary Varvel: The new Clinton scandals

How bad can Donald trump be?

Now I must admit to some confusion here. What exactly was the ‘carelessness’ the FBI are referring to? Was Mrs Clinton careless in her wrongdoing and in getting caught? Or was she careless in carrying out her duties as Secretary of State? If the latter, what confidence can anyone have that she is competent to be President of the world’s sole remaining superpower? And can anyone clarify for me what exactly a ‘potential’ violation is? It seems the USA has ‘statutes regarding the handling of classified information’ – and I am curious to know whether these statutes were violated or not. I imagine there must be some citizens and potential voters in the United States who would also appreciate clarification on that point.

I have read a number of articles recently describing a growing disillusionment with politicians around the globe, and an emerging trend among voters to punish them for their lies and deceit. The ‘Brexit’ vote in the United Kingdom and the general election in Australia are cited as examples of the trend. Sad to say, such negative voting probably won’t make the world a much better place in the short term – but if it gives corrupt and dishonest political leaders a headache or two, some might think it’s worth it.