Turkey imprisons journalists? – E U countries murder them!

Bulgarians mourn murdered journalist – raped, beaten and suffocated

Leading EU politicians and media activists urged Bulgaria on Oct. 8 to conduct a fast investigation into the murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova, as mourners planned vigils across the Balkan country.

Bulgarian journalist

Murdered Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova

Marinova’s body was found in a park near the Danube river in her home town of Ruse on Oct. 6. Prosecutors said she had been raped, then beaten and suffocated.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, who travelled to Ruse to oversee the inquiry on Monday, has said there was no evidence so far to suggest a link to Marinova’s work as a journalist.

But media focused on her recent work. On her last TV show on Sept. 30 Marinova featured two journalists who were investigating an alleged corruption case involving EU funds. She promised that her recently launched current affairs show ‘Detector’ would do more of its own investigations.

“Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption,”the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmerman tweeted.

Marinova is the third journalist murdered in the European Union over the past 12 months.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative reporter, was killed when a bomb blew up her car in October last year and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead in February.

Vigils were planned in Sofia, Ruse and the northern cities of Vidin and Pleven.

Bulgaria ranked 111 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index this year, lower than any other EU member and also lower than other countries in the western Balkans, some of which are candidates for EU membership.

In October 2017 hundreds of Bulgarian journalists protested in downtown Sofia downtown against threats from Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov against the country’s biggest broadcasters. He accused the mainstream media of leading a “massive smear campaign” against him.

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Who’s helping the refugees? Only Turkey?

The MV Aquarius 2 is a 1977-built research vessel. It has been chartered and operated since February 2016 by the NGOs SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors without Borders) as a rescue vessel for migrants and refugees making the Mediterranean crossing in makeshift craft from Libya to Italy as part of the European migrant crisis.

Aquarius refugee shipThe operating groups were obliged to register the ship in Gibraltar and then Panama, one assumes because no European countries would accept it. Now it seems, in spite of accepting on to their books every kind of dodgy oil tanker and decrepit, unseaworthy rust-bucket crewed by seamen from the Third World, even those two puppet states of Western corporate interests have cancelled Aquarius’s registration.

Turkish Red Crescent calls for protection of migrant ship Aquarius

Turkish Red Crescent President Kerem Kınık on Oct. 6 called for the protection of rescue ship Aquarius.

The Aquarius, operated by the SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), saves migrant lives in the Mediterranean Sea. It has faced a blockade for the second time.

The ship was de-flagged first by Gibraltar and recently Panama.

Kınık, who is also vice president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said in a statement that Aquarius “may continue its activities under the Turkish ensign.”

“We propose that Aquarius resumes its activities with the Turkish ensign. I believe our country, hosting today more than 4 million refugees will be an important part of a solution to this issue,” he said.

mediterranean-refugees-migrant-offshore-aid-station-moas-11465295706“Turkish Red Crescent has taken an initiative to support the Aquarius to continue sailing. The support tis needed to save more lives among those fleeing their countries and at risk of death while crossing the Mediterranean,” the statement added.

According to the statement Aquarius has been rescuing migrant lives in the Mediterranean Sea for the last three years.

It has saved 29,523 lives in the Mediterranean, a migration route for those seeking asylum in Europe.

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According to Wikipedia: [The Aquarius] was flagged under the flag of convenience of Gibraltar since February 2018. On 6 August 2018 the Gibraltar Maritime Administration issued a “notice of removal” for the Aquarius, because she was registered as a survey vessel, but used as a rescue ship. As a result, the ship was warned that she would be removed from Gibraltar registry.

refugeesOn 27 August 2018 the ship arrived in Marseille and its operator MSF announced, that the owner has applied for a registration of the vessel in another flag of convenience Panama on 20 August. However, on 22 September 2018 the maritime authority of Panama announced that it had initiated the procedures to remove the Aquarius (now renamed Aquarius 2) from its registry, quoting violations of international law in respect to migrants, rescue at sea and refusing to carry the migrants back to the area where they originated. The government of Panama had been informed by Italy and other sources that the Aquarius did not follow international legal proceedings concerning the transport of migrants, so it was decided to initiate the process to remove Aquarius 2 from Panama’s ship registry. Specifically, Aquarius has been accused of not returning the rescued migrants to Libya. As of that date the Aquarius was seeking a port to disembark the migrants, after having refused an earlier order from to transfer them from the Libyan coast guard.

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According to Al Jazeera: The EU has to recognise that its war adventures caused the refugee crisis and start working on a real solution.

Saudi journalist murdered, dismembered and “disappeared” in Turkey

JAMAL-ONE-At this stage Saudi official sources are denying it – but it seems increasingly likely that veteran journalist Jamal Kasshoggi was lured into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, murdered and smuggled in pieces out of the building.

Kashoggi had been living in the United States and writing articles critical of the Saudi regime which were published in the Washington Post and elsewhere.

President Erdoğan says following case of missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi ‘personally’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 7 he was “personally” following the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared last week, and added that he still hoped for a positive outcome to the matter.

“Whatever comes of this, we will be the ones to declare it to the world,” the president said, while answering reporters’ questions in the capital Ankara. “It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country,” he said.

A presidential adviser said on Oct. 7 that Khashoggi had not left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in “normal ways.” Turkish authorities have concrete information on Khashoggi’s disappearance and the case would not go unsolved, Yasin Aktay told broadcaster CNN Türk.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on the night of Oct. 6 that Turkish investigators believe Khashoggi was killed in “a preplanned murder” at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, citing two anonymous officials.

Kashoggi

It’s probably too late for that!

One Turkish official also told The Associated Press that detectives’ “initial assessment” was that Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, without elaborating. Saudi authorities early Oct. 7 called the allegation “baseless.”

Khashoggi, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for the last year, vanished on Oct. 2 while on a visit to the consulate.

The Post cited one anonymous official who said investigators believe a 15-member team “came from Saudi Arabia.” The official added: “It was a preplanned murder.”

Khashoggi, 59, went missing while on a visit to the consulate in Istanbul for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. The consulate insists the writer left its premises, contradicting Turkish officials.

saudi1As a contributor to the Post, Khashoggi has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving. All those issues have been viewed as being pushed by Prince Mohammed, who similarly has led roundups of activists, businessmen and others in the kingdom.

“With young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power, he promised an embrace of social and economic reform,” Khashoggi wrote in his first column for the Post. “But all I see now is the recent wave of arrests.”

Khashoggi maintained ties with Saudi elites, including those in its intelligence apparatus, and launched a satellite news channel, Al-Arab, from Bahrain in 2015 with the backing of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

The channel was on air for less than 11 hours before it was shut down. Its billionaire backer was detained in the Ritz Carlton roundup overseen by Prince Mohammed in 2017.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, the Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, expressed shock over the news.

“If this is true—that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him—it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Murphy wrote on Twitter.saudi arabia

Banking scandals, insider trading, and other ways the mega-rich are screwing the world

Banking royal commission interim report released; blames greed for misconduct

the_big_bankerDid you happen to notice that the government of Australia had set up a Royal Commission to look into the world of banking? And that the Commission released its “interim” report last week?

What have they found so far, you may be curious to know.

The task of presenting the report fell to deputy leader of the ruling Liberal Party and the nation’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who . . .

“ . . . delivered a scathing rebuke to financial institutions for their greed-driven misconduct — and the banking regulator for not doing enough to punish poor behaviour.

“Banks and other financial institutions have put profits before people, greed has been the motive as short-term profits have been pursued at the expense of basic standards of honesty. Too often simply selling products has become the sole focus of attention.”

Frydenberg said the culture and conduct was reflected in the banks’ remuneration practices, with “almost every piece” of misconduct identified in the report “connected directly to some monetary benefit”.

citizensplutocracyHe said the report made it clear that, while behaviour was poor, “misconduct either went unpunished or the consequences did not meet the seriousness of what has been done”. 

In his report, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne, QC, said the Australian Securities and Investments Commission “rarely went to court to seek public denunciation of and punishment for misconduct” while the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority “never went to court”.

“Much more often than not, when misconduct was revealed, little happened beyond apology from the entity, a drawn-out remediation program and protracted negotiation with ASIC of a media release, an infringement notice, or an enforceable undertaking that acknowledged no more than that ASIC had reasonable ‘concerns’ about the entity’s conduct,” Hayne said.

ABC News added the following:

In the executive summary of the report, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne noted that the commission had exposed conduct by financial services firms that had attracted public condemnation.

fedreserve“Too often, the [cause] seems to be greed — the pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty,” he wrote.

“How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?”

Commissioner Hayne observed that from the executive suite to the front line, staff performance was measured and rewarded based on profit and sales.

“Selling became their focus of attention. Too often it became the sole focus of attention,” he noted.

“Products and services multiplied. Banks searched for their ‘share of the customer’s wallet’.”

However, the commissioner does not sheet home blame solely to the financial institutions, with the [so-called] regulators also failing to check [the banks’] greed.

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Like me, however, you may be curious about how a building or an institution like a bank can be motivated by a human emotion like greed, or make moral choices like putting profits before people, or policy decisions to reward employees for selling dodgy financial “products”.

You might think there must be some human beings in the upper levels of management making these decisions . . . and you might go on to wonder why these people can’t be identified and called to account.

money laundering

Well, that was the “interim” report, so we may hope that the final result will be some serious penalties handed down to some actual bank CEOs and their enforcers. Let’s wait and see!

While waiting for news from Australia, though, there was an interesting news item from Switzerland:

How a Swiss bank was toppled by a financial scandal in Malaysia

The world’s biggest financial scandal, over missing billions from Malaysian state-run development fund 1MDB, has left the country’s former prime minister, Najib Razak, facing charges of corruption – charges which he denies. In addition to bringing down a government, the scandal’s effects have reached as far as Switzerland, where Swiss bank BSI was forced to close after over 140 years of trading.

The 1MDB fund was overseen by Najib as prime minister, financial minister, and chairman of the advisory board, and was controversial from the outset in 2009. When in 2014 it was reported that 1MDB had amassed US$11 billion in debt, posing a threat to the Malaysian ringgit, the scandal began to unravel.

Documents leaked to investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown’s website Sarawak Report in 2015 revealed how money appeared to have been funnelled out of the fund via a close friend of the prime minister, Malaysian tycoon Jho Low. He has denied any wrongdoing, but is currently facing an Interpol warrant for his arrest*.The Wall Street Journal then published serious allegations of financial fraud, including the transfer of US$681m into Najib’s personal account. Funds were alleged to have been siphoned off through a web of shell companies and bank accounts and lavishly spent on items including a luxury property, a private yacht, and even funding for a Hollywood film. Investigations into these and other activities continue; Najib and Low deny any wrongdoing.

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bankster_cartoon450*I hope there’s no connection to the disappearance of Interpol President Meng Hongwei – we don’t want to take conspiracy theories too far.

Anyway, it’s good to see some accountability in Switzerland for the banking mafiosi – though it would have been nice to know that the CEO and the owners were going to serve some prison time rather than just closing down the bank and probably starting a new one.

As for mega-rich listers’ accountability in the United States, I saw that Elon Musk had been fined $20 million over a securities fraud, where he “misled investors when he tweeted on August 7 that he had ‘funding secured’ to privatize the electric automaker at $420 a share, causing a brief spike in Tesla’s share price.” Musk was also require3d to stand down as Board Chairman of the Tesla Company.

Sounds like a pretty serious punishment, until you realise that Musk’s net worth is currently estimated at $20.6 billion. That $0.6 on the end actually means $600 million! So the $20 million fine won’t even scratch the surface of that, never mind the other $20 BILLION! And the guy will still continue as Tesla’s CEO, so we can safely assume that his future earning capacity won’t be seriously affected.

That’s justice for you.

Kleptocrats looting their country and shifting the looted wealth offshore

Just as I finished reading that book, Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson, about the offshore tax evasion system, this ad appeared in my gmail inbox:

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 09.08.17So I want to quote a few paragraphs from the conclusion to Shaxson’s book:

A kleptocrat loots his country and shifts the looted wealth offshore, the banks, accountants, and law firms that assist him are just as guilty as the kleptocrat.When a client gets caught and goes to jail, so should his or her relationship manager, accountant, trustee, lawyer, and corporate nominee. A few organizations like London-based Global Witness have sought to call these intermediaries to account— but we now need a sea change in the world’s approach. Get serious with these people at last.

kleptocracy-NYTFirst, policymakers, journalists, and many others can start to understand and accept how tax havens have become the fortified refuges of financial capital, protecting it from tax and regulation and in the process contributing to the latest crisis in many and varied ways.The veil of silence and ignorance can be lifted and the message spread.

Tax must now be brought squarely into corporate responsibility debates. Corporate managers are taught to think that they are accountable only to shareholders. From this perspective, escaping tax seems to be their duty. But we have forgotten the fundamental truth that corporations get their license to operate, and the tools and confidence to do so effectively, from society. Seen this way, tax is not a cost to shareholders, to be minimized, but a distribution to the stakeholders in the enterprise: a return on the investment societies and their governments make in infrastructure, education, law and order, and the other basic prerequisites for all corporate activity.

money-laundering-tease_pe5n9x

Wash your dirty money? If anyone can, London can!

The final and most important thing is to change the culture. When pundits, journalists, and politicians fawn over people who get rich by abusing the system— getting around tax and regulation and forcing everyone else to shoulder the associated risks and taxes—then we have lost our way.

When a private equity company shows record profits, we can be told how much of that comes from genuine productive improvement, and how much comes from gaming the offshore system.

When magazines carry alluring advertisements from seedy offshore promoters who may be inciting clients to criminal behavior, we can complain.When corporations talk about social responsibility, we can ask if they mean tax. When journalists need expert commentators to advise them about that tax story they are writing, they must understand that their interviewee from the big accountancy firm works for a business that makes a living out of helping wealthy corporations and individuals get around paying tax, and that their opinions will reflect that corrupted worldview. They must find alternative opinions to balance those views.

kleptocraqcy 2We can recapture our culture from the forces of unaccountable privilege that have taken it away from us.

It is time for the great global debate about tax havens to begin in earnest. Whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever you do, offshore is at work nearby. It affects you. It is undermining the government you elect, hollowing out its tax base and corrupting your elected politicians. It is sustaining a vast criminal economy and creating a new, unaccountable aristocracy of corporate and financial power. If we do not act together to contain, control, and eradicate financial secrecy, then the world I found in West Africa more than a decade ago, a world of suave insiders, criminal complicity, and desperate poverty, will become the world we leave to our children. A tiny few will have their boots washed in champagne, while the rest of us struggle to make our lives in conditions of steepening inequality. We must avert this future.

You can find the book here.

EU, Iran defying the Trump administration

In case you missed it . . .

EU, Iran set financial ‘vehicle’ to ease trade between them

eu-europe-iran-550x386

A new alliance? Maybe they’ll get invited to join the club. There are a few other anomalies if you look closely at the green.

Five world powers and Iran agreed late on Sept. 24 to establish a financial facility in the European Union to facilitate payments for Iranian imports and exports including oil, a key move sought by Tehran following the U.S. pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal and its re-imposition of sanctions.

Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran said in a joint statement that the so-called “Special Purpose Vehicle” will “assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.”

The nuclear agreement is meant to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, but U.S. President Donald Trump announced in May he was unilaterally pulling out because he felt it wasn’t strong enough and didn’t cover other issues of concern to the U.S. and its allies, such as Iran’s military influence in the Middle East and ballistic missile program. The U.S. has also accused Iran of promoting international terrorism, which Tehran vehemently denies.

eu foreign policy chief

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini with Iran’s President Rouhani. Me ‘n’ you, gal – Let’s do it!

Iran’s economy is already suffering from the sanctions that Washington re-imposed after walking away from the nuclear agreement, and the U.S. has threatened to punish companies from other nations that continue doing business with Iran.

In sharp contrast, the five other world powers who signed the nuclear deal remain strongly committed to it, and the new financial facility is almost certain to anger the Trump administration.

New York Times

Security Council standing idle to oppressions in world – Erdoğan’s speech to the UN

Not the whole speech– just some thought-provoking excerpts:

erdoğan UNThe UN Security Council currently serves the interests of five permanent members holding veto rights, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sept. 25. The five members of the Council, the U.S, Russia, China, France and Britain, are “standing idle to the oppressions in other parts of the world,” Erdoğan said in his address to the 73rd session of UN General Assembly.

Erdoğan said the UN has carried out work and achieved considerable successes over its 73-year history.

“However, it is also a fact that over time the United Nations moved away from meeting the expectations of humanity for peace and welfare,” he added. “Those who do not raise their voices against the oppression of the Palestinians [and others], their efforts even to reduce assistance for them, are only increasing the courage of the oppressors,” he added, referring to the recent U.S. decision to cut aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Turkey will continue to stand with the “oppressed” Palestinians and will protect the historical and legal status of Jerusalem, Erdoğan said.

UNSC2

And which country has exercised by far the most vetoes?

“And we believe that when we say ‘the world is bigger than five,’ we become the voice of the common conscience of humanity,” Erdoğan said. “When the assets of the wealthiest 62 people in the world amount to the assets of the half of world’s population of 3.6 billion people, this means there is a problem,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan recalled that Turkey hosts 4 million refugees, 3.5 million of which are Syrian, and provides them with services that are “incomparable” elsewhere in the world.

The total amount Turkey has spent for Syrian refugees alone is at $32 billion. Erdoğan said he expects “more abundant and flexible support” for Turkey, which has prevented a large refugee influx to spill over elsewhere in the world, foremost to Europe, thanks to the opportunities the country has provided to refugees.

“I call on all the parties to support a just and sustainable political solution in Syria with a constructive approach. We wish to see a principled approach against terrorist organizations.

jacindas baby

NZ’s Prime Minister at the UN summit, taking a keen interest in key global issues

Hinting at U.S. support for PYD/YPG, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terror organization, Erdoğan said: “Those who equip terrorists with tens of thousands of trucks and thousands of cargo planes load of arms for the sake of their tactical interests will most definitely feel sorrow in the future.”

Erdoğan said all terrorist organizations do not obtain their power from their armed actions, rather some hide behind “glossy concepts” such as education, welfare and dialogue, and continues operations as NGOs or businesses.

“Through the support of our people, we have eliminated the majority of FETÖ [terrorist organization] in our country.

FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen are accused of orchestrating the defeated coup July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

He said countries have heeded Turkey’s warnings and learned from its lessons and are deciphering the organization and expelling it from their lands. However, some states, including the U.S. and European countries, “have not understood the danger”.

“For instance, the amount of funds that the FETÖ terrorist organization receives in 27 U.S. states from the government budget solely by charter schools is $763 million,” he added.

Erdoğan said FETÖ leader Gülen “exports terror” to 160 countries from his residence in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and urged world nations to be watchful and take action against the terror group.

Erdoğan said trade wars have harmed humanity in every period.

“None of us can remain silent to the arbitrary cancellation of commercial agreements, the spreading prevalence of protectionism and the use of economic sanctions as weapons. “The negative effects of these twisted developments will eventually affect all countries,” he added.

The president called on countries to work together to prevent damage to the world trade regime as a result of such unilateral decisions.

“Today, some countries are persistently trying to create chaos. There is no bigger danger than a world order that has lost mercy, conscience, truth and hope,” Erdoğan added.