Russophobic rants by some European Union leaders and their willful distortion of events in Syria is a reflection of why the 28-member bloc is careering toward disaster. We are witnessing a crisis of appallingly inept leadership.
German, British and French leaders were among the most hawkish voices at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels this week, denouncing what they claimed were Russian “war crimes” in Syria and calling for additional economic sanctions on both Moscow and Damascus.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russian-backed Syrian air strikes were “inhumane and cruel,” while Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May took the “most shrill prize” with her condemnation of Moscow’s “sickening atrocities.”
French President Francois Hollande echoed their calls for the EU to slap more sanctions on Russia – in addition to those the bloc has implemented over the Ukraine conflict.
This came only days after Belgian F-16 fighter jets reportedly killed six civilians in the Aleppo countryside, adding to a catalog of illegal aggression committed in Syria by French, British and American warplanes bombing the country without any legal mandate.
In the end, good sense among certain member states prevailed, and the EU summit concluded without imposing additional punitive measures. As the Financial Times reported: “Italy’s Renzi forces a retreat from new sanctions on Russia… Germany, France and UK rein in demand for fresh EU sanctions over Aleppo bombardment.”
Italy, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Malta and Cyprus were some of the EU members wary of escalating economic and political problems already incurred from loss of trade with Russia over the Ukraine debacle.
Britain’s premier May gave a particularly asinine speech in Brussels. She called for a “robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression.” This from the leader of a government currently embroiled in bitter rows over its divorce from the EU.
So, the British leader wants to bequeath even more tension and economic hardship between the people of Europe and Russia, just before she packs up Britain’s membership.
In the Russophobic rousing, European Council President Donald Tusk also excelled. Despite the EU summit rejecting the adoption of more sanctions against Russia over Syria, Tusk was later threatening that such measures remained an option. Tusk had regaled the summit with a list of alleged Russian “misdemeanors” including “air-space violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, interference in the EU’s political processes and beyond. Hybrid tools in the Balkans, to developments in the MH17 investigation.”
Then he declared: “Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU.”
Please note that Tusk is supposed to be a leading light for the EU as it negotiates a raft of existential problems, from intractable international trade deals, migration and border disputes, anti-EU political parties, and ongoing economic stagnation for 500 million citizens.
But if Tusk and other EU leaders like Merkel and Hollande can come out with such inane views on Russia, what chance has the bloc got in dealing effectively with other challenging issues? No wonder, EU citizens are losing respect and faith in political leaders when they are seen to be so utterly incompetent and detached from reality.
Yet to make matters even worse, Tusk and his Russophobic ilk turn around and blame the imploding EU crisis on alleged Russian plots to “weaken and divide.”
Just ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Merkel and Hollande met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin for a conference on the Ukraine crisis. The Kiev regime’s President Petro Poroshenko was also in attendance.
The Berlin meeting did not result in any progress toward resolving the Ukraine dispute. While the German and French leaders wanted to penalize Russia over alleged violations in Syria, they seemed oblivious to hundreds of attacks by Kiev’s armed forces on civilian centers in breakaway eastern Ukraine. The assassination of a military commander in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic last week by suspected Kiev agents has heightened fears of a return to all-out war.
Where are Merkel and Hollande’s condemnations and calls for sanctions on the Kiev authorities whom they patronize with billions of dollars in financial aid and NATO military support?
Also, Merkel, Hollande and Britain’s May have little to say about recorded “cruel, inhumane, sickening” massacres in Yemen committed by the Saudi coalition bombing that country. Their silence no doubt is owing to the fact that their governments sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to the Saudi regime even as it slaughters women and children in Yemen.
And, indeed, let’s talk about Syria and the besieged northern city of Aleppo.
The crimes that European leaders allege against Russia and its Syrian ally are based on unverified claims issued by dubious networks evidently under the control of the anti-government militants. The militants besieging east Aleppo are dominated by head-chopping terrorist groups like the internationally proscribed Jabhat Al-Nusra.
When Russia unilaterally implemented a temporary ceasefire this week in Aleppo, an innovative live-streaming broadcast from the appointed humanitarian corridors proved once again the real nature of the violence.
Civilians trapped in the militant-held areas were shown to be held as “human shields” by the insurgents. While buses and other vehicles were waiting to ferry civilians out of the conflict zone, video footage recorded militants shelling and sniping at the humanitarian aid effort.
Those violations corroborated what citizens in east Aleppo have been saying for a long time – that they are being held against their will by the gunmen. Besieged people are even calling on the Syrian and Russian forces to continue in their operations to break the hostage situation and liberate that part of the city.
All across Syria, hundreds of villages and towns have been liberated by the Syrian army and its Russian allies since Putin ordered his air force to intervene in the stricken country at the end of last year.
One of the recent successes was the town of Qudsaya near the capital Damascus. Last week, thousands of residents rallied in the main square cheering President Bashar Assad, the Syrian army and Russia for their “liberation” after the foreign-backed mercenaries were routed from the town.
The foreign backers of the mercenary army that has plunged Syria into horror since March 2011 – with perhaps half a million dead – include the supposedly leading EU members Britain and France. Hollande is on record for admitting that France supplied weapons to insurgents in Syria as far back as 2012, when the siege of Aleppo began, and in breach of a European arms embargo.
What is going on in Syria is a military victory over a foreign-sponsored terrorist war on that country. Russia’s role in the liberation of Syria is principled and commendable.
Those who should be facing prosecution for war crimes include pious, pompous government leaders, past and present, in London and Paris.
If such prominent EU governments can be so wrong and distorting about something so glaringly obvious as Syria and Russia’s support, then no wonder the EU is in free-fall over so many other pressing matters. With criminally incompetent politicians in power, the EU is a bus with its driver slumped at the wheel.
The Chicago Reader has put together a massive, must-read investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s secret budget. The Chicago PD has — for years now — used the spoils of its asset forfeiture program to obtain surveillance equipment like Stingrays. This discretionary spending is done off the city’s books, allowing the CPD to avoid anything that might prevent it from acquiring surveillance tech — like meddling city legislators… or the public itself.
Since 2009, the year CPD began keeping electronic records of its forfeiture accounts, the department has brought in nearly $72 million in cash and assets through civil forfeiture, keeping nearly $47 million for itself and sending on almost $18 million to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and almost $7.2 million to the Illinois State Police, according to our analysis of CPD records.
The Chicago Police Department doesn’t disclose its forfeiture income or expenditures to the public, and doesn’t account for it in its official budget. Instead, CPD’s Bureau of Organized Crime, the division tasked with drug- and gang-related investigations, oversees the forfeiture fund in what amounts to a secret budget—an off-the-books stream of income used to supplement the bureau’s public budget.
The Reader found that CPD uses civil forfeiture funds to finance many of the day-to-day operations of its narcotics unit and to secretly purchase controversial surveillance equipment without public scrutiny or City Council oversight.
It sounds like a lot of money — $72 million in civil forfeiture funds — and it is. But it’s not like this money comes from a few large busts that have seriously affected the city’s drug trade. That may be the rationale for the PD’s convictionless seizing of property and cash (just like “terrorism” is often cited when acquiring surveillance tech ultimately destined for plain vanilla law enforcement use). But in reality, the forfeiture’s rarely do anything more than financially cripple a large number of individuals who have little to anything to do with drug trafficking. The Chicago Reader reports that the median seizure in Illinois is only $530 — hardly an amount one associates with criminal empires. In fact, the normal cash seizure probably sounds more like the following than a breathtaking dismantling of a local drug-running crew.
Ellie Mae Swansey, a 72-year-old retiree living on a fixed income, had her 2001 PT Cruiser seized two years ago when Chicago police arrested her son for drug manufacturing. The costs of simply beginning the long, circuitous, extremely-frustrating battle to reclaim her vehicle were prohibitive.
In order to have a chance at getting their property returned, claimants must put down a bond toward their asset when first submitting the official paperwork. This means that Swansey had to pay $140 (10 percent of her car’s value) just to start the process. Then, to appear in court, she had to pay an additional $177 fee.
To Swansey, who lives on a $655-per-month social security check, these costs are substantial. Successful claimants will have 90 percent of their bond returned; unsuccessful claimants get nothing back.
The extensive investigation, compiled from dozens of FOIA requests*, notes that 90% of the seized funds spent by the CPD went to expected, above-board expenses: vehicles, cellphones, etc. But the rest of it went other places, obscured by redactions and withheld documents. Payments to cellphone forensics companies like CellBrite were uncovered, as were purchases of a license plate reader installed near the CPD’s infamous Homan Square
detention center black site, and $417,000-worth of cell tower spoofers.
The Chicago PD will continue to roll over retirees like Swansey because the laws governing forfeiture in Illinois have completely corrupted the incentives. It’s not about law enforcement or crime prevention. It’s about autonomy, power, and a steady flow of spendable cash.
When a government agency is allowed to handle the forfeiture proceeds it brings in—as is the case with both CPD and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office—it controls both “the sword and the purse,” like an army that is also its own taxing authority. This is according to Lee McGrath, legislative counsel for the Institute for Justice, which seeks to reform civil asset forfeiture laws across the country.
* More on how the Chicago Reader managed to get its hands on this stash of documents.
The Clintons with Sir and Lady de Rothschild at a 2003 party / Credit – dailymail.co.uk
Though the influence of money in politics is well-known, many people are amazed to learn that most of that money comes from a very few individuals – the 1% of the 1% as it were. These individuals comprise the global elite, whose mind-boggling fortunes are often used to buy ‘favors’ and even set policy in governments all over the world, not just the United States. Many of these elites made their fortunes through centuries-old banking dynasties. The most infamous of these are undoubtedly the Rothschild family, who have been the world’s wealthiest family for over 200 years.
Indeed, the most well-known Rothschild patriarch, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, once said “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” The Rothschilds and their international banking cartel, ‘Rothschild & Co,’ are majority owners of numerous corporations spanning nearly every industry. They are also co-owners of numerous private banks including the International Monetary Fund, which essentially functions as a global loan shark with no government or international oversight, as well as many of the world’s central banks, which are private entities despite their associations with federal governments.
Several politicians, especially those who are the most willing to bend over backwards for wealthy interests, have made their careers by catering to the whims of the Rothschilds and other families like them. In US politics today, there is no better example of this archetype than Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In fact, less than two months ago, Clinton flew just 20 miles in a private jet to attend a private Rothschild fundraiser in her honor. Yet, this is just one of the latest examples of her intimate relationship to the banking dynasty.
In emails from her private server made available to the public by WikiLeaks, Clinton’s close relationship to Lady de Rothschild is evident due to their warm exchanges which include phrases such as “You are the best […] Sweet dreams,” “I remain your loyal adoring pal,” and “Much love.” This is significant as, judging by Clinton’s other emails, her communication style is almost always curt and concise, never approaching the outright declarations of affection found only in her exchanges with Lady de Rothschild. Lady de Rothschild, married into the Rothschild family in 2000 after being introduced to Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who alone is worth $20 billion, at the 1998 Bilderberg Conference. War criminal Henry Kissinger served as the couple’s “match-maker.”
Yet, the most bizarre interaction between Clinton and Lady de Rothschild took place in an email titled “Info for you” (ID#1606), which was sent while Clinton was serving as US Secretary of State. In the email, Clinton tells Lady de Rothschild that she had to ask Tony Blair (then-Prime Minister of England) to accompany her to Israel due to the Middle East peace negotiations taking place at the time. Blair had previously planned to spend the weekend in Aspen, Colorado with the Rothschilds at an unspecified conference, but accepted Clinton’s invitation. Clinton then says “I hope you all understand. […] Let me know what penance I owe you.” For those who are not familiar with the word, penance is defined as follows:
“An act of self-mortification or devotion performed voluntarily to show sorrow for a sin or other wrongdoing.”
Does this sound like something Hillary Clinton would normally say?
Considering that her former bodyguard once said she could “make Richard Nixon look like Mahatma Gandhi,” this seems doubtful. More importantly, why would someone as powerful as Secretary of State literally grovel for forgiveness from a private citizen? The circumstance is truly bizarre considering Clinton offers “penance” or asking the Prime Minister of England to decline an invitation to the Rothschilds’ weekend getaway in order to attend high-stakes peace negotiations. This email clearly shows where the real power is in politics as well as where Clinton’s true loyalty lies.
Some Jews were not delighted by Donald Trump’s recent reference to ‘International Bankers”. Trump declared this week that his rival Hillary Clinton is somehow “an instrument of a vast conspiracy involving scads of money and international banks”
You may note that Trump didn’t refer to Jews nor did he point out any ethnicity or religious group. However, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, was quick to react using the twitter platform. “Trump should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur antisemitism,” Greenblatt said and then added “Let’s keep hate out of campaign.”
One may wonder at this stage why a leading American Jew sees ‘hatred’ in Trump’s critical reference to ‘International Banking’? Is it because Greenblatt knows that the International Bankers who fund Clinton’s presidential affair belong to one particular ethnic group? Is it possible that Greenblatt believes that the bankers at Goldman Sachs, along with individuals like Haim Saban and George Soros, may have one or two things in common apart from being filthy rich?
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was also alarmed by Trump’s true observation that “This election will determine if we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system”
Once again Trump didn’t refer specifically to Jews, yet the JTA must have gathered that he had Jews in mind. The JTA probably knows something many of us may have gathered but prefer to suppress.
I guess the good news is the sudden appearance of Jewish guilt. Greenblatt and the JTA act out of guilt. They do know that international banking is a Jewish territory and that makes them feel uncomfortable. But the tragic news is that Jewish guilt hardly leads to ethical reflection, and too often it is quick to transform into aggression.
If Greenblatt was genuinely concerned with defamation and the safety of American Jews he should have lobbied the herd of Jewish international bankers to remove themselves from American politics. But for Greenblatt and others within his tribal milieu, Jewish power is the power to silence the very discussion of Jewish power!
In practice, Greenblatt, an American Jewish leader, is telling the Republican presidential candidate which topics to avoid.
I would like to tell Greenblatt and his acolytes that this development is very dangerous to American people and to American Jews, in particular.
Swedish politicians, who are known for their penchant for multiculturalism and diversity, have been found to be the most loyal allies of Hungarian-American business magnate George Soros who chairs the Open Society Foundation, leaked documents reveal.
The Open Society Foundation was found to have hired a consulting firm to evaluate members of the European Parliament and assess their support of the foundation’s values until the end of their tenure in 2019, Swedish news outlet Fria Tider reported, referring to the leaked document.
An itemized list of European MPs indicated that Swedish politicians are by far the most loyal to George Soros’ political ambitions. As many as 13 of the 20 Swedish MEPs (equivalent to 65 percent) were classified as “loyal allies.” Remarkably, the list of Swedish Soros loyalists includes representatives of parties from both ends of the political spectrum, who happen to be opponents on the home arena.
Among others, Lars Adaktusson of the Christian Democrats Party, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt of the Conservative Party, Peter Ericsson of the Green Party, Fredrick Federley of the Center Party and Soraya Post of the Feminist Initiative, were pointed out as loyalists. On the opposite side of the list, Eastern European countries like the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Hungary were placed, with only 2 of 21, 1 of 11 and 1 of 21 Soros loyalists among its MEPs.
Previously, 86-year-old financier George Soros, was found to have sponsored Swedish far-left activists Expo to train leftists within the framework of the pan-European election campaign.
Additionally, Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Sachs was found to receive a grant from Soros for combatting “nationalism” during the 2014 parliamentary elections. In 2014, millions of dollars were handed out to various European organizations by the Open Society in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the elections held in Europe that year, Fria Tider earlier reported, citing the DC Leaks portal, where some 2,500 documents from the Open Society were made public.
In 1992, Soros became famous in Sweden after an extensive currency speculation affair against the Swedish krona, which subsequently triggered a mass shift of deposits to other currencies for fears of the krona’s collapse. In 1998, six years thereafter, Soros was invited to Sweden. In addition to a dinner with the Royal family, a meeting with Swedish magnate Peter Wallenberg and a lecture at the School of Economics, he also held a lecture to at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Hillary Clinton has been revealed to have a very cozy relationship with the US media, which has been found to work closely with Clinton’s campaign to present her in a favorable, transparent light – even planting stories, new email leaks suggest.
These facts are laid bare in the latest cache of classified Clinton campaign emails seen by The Intercept, which in turn received them from Guccifer 2.0 – the hacker who’s reportedly behind several high-profile intrusions.
The cache of emails includes campaign strategies aimed at keeping the public perception of Clinton favorable, focusing particularly on her transparency, especially in light of the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server. The strategies sometimes reveal the campaign presiding over stylistic points and emphasizing what is to be described as “on the record.”
Of particular note is one January 2015 document which includes references to Maggie Haberman. Formerly of Politico, Haberman now covers the presidential election for the New York Times. According to the leaked document, she’s a “friendly journalist” who has “never disappointed” in painting a positive picture of Clinton.
Haberman was seemingly put to good use, emerging with two stories which were meant to shed light, among other things, on how Hillary Clinton’s thought process works and how successful her cabinet members were. The New York Times piece entitled ‘Hillary Clinton Begins Process of Vetting — Herself’, talks about how open Clinton is to researching herself and how committed to transparency that makes her. Especially given how her opponents mainly focus on her foundation work, or the millions she’s received in paid speech appearances, as well as her relationship to Wall Street.
Neither Merrill nor Haberman responded to the Intercept’s requests for comment, nor did they deny that the document exists.
One of the documents, entitled ‘The Press and Surrogate Plan’, talked of willing personnel in the media who could always be put to good use, at CNN or elsewhere. Clinton staffers were also careful in distinguishing between “progressive helpers” and those who were potentially friendly, but could be further coerced.
These so-called media surrogates would often include TV pundits whose roles would appear to be neutral, but who were enrolled by the campaign. The metadata for the ‘surrogate’ document traces it back to its author Jennifer Palmieri – the Clinton campaign communications director.
Furthermore, as described in an April 2015 memo, there would be secret get-togethers involving media big shots and celebrity TV personalities – a notable one would take place in the aftermath of Clinton’s running announcement at the home of one of her strategists on the Upper East Side. The informal cocktail party was completely off-the-record, and intended to coordinate how Clinton’s campaign would be presented to the American public.
The strategies were not specifically formulated for the Clinton campaign, however. According to a March 2015 memo by campaign manager Robby Mook, the tried and tested tactic of constantly feeding the press positive stories in order to take away its ability to react to constant outside accusations was particularly important.
These controversial strategies have also been employed by the Republicans, although this latest cache of documents is the first glimpse into just how coordinated the effort is to use the media to political advantage.
The revelations from the Intercept come just as the second round of debating between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has wrapped up, looking colder than ever, with not so much as a handshake exchanged.
The leak also comes amid the latest official attack on Russia by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. On Friday they released a statement claiming they are ““confident that the Russian government directed” the hacks of emails and documents and their posting on WikiLeaks, DCLeaks, and the blog of the hacker calling himself ‘Guccifer 2.0.’
Russia has been denying all complicity. The United States has still not presented any evidence of an official link to the Russian government.
The American election campaign never ceases to amaze in terms of twists.
So far (let’s face it) there is nothing new. But the problem for Clinton, the banks and Barney Frank is the refrain «Tarp Funds»; basically the 2008 financial crisis. The Bush administration, with a $700 billion maxi-loan (made up by citizens’ taxes), granted instant cash and saved the big banks from bankruptcy.
The infamous measure will be called TARP:
The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a United States government program to purchase toxic assets from financial institutions, and actions to strengthen the financial sector. It was signed by US President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008.
A small detail to keep in mind: the loan was funded with taxes paid by US citizens.
However, the banks were saved, speculation continued, and two years later, a decree that negatively changed the American financial system was passed, the infamous Dodd-Frank.
The words of the Wall Street Journal thoroughly explain how the financial giants and the big banking conglomerates have profited from this other law-saving bank:
«Dodd-Frank was allegedly written thinking of Wall Street, but has hit Main Street. The financial community institutions, which make up most of loans to small businesses, are overwhelmed by the complexity of the new law. Government figures indicate that the country is losing an average of a community bank or credit union each day.
Before Dodd-Frank, 75% of banks were offering a free account. Two years later, only 39% of bank still offer that free-of-charge savings account.
Due to the Dodd-Frank, the financial markets will have less ability to cope with shocks and are more likely to panic [and panic = speculation = profits for banks and financial institutions]. Many economists believe this could be the source of the next financial crisis».
Two further details if you have not already guessed the extent of these revelations. The Frank in question is Barney Frank, the guy mentioned several times in the the donations. Guess who Frank received the money from. Banks, of course! The same banks for whom Frank significantly increased their revenue thanks to the law with his name. What better way for JP Morgan, Goldman, Bank of America and company to show appreciation for their future gains than by raising tens of thousands of dollars for Frank and his party?
The revelations are likely to be a disaster for Clinton and the Democrats. The large banking corporations have funded them using money from the TARP fund. They have given the Democratic Party money collected from taxes and granted for a completely different purpose (namely, to deal with the failure of the financial giants).
These hidden financial mechanisms reveal the backstory behind the US electoral system. An elite made up of financiers, bankers and lobbies are the real stakeholders and decisive contributors in presidential elections. They fund all central and vital aspects of democratic and republican campaigns, becoming an indispensable support for any candidate. In return, politicians allow direct procurement and assign huge projects to large industries, or turn a blind eye in case of financial fraud. The consequences are clearly visible in America’s deterioration, increasingly grappling with corruption cases, postponed projects, a lagging behind, and a general feeling of backwardness in vital infrastructure.
In the military field, for example, large lobby groups of weapons manufacturers have created a procurement system that threatens to squander forever the tactical and strategic advantage obtained by the United States over the last 70 years. Programs such as the F-35 were delayed and costs surged stratospherically due to likely corruption and a lack of competition in the procurement process. Similarly, a perpetual race to produce more and more weapons systems that are in the end unnecessary and redundant, instead of exploring new pathways, has enriched US policymakers and made the military-industrial complex much wealthier, but in the process has served to reduce the gap between the US and her peer competitors.
This whole process is a vicious cycle that can easily be summarized in the following manner. Politicians often derive their strategies and tactics from the reasoning and the conversations that take place in US think-tanks, which are funded and supported by companies involved in such industries as pharmaceuticals, insurance, the military, and the cyber and space spheres. In the case of war involving weapons systems, for example, it is easy to understand why policymakers are being influenced by their contributors, who often suggest courses of action and strategies based on the need to spend huge amounts of money to acquire their new products, thereby enriching said lobbies and manufacturers in the process. This triangular system – lobby-thinktank-policy – is one of the founding pillars of current American war doctrine that is failing miserably.
In the same manner, the banking and financial system of Wall Street also contributes and enjoys the same privileges. The banks were bound to return the favor, in the form of millions of dollars of donations, to the political class that was responsible for saving them from the 2008 financial crisis stemming from wild speculation and accounting deceptions. Within a few months, billions of dollars were transferred for free into the accounts of the banking giants thanks to the TARP decree, effectively preventing a major bankruptcy. The consequences were so devastating that today we are experiencing a systemic and endemic crisis of the financial sector that is likely to completely overwhelm Western economies the next time a too-big-to-fail scenario arises.
Politicians continue to enact laws in favor of the banking giants, pocketing large sums of money for their election campaigns in the process. The attention is constantly drawn towards effectively increasing the gap between the top 0.1% and the remaining 99.9%, and the politicians are the key factor in this strategy. Laws adopted in recent years have created an environment where banks have become untouchable and beyond reach. It is a situation that is exactly the opposite of what should have happened after the 2008 crisis, with increased oversight and transparency in financial transactions.
The extent of the degeneration of this system has been revealed in recent days with the information released by Guccifer 2.0. Even though nothing should any longer be surprising given what has transpired over the last few years, one is still taken aback by revelations that the banking giants are financing the Clinton campaign directly with American taxpayers’ money. If we add to this the funds that were freely handed over by the government to save those same banking institutions from bankruptcy in 2008, we take another step further into the theater of the absurd.
For the Southeast Asian state of Thailand, overcoming corruption could be one of several essential steps required to fully tap the human and natural resources this already influential ASEAN state has benefited from for centuries. However, to tackle corruption, the nation must first define what it is, and what it hopes to achieve by confronting and overcoming it.
Currently, the focus unfortunately appears to be on addressing Thailand’s score upon the so-called Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) put out by alleged nongovernmental organisation (NGO), Transparency International.
Despite describing itself as an NGO, Transparency International’s funding is dominated by the governments of the United States and the European Union.
More specifically, as listed on Transparency International’s own website, its funding comes specifically from the US State Department, the European Commission, the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and controversial Open Society, chaired by convicted financial criminal George Soros.
Such funding presents an alarming conflict of interest, considering that these are the same interests who, in Thailand and across the rest of ASEAN, have worked actively to overthrow governments and undermine local institutions, seeking to overwrite them with organisations and institutions promoted by and serving foreign interests via NED and Open Society specifically.
Transparency International Leverages CPI as a Geopolitical Weapon
Thus, Thailand’s score on the CPI is more a result of politically-motivated interference in Thailand’s internal affairs than it is an honest appraisal of the nation’s corruption. Thailand’s low score and pressure placed upon it by the West to improve this score results not from genuine concern regarding corruption, but instead from the fact that the current government successfully ousted a regime sponsored by and working for Western special interests.
Attempting to “improve” Thailand’s score on a politically-motivated and thus illegitimate index is, to say the least, an exercise in futility.
Despite this glaring reality, there are some in the government who believe improving the nation’s standings on this index should still be a priority. They do so not because a better score will actually address corruption in Thailand in any meaningful manner, thus giving Thais greater confidence and trust in government institutions, but to instead impress foreign investors who a nation like Thailand should not be depending on to begin with.
It is an approach doomed to fail because it is an approach that fundamentally misdiagnoses the problem and thus prescribes the wrong solution.
In reality, corruption in Thailand cannot be defined or addressed by Transparency International’s politically-motivated, thus meaningless metrics. Instead, corruption in Thailand, if understood as unprofessionalism and impropriety among government institutions, hindering both the efficient administration of the nation as well as the government’s interaction with the people and local businesses, must be confronted by local interests for local interests.
The Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT) (website in Thai only), comprised of business leaders, local media and activists, seeks to confront corruption in Thailand not to improve the nation’s standings on a meaningless foreign-devised scale, but to improve the efficiency of government institutions to better facilitate their administration of the country, to make doing business easier and fairer as well as to improve faith and confidence across Thai society in the government institutions they depend on for the smooth functioning of society.
As ACT incrementally achieves these goals, it helps improve and strengthen Thailand, even if such efforts are not reflected on meaningless indexes like the CPI.
Their activities include exposing corruption using their ties to the media, holding events to raise public awareness regarding both their rights and how they are being violated by corruption and by working with the government to pass legislation to rein in corruption on various levels of society.
In the end, ACT is attempting to solve corruption for Thailand, with their “index score” determined by the improved efficiency of government institutions and the public’s trust in them.
ACT has so far proven itself impartial, calling out the previous government of Yingluck Shinawatra for its blatant and systemic corruption, as well as condemning impropriety and nepotism amid the current government. Unlike Transparency International and its CPI which only seeks to leverage “corruption perceptions” as a political weapon, ACT is fighting corruption for the sake of fighting corruption, because its membership is comprised of those directly affected by it, regardless of who heads the national government.
The current government should work (and is working) closely with groups like ACT to expose and rein in corruption toward very specific goals such as improving the efficiency of government institutions in the administration of their responsibilities and improving public trust in these institutions. Rather than citing the meaningless CPI devised by the politically-motivated Transparency International, Thailand should develop its own metrics for measuring both the level of corruption and gauge success in confronting it.
Thailand, and other developing nations, must also devise a means of communicating their progress in confronting corruption to the world in order to sidestep the “weaponisation” of indexes like Transparency International’s CPI.
By confronting corruption, nations strengthen themselves not only within by improving the efficiency with which resources are utilised toward the progress of their respective nations, they also strengthen themselves against foreign interests that would seek to exploit “corruption perceptions” and use it to seek leverage over them. In this sense, fighting corruption is not only good for business, it is essential for national security.
The struggles of the middle class are something Hillary Clinton once admitted in a paid speech she is “far removed” from, thanks to the “fortunes” she and her husband “enjoy,” a WikiLeaks-posted email shows. She also admitted she “did all she could” for Wall Street to prosper.
These are just two excerpts from the numerous paid speeches Clinton gave to Wall Street giants behind closed doors between 2013 and 2015.
“I’m kind of far removed because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy,” Clinton told members of Goldman-Black Rock in February 2014. “I am not taking a position on any policy, but I do think there is a growing sense of anxiety and even anger in the country over the feeling that the game is rigged.”
Her remarks would never have seen the light of day, but an email found among over 2,000 “Podesta emails” has now shone a spotlight on what Clinton was telling Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and others in between her job as Secretary of State and the current presidential campaign.
“Team, attached are the flags from HRC’s paid speeches we have from HWA. I put some highlights below. There is a lot of policy positions that we should give an extra scrub with policy,” Tony Carrk, the research director of the Clinton campaign, wrote in the email to John Podesta, the campaign chairman, and others on January 25, 2016.
“HWA” stands for Harry Walker Agency, which calls itself “an exclusive speakers bureau” that has been representing Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill “for over a decade.”
The agency also arranged Hillary Clinton’s speeches, which earned $675,000 from three events at Goldman Sachs and reportedly $3 million for speaking at banks and financial firms.
Carrk “flagged” some 25 excerpts that he titled, presumably highlighting the parts the campaign had to take care of: “CLINTON ADMITS SHE IS OUT OF TOUCH,” “CLINTON SAYS YOU NEED TO HAVE A PRIVATE AND PUBLIC POSITION ON POLICY,” and “CLINTON ADMITS NEEDING WALL STREET FUNDING” to name a few.
Clinton’s links to Wall Street is something that she and her team have been trying to downplay since the start of her presidential campaign in April 2015.
However, excerpts from her speeches, most of which she gave in front of Goldman Sachs people, show the scale of her “cozy relationships” with Wall Street.
“When I was a senator from New York, I represented and worked with so many talented principled people who made their living in finance,” Hillary Clinton said in a speech at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd in San Diego in September 2014. “But even though I represented them and did all I could to make sure they continued to prosper, I called for closing the carried interest loophole and addressing skyrocketing CEO pay.”
Prior to that, in 2013, Clinton was telling Goldman Sachs that running for office has its downsides, such as for example “bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives.”
“You know, the divestment of assets, the stripping of all kinds of positions, the sale of stocks. It just becomes very onerous and unnecessary,” she said, adding that is “part of the problem with the political situation.”
In 2014 speeches, Hillary Clinton expressed her pro-Keystone pipeline views, the opinion she appeared to have changed just recently.
Clinton has been known to have to changed her mind on big issues in recent years. However, in 2013 she told a housing trade group that she has “a public and a private position.”
“If everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,” she said. “So, you need both a public and a private position.”
In her other speeches, which also surfaced from the recent WikiLeaks dump, Clinton discussed countries such as Saudi Arabia, which she said “exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth” and Libya, where she said “they can’t provide security.”
She also spoke about the UK and the EU, predicting “some pretty unpredictable leaders and political parties coming to the forefront in a lot of countries.”
Clinton has long been under intense pressure to release transcripts of her paid speeches to corporations.
A poll released in June showed that nearly 60 percent of surveyed voters wanted transcripts of her speeches released.
Saudi Arabia rejected a request by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Bin Al-Hussein to form an international commission of inquiry into war crimes committed in Yemen.
“Riyadh does not support the call of the High Commissioner to form an international investigation committee,” Saudi Minister of Culture and Information of Adel Tarifi said in a statement, stressing that “the work of the Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry is generally agreed”, according to reports by German Press Agency.
The Human Rights Council of the United Nations had refused on Thursday to open an independent investigation into war crimes in Yemen, and demanded instead a national commission of inquiry to investigate attacks on hospitals and killing of civilians.
FBI Director James Comey went before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the Hillary Clinton email investigation after new evidence emerged which suggested Hillary Clinton’s IT specialist, Paul Combetta (under the “Stonetear” moniker), sought advice on Reddit on how to cover her tracks. He addressed claims about the FBI’s treatment of Hillary Clinton and whether or not the they were biased in her favor. He was angered by such claims, yet continued to make up excuses for Hillary Clinton.