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International Relations

OECD Apparently Believes Global Tax Evasion Is A Legacy Issue: A Pigs Will Fly Moment

Amid another leak of documents revealing large-scale international tax avoidance, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said Monday that tax avoidance was fast becoming a thing of the past. “When we’re talking about the ‘Panama Papers’ or ‘Paradise Papers’we’re talking about a legacy that is fast disappearing,” Angel Gurria said. Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in London, Gurria said governments were working hard to stop tax avoidance and evasion.

Global Populism

Trump’s radical new foreign policy portends much worse to come

As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this week in the Washington Post and on CNN GPS, we now have a Trump foreign policy doctrine, and it is not reassuring for the World. Obviously heavily influenced by Bannon, who many had thought had been relegated to backseat status by McMaster, we have been fooled again. As Trump demonstrates his RealPolitik admiration for authoritarians like Putin, Xi Jinping, Erdogan, and Duterte, more sinister scenarios begin to crystallize.  Trump’s speech justifying the withdrawal of the United States from the COP21 Paris Climate Change Agreement is a frightening exposition of this new Trump Doctrine. It is Trump thumbing his nose at the World. It is the United States against the World, led by a coterie of plutocrats and their money.  The reality is that the evidence points to an ongoing seizure of executive power by Trump that destroys our Constitution in the name of our national security.  The question is what we can do about it. 

Wikileaks

Does the U.S. have a case against Julian Assange?

UPDATE: This mayo615 post from October 2016, discusses the legal complexities of a potential espionage or conspiracy charge against Julian Assange by the United States. My reading that such a charge was likely and possibly imminent, is now fact. Ecuador’s newly elected government insistence that it will continue to provide Assange with diplomatic protection is becoming very thin. It is more likely that time and diplomatic pressure will force Ecuador to give up Assange and cause his extradition to the United States by Great Britain. The increased likelihood of moving against Assange has been heightened in my opinion, by two factors: Obama’s announcement on October 7th that the United States officially holds Russia responsible for the cyber theft of the Democratic National Committee documents released by Wikileaks, and Assange’s own statements of his intent to harm the United States, most recently in a video interview with Bill Maher, which are now coming back to haunt him.

Vancouver

Vancouver Real Estate Foreign Money Laundering: Nothing Has Changed

Despite all of the revelations of the sources and methods of the Vancouver housing bubble over the last two years, the situation remains largely unresolved. Ditto in Toronto. The foreign buyers’ tax has had only a limited effect and has problems. Fueled by dark foreign money housed in anonymous offshore shell companies like those disclosed in the Panama Papers, the money is managed by local financial manipulators at the behest of unidentifiable persons overseas. The foreign buyers continue to enjoy the weakest enforcement jurisdiction in Canada

Global politics

What the Paris Climate Meeting Must Do

Le Bourget airport just north of Paris is the place where Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis. That event 88 years ago could now be interpreted as foreshadowing the era of globalization. Tomorrow, the world’s nations will meet there under the banner of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

ISIS

Anonymous, Chinese Hackers, RickRolling and ISIS

Anonymous, the murky global and leaderless hacking group has struck out on a campaign to disrupt ISIS’ sophisticated use of the Internet and social media. It claims to have disabled over 11,000 identified ISIS Twitter accounts with looped Rick Astley videos. For those of you not familiar with Rick Astley, he was a 1980’s British pop star of limited talent, whose videos are sometimes painful to watch. For unknown reasons, Astley’s videos have been used in a variety of online pranks and hacking incidents. So Anonymous did the convenient thing and used old Astley videos, a tactic now known as “RickRolling”, to disrupt and confound ISIS Twitter and other social media accounts. I like it. Striking back in this way is probably causing smiles in the French Intelligence Service, U.S. Defense Department, NSA, and GCHQ in the UK.

Global politics

Iraq About To Flood Oil Market: More Grief Ahead For Canada

Underscoring Goldman Sachs forecast last week of oil prices at or below $50 per bbl until at least 2020, Bloomberg News is today reporting that Iraq is preparing to unleash a flood of new oil within the next few months. This is very bad news for the price of Western Canadian Select bitumen, and Alberta oil sands producers. Saudi Arabia’s strategy, together with OPEC, to squeeze high-cost oil producers of oil sands and shale seems to be working. More pessimistic forecasts of WCS at $25 for an extended period now appear more plausible.

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