Wednesday Night #1780

Written by  //  April 13, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The revelations of the Panama Papers continue to provoke conspiracy theories (The Russians are behind the leak) and sober analyses, along with vague threats of legislative action to plug loopholes. Already, the EU is reacting by setting out new corporate tax rules that are expected to compel multinationals in the EU to publish tax information on their global operations.

Wednesday Night’s two Davids – Jones and  Kilgour – boldly go along with the many others. In the Epoch Times, DJ asks Do the Panama Papers Reveal Illegality or Incompetence? and reminds us that ‘offshore’ bank accounts are perfectly legitimate—assuming account holders report them and, if required, pay taxes to their national authorities. After praising the self discipline of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in keeping the leak and analysis secret for a year, he concludes that
While kleptocracy is the norm for various African/South American leaders, who seem to believe that he who dies with the most toys wins, it is still shocking for “Western” leaders to be caught up in such activity. Perhaps, just as the poor will always be with us, so will be the corrupt.
In Panama Papers May Trigger Demand for Good Government, Hon. David Kilgour cites McGill’s Professor Henry Mintzberg who explained last year’s Volkswagen scandal as part of a larger syndrome:
“Far more insidious, however, is the legal corruption, because it is so prevalent. … And that is precisely the problem: Our societies are being destroyed by this legal corruption.”
Always more prone to optimism than his friend David Jones, he concludes, The emerging tsunami for better governance provoked by the Panama Papers might just succeed. If it does, the first target should be tax loopholes deliberately created to benefit favored corporations and/or individuals. The rule of law must return to replace rule by lawyer.

The Panama Papers also have aroused renewed interest in other forms of corruption, including the lengthy piece on Foreign Policy The Untouchables – Why it’s getting harder to stop multinational corporations. This case study of Zimbabwe’s Green Fuel  (brain child of Robert Mugabe) contrasts the considerable advances made by naming and shaming international companies based in jurisdictions where regulators, customers, and civil society have the power to punish them and those like Green Fuel, creatures of, or at the least supported, by the government,  with  no international investors or shareholders to give leverage to reformers.
It is one of the most discouraging and infuriating reports we have read.

Another sad situation, exposed on PBS Newshour,  is How widespread corruption is hurting Kenya –  summed up by one citizen: Other countries have mafia. In Kenya, the mafia have a country.

April 14 marks the second anniversary of the abduction by Boko Haram of the 270 young girls from Chibok, Nigeria. A new report from UNICEF notes that since then, at least 1.3 million children have been uprooted by Boko Haram violence across four countries in the Lake Chad region. The world barely noticed. The report points to the soaring numbers of children used in suicide attacks. Across north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries, 44 children were used in suicide attacks in 2015, three-quarters of them girls.

On the eve of resumption of the Syria talks in Geneva The New Yorker publishes the meticulous and horrifying account by Ben Taub: The Assad FilesCapturing the top-secret documents that tie the Syrian regime to mass torture and killings.  Ben Taub reports on the extraordinary work of a little known organization, the Commission for International Justice and Accountability, to produce  a four-hundred-page legal brief that links the systematic torture and murder of tens of thousands of Syrians to a written policy approved by President Bashar al-Assad, coördinated among his security-intelligence agencies, and implemented by regime operatives, who reported the successes of their campaign to their superiors in Damascus. The brief narrates daily events in Syria through the eyes of Assad and his associates and their victims, and offers a record of state-sponsored torture that is almost unimaginable in its scope and its cruelty.

Don’t forget to sign up  for what promises to be a fascinating evening on April 26th. CIC is hosting an intimate evening with one of the world’s foremost experts on the Middle East, Nadim Shehadi, director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and Associate Fellow of Chatham House in London Details

In case this has not sufficiently depressed you, in its latest growth projections released Tuesday, the IMF Sees the World Economy Heading The Wrong Way
The outlook for all major advanced economies, including the the U.S., Canada, the eurozone, Britain, and Japan are all trending down. Plus, the Fund’s chief economist, Maurice Obstfeld, warns that Brexit could do severe regional and global damage by disrupting established trading relationships (Brexit Could Deal Blow To Global Economy) The IMF listed Britain’s June 23 referendum on EU membership as a key risk, along with instability in China and other emerging markets, volatile share prices and a loss of long-term growth potential in advanced economies.

Coverage of the NDP convention, Stephen Lewis, Rachel Notley, the Leap Manifesto, and rejection of Tom Mulcair’s leadership dominated the weekend news. Both The Insiders and At Issue had some worthwhile thoughts about the future of the Party.
We might suggest that the Liberals are unduly grateful for the Edmonton events as otherwise, more attention might be focused on the unseemly squabble with the Parliamentary Budget Office over missing budget-related data.
However these stories and others have now been overtaken by the tragic story of the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat First Nation and other communities, which has aroused much more attention internationally.

Miscellaneous
We applaud the Economic note, published on Tuesday by The Montreal Economic Institute:
Super nurse clinics: When bureaucracy prevents better access to care
Quebec’s Health Department is senselessly blocking the opening of clinics run by nurse practitioners who specialize in front-line care. Yet these doctorless clinics would respond to real needs among the population, access to front-line care being one of the main failings of Quebec’s health system. Moreover, a nurse practitioner costs the health care system around 1/3 of what a general practitioner costs. …
The case of super nurses illustrates just how difficult it is for innovative solutions to emerge in a health care system characterized by a bureaucratic approach and rationed services. Since the 1970s, with the creation of local community service centres (CLSCs), and again in the 2000s with family medicine groups (FMGs), the solutions that the government tries to implement are always imposed from the top down, and they invariably fail.
“It’s high time to give a chance to the innovative solutions that emerge on their own,” believes Alexandre Moreau, Public Policy Analyst and co-author of the publication. “Super nurses represent a flexible solution for those who do not have easy access to a family doctor.”

An intriguing proposal:
A minister of the future? Some tech experts want a one-stop shop for disruptors
There is no national body of expertise prepared to deal with new disruptive technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, drones, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology, genomics and even climate manipulation, said Kerr, the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology at the University of Ottawa.
The idea of a department of foresight made headlines recently in January when CEO of American cloud computing firm, SalesForce, Marc Benioff, told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos that every country should have a minister of future.
W/should this not be within the purview of the NRC which at least has designated Security and disruptive technologies as a research area (though without the policy mandate)?

The Man Who Invented Dothraki
How one linguist creates obsessively detailed—and fully functional—languages for Game of Thrones and other shows.
We presume he studied at the feet of the master, J.R. Tolkien (See Languages constructed by J. R. R. Tolkien

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm