In the tradition of dimming debate, the chattering class has reduced systemic corruption in South Africa and the near collapse in Zimbabwe, respectively, to the shenanigans of two men: Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe. Zuma, the President of South Africa, currently faces possible impeachment for corruption, while Robert Mugabe has now been forcibly ‘retired’ after 30 years as President. Surely by now, though, it should be common knowledge that in Africa, if you replace a despot, but not despotism, you only oust a tyrant, and not tyranny. How Kleptocracy Works Emblematic of this is a thematically confused article in The Economist, offering a description of the dynamics set in motion by the Zuma dynasty’s capture of the state. At first, the magazine explains the concept of ‘state capture’ as “private actors [having] subverted the state to steal public money.” Later, the concept is more candidly refined: ‘The nub of the state capture argument is that Mr. Zuma and his friends are putting state-owned enterprises and other governmental institutions in the hands of people who are allowing them to loot public funds.” Indeed. Corruption invariably flows from state to society.
Rare protests in multiple cities across Iran, especially in the country’s second largest city of Mashhad, gained momentum on Thursday and Western media and pundits are beginning to take note. Though it appears the main protest locations have been consistently described as being in the hundreds and not yet reaching mass numbers, observers say they are likely to grow in size and in intensity as economic grievances over high prices, corruption, and mismanagement have reached a boiling point. Notably, dozens of videos were uploaded to social media channels Thursday showing demonstrators primarily in Mashhad in northwest Iran chanting ‘death to [President] Rouhani’ and ‘death to the dictator’. Mashhad is considered one of the holiest and most conservative places in Shia Islam, causing some pundits to conclude that if such aggressive anti-government demonstrations can take place there, they could take place anywhere throughout Iran. Other places named by the semi-official ILNA news agency and social media reports where demonstrations have occurred are in Razavi Khorasan Province, including Neyshabour and Kashmar. And there are some indications that authorities in Tehran are preparing for a broader crackdown to prevent protests from spreading.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.
‘When accordingly it is inquired, whence is evil, it must first be inquired, what is evil, which is nothing else than corruption, either of the measure, or the form, or the order, that belong to nature.’ ~Augustine of Hippo The study of Western Civilization has been all but eradicated. This was no accident but, rather, an aggressive policy of leftist academe which has used exclusionary tactics to dominate and pervert the culture and purpose of our universities since the 1960s and 70s.1 But, for us students, driven underground, Western history is the greatest treasure trove of almost every faculty. Not least of these is natural law. This unique philosophy of law so encapsulated the spirit of the West that the late Surya P. Sinha described law as ‘the most central principle of [the] social organization’ of Western civilization alone. “This fact explains that most…theories about law have issued from the Western culture’.2 Sinha even declared law itself to be a non-universal phenomenon of the West, other civilizations developing little more than ‘principles of moral life which are not law.”3 The story of natural law is a fascinating one; Ricardo Duchesne draws from decades of definitive scholarship on the uniqueness of the West to crystallize the “essential message” from across the social sciences: “the rise of the West is the story of the realization of humans who think of themselves as self-determining and therefore accept as authoritative only those norms and institutions that can be seen to be congenial with their awareness of themselves as free and rational agents.”4 Being at the heart of Western civilization, yet lost to history and shrouded in confusion, I would like to clarify the environment in which natural law developed and the consequences of its loss.
The Trump Administration quietly issued an Executive Order (EO) last Thursday which allows for the freezing of US-housed assets belonging to foreign individuals or entities deemed “serious human rights abusers,” along with government officials and executives of foreign corporations (current or former) found to have engaged in corruption – which includes the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, and corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources. Furthermore, anyone in the United States who aids or participates in said corruption or human rights abuses by foreign parties is subject to frozen assets – along with any U. S. corporation who employs foreigners deemed to have engaged in corruption on behalf of the company.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest batch of presidential decrees has transformed Turkey into a nation of government-endorsed militias and “anti-terror vigilantes.” According to Ahval, Erdogan published Turkey’s latest state of emergency government decree – the country has been under a perpetual state of emergency since the summer of 2016 failed coup – in the Official Gazette on Sunday. And not only does it condone the purging of thousands of civil servants from their jobs, but, in an unprecedented escalation, grants immunity to “those who took to the streets during the coup attempt” or “assisted with suppressing terror.” Furthermore: ”Notwithstanding whether individuals hold a formal title or whether they have fulfilled a formal duty, those who have acted in the scope of suppressing the coup attempt and acts of terror on July 15, 2016, and actions that were extensions of these events” will be exempt from being put on trial for their actions.” Of course, anyone who has been following the situation in Turkey over the past year-and-a-half (and certainly longer) knows that ‘suppressing terror’ is Erdogan’s popular euphemism for punishing or imprisoning suspected Gulenist sympathizers, and also anyone who dares to bring attention to Erdogan’s brazen corruption. As a result, the Turkish president has been busy lately, signing a flurry of decrees that have further consolidated political power in the office of the president – a stunning reversal from the early days of Erdogan’s political career, when he was a well-regarded moderate advocating much needed government reforms.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2017.
I’m grinning like a Jack in the box clown today. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I’ll be doggone if I will let anything change my mood. When you are done reading, I’m hoping you feel the same way. In 2016, I was bummed out. The negative political crap from the election left much of the country exhausted and frustrated. I was ready to turn the corner from the daily hysteria and melodrama in the media. In 2017 things just got worse, by December I was exhausted, mentally worn out! Television today is a constant barrage of hateful political rhetoric, senseless murders, sexual harassment, scandals, hypocrisy, corruption, illegal immigration, violent protests, disrespecting our flag, and outrageous statements by politicians promoting class warfare. How many times have you heard someone ask, ‘What the heck happened to the country we grew up in?’ ‘What has America become?’
Rumors that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has hired mercenaries to torture recalcitrant royals and officials sleeping in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh have been circulating since shortly after last month’s ‘corruption crackdown’ naked cash grab. *** Now, Middle East Eye reports that one of MbS’s guests has reportedly died under torture rather than fork over his money and assets to his domineering relative. He was reportedly beaten and tortured so bad his family members had difficulty recognizing his body. Major general Ali Alqahtani, who was detained in early November as part of an alleged anti-corruption drive, had been working in the royal guard forces. He was the manager of the private office of Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, the son of former king Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, according to the newspaper. Alqahtani died on 12 December after being tortured with electric shocks, and his family struggled to recognise him after receiving his body, according to sources, the newspaper reported.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 23, 2017.
According to Politico, a group of frustrated Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee led by Devin Nunes (R-CA) have been gathering in secret for several weeks to build a case against senior leaders of the Justice Department and the FBI for what they say is “improper” and perhaps criminal mishandling of the salacious and unproven 34-page Trump-Russia dossier, according to four sources familiar with their plans. *** A subset of the Republican members of the House intelligence committee, led by Chairman Devin Nunes of California, has been quietly working parallel to the committee’s high-profile inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. […] The people familiar with Nunes’ plans said the goal is to highlight what some committee Republicans see as corruption and conspiracy in the upper ranks of federal law enforcement. The group hopes to release a report early next year detailing their concerns about the DOJ and FBI, and they might seek congressional votes to declassify elements of their evidence. –Politico When pressed for details, Reps Mike Conway (R-TX) and Peter King (R-NY) were mum, with Conway telling POLITICO, “I don’t want talk about what we do behind closed doors.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.
The Mexican peso has tumbled over 3% in the last 4 days, plunging to its weakest against the USDollar since March as the ongoing corruption investigation soured market sentiment. As we detailed yesterday, a deepening graft investigation involving Alejandro Gutierrez, a former deputy of sitting President Enrique Pena Nieto could imperil his party’s chances in the coming July elections. An ongoing scandal could also bolster the prospects of leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. “The news of this arrest scares investors,” said Jesus Lopez, a strategist at Banco Base in Monterrey, Mexico. “These days, the exchange rate is more sensitive because of low liquidity, and we already know that the peso is more vulnerable from the political side.” And the pso is extending losses…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.
The Mexican peso is plunging (down over 1% today) to its weakest against the dollar since March after a former deputy in the ruling party in Mexico was arrested as part of a graft inquiry. As Bloomberg reports, political uncertainty continued to weigh on the most-traded currency in emerging markets.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.
Update 2: It’s all over, and the best case outcome is now fact, with Cyril Ramaphosa elected president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Monday. CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ELECTED PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA’S ANC RAMAPHOSA GETS 2440 VOTES IN S. AFRICA’S ANC LEADERSHIP VOTE Ramaphosa victory threatens President Jacob Zuma’s grip on power after the most divisive vote in the party’s history. Ramaphosa, the deputy president, defeated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s former wife, whom the president had backed. As the FT notes, it is widely speculated that Mr Zuma lent Ms Dlamini-Zuma his support because he believed that as state president she would protect him from prosecution in a corruption case. Meanwhile, Ramaphosa campaigned on a promise to root out corruption and save the ANC from losing its majority for the first time at the 2019 election.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.
Authored by S. T. Karnick via Specator.org, Freedom requires a sense of personal responsibility if it is to survive. *** With the nation’s news dominated by reports of political corruption (most recently, the Clintons’ apparent use of ‘pay to play’ schemes during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as U. S. secretary of state), sexual harassment scandals pandemic among the nation’s elites, extreme vulgarization of political speech and the common culture, riots against freedom of speech on the nation’s college campuses, paralyzing partisanship in Congress, death threats and open assassination attempts against government leaders and police officers, and the rest of the dismaying parade of moral shortcomings on display among the nation’s leaders in all walks of life, it appears that we are in the midst of a war not just between political and cultural factions, but over the very definition of our civilization.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
Bulgaria’s GDP is about $52.4 billion (2016), so it is quite a shock that the Bulgarian Government is sitting on an approximate $3 billion worth of Bitcoins seized in an anti-corruption operation back in May. Putting this into a little more glaring context, Bulgaria is holding 18% of the national debt in bitcoins… Fun fact: today's bitcoin prices have been interesting enough that there was a significant difference in how much Bulgaria had in USD between me writing this story and my editor editing it. — Nikhilesh De (@nikhileshde) December 7, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2017.
Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, Corruption. Graft. Intolerance. Greed. Incompetence. Ineptitude. Militarism. Lawlessness. Ignorance. Brutality. Deceit. Collusion. Corpulence. Bureaucracy. Immorality. Depravity. Censorship. Cruelty. Violence. Mediocrity. Tyranny. These are the hallmarks of an institution that is rotten through and through. We have been saddled with the wreckage of a government at all levels that no longer represents the citizenry, serves the citizenry, or is accountable to the citizenry. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the federal government, state governments, or local governing bodies: at all ends of the spectrum and every point in between, a shift has taken place.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.
David Stockman, former Michigan representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, destroyed the Russian collusion hoax with incredible clarity in his latest column on Tuesday. From Antiwar.com, ‘The FBI’s Perjury Trap of the Century’: If you were a Martian visitor just disembarked from of one of Elon Musk’s rocket ships and were therefore uninfected by earth-based fake news, the culprits in Washington’s witch-hunt de jure would be damn obvious. They include John Brennan, Jim Comey, Sally Yates, Peter Strzok and a passel of deep state operatives – all of whom baldly abused their offices. After Brennan had concocted the whole Russian election meddling meme to sully the Donald’s shocking election win, the latter three holdovers – functioning as a political fifth column in the new Administration – set a perjury trap designed to snare Mike Flynn as a first step in relitigating and reversing the voters’ verdict. The smoking gun on their guilt is so flamingly obvious that the ability of the Trump-hating media to ignore it is itself a wonder to behold. After all, anyone fresh off Elon’s rocket ship would learn upon even cursory investigation of the matter that the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts electronically every single communication of the Russian Ambassador with any person on US soil – whether by email, text or phone call.
There are two divergent views on the crackdown on corruption by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), which led to the arrest and detention of 200 princes, ministers and former ministers. On one hand, it was a masterstroke which will earn political capital with the Saudi people and catalyse an Arab Spring in which MBS is a modernizing reformer who will liberalise Islam. On the other, it was nothing other than a cynical and desperate attempt to tighten his grip on power and weaken competing clans within the ruling family (especially sons of former King Abdullah) as the nation risks splitting apart due to political and economic fissures. Last week, we noted that former head of the National Guard and senior member of the Abdullah clan, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, purchased his freedom for a cool $1 billion. If you put yourself in the position of being a Saudi prince or wealthy Saudi official, whatever your opinion of MBS’s motivation, you would be forgiven for taking additional measures to make it harder for his henchmen to seize your wealth if you found yourself in the crosshairs.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 5, 2017.
Do you ever get the sense that with certain investigations, primarily those targeting conservatives, the FBI has a tendency to dot every ‘i’, cross every ‘t’ and pursue charges at all costs, no matter how minor, but with others (think Hillary’s email scandal) even the most glaring violations of federal law seem to go unpunished? For example, compare and contrast the Flynn charges versus how the Hillary email investigation was conducted by the Comey-led FBI. On the one hand, Flynn held perfectly legal conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States AFTER the U. S. presidential election, a common practice for presidential transition teams, yet for some inexplicable reason, probably having something to do with fears of being charged with a bogus ‘Logan Act’ violation in Mueller’s Russian collusion witch hunt, decided to lie about them during interviews with the FBI. As a result of his lies, Flynn has now plead guilty to two counts of false statements, has been ruined financially by mounting legal bills and could end up serving jail time. On the other hand, compare that outcome to the Hillary email scandal where there is tangible evidence and first-hand testimony that Hillary and her team knowingly violated a Congressional subpoena by deleting 33,000 emails, habitually destroyed evidence with hammers so it could never be recovered and routinely compromised American national security interests by sending “Top Secret” communications via unsecured channels…something that Comey originally defined at “gross negligence” even though he later changed his language to “extreme carelessness” to assure that Hillary could never be pursued with criminal charges. So what were the punishments for all those federal crimes? Well, rather than pursue charges against Hillary and/or various members of her staff the FBI decided to “hand out immunity deals like candy.” Now, in just the latest bit of evidence that the Justice department has been politically compromised, we learn from John Solomon of The Hill that the DOJ didn’t even bother to interview a key FBI informant before filing criminal charges in the Uranium One scandal back in 2014. While he was Maryland’s chief federal prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office failed to interview the undercover informant in the FBI’s Russian nuclear bribery case before it filed criminal charges in the case in 2014, officials told The Hill. And the prosecutors did not let a grand jury hear from the paid informant before it handed up an indictment portraying him as a ‘victim’ of the Russian corruption scheme or fully review his extensive trove of documents until months later, the officials confirmed.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 4, 2017.
On November 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, Jay Clayton, delivered a speech at the Practising Law Institute’s 49thAnnual Institute on Securities Regulation. His focus was transparency on Wall Street and he had this nugget of wisdom to share with the audience: ‘Looking back at enforcement actions, a common theme emerges – where opacity exists, bad behavior tends to follow. As Joseph Pulitzer said: ‘There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.’ The remainder of my remarks will concentrate on topics that have proven over time to be fertile ground for fraud on investors. The SEC may not yet have policy or rulemaking answers in these areas, but we are on the lookout for ways to fight the type of opacity that can create an environment conducive to misconduct.’ The SEC was created to police Wall Street under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The legislation came on the heels of the U. S. Senate holding three years of hearings that showed Wall Street to be a cesspool of opaque self dealing and collusion that had led to the 1929 stock market collapse and ensuing Great Depression. The SEC has now had 83 years to hone its investigative skills and techniques. And yet, it wore blinders in the runup to the epic Wall Street crash of 2007-2009, which was caused by the same type of corruption that was ferreted out by the U. S. Senate after the 1929 crash. Its blinders remain securely in place.
When commenting on the Flynn plea deal with Mueller, we said that while hardly evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, especially since all events took place after the election, the real question is who was the “senior member of the transition team” that instructed Flynn to call Russia. Now, according to Bloomberg’s Eli Lake we may have the answer: none other than Jared Kushner, who as Lake says, “could be one of the next dominoes to fall.” According to the Bloomberg report, “one of Flynn’s lies to the FBI was when he said that he never asked Russia’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, to delay the vote for the U. N. Security Council resolution. The indictment released today from the office of special prosecutor Robert Mueller describes this lie: “On or about December 22, 2016, Flynn did not ask the Russian Ambassador to delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.” At the time, the U. N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements was a big deal. Even though the Obama administration had less than a month left in office, the president instructed his ambassador to the United Nations to abstain from a resolution, breaking a precedent that went back to 1980 when it came to one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the U. N. This was the context of Kushner’s instruction to Flynn last December. One transition official at the time said Kushner called Flynn to tell him he needed to get every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the U. N. Security Council to delay or vote against the resolution. Much of this appeared to be coordinated also with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose envoys shared their own intelligence about the Obama administration’s lobbying efforts to get member stats to support the resolution with the Trump transition team. As Lake correctly notes, “for now it’s unclear what to make of all of this” especially since th most important part of a case is missing: motive.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 1, 2017.