A Chink of Aussie Light 162

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation shamed the BBC by putting out a Four Corners documentary on the Panama leak that had real balls.

In stark contrast to the BBC, the Australians named and shamed Australia’s biggest company and Australia’s biggest foreign investor. BBC Panorama by contrast found a guy who sold one house in Islington. The Australians also, unlike the BBC who deliberately and knowing hid it, pointed out that the corruption centred on the British Virgin Islands, and even went there. All in all an excellent job.

Four Corners of course has a history of this. Their absolutely excellent documentary Sex, Lies and Julian Assange told vital truths about the concoction of the allegations against Julian Assange, which to this day have been hidden by the BBC and entire British corporate media. I implore anybody who has not yet seen it, to watch it now.

In this dreadful situation where the corporate media have monopoly access to the Mossack Fonseca database, there is going to be a little chink of light here and there, where old fashioned notions of journalistic integrity still cling to life in isolated pockets. But those chinks of light only serve to highlight the abject servitude of outlets like the BBC and Guardian to the official neo-con narrative.

It is absolutely imperative that the entire database is made available to the people, rather than the people being drip-fed by journalistic Gods who make decisions in the interests of their employers, not of the public.

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162 thoughts on “A Chink of Aussie Light

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  • John Spencer-Davis

    “Sex, Lies and Julian Assange” had the distinction of interviewing Claes Borgström, attorney for the two women supposed to have made allegations against Assange (one did not sign her statement), and it moved the words “Claes Borgström, Attorney for Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen” (or some such) across the screen while interviewing their own attorney. When I pointed this out to Joan Smith, who has made such an uproar about Craig Murray naming them on the BBC, she banned me from her Twitter account.

  • John Goss

    Yes, I agree. I used to have faith in the old BBC Panorama and Channel 4 Dispatches for real journalism. Apart from the odd revelation honest reporting is dead in its box. Four Corners on the other hand has been pushing the boundaries, but I think that is an exception in Australia, since many of the newspapers and TV stations are tarred with the MSM brush of black fiction.

    • Jeremy Stocks

      When I lived in Saudi, we once gathered together in the Dive Club on BAe to watch a Panorama docu a mate taped about Saudi as BBC World Service had a “technical fault” surprise surprise. The lies they spewed about the Kingdom was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

      Regards integrity the Süddeutsche is also a bargepole job. It contains a weekly pullout of the New York Times in English – say no more.

    • well wisher

      no you didn’t – your hatred of the British media goes back far gfurther than that.

  • eddie-g

    The ICIJ, which apparently controls the Mossack Fonseca database, is heavily represented by Australian journalists – who, frankly, tend to be far more inclined to take swings at the establishment.

    So whilst acknowledging where a lot of the ICIJ’s money comes from, I still have some faith that the leak will implicate our miscreants, as well those from countries that we don’t like.

    One more thing to note, from Bloomberg this time, is this nugget:

    “Of the companies that appear in Mossack Fonseca’s files, one out of every two – more than 113,000 – were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.”


    Panamanian lawyers might have been heavily involved in building the offshore infrastructure, but the BVI has always been the most popular domicile for where the moneys end up.

    • bevin

      “The ICIJ, which apparently controls the Mossack Fonseca database, is heavily represented by Australian journalists – who, frankly, tend to be far more inclined to take swings at the establishment…”
      Wilfred Burchett, the first reports from Hiroshima and the first reports I read about what was really going on in Vietnam. I believe that he lost his citizenship for telling the truth.
      Then of course there’s John Pilger.

      • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

        Re Wilfred Burchett, this is what Wikipedia (often referenced by commenters on this blog) says:

        “One of the controversies involving Burchett that dogged the Australian Government for much of his career concerned his Australian passport. In 1955 his British passport went missing, believed stolen, and the Australian Government refused to issue a replacement and asked the British to do the same.[21] For many years Burchett held a Vietnamese laisser-passer, and latterly a Cuban passport issued by Fidel Castro. Matters came to a head in 1969 when Burchett was refused entry into Australia to attend his father’s funeral. The following year his brother Clive died,[22] and Burchett flew to Brisbane by a private plane and was allowed entry, triggering a media sensation.[23] An Australian passport was finally issued to Burchett by the incoming Whitlam Government in 1972”.

        To be noted that Burchett died in still-Communist Bulgaria in 1983.

  • John Goss

    Having started watching it I notice it is the same shit of Blame Putin, in that respect absolutely no different from the Guardian nonsense! Still watching it. Perhaps it will come up with something original! Disappointed after your build up.

  • tartanfever

    Thanks for the link Craig.

    I see Media Lens are reporting the Guardian are not allowing public comments on todays lead Panama Papers story.

    What these leaks demonstrate is no so much the lengths people will go to to avoid taxes, but the utter fallacy that we have free, investigative journalism in the west.

    This quote from journalist Sharmine Narwani sums it up:

    “If you’re wondering why the US and British moneyed elite aren’t getting “outed” in the Panama Papers, consider this: The leaked documents were “bought” by the German government and subsequently shared with the UK and US govts, according to Gerard Lyle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that is ‘hosting’ the docs. Furthermore, the US-based ICIJ is funded by George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation and USAID, among other elite western media/govt institutions.
    The German media outlet that first received the Panama Papers says – for some unknown reason – “the structure of the investigation by journalists used search terms and pre-compiled lists of names that foregrounded countries already hit with UN sanctions.” Even though the UK and US are, respectively, the 2nd and 4th country with most intermediaries dealing with Panama.
    So, no matter how many pictures of Putin you see on that cover story, just remember: the Russian president wasn’t actually mentioned even once in these leaked docs.”

    • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

      “So, no matter how many pictures of Putin you see on that cover story, just remember: the Russian president wasn’t actually mentioned even once in these leaked docs.”

      Is it likely that Putin – a former KGB bigwig – would be stupid enough to have the money in his own name?

      • bevin

        “Is it likely that Putin – a former KGB bigwig – would be stupid enough to have the money in his own name?”

        What an absurd comment. I’m beginning to think that the defeats of Al Nusra, ISIS and your other favoured militias has severely impaired your mental balance: the proof that Putin is a tax dodging billionaire is that there is none. That’s how cunning he is!!

        • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

          Hiding money away in a safe place is what modern despots do. The cleverer ones take care that the trail does not lead back to them.

          Do you do not believe Putin has made ample provision for his retirement you are being astonishingly naive.

        • glenn_uk

          That’s quite a long-standing theme.

          Ho Chi Minh was clearly in cahoots with the Kremlin. How do we know? Why, there wasn’t even any communication with Moscow, as there was between Moscow and Mao, for instance. That was all the proof needed – Minh was so aligned with Moscow, they didn’t even need communications to stay on the same track!

          Likewise, the USSR had an ultra-secret nuclear submarine, which the USA needed to counter with a large weapons budget increase. There was no evidence whatsoever of the existence of the submarine, which only proved just how secret and devastating it was!

          • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)


            Is it likely that Putin has no financial “insurance policy” abroad when all of his oligarch associates (whom he protects) do?

          • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

            I thought you were a believer in judging people by their associates? (If I’ve got you mixed up with some other conrtibutor(s), apologies).

          • glenn_uk


            Is it likely that Putin has no financial “insurance policy” abroad when all of his oligarch associates (whom he protects) do?

            Would be highly unlikely. Still, the likes of Putin probably derive more gratification from power than money. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’d put a tidy sum aside, all the same. At least he hasn’t made a point of enriching his cronies at the cost of the state to the extent of his predecessor. Or this latest bunch of Tories, for that matter, wouldn’t you agree?

            I thought you were a believer in judging people by their associates? (If I’ve got you mixed up with some other conrtibutor(s), apologies).

            I’m afraid you may have. It’s arguable a fair point, but I don’t recall making a particular case for it.

          • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


            “the likes of Putin probably derive more gratification from power than money.”

            Given that he has the mindset of a KGB man you’re probably right.


            ” At least he hasn’t made a point of enriching his cronies at the cost of the state to the extent of his predecessor.”


            That’s probably correct as well – everything is relative. That might of course be because there’s less left to steal.


            ~” Or this latest bunch of Tories, for that matter, wouldn’t you agree?”


            I thought the official line on here was that it was Blair, Brown and Company who kicked off that particular process?

    • davy mitchell

      Gerald Lyle or Ryle ?
      First lot brought early 2015 , by tax authority here in Germany …. was this in NorthRhine Westphalia ?
      They brought many tax cds from Switzerland +, for millions of €

  • Salford Lad

    It is expected that the Western MSM represents the neo-con regimes and will turn almost any news as an opportunity to demonise its opponents of the BRIC nations.
    Iceland as the only Nation to jail bankers was of course also in the crosshairs.
    A point not really made regarding sanctions.The UN is the only Authority to allow sanctions on a Sovereign nation. Thus the sanctions against Russia by the EU are illegal in International Law.

    • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

      “The UN is the only Authority to allow sanctions on a Sovereign nation. Thus the sanctions against Russia by the EU are illegal in International Law.”

      That is absolute nonsense.

    • davy mitchell

      illegal is too strong …..suggest EU sanctions have little international legal basis, so far ….

  • John Goss

    Having watched it now it is a good report. It touches on London’s hand in the setting up of shell companies in the Virgin Islands, deals with a one proven crook Kwok, and questions the ethics of Australian countries. Senator Sam Dastyari hit the nail on the head when he described how because of the greed of these companies not a dollar of taxation has been collected to be spent on schools and hospitals. This is the shameful aspect of offshore tax havens (low tax jurisdictions).

    For small businesses, struggling to survive, there should be limited tax (perhaps even exemption), but these are the easiest for the tax collectors to target since they do not move around and cannot afford to move their money around, so they get taxed, and sometimes go into liquidation because of it. But these aggressive multinationals, global corporations and individual oligarchs are one of the main reasons the world is in such a pickle.

    • fedup

      The temerity of the bastards goes so far as kicking the sick and the mentally ill and mugging them so that there is enough funds for lowering the taxation “burden” on the high earners!!!

      The whole systems stinks and at the apex of it is the shiny turd to top it all the Rothschilds and their advisory role in constitution of the reverse robin hood doctrine so favoured by the current bunch of carpetbaggers and their sponsored lickspittle masquerading a our dear leaders.

  • Paul Seligman

    Other countries seem to have reacted much more quickly. For example, Israel has exposed hundreds of companies and individuals http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-launches-probe-into-firms-exposed-in-tax-haven-leaks/ It is unlikely to be the case that there are fewer in the UK, with a population 10 times greater and a great deal of wealth about.

    On the other hand, China is attempting to stop all reporting of the contents relating to its elite, in any media whatsoever. No chink of light there.

    So ether we have it. The UK is better than China because Craig can criticise without much fear of personal retaliation or imprisonment., but much more secretive and protective of its elite than Israel or Australia. Someone should compile a complete league table of different countries reactions, I don’t have the time.

  • Republicofscotland

    I don’t know if this has any sgnificance, the leak comes just days before a Netherlands vote on the EU association agreement with Ukraine. A referendum that is effectively about the Dutch people siding with either Vladimir Putin or the EU-backed network.

    Also in my opinion questions must be asked of the tactics of the ICIJ, and indeed, their backers. Was the leak intentional? And if so who gains from it? And who loses?

    Here are some of ICIJ financial backers.

    “Adessium Foundation
    Funds big green, as well as financial industry lobbyists, often in partnership with the George Soros-backed Open Society initiatives or foundations. The group also supports the EUObserver website, which dedicates itself to non-biased European Union reporting, though receives 64 per cent of its funding from predominantly pro-EU foundations.

    Open Society Foundations
    Chaired by Hungarian-American billionaire and Hillary Clinton donor George Soros, the Open Society Foundations back hundreds of pro open borders, mass immigration groups across the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States of America. Mr. Soros is a known rival of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and has recently written about how Mr. Putin is a “greater threat” to the West than Islamic State.

    The Sigrid Rausing Trust
    The Sigrid Rausing Trust, similarly to the Open Society Foundations, backs open borders and pro mass migration groups across the United Kingdom, and funds anti-Israel groups in the Middle East. The organisation funds “No Borders” in Ukraine, “Reprieve” in the UK – which defends Guantanamo Bay detainees, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the radical left group “Southall Black Sisters” in Britain.

    Graeme Wood
    An Australian billionaire who has bankrolled anti coal projects in his home country, as well as supporting the Guardian website – which critics have highlighted the hypocrisy of for their own offshore tax set up. Mr. Wood was responsible for Australia’s “biggest ever political donation of $1.6 million in 2010 to the Greens” and funded the failed Global Mail news website.

    The Ford Foundation
    The Ford Foundation is one of the largest funders on the political left, giving out over $560 million just in 2013. The Ford Foundation has funded everything from Sesame Street to the radical TV show Democracy Now.

    In addition to finding literally dozens of far left groups with agendas ranging from environmentalism to abortion, the Ford Foundation is one of the premier funders of the open borders movement, beginning with its 1968 grant to create the group MALDEF, or the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, as helping to creat the group National Council of La Raza. MALDEF and La Raza have become to the most influential groups in the US open borders movement. The Ford foundation is also been a significant funder for the ACLU and the National Lawyers guild, both key legal players in the fight for open borders.

    Additionally, the Ford Foundation laid the intellectual groundwork for the modern open borders movement and its multiculturalist agenda with a series of grants in the 60s and 70s that created Women’s Studies and Black Studies programs at major universities across America. In a 1992 conference that Ford sponsored called “Cultural Diversity Enhancement” the closing speaker was Eve Grossman, a Princeton dean, who made the agenda very clear: “If we want to change the world, we have to change the students.”

    Pew Charitable Trust
    Like like The Ford Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust is a major funder of a wide range of left-wing groups with focuses on arts and culture, environmental issues as well as public research opinion polling through the Pew Research group. In 2014 alone, Pew gave out over $110 million in grants.

    A quick look at the Pew Charitable Trust’s website includes a number of helpful articles if you’re an illegal alien and you’d like to drive, such as the recent pop quiz Do You Know the Facts About Driver’s Licenses for Unauthorized Immigrants? and Alternative Driver’s Licenses for Unauthorized Immigrants.

    David and Lucile Packard Foundation
    Another heavy hitter in the world of left-wing grant writing, the Packard Foundation gave out nearly $300 million in 2013 along.

    Aside from funding institutional left groups like Human Rights Watch, The Center for Reproductive Rights, And the Environmental Working Group, Packard is also funded open borders groups such as National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Law Center, and the ACLU.”

    I may be way off base here, but wouldn’t it have been better to leak the documents to say Wikileaks, or a similar organisation, it al,feels a bit to convenient.

    • John Goss

      I suspected some ploy from the start RoS. The big giveaway was the lack of American billionaires on the list. It is to frighten the big money people into moving it elsewhere (another haven, US being favourite in my books). Mossack Fonsenca was getting too big and powerful, perhaps others in Panama too. Anyway Panama is no longer a save haven for your stash, or that’s the message.

  • John Goss

    One aspect of this massive leak from the ICIJ is there must have been international agreement through all western news corporations to break all the different Mossack Fonsenca news stories on the same day.

    Here is another leak found yesterday by Lysias. It relates to millions of citizens (perhaps all) of Turkey and their personal details, including the Erdogan family. When I was cycling through Turkey in 2000, they did a census. I was absolutely not allowed to leave the hotel I had booked into. Neither was anyone else. I wanted to move on but there was a curfew. Not like a census in England, which is a lot more relaxed. Needless to say I am not on the UK 2000 census because I was travelling. So I don’t expect a single Turkish citizen, not even the shepherds I met the day before, to be missing from this list.


  • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

    What is interesting (to me at least) is that this post of Craig’s – and the two previous ones – focus on the MSM’s (and especially the UK MSM’s and the BBC’s) handling of, and reporting on this affair: the moral dimension of the facts (ie, of off-shoring) is barely touched on and the legal aspects receive even less attention.

    Is this because Craig is aware of the old-established principle of UK law (and probably of many other liberal democracies) that everyone is fully entitled to arrange his tax affairs in such a way as to pay the least tax possible within the law – in other words, that tax avoidance, as opposed to tax evasion, is perfectly legal?

    It would be interesting to hear Craig’s view on legal tax avoidance, particularly in the light of the fact that virtually everyone – including, I imagine, many of the commenters on these three threads – avoids paying tax if he/she able to in ways and through means commensurate with their incomes and possibilities.

    • Alasdair Macdonald

      This ‘it is all legal’ is the trope used by every person who has been revealed to have been involved in the schemes revealed in the papers, whether it is the King of SaudiArabia, the PM of Iceland, or the various MPs and members of the Lords. I am surprised Habbabkuk has not offered ISAs as an example of how ‘we are all in it together.’
      It is ‘legal’ because some people have made it legal. It is a human construct. The people who made it legal are the people who are stashing their money and the money which ‘austerity’ and its predecessor ‘legal’ scams has taken from the rest of us, such as the shedloads of cash which Messrs Brown and Darling handed over to bankers and financiers.
      PS – full declaration: my wife and I have ISAs
      Since it is a human construct, it can be changed by the will of sufficient citizens across the world.

      • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

        If you are just saying “it’s legal because it’s legal” then thank you very much for that insight.

        And yes, I was aware that laws are made by man.

        And I was even aware that laws made by man can be changed by man.

        So the only thing of possible interest in your post is the assertion that those who made those laws are themselves using and profiting from tax avoidance.

        Easy to say but a bit thin as a reasoned contribution to a discussion, surely?

      • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

        And if it’s all legal, what reason is there to believe that whatever Putin has done (and that does not appear in the database, apparently) is not all legal too?

        • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

          Plus, an awful lot of the objectionable things the Nazis did was legal under German law of the time.

          • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

            Same goes for the USSR and the other countries that were ruled by Communists.

        • well wisher

          It is illegal for Russians to hold foreign bank accounts or shares in foreign companies without prior permission from the Central Bank of Russia. The Russian President is also required by law to declare his income and assets accurately – Putin only declares about US100,000 per annum – and he presumably only pays tax on that. Only the extremely cretinous and certainly no Russians believe that Putin is complying with the law when it comes to declaring his income and assets.

          • well wisher

            We could of course talk about the well documented deals by Albats and Gessen whereby Putin used false letters of credit to enrich himself while he worked for the corrupt Sobchak inSt Petersburg and then pressurised local banks, including some foreign owned branches to launder the proceeds – but that might stretch the intelligence of the cretinous.

          • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

            Lysias – would you care to respond to what well wisher has written?

        • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

          It may be, Lysias – like you, I do not know the facts in order to gainsay that (or to affirm it. But a tax avoider and a foreign nest-egg holder, certainly.

  • Clydebuilt

    T Shirt Slogan of The Year

    “Is That a Fact Or Did You Get It From The BBC”

  • John Spencer-Davis

    According to the Prime Minister, the British Virgin Islands are not a tax haven at all.

    David Cameron, G20 debate, Hansard 09 September 2013 Volume 567:

    ” I do not think it is fair any longer to refer to any of the overseas territories or Crown dependencies as tax havens. They have taken action to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems. It is very important that our focus should now shift to those territories and countries that really are tax havens. The Crown dependencies and overseas territories, which matter so much—quite rightly—to the British people and Members have taken the necessary action and should get the backing for it.”


    Oh, yeah?

    A & P Intertrust Corporation website today:

    Advantages of BVI:
    BVI is the most popular offshore jurisdiction due to the following reasons:
    Exemption from all local taxes for BVI Business Companies conducting business outside of the BVI
    BVI companies and all amounts paid by them to non-residents are exempt from all local taxes and stamp duty. Upon the sale or transfer of shares of a BVI BC to a third person, capital gains tax is not payable under the BVI law.
    BVI companies are not required to file tax returns or any other type of report or declaration to the BVI government regarding foreign-source income.
    Privacy and Disclosure:
    Information about beneficial owners, shareholders, directors and officers is not filed with the BVI government, and not available to the public.


    David Cameron appears to me to be a lying git. What think you?

    • fedup

      John clearly he is not lying, that swine is telling whoppers, the tub lard that he is hoping that no one will catch him out, as little Joseph Goebbels used to say; the bigger the lie the more believable the lie, so chubby Dave is trying his best there!

      • John Spencer-Davis

        Blush. No doubt you’re right, but I’m not exactly skinny myself…

  • Node

    “The Australian Broadcasting Corporation shamed the BBC by putting out a Four Corners documentary on the Panama leak that had real balls.
    Four Corners of course has a history of this. Their absolutely excellent documentary Sex, Lies and Julian Assange told vital truths about the concoction of the allegations against Julian Assange, which to this day have been hidden by the BBC and entire British corporate media.”

    Here’s another example of Four Corners putting the BBC to shame. Their 2014 documentary “Stone Cold Justice” documents the IDF torturing children to obtain “confessions.”


    The program focuses on the stories of three boys. In two cases the army came for the children in the middle of the night, before taking them to unknown locations where they are questioned. A mother of one of the boys described the scene:

    “Every soldier stood at the door of a room. I was telling him ‘What do you want with him?’ He said ‘Shut up woman.’ And then they started hitting him and pulling him out of bed.”

    “They started kicking me with their boots in my stomach, slaps on my face. They pulled me up by my t-shirt and took me out of bed.” said the arrested boy.


    The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) has been investigating these claims and last year released a scathing report finding that “children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault.”

    As Four Corners discovered, though, Palestinian children have more to fear than the Israeli army. Reporter John Lyons shows clear evidence that Israeli settlers in the West Bank regularly attack Palestinian school children, knowing the authorities will not intervene. He also discovers there are two legal systems operating. One for Israeli children and one for young Palestinians. It’s an impossible situation that may provide temporary security for Israel, but in the long term may well breed a new generation of Palestinians prepared to do anything to gain retribution.

    • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

      Trust you to get Israel/Palestine into this thread. Making up for lost time?

      • John Goss

        I would say that Node’s comment related to Four Corners getting out news stories that others would not touch. Don’t you think it is important when children are tortured that this is made public?

        • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

          Funny that he chose that particular story. isn’t it. Or not, when you look at the subject he posts about most frequently.

      • Republicofscotland

        Speaking of Israel, I bought what looks like a rather interesting book today called Letters to Auntie Fori, by Martin Gilbert. ?

    • BrianFujisan

      Cheers for that Link Node..i shall check it out later…gotta go to dojo now

      • Node

        BrianFujisan, if I remember correctly, it was you who first posted a link to that documentary on this blog, so cheers right back at ya.

        • BrianFujisan


          Yes you are Correct.. it is one i have watched.. I just watched half of it again…

          Here is a message from one hero who was there – 2014 Gaza massacre…If Only People Would Listen ( Spineless U.N )

          Dr. Mads Gilbert Has A Prescription For Gaza


    • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

      Why do you think the CIA tortured detainees if it was not to get false confessions that suited the story they wanted to sell the public? The CIA was of course well aware that torture is no way to get accurate information. And since their job for decades was to keep track of what the Soviets were doing, they were of course also well aware that Stalin’s secret police used torture to get false confessions. If you look at the 9/11 Commission Report’s chapter on the operational details of the 9/11 plot, you will see that the narrative is largely based on the testimony of detainees, some of whom we know were tortured, the rest of whom were under heavy psychological pressure.

      By the way, Israel seems to have played a role in teaching people in the U.S. Army how to torture in Iraq. Here’s a a paragraph from a review in the Washington Post of former Army interrogator Eric Fair’s new book Consequence::

      This lean, well-edited memoir gratefully leaves out politicized commentary. Fair gives us simply a record of what happened. He describes, for example, the use by 82nd Airborne soldiers of a brutal device known as the Palestinian chair. The interrogators say the Israeli military taught them how to use it during a joint training exercise. Sitting in the specially built chair, a detainee is pitched forward with his head thrust onto his chest and his hands zip-tied near the bottom of the legs. The device forces all of the detainee’s weight onto his thighs. Fair and a friend tried it out for themselves: “Maybe it’s not as bad as we’ve made it out to be. We experiment with different positions and tell each other what hurts the most. We agree that having your hands secured to the lowest part of the chair puts the most strain on our legs. What begins as a searing burn in the calves and quads evolves into a tearing sensation in the hamstrings and lower back. You sweat, you shake, you can’t breathe. It is a violent and frightening pain. It’s torture.”

      • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

        The CIA was founded in 1947 and Stalin died in 1953, so isn’t it a little strange to give the impression – inadvertently, I’m sure – that the CIA was aware of Stalin’s secret police’s use of torture “for decades”?

  • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

    To follow up on that last post of mine.

    Is the news that there are many (very) rich individuals around and that many of them arrange their financial affairs in such a way as to avoid paying a penny more tax than they have to really such a scoop? Although the man in the street might perhaps have been unaware of the extent of this practice, was he really so naive and uninformed as to have been unaware of that fact (ie, the existence of many rich people) and that phenomenon(ie, the existence of off-shoring)?

    I suggest he was not, and it might be this, together with the fact that almost everyone (including people as far down the income scale as most of Craig’s contributors probably are) avoids paying tax within the limits of the possibilities open to them, that has made Craig ficus on media handling (or mishandling).

    As a further comment – when Craig says “It is absolutely imperative that the entire database is made available to the people, rather than the people being drip-fed by journalistic Gods who make decisions in the interests of their employers, not of the public”, is this not to overlook the likelihood that many of the people on the lists may well be doing nothing illegal (ie, they are avoiding but not evading tax)? And if that is so, where is the right of those people to privacy – why should their tax affairs be in the public domaine any more than the tax affairs of, say, the most regular contributors to this blog?

    • fwl

      You pose an interesting question and of course there is also a privacy question issue as to whether tax returns should be publically available as in the US, but the basic point is that the wealthy are able to avoid (if not evade) taxes because of the way that the system works, and the fine border line between avoidance and evasion may often be an evidential one i.e. whether the tax man can prove that a company was managed / controlled in the UK as opposed to offshore.

      If the wealthy conspire to hide the true facts then they may appear to have only benefited from legitimate avoidance whereas the un-proven but suspected true facts remain buried. Getting the facts when they involve multiple offshore jurisdictions or even one is expensive and slow unless there is a whistle blower. Therefore the set up allows the wealthy more scope to avoid investigation and prosecution. Then when caught the Government chooses to offer unusual amnesties, which oddly differ depending on the jurisdiction.

      The man in the street is aware but I suspect that whilst there might still be many US dentists etc with offshore accounts the UK man in the street long ago realised that this door was closed, that there is no longer any real benefit in receiving rolled up interest and paying the tax later because it is de minimis anway and off shore accounts just add up to a headache and extra probate costs etc. Therefore I would have thought the man in the UK street makes less use of them save for those who just prepared to lie (crook, divorcing and bankrupt etc) or those who have the money to develop truly sophisticated systems, which have a whisper of legality about them.

      It will be interesting if any major corporations are found to have to have walked the wrong side of the line and to see what happens.

      • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

        Fwl : it is such a pleasure (because so unusual) to get a sane comment in response to something I write – contrast yours with Bevin’s at 17h00 for an illustration of this.

        That said, I agree with about all of what you say. Just one small clarification: when I was talking about the man in the street, I was not thinking of the example you give in the mast lines of your penultimate paragraph but more of the Alasdair MacDonald type of person with his ISAs (cf. 16h46 above). Or, to take another example, the person who can lower the income on which he pays higher rate tax by putting some of his gross salary into his pension pot.

        PS – we should hear more from you on here.

        • fwl

          I see your point about ISAs.

          Bevin is just saying that he has doubts as to who is pulling whose strings, which is understandable these days as “war” has mutated into many confusing forms from conventional to private to various levels of the deniable some of whom are more organised than others and some of whom are less controlled than others and some perhaps play their puppet master(s). If you think of a marionette with two or more puppeteers then you imagine a mess of strings difficult to untangle. If the strings are invisible what chaos. That would be a challenging cartoon.

          Then there are currency wars, trade wars, alleged bio games, alleged weather wars and crypto wars….

          Ah, the curse of interesting times.

  • RobG

    Last Saturday Wikileaks released this: ‘IMF Internal Meeting Predicts Greek ‘Disaster’, Threatens to Leave Troika’…


    The recorded conversation says that the International Monetary Fund expects that a possible Greek default on its bailout will coincide with the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union. This story was quite widely covered at the weekend. Here’s the Guardian’s take on it…


    Then on Sunday the MSM started reporting this ‘Panama Papers’ nonsense. MSM coverage of the ‘Panama Papers’ has been rather amusing, to say the least, but it has swamped most other news stories; not only Wikileaks release about the IMF and Greece, but also other important stuff that’s going on at the moment.

    • John Goss

      I bet there are a good few former Greek fatcats on the Panama list. Greece should default. There is a precedent now with Ukraine having defaulted on its debts to Russia. Eventually all the economies tied to the petrodollar, IMF and World bank are doomed. There’s nothing in the pot. Even preferential shareholders will go dwn with this Titanic sinking.

  • bevin

    What is immoral about these tax dodges is that the loopholes have been very carefully crafted by conspirators against the public interest
    And that it is through their control of the political process, from the political parties to the media that they are able in fact to transfer their tax responsibilities onto the shoulders of the poor and the defenceless.
    In recent years we have seen ample evidence of the way that this works. Tax dodging is the heart of ‘austerity’ policies.
    To argue that tax avoidance is not only a victimless crime but not really a crime at all because we would all do it if we could afford the lawyers and the bribes involved is immoral nonsense.
    Tax dodgers own the country and control it. Most of the media is owned by them and employed in their interests. The parties are financed by them and their policies (‘tax cuts’, sweetheart privatisations, public/private partnerships) are designed to favour them.
    Habbakkuk’s arguments are in essence, criminal and anti-social. No surprise there he holds that shooting wounded prisoners is ‘robust’ and behaviour to emulate and justifies imperialist wars on the same basis: if you can get away with it, and you enjoy it, go for it!
    Dostoevsky would have a field day with these nihilists.

    • eddie-g

      Just want to raise one point around the genesis of the tax-dodging infrastructure that this leak is shining a light on.

      The basic principle on what a lot of the legal architecture depends is that income should not be subject to double-taxation. If you are a UK company, and you earn profits from a part of your business in say, the USA, the idea is that you should pay tax in one or the other jurisdiction, but not both. And as general rule, the idea is that income is taxed at source.

      Where we’ve gotten to today is that double-taxation loopholes are now a joke, and the definition of “source of income” is widely abused (cf. Apple and Starbucks).

      I’ve said to others, what really matters with this leak is if the tax authorities around the world can get hold of the documents. If they do so, they will be able to prove where tax-avoidance arrangements were a sham, and recoup billions. If they want to, of course, and who knows if that’s the case.

      • fwl

        Yes, do they want to and if they want to then do they have the bottle. As I think about this I see a chorus of politicos calling to the tax investigator calling him or her back less we lose trade business jobs etc and others who counter with a call for a union or guild or council of tax collectors from around the world. The next step would be an international tax authority holding the dirt on everyone. What a nightmare….

      • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

        It used to be a basic principle of U.S. tax law, both for the Internal Revenue Service and for courts like the U.S. Tax Courts, that sham transactions were to be disregarded.

        • eddie-g

          It’s less about sham transactions than sham operating arrangements for offshore vehicles. Creating a BVI shelf company is something any law firm could do for minimal cost. Creating the façade of an offshore operating infrastructure is what the likes of Mossack Fonseca were paid big money for.

          What the ICIJ may be sitting on – in fact, surely is in some cases – is proof of the façade. And critically, proof that local tax authorities would not previously have been able to show to a court.

    • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

      re your last two paras – check out the post by Fwl above and learn how to contribute positively to a discussion without foaming at the mouth and/or creaming your pants. 🙂

  • Peter

    Don’t expect real news from either the BBC or the Guardian.

    One owes its position to the state-backed licence fee monopoly, the other owes its existence to advertising from various state agencies and crony businesses.

    Think of them as a more sophisticated version of Pravda or Izvestia in USSR days: rubbish for news, but useful in pointing to current ruling elite thinking.

  • bevin

    Asad AbuKhalil -The Angry Arab- asks what sort of people are behind these ‘revelations’:

    “What do we know about the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists? Is Netanyahu an investigative journalist?
    This definition of Hizbullah in the official report of this consortium raises questions: not even US government defines Hizbullah in this manner. Is there an Israeli hidden hand? “financiers of Hezbollah — a Middle East terrorist group that has used child soldiers and fired rockets into populated towns”.

    The finger prints are familiar.

    • Habbabkuk (what is your cover story?)

      Israel/Palestine again……stay on topic, please, at least for the first page. Thank you.

    • Republicofscotland

      Fred your link describes “naive realism” did you find it insightful because you realise the symptoms are within you. Or are subconsciously thinking of the unionist parties in Scotland, who without doubt suffer from Naive Realism.

      As do many of their followers. ?

    • John Spencer-Davis

      That is a terrific posting, Fred, thank you. Everyone should read it.

      The difficulty is, of course, that there is a kind of consensus, particularly an elite consensus, about what is objective and unbiased, and what is subjective and emotionally committed. For example, people who believe that the operation of a regulated market is the best way of arranging human affairs will obviously believe that they are being objective, whereas they will believe that those who argue for a highly planned, democratically managed economy are dreamers, or busybodies, or shills. Whether that is true, or whether it is false, the former view happens to serve elite interests a good deal better than the latter, so there is an enormous cultural bias upon its side as a sort of default position. It’s no good one lot of people recognising their own bias if everyone is not prepared to do the same thing.

      It’s a huge topic. Thanks.

      • fwl

        Yes, I’ve heard it said that those who teach ethics in Uk universities are very keen on an objective good and apparently on occasions intolerant of relativists, or those who keep asking questions.

        You would expect a relaxed approach and appreciation of subjectivity and relativity at college, as with an army chaplain black and white for the troops but a little pantheism might be indulged amongst officers (although I don’t know about nowadays).

        I am not saying black is not black and white is not white. Maybe sometimes. Maybe there is objectivity, but it’s good (admittedly not necessarily objectively good) to keep asking. Looking wondering and asking.

  • Dec

    Tax avoidance is only one reason for concealing wealth. Far more interesting are sequestration of the proceeds of crime (including embezzlement itself), and the use of money to finance crime. In both cases, those in our own countries are of greater interest to us than those far afield. To dwell so insistently on Russia and company at the expense of the West is therefore perverse, and Craig is right to draw attention to it.

  • Republicofscotland

    Craig, I love the way you said (sarcastically in my opinion) “David Cameron’s dead father.”

    Also I hate way producers cut away from a person being interviewed, and show all manner of clips, I find it rather demeaning, still you gave a good interview.


  • Pink-Brick

    Habbakuk at 15:55 hopelessly over his once head again, showing exceptionally abysmal ignorance of UN Charter Article 42. He’s not at a level where you could expect him to be aware of UNCTAD statements. He doubtless doesn’t know what the G-192 is. But you’d think he would be dimly aware of the consensus of the UN member nations. “Nonsense.” No sense trying to get reasoned discourse out of him, he’s not up to it. He can’t articulate his state indoctrination.

    • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

      So when the EU imposes sanctions on a country or against individuals it’s violating international law?

      That’s a new one on me, I must say… 🙂


      PS – the style and approach of your non-comment reminds me of someone – which handle did you use before?

  • Republicofscotland

    The Ministry of Truth, is to erect a statue of George Orwell outside its London HQ.

    Despite his resignation from the BBC in 1943, when he grew tired of “pushing propaganda,” a statue of George Orwell, author of the dystopian ‘1984’, will soon be erected outside the broadcaster’s London HQ.

    The statue of Orwell – real name Eric Blair – will be accompanied by a plaque that reads: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

    Only the BBC could be so crass.


    • Pete

      @Republic of Scotland, very interesting long comment from you earlier about the Ford Foundation etc funding of supposedly left-wing groups, I had read in Lobster magazine years ago that Ford and Carnegie Foundations etc had funded the early feminists- could have been an article by Daniel Brandt- but never seen such detail. Could you supply some references or links for further study of this topic?

      • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

        Gloria Steinem‘s career started with CIA ties:

        CIA ties[edit]

        In May 1975, Redstockings, a radical feminist group, raised the question of whether Steinem had continuing ties with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and whether she had been “meteorically installed” as the leader of the movement.[89][90] Though she admitted to having worked for a CIA-financed foundation in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Independent Research Service), and acknowledged these ties in interviews given to the New York Times and Washington Post in 1967 in the wake of the Ramparts magazine CIA exposures (nearly two years before Steinem attended her first Redstockings or feminist meeting), Steinem in 1975 denied any continuing involvement.[91] An essay, ‘The Religious Crusades of the CIA,’ in the popular online magazine Indiafacts has noted that Gloria Steinem visited Kerala and worked with an American Protestant missionary in 1957 which falls into the timeframe described by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his admission that the CIA interfered in Indian politics.[92]

        American corporations had an interest in promoting feminism: the more women entered the workforce, the more labor costs would drop.

        • Habbabkuk (flush out fakes)

          Many women in the US and Europe entered the labour force in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and wages and salaries still increased – as did living standards.

    • lysias (DON'T FEED THE TROLLS)

      And the whole Ministry of Truth, as it is portrayed in Nineteen Eighty-Four, is of course based on Orwell’s experiences at the BBC.

  • Paul Barbara

    A chink of US Light:

    ‘Panama Papers – Hillary connection to Deutche Bank’:

    ‘.Concerning the Panama Papers scandal, let’s start putting two and two together.

    1. Hillary Clinton lobbied for the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, and WAS WARNED it would make money laundering and tax evasion easier for rich folks and bad guys. http://www.ibtimes.com/...

    2. Deutsche Bank is up to its eyeballs in this shit. http://www.dw.com/...

    3. After resigning as SoS, Hillary Clinton personally made $485,000 speaking to – don’t hold your breath, you know where I’m going with this – Deutsche Bank. theintercept.com/…

    No nuance. It’s really simple. Hillary Clinton did Deutche Bank a big lucrative solid, and they returned the favor when it was legally permissible….’

    Fair dinkum as they say Down Under!

    • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

      re 3/. – I find it difficult to know where you’re going with anything you write.

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