On The Monitor this week:
- A round up of US national security news with Jonathan Landay
- William Black on the Trump administration’s dismantling of the Obama administration’s already insufficient post-2008 financial regulations
More about this week’s guests:
On The Monitor this week:
- NATO: Part of Solution — Or Problem? An interview with David Gibbs
- Burger King Tax Dodge – How Inversions Hurt Economies. An interview with James Henry
More about this week’s guests:
David Gibbs is professor of history and government at the University of Arizona. He has written extensively on NATO and is the author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia
“Foreign policy specialists have rightly condemned Russian intervention in the Ukraine, which has aggravated political divisions in that country. At the same time, we should recognize that the United States and NATO have also contributed to the destabilization. Russia’s actions are at least partly a response to policies adopted by the U.S. and NATO immediately following the Cold War.
“People often forget that post-Soviet Russia was at first highly cooperative with U.S. and Western policy, and they disbanded the Cold War era Warsaw Pact alliance. Russians assumed that in response the U.S. would gradually disband NATO, as a symmetrical action, or at the very least the U.S. would not expand NATO. Instead, the U.S. orchestrated NATO’s expansion, beginning in the late 1990s, incorporating several post-Soviet states. More recently, there has been open discussion of further expanding NATO, with possible membership for the Ukraine and Georgia. Russia views its interventions in the Ukraine as defensive actions, against NATO threats to its border security. NATO expansion must be viewed as a short-sighted action, one that was bound to provoke the Russians, and it laid the groundwork for the Ukraine’s civil war.”
James Henry is former chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. He is now senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable International Investment and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network, which earlier this year in their report “The Price of Offshore Revisited” estimated that total wealth in tax havens was between $21 trillion and 32 trillion dollars.Henry is featured in the film “We’re Not Broke,” which tells the story of U.S. corporations dodging billions of dollars in income tax and is available on Netflix.
“You now have 100 major U.S. companies looking at ‘inversions’ like what Burger King is doing. This deal is a tax dodge by a Brazilian billionaire and other investors, it will hurt the U.S., Canada and such deals hurt virtually everyone else. These deals exposes domestic companies to competitors that are not paying substantial taxes. Contrary to some analysts, the Miami-based Burger King’ deal for Canada’s Hortons WOULD shift BK to Canada for tax purposes. BK is saying that that the deal would not ‘materially effect’ its effective U.S. tax rate of 27 percent, given that Canada’s ‘corp tax rate’ is ‘26.5 percent.'”Since Canada has a territorial corporate income tax it also does not benefit from this deal: the U.S. IRS will lose, but Canada is already not collecting any taxes on BK’s non-Canadian income. And it does lose yet another outstanding domestic company to rapacious global vultures.” See: “Tim’s + BK = $ for Canada right? …. Wrong! (in one table).”
Forbes writes: “The Burger King inversion deal is being driven by Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man and co-founder of 3G Capital, the private equity firm that holds a majority stake in Burger King.” Says Henry: “I’ve met Lemann and he made his fortune in the Brazil privatization wave of the 1990s — it was like Russia’s disastrous privatizations, riddled with corruption. Brazil sold assets for $98 billion and gave $99 billion in tax benefits — they actually lost money on selling off assets. Now, Lemann goes around like some business genius, but he’s just a scam artist. It’s not business, it’s tax dodging. Brazil’s tax system, inspite of recent presumably progressive administrations, has a very regressive tax system — the top 10 percent of Brazilians pay lower share than the bottom 50 percent. Lemann probably doesn’t pay any taxes in Brazil.
“It’s been tech companies and pharmaceutical companies that have lead the charge on these schemes. Apple last year off shore revenue paid 1 percent in taxes — they funnel their profits through their Irish subsidiary and then through the Bahamas. GE’s effective tax was zero. Now it’s getting into retail. So these companies do business in the U.S., they benefit from the airports, hospitals, police, fire, education. The rest of us pay for the military. Some of them are even federal contractors — they don’t pay taxes but they make money directly from our national coffers.
“Some are even using this to push for a tax repatriation holiday or a gutting of the corporate income tax. Both of these would be a disaster. When there was a repatriation holiday in 2004, 90 percent of the benefit went to Pfizer and they then laid off workers. And gutting the corporate tax rate would not only be horrible for us in the U.S., it would be a disaster for poor countries. It’s a race to the bottom. In Africa, you have countries that have effective negative tax rates. Instead of collaborating on tax collection across countries — they’re competing to go lower and lower. And all this is being driven by the fact that the corporate lobby doesn’t discriminate. Both establishment parties have been on the take and that’s why you have so little leadership on this issue.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Nomi Prins on her new book All the Presidents’ Bankers
- Ross Caputi on ‘serving’ in the Military and the current situation in Iraq
More on this week’s guests:
Nomi Prins is a renowned journalist, author and speaker. Her most recent book, All the Presidents’ Bankers, a groundbreaking narrative about the relationships of presidents to key bankers over the past century will be out April 8, 2014. Her last book was a historical novel about the 1929 crash, Black Tuesday. Before that, she wrote the hard-hitting, acclaimed book, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street (Wiley, September, 2009/October 2010). She is also the author of Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America (The New Press, October 2004) which predicted the current financial crisis, and was chosen as a Best Book of 2004 by The Economist, Barron’s and The Library Journal, and Jacked (Polipoint Press, Sept. 2006).
She has appeared on numerous TV programs: internationally for BBC, RtTV, and nationally for CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CSPAN, Democracy Now, Fox and PBS. She has been featured on hundreds of radio shows globally including for CNNRadio, Marketplace, NPR, BBC, and Canadian Programming. She has featured in numerous documentaries shot by international production companies, alongside prominent thought-leaders, and Nobel Prize winners.
Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, Fortune, Newsday, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Truthdig, The Guardian UK, The Nation, Alternet, NY Daily News, LaVanguardia, and other publications.
Her engaging key-note speeches are thoughtfully tailored, and she has spoken at venues including the Purdue University/Sinai Forum, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Forum, Ohio State University Law School, Columbia University, Pepperdine Graudate School of Business, Environmental Grantmakers Association, NASS Spinal Surgeons Conference, and the Mexican Senate.
Nomi received her BS in Mathematics from SUNY Purchase, and MS in Statistics from New York University, where she completed all of the required coursework for a PhD in Statistics. Before becoming a journalist, Nomi worked on Wall Street as a managing director at Goldman Sachs, ran the international analytics group as a senior managing director at Bear Stearns in London, and worked as a strategist at Lehman Brothers and an analyst at the Chase Manhattan Bank.
Ross Caputi is a former US marine, having served from 2003 to 2006. He took part in the second siege of Fallujah in November 2004. He became openly critical of the military and was discharged in 2006. Ross holds an MA in linguistics and is the founding director of the Justice for Fallujah Project. and is on the board of directors of ISLAH (Arabic for “repair” or “reform”). He is also the director of the documentary film Fear Not the Path of Truth: a veteran’s journey after Fallujah.
Which states in part: “One year ago ISIS was concentrated in Syria, with almost no presence in Iraq. During this time, a nonviolent protest movement, which called itself the Iraqi Spring, was in full swing with widespread support in the Sunni provinces and significant support from the Shia provinces as well. This movement set up nonviolent protest camps in many cities throughout Iraq for nearly the entire year of 2013. They articulated a set of demands calling for an end to the marginalization of Sunnis within the new Iraqi democracy, reform of an anti-terrorism law that was being used label political dissent as terrorism, abolition of the death penalty, an end to corruption, and they positioned themselves against federalism and sectarianism too. Instead of making concessions to the protesters and defusing their rage, Prime Minister Maliki mocked their demands and chose to use military force to attack them on numerous occasions. Over the course of a year, the protesters were assaulted, murdered, and their leaders were assassinated, but they remained true to their adopted tactic of nonviolence. That is, until Prime Minister Maliki sent security forces to clear the protest camps in Fallujah and Ramadi in December of 2013. At that point the protestors lost hope in the tactic of nonviolence and turned to armed resistance instead. It is important to note that from the beginning it was the tribal militias who took the lead in the fight against the Iraqi government. ISIS arrived a day later to aid Fallujans in their fight, but also to piggy-back on the success of the tribal fighters in order to promote their own political goals. …While publicly criticizing the Maliki government’s sectarian policies, the U.S. has been aiding and facilitating” the Maliki government. Caputi added: “The impunity of the Maliki government is never questioned in the debate raging within the U.S. It is simply unimaginable within the limits of this debate that Maliki might be held accountable for the war crimes his regime has committed against his own people.”
The Monitor this week continues to look at the ongoing international tensions related to Syria. We get two opinions from perspectives not heard in the corporate media through interviews with Larry Everest and Ajamu Baraka.
More about this week’s guests:
Larry Everest is a correspondent for the Revolution Newspaper and author of Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbide’s Bhopal Massacre and Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the US Global Agenda. He has reported from the Iran, the West Bank, Gaza, India, and Iraq, and his articles have appeared in publications across the U.S. In 1991 he traveled to Iraq and shot the video “Iraq: War Against the People.” He currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Quote: In the Middle East, as in other parts of the world, the U.S. attempts to dominate the resources and the people of the region. They build up the armies of reactionary powers like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; they utilize Israel as a sort of attack dog to keep other countries in line; they prop up hated governments so long as they serve their purpose; and they periodically rain down military terror to enforce their way. The fact is that in just the past decade, the U.S. has attacked Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, and other countries, and has continually threatened Iran.
Ajamu Baraka was the Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) from July 2004 until June 2011. The USHRN became the first domestic human rights formation in the United States explicitly committed to the application of international human rights standards to the U.S. Under Baraka, the Network grew exponentially from a core membership base of 60 organizations to more than 300 U.S. – based member organizations and 1,500 individual members who work on the full spectrum of human rights issues in the United States.
Baraka has also served on the boards of various national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (USA) and the National Center for Human Rights Education. He is currently on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Africa Action; Latin American Caribbean Community Center; Diaspora Afrique; and the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.
Baraka has taught political science at various universities, including Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College. He has been a guest lecturer at academic institutions throughout the U.S., and has authored several articles on international human rights.
He is editing a new book on human rights in the U.S. entitled: “The Struggle Must be for Human Rights: Voices from the Field,” scheduled for publication in 2013. His website is www.ajamubaraka.com
Quote: “The normalization of white supremacist domination and its prerogatives are so completely inculcated in U.S. and Western consciousness that not only is the question as to what right the U.S. and the West have to attack Syria outside the framework of consideration, but alternative ways of viewing the world are beyond cognitive comprehension. This is the cultural and ideological foundation of ‘American exceptionalism’ and the intellectual framework and assumptions that informed Western-based human rights organizations and their theoreticians in the construction of the notion of humanitarian intervention.”
This week’s show looks at the Atlanta test cheating scandal and the world of Offshore Banking.
(CNN) Report — “The former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools was among the educators who surrendered to authorities Tuesday after being indicted by a grand jury in a cheating scandal that rocked the district and drew national attention.” The Monitor talk about tests, cheating and Educational Corruption with Bob Schaeffer.
This week The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a detailed report based on a 15 month investigation of Offshore Banking. Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy. The Monitor looks Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze with Nicky Hager.
More About this week’s guests:
Bob Schaeffer is the Public Education Director of FairTest, fair and open testing. He has been tracking cheating scandals around the nation for the past several years and has collected a huge database of information about specific cases.
Quote: “Atlanta is the ‘tip of an iceberg’ in a sea of standardized test score manipulation that has swept the U.S. in response to politically mandated misuses of standardized exams. “A new FairTest survey reports that cheating incidents been confirmed in 37 states and the District of Columbia in just the past four academic years. In addition, it lists more than 50 ways adults in public schools artificially boost test scores. The solution to the school test score manipulation problem is not simply stepped up enforcement. Instead, testing misuses must end because they cheat the public out of accurate data about public school quality at the same time they cheat many students out of a high-quality education.”
Nicky Hager is an independent investigative reporter and writer, and is currently working with ICIJ on an upcoming investigation.
He has specialized in investigating military and intelligence agencies and the political activities of public relations companies and corporations. Hager has focused on issues of secrecy and democratic accountability and has written ground-breaking articles on New Zealand’s special forces, intelligence agencies and surveillance laws.
His book Secret Power (1996) revealed and described the Western intelligence system known as Echelon. Based on interviews with intelligence officers and fieldwork in several countries, the book led to a year-long European Parliament investigation into Echelon. You can download the book for free from his website.
His book Secrets and Lies, The Anatomy of an Anti-Environmental PR Campaign (1999) was based on hundreds of leaked internal PR papers and documented the techniques used by PR companies to manufacture political influence and undermine their clients’ opponents.
His book Seeds of Distrust, the Story of a GE Cover-Up (2002) uncovered the activities of multinational companies putting pressure on New Zealand over genetic engineering; and the 2006 book The Hollow Men, a study in the politics of deception was a detailed expose of three years of politics within the New Zealand’s conservative party, the National Party. The book revealed the activities of the unseen actors in politics—political advisers, media spin doctors, contract strategists and pollsters and industry lobbyists—and led to the resignation of the party leader on the day the book was released.
His latest book, Other People’s Wars (2011), describes ten years of New Zealand and its allies in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Based on thousands of leaked New Zealand military and intelligence reports, and interviews with special forces officers and officials, it reveals important information about the wars that had never before been published.