The Looting Machine: Investigating Corruption in Africa

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtbypBGGY2E]

Mapping out the networks that link kleptocrats to middlemen, multinationals and markets is the key to understanding the dark side of the globalised economy. Tom Burgis, Financial Times investigations correspondent and author of a new book on the looting of Africa, discussed the tools required: following money trails, reporting from conflict zones, understanding the bigger context – and door-stepping Zimbabwe’s secret police.

The Eerie NGO Phenomenon in Kashmir

“Conflicts have always allowed very suitable ecosystems for Non Governmental Organisations or NGOs to flourish in. Embroiled with armed insurgency for about two decades now, Kashmir has attracted a plethora of organizations. But going by the numbers, the region seems to have become a heaven for NGO activity.”

By Parvaiz Bukhari

(This article was first published by The Honour Magazine, April 2010, (pg. 16-20).)

Kashmir as an Integral Part of India.  Cartoon by Mir Suhail Qadiri
Kashmir as an Integral Part of India. Cartoon by Mir Suhail Qadiri

Conflicts have always allowed very suitable ecosystems for Non Governmental Organisations or NGOs to flourish in. Embroiled with armed insurgency for about two decades now, Kashmir has attracted a plethora of organizations. But going by the numbers, the region seems to have become a heaven for NGO activity.

There is no central register for the NGOs operating here, no guidelines or any overt accountability. Various estimates put the figure of existing NGOs up to 16,000. Apart from the office of the Registrar of Societies, NGOs are registered for various non-profit activities as trusts and voluntary groups in the district courts. Besides, many NGOs from across the country operating in Kashmir are not registered here.

All you need is five persons and a draft of bylaws along with a declaration of supposed objectives that is then registered in any district court where no count is maintained.

Just what is this huge mass of NGOs doing and who are the people who run them? What is the real intent and incentive for this NGO boom in a region that is still considered business ‘unfriendly’? Where is the funding coming from? A superficial enquiry reveals a dizzying range of unclear activity bordering on subterfuge.

Government employees, close relatives of bureaucrats, politicians, well-off families and people who have been a part of counter insurgency think tanks, run a number of NGOs in the Valley. Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Developmental Studies (KFPDS) run by a former militant commander, Firdous Sayeed Baba alias Babar Badr, has been on the scene for many years now. Babar and four other former militant commanders were the first to enter into dialogue with New Delhi in 1995. He is also known to be very close to the former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief A S Dullat, who for many years earlier and during NDA regime served as New Delhi’s point man on Kashmir affairs. Continue reading “The Eerie NGO Phenomenon in Kashmir”

Israel 2012, The Question of a Nation: What Does Culture Have to Do with Politics?

For more information on how Israel is using this face to mask its evil, go to http://www.no2brandisrael.org/

The interesting thing about Israel is that its government and registered citizens have a wonky spatial perception, which feeds off itself: In Israel, you’re not in the state, the state is in you. Due to this cyclical perception, along with the “standard” “nation branding” (a marketing lie on to itself, and that sick capitalist perception of a state- a geographic territory with obligations and responsibilities towards its respective inhabitants- as a product which is on the market for sale), known as Brand Israel, much of Israel’s propaganda is based on the blurring of the lines between the individual and the state (and army).

As a BDS activist, whose main focus is cultural boycott, I’ve come up against a very common Israeli claim (individuals, small business, and government officials) that “culture has nothing to do with politics”. Most commonly it comes in the form of a puzzled “rhetorical” question: “What does culture have to do with politics?!” As if asking this question closes the discussion, because it’s so obvious that art, music, books, films, theater and dance are a pure form of entertainment that has no intellectual, political, anthropological value. As if cultural products aren’t bought and sold as commodities and status indicators.

Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production Ltd. in the Service of the State of Israel

Continue reading “Israel 2012, The Question of a Nation: What Does Culture Have to Do with Politics?”

Julian Assange interviews Imran Khan

No country has ever been bombed by its own ally, like Pakistan has been bombed by the US, Pakistani politician Imran Khan tells Julian Assange. He says it is time to put an end to the US-Pakistani ‘client-master’ relationship. ­In the ninth episode of his show, Julian Assange talks to Imran Khan, whose political party was ignored for years and which US State Department cables called “Pakistan’s one-man party.”

The wonderful world of Tony Blair

Britain’s most fearless investigative journalist Peter Oborne follows up his excellent work exposing Britain’s Israel lobby and the Murdoch empire with another devastating documentary about the myriad conflicts of interest of the execrable Tony Blair. (Also see Ali Abunimah’s piece on Blair’s myriad shady dealings).

International viewers can watch the documentary below:

Continue reading “The wonderful world of Tony Blair”

Dirty Money

The lavish lifestyles enjoyed by dictators across the Middle East and North Africa have fuelled widespread anger at the way national assets have been looted for the benefit of the few. So what happens to all this wealth once it is spirited out of the country? Can it ever be recovered? And why does the international banking system make it so easy for corruption to flourish? Al Jazeera’s People & Power asked veteran financial journalist, Steve Levinson, to investigate.

See also a recent report by Global Financial Integrity, which estimates illegal capital flight from Africa at more than $1 trillion over the past four decades, “facilitated by a global shadow financial system comprising tax havens, secrecy jurisdictions, disguised corporations, anonymous trust accounts, fake foundations, trade mispricing, and money laundering techniques.”

Neoconomics 101: Conscription and War as Wealth

neoconomicsYesterday Antiwar.com published Grant F. Smith’s book review  “Neoconomics: Conscription and War as Wealth”  discussing Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s 2009 book Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.

A 19 minute radio interview is available today.

2:19 Israeli conscription and societal cohesion
2:43 Bomb releases to electric car batteries
3:13 Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres as entrepreneurs
4:21 An international entitlement: preferential US market access
5:55 Are US entrepreneurs battle tested?
6:36 Start-up Nation’s exclusive focus on supply-side
7:20 US consumer market buys 40% of total Israeli exports
7:39 $10 billion in yearly trade surplus as aid to Israel
Continue reading “Neoconomics 101: Conscription and War as Wealth”

Pakistan: A Deficit of Dignity

M. Shahid Alam

Pakistan’s rulers and ruling elites may well be thinking that the wave of people’s indignation that started in Tunisia and is now working its way through Egypt, Jordan and Yemen will never reach them. Perhaps, they are telling each other, ‘We are safe: we are a democracy.’

The Arabs who are pouring into the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen are not protesting only against their dictatorships. Simultaneously, they are also protesting against governments that have sold their dignity and bartered the honor of their country. Nearly, all the Arab rulers are self-castrated eunuchs in the courts of foreign powers, who have turned their own countries into police states, and who jail, maim, torture and kill their own people to please their masters.

The Arabs are venting their anger against elites who have stymied their energies by turning their societies into prisons. In complicity with foreign powers, these elites have ruled by fear, blocking the forward movement of their people because this movement collides with the imperialist ambitions of Israel and the United States.

It is true that Pakistan has had ‘elected’ governments alternating with military dictatorships. Increasingly, however, these governments, whether civilian or military, have differed little from each other. The priority for both is to keep their power and US-doled perks by doing the bidding of the United States and Israel.

Starting in the early 1990s, Pakistan hurriedly embraced the neoliberal paradigm that emanated from Washington. Hastily, successive ministers of finance and privatization – all of them IMF appointees – went about dismantling Pakistan’s industries, selling off for a song its state-owned enterprises, and empowering Pakistan’s elites to engage in unchecked consumerism.

Continue reading “Pakistan: A Deficit of Dignity”

People Power in the Middle East

M. Shahid Alam

From his weekly perch at CNN, Fareed Zakaria, speculated last Sunday (or the Sunday before) whether George Bush could take credit for the events that were unfolding in Tunisia, whether this was the late fruit of the neoconservative project to bring ‘democracy’ to the Middle East.

It is quite extraordinary watching Zakaria – a Muslim born and raised in India, and scion of a leading political family – mimic with such facility the language of America’s ruling classes, and show scarce a trace of empathy for the world’s oppressed, despite his propinquity to them by reason of history and geography. He does have a bias for India, but here too he only shows a concern for India’s strategic interests, not the interests of its subjugated classes, minorities and ethnicities. This I offer only as an aside about how easy it is for members of the upper classes in countries like India, Pakistan or Egypt to slip into an American skin whenever that dissimulation offers greater personal advantages.

As a cover for deepening US control over the Middle East – here is the latest civilizing mission for you – the neoconservatives in the Bush administration argued that the Islamic world produces ‘terrorists’ because it lives under autocracies. To solve the ‘terrorist’ problem, therefore, the US would have to bring democracy to the Middle East. This demagoguery only reveals the bankruptcy of America’s political class. It is a shame when the President of the United States and his neoconservative puppet-masters peddle such absurdities without being greeted by squeals of laughter – and shouted down as hypocritical, as farcical.

Who has been the leading ally and sponsor these past decades of nearly all the despotisms in the Middle East – those of royal pedigree and others seeking to become royalties?

Regardless, the real plan of United States failed miserably. It was dispatched to its grave by a people’s resistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Continue reading “People Power in the Middle East”

Is Pakistan’s ‘Monkey Show’ Coming Apart?

M. Shahid Alam

For too long now, the government of Pakistan – at its highest levels – has looked like a monkey show staged by the United States of America.

The USA picks the mercenaries from Pakistan’s wealthy and corrupt elites who are eager to play the part of the monkey. Once in office, they act upon cues that are called by the US plenipotentiary in Islamabad or elsewhere. The monkey master says, Give us transit rights; the monkey obliges. He says, Join our war against Afghanistan; the monkey obliges again. He says, We will bomb your people, you take the blame; the monkey obliges again. The monkey never disappoints.

All that the monkey master has to do to keep this monkey show going is to toss a few peanuts to the monkeys in the show for every act well-performed.

Of course, in order to try to fool the Pakistanis, the monkey master complains periodically that the monkey is not “doing enough.” The monkey replies that the master is not “giving enough” – peanuts, that is.

How long is this monkey show going to go on?

How long will Pakistanis stand for this humiliation?

Continue reading “Is Pakistan’s ‘Monkey Show’ Coming Apart?”