Category Archives: International

Exposer of corruption of the Panama Papers and corruption has been murdered


The woman at the forefront of the Panama Papers is dead. She lost her life when a bomb in the car she was driving blew up and sent the vehicle flying into a paddock.

A tranche of 11.5 million documents connected to more than 200,000 offshore accounts make up the Panama Papers and this immense volume of information is still being sifted through and new evidence of money laundering and tax evasion is constantly bubbling to the surface.

Those who stand to be exposed had an incentive for having her silenced.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a journalist who passionately focused on uncovering establishment corruption and her untimely death shows that the corrupt are ruthless and will do anything to keep on the gravy train.

Her son, Matthew Caruana Galizia said, “this was no ordinary murder and it was not tragic” and argued that “when there is blood and fire all around you, that’s war. We are a people at war against the state and organised crime, which have become indistinguishable.”

He added on Facebook. Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Chris Cardona, Konrad Mizzi, the Attorney General and the long list of police commissioners who took no action: you are complicit. You are responsible for this”.

There is an obvious connection between these words and the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his closest aids, whose links to offshore companies had been exposed.

There is also a global dimension to this, as the exposures Galizia worked on involved the who’s who list of multinational corporations and political leaders. Even the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been named as one of them.

It makes perfect sense to allege that there is a war going on between the people in general and the greed of a small and exclusive group, amassing fortunes at the expense of everyone else.  A war that is becoming more open and brutal.

Rights of citizens are being trampled

One of the Maltese police officers who is supposed to be investigating the murder, a sergeant called Ramon Misfsud, wrote about it on his own Facebook account: “Everyone gets what they deserve, cow dung! Feeling happy”. There is not going to be much of an investigation from this quarter.

Although the sergeant has been suspended, this is not a great deal under the circumstances,  and it suggests that power structures provide impunity to wrongdoers, encourage corruption and punish those who make a stand against it.

This is why it is so important that other carry on the work of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

What is really going on in Venezuela?

By Joe Montero

Venezuela has just gone through an election for a new Constituent Assembly. This is a new body, designed to lift discussion about the country’s future and bring about the peace, put forward by government led by Nicolás Maduro.

Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the claim, at the very least, it should be acknowledged that the voters were asked and encouraged to cast their verdict.

A sticking point is that the Constituent Assembly would have the power not to change the constitution. The truth is that it will only have the power to make recommendation that will then have to be  put a referendum. A clear guideline has been set, based on what has been called the “nine lines of work, which are

  1. Achieve peace, isolate the violent, reaffirm the values of justice and accountability.
  2. Perfect and broaden the Venezuelan economic system, to design or install a new post-petroleum economic system
  3. Include within the Constitution all of the Missions and Grand Missions established by Comandante Chávez and the Revolution, among them those focused on housing, education, health, and culture.
  4. Strengthen the functioning of the justice, security, and citizen protection system.
  5. Promote new forms of participation.
  6. Advance the defense of national sovereignty.
  7. Promote cultural identity and the country’s new spirituality.
  8. Guarantee youth a future.
  9. Show concern for the survival of life on the planet.

Despite the ‘official opposition’ boycott, 6,100 candidates stood for 456 positions, representing Venezuela’s different social sectors. Not all were government Maduro supporters.

Forty-three international observers and electoral experts oversaw the vote and have declared the result legitimate. The have also appealed for the will of the people of Venezuela to be respected.

In a statement the observers said,

“the Venezuelan people have made their case for peace despite threats and interventionist actions from the United States as well as their associates and allies.”

They also said that Venezuelans “have concurred in a civic and peaceful manner to exercise their right to vote in a free, universal, direct, and secret election as expressed in Article 63 of the Bolivarian Constitution.”

Much of the media coverage outside Venezuela has chosen to ignore all this and only put out the story provided by statements coming from the opposition. The line here is that this is about a dictator, working to consolidate his absolute power.

The vote for Constituent Assembly is for representatives of social sectors, in addition to representing electorates. This means that workers, peasants women, youth and students will have their own representatives.  Provision has been made to also include representatives for indigenous people, Afro-Venezuelans and the disabled. The opposition also objects to social sector representation.

Video from TeleSur


The reality is that the opposition’s support base is concentrated and does not spread across all sectors, especially working class and poor communities. This put it at a disadvantage and has a lot to do with the decision for a boycott.

Trawling through the reporting, shows wholesale unverified reporting, relying on uncritical repetition of media releases from this opposition. There is a lack of proper investigation. Only one story gets out and anything getting in its way is effectively censored by the major media outlets.

For instance, the unrealistic claim that 70 percent of the electorate supported their boycott and stayed away from the polls has been peddled widely. On this basis, the election process was labeled a fraud by the White House and sanctions on the South American country are being stepped up.

What is not mentioned is that the figure comes from a survey of intention conducted by the opposition, before the election. Any fair-minded person would accept that this is not the actual voting figure and needs to be verified against other evidence in any case.

Official figures of the count show that over 41 percent of the population voted. It may be short of a full turnout. But it was the highest turnout at any election for the past 18 years. Higher than when the collective opposition won a majority in the Congress in 2015.

Given the context in which the election occurred, this was a respectable turnout.

Video from TeleSur


For months, the opposition had been waging an openly violent and armed campaign in the streets to prevent the ballot from taking place. Perceived opponents have been hunted down by gangs. Continue reading What is really going on in Venezuela?

Trump got an icy reception at G20 summit

By Joe Montero

As so many predicted, Donald Trump and the message he took to the Group of 20 summit at Hamburg received an icy reception.

On every major issue, the United States was left isolated.

Despite two days of photo shoot back slapping and smiles, the ambition to recruit support for the American position on North Korea failed. China and Russia took hold of the initiative, with their peace based on mutual disarmament and easing of sanctions position.

The differences became most marked on trade, migration and global warming. This is important because the G20 represents the world’s leading economies and therefore carries as great deal of global political influence.

American isolation marks the departure from an era, where American supremacy has been the rule since the end of World War Two, as the superpower succumbs to growing economic weakness, reaction against its increasing reliance of force as its assertiveness is also a major factor behind the differences.Europe, under the leadership of  Germany, ans secondly France, does not want to play second fiddle to American interests and is increasingly positioning itself as a major competitor.

The best illustration of this now, are the differences between Germany’s chancellor Angle Merkel and Donald Trump that has become evident over recent months. It was Merkel that took the lead in Hamburg. At a news conference as well as openly saying she “deplores,” the American decision to walk away, she said “We as Europeans have to take our fate into our own hands”. While she was specifically referring to climate warming, it really covered the tone over gulf that has opened over all the key issues.

Representing France, the newly elected president Emmanuel Macron, lined up with Merkel. “The world has never been so divided,” he said. If this is not drawing a line in the sand, what is?

Trump is now due in Paris and is likely to find it a bit of a challenge.

Even with the  post summit language of consensus over the final resolution, it remains that the Trump demand to punish nations for what he sees as unfair trade practices, did not get up. This is not surprising, given that the targets are China and Europe.

Washington has been trying to impose open access for American business interests, while at the same time, denying challengers entry into the American economy.

Many nations are genuinely worried that Washington may launch harmful trade wars.

Referring to this last Friday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “We will respond with countermeasures if need be, hoping that this is not actually necessary”.

In this context, a resolution expressing support for open markets and opposition to protectionism is hardly a victory for the American position. It is vague, commits to nothing, yet opens to, shall we say, infinite flexibility in its application. This is a non-statement, geared to save face, rather than offer anything.

On migration and refugees, the hard line of the United states in the Trump era, won support from only the United Kingdom and Italy. Everyone else called for a more humane policy.

But it is on the matter of global warming where the differences were most evident.

An agreement was made to move forward without the participation of the United States, which has abandoned a pledge made last year at the Paris Climate Agreement, to bring greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The other 19 members of the group broke explicitly with the American position in their embrace of the Paris deal and some of them have moved further than the limited protocols achieved in Paris.

It remains that the United States has made the greatest contribution to the threat of carbon emissions and its failure to act is a setback. Chances are that this will lead to ongoing diplomatic repercussions, further political isolation and the potential for economic sanctions against the United States. Global warming is emerging as a source of political tension that may eventuate to add to political instability.

while the leaders were closeted behind closed walls,huge protests took place outside. They were met with a show of force that has reached a new level against up to 100,000 local citizens and others who were there to express their collective opinion on the summit, Donald Trump, neoliberalism and other issues. Blaming a between one and two thousand anarchists of causing trouble, was used as a cover to turn water cannons, teargas and capsicum spray onto everyone.

Turning Hamburg into something resembling a city under military occupation,did not go unnoticed. There was the “ring of steel” around the summit, extending to roadblocks and high security zones. More than 20,000 police were involved, many of them heavily armed. Street patrols were frequent and many backed by drones and the latest surveillance technology. Helicopters permanently “parked” in the clouds, become a background sound.

Much more was going on here than dealing with a few anarchists.

Germany is experiencing a groundswell of opinion that wants a change in economic and political direction. Merkel and her government are out of touch with this and are now seen to be trying to impose control through its own heavy handed means. It has not gone down too well, not only in Germany, but across Europe.


German police running to their target









Caricatures of G20 leader







Using water cannon against non-violent protesters










Police using capsicum spray and teargas to disperse demonstrators

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London’s tower fire has raised questions over inadequate safety standards

Contributed by `Ben Wilson

The terrible fire that engulfed a 24-story block of flats in central London (Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) and known as Grenfell Tower, was a terrible tragedy that took at least 12 lives and injured a much larger number injured. Some seriously. Continue reading London’s tower fire has raised questions over inadequate safety standards

G7 meeting fails to make stand on key issues

By a supporter

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations completed a two-day meeting at the Italian town of Taormina (Sicily) end of last week. It included the heads of state of the United states, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, as well as the European Union.

They signed a joint declaration against terrorism that according to the document, signatories will work together manage “the risk posed by foreign fighters as they disperse from theatres of conflict” and to “take action to cut off sources and channels of terrorist financing”.

The statement also said: “Since the lack of social and economic inclusiveness and opportunities may contribute to the rise of terrorism and violent extremism, we commit to address these issues through a comprehensive approach linking together security, social inclusion, and development”.

However, the declaration failed to move past statement, to include concrete obligations to deal with the social and economic issues and the support of foreign governments to various terror groups. Critics suggest that these omissions will make the declaration ineffective.

Environment protection organisations had lobbied for action on climate warming. But progress was stalled by Donald Trump’s intransigence on behalf of the United states, including indications that the coming Climate meeting in Paris will be boycotted. The reason. Denial that the problem exists.

Even though the other participating nations have the opposite view, Trump’s isolation did not mean that he would be unsuccessful in preventing progress on this front.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the summit’s host, said separately that there was “no agreement” on the Paris accord.

The final communique merely stated commitment to the Paris Accord ad noted that the United states has not decided yet.

The third big issue concerned the refugee issue. G7 representatives met with African heads of state and government on the weekend to discuss this and development.

Leaders of Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger and Tunisia were invited to join the talks, along with representatives from six African organisations, including the African Union (AU), as the G7 wrapped up its two-day annual summit.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s government wanted G7 partners to provide substantial help to crucial African countries in terms of investments and development policies, to stem the endless flows of migrants and refugees fleeing poverty, destitution, and war.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union (EU) Council Donald Tusk also attended the meeting.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees have been risking their life crossing the Mediterranean from African coasts to Europe in the past years, and 1,520 people were estimated to have drowned in the attempt as of May 24, according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.

Italy has registered over 50,400 new arrivals so far, this year, and some 181,000 in 2016, which in both cases would represent the large portion of all arrivals to Europe.

Once again, it was the United States that was the spoiler, pushing against measures to resettle refugees and for the emphasis on preventing their arrival in the first place.

Therefore, the final statement failed to go beyond: “The ongoing large-scale movement of migrants and refugees is a global trend that, given its implications for security and human rights, calls for coordinated efforts at the national and international level”.