Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week
At The Guardian, Tom Burgis writes—What $2 trillion in possible corrupt activity reveals about Kleptopia:
[…] This week we’ve caught a fresh glimpse of Kleptopia. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the FinCEN files, details of more than 2,000 leaked suspicious activity reports that banks had filed to the US Treasury. They show that, even when bankers have doubts about the provenance of their clients’ money, the financial secrecy system goes on serving its primary purpose. That purpose is not simply to accentuate the concentration of wealth, to abet corruption, or to shift the proceeds of crime, important though all those functions are. No, it is to accelerate a project that had been gathering momentum since the end of the cold war: the privatisation of power itself.
Back when it became clear that the Soviet Union was unravelling, its rulers hastily squirreled as much of the empire’s wealth abroad as they could. Their counterparts in other places where power is easily converted into money—chiefly those cursed with large quantities of oil or minerals—did likewise. Globalisation was moving forward apace and, like Starbucks, migration and viruses, dirty money went global. An international kleptocracy began to take shape, financial secrecy its catalyst.
Many of the names that have emerged in the leaked documents are figures who got rich under the regimes of powerful kleptocrats and have gone on to build private empires that extend worldwide. The interests amassed by Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of the dictator who presided over decades of plunder of Angola’s oil, stretch from Brazil to Portugal. The Kazakh ex-minister and banker Mukhtar Ablyazov and his relatives accumulated assets ranging from a Moscow oceanarium to a Cincinnati mall. The central-Asia-to-eastern-Europe gas venture Dmytro Firtash assembled while he was flying high in Ukraine was so profitable he could snap up the disused London Underground station that had served as Churchill’s top-secret command centre during the second world war.
While this wealth floated off into the ether of the financial system, the means for scrutinising money remained local. One of the reasons suspicious activity reports that banks send to the Treasury’s FinCEN unit are so ineffectual is that the watchdogs who might seek to act on them are confined to borders that money, dirty or otherwise, does not observe. […]
At Daily Kos on this date in 2013—Texas Republicans will always be the last horse out of the barn:
Given the caliber of political mind Texas Republicans seem intent on foisting off onto the rest of us, non-Texans might be curious as to what sorts of people they’ve tapped for state government of late. The simple answer is “more of the same,” as the responses to an AP questionnaire on gay rights sent to GOP candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general revealed. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst sets the tone:
“Sadly, in a culture infected with political correctness, people of faith are targeted for defending their beliefs with no consideration of their First Amendment rights. I will continue to stand with my fellow Texans in defending our God-given, constitutionally protected freedoms.”
Yes, yes. Why are we even talking about civil rights for gay Americans when people of faith are the real victims here. It’s getting so you can’t even show your love for Jesus by calling someone names and beating them up anymore.