Monthly Archives: July 2016

Panama papers, shell companies and African officials.

Now we know why Africa is so poor; most of the wealth is siphoned off into shell companies by corrupt African officials. That is the conclusion from more leaks emanating from the Panama papers. I hope none of my readers were taken by surprise.

Even high public servants were in on it according to documents revealed. From Nigeria alone, three oil ministers as well as several senior employees of the national oil company had these hidden companies established. From these hidden assets all sorts of luxury goods were bought, among these were yachts, private jets, Manhattan penthouses and luxury homes in California. The good life it seems for some.

The most telling of all is that out of 54 African countries, 44 of them had hidden companies established to hide the wealth that was siphoned off as well as bribes payed to these senior officials. One man in particular was found to have established 16 bank accounts in seven different countries. His assets have been seized in Canada as well as France, and those included a 140-foot yacht and paintings by Dali among others.

What surprised me the most is that even safari operators also established shell companies. Thirty such offshore companies were established by them, mainly so that profits earned in developing countries can be concealed and moved elsewhere from the tax man or the public.

Considering the fact that most African countries still receive enormous amounts of money as foreign aid from us it stands to reason that we should make these countries were corruption is rife accountable. Public officials that take bribes should be severely punished. The public should know and foreign aid should go to countries who crack down on corruption. The others should be cut loose from foreign aid. It is simply a matter of justice.

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Hail to the clown!

Well now it is official, and Donald Trump will be the candidate of the Republican party for the office of president. I am sure that a year ago no one would have guessed such an outcome. In true from, his acceptance speech was along the lines of “ the sky is falling on us”. Most of it a pack of lies of course but that has never stopped him before it seems.

According to an analysis of the speech by the L.A Times, the four words that appeared over and over again were violence, immigration, trade deals and terrorism. But of course, his solutions to these so-called problems are along the lines of building walls and abrogating trade treaties unilaterally. One would expect from someone who is trying to be president that he would have offered constructive solutions.

The convention was a dismal failure, from a somewhat plagiarized speech from his wife to his adversaries not joining him for the fight against Mrs. Clinton. The contrast with the Democratic convention that starts on Monday will be striking, and I predict a big bounce in the polls for the Democrats.

Mr. Trump seems destined to wing it to the end. Let’s hope that he suffers such a defeat that rules will be re-written in the republican camp so that no other clown with clownish ideas can represent them in the future. A good drubbing at the polls is what they deserve.

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A day of terror.

Once again France has been stricken by a terrorist act. A man driving a 19-ton truck used it to run over dozens of people on the French Riviera. In all, 84 people were killed and 202 were injured in this senseless act of violence.

What surprises me is that despite the extensive security system a man was able to rent a truck and use it as a weapon. Obviously something went wrong with the security coverage. What is most peculiar about this incident is that the killer was unknown to the intelligence services, being known to the police as a petty criminal only. In short, he seems to have been a lone wolf, something that is nearly impossible to defend against.

Despite the apparent breakdown in security, it is worth noting that it was three police officers that killed the suspect. The suspect had planned this evil act as he had rented the truck three days before the Bastille Day celebrations. And yet, when the police looked into the truck the suspect had mainly fake guns and a non-functioning grenade. He had a mix of guns that were fake and others that worked. Very strange.

Of course French politicians from the left and the right denounced the government for the killings, as if the government could control everything. Controlling a lone wolf who is committed to his gruesome task is virtually impossible in a democracy. Even China experiences bouts of terrorism inside its borders and it is famous for controlling its citizens.

I think that it is clear that as citizens in a democracy we must all be vigilant. All citizens can be targets, whether by a lone wolf or by a pack of them. The state must take all possible measures to prevent these acts from happening, but let us not turn into a police state. I prefer to take my chances with a random act of terrorism than surrender my freedom of movement that I enjoy now in Canada. I suspect that most people in liberal democracies would say the same.

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Clinton and her emails.

So the scandal is now over. For those who do not remember what it was all about, Mrs. Clinton used her family’s private email for official communications rather than the official State Department email accounts. Much later, some of these emails would be marked as classified.

Hearings were held into the whole affair and the F.B.I even investigated the email controversy. They finally concluded that she had been extremely careless in the handling of her email system but no charges were to be laid against her. Hillary Clinton defended herself by saying that the use of a personal email by a Secretary of State was not new and that previous Secretary of States had done the same. But none used private email servers like she had. She had a tight control over her emails by not involving third parties such as Google.

Of course, she knew what she was doing, especially someone who has worked in and out of government for so long. She should have known better. Clearly the fact is that Mrs. Clinton is probably a control freak who knows that there are people quite willing to trip her up. What better way to protect yourself than by perfect control of your emails. But still, some object that classified emails were found. But one look at how bureaucrats use classification will convince most people that most things that are classified as secret are simply not so. Most often, emails or information are marked classified to avoid embarrassment or to protect turf or to embarrass rivals in other government agencies. In short, Mrs. Clinton did something that was outside the norm but certainly not criminal in nature, and this is what the F.B I has concluded. Case closed.

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The Tesla crash.

Well it had to happen sooner or later; a Telsa car crashed when it had its autopilot on. It seems that it did not see the white side of the tractor trailer veering left and probably confused it with the brightly lit sky. The car simply failed to apply the brakes.

The company later released a statement saying that cars controlled by the Autopilot had safely traveled 130 million miles to date. This is impressive. It seems that the driver may have been unlucky as the car went straight under the truck, shearing off the windshield of the Telsa car. Had the car impacted the truck in the front or the rear of the truck chances are that the driver would have survived. It is worth noting that Tesla calls the Autopilot software as car-assistance. The projection was that robot assisted cars would be twice as safe as when humans drive, and that was a minimum.

What is bizarre is that despite the numerous warnings that the car gives to the driver the accident still happened. If the driver does not have both hands on the wheel the car will provide visual and auditory signals and if nothing happens the car slows down automatically. And yet the crash occurred.

A lot is riding for Telsa motors as well as for the future of self-assisted cars. Was there a software glitch or did the cameras malfunction. Was the bright lit sky the culprit, fooling the sensors? Was the driver asleep at the wheel. The truck driver said that a movie was playing in the car even after the crash. Telsa denied that this occurred.

An investigation will happen and it is possible that the Autopilot system is not at fault. And yet, already Tesla motors have seen their stock go down. Investors will be watching closely the results of the inquiry. Maybe simply self-assisted cars are not as advanced as we thought.

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