30 October 2017   Leave a comment

Getting reliable information about world politics is not an easy task, and the task is getting even more difficult because of propaganda easily insinuated into social media.  Facebook is going to report to the US Congress that “roughly 126 million users in the United States may have seen posts, stories or other content created by Russian government-backed trolls around Election Day”.  Google and Twitter are going to report similar false content on their pages.  Public opinion is a vitally important aspect of political decision-making, but we have apparently allowed the dissemination of propaganda to a greater extent than anyone ever could have expected.  Protecting ourselves against such propaganda needs to be an absolute priority.

 

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is reporting that carbon dioxide levels “surged at a record-breaking speed in 2016 to the highest level in 800 000 years”.  According to the report:

“Globally averaged concentrations of COreached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event. Concentrations of CO2 are now 145% of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin….The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2  was 3-5 million years ago, the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”

Despite strong growth in many renewable energies, it seems clear that the emissions of CO2 have not slowed appreciably.  Every year, it becomes more difficult to avoid a seriously difficult outcome.

 

 

One of the more interesting aspects of the indictments of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, people associated with the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, is that they were able to funnel an extraordinary amount of money through various banks in states such as Cyprus in order to avoid paying taxes.  Using shell companies in countries with very lax banking regulations is not itself illegal; using those companies to avoid paying taxes is.  But the behavior of Manafort and Gates is hardly unusual:  tax havens such as Cyprus have become well institutionalized in the global economy to the detriment of governments strapped for revenues.  According to Krishnadev Calamur in The Atlantic:

“Gabriel Zucman, the author of The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens, estimates that $7.6 trillion is stashed in tax havens around the world. That accounts for about 8 percent of the world’s personal financial wealth. This hidden money, he argues, amounts to about an additional $200 million in global tax revenue each year. But as my colleague Uri Friedman previously reported : ‘Other experts claim that the amount of private offshore wealth may be two to four times as high as Zucman’s figure of $7.6 trillion. Needless to say, measuring the size of an industry whose purpose, in part, is to obscure its size isn’t easy or precise’”.

It is very hard to understand why governments allow such easy access to tax evading opportunities other than to assume that those governments are acting specifically to help the very rich avoid paying taxes.

 

Smile Time–Happy Halloween!!!!!!

 

Posted October 30, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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