downloadThe leak of the so-called Panama Papers has certainly set the cat of popular disgust among the pigeons of the super-wealthy global elite.  But, of course, pigeons can fly away.

The Panama papers contain 11.5 million confidential documents that provide detailed information about more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, including the identities of shareholders and directors of the companies.

An anonymous source using the pseudonym “John Doe” made the documents available in batches to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung beginning in early 2015. The information documents transactions as far back as the 1970s and eventually totalled 2.6 terabytes of data.  Given the scale of the leak, the newspaper enlisted the help of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which distributed the documents for investigation and analysis to some 400 journalists at 107 media organizations in 76 countries.

downloadLaw firms generally play a central role in offshore financial operations. Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm whose work product was leaked in the Panama papers affair, is one of the biggest in the business. Its services to its clients include incorporating and operating shell companies in friendly jurisdictions on their behalf.] They can include creating complex ‘shell company’ structures that, while legal, also allow the firm’s clients to operate behind an often impenetrable wall of secrecy. The leaked papers detail some of their intricate, multi-level and multi-national corporate structures.  Mossack Fonseca has acted on behalf of more than 300,000 companies, most of them registered in financial centers which are British Overseas Territories.  The firm works with the world’s biggest financial institutions, including Deutsche BankHSBCSociété GénéraleCredit SuisseUBSCommerzbank and Nordea.

The documents show how Read the rest of this entry »

downloadClann éirígí members in Dunedin have organised an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rebellion in Ireland.

The event is going to be held on Sunday April 24.  This particular Sunday is when the rebellion was supposed to start – it was Sunday, April 23 in 1916 – while the 24th of April (which was the Monday in 1916) is when it actually began.

The event will include showing newsreel footage of the period leading up to the Rising as well as parts of the Rising itself and its immediate aftermath.

There will also be two talks.

Philip Ferguson will speak about the road to the Rising and Colin Clarke will speak about the Rising in the context of other revolts in Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The event will start at 2pm and end about 5.30pm.  It is being held in the Otago Room of the Clubs and Societies building at 84, Albany Street.

 

NELSON EASTER RISING 1916 COMMEMORATION

Invitation/Cuirdeach. . . . Céad Míle Fáilte

What?   A gathering to mark the centenary of the proclamation of the Irish Republic on April 24, 1916, during the Easter Rising. It will include some historical  background, the declaration of the Republic, a roll of honour, some songs and poetry.

Why? To honour those who took part in this pivotal blow for Irish independence, all those who paved the way and those who followed, and to honour our own  Irish ancestors including those whose journeys from their native land ensured for many of us the gift of life in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

When? from 6.30pm, Sunday, April 24.

Where? Parish Centre, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, William St, Richmond

Who? Yourself and anyone else you think supports the kaupapa.

Food and drink? Please bring a plate (with something on it!) and some drink.

downloadby Jenny Farrell

William Shakespeare died four hundred years ago this month, on 23 April 1616. There is hardly a country or a language in the world that is not familiar at least with his name. Shakespeare’s poetry has had an impact on the English language like no other.

How can this enduring and encompassing popularity be explained? Has Shakespeare anything to say about the times we live in?

Hamlet is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, of Shakespeare’s plays. Yet one scene in it is hardly ever fully played out, and when it is it is considered a piece of comic relief: the gravedigger scene at the beginning of the tragedy’s final act. A closer look at this scene reveals much of what Shakespeare is about and what he has to offer a 21st-century audience.

Act 5 opens with the first appearance of working people as independently acting persons on the world stage. They are two gravediggers discussing corruption in society, their own worth, and the equality of all humankind. The significance of this can hardly be overestimated.

The scene begins with the gravediggers, entirely on their own and completely self-sufficient, chatting and commenting on social Read the rest of this entry »

This article originally appeared on Redline in August 2103 (thus, for instance, the June referred to in the intro top is June 2013).  We’re running it again because it gives a good account of how, far from being an aberration, tax havens are integral to the operations of capital(ism) today:

Back in June, an article in the NZ Herald by Anna Leask and Jared Savage noted, “Many Kiwis with assets of more than $50m declared income of less than $70,000 in their tax returns”.  Furthermore, they reported, “Two-thirds of New Zealand’s richest people are not paying the top personal tax rate, with increasingly complex overseas schemes and bank accounts being used to evade the taxman.”  An extraordinary 6,800 tax-planning devices, including tax havens, were used by these super-rich to avoid tax.  In terms of what capitalists internationally are keeping away from the eyes of tax departments, University of Auckland tax specialist Michael Littlewood told the Herald that as much as $NZ36 trillion could be hiding in tax havens around the world.  The article below, from the US Marxist group Spark, looks at the rise and function of tax havens and how they are a natural product of capitalism.

20120723tax-havensWhen he finally admitted to having secretly stashed away a nest egg in a Swiss bank account, France’s former Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac put the question of tax havens onto the international stage. The same man who tried to make French workers buy into the government’s austerity policies, citing the “absolute necessity” to balance the state’s budget, had found a way of escaping the scrutiny of his own services. The taxman was also a tax cheat. His blatant cynicism was shocking to be sure, but it came as no surprise. In France, as in the U.S. and every other capitalist country, paying little tax or even no tax at all on the return on capital is one of the favourite sports of bourgeois people, big or small.

There is no shortage of choices for capital owners who want to avoid paying taxes. They do not have to set up complicated and risky plans to do so. A genuine army of lawyers and bankers have specialized in “wealth management” and know all about the better schemes: profitable non-taxable investments, “offshore” investments in fictitious companies that don’t manufacture anything, etc. A lot of wealth managing companies are based on islands in the middle of the Pacific (or Atlantic) ocean, in spots where their bourgeois clients will probably never go, and won’t need to go, since all transactions are mere entries into the company’s accounting records.

imagesHowever, the impact of tax havens on the global economy is far from being limited to their role as a safe where the wealthy can stash part of their fortune. The whole capitalist system is involved and deals with them. The really wealthy send millions of dollars or euros to Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), and so on. But so does every multinational conglomerate and every world-class bank. They all make use of these zones where no state worthy of the name intervenes. They use these “zones” to escape the taxman, but also to shrug off the limitations – however small they may be – imposed on financial transactions in the big capitalist centres. In the mid-1990s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a rare booklet, in which it acknowledged the fact that half the international financial flows went through tax havens. And the situation is said to be similar today, if not worse.

The Cayman Islands being mere dots on the map, they don’t owe their status as a global financial hub to their “state” power. Their status is simply based on the Read the rest of this entry »

by The Spark

A lot of politicians running for president this year, especially Trump and Sanders, have made an issue about trade agreements and free trade, saying that this is the reason why there are not enough jobs. Yes, it is true that corporations will move some jobs to wherever they can get the work done more cheaply, sometimes to other countries, or other states. But this is only a small part of the problem.

When politicians tell people that the reason for lack of jobs and low wages is trade agreements, they are not telling the truth. They are covering up for the corporate bosses who are cutting wages and moving work right here inside the country. The auto industry is the perfect example of this. Today, the auto companies are building as many cars and trucks in the U.S. as they were 25 years ago, but with less than half the numbers of workers. Where did all the jobs go? A lot of them were eliminated through speed up. Every year the companies balance out jobs and add this work on the remaining workers. Today every autoworker does twice as much work as Read the rest of this entry »

warehouse 4 aprilby Ryan Stanton

I work at a large distribution warehouse in Melbourne’s west. Every day a tug of war plays out over how we spend our time. The bosses want everything done at breakneck speed, with little regard for our health or well-being. They make work – especially the physical, repetitive work of modern warehouses – into a monotonous, alienating experience.

But, like many other workplaces, in the last hour before knock-off, the shop floor is notably less frenetic than the rest of the time. By then, it is the bathrooms that are a hotbed of activity. We congregate to exchange gossip, compare plans for the weekend and discuss the footy.

It’s our way of getting some of that time back and ensuring we get a little rest. We’ve all been there: sneaking in that extra toilet break, checking Facebook in some secret corner and slowing right down for the last hour or two of work.

Just as the bosses hate it, we see every second that we aren’t working as a small win.

Of course, all of this is completely unacceptable to management. In a warehouse, advanced voice-picking technology tracks our Read the rest of this entry »

by Don Franks

From where most ordinary mortals stand, the United Nations is as far off as the halls of heaven, as far off and similar in other ways.VetoUN

Like heaven, the UN is an important high place, said to affect us somehow for good, in ways we only vaguely understand. The UN has angels called Peace Keepers, they flit about the earth to carry out the good Lord’s will. Once in a while we see fleeting media images of wise leaders in well-cut cloth taking counsel. They pass solemn resolutions, dispatch more angels. Like heaven, the UN has been going on seemingly forever, would we not be lost without it?

We cannot examine heaven, we can soberly look at the United Nations. This human made creation is a permanently uneasy association of the world’s top imperialist states. Permanently uneasy because of these states’ conflicting predatory interests.
UN forces are deployed by the Security Council. The leaders of five rival nuclear powers: USA, France, China, Russia,and the UK. Each of these states has the power of veto, a power accurately reflecting the conflicting tensions between them.

The democratic showcase of the UN is the General Assembly. In this assembly all recognised nations get one vote. Some resolutions have passed in the General Assembly against the wishes of the US and other major powers. One example of this is resolutions against the US blockade of Cuba. Since 1993, many UN resolutions have condemned the US embargo. These in no way prevented the US from continuing the blockade for as long as it wished to. Read the rest of this entry »