The extent of corruption in the US and UK

Economist Jeffrey Sachs argues that while the release of the Panama Papers has brought welcome attention to the existence of these off-shore tax havens, we should not forget that the roots of the problem lie much closer to home.

The tentacles of corruption reach deep into the UK (and US) financial systems. Banks in the City of London and Wall Street have paid tens of billions of dollars of fines for insider trading, financial fraud, price rigging and other financial crimes in recent years. Yet almost no leading bankers have taken a hit for their organization’s malfeasance. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the major financial firms are part of a global network of organized financial crime.
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Requiem for the Republican party and a warning for the Democrats

Immediately following the Indiana primary that saw a crushing defeat for Ted Cruz that led to him quitting the race and leaving Donald Trump as the Republican party nominee, the ever-readable Matt Taibbi looked at what this election says about the state of democracy in the US and the Republican party in particular. It is a long piece but well worth reading.
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Bernie Sanders keeps rolling on

Bernie Sanders won an easy primary victory 54.5% to 45.5% over Hillary Clinton in Oregon while the result in Kentucky is still too close to call although Clinton has a small lead 46.8% to 46.3%. Both these primaries were closed, meaning that only registered Democrats could vote in them and the conventional wisdom has been that such primaries favor Clinton since Sanders is supposedly more popular with independents. Hence his strong showing yesterday must be a source of concern to the Clinton camp.
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Choosing between two devils

The problem with running a general election campaign against Donald Trump is that he is all over the place on the issues. He has made it a practice, whether by design or inadvertently I don’t know, of either speaking in broad generalities that could mean anything or reversing his previous stands and then reversing them yet again or suggesting that nothing is fixed and everything is open to negotiation. The only thing he seems to be consistent on is his claim that he can deliver on his promises, even as the promises themselves keep changing or are unclear.
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Film review: Requiem for the American Dream (2015)

Thanks to reader Norm, I was made aware of this short (73-minute) documentary that consists essentially of Noam Chomsky giving a tutorial explaining the roots of the rapidly growing inequality in the US and the world, with a backdrop of newsreel footage and animation illustrating his points as he goes along. The way I describe it sounds boring but in reality it is intensely absorbing since Chomsky is as lucid as ever.
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Michael Ratner (1943-2016)

Anyone in the US who is concerned about human rights would likely be familiar with the name Michael Ratner who died of cancer on May 11. He was a lawyer who served as long-time president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and took an all manner of unpopular causes, such as fighting on behalf of Julian Assange and for the rights of Guantanamo detainees, where he won an important victory when the US Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in 2008 that detainees had the right to the writ of habeas corpus. There have been many obituaries about his life and work and I will quote from just two.
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