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London-based Global Witness has just put out a good report on how some major international banks, including Citibank, “have been dealing with some of the world’s most corrupt regimes.” Gavin Hayman, the group’s Campaigns Director, said, “The same lax regulation that created the credit crunch has let some of the world’s biggest banks facilitate the looting of natural resource wealth from poor countries.”
Among the findings:
Barclays kept open an account for the son of the dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea
long after clear evidence emerged that his family were heavily involved in substantial
looting of state oil revenues.
A British tax haven and a Hong Kong bank helped the son of the president of
Republic of Congo, another oil-rich African country, spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars of his country’s oil revenues on designer shopping sprees.
Citigroup facilitated the funding of two vicious civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia
by enabling the warlord Charles Taylor, now on trial for war crimes in the Hague, to
loot timber revenues.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”