Regions

Books: Something Will Turn Up

Books: Something Will Turn Up, by David Smith

The Sunday Times economics editor David Smith presents a readable, informative history of the British economy since World War II.

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Great Britain was the first leading manufacturing country. Even as late as 1950, it produced 25% of the world’s manufacturing exports. It generated a trade surplus in manufactured goods that amounted to as much as 10% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Until the 1970s, the United Kingdom’s West Midlands manufacturing region maintained wage levels just slightly lower than those of the prosperous and diversified southeast region around London. That stands in marked contrast to today’s large income disparity between the regions. When the trade surplus in manufactured goods disappeared in 1982, never to return, it took many well-paid blue-collar Midlands jobs with it.

As the British Empire became the Commonwealth, its countries maintained strong trade links with the United Kingdom, underpinned by continuing preferential trade agreements. In the 1950s, the UK traded 40% of its exports and 35% of its imports with Commonwealth nations. Given the damage World War II had inflicted on mainland Europe’s economy, the captive markets of the Commonwealth gave the UK a postwar advantage. But that contributed to complacency and a lack of investment in British manufacturing; Britain took the Commonwealth markets for granted.

While Europe – and especially Germany – recovered its manufacturing capability in the postwar period, Britain’s manufacturing continued to decline. It suffered from low investment, a “failure to modernize,” inflation and poor industrial relations. High interest rates decimated the sector during the “strong pound recession” of the early 1980s. Four million manufacturing jobs disappeared between 1973 and 1983.

The volume of manufactured goods peaked in 1973 and didn’t regain those heights, in real terms, until 2010. Specialized manufacturing still matters to the United Kingdom. Japanese-owned automobile plants have returned the UK to its status as a net car producer, but other sectors of the economy have since become more important than manufacturing.

AML EU framework

5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Amendments to the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive)

​The 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which amends the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 19 June 2018. The Member States should have been transposed this Directive by 10 January 2020.

These amendments introduce substantial improvement to better equip the Union to prevent the financial system from being used for money laundering and for funding terrorist activities.

These amendments will:
– enhance transparency by setting up publicly available registers for companies, trusts and other legal arrangements;
– enhance the powers of EU Financial Intelligence Units, and provide them with access to broad information for the carrying out of their tasks;
– limit the anonymity related to virtual currencies and wallet providers, but also for pre-paid cards;
– broaden the criteria for the assessment of high-risk third countries and improve the safeguards for financial transactions to and from such countries;
– set up central bank account registries or retrieval systems in all Member States;
– improve the cooperation and enhance of information between anti-money laundering supervisors between them and between them and prudential supervisors and the European Central Bank.

 

Here you can find the factsheet on the main changes of the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive

 

Polaris project and modern human slavery

What human trafficking is…and isn’t?
Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into providing commercial sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.

Globally, there are two general categories of human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to perform commercial sex. Common types include escort services, pornography, illicit massage businesses, brothels, outdoor solicitation. Labor trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to work or provide service. Common types include agriculture, domestic work, restaurants, cleaning services, and carnivals.

Polaris project it is an American nonprofit organization that stands on global fight to eradicate modern slavery, focused mainly on US cases.

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Telling the refugee crisis with Muhammed Muheisen

Telling Their Stories – behind the lens with Muhammed Muheisen

Muhammed Muheisen is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. He has been documenting the refugee crisis around the world for over a decade and is the founder of Everyday Refugees Foundation.

As the former Associated Press Chief Photographer for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan he covered conflicts across the region as well documented major events in Europe, Asia, Africa and the U.S. He spent four years in Pakistan as AP’s Chief Photographer for the region, and for the last several years has been documenting the refugee crisis across Europe. Most recently his work has focused on the issue of stranded unaccompanied refugee minors for the National Geographic Magazine.

George Friedman despre Europa

Notițe de lectură despre strategia politică a SUA in Europa, descrise de George Friedman în “Următorul deceniu: de unde venim … și încotro ne îndreptăm” (2011): Capitolul 8-9.

Majoritatea acestor ţări[din Europa de Est] nu au fost independente până când Primul Război Mondial nu a dus la prăbuşirea imperiilor austro-ungar, rus, otoman şi german. În general, au fost împărţite, subjugate şi exploatate. În cazul Ungariei, spre exemplu, presiunea nu a fost prea mare. În alte cazuri, a fost de-a dreptul brutală. Dar toate aceste naţiuni ţin minte ocupaţia nazistă, şi apoi pe cea sovietică, iar acele ocupaţii au fost monstruoase. Este adevărat că regimul german şi cel rus de astăzi sunt diferite, dar epoca ocupaţiei este încă proaspătă în amintirea est-europenilor, iar urmările faptului de a se fi aflat în sfera de influenţă germano-rusă le-au marcat caracterul naţional. Acea amintire va continua să le modeleze comportamentul în deceniul următor.

Europa contemporană este în căutarea unei ieşiri din infern. Prima jumătate a secolului XX a fost un măcel, începând cu Verdun şi terminând cu Auschwitz. În a doua jumătate, europenii au trăit sub ameninţarea unui posibil război nuclear ruso-american, purtat pe pământ european. Epuizată de vărsarea de sânge şi de neliniştea continuă, Europa a început să-şi imagineze o lume în care toate conflictele erau de natură economică şi gestionate de birocraţii de la Bruxelles. […] În cei douăzeci de ani de după prăbuşirea Uniunii Sovietice, părea că îşi găsiseră utopia, dar acum, viitorul este mult mai puţin sigur. Privind înainte spre următorii zece ani, nu văd o întoarcere a tranşeelor şi a lagărelor de concentrare, dar întrevăd o creştere a tensiunilor geopolitice la nivel continental şi, alături de ele, rădăcinile unor conflicte mai serioase.

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Drugs smuggling on US – Mexico corridor

By Land, Sea or Catapult: How Smugglers Get Drugs Across the Border

The majority of illegal drugs enter the United States in an assortment of vehicles, with drugs hidden in secret compartments in door panels or the roof, gas tanks, tires and even engines.

Smugglers also dig cross-border tunnels, primarily to move large volumes of marijuana. While many tunnels are rudimentary, others have lighting, tracks and ventilation systems, even elevators. As of March 2016, a total of 224 tunnels were discovered on the Southwest border since 1990.

Cargo trains, tractor-trailers and passenger buses have been used to move illegal drugs. Trucks and trains carrying fresh produce such as watermelons, limes and other fruits and vegetables have been used to bring in narcotics. Drug shipments are often painted green and hidden within crates with fake watermelons or limes. Cocaine has been found in tomato crates.

More in NY Times article

Another method used by smugglers: Coast Guard Intercepting Submarine Carrying $181 Million In Drugs

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton crew seizes bales from a self-propelled semi-submersible submarine interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America, July 19, 2015. The Coast Guard recovered more than 6 tons of drugs from the 40-foot vessel.

GEORGE FRIEDMAN DESPRE ISRAEL

Notițe de lectură despre strategia politică a SUA aferentă Israelului, descrise de George Friedman în “Următorul deceniu: de unde venim … și încotro ne îndreptăm” (2011): Capitolul 6.

Statele Unite au recunoscut independenţa Israelului în 1948, dar cele două ţări nu au fost aliate în nici un sens al cuvântului. În timp ce SUA au recunoscut întotdeauna dreptul Israelului de a exista, acest lucru nu a constituit niciodată subiect cu adevărat important în politica Statelor Unite. În 1948, atunci când Israelul a devenit realitate, interesul american principal era limitarea influenţei Uniunii Sovietice, iar atenţia Americii se concentra în primul rând asupra Turciei şi a Greciei.

Problema strategică a Israelului consta în faptul că necesităţile sale de securitate naţională depăşeau întotdeauna propria bază industrială şi militară. Cu alte cuvinte, având în vedere ameninţările din partea Egiptului şi Siriei, şi posibil şi a Iordaniei, ca să nu mai vorbim despre Uniunea Sovietică, nu putea produce armele de care avea nevoie pentru a se apăra. Pentru a asigura o sursă stabilă de armament, avea nevoie de un protector străin important.

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FinCEN Issues Advisory on the Iranian Regime

FinCEN Issues Advisory on the Iranian Regime’s Illicit and Malign Activities and Attempts to Exploit the Financial System

Release: October 11, 2018

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory to help financial institutions better detect and report potentially illicit transactions related to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“This advisory lays out in great detail the extent to which the Iranian regime uses deceptive practices, including front companies, fraudulent documents, exchange houses, seemingly legitimate businesses and government officials, to generate illicit revenues and finance their malign activities. Iran’s deceptive practices have been orchestrated not only by elements of their government such as the IRGC-Qods Force, but also by Central Bank of Iran officials who were at the highest levels. Any country that allows its Central Bank to be involved in deception in support of terrorism requires the highest levels of scrutiny, particularly when the country itself is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

“Governments, financial institutions of all types around the world, and other companies need to be on high alert to the types of schemes described in this advisory. More than that, as we expect Iran to continue to attempt to engage in wide scale sanctions evasion while simultaneously using its resources to fund a broad array of malign activity, financial institutions should continue to sophisticate their compliance programs to keep these actors from exploiting them.”

For example, the Iranian regime has masked illicit transactions using senior officials of the CBI, who used their official capacity to procure hard currency and conduct transactions for the benefit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its terrorist proxy group, Lebanese Hizballah. Accordingly, financial institutions are advised to exercise appropriate due diligence when dealing with transactions involving exchange houses that may have exposure to the Iranian regime and/or designated Iranian persons, and the advisory details examples of exchange house-related schemes. Iran-related actors use front and shell companies around the world in procurement networks through which the Iranian regime has gained goods and services related to currency counterfeiting, dual-use equipment, and the commercial aviation industry.

The advisory further warns financial institutions to be on the lookout for possible evasive practices involving Iranian shipping companies. Financial institutions should also be aware of possible Iranian abuses of virtual currency and precious metals to evade sanctions and gain access to the international financial system and to conceal their nefarious actions.

More on:
www.fincen.gov/ news release
www.fincen.gov Full Advisory in pdf format

EU TERRORISM SITUATION AND TREND REPORT 2018 (TESAT)

This 2018 edition of the annual TESAT report issued by EUROPOL provides an overview of the nature and volume of terrorism that the EU faced in 2017.

“The human suffering and the threat of terrorist attacks still remains high in Europe. In 2017 European countries were again hit by terrorist attacks and there were many innocent victims of this indiscriminate violence. It therefore goes without saying that combatting terrorism remains a top priority for Europol.”

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GEORGE FRIEDMAN DESPRE GEOGRAFIA POLITICĂ ÎN ORIENTUL MIJLOCIU

Notițe de lectură despre strategia politică în regiunea Orientului Mijlociu descrise de George Friedman în “Următorul deceniu: de unde venim … și încotro ne îndreptăm” (2011): Capitolul 6.

În 1453, turcii cuceriseră Constantinopolul şi până în secolul al XVI-lea o mare parte din teritoriul care fusese odată cucerit de Alexandru cel Mare. Cea mai mare parte din Africa de Nord, Grecia şi Peninsula Balcanică, precum şi zona care se întinde de-a lungul ţărmului nordic al Mării Mediterane, s-a aflat sub control otoman din vremea lui Columb şi până în secolul XX.

Toate acestea s-au sfârşit în momentul în care otomanii, care se aliaseră cu Germania, au fost învinşi în Primul Război Mondial. Prada a ajuns în mâna învingătorilor, aceasta incluzând provincia otomană numită Siria.[…] Împărţirile ulterioare au dat naştere nu numai Siriei moderne, ci şi Libanului, Iordaniei şi Israelului.

Francezii doreau să reprezinte o influenţă în regiune încă din epoca lui Napoleon. Făcuseră, de asemenea, o promisiune să apere creştinii arabi din zonă împotriva majorităţii musulmane a populaţiei. […] în anii 1920, când francezii au ajuns în sfârşit să deţină controlul, au transformat regiunea predominant maronită (creştină) a Siriei într-o ţară separată, denumind-o după elementul topografic dominant, munţii Liban. Ca stat, Libanul nu avea nici o realitate anterioară. Singura trăsătură care unea populaţia era o anumită afinitate faţă de Franţa.

Zona britanică din sud a fost împărţită în mod similar prin nişte linii arbitrare[în funcție de interesele și promisiunile britanicilor]… După ce britanicii s-au retras în 1948, Transiordania a devenit Iordania de astăzi, o ţară care, precum Libanul şi Arabia Saudită, nu a existat înainte

Nici una dintre aceste frânturi nu era o naţiune, în sensul deţinerii unei istorii sau identităţi comune, cu excepţia Siriei, care îşi revendica o descendenţă ajungând până în remurile biblice. Libanul, Iordania şi Palestina erau invenţii franceze şi britanice, menite să le aducă avantaje politice. Istoria naţională nu ajungea decât până la domnul Sykes şi domnul Picot şi la câteva înşelătorii britanice în Arabia.

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