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Climate, Russia on U.S.-Nordic Summit Agenda

Posted May 13th, 2016 at 1:08 pm (UTC-4)
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Geography and the shared values of democracy and human rights shapes the agenda for Friday’s U.S.-Nordic summit at the White House.
During his welcoming remarks, President Barack Obama referred to Nordic nations’ welcoming of refugees and humanitarian aid contributions. He praised their dedication to slowing climate change. And he referred to the Nordic countries’ as reliable allies when it comes to security.
It took the president of Finland to mention the biggest security issue for the Nordic countries: Russia. They see what happened in Ukraine and are concerned that the same thing might happen to their neighbors across the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Ties between the United States and the Nordic countries go back 1,000 years, when the Vikings were Europe’s first to find the North America. And now there are about 11-million Scandinavian-Americans in the U.S. President Obama said he invited the leaders to the White House because “sometimes we have a tendency to take our best friends for granted.” They have a lot of work ahead of them.

Putin Shrugs off Panama Papers

Posted April 6th, 2016 at 12:28 pm (UTC-4)
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By Barbara Slavin The massive leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm that specialized in setting up offshore tax shelters has rattled world political leaders and claimed at least one victim. Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to step aside following a public uproar over an offshore company he created just before his country’s […]

Following the Money from ‘Panama’

Posted April 5th, 2016 at 4:32 pm (UTC-4)
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Tax shelters. Money laundering. Dodging sanctions. Shell companies. Tax havens. These are the loaded phrases associated with the findings of the so-called Panama Papers — documents that were leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca detailing how the rich and powerful park their assets to avoid scrutiny. Among those named in the year-long probe of millions of documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: 12 current or former heads of state, including Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who resigned today amid questions of a conflict of interest regarding his holdings. The documents also indicate $2-billion in transactions were secretly shuffled through banks and shadow companies by associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putting money in offshore banks is not necessarily illegal. And there are many legal tax shelters and legitimate reasons to establish a holding company in another country. But ordinary citizens become outraged when their politicians and their close associates are the ones involved.