20 March 2017   Leave a comment

The Guardian has published an article that asserts that 17 British Banks, including some of the largest in the world, have been systematically involved in money laundering schemes with Russian individuals.  The amounts could be as large as $80 billion and covered transactions that occurred between 2010 and 2014.  According to the newspaper:

“Investigators are still trying to identify some of the wealthy and politically influential Russians behind the operation, known as ‘the Global Laundromat’.

They estimate a group of about 500 people were involved. These include oligarchs, Moscow bankers, and figures working for or connected to the FSB, the successor spy agency to the KGB.”

There have been half-hearted attempts to stop the process of money laundering which simply allows the money obtained criminally to be disguised and used for non-criminal activities.  But the states of the world are quite reluctant to stop this hemorrhage of money from taxation and control.

US President Trump suggested after his meeting with German Chancellor Merkel that Germany “owed” the US large sums of money for defense.  Mr. Trump was referring to the pledge that all NATO members make to spend about 2% of their GDP on defense, indicating that Germany does not spend that percentage on its own defense.  Very few members of NATO spend that percentage on national defense, and it may be a useful activity to discuss why that situation exists.  But the Germans have repudiated the Trump charge, suggesting that the charge itself is a serious misunderstanding of how NATO works. 

The world continues to overuse fresh water resources, particularly underground aquifers.  According to the Asian Development Bank:

“Today, about 30% of the world’s liquid freshwater comes from subterranean aquifers. And one-third of the 37 largest aquifers studied by the University of California between 2003 and 2013 were severely depleted, receiving little or no replenishment from rainfall. Some of the most stressed aquifers are in the driest regions, including Asia, up to 88% of which is water-stressed.”

These aquifers are not easily replenished, and if they are exhausted, it means that millions of people who rely upon the water will lose access precipitously.  How the world will react to such a scenario is difficult to imagine:  shipping water over long distances is a very expensive and difficult process.

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Posted March 20, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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