Saturday 7th of May 2016

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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-06 22:46

The cartel was buying gold in pawn shops, sending it to Florida to be melted down and sold. The money was then sneaked it out to Mexico with fake invoices, Bloomberg reports, quoting court files.

Sinaloa, previously headed by the notorious serial prison escapee Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, managed to launder at least $98 million this way.

A Florida company, allegedly Natalie Jewelry, would keep one percent commission and send the rest of the money to companies in Mexico.

The criminals forged invoices so that they would look as if a Mexican company had sold the gold to the company in Florida, which sent the laundered money from gold sales back to Mexico.

Natalie Jewelry came under suspicion after the US authorities spotted a big flow of gold coming through Miami, in a state that produces practically no jewelry.

The jewelry company had already pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money for a different Mexican drug dealer. The company’s owner Jed Ladin was sentenced to three years in prison, while his partner Natalie Ladin was released on supervised parole. They haven’t been charged with money laundering for Sinaloa cartel yet.

“If I had a lot of money to launder, I would choose gold. There really isn’t anything else like it out there,” John Cassara, a former US Treasury special agent who wrote a book about money laundering told the media. Once melted, the gold is extremely difficult to trace.


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see toon at top.


by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-06 22:39

Eurocrats are finding it more difficult these days to blame every negative event and situation in Europe on Russia. That doesn’t stop them trying.

Recently, they’ve been hard at work linking Moscow to the – predominantly Libyan, Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi (in origin) – migrant crisis, despite the fact that Russia only intervened in one of those countries [with its blessing] and America and its NATO appendage bombed all four and invaded two [without].

Russia, and RT in particular, also have been blamed for promoting Brexit, even though a whole lot of the UK popular press (The Daily MailThe Sun and the The Daily Telegraph to name just a few) is in favor of Britain leaving the EU. Don’t forget the Panama Papers scandal either: Vladimir Putin led initial press coverage, despite not being named at all in the disclosure. At the end he still somehow ended up being the man - according to Western media accounts - behind the apparent conspiracy.

The Dutch referendum on Ukraine was another “blame Russia” event, despite exit polls making it clear that Moscow’s influence on the result was benign. Guess what they cited instead? “The EU's lack of transparency, lack of Ukrainian reform on corruption, fear of eventual EU membership for another large, poor eastern state and internal Dutch disillusion with the country’s elite.” WHOWOUDDATHUNKIT.

Now, the latest attempt to pin all the EU’s failings on Russia is a "Europe Today" TV channel. Whatever this enterprise is supposed to be, it has been proposed by Elmar Brok, the German head of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. Maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.

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See toon at top...

by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-06 22:23


“The two living Republican past presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, have no plans to endorse Trump, according to their spokesmen.” So said the lead story in the Washington Post.

Graceless, yes, but not unexpected. The Bushes have many fine qualities. Losing well, however, is not one of them. And they have to know, whether they concede it or not, that Trump’s triumph is a sweeping repudiation of Bush Republicanism by the same party that nominated them four times for the presidency.

Not only was son and brother, Jeb, humiliated and chased out of the race early, but Trump won his nomination by denouncing as rotten to the core the primary fruits of signature Bush policies.

Twelve million aliens are here illegally, said Trump, because the Bushes failed to secure America’s borders. America has run up $12 trillion in trade deficits and been displaced as the world’s first manufacturing power by China, said Trump, because of the lousy trade deals backed by Bush Republicans.

The greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, said Trump, was the Bush II decision to invade Iraq to disarm it of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. The war Bush began, says Trump, produced 5,000 American dead, scores of thousands wounded, trillions of dollars wasted, and a Middle East sunk in civil-sectarian war, chaos, and fanaticism.

That is a savage indictment of the Bush legacy. And a Republican electorate, in the largest turnout in primary history, nodded, “Amen to that, brother!” No matter who wins in November, there is no going back for the GOP.

Can anyone think the Republican Party can return to open borders or new free-trade agreements like NAFTA? Can anyone believe another U.S. Army, like the ones Bush I and Bush II sent into Afghanistan and Iraq, will be mounted up and march to remake another Middle East country in America’s image?

Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom are history.

What the Trump campaign revealed, as Republicans and even Democrats moved toward him on trade, immigration and foreign policy, is that Bush Republicanism and neoconservatism not only suffered a decisive defeat, they had a sword run right through them. They are as dead as emperor-worship in Japan.

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See toon at top...


by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-06 13:12

Treasury officials have revealed the Government's plan to cut the company tax rate to 25 per cent will cost $48.2 billion over 10 years.

The estimate from the Treasury Secretary comes after the Opposition pounced on the Coalition's refusal to outline the full cost of the proposal.

Treasury Secretary John Fraser told Senate Estimates it is not "standard practice" to release costings beyond four years, but said the 10-year company tax plan would cost tens of billions of dollars.

"The cost of these measures to 2026-27 is $48.2 billion in cash terms," Mr Fraser said.

"I note that as with all tax projections over ten years these costings have considerable uncertainty attached to them. I also note that the medium-term economic projections in the budget assume significant ongoing economic reforms."

Mr Fraser said the Treasurer Scott Morrison had authorised the release of the projection, but only after continued pressure from the Opposition.

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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-06 10:15

John Maycock follows up on his investigation into the plight of the jobless with Christian Porter taking the 'loophole baton' from Michaelia Cash to continue the attack on the unemployed. 

IT IS only a few weeks since this authordiscussed Michaelia Cash’s vexatious attacks on the unemployed — based on an article in the Daily Telegraph (DT) and the Courier Mail(CM). Both these papers were at it again (26/4), but with a different minister wielding the stick at a slightly different target.

DT‘Dole bludgers used medical loophole to avoid getting work.’

CM‘Dole loophole exploited by 70000.’(online home page)

Although it is the CM print edition that takes the cake with this front page “screamer”:

‘Revealed: The welfare rort that’s sweeping the nation. SHIRK FOR THE DOLE.’



Readers of that previous article will be aware of what was said about headlines, vexatious labelling, emotive language and such, so here is how their latest article kicks off:

MORE than 70,000 dole bludgers are exploiting a medical loophole to avoid having to get a job by claiming they are too sick to work.

An investigation by the Department of Human Services has uncovered what the Turnbull government believes is widespread rorting of the medical loophole by some dole bludgers, as well as unscrupulous GPs.

(widespread… by some… Would that be an oxymoron or such?)

If ever there was a loaded sentence that is it: investigation, uncovered, widespread rorting, medical loophole, dole bludgers, unscrupulous GPs.

It needs to be said from the outset that they are not avoiding getting a job — there are no jobs. They are being made exempt from job search requirements. Two very different things. While the exemptions are due to medical issues not to a medical loophole — though this is how the DT puts it:

‘…recipients use GP medical certificates to get around mandatory jobseeking requirements. …recipients use GP sick notes to claim they are too unwell to hold down a job. … claiming to be too unwell to seek a job… claiming an exemption through a GP’s medical certificate.’


Even when reporting the types of medical conditions they can’t help themselves:

‘…conditions that are used to avoid working include depression, anxiety, muscular-skeletal problems….’

To avoid working!

And of course there is the obligatory allusion to doctor shopping:

‘…authorities now suspect that scammers are shopping around for medical certificates.’

Consider in that previous article I showed how Michaelia Cash appeared to be misrepresenting genuine Centrelink exemptions as loopholes while “selling” it with labelling language, I had this to say:

‘…these waivers, that Cash calls "loopholes" that allow people to turn down jobs, would surely be things like travelling times, lack of transport/isolated areas, unsuitable hours due to carer responsibilities and such.’

It appears that we now have Christian Porter carrying the “loophole baton”, and this time it is the unemployed with medical issues who are being “bashed”. But not only that, it was also shown that Cash was pushing to have “tougher new penalties” passed and calling for a “crackdown” on those exploiting her so called loopholes —and now there is this:

‘Human Services Minister Christian Porter has ordered an immediate crackdown on the dole scammers — and has also threatened legislation to deal with the rorting.’

There is a pattern developing here. Any rules or regulations they want changed are described as loopholes, while those who come under the guide lines of those rules are labelled as rorters, bludgers, or such. In this case, even doctors can’t be trusted, medical certificates are meaningless, and the legislation that gives exemption on medical grounds is a loophole.

So who are these people? And how is it that they have suddenly been discovered? Perhaps it is because they have suddenly appeared! The DT does tell us this:

‘They are all welfare recipients who are deemed not to be sick enough to receive the Disability Support Pension.’

These must be either people who have been downgraded from the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or have had a DSP application declined — both instances of people who have barriers to employment but fall below the eligibility criteria now set for the DSP.  But never fear, Porter has a possible solution:

‘One option being considered is using government doctors to assess people’s fitness to find work, as was done with the Disability Support Pension.’


But hang on — if these people are “refugees” from the DSP, haven’t they already seen the so-called doctor? I doubt this, as it seems that it is not doctors who are re-assessing DSP recipients, or assessing new claimants. Mostly, people are being knocked back or off the DSP through new criteria introduced last year after the release of the McClure report. One such change is that the impairment has to be expected to last five years or more, up from two years and, in any case, it doesn’t appear to be the doctor who makes the final decision, it is the Centrelink assessors using “impairment tables” and other guidelines.

Indeed, it seems to me that government claims that people are being assessed by a government doctor are more than likely not quite true — or at the least it is certainly nowhere near to the degree implied. Consider also the probability that the assessors have been “given incentive” to be “less-charitable” in their interpretations of guidelines and tables, and that those guidelines and tables have been “tightened up” — and there is your answer: the government has shifted the goal posts.

Now there is much that could be said on this matter. The fine line between notions of disabled and the plight of the unemployable, the jobseekers versus vacancies figures and the detrimental affects that being thrown into the “unemployed hunger games” can have on people who are “less than firm”. Consider for example what disability rights activist and comedian, Stella Young, had to say:

‘Concepts such as "permanent disability" and "fitness for work" are complicated and nuanced.’

However there is something more relevant to the government’s ongoing vexatious discourse on welfare recipients going on here. The other purpose of the CM/DT article is to point out that some areas have a higher ratio of people on doctor’s certificates than others. They declare that on average:

‘…almost 8 per cent of all… payment recipients use GP medical certificates to get around mandatory jobseeking requirements.’


‘In some parts of Sydney and the Central Coast [it is] more than 50 per cent…. The Central Coast leads the nation… with 55.8 per cent…. …suburbs such as Marrickville and Balmain — came in third with 30.4 per cent….’

These areas, along with others, are the:

‘…“hotspot” suburbs and regions where authorities now suspect that scammers are shopping around for medical certificates.’

On this matter, Porter has this to say:

‘I will not accept one urban suburb has eight times more illness than another….

…it is not reasonable to accept that some regions have eight times more people that have… severe anxiety or depression….’

And here Porter is being less than honest. For starters, he is playing the common sense card. “Will not accept” it because common sense says “it is not reasonable”. Well, that is how he wants the reader to “hear” it. Not forgetting he provided an answer — they are all bludging rorting scammers, and of course common sense would also suggest such.


But that is just his “dog whistle”. His dishonesty is in claiming to not understand how such disparity could exist. To put that another way, if he doesn’t understand, he has no right to be where he is.

In fact according to research on socioeconomic status (SES) it is absolutely reasonable to expect that some areas will have higher numbers of people with issues than other areas. It is the health inequity inherent in wealth inequity and it is well known that people on the lowest SES are often forced into crowded cheaper areas — public housing, outer/less desirable suburbs and such. And the readers that Porter was appealing to should know this instinctively — if they don’t live in one of those poorer areas they certainly know about them.

Now here is the rub, Porter has to know this. According to his web site:

‘Christian holds a Bachelor of Economics, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia, as well as a Master of Science (Political Theory) from the London School of Economics.’

There is no way he can have studied across those fields and not met up with the issues inherent in SES. But this is more than just a lie by omission. He suggested that there was another reason for it by putting vulnerable people in the firing line.

So now Porter can stand proud with the rest of his peers with this one, not just for blatantly spreading dis-information and discord in the public domain in their ongoing “war on welfare” but also with his “denial” of his own understanding when singing from the LNP song book.

Indeed, it is bad enough when people who know no better are spreading un-informed notions, but when a highly educated member of parliament deliberately drives such notions, it is time to question that member’s intentions and principles!

You can follow John Maycock on Twitter @L3ftyJohn.,8953

by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-06 07:15


A Russian symphony orchestra led by Valery Gergiev has given a unique performance in ancient Palmyra, recently liberated from Islamic State militants. The concert was devoted to the victims of extremists, and intends to instill hope that peace can triumph over war and terrorism.

The symphony orchestra concert was titled “Praying for Palmyra - Music revives ancient ruins” and was performed in the Roman Theater of Palmyra, one of the few sites still largely intact after Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) captured the city. The venue served as the main site for the annual Palmyra festival prior to the terrorists’ rampage in the region.

The musical show commemorates those who fell while liberating the city from IS, and also backs the tremendous efforts needed to restore Palmyra’s ruined architectural gems, the organizers said.

The works of such composers as Sergey Prokofiev, Johann Sebastian Bach and Rodion Shchedrin were performed in the concert, during which renowned cellist Sergey Roldugin and violinist Pavel Milyukov also appeared on stage.

Gergiev was among the first to offer support to the embattled city, which was devastated by terrorists during its 10-month occupation. Palmyra was liberated by Syrian troops with Russian air support in March.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he sees the concert as a sign of remembrance for victims of extremism, and as a promise of hope for victory over terrorism worldwide. 

"I regard it [the concert] as a sign of gratitude, remembrance and hope,” he said, adding that all should be grateful to “those who fight terrorism without sparing one's own life.”

Putin called on people to remember “all victims of terror” and to “hope not just for the revival of Palmyra as cultural heritage of humanity, but for the rescue of modern civilization from this terrible menace - international terrorism.”

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But a few sour grapes from the westerners:


Such a musical message will be well received back home. For months now, Russian TV has been assuring viewers Russia's military intervention in Syria has benefited the world by taking on international terrorism.

But Western officials remain suspicious of Russia's intentions. Moscow has faced accusations that it has not done enough to rein in Syrian government forces. The Russians deny that and accuse America of not using its influence with the Syrian opposition to halt the fighting.

One of the soloists at the concert was cellist Sergei Roldugin, a friend of Putin's, who was recently named as the owner of offshore companies in the so-called Panama Papers. He denies all wrong-doing.

But US critics and others see the intervention as an effort to prop up the autocratic Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. And the Russian cultural entourage was another show of support for Assad amid mounting Western pressures to make political concessions to help end the nation’s civil war.

Hey, Assad is no more "autocratic" than the Princes of Saudi Arabia... or a US TTP or TTiP... The Saudis hang their enemies by the hand full... with the blessing of the USA. 


by Gus Leonisky on Thu, 2016-05-05 16:34


For someone who accuses Labor leader Bill Shorten of creating class warfare, Malcolm Turnbull is doing a great job of giving him ammunition.

The Prime Minister's assertion that wealthy parents like radio host Jon Faine should "shell out" to get their children into the expensive property market might have been a light-hearted aside.

But many voters will see it  as arrogant and an insult to their intelligence.

What about the parents who don't have the money to give their children a leg-up? Are those children – the housing have-nots – to be locked out of the Australian dream, and that's okay because the alternative might hurt the housing haves who can exploit the skewed tax system?

It looks that way based on the government's refusal to consider Labor's plan to limit negative gearing to new housing and reduce the capital gains tax discount. Both of those tax breaks continue to inflate house prices. They also cost money that might otherwise go to schools and hospitals.

The coalition's scare campaign claims the Labor proposal would reduce house values for existing home owners and push up rents. The Herald does not accept either argument. We do concede rapid growth in property values would slow slightly – a small price to pay for more affordable housing.

Investors have a mammoth advantage paid for by the taxpayer. What's more, the wealthy can access tax minimisation measures and family trusts to lock in their fortunes and buy property. And the tax rules that allow self-managed super funds to dabble in speculative property.

Without changes to negative gearing and CGT, the government also risks exacerbating the problem through the budget caps on tax-free superannuation for high earners. Analysts expect the wealthy to pile some of their excess savings into property, further raising pressure on prices.



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Throw Turnbull and his idiots OUT !