Month: April 2015

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun Endorses 2 Rival Parties in UK Vote

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid Sun has spoken, urging voters to back David Cameron’s Conservative Party in Britain’s election — unless they’re in Scotland. There, it says, they should vote for the Scottish National Party.

The differing endorsements raised a few eyebrows Thursday, since the London-based Sun dubbed the pro-Scottish independence nationalists “saboteurs” determined to wreck Britain.

But the Scottish edition — which has a separate editor — said the SNP would “fight harder for Scotland’s interests” and praised leader Nicola Sturgeon as “a phenomenon.” Its front page depicted her as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”

The SNP is predicted to win most of Scotland’s seats on May 7.

Murdoch’s newspapers were long a powerful force in British politics, but their influence may be waning in the Internet age.

Experts Warn of “Cataclysmic” Changes as Planetary Temperatures Rise :By Dahr Jamail, Truthout

Two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded in Antarctica, providing an ominous sign of accelerating ACD as one of the readings came in at just over 63 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: Iceberg via Shutterstock)

Two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded in Antarctica, providing an ominous sign of accelerating climate change as one of the readings came in at just more than 63 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: Iceberg via Shutterstock)

This month’s anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) dispatch begins with the fact that recently released National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that this March was, by far, the hottest planetary March ever recorded, and the hottest January to March period on record as well.

We are watching unprecedented melting of glaciers across the planet, increasingly high temperature records and epic-level droughts that are now becoming the new normal: Planetary distress signals are increasing in volume.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

One of these took place recently in Antarctica, of all places, where two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded, providing an ominous sign of accelerating ACD as one of the readings came in at just over 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re going to be out of water.”

A fascinating recent report shows that approximately 12 million people living in coastal areas will be displaced during the next 85 years, with areas along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States seeing some of the most dramatic impacts.

Climate Disruption Dispatches

In the US, another report shows that the Navajo Nation is literally dying of thirst, with one of the nation’s leaders flatly sounding the alarm by stating, “We’re going to be out of water.”

A study just published in Geophysical Research Letters bolsters the case that a period of much faster ACD is imminent, if it hasn’t already begun.

On that note, leading climate researchers recently said there is a possibility that the world will see a 6-degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100, which would lead to “cataclysmic changes” and “unimaginable consequences for human civilization.”

With these developments in mind, let us take a look at recent developments across the planet since the last dispatch.

Earth

Signs of ACD’s impact across this sector of the planet are once again plentiful, and the fact that the Amazon is suffering is always a very loud alarm buzzer, given that every year the world’s largest rainforest cycles through 18 billion tons of carbon when its 6 million square kilometers of trees breathe in carbon dioxide and then release it back into the atmosphere when they die. This is twice the amount of carbon that fossil fuel burning emits in an entire year. A recent report shows that while the Amazon is continuing to absorb more carbon than it is releasing, a tipping point is coming, and likely soon, as deforestation, drought and fires there continue to remove precious trees at a frightful rate. With 1.5 acres of rainforest lost every single second, somewhere around the world, the situation in the Amazon does not bode well for our future.

In the United States, in Harvard Forest, located 70 miles west of the university’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hemlock trees are dying at an alarming rate. Harvard Forest is a case study, as it is part of a network of 60 forests around the world called the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatories, where they are being studied for their response to ACD and other anthropogenic issues. Kristina Anderson-Teixeira, an ecologist with the network, said its forests are “being impacted by a number of different global change factors. We do expect more of this, be it pests or pathogens or droughts or heat waves or thawing permafrost.”

Another report from April revealed that Russia has been losing an amount of forest the size of Switzerland (16,600 square miles of tree cover) every year, for three years running.

Without ice in the summer, polar bears will starve and die off.

Terrestrial animals continue to struggle to survive in many areas. It should come as no surprise that in the Arctic, a recent study shows that the theory that polar bears will be able to adapt to ice-free seas in the summer by eating on land has been debunked. Without ice in the summer, polar bears will starve and die off.

Another study shows that ACD is threatening mountain goats, due to the warming that is occurring even at the higher elevations where the goats live, as the rate of warming there is two to three times faster than the rest of the planet. According to the study, due to the warming, the goats’ future is now uncertain.

In California, sea lion strandings have already reached more than 2,250 for this year alone, which is a record. The worsening phenomenon is being blamed on warming seas that are disrupting the food supply of marine mammals.

Across the United States, hunters are seeing their traditions being changed by ACD. “I could point you to a million different forums online where hunters are complaining about the season and how hunting is terrible,” said one hunter in a recent report. “At the end of the day, it’s changing weather patterns. Winters around here are not as cold as they used to be.”

A March report from a researcher in Rhode Island showed that the growth and molting rates of juvenile lobsters are decreasing “significantly” due to oceans becoming increasingly acidic from ACD. This makes the animals more vulnerable to predations, thus leading to fewer adult lobsters and an overall rapidly declining population.

Air

There have been a few major developments recently in this sector of our analysis.

Interestingly, some of the more commonly used anesthetics are apparently accumulating in the planet’s atmosphere, thus contributing to warming of the climate, according to a report in April. It is a small amount, mind you, but the volume is increasing.

US greenhouse gas pollution increased 2 percent over the previous year in 2013.

Bad news on the mitigation front comes in the form of a study that revealed that ongoing urban sprawl and auto exhaust is hampering cities’ best efforts toward lowering carbon dioxide emissions. If people continue to drive as much as they are, and development continues apace, the push to build more dense housing, better transit systems and more bike lanes in urban centers will be for naught.

Speaking of lack of mitigation, the US Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that US greenhouse gas pollution increased 2 percent over the previous year in 2013.

Drought plagued California gets more bad news in this sector, as recently released data shows that the state continues to have its warmest year ever recorded, with statewide temperatures coming in nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous record, which was set in 2014. The state is quite literally baking.

Another study showed that the frozen soil (permafrost) of the planets’ northern polar regions that holds billions of tons of organic carbon is melting and that melting is being sped up by ACD, hence releasing even more carbon into our already carbon dioxide-supersaturated atmosphere.

Lastly in this section, those who believe in technological fixes for our predicament received some bad news in April, which came in the form of a report that shows that any attempts to geoengineer the climate are likely to result in “different” climate disruption, rather than an elimination of the problem. The most popular proposed idea of solar radiation management that would utilize stratospheric sulfate aerosols to dim the sun has been proven to be, well, destructive. Using a variety of climate models, Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, has investigated the likely consequences of such geoengineering on agriculture across the globe.

According to a report on the matter:

His research showed that while dimming could rapidly decrease global temperatures, high carbon dioxide levels would be expected to persist, and it is the balance between temperature, carbon dioxide, and sunlight that affects plant growth and agriculture. Exploring the regional effects, he finds that a stratospherically dimmed world would show increased plant productivity in the tropics, but lessened plant growth across the northerly latitudes of America, Europe and Asia. It is easy to see how there might be geopolitical shifts associated with changes in regional food production across the globe. “It’s probably the poor tropics that stand to benefit and the rich north that stands to lose,” said Prof Caldeira.

Hence, given that the results would be detrimental to the “rich north,” which by far and away has pumped more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the “poor tropics,” the results of geoengineering would indeed be karmic.

Water

In the United States, California’s epic drought continues to lead in the water sector of analysis.

For the first time in California’s history, mandatory water use reductions have been imposed on residents after a winter of record-low snowfalls, and hence a record-low snowpack. “People should realize we are in a new era,” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a news conference there in April, standing on a patch of brown and green grass that would normally be thick with snow that time of year. “The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

Climate scientists also recently announced, disconcertingly, that California’s record-breaking drought is merely a preview of future ACD-generated megadroughts.

Shortly after Brown announced the mandatory water restrictions for his state, another study was released showing that California will also be facing more extreme heat waves, along with rising seas, caused by increasingly intense impacts from ACD. According to the study, the average number of days with temperatures reaching 95 degrees will double or even triple by the end of this century. Simultaneously, at least $19 billion worth of coastal property will literally disappear as sea levels continue to rise.

Experts also announced in April that in “drought-era” California, “every day” should now be considered “fire season.” NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert said of California, “We are in an incendiary situation.”

California’s state climatologist, Michael Anderson, issued a very stark warning in April when he said the state faces dust bowl-like conditions, as he compared the water crisis in California to the legendary US dustbowl. “You’re looking on numbers that are right on par with what was the Dust Bowl,” he said.

Forty out of the 50 US states will face a water shortage within the next 10 years.

As aforementioned, this year’s dry, warm winter has left the entire western United States snowpack at record-low levels. Given that this is a critical source of fresh surface water for the entire region, this will only exacerbate the already critical water shortages that are plaguing the region.

One ramification of this is exampled by how the once-powerful Rio Grande River has been reduced to a mere trickle still hundreds of miles from its destination at the end of its 1,900-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico, thanks to the increasing impacts of ACD. Farmers and residents who rely on it for water are in deep trouble.

And it’s not just California and the US Southwest that are dealing with major water shortages. The Government Accountability Office recently released a report showing that 40 out of the 50 US states will face a water shortage within the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, up in Alaska, that state’s iconic Iditarod sled dog race has been reduced to having mushers have their dogs drag their sleds across large swaths of mud that spanned over 100 miles in some areas, due to warmer temperatures there melting snow and ice that used to cover the course. “I love the challenge, being able to overcome anything on the trail,” said four-time winner Martin Buser of the new conditions. “But if this is a new normal, I’m not sure I can sustain it.”

In this writer’s backyard, glaciers are melting away at dramatic rates in Olympic National Park. Pictures tell the story, which was also addressed in detail recently at a talk given at the park by University of Washington research professor Michelle Koutnik, who was part of a team monitoring the park’s Blue Glacier. By way of example, an entire section of the lower Blue Glacier that existed in 1989 was completely gone by 2008, and melt rates are increasing. A sobering “before and after” look at the photographic evidence should not be missed.

A recent study gave another grim report on glaciers, this one focusing on Canada where glaciers in British Columbia and Alberta are projected to shrink by at least 70 percent by the end of this century, and of course ACD was noted as the main driving force behind the change. “Most of that is going to go,” one of the researchers said of Canada’s glaciers. “And most seems to be on its way out.”

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that as the Arctic Ocean warms and loses its sea ice cover, phytoplankton populations will explode. This creates another positive feedback loop for ACD, as it further amplifies warming in a region that is already heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

On the other end of the water spectrum, rising seas continue to afflict Venice, where the city is seeing dramatic changes. According to a recent report: “In the 1920s, there were about 400 incidents of acqua alta, or high water, when the right mix of tides and winds drives the liquid streets up into homes and shops in the lowers parts of the city. By the 1990s, there were 2,400 incidents – and new records are set every year.”

Fire

An April report shows that ACD is predicted to bring more fires and less snow to the iconic Yellowstone National Park. These changes will likely fuel catastrophic wildfires, cause declines in mountain snows and threaten the survival of animals and plants, according to the scientists who authored the report. It shows that expected warming over the US West over the next three decades will transform the land in and around Yellowstone from a wetter, mostly forested Rocky Mountain ecosystem into a more open landscape, more akin to the arid US Southwest.

“Ecological Implications of Climate Change on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” compiled by more than 20 university and government scientists, said that such dry conditions in that area have not been seen for the last 10,000 years, and extremely destructive wildfires like the one in 1988 that burned thousands of acres of the park are going to become more common, while years without major fires will become rare.

Denial and Reality

The climate disruption deniers have been barking loudly over the last month, which should be expected as irrefutable evidence of ACD continues in an avalanche.

Following Florida’s lead, Wisconsin officially became the next state to censor its employees’ work regarding climate disruption. Wisconsin has banned its employees from working on ACD, after Florida banned the use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

Perhaps this is what played a role in inspiring acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to proclaim that politicians denying science is “the beginning of the end of an informed democracy.”

Facing a loss of high-profile corporate sponsors, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), now tired of being accused of ACD denial, has threatened action against activist groups that accuse it of denying ACD. This “action” could come in the form of lawsuits.

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released very interesting county-by-county maps of the United States, which show the various levels of ACD denial across the country and are worth examining.

Over the last four years, extreme weather events in the US caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses.

Not to be outdone by fellow Republican ACD-denying presidential candidates, Marco Rubio voluntarily donned the dunce cap by stating that scientists have not determined what percentage of ACD is due to human activities compared to natural climate variability, and added brilliantly, “climate is always changing.”

This year has seen us cross yet another milestone in the Arctic – this one being that sea ice covering the top of the world reached the lowest maximum extent yet observed during the winter. This means, ominously, that in just the last four years Arctic sea ice has seen a new low both for its seasonal winter peak (2015) and for its summer minimum (2012). While most sane people would see this as a gut-wrenching fact to have to process emotionally, Robert Molnar, the CEO of the Sailing the Arctic Race, is busily planning an “extreme yacht race” for the summer and fall of 2017 there. “The more ice that’s being melted, the more free water is there for us to be sailing,” he said.

In stark contrast, US Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting the Arctic amid concerns over the melting ice, and some of the mainstream media, in this case The Washington Post, are running op-eds claiming that ACD deniers are actually now in retreat due to their own outlandish comments.

In a historic move, even oil giant BP’s shareholders voted overwhelmingly to support a resolution that would force the company to disclose some of its ACD-related risks.

Also on the reality front, recently released analysis shows that densely populated Asian islands and countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines are likely to face even more intense climatic events in the future.

Another report, this one titled “An Era of Extreme Weather” by the Center for American Progress, shows that major weather events across the United States in 2014 cost an estimated $19 billion and caused at least 65 human fatalities. The report also shows that over the last four years, extreme weather events in the US caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses spanning 44 states.

US President Barack Obama formally submitted to the UN a commitment to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Critics believe this is far too little, too late, but at least it is a move in the right direction.

In an interesting twist of fate, while many Florida Republican lawmakers are busily denying ACD, other Florida Republicans are busy working to protect their state’s coastal areas from rising seas resulting from advancing ACD.

Lastly in this month’s dispatch, a recently published study shows that acidic oceans helped fuel the largest mass extinction event in the history of the planet, which wiped out approximately 90 percent of all life on earth.

The carbon released that was one of the primary drivers of that extinction event was found to have been released at a similar rate to modern emissions. Dr. Matthew Clarkson, one of the authors of the study, commented: “Scientists have long suspected that an ocean acidification event occurred during the greatest mass extinction of all time, but direct evidence has been lacking until now. This is a worrying finding, considering that we can already see an increase in ocean acidity today that is the result of human carbon emissions.”

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Fox Personalities Blame Obama For Baltimore Violence Lou Dobbs: “There Is A War On Law Enforcement … Condoned By This Administration”

http://mediamatters.org/embed/static/clips/2015/04/27/39736/fbn-20150427-loudobbsblamesobamawaroncops

http://mediamatters.org/embed/static/clips/2015/04/27/39737/fbn-dobbs-20150427-obamatoblame

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Fox News contributor Keith Ablow blamed President Obama and his administration for violence in the wake of the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, who died a week after suffering an unexplained injury while in the custody of Baltimore police officers.

On April 19, 25-year-old Freddie Gray died of a reported spinal cord injury that he mysteriously suffered after being arrested on April 12 by police officers. After Gray’s funeral on April 27, the governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency in Baltimore and activated the National Guard to respond to violence and looting in the city that resulted in injury to at least 15 police officers.

On the April 27 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox host Lou Dobbs responded to the events by blaming the violence against the police on Obama, asserting that “there is a war on law enforcement” that is being “corroborated if not condoned by this administration.”

Later during the show, Dobbs invited Fox contributor Keith Ablow to comment, and he also blamed Obama for the violence, adding that people who want to tear down the system like the people in Baltimore “might be taking [their] cues from this president” (emphasis added):

DOBBS: I’d like to begin with what drives, in your judgment, a police department and a mayor, who basically have given a free pass to those who are tearing up property, and injuring others, including law enforcement?

ABLOW: What drives them is a lack of respect for the foundation of governing and foundation of law upon which this nation rests. Contempt for such things and a kind of tacit acceptance, that protests can be violent because people are so frustrated. But the bottom line Lou, is that if you want to change things, you work within the system, that is the way it has always been. If you want to tear down the system, you might be taking your cues, by the way, from a president who has given the appearance that there is every justification for any level of anger at our country because we’re such despicable people.

While reporting on the protests earlier in the day, Fox News’ Shep Smith urged his colleagues to report on the protests objectively by “for now, just covering what happens,” instead of indicting the community

Conservative Newsmax Points Out Murdoch Corps’ Role In Clinton Cash Push: When even Conservatives disagree

Christopher Ruddy

Newsmax’s Christopher Ruddy detailed the entanglements between several media properties owned by Rupert Murdoch that are promoting the upcoming book Clinton Cash from conservative activist Peter Schweizer.

In an April 27 column headlined “In Defense of the Clinton Foundation,” Newsmax CEO and editor Christopher Ruddy — who is himself a donor to the Foundation — discussed the allegations made against the charity in Clinton Cash, which were recently hyped in a Fox News special. He writes that the claims in the book, which suggests the Clintons used donations to influence foreign policy, are “unsubstantiated, unconnected, and baseless,” and tells journalists to “follow the money” when discussing the book itself, warning that “where there’s smear, there’s not always fact.”

Ruddy notes, “The sister companies of News Corp and 21st Century Fox own HarperCollins, which published Peter Schweizer’s book; they own The Wall Street Journal, which first raised the issue of the foreign donations; they own the New York Post, which broke the details about the Schweizer book; and they own Fox News, which gave the story oxygen and legs.”

He adds, “With so much media mojo from one company, there is no doubt they will be doing some pretty good ‘cashing in’ from the many millions of dollars their new best-seller will generate.”

Both News Corp and 21st Century Fox are run by Rupert Murdoch.

Schweizer has a long history of errors and retractions, and the stories released from Clinton Cash fail to implicate former Secretary Clinton, President Clinton, or the Foundation in any wrongdoing. However, Murdoch properties have still promoted its claims.

Newsmax is a conservative publication, which has gone after the Clintons and other Democrats and progressives for years. But in the course of writing about the Clinton Cash allegations, Ruddy explains that he doesn’t want to go back to the 1990s, “when one allegation led to a daisy-chain effect, and the GOP ended up looking bad as the Democrats kept winning.”

Will Scott Walker Be the First President of the “Koch Brothers States of America?”

2015.23.4 BF Berkowitz

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The Koch Brothers, who have pledged to spend at least $100 billion dollars between now and the 2016 elections, first appeared to be building the Good Ship Scott Walker, and now … that may not be putting away their construction gear. At a recent fundraiser for the New York State Republican Party, David Koch told donors that he and his brother were thinking that the Wisconsin’s Governor could be a winning candidate. “We will support whoever the candidate is,” David Koch said, “but it should be Scott Walker,” according to an account in The New York Times.

While Koch fell short of a full-throated endorsement of Walker, several attendees at the fundraiser told The New York Times that the billionaire brothers seemed to have picked their man. “Scott Walker is terrific and I really wish him all the best,” Koch said. “He’s a tremendous candidate to be the nominee in my opinion.” He later added that he wasn’t “endorsing or supporting any candidate for president at this point in time.”

A day later, Charles Koch moonwalked his brother’s remarks, telling USA Today that there were four other candidates the brothers were paying close attention to: former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida. “Those are the ones we have talked to the most and who seem to be the possible leaders,” he said.

Keep independent media strong and help debunk the myths spread by corporate media! Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and BuzzFlash now.

“What we’ve told them all is that right now, we’re not supporting anyone,” Koch said. “We’re telling them that if they want our support, one way to get it is articulating a good message to help Americans get a better understanding and a better appreciation of how certain policies … will benefit them and will benefit all America.”

What seemed like a stunning and significant development for Team Walker, now appears to have been a bit premature.

If Walker does get the full financial backing of the Koch brothers, it will not be the first time. According to the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), Walker has received “at least $11.6 million in support for Walker from the Kochs and their affiliated groups, plus millions more in indirect funding.”

In February 2011, Lisa Graves, the executive director of CMD, reported that the Koch Brothers had found their man in Wisconsin and that man was Scott Walker.

Brendan Fischer recently reported at PR Watch (a CMD project), that “In his first months after taking office, Walker — a star alumnus of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — signed 19 ALEC bills into law, which went after unions, enacted voter ID restrictions, and made it harder to hold corporations accountable in the courts. In many ways, the new pat-on-the-back by two of the biggest moneymen in the game is an astonishing affirmation of deep ties forged years ago at ALEC.

Walker agenda demonstrations by thousands at the Wisconsin state house and ultimately resulted in a 2012 recall election. According to Fischer, the Koch Brothers “came to his rescue.”

“During the 2012 recall elections, David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity spent $10 million supporting Walker, which included at least 70 paid staffers flown into Wisconsin, plus bus tours, rallies, town hall meetings, phone banks, and canvassers, not to mention the months of TV ads.”

As if that spending wasn’t enough, Fischer reported that “A mysterious group called ‘Coalition for American Values’ poured $400,000 into a barrage of last-minute ads that made a unique appeal: instead of promoting Governor Scott Walker or attacking his opponent, the ads attacked the premise of the recall itself.”

To the surprise of many, Walker prevailed. “CMD discovered that all of Coalition for American Values’ known contributions came the Koch-tied Freedom Partners.”

“We’re helping him, as we should. We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years,” David Koch told the Palm Beach Post in early 2012. “We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more . . . What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He’s an impressive guy and he’s very courageous.”

“The Kochs have been on a kick to portray themselves as socially liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-immigration, and pro-criminal justice reform,” Brendan Fischer, General Counsel for The Center on Media and Democracy told me in an email. However, “their support for Walker is further proof that they are more than willing to bankroll elected officials who actively oppose all of those issues as long as the politicians cut taxes and deregulate.”

At this point, however, it remains to be seen if Walker will be the Koch Brothers’ love child. If he is, despite his gaffes, his unwillingness to directly answer questions from the press, his relative unpopularity at home, and most recently, his ridiculously awkward statements about legal immigration, he will be back in the Koch’s financial catbird seat. If he can’t get the love, he won’t get the money. And that will spell the end of Walker’s dream of leaving Madison.

BHP unpaid tax bill may exceed $522m: Murdoch Media’s Terry McCrann opinion is not to chase this tax??

BHP Billiton's half year results in Melbourne

BHP Billiton has been hit with a $522 million tax bill that could rise well beyond that over the use of its Singapore office to shift profits.

THE mining giant, Australia’s largest taxpayer and company by market value, has vowed to contest the Tax Office’s bill even though investigations into the alleged use of BHP’s Singapore marketing hub are continuing.

The Tax Office has completed a look at the early years of the hub’s operations but is still auditing BHP’s profits over the past six years, which included record earnings between 2011 and 2013 as the iron ore price soared. The bill so far includes $221 million in interest and penalties for tax avoidance. It also emerged on Monday that while BHP did pay Australia taxes on profits out of its Singapore marketing hub, it was at roughly half the Australian corporate tax rate of 30 per cent. The revelations came when BHP responded to questions from a Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance – made under threat of being in contempt after not answering for “commercial sensitivity” reasons at a public hearing. The ATO has accused BHP and other miners of misusing transfer pricing – selling commodities such as iron ore to its own companies at a low price – to shift profits to low tax havens, costing Australia billions in revenue. BHP’s profits in its Singapore marketing hub were $US5.7 billion between 2006 and 2014. It paid $A945 million tax in Australia on that amount and $US121,000 in Singapore – the latter tax rate effectively zero. The ATO’s dispute with BHP also relates to the Singapore hub being 58 per cent owned by BHP in Australia and 42 per cent by its UK listing, with the latter paying no Australian tax. Rival miner Rio Tinto paid more than $100 million to settle a tax bill related to its Singapore hub, tax commissioner Chris Jordan revealed at the inquiry last week. BHP defended its use of transfer pricing, saying it believed its actions were proper, commodity sales to the Singapore hub were at arms length and within OECD principles. It said the Singapore government had given BHP a tax incentive for its contribution to that country’s commodities sector, with Asia representing 65 per cent of its sales. Australia needed other countries to cooperate to make it easier to stop the flow of funds to low-tax jurisdictions, Deakin University lecturer and tax specialist Dr Adrian Raftery said. But countries such as Ireland and Singapore were prepared to lose on tax revenue but benefit economically in terms of employment and infrastructure. “A systematic approach has got to occur, leadership has got to come from other big nations, the US and UK,” he told AAP. BHP also revealed that it spent $8.5 million on the 2010 media campaign opposing the Rudd Government’s mining tax. It did not disclose to the Australian Electoral Commission at the time that it gave $4.25 million to the Minerals Council of Australia, which made its own filing.

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FBI Informant Exposes Sting Operation Targeting Innocent Americans in New “(T)ERROR” Documentary

We spend the hour with an explosive new film that shines a bright light on the FBI’s shadowy use of informants in its counter terrorism sting operations. These undercover operatives are meant to root out would-be terrorists before they attack. Since 9/11, they have been used to prosecute at least 158 people. But critics argue they often target the wrong people, “including those with intellectual and mental disabilities, and the indigent.” “(T)ERROR” goes inside the world of a particular informant who has played a key role in several major terrorism cases. It does so while he is in the middle of carrying out his latest sting operation. It came together when two independent filmmakers gained unprecedented access to follow Saeed Torres, whose undercover name is “Shariff,” a 63-year-old former black revolutionary turned FBI informant, as he monitors a white Muslim convert named Khalifah al-Akili. Torres knew one of the directors, Lyric Cabral, and after he came out to her as an informant, he agreed to share his story, without informing his superiors. As the film unfolds, al-Akili begins to post on his Facebook page that he suspects the FBI is targeting him. The filmmakers used this an opportunity to approach him, and soon find themselves interviewing him at the same time they are also documenting “Shariff” monitoring him. During this time each man remains unaware that the filmmakers are talking to the other one. We get the rest of the story when we are joined by the filmmakers who co-directed “(T)ERROR,” Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, and play part of an interview with al-Akili from federal prison. Al-Akili was arrested just days after he emailed civil rights groups to say he believed he was the target of an FBI “entrapment” sting. He is now serving eight years in federal prison for illegally possessing a gun after having previous felony convictions for selling drugs. We are also joined by Steve Downs, executive director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. He works with Project SALAM, which published a report last year called “Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution.” He is also representing imprisoned Pakistani scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. We are also joined by Marlene, the mother of Tarik Shah, who was arrested in 2005 after a jointFBI/NYPD sting operation that also involved Saeed “Shariff” Torres. She details in the film how Shah thought Shariff was his close friend, but he was actually an FBI informant.

Glenn Greenwald on How to Be a Terror “Expert”: Ignore Facts, Blame Muslims, Trumpet U.S. Propaganda

Who are the so-called terrorism experts? In the wake of the Paris attacks, the corporate media has once again flooded its news programs with pundits claiming authority on terrorism, foreign policy and world events. We discuss the growing and questionable field of “terrorism experts” with three guests: Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-founder of The Intercept; Lisa Stampnitzky, social studies lecturer at Harvard University and author of “Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented ‘Terrorism'”; and Luc Mathieu, foreign affairs reporter for the French newspaper Libération.

Head to Head – Israeli settlers: Patriots or invaders?

A UN report says Israeli settlements violate human rights and could be prosecuted as war crimes, but many Israeli settlers consider themselves patriots. So what hope is there for peace in the Middle East?In a country where settlers are now one of the biggest and strongest political movements, Dani Dayan, a Netanyahu advisor and the outgoing chairman of the Yesha (Settlers) Council, says there is no two-state solution to the conflict and that he is happy with the status quo.Dayan has been a major in the Israeli army, a successful IT entrepreneur, and a University lecturer. In 1999 he became an executive committee member of the Yesha Council, which represents the settler movement, and in 2007, its chairman until February 2013. He completely revitalised the movement until his resignation to campaign openly for Binyamin Netanyahu.Mehdi Hasan goes head to head with Dayan at the Oxford Union, discussing whether Zionism is a colonialist project, whether the so-called apartheid roads are just an urban legend – and more importantly, what is the solution to this protracted conflict?Dayan claims settlements are irreversible but preaches in favour of dismantling the wall. With a lively audience and robust debate from the expert panel, Head to Head is tackling the hard issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Are the settlements a natural extension of the Israeli state or the single biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East? Will the Palestinians ever be able to build an independent and viable state?Joining our discussion are: Dr Ghada Karmi, an academic and the author of The Palestinian Exodus (1999), In Search for Fatima (2002), and Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine (2007); Sam Westrop, a former director of the British Israel Coalition, and a fellow of the New York-based Gatestone Institute; and Hannah Weisfeld, the director of Yachad, a pro-peace, pro-Israel NGO based in London.