Daily Archives: September 3, 2014

Corruption costs poor countries USD 1 trillion a year: NGO

Corruption, fraud and money-laundering cost poor countries a total of USD 1 trillion a year, the anti-poverty organisation ONE said in a study released today.

The group, founded by U2 rock group singer Bono, said the misuse of funds resulted in USD 38-64 billion a year in uncollected taxes alone.

This in turn cost 3.6 million lives a year that could be saved if the missing money were wisely invested, non-government organisation ONE estimated.

“It is nothing short of a trillion-dollar scandal,” said the report, recommending action on four fronts.

The study was published before finance ministers from the G20 group of leading countries meet in Australia on September 20 and 21.

To put the USD 1 trillion (750 billion euros) in perspective, ONE said that it was equivalent to the annual profits of all the 86 biggest publicly quoted companies in the world. It blamed the loss on “a web of corrupt activity that involves shady deals for natural resources, the use of anonymous shell companies, money-laundering and illegal tax evasion.”

“Massive sums are being taken out of developing countries’ own budgets and economies, preventing them from financing their own fight against extreme poverty, disease, and hunger,” the study said.

If policies were put in place to combat corruption by means of financial secrecy, deals on natural resources and money-laundering, the cost of corruption could be reduced “dramatically”, the report said.

The head of ONE in France, Friederike Roeder, said that the untapped funds could be “invested in health care, food security and essential infrastructure, and thereby save millions of lives.”

The organisation listed four fronts where it said action could be taken.

First, G20 leaders who will meet in Brisbane, Australia, in November, should ensure that the ownership of companies and trusts be made public to prevent them from being used to launder funds for the benefit of anonymous criminals and corrupt individuals, ONE said. It also argued that natural resources companies should be forced to publish full details of their activities to discourage the theft of resources from poor populations.

Exchanges of tax information should be automatic, to enable developing countries to collect taxes due.

Governments should also be obliged to publish full and open accounts so that citizens could hold them accountable for money received and how it is spent, the report said.

Deccan Herald

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Justice will be served, says Obama after Sotloff beheading

As outrage built over the beheading of the second American journalist by the ISIS, US president Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday to bring the killers to justice.

“We will not be intimidated,” said the president at a news briefing in Tallinn, Estonia. He added that “those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

The video of the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff surfaced just hours before Obama left the US for the Baltic states, on his way to Wales for a Nato summit.

President Obama is under pressure to act against the ISIS, especially in Syria where its leaders and fighters take shelter to escape pressure and military reverses in Iraq.

The president faced widespread criticism last week for saying the United States had no strategy to fight the ISIS. Even his own party leader have said he has been “too cautious”.

The president sought to answer those charges at the briefing saying there has always been a strategy in place to fight the ISIS, and it was “moving effectively”.

“And last week when this question was asked, I was specifically referring to the possibility of the military strategy inside of Syria that might require congressional approval.”

The first part of the strategy was to secure US diplomatic facilities and personnel in Iraq, which is ongoing with 350 additional troops deployed there on Tuesday.

The second part was to establish and secure a functioning and inclusive Iraqi government “that could serve as the basis for Iraq to begin to go on the offensive”.

US forces have carried out over 100 such airstrikes to that end, and continue to attack ISIS positions, freeing Mosul Dam and ending their siege of Amirli last Sunday.

The objective, he emphasized was to “degrade and destroy” the ISIS, seeking to clarify his position, which has seemed to be at odds with senior members of his administration.

The president has seemed reluctant pursue ISIS into Syria while his officials have been forceful and categorical that there was no other way of dealing with the outfit.

HT

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Maroon 5 Frontman Adam Levine’s Childhood Inspires New Comedy Show

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Rocker Adam Levine is currently developing a comedy series inspired by his real-life experiences for NBC. Titled Kids in America, the single-camera comedy has received a script commitment. The project is part of a first-look deal that Adam, 35, and his manager Jordan Feldstein signed with NBC in May 2013, reported Ace Showbiz.

The potential new series revolves around a teenager belonging to an unconventional family, who has aspirations of becoming a rock star. Aaron Blitzstein (Family Guy) is tapped to write the script and is set to serve as executive producer along with Levine, Feldstein and development executive Josh Gummersall.

NBC has previously picked two other comedy projects inspired by the Maroon 5 frontman’s real-life experiences. One is based on his friendship with writer-producer Gene Hong and the other is about the two’s experience at a karaoke bar.

HT

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How Facebook makes you distrusting and miserable

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New research finds that exposure to homophobic, racist or misogynistic content on social networks including Facebook ‘may threaten subjective well-being’

New research finds that social networks including Facebook “may threaten subjective well-being” by eroding a user’s trust in the rest of society with exposure to homophobic, racist or misogynistic content.

Scientists from the Sapienza University of Rome and the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg explored survey data from 50,000 people in 24,000 Italian households which looked at internet and social network use, as well as self-reported levels of happiness and self-esteem.

They found that social networks increased the risk of being exposed to “offensive behaviours and hate speech”, which could have a harmful effect on people’s mental wellbeing.

“In online discussions with unknown others, individuals more easily indulge in aggressive and disrespectful behaviours. Online networks also are a fertile ground for spreading harmful, offensive, or controversial contents often lying at the verge between free speech and hate speech,” they said.

This hateful content can reduce the reader’s trust in others, and therefore have a detrimental effect on their own wellbeing – social trust has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of self-reported happiness in previous studies.

The results add weight to previous research which found that social networks can decrease people’s happiness and general satisfaction with their lives .

For two weeks a group of 82 people were sent text messages five times a day and asked to reply explaining how they felt that moment, and also how satisfied they were with their lives overall.

What the researchers found was that using Facebook tended to lower the results for both questions.

“The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time,” said the paper.

“On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,” said Ethan Kross, a social psychologist who led the work at the University of Michigan.

“But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result – it undermines it.”

Currently Facebook has over a bilion users, 500 million of whom interact with the social network every day through the website or apps.

TECHGIG

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