Archive for the ‘World’ Category

h1

Macs At The Louvre

October 7, 2009

Macs At The Louvre

IBD: 7 Oct. 2009

Commerce: Is it just us, or does McDonald’s opening at the Louvre sound … just wrong? Nothing against the fast food giant. But in the land of cordon bleu, where are the French entrepreneurs to sell there instead?

Food snobs, of course, will exclaim “quelle horreur!” at the thought of the odor of fries wafting through the high temple of French culture, one of the world’s greatest art museums.

The thought of a Mona Lisa Extra Value Meal, as one satirical Web site put it, would make anyone shudder.

Fortunately, it won’t be like that. McDonald’s will open its 1,142nd outlet in a private underground mall called Carrousel du Louvre abutting the entry to the museum.

Far from being out of place, it will blend right in with the Swatch, Esprit, Sephora, Swarovski, Bodum, Apple and Virgin Megastore outlets, few of which are French names: only L’Occitane en Provence and Lalique stand out as French.

But the awarding of the restaurant site to McDonald’s and not to a French name underlines that there aren’t enough French competitors out there who could have filled the lucrative spot.

France still lacks entrepreneurs (a French word) and enough viable small companies that can eventually become big ones.

Only two or three million French citizens are entrepreneurs, something that baffles French authorities, who have told IBD over the years that they do try to encourage entrepreneurship.

The cost of setting up a business is lower and there are new tax write-offs, they say.

But they still don’t quite get it. They set up up agencies to encourage entrepreneurship, instead of sharply cutting taxes and regulations, which would do the job faster.

“The average entrepreneur is pulled down because of social premiums, financial risks, dearth of capital and market fluctuations,” wrote Scott Scheler in a study for Gaebler Enterprises.

This isn’t to say they aren’t trying (the tax-cutting trend is starting to take off across Europe), but the McDonald’s award ought to be an eye-opener. Sadly for France, McDonald’s’ positioning at the Louvre represents a long-term trend. So changing the entrenched culture is vital: “In France, a self-made man is viewed as a sort of scoundrel or gangster,” Francis Holder, the founder and CEO of Holder Group, which supplies McDonald’s, told BusinessWeek.

Disincentives to entrepreneurship began after 1960 and got really bad after 1992. High taxes, 35-hour-workweeks, unionization, and tiny-but-oppressive laws, such as those forbidding citizens from working out of their garages, all did damage.

If one can’t have one’s own, one adopts. The French have actually done much to make what they call “McDo’s” their own company.

The restaurant’s menu, with mozzarella salads, mustard burgers and fig yoghurt, is adapted to French tastes. The company’s French Web site shows that 75% of its food is locally grown, and 282 local franchisees operate 1,132 of its restaurants.

A Wall Street Journal report about McDonald’s popularity found that a U.S. concept — friendly customer service — was the main reason. So much for French waiters. The positioning of McDonald’s at France’s best-known museum wasn’t so much to succor tourists as it was to please the French, who fill the restaurants in France.

France is into McDonald’s. It’s now the global giant’s sixth largest market after the U.S., posting 11.2% growth in 2007 for 450 million meals. That so many French go there suggests something’s missing from France’s renowned culinary scene.

The Louvre will survive McDonald’s. But the whole thing should be a wake-up call. McDonald’s got the cherished spot because it didn’t have any suitable French competitors.

The French are perfectly capable of competing with McDonald’s on food. But not on something out there that’s more important than food — France’s lousy business climate for startups.

A better one will encourage more companies and more innovation. But until government regulation is slashed, the result is that McDonald’s will be king in the land of cordon bleu.

Frankly, we’d like to see France’s answer to McDonald’s. But the state can’t create it. Only French entrepreneurs can. France needs to do more to encourage them. Royale avec fromage, anyone?

h1

Swine Flu Myths

October 5, 2009

TEN SWINE FLU LIES TOLD BY MSM (Yellow Stream Media)

(NaturalNews) The mainstream media is engaged in what we Americans call “bald faced lies” about swine flu. It seems to be true with this issue more than any other, and it became apparent to me recently when a colleague of mine — a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist — told me their column on natural defenses for swine flu was rejected by newspapers all across the country. Many newspapers refused to run the column and, instead, ran an ad for “free vaccine clinics” in the same space.

The media, it seems, is so deeply in bed with the culture of vaccinations that they will do almost anything to keep the public misinformed. And that includes lying about swine flu vaccines.

There are ten key lies that continue to be told by the mainstream media (MSM) about swine flu and swine flu vaccines.

Lie #1 – There are no adjuvants used in the vaccines

I was recently being interviewed by a major U.S. news network when the reporter interviewing me came up with this humdinger: There are no adjuvants being used in the swine flu vaccines, he said!
I assured him that adjuvants were, indeed, a crucial part of the vaccine recipe, and they were being widely used by drug companies to “stretch” the vaccine supply. It’s no secret. But he insisted he had been directly told by a drug company rep that no adjuvants were being used at all. And he believed them! So everything being published by this large news network about swine flu vaccines now assumes there are no adjuvants in the vaccines at all.

Lie #2 – The swine flu is more dangerous than seasonal flu

This lie is finally starting to unravel. I admit that in the early days of this pandemic, even I was concerned this could be a global killer. But after observing the very mild impact the virus was having on people in the real world, it became obvious that this was a mild flu, no more dangerous than a seasonal flu. The MSM, however, continues to promote H1N1 swine flu as being super dangerous, driving fear into the minds of people and encouraging them to rush out and get a vaccine shot for a flu that’s really no more likely to kill them than the regular winter sniffles. Sure, the virus could still mutate into something far worse, but if it does that, the current vaccine could be rendered obsolete anyway!

Lie #3 – Vaccines protect you from swine flu

This is the biggest lie of all, and the media pushes it hard. Getting a vaccine, they insist, will protect you from the swine flu. But it’s just flat-out false. Even if the vaccine produces antibodies, that’s not the same thing as real-world immunity from a live virus, especially if the virus mutates (as they often do).   As I pointed out in a recent article, statistically speaking the average American is 40 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have their life saved by a swine flu vaccine. (http://www.naturalnews.com/026955_s…)

Lie #4 – Vaccines are safe

And how would any journalists actually know this? None of the vaccines have been subjected to real-world testing for any meaningful duration. The “safety” of these vaccines is nothing more than wishful thinking.     The MSM also doesn’t want you to know what’s in the vaccines. Some vaccines are made from viral fragments grown in diseased African monkeys. If that sounds incredible, read the true story here: http://www.naturalnews.com/026779_s

Lie #5 – The vaccine isn’t mandatory

You hear this lie all the time: The swine flu vaccine shot is voluntary, they say. But it’s not true if you’re an employee at a place where vaccines are being mandated. Millions of Americans are now being told by their employers that if they don’t get vaccine shots, they will be effectively fired from their jobs. It’s especially true with health care workers, day care employees and school teachers.

Lie #6 – Getting a vaccine shot is a good bet on your health

In reality, a vaccine shot is far more likely to harm you than help you. According to one viral expert, the actual mortality rate of the swine flu virus is estimated to be as low as .007 percent (http://www.reuters.com/article/heal…). That means H1N1 swine flu kills less than one person in 100,000. Even if the vaccine works, let’s say, 10 percent of the time, you’d have to vaccine one million people to prevent one death from swine flu.  And in vaccinating one million people, you would inevitably harm or kill several people, simply from the vaccine side effects! Your net risk of death is increased by getting a swine flu vaccine.

Lie #7 – The vaccine isn’t made with “attenuated live virus”

When the swine flu vaccines were first being announced several months ago, they were described as being made with “attenuated live virus.” This was directly mentioned in CDC documents, among other places.  This term apparently freaked out the American news consumer, and it has since been all but erased from any discussion about vaccines. Now, journalists will actually argue with you and insist the vaccines contain no attenuated live viruses whatsoever.   Except they’re wrong. The vaccines are, indeed, made with “attenuated live viruses.” That’s how you make a vaccine: You take live viruses, then you weaken them (”attenuate”) and inject them into people.

Lie #8 – Wash, wash, wash your hands (to avoid exposure)

This idea of washing your hands a hundred times a day is all based on the assumption that you can avoid exposure to the swine flu virus. But that’s impractical. The virus is now so widespread that virtually everyone is certain to be exposed to it through the air if not other means. This whole idea of avoiding exposure to the swine flu virus is nonsense. The conversation should shift to ways to survive exposure via a healthy immune system.   Of course, hand washing is a very good idea in a hospital setting. Recent news reveals that doctors are too busy to wash their own hands, resulting in the rampant spread of superbugs throughout most large hospitals in first world nations.

Lie #9 – Children are more vulnerable to swine flu than adults

This is just a flat-out lie, but it makes for good vaccine sales. Vaccines are right now being targeted primarily to schoolchildren.   But the truth is that swine flu is extremely mild in children. “It’s mildest in kids,” says Dr Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University. “That’s one of the really good pieces of news in this pandemic.” Reuters actually had the guts to report this story, but most of the larger media outlets are still reporting that children are the most vulnerable.

Lie #10 – There is nothing else you can do beyond a vaccine and Tamiflu

This is where the media lies by omission. The mainstream media absolutely refuses to print just about any story that talks about using vitamin D, anti-viral herbs or natural remedies to protect yourself from swine flu. In the MSM, there are two options and only two: Vaccines and Tamiflu. That’s it. No other options exist in their fictional reality.

Why is the mainstream media so afraid to print the truth these days? Why can’t reporting on swine flu see the light of day… literally, with a mention of sunlight and vitamin D? Apparently, Big Pharma has such a tight grip on mainstream newspapers that no true story on swine flu can ever make it past the editor’s desk.

Killing stories, deceiving the public

It must really be depressing to work for the mainstream media. Even the reporters I know can’t stand it. The truth, they admit, rarely makes it into print.

Over the last few years, I’ve had a couple of job offers from large media outlets. They want to pay me a six-figure salary and stick me behind a desk where they can control what I report. Needless to say, I routinely reject those offers. If I can’t write the truth like I do here on NaturalNews.com, there’s no point writing at all. In too many ways, the mainstream media has become little more than a corporate mouthpiece, whoring itself out to the highest bidder / advertiser.

It’s no fault of the frontline reporters who actually work there. For the most part, they agree with what I’m saying. It’s the fault of the profit-oriented corporate mindset where news is about selling newspapers rather than actually informing the public.

Important news stories get killed every day in the newsrooms across America. They get killed not because they are poorly investigated or poorly written, but because they upset advertisers and corporate string pullers who shape the news and reject any stories that threaten their own financial interests.

Here in 2009, the distorted reporting on the swine flu vaccine has been one of the greatest media frauds ever perpetrated. The media has in every way contributed to the widespread ignorance of the American people on the subject of vitamin D and natural immune-boosting defenses that could reduce swine flu fatalities. Rather than informing readers, the MSM has made it a point to keep the people stupid, and in doing so, the media has failed its only mission and betrayed the very audience is claims to serve.

source: http://www.naturalnews.com/027055_swine_flu_vaccines_swine_flu_vaccine.html

h1

Lockerbie: Justice Undone

August 25, 2009

Justice? – 270 Deaths

Justice Undone

Posted 08/21/2009 07:21 PM ET

Lockerbie: To Scottish authorities, the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, serving a life sentence for planning the Pan Am jet bombing that killed 270, is a “humanitarian” act. But to any civilized person, it’s an outrage.

Scottish justice officials and Britain’s government should be deeply ashamed. Not only have they let an unrepentant killer go, but also they have advertised the weakness and stupidity of Western European governments when it comes to terrorism.

On returning to Libya, al-Megrahi was given “a hero’s welcome as thousands greeted him at the airport waving flags and posters,” Britain’s Telegraph reported. So much for Libya returning to the fold of civilized nations.

As images of the triumphant return beamed around the world, just imagine the pain and anguish of those who lost loved ones, family members and friends in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Al-Megrahi’s release is a worse affront to decency than anything done at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo.

Scotland’s justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said he released al-Megrahi on “compassionate grounds.” Al-Megrahi had served just eight years of a lifetime sentence, but he has terminal cancer. We wonder, Mr. Secretary, does mercy to one outweigh justice to the 270 dead and their families?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown knew about the release. The U.S. strongly opposed it. Brown could have stopped it, had he decided to make a fuss. He didn’t. So much for the “special relationship” between our two countries.

Remember, this was mainly a crime against Americans, who accounted for 189 of the victims. So it looks like open season on U.S. tourists. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin reckoned, al-Megrahi’s 3,123 days served come out to 11.6 days in prison for each murder. It seems that life, especially American life, is cheap in Britain’s justice system.

Though U.S. leaders strenuously objected to the release, they were ignored. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the crime “heinous,” and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “We continue to believe that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland.”

Glad they spoke up. Still, we wonder: Is this what was meant when we were told America’s diplomatic prestige would be enhanced in Europe once President Bush was out of office?

In fact, this was a well-telegraphed punch in the gut. Curiously, last November, just after President Obama’s election, Britain’s Parliament passed a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya. We say “curious” because it appears the only prisoner it could have related to was al-Megrahi. Was he sick then? If not, why was it passed?

We wonder, and we’re not alone, if this was a deal to curry favor with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who sent his private jet to pick up al-Megrahi. After all, energy giant BP has contracts and business dealings in Libya and no doubt wants more.

In all this, Britain and Scotland seem to mistake weakness for mercy. Now, knowing penalties will be soft, terrorists will feel emboldened to kill civilians on British soil. What a sad day.

h1

Sorry? For What?

August 13, 2009

IBD      6 Aug 09

Foreign Policy: We’re glad former President Bill Clinton returned from North Korea with two American journalists who had been wrongly imprisoned there. But apologizing sets a very bad diplomatic precedent.

Who wouldn’t be happy seeing the tearful, smiling faces of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the journalists who were nabbed by Kim Jong Il’s security forces while on a reporting mission on the China border?

The secretive state nabbed them five months ago, and a government tribunal sentenced them to 12 years of hard labor. In North Korea, hard labor means hard labor. Had the sentences been carried out, one or both might have died in custody.

Even as we rejoice at their release, supposedly brokered by Clinton, we wonder what it means for the future. We have just rewarded North Korea — once again — for behaving badly. It’s not that country’s fault if we offer only carrots and never any sticks.

Yes, we’re glad for Ling and Lee. But make no mistake: They weren’t prisoners; they were hostages. This weakens the U.S. in any future talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons.

Even by picking Clinton for this “private, humanitarian mission,” as the Washington Post called it, the U.S. seemed to be sending a not-so-subtle signal to Kim that the U.S. is ready to appease him.

For in addition to being a former commander in chief, Clinton is the husband of the current secretary of state. And his own secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, was the first to visit North Korea.

Far from private, this has White House fingerprints all over it. As the AP noted: “State media said Clinton apologized on behalf of the women and relayed President Barack Obama’s gratitude.”

Groveling, anyone? Kim now knows the current U.S. leader can be blackmailed — if he didn’t know it before. That’s what made President Clinton so appropriate for this mission. It was from Clinton that Kim first learned this lesson.

In 1994, recall, Clinton sent former President Carter — see a pattern? — to North Korea to negotiate that country’s denuclearization. Carter returned with a deal similar in its sycophancy and cynicism to the one Neville Chamberlain brought back from Munich.

In exchange for billions of dollars in food aid and even help for its “peaceful” nuclear power effort, North Korea vowed to behave and decommission its nuclear weapons program.

No sooner had the ink dried than North Korea began cheating. During the Clinton years, the U.S. and the U.N. signed three agreements with North Korea. North Korea broke its word each time.

Commander in chief? Clinton acted like appeaser in chief. We never learned. The deal making continued into the 2000s — culminating in the Six-Party Talks, which concluded in 2007.

Again, Pyongyang broke its word and bought more time with its outrageous behavior. Today it has a burgeoning missile program and nuclear weapons, plus has sold that technology to other rogue states, including Iran. Rather than being conciliatory, the U.S. should have been righteously angry. Instead, U.S. weakness with North Korea is tempting others.

In Iran, just this week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s security forces arrested three young American journalists for an alleged border violation. Coincidence? Probably not. It follows the arrest earlier this year of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, who was released in May — just before Iran’s elections.

Clearly, Iran has learned the same valuable lesson as Kim — threaten captured Americans with harsh punishment, use them as pawns, then watch us grovel for the favor of their release.

Unfortunately, this weakness will diminish any leverage we might have in nuclear talks with North Korea or Iran.

That, in turn, ultimately places the U.S., our friend Israel and our European allies in danger. Some deal.

h1

Cultures and Sexes Clash in the Aftermath of a Rape in Turkey

August 13, 2009

The New York Times         7 Aug 09

In an early scene of “Bliss,” the glowering stepmother of Meryem, a teenage rape victim in eastern Anatolia, gives the girl a rope with which to hang herself for bringing dishonor to her family, and you prepare to endure a Turkish variation of “The Stoning of Soraya M.” That recent harrowing film, based on a true incident, depicted the public execution of a young Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery, with the graphic ferocity of B-movie torture porn.

“Bliss,” fortunately, is not a one-note exposé created to shock, although its vision of a misogynistic patriarchy is almost as repellent. Adapted from Zulfu Livaneli’s 2002 novel, it observes the collision of two cultures, one ancient, the other modern, in contemporary Turkey. Directed and produced by Abdullah Oguz, “Bliss” has ravishing cinematography by Mirsad Herovic and a mystical score by Mr. Livaneli that match the novel’s feverish, poetic language. The natural beauty of the waters around Istanbul is breathtaking. And once the story moves from the Anatolian village where Meryem’s unconscious, brutalized body is discovered by a shepherd, the movie’s initially monochromatic palette bursts into brilliant color.

 More than the novel, the film focuses on Meryem’s steady awakening to her own autonomy. After fitting a noose around her neck, Meryem (Ozgu Namal) removes it and refuses to kill herself as tradition dictates. Her stern uncle Ali Riza (Mustafa Avkiran), the dignitary in the rural village who decreed her suicide, decides to wait for his son Cemal (Murat Han) to kill her when he returns from the army. Cemal’s instructions are to take Meryem, his cousin, to Istanbul on the pretext of an arranged marriage and dispose of her en route.

 The young soldier’s sympathy for the disgraced girl, whom he routinely reviles as a whore and smacks in the face at any suggestion of what he deems improper female behavior, conflicts with his fundamentalist beliefs. In one scene he calls her a demon after having an erotic dream about her. But he can also be tenderly protective.

 He delays the killing until they reach the city, where they visit his brother Yakup (Erol Babaoglu), who disparages the village’s benighted customs. Still feeling obliged to follow orders, Cemal takes Meryem to a bridge and instructs her to jump. But when the do-or-die moment arrives, he plucks her from the edge, and the cousins become fellow fugitives from their repressive background.

 

 

They find lodging and work on a remote fish farm and later on the yacht of Irfan (Talat Bulut), a suave, white-haired Turkish professor, educated in the United States, who has just left his unhappy marriage to a wealthy woman.

 

 

In one of the most pointed scenes of culture clash, Irfan instructs Cemal to set the table and serve dinner. When Cemal refuses to do “women’s work,” Irfan exerts his authority as the ship’s captain and declares, “There are no women’s jobs and men’s jobs on my boat.”

 

 

Cemal also assumes that the fatherly interest Irfan takes in Meryem is really lust waiting to pounce. And when she disappears with Irfan on his motorboat to observe marine life, a potentially lethal tussle between the soldier and professor breaks out upon their return. Irfan has his own demons: his dream is to find a way of living in which he doesn’t have to think about tomorrow.

 

 

As Cemal and Meryem discover the cosmopolitan world, with its bikinied young women who drop by from other boats, Meryem chafes at Cemal’s dominance. But traditional ways don’t die easily. Cemal’s indoctrination in hyper-masculine authoritarianism runs to his very core, and he often reacts violently without thinking. The movie goes out of its way to ridicule his attachment to his macho military title, “commando.”

 

 

There are moments aboard the boat in which the competitive male rituals between him and Irfan recall Roman Polanski’s “Knife in the Water.” But the game-playing psychodrama in “Bliss” is only a minor element in a panoramic allegory of Turkish national identity, beautifully acted by Mr. Han, Mr. Bulut and especially by Ms. Namal.

 

 

The screenplay, written by Mr. Oguz with Kubilay Tuncer and Elif Ayan, turns the novel, in which the rapist’s identity is disclosed early on, into a thriller in which the truth is revealed in an explosive Hollywood ending that rather too neatly ties up loose ends left dangling in the book. However streamlined, this consistently gripping, visually intoxicating film stands as a landmark of contemporary Turkish cinema.

 BLISS

 Produced and directed by Abdullah Oguz; written by Kubilay Tuncer, Elif Ayan and Mr. Oguz, based on the novel by Zulfu Livaneli; cinematography, Mirsad Herovic; edited by Levent Celebi-LewQ and Mr. Oguz; music by Mr. Livaneli; art director, Tolunay Turkoz; released by First Run Features. At the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. In Turkish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. This film is not rated.

 WITH: Talat Bulut (Irfan), Ozgu Namal (Meryem), Murat Han (Cemal), Mustafa Avkiran (Ali Riza), Emin Gursoy (Tahsin), Sebnem Kostem (Done), Meral Cetinkaya (Munevver) and Erol Babaoglu (Yakup).

h1

Leave Swiss Banks Alone

August 12, 2009

2 Aug 09

LAST week, an American client of the Swiss bank UBS admitted to filing a false tax return and concealing millions in Swiss bank accounts. For some people, his plea will just confirm their impression of Switzerland as a haven for criminals or dictators who want to protect their funds from taxes or oversight.

But for us here in Switzerland, our financial privacy laws are a foundation for individual dignity and basic property rights.

Unfortunately, the confidentiality that is the hallmark of Swiss banking is coming under increasing pressure. The global economic crisis has led some governments to intensify efforts to seek tax revenue abroad — and Switzerland, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of all offshore private wealth, is a natural target.

Earlier this year, Switzerland was put on a “gray list” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and threatened with financial sanctions, leading the government to provisionally renegotiate tax agreements with a dozen countries so far. Most of those agreements would require Switzerland to hand over individuals’ financial information for tax purposes in accordance with the organization’s standards.

The United States Justice Department went even further and filed a lawsuit against UBS, seeking the names of 52,000 account holders suspected of hiding money from the Internal Revenue Service. (The United States and Switzerland agreed in principle on Friday to settle the matter out of court.)

Switzerland, which is home to an impressive number of global corporations, has also come under fire from the European Union for offering too-favorable tax rules, including exemptions for income earned abroad. But what critics forget is that these practices also benefit other countries. Swiss firms alone employ hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and Germany, for example. Subsidiaries of multinational corporations usually pay income taxes where they operate, so having their headquarters in Switzerland can help companies avoid multiple taxation in high-tax countries, thereby safeguarding productive capital for investment.

Until recently, the Swiss government had steadfastly insisted on Swiss sovereignty and refused to provide assistance to other governments in cases of tax evasion — that is, cases in which a taxpayer failed to declare income, either intentionally or unintentionally. While tax fraud is considered a crime here, tax evasion is not (though it can be subject to fines).

This Swiss peculiarity of considering tax evasion as a mere administrative offense has a long history. We think government exists to serve us, not the other way around. We understand that we have to pay taxes — and we do, with numerous studies showing that the Swiss are extraordinarily honest about paying what we owe — but we do not think it is the government’s role to intrude on our privacy and wrench them from us.

This attitude goes back to Switzerland’s founding in the 13th century. The original Swiss communities’ resentment of what they saw as the Hapsburgs’ oppressive taxes helped push them to claim their independence in 1291.

Today, Swiss citizens continue to vote on any tax increases in referendums (and sometimes even accept them). These healthy curbs on government contrast with the Orwellian concept of the “transparent citizen” whose every act is known to government. We see our system as a social pact between citizens and the state.

Swiss privacy laws help preserve basic property rights. Bank secrecy was introduced in 1934, most notably to protect the identities and assets of Jews in Nazi Germany. (Unfortunately, those same rules made it difficult for some heirs to gain access to these accounts without proper documentation, leading to an out-of-court agreement in 1998 by Swiss banks to pay $1.25 billion to settle Holocaust-related lawsuits.) Corruption, expropriation, crime and the persecution of various minorities remain risks in most of the world. For people threatened by such risks, financial privacy can protect their legitimate property.

Some would argue that Swiss bank accounts offer the same protections to criminals, but in fact Swiss provisions against money laundering are tough. Swiss bankers are required to know their clients and the origin of the funds they accept. They must alert the regulators if they suspect criminal behavior.

Banking confidentiality enjoys overwhelming support in Switzerland. According to the latest annual survey by the polling firm M.I.S. Trend, 78 percent favor maintaining the laws as they are, and 91 percent are shown to value their financial privacy. This is especially relevant since Swiss citizens are expected to vote eventually on the renegotiated tax treaties in a referendum.

If the government fails to convince a majority of voters, the treaties won’t enter into force. But if they are ratified as planned, the Swiss government should agree only to an exchange of information in individual cases with reasonable suspicion of tax fraud.

Other governments should see this as a fair compromise. We will not solve the global problem of tax evasion by punishing honest depositors and destroying Swiss traditions.

Pierre Bessard is the president of the Liberales Institut, a research institution.

h1

Foreign Rule

August 12, 2009

IBD    7 Aug 09

Internationalism: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants us to join a foreign court. Newly confirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayor says foreign law gauges “the mainstream of human thinking.” Are we repealing 1776?

Right smack in the middle of the Declaration of Independence is a passionate case against judicial internationalism. Among the charges against King George is the complaint that he “has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws.” The effects of that foreign jurisdiction included “transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.”

Though it’s now 233 years after the American people thought we had solved that injustice, this country’s highest-ranking Cabinet secretary, and its newest Supreme Court justice, have different ideas.

Secretary Clinton, speaking in Nairobi on Thursday, called it “a great regret” that the U.S. was not a member of the International Criminal Court, a body that adjudicates on genocide, war crimes and “crimes against humanity” (defined as including attacks “on human dignity”).

There are very good reasons the U.S. refused to join the so-called “war crimes court” when it was founded in Rome in 2002. Too often when America exercises its powers to defend itself and the rest of the free world against terrorism, the thanks we get from much of the rest of the free world comes in the form of ridicule and abuse — extending even to charges of war crimes.

John Brennan, head of the White House homeland security office, may have announced Thursday that we are no longer fighting a global “war on terrorism” against jihadists. But the fact is that virtually every U.S. military action in post-World War II leads to condemnation from some European political or intellectual quarter.

Consider the infamous “Russell Tribunal.” As early as 1966, personages of no less academic caliber than Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre were joining with black American novelist James Baldwin and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael to form an “International War Crimes Tribunal.”

That body’s sole purpose was to find “the United States government guilty of genocide against the people of Vietnam,” which was the Russell Tribunal’s unanimous verdict.

If we were to join such a politically charged global kangaroo court, neither our servicemen and women nor our politicians would be safe from being transported “beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.”

Yet our newest high court justice in April told the Puerto Rican ACLU that she agrees with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “that unless American courts are more open to discussing the ideas raised by foreign cases and by international cases that we are going to lose influence in the world.”

Doing otherwise is “asking American judges to … close their minds,” according to Sonia Sotomayor, because “ideas have no boundaries. Ideas are what set our creative juices flowing. They permit us to think.”

When Alexander Hamilton wrote that “the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power,” he didn’t realize we would have an entire political ideology — now rooted everywhere from the State Department to Congress to the federal judiciary — eager to give away American sovereignty to foreign jurisdictions.

Americans have enough trouble dealing with the liberal activists twisting our own laws in our own courts. The last thing we need are the “creative juices” of foreign courts and foreign laws.

 

our comments

Soto doesn’t know American history