March 22, 2014

Longer Reads for the weekend

The Secret Auden  by Edward Mendelson

W.H. Auden had a secret life that his closest friends knew little or nothing about. Everything about it was generous and honorable. He kept it secret because he would have been ashamed to have been praised for it.

David Goldman on The Rise of Secular Religion   Today’s secular liberals are the direct descendants of the past century’s Puritans and Protestants, deeply concerned with matters of sin and salvation in the church of politics.

Daniel Greenfield on The Genocidal Duck Whisperers of the Post-Human Left  Eugenics under the guise of Population, Health and Environment (PHE) which integrates population control into environmentalist initiatives.

High Finance in the U.K. The Much-Too-Special Relationship by Nicolas Shaxson
The City of London threatens U.S. security and abets corruption. Revisionist powers like Russia have figured out this dynamic and are busy exploiting it.

The first part shows that the United Kingdom is the single most important player in a global system of offshore tax havens, and has facilitated and even enthusiastically—if discreetly—encouraged the élite looting of pretty much every country in the world, from Pakistan to Greece to Libya to Mexico, typically via U.S., British and Swiss banks. This is a national security issue par excellence, now revealed in its fullness through the Crimea affair, let’s call it. This British offshore system is a fast-growing cash cow for the City, which will fight to protect it.

The second part of the story tells of how the City of London has spent half a century building a business model based on thwarting and opposing U.S. laws and regulations. It is crucial to understand that this is a deliberate feature of the modern City, not an incidental side effect.

The third reveals the aforementioned depth of Britain’s political capture by the City of London, which makes Britain a thoroughly untrustworthy ally not only with regard to Russia, but many other portfolios as well.
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One of the great incentives offered by offshore financial centres is lax or even absent financial regulation: Bring your money here, and we won’t regulate it. And that is exactly what happened in London from the 1950s onward. Confronted with this new variant of banking business, the Bank of England simply deemed these dollar trades in London to be outside its jurisdiction, effectively creating an unregulated space for them to trade in.
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When the London-based bank HSBC bank reached a $1.9 billion settlement with U.S. authorities in 2012 for money laundering for Mexican drugs cartels and many others, British officials said they had no responsibility for oversight, even when the rules clearly state otherwise.
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When a British or American or Swiss bank helps a foreign dictator and his or her cronies loot a poor country, and helps them stash and hide their winnings permanently offshore, that bank is an accomplice not just in criminal activity, but in that country’s governance problems, by helping its offshore-diving élites float above the societies they rule and trample over. U.S. banks are guilty enough of all these crimes, but Britain and its offshore empire have made offshore secrecy into an art form: an art of darkness, one might say, with apologies to Joseph Conrad.

A lovely story about Robert Downey

The Overprotected Kid

It’s hard to absorb how much childhood norms have shifted in just one generation. Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting. One very thorough study of “children’s independent mobility,” conducted in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 percent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that measure had dropped to 9 percent, and now it’s even lower.
Posted by Jill Fallon at March 22, 2014 10:04 PM | Permalink