Zeina’s hat and scarf

Amnesty International

Revenge is not a solution. Do not react emotionally. Select peaceful protest of boycott.

Also reduce oil use as much as possible. Use public transport or electric vehicles.
Reduce use of chemical fertilizers, plastic and similar products from chemical industry.
Reduce eating food. Reject meat from factory farms. Use organic food.

Washington’s America-First Commandos in Africa

When Donald Trump enters the Oval Office, awaiting him will not only be his own private air assassination corps (those CIA drones that take out terror suspects globally from a White House “kill list”), but his own private and remarkably secret military. Ever since John F. Kennedy first made the Green Berets into figures of military glamour, there’s always been something alluring to presidents about the U.S. military’s elite special ops forces.

Still, that was then, this is now. In the twenty-first century, the Special Operations Command, which oversees those elite forces cocooned within the regular military, has gained ever more power to act in ever more independent and secretive ways. In those same years, the country’s elite troops, including those Green Berets, the Navy SEALs, and the Army’s Delta Force, have grown to staggering proportions, while ever more money has poured into their coffers. There are now an estimated 70,000 of them — a crew larger than the actual armies of some reasonably sizeable countries — and from trainers to raiders, advisers to hunter-killers, they now operate yearly in an overwhelming majority of the nations on this planet. Moreover, they generally do so in remarkable secrecy and (as once might have been said of the CIA) their most secretive part, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), responsible for the killing of Osama bin Laden, is in essence the president’s private army.

In these last years, President Obama, who gained a reputation for being chary of war, has nonetheless taken on with evident relish both those special ops forces and the drone assassins, while embracing what Washington Post columnist David Ignatius recently termed the role of “covert commander in chief.” Now, in these last weeks of his presidency, his administration has given JSOC new powers to “track, plan, and potentially launch attacks on terrorist cells around the globe” and to do so “outside conventional conflict zones” and via “a new multiagency intelligence and action force.” As a result, whatever this new task force may do, it won’t, as in the past, have to deal with regional military commands and their commanders at all. Its only responsibility will be to the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and assumedly the White House; even within the military, that is, it will gain a new patina of secrecy and power (while evidently poaching on territory that once was considered the CIA’s alone, no small thing at a moment when President-elect Trump is not exactly enamored with that agency).

One of the strangest aspects of the growth of America’s special ops forces and their global missions is how little attention those special operators get in the media (unless they want the publicity). The very growth of an enormous secret military, a remarkable development in our American world and a particularly ominous one for the Trumpian years to come, is seldom discussed (no less debated). And all of this, the firepower now available to a president and the potential ability of a commander in chief to wage a global campaign of assassination and make war just about anywhere on Earth, personally and privately, will now be inherited by a man to whom such powers are likely to have real appeal.

In this context, I admit to a certain pride that, thanks to Nick Turse, the exception to the above has been TomDispatch. In these years, due to Turse’s work at this website, you could follow, up close and personal, the growing power and operational abilities of America’s special operations forces. This was especially true, as with his piece today, of how they have moved, big time, onto a continent that may indeed, in the military’s own phrase, be tomorrow’s battlefield and yet that we hear next to nothing about. Tom

Commandos Without Borders
America’s Elite Troops Partner with African Forces But Pursue U.S. Aims
By Nick Turse

Al-Qaeda doesn’t care about borders. Neither does the Islamic State or Boko Haram. Brigadier General Donald Bolduc thinks the same way.

“[T]errorists, criminals, and non-state actors aren’t bound by arbitrary borders,” the commander of Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) told an interviewer early this fall. “That said, everything we do is not organized around recognizing traditional borders. In fact, our whole command philosophy is about enabling cross-border solutions, implementing multi-national, collective actions and empowering African partner nations to work across borders to solve problems using a regional approach.”

A SOCAFRICA planning document obtained by TomDispatch offers a window onto the scope of these “multi-national, collective actions” carried out by America’s most elite troops in Africa. The declassified but heavily redacted secret report, covering the years 2012-2017 and acquired via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), details nearly 20 programs and activities — from training exercises to security cooperation engagements — utilized by SOCAFRICA across the continent. This wide array of low-profile missions, in addition to named operations and quasi-wars, attests to the growing influence and sprawling nature of U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) in Africa.

How U.S. military engagement will proceed under the Trump administration remains to be seen. The president-elect has said or tweeted little about Africa in recent years (aside from long trading in baseless claims that the current president was born there). Given his choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn — a former director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command who believes that the United States is in a “world war” with Islamic militants — there is good reason to believe that Special Operations Command Africa will continue its border-busting missions across that continent. That, in turn, means that Africa is likely to remain crucial to America’s nameless global war on terror.

Publicly, the command claims that it conducts its operations to “promote regional stability and prosperity,” while Bolduc emphasizes that its missions are geared toward serving the needs of African allies. The FOIA files make clear, however, that U.S. interests are the command’s principal and primary concern — a policy in keeping with the America First mindset and mandate of incoming commander-in-chief Donald J. Trump — and that support to “partner nations” is prioritized to suit American, not African, needs and policy goals.

Shades of Gray

Bolduc is fond of saying that his troops — Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets, among others — operate in the “gray zone,” or what he calls “the spectrum of conflict between war and peace.” Another of his favored stock phrases is: “In Africa, we are not the kinetic solution” — that is, not pulling triggers and dropping bombs. He also regularly takes pains to say that “we are not at war in Africa — but our African partners certainly are.”

That is not entirely true.

Earlier this month, in fact, a White House report made it clear, for instance, that “the United States is currently using military force” in Somalia. At about the same moment, the New York Times revealed an imminent Obama administration plan to deem al-Shabab “to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials,” strengthening President-elect Donald Trump’s authority to carry out missions there in 2017 and beyond.

As part of its long-fought shadow war against al-Shabab militants, the U.S. has carried out commando raids and drone assassinations there (with the latter markedly increasing in 2015-2016). On December 5th, President Obama issued his latest biannual “war powers” letter to Congress which noted that the military had not only “conducted strikes in defense of U.S. forces” there, but also in defense of local allied troops. The president also acknowledged that U.S. personnel “occasionally accompany regional forces, including Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, during counterterrorism operations.”

Obama’s war powers letter also mentioned American deployments in Cameroon, Djibouti, and Niger, efforts aimed at countering Joseph Kony’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa, a long-running mission by military observers in Egypt, and a continuing deployment of forces supporting “the security of U.S. citizens and property” in rapidly deteriorating South Sudan.

The president offered only two sentences on U.S. military activities in Libya, although a long-running special ops and drone campaign there has been joined by a full-scale American air war, dubbed Operation Odyssey Lightning, against Islamic State militants, especially those in the city of Sirte. Since August 1st, in fact, the United States has carried out nearly 500 air strikes in Libya, according to figures supplied by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Odyssey Lightning is, in fact, no outlier. While the “primary named operations” involving America’s elite forces in Africa have been redacted from the declassified secret files in TomDispatch’s possession, a November 2015 briefing by Bolduc, obtained via a separate FOIA request, reveals that his command was then involved in seven such operations on the continent. These likely included at least some of the following: Enduring Freedom-Horn of Africa, Octave Shield, and/or Juniper Garret, all aimed at East Africa; New Normal, an effort to secure U.S. embassies and assets around the continent; Juniper Micron, a U.S.-backed French and African mission to stabilize Mali (following a 2012 coup there by a U.S.-trained officer and the chaos that followed); Observant Compass, the long-running effort to decimate the Lord’s Resistance Army (which recently retired AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez derided as expensive and strategically unimportant); and Juniper Shield, a wide-ranging effort (formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara) aimed at Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. A 2015 briefing document by SOCAFRICA’s parent unit, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), also lists an ongoing “gray zone” conflict in Uganda.

On any given day, between 1,500 and 1,700 American special operators and support personnel are deployed somewhere on the continent. Over the course of a year they conduct missions in more than 20 countries. According to Bolduc’s November 2015 briefing, Special Operations Command Africa carries out 78 separate “mission sets.” These include activities that range from enhancing “partner capability and capacity” to the sharing of intelligence.

Mission Creep

Most of what Bolduc’s troops do involves working alongside and mentoring local allies. SOCAFRICA’s showcase effort, for instance, is Flintlock, an annual training exercise in Northwest Africa involving elite American, European, and African forces, which provides the command with a plethora of publicity. More than 1,700 military personnel from 30-plus nations took part in Flintlock 2016. Next year, according to Bolduc, the exercise is expected “to grow to include SOF from more countries, [as well as] more interagency partners.”

While the information has been redacted, the SOCAFRICA strategic planning document — produced in 2012 and scheduled to be fully declassified in 2037 — indicates the existence of one or more other training exercises. Bolduc recently mentioned two: Silent Warrior and Epic Guardian. In the past, the command has also taken part in exercises like Silver Eagle 10 and Eastern Piper 12. (U.S. Africa Command did not respond to requests for comment on these exercises or other questions related to this article.)

Such exercises are, however, just a small part of the SOCAFRICA story. Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions are a larger one. Officially authorized to enable U.S. special operators to “practice skills needed to conduct a variety of missions, including foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism,” JCETs actually serve as a backdoor method of expanding U.S. military influence and contacts in Africa, since they allow for “incidental-training benefits” to “accrue to the foreign friendly forces at no cost.” As a result, JCETs play an important role in forging and sustaining military relationships across the continent. Just how many of these missions the U.S. conducts in Africa is apparently unknown — even to the military commands involved. As TomDispatch reported earlier this year, according to SOCOM, the U.S. conducted 19 JCETs in 2012, 20 in 2013, and 20, again, in 2014. AFRICOM, however, claims that there were nine JCETs in 2012, 18 in 2013, and 26 in 2014.

Whatever the true number, JCETs are a crucial cog in the SOCAFRICA machine. “During a JCET, exercise or training event, a special forces unit might train a partner force in a particular tactical skill and can quickly ascertain if the training audience has adopted the capability,” explained Brigadier General Bolduc. “Trainers can objectively measure competency, then exercise… that particular skill until it becomes a routine.”

In addition, SOCAFRICA also utilizes a confusing tangle of State Department and Pentagon programs and activities, aimed at local allies that operate under a crazy quilt of funding schemes, monikers, and acronyms. These include deployments of Mobile Training Teams, Joint Planning Advisory Teams, Joint Military Education Teams, Civil Military Support Elements, as well as Military Information Support Teams that engage in what once was called psychological operations, or psyops — that is, programs designed to “inform and influence foreign target audiences as appropriately authorized.”

Special Operations Command Africa also utilizes an almost mind-numbing panoply of “security cooperation programs” and other training activities including Section 1207(n) (also known as the Transitional Authorities for East Africa and Yemen, which provides equipment, training, and other aid to the militaries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Yemen “to conduct counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda affiliates, and al-Shabab” and “enhance the capacity of national military forces participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia”); the Global Security Contingency Fund (designed to enhance the “capabilities of a country’s national military forces, and other national security forces that conduct border and maritime security, internal defense, and counterterrorism operations”); the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (or PREACT, designed to build counterterror capacities and foster military and law enforcement efforts in East African countries, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda); and, among others, the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Partnership, the Global Peace Operations Initiative, the Special Operations to Combat Terrorism, the Combatting Terrorism Fellowship, and another known as Counter-Narcotic Terrorism.

Like Africa’s terror groups and Bolduc’s special ops troops, the almost 20 initiatives utilized by SOCAFRICA — a sprawling mass of programs that overlie and intersect with each other — have a border-busting quality to them. What they don’t have is clear records of success. A 2013 RAND Corporation analysis called such capacity-building programs “a tangled web, with holes, overlaps, and confusions.” A 2014 RAND study analyzing U.S. security cooperation (SC) found that there “was no statistically significant correlation between SC and change in countries’ fragility in Africa or the Middle East.” A 2016 RAND report on “defense institution building” in Africa noted a “poor understanding of partner interests” by the U.S. military.

“We’re supporting African military professionalization and capability-building efforts, we’re supporting development and governance via civil affairs and military information support operations teams,” Bolduc insisted publicly. “[A]ll programs must be useful to the partner nation (not the foreign agenda) and necessary to advance the partner nations’ capabilities. If they don’t pass this simple test… we need to focus on programs that do meet the African partner nation’s needs.”

The 2012 SOCAFRICA strategic planning document obtained by TomDispatch reveals, however, that Special Operations Command Africa’s primary aim is not fostering African development, governance, or military professionalization. “SOCAFRICA’s foremost objective is the prevention of an attack against America or American interests,” according to the declassified secret report. In other words, a “foreign agenda,” not the needs of African partner nations, is what’s driving the elite force’s border-busting missions.

American Aims vs. African Needs

Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw cautioned that because SOCAFRICA and AFRICOM have both changed commanders since the 2012 document was issued, it was likely out of date. “I recommend you contact SOCAFRICA,” he advised. That command failed to respond to multiple requests for information or comment. There are, however, no indications that it has actually altered its “foremost objective,” while Bolduc’s public comments suggest that the U.S. military’s engagement in the region is going strong.

“Our partners and [forward deployed U.S. personnel] recognize the arbitrary nature of borders and understand the only way to combat modern-day threats like ISIS, AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], Boko Haram, and myriad others is to leverage the capabilities of SOF professionals working in concert,” said Bolduc. “Borders may be notional and don’t protect a country from the spread of violent extremism… but neither do oceans, mountains… or distance.”

In reality, however, oceans and distance have kept most Americans safe from terrorist organizations like AQIM and Boko Haram. The same cannot be said for those who live in the nations menaced by these groups. In Africa, terrorist organizations and attacks have spiked alongside the increase in U.S. Special Operations missions there. In 2006, the percentage of forward-stationed special operators on the continent hovered at 1% of total globally deployed SOF forces. By 2014, that number had hit 10% — a jump of 900% in less than a decade. During that same span, according to information from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, terror incidents in Africa increased precipitously — from just over 100 per year to nearly 2,400 annually. During the same period, the number of transnational terrorist organizations and illicit groups operating on the continent jumped from one to, according to Bolduc’s reckoning, nearly 50.

Correlation may not equal causation, but SOCAFRICA’s efforts have coincided with significantly worsening terrorist violence and the growth and spread of terror groups. And it shouldn’t be a surprise. While Bolduc publicly talks up the needs of African nations, his border-busting commandos operate under a distinctive America-first mandate and a mindset firmly in keeping with that of the incoming commander-in-chief. “My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first,” Donald Trump said earlier this year in a major foreign policy speech. Kicking off his victory tour earlier this month, the president-elect echoed this theme. “From now on, it’s going to be America first. Okay? America first. We’re going to put ourselves first,” he told a crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In Africa, the most elite troops soon to be under his command have, in fact, been operating this way for years. “[W]e will prioritize and focus our operational efforts in those areas where the threat[s] to United States interests are most grave,” says the formerly secret SOCAFRICA document. “Protecting America, Americans, and American interests is our overarching objective and must be reflected in everything we do.”

— source tomdispatch.com By Nick Turse

Mansion On The Hill

Mansion On The Hill
Bruce Springsteen

There’s a place out on the edge of town, sir
Rising above the factories and the fields
Now ever since I ‘as a child I can remember
That mansion on the hill

In the day you can see the children playing
On the road that leads to those gates of hardened steel
Steel gates that completely surround,
The mansion on the hill

At night my daddy’d take me and we’d ride
Through the streets of a town so silent and still
Park on a back road along the highway side
Look up at that mansion on the hill

In the summer all the lights would shine
There’d be music playing, people laughing all the time
Me and my sister we’d hide out in the tall corn fields
Sit and listen to the mansion on the hill

Environmental police in Beijing

A new police force will crack down on environmental offenders in Beijing, city officials announced Saturday, marking the Chinese government’s latest attempt to reduce smog.

The environmental police squad was one of several new measures introduced by Cai Qi, acting mayor of Beijing, this weekend. Other measures included cutting coal use by 30 percent in 2017, shutting down 500 higher-polluting factories and upgrading 2,500 others, phasing out 300,000 higher-polluting older vehicles, and supplying cleaner gas and diesel at fuel stations starting Feb. 15. The announcement came one day after municipal authorities in Beijing announced they would install air purifiers in the city’s schools and kindergartens.

— source csmonitor.com

It’s Not Racism vs. Anti-Racism; It’s Capitalism vs. Socialism

The defensible heart of identity politics is its commitment to opposing forms of discrimination like racism, sexism, and homophobia. I share that commitment. But opposing discrimination today has no more to do with a left politics than do equally powerful ethical commitments against, say, violence or dishonesty. Why? Because the core of a left politics is its critique of and resistance to capitalism—its commitment to decommodifying education, health care, and housing, and creating a more economically equal society. Neither hostility to discrimination nor the accompanying enthusiasm for diversity makes the slightest contribution to accomplishing any of those goals. Just the opposite, in fact. They function instead to provide inequality with a meritocratic justification: If everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, there’s no injustice when some people fail.

This is why Adolph Reed and I have been arguing that identity politics is not an alternative to class politics but a form of it: It’s the politics of an upper class that has no problem with seeing people being left behind as long as they haven’t been left behind because of their race or sex. That’s why elite institutions like universities make an effort to recruit black people as well as white into the ruling class. They’re seeking to legitimate the class structure, not abolish it. Of course, if we’re going to accept a ruling class, one that’s open to people other than straight white men is preferable. But shouldn’t the left be more committed to doing something for the vast majority of people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations who will never belong to that class? We’ve never thought the fact that a few white people get to become rich was a victory for poor white people, so why should substituting in a few black people change the equation?

It’s not racism that creates the difference between classes; it’s capitalism. And it’s not anti-racism that can combat the difference; it’s socialism. We’re frequently told that black poverty is worse than white poverty—more isolating, more concentrated—and maybe that’s true. But why, politically, should it matter? You don’t build the left by figuring out which victim has been most victimized; you build it by organizing all the victims. When it comes to the value of universal health care, for example, we don’t need to worry for a second about whether the black descendants of slaves are worse off than the white descendants of coal miners. The goal is not to make sure that black people are no sicker than white people; it’s to make everybody healthy. That’s why they call it universal.

You don’t build a left by arguing over who has been most victimized; you build it by organizing all the victims.

Discrimination is neoliberalism’s theory of inequality. Even poor whites have started to buy it—a large number appear to think anti-white bias is their real problem! Obviously, they’re wrong, but when, as Barbara and Karen Fields point out, the language of victimization has become so impoverished that it consists of nothing but discrimination, you go with what you’ve got. A new left politics will need to change that. Instead of a more complicated understanding of identity—of race, sex, and intersectionality (that opiate of the professional managerial class)—we need a more profound understanding of exploitation.

— source commondreams.org By Walter Benn Michaels

US deaths from synthetic opioids surge by 72 percent

The number of overdose deaths in the US from synthetic opioids surged 72 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to new data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The dramatic one-year rise follows a tripling of overdose deaths from opioids from 1999 to 2014, as tracked by the CDC.

The news follows CDC research released earlier this month showing that heroin overdose deaths in the US have reached epidemic proportions, with opioid overdose deaths rising 5,000 since 2014, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history.

According to the CDC’s latest report, a majority of US states reported significant increases in overdose deaths due to heroin and prescription painkiller abuse last year. In 2015 alone, drug overdoses killed 52,000 people, with nearly 66 percent of these deaths resulting from abuse of prescription or illegal opioids.

The CDC data shows that two synthetic opioids, fentanyl and tramadol, are largely responsible for the nationwide increase in drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a potent opioid pain medication estimated to be at least 50 to 100 times as strong as morphine. Overdoses from tramadol often involve other drugs, including alcohol.

Last year, 9,580 died from overdoses of synthetic opioids other than methadone, while painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicotin had a 4 percent increase, resulting in 17,536 overdose deaths.

Over the last six years, deaths form heroin overdoses alone have quadrupled. For the first time ever, more people died from heroin overdoses last year, 12,989, than were killed by gun violence, 12,979.

Males saw a staggering 90.9 percent increase in synthetic opioid deaths from 2014 to 2015, with younger men the hardest hit. Men ages 15-24 saw a 91.7 percent increase; ages 25-34, a 94.1 percent increase; ages 35-44, an 80.6 percent increase.

Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids among women rose by 46.2 percent in 2015, with women ages 15-24 seeing the largest one-year rise in deaths–116.7 percent–of any age or gender group.

The CDC’s data shows blacks of all ages (non-Hispanic) with the largest one-year increase, 95 percent; followed by whites (non-Hispanic), 75 percent; and Hispanics, 50 percent.

Seven years into the so-called economic recovery, cities and towns across the country are gripped by an opioid and heroin epidemic that sees no signs of ebbing. Families seem helpless to deal with their members’ addictions, with their only apparent ally the drug naloxone (brand name Narcan), which reverses the effects of opioids within minutes. The drug is now widely available to the public in many states.

The Northeast region saw the biggest hike in synthetic opioid overdose deaths, rising by 107 percent in 2015 over 2014 figures. Three Northeast states registered overdose death increases in excess of 100 percent in one year: New York (135.7 percent), Connecticut (125.9 percent), and Massachusetts (108.7 percent). New Hampshire followed close behind (94.4 percent), as did Maine (90.4 percent).

In the face of the Massachusetts opioid crisis, Republican Governor Charlie Baker’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 slashes $1.929 million from the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, affecting treatment programs across the state.

In Connecticut, another hard-hit New England state, there are 400 people on the waiting list for the substance abuse treatment and detox programs paid for by the state’s judicial branch on any given day, according to the CT Mirror. To cut $4 million from the judicial branch’s budget, the state has cut substance abuse treatment beds in Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New London, Sharon and Waterbury.

The Midwest region saw the next biggest one-year increase, at 95 percent. Illinois saw a 120 percent increase, while Ohio had a 107.3 percent rise.

Among the 28 states meeting inclusion criteria for state-level analysis by the CDC, the largest absolute change in deaths from synthetic opioids other than methadone occurred in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia. States seeing the largest absolute rate changes for heroin deaths were Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and West Virginia.

Under conditions where budget cuts will only deepen under a Trump administration, little hope is offered to the tens of millions of people across the country facing a future of austerity and increased health problems, including addiction.

While one in seven Americans will become addicted to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime, according to a recent report from the US surgeon general, only 10 percent of those affected will ever receive help in treating their dependency.

Such is the true social legacy of Obama’s pro-corporate and militaristic policies, rooted in the defense of the capitalist profit system.

— source wsws.org By Kate Randall

SC indicates setting up SIT for Panama papers leak probe

The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that it may at a “relevant time” order the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to exclusively look into revelations made in the Panama papers on nearly 500 high-profile Indians who have allegedly parked money in off-shore accounts.

A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R. Banumathi said “everything” cannot be under the control of the SIT set up to investigate black money. That SIT is headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice M.B. Shah.

“One SIT should not control everything. We are thinking of another SIT. We want an independent SIT,” Justice Misra observed.

The government, represented by Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha, told the Supreme Court that it was “absolutely serious” about investigating disclosures in the Panama papers.

Meanwhile, SEBI has sought time to file its counter in the writ petition filed by Supreme Court advocate M.L. Sharma, who alleged that the leaked documents reveal the commission of a serious fraud.

In an earlier hearing, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had submitted that a Multi Agency Group (MAG) of various investigative agencies was formed by the government to go into the disclosures made in the list which included about 500 Indian entities.

The Panama leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions.

— source thehindu.com By Krishnadas Rajagopal