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  April 4, 2016

The Real News of the Day, April 4, 2016



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Panama Papers Expose Kleptocracy in Action The Real News - James Henry

This the Real News of the Day. I'm Kayla Rivara coming to you from Baltimore.

Panamanian Law Firm Leak Reveals Names of Owners of Hidden Assets in Tax Havens

 Leaked documents name hundreds of major political figures, celebrities, and business leaders around the world who hide their assets via offshore bank accounts and shell companies. The revelations came this weekend after an anonymous source leaked eleven and a half million confidential documents belonging to the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca and Company. The files detail the ways in which the firm helped the world's rich and powerful to evade taxes and engage in illegal arms and drug trade.

Five current heads of state are directly implicated in the schemes, including the prime minister of Iceland, the presidents of Ukraine, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates, and the Saudi king. All of them lead conservative governments that have previously described the fight against corruption as a top priority. Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson now faces a vote of no-confidence in parliament. No US officials are mentioned in the initial publication but are expected to show up in upcoming reports.

The leaked data trove was first provided to a German newspaper, which then shared it with several other outlets, including The Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It includes over two terabytes of data, which makes the leak the largest of its kind in history. The consortium of investigative journalists says that it has over one hundred journalists working in twenty five countries to analyze the documents.

The Real News spoke to tax and finance specialist James Henry, who says that the revelations show a global asset hiding industry.

US Supreme Court Issues Key Ruling on One Person, One Vote

 The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously against a conservative challenge to laws that shape voter districts. The court says all residents, regardless of their eligibility to vote, should be counted. ItÂ’s seen as handing a slight advantage to Democrats who benefit from voter districts where there is a large ineligible or non-citizen population.

Conservatives argued that only eligible voters should be counted, which would in turn exclude legal non-citizen residents, undocumented residents, and prisoners who have lost the right to vote.

Sanders Campaign Breaks Fundraising Record Again

 The Bernie Sanders campaign says it broke a previous fundraising record, with 44 million in donations raised alone in March.

This outpaces the 30 million that went to the Clinton campaign during the same month. Sanders received those contributions from over two million donors, which is double the number who gave to Clinton. Sanders also continues to raise most of his campaign cash from small donors. The news comes as the two Democratic Candidates continue to disagree on a date for a new debate ahead of the April 19 primary in New York.

The next primaries will take place on Tuesday in Wisconsin, where polls show Ted Cruz well ahead of Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton.

EU Begins Sending Refugees Back to Turkey

 The European Union shipped two hundred refugees from Greece to Turkey today. This refugee transport was the first in what promises to be many, under an agreement that the EU reached with Turkey last month.

In return for accepting these mostly Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan refugees, Turkey will receive seven billion dollars in financial support from the EU and will also be allowed to send vetted refugees to different countries in Europe.

In the past year over one million refugees have arrived in Greece with the aim of traveling on to other countries in northern Europe. However, earlier this year various European countries, such as Macedonia and Austria, closed their borders to refugees, causing more of them to remain in Greece. Currently Greece houses over 100,000 refugees.

Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have questioned the legality of the EU-Turkey agreement because of Europe's obligation to receive and vet the applications all refugees before deciding whether to send them back to where they came from.

Brazil's Lula da Silva to Join Rousseff Cabinet on Thursday

 Former Brazilian president Lula da Silva said he will join the cabinet of President Dilma Rousseff after all. The announcement comes after Brazil's Supreme Court annulled the investigation and the injunctions that lower courts had issued against Lula, which had prevented him from becoming Rousseff's chief of staff. The Supreme Court argued that the investigating judge, Sergio Moro, should be removed from the case because he had released a private phone conversation between Lula and Rousseff.

President Rousseff is facing an impeachment proceeding this week, which many analysts say could result in her removal from office. However, given Lula's popularity, he could still potentially turn things around for Rousseff, once he takes his new position in the cabinet.

Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who has studied Brazil's legal system, told The Real News that the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff are politically motivated and have no basis in serious allegations against her.

Court Orders BP to Pay $20 Billion for Gulf of Mexico Spill

 A New Orleans Court granted final approval for BP to pay a twenty billion dollar settlement for the damages it caused in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill from the offshore oil rig known as Deepwater Horizon. The settlement includes five point five billion in penalties. The remaining amount is to cover environmental and economic damage that the spill caused.

In an earlier ruling the court's judge had already ruled that BP was grossly negligent in the explosion that killed eleven and spilled 134 million gallons of oil - the largest in history.

Although BP agreed not to appeal the case and to pay the settlement in full, this ruling does not end BP's legal troubles. In December of last year Mexicans whom the spill affected brought a new case against BP.

Well, that's all for today. My name is Kayla Rivara and this was The Real News of the Day. Please don't forget to visit our website, TheRealNews.com, where you can find all of our in-depth coverage of these stories and much more. Thanks for joining us!

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