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Panama Papers, Polish Abortion Law, Spain Time Travel

PANAMA PAPERS SET OFF GLOBAL REACTION

A massive leak of more than 11 million documents has exposed an immense network of offshore shell companies, many of them illegal. The documents — dubbed the "Panama Papers" — were obtained by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and reveal the involvement of 72 current and former heads of state.

  • The Australian Taxation Office is investigating more than 800 high-net-wealth Australian clients of the secretive Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is the focus of the leaked tax haven records, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
  • Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson — one of many public officials whose offshore holdings were revealed — walked out of an interview with the Swedish television company SVT in March after being asked about his relationship to the offshore company Wintris.
  • In an interview with Bloomberg today, the head of a major Russian state-owned bank, Andrey Kostin, dismissed allegations that President Vladimir Putin is linked to as much as $2 billion in offshore transactions. He also rejected allegations that the bank made unsecured loans to a close friend of the president through a Cyprus-based subsidiary.
  • Argentinian President Mauricio Macri admitted being part of a family offshore company during his time as Buenos Aires mayor, Argentine daily La Nacion reports. The leaked documents show that Macri was director and vice president of a company managed by Mossack Fonseca. The Macri administration issued a statement yesterday saying that Macri was never a stakeholder in the ghost company but that he did play an occasional role as CEO.
  • Suspended UEFA Chief Michel Platini relied on Mossack Fonseca to help him administer an offshore company created in Panama in 2007, the same year he was named president of UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, Le Monde reports. Platini is currently serving a six-year ban from football over a $2 million payment from FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Platini, readers may recall, famously said in an interview last year, "I'm not a money man."
  • Argentinian football star Lionel Messi is threatening to sue Spanish paper El Confidencialfor defamation after the Panama Papers release suggest he engaged in tax fraud, Spanish media outlet El Economista reports. Documents produced by the Madrid-based daily show both the signatures of Messi and his father in acquiring the dormant Mega Star Enterprises via a Uruguayan buffer company.

57 KILLED IN PAKISTAN FLOOD

The death toll from floods triggered by torrential rains in northwestern Pakistan and parts of Kashmir has risen to 57, Business Standard reports. The heavy downpours that began on Saturday caused landslides and the collapse of dozens of homes.


SNAPSHOT

Photo: Cristian Cristel/Xinhua/ZUMA

Feathers flew Saturday as people participated in a giant pillow fight during International Pillow Fight Day in Bucharest, Romania.


MIGRANTS SENT BACK TO TURKEY

Migrants from Greece began arriving in Turkey today under an EU deal aimed at stopping the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, Reuters reports. Ankara has agreed to take back all migrants from Greece who don't qualify for asylum in return for the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and rewarding the country with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Le Monde takes a close look at the evolution of raï music, which was born in North Africa but became hugely popular in France in the 1980s. Today, with both religious and ethnic lines hardening, the music is still present, though far more discreet. "The change is an indicator of how much different ethnic communities are closing in on themselves. To find it, one has to look in its new settings — in the ‘shisha cafes,' which in theory do'"t sell alcohol but nevertheless resist the pressures of a hardening Islam that now considers cabarets to be places of ill repute. Here, ‘céfrans' (‘white people' in French slang) are few, almost absent."

Read the full article, How North African Rai Music Survives In The Age Of Jihad.


POLAND PROTESTS EVEN STRICTER ABORTION LAW

Thousands of people participated in a pro-choice rally in Poland yesterday to oppose the conservative ruling party's plan to outlaw abortion completely, even in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, The Guardian reports. Poland already has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza has a video of Warsaw churchgoers leaving mass as priests read out a letter from the bishops' conference calling for Poland's limited abortion rights to be scrapped.


MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD



AL-NUSRA SPOKESMAN KILLED IN AIRSTRIKE

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says al-Nusra Front spokesman Abu Firas was killed alongside another 20 militants in an airstrike in northwestern Syria yesterday, CNN reports. While the observatory has said that the strike was carried out by Russian or Syrian aircraft, rebel sources say it appeared to have the hallmarks of a U.S. drone strike.


TIME TRAVEL IN SPAIN

Former Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy has proposed changing the country's time zone and giving workers more continental working hours, Spanish daily El País reports.


GIBRALTAR AND BREXIT

Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports from the far southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, in Gibraltar — affectionately known as "the Rock" — which has long been under British control. Locals and the government alike there are opposed to "Brexit," a British exit from the European Union, which is up before a national referendum this summer. Read more in English here.


ON THIS DAY


Grumpy Cat celebrates four years of Internet fame today. That and more in today's shot of history.

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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

Roshanak Astaraki

-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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