THE FinCEN FILES

Revealing Trillions of Dollars Suspicious Transactions

How THE WORLDS BANKS move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions

A huge trove of secret government documentsreveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins.

And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it.

Today, the FinCEN Files — thousands of “suspicious activity reports” and other US government documents — offer an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks enabling it, and the government agencies that watch as it flourishes. BuzzFeed News has shared these reports with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations in 88 countries.

These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view, expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them. Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees.

Money laundering is a crime that makes other crimes possible. It can accelerate economic inequality, drain public funds, undermine democracy, and destabilize nations — and the banks play a key role. “Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world,” said Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator

The FinCEN files are more than 2,500 documents, most of which were files that banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017. They raise concerns about what their clients might be doing.

These documents are some of the international banking system’s most closely guarded secrets.

Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is the agency within the Treasury Department charged with combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. It collects millions of these suspicious activity reports, known as SARs. It makes them available to US law enforcement agencies and other nations’ financial intelligence operations. It even compiles a report called “Kleptocracy Weekly” that summarizes the dealings of foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What it does not do is force the banks to shut the money laundering down.

In the rare instances when the US government does crack down on banks, it often relies on sweetheart deals called deferred prosecution agreements, which include fines but no high-level arrests. The Trump administration has made it even harder to hold executives personally accountable, under guidance by former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein that warned government agencies against “piling on.”

But the FinCEN Files investigation shows that even after they were prosecuted or fined for financial misconduct, banks such as JPMorgan ChaseHSBCStandard CharteredDeutsche Bank, and Bank of New York Mellon continued to move money for suspected criminals.

Suspicious payments flow around the world and into countless industries, from international sports to Hollywood entertainment to luxury real estate to Nobu sushi restaurants. They filter into the companies that make familiar items from people’s lives, from the gas in their car to the granola in their cereal bowl.

The FinCEN Files expose an underlying truth of the modern era: The networks through which dirty money traverse the world have become vital arteries of the global economy. They enable a shadow financial system so wide-ranging and so unchecked that it has become inextricable from the so-called legitimate economy. Banks with household names have helped to make it so. – Buzzfeed

Secret Documents Show How Criminals Use Famous Banks To Finance Terror And Death

A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins. And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it.

Read the BBC Article

All you need to know about FinCEN documents leak

Leaked documents involving about $2tn of transactions have revealed how some of the world’s biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world. They also show how Russian oligarchs have used banks to avoid sanctions that were supposed to stop them getting their money into the West.

Committee launch inquiry into the use of forced labour in UK value chains (Uyghur)

Parliamentary Committee launch inquiry into extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has on 18th September 2020, announced an evidence hearing, likely to take place in November, which will explore the extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.

Forced labour of Uyghur in China

The Committee will investigate the risks that UK based businesses face when engaging supply chains that originate in China and what more the Government can do to ensure that businesses and consumers in the UK do not perpetuate the forced labour of Uyghur.

Call for written submissions

In advance of the hearing the Committee is inviting written submissions. In particular, the Committee wishes to investigate the extent to which the products of forced labour in Xinjiang are reaching the supply chains of UK businesses and to examine how aware businesses are of the risk that their activities may support forced labour.

The Committee also welcomes views on whether existing legislative and audit requirements for businesses in the UK are sufficient to prevent them from contributing to the human rights abuses experienced by Uyghurs. The Committee is also keen to understand what action stakeholders believe the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should take to eradicate forced labour from the supply chain of goods and services sold in the UK.

Nusrat Ghani MP “I am pleased the Committee has agreed to my proposal….There has been a wave of stories of ethnic cleansing of Uighurs in Xinjiang

Nusrat Ghani MP (Conservative MP for Wealden and lead BEIS Committee member for the Forced labour in UK value chains inquiry) said, “I am pleased the Committee has agreed to my proposal to hold an evidence session on the vitally important topic of the use of forced labour in UK value chains.

“There has been a wave of stories of ethnic cleansing of Uighurs in Xinjiang and also of the use of restrictive and oppressive measures employed by the Chinese authorities against ethnic minorities in the province. The UK, by contrast, is a beacon of freedom and hope for many but if we are truly serious about human rights’ we need to look close to home too. There are concerning accounts that many products sold in the UK can be traced back to forced labour at camps in China. I hope this inquiry will help to get a clearer picture of the extent of this problem and explore issues around businesses and the transparency of their value-chains and also what steps the Government could take to ensure that businesses and consumers in the UK do not perpetuate the forced labour of Uyghur. I also hope our evidence-gathering about the role of British business will help inform the Foreign Affairs Committee’s wider work investigating the mass incarceration of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.”

Committee launch inquiry into the use of forced labour in UK value chains – Committees – UK Parliament

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has today announced an evidence hearing, likely to take place in November, which will explore the extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.

Linked Articles:

Corporate giants including Nike face growing calls to cut ties with suppliers alleged to be using “forced labour” from China’s Uighur people.

Reported in BBC Business? -july 2020

Apple and Nike urged to cut ‘China Uighur ties’

Corporate giants including Nike face growing calls to cut ties with suppliers alleged to be using “forced labour” from China’s Uighur people. Activists have launched a campaign accusing firms of “bolstering and benefiting” from exploitation of the Muslim minority group. The US has also ramped up economic pressure, warning firms against doing business in Xinjiang due to the abuses.

‘Wearing a Mask? It May Come From China’s Controversial Labor Program’ — HRC Lab collaborates on the story

July 19, 2020

The Human Rights Center Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley collaborated with the Uyghur Human Rights Project and New York Times Visual Investigation team to expose Chinese companies using Uighur forced labor to produce face masks

‘Wearing a Mask? It May Come From China’s Controversial Labor Program’ – HRC Lab collaborates on the story

The Human Rights Center Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley collaborated with the Uyghur Human Rights Project and New York Times Visual Investigation team to expose Chinese companies using Uighur forced labor to produce face masks-some of which are being exported to the United States.

Parliamentary Bill Passed: Digitally Altered Body Images to display Logo

Fake body images cause anxiety and depression, and at worst, anorexia, bulimia or steroid abuse.

“Publishers, Advertisers and Broadcasters to display a logo in cases where an image of a human body or body part has been digitally altered in its proportions” Dr Luke Evans MP

A Parliamentary Bill has passed the first stage, if advertisers, broadcasters and publishers digitally enhance any body part, a clear logo needs to be displayed.

Second reading 16th October 2020

Full heartfelt bill as read by Dr Luke Evans – Conservative MP for Hinkley and Bosworth:

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require advertisers, broadcasters and publishers to display a logo in cases where an image of a human body or body part has been digitally altered in its proportions; and for connected purposes.

When I was 15 years old, I saved up all my pocket money to buy a multi-gym, with two goals in mind: the first, to improve my rugby; the second, to aspire to the physiques that I saw in the media—the likes of the Hoff in “Baywatch”. I spent hours working out. It definitely helped my rugby. I do not think that I ever made the grade, though, as a beach body Adonis. But the point is simply this: if my studies had not got in the way, if I had not had outside interests that caught my eye, perhaps, with the right diet and a perfect training regime and if I had been paid to do so, I might—just might—have been able to emulate them. At least it was physically possible.

However, here today, 20 years on, things have changed. With a click of a mouse. you can have bigger biceps. With a swipe of a thumb, you can have a slimmer waist. We are therefore creating a digitally warped reality, striving for bodies that can never be achieved. That is what I want to draw the House’s attention to today. Over the next few minutes I will set out the scale of the problem, what the Bill is intended to do, and why the Government and the House should support it.

Before entering the House I was a GP. I saw many patients suffering from low self-esteem, concerns over their body image. Patients would come in, desperate for diet solutions or a prescription for build-up drinks to make them get bigger. That was often tied up with anxiety and depression, and at worst, anorexia, bulimia or steroid abuse.

It is estimated that currently, there are about 1.25 million people suffering with anorexia and bulimia in the UK, and 1 million people using steroids or image-enhancing drugs. A survey of over 6,000 people, carried out last year by the Health Foundation, found that one in five adults and one in three teenagers felt shame about their body. Lauren Goodger, a celebrity, has spoken out about her anxiety when it comes to posting pictures of her body in social media. Spencer Matthews, of “Made in Chelsea” fame, has spoken candidly about his concerns about needing to bulk up, and turning to steroids to do so.

It is only human to want to compare ourselves with one another—our house, our car, our clothes and—possibly the oldest of them all—what we look like. Research carried out by the Florida House Experience showed that 87% of women and 65% of men compared themselves with pictures in the media. But what if what is shown in the media is not actually present in reality? Here lies the problem. We, society, are creating unrealistic and unachievable aspiration.

This very specific Bill is a small step to try and address that problem. Requiring advertisers, broadcasters and publishers to have a logo is a way of drawing viewers’ attention to the fact that all is not as it seems. It is not a call to ban; it is a call to inform. I do not want to stop people from removing red-eye on wedding photos ​or using filters to enhance lighting, but where the body proportions have been fundamentally changed, the viewer should know. This is a call for honest advertising, and we have a precedent for it already—we have the “P” showing product placement, disclaimers on political adverts and the, “Not actual game footage” notice on adverts for video games. This proposal is simply a translation of current practice into the digital world of body image.

Some detractors will argue, “This is the nanny state in action.” However, this Bill does not ban changes. It empowers the individual, giving them choice. Free marketeers will know that a perfect market needs perfect information, and this Bill is a step towards it. We do this in respect of physical health, with labelling on tobacco and food, and it gives people choice. Those who believe in parity of esteem between mental and physical health will see that this draws the two into line. The second set of detractors say, “That is all very well, but how can it be applied practically?” First, some countries already have similar laws in place, most notably Israel and France. Israel has the Photoshop law, which explicitly states that any airbrushing or editing on adverts must be labelled or people will face a fine. Similarly, France has legislation requiring the display of “photographic retouched” on edited images or people will face a fine.

The UK has the Advertising Standards Authority to regulate and enforce. It covers not only traditional media, but online media. In meetings with the ASA, the likes of Facebook and Instagram are all keen to stress how they proactively adhere to the ASA guidelines and, indeed, the law. Facebook already differentiates between content added organically—by a member of the public—and content added for commercial use. The latter is actively monitored and is held to a higher set of rules when it is published. Platforms such as Facebook for advertisers have algorithms to search for accounts using the platform for commercial activity. Therefore, if the law changes, the enforcement and adherence remains the same.

The big question is: what about social influencers? It is a grey area. I have already mentioned that the likes of Facebook automatically search for signs of commercial activity, and the industry is actively trying to determine how to define “social influencers”. Clearly, there is a distinct and tangible difference between having 100 followers and having 100,000 followers. This Bill will not answer that question, but neither does it have to. That is beyond the scope of this legislation and it is already being worked on by the industry, the ASA and the Competition and Markets Authority. In short, the industry draws a distinction between commercial and organic—the only question is: at what level? In conjunction,  ​one further solution, building on what I have already set out, is to have a click-button declaration upon the uploading of the photo, whereby the user is asked whether the image has had its body proportions changed. If it has, a logo will automatically be applied. We already have a similar process when people are asked to declare the copyright when they upload an image, so why can the same thing not apply in this regard?

The UK has a strong and proven track record of self-regulation under the ASA, working within a legal framework. I see no reason why that would change under this Bill, so why should the Government and the House support it? I am glad to see the Minister, whom I thank for being here today. Ironically, my post about this subject has, organically, reached almost half a million people; there have been multiple stories in the national media about this topic and a big debate has been started since the mention of this law. Charities such as Girlguiding have come out in support of the cause. After all, research shows that 88% of girls between the ages of 11 and 21 want images to be labelled. The Bill commands support from across the House, and I am hugely grateful to the Chairs of the Select Committee on Health and Social Care, the Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Select Committee on Women and Equalities for all seeing the value in this Bill and for supporting it.

Finally, what do I hope to gain from this Bill? I actually hope I will never see this logo, as advertisers, broadcasters and publishers do not feel the need to fundamentally alter the proportions, but if they do, I hope they are honest about it. I hope that those who are social influencers will not feel the need to change their images and, anecdotally, there are already reports in the press that the Bill would change habits. However, as someone who got married last year, I hope to be a father in the next year or two, so if this Bill is a small step that means my daughter is less likely to worry about her diet or my son is less concerned about building muscle in an aspiration that simply cannot be possible, I will rest a little bit easier. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Dr Luke Evans, Jeremy Hunt, Caroline Nokes, Julian Knight, Dean Russell, Simon Jupp, Neale Hanvey, Sarah Owen, Chris Elmore, Dr Lisa Cameron, Jim Shannon and Wera Hobhouse present the Bill.

Dr Luke Evans accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 16 October, and to be printed (Bill 180).

Digitally Altered Body Images Bill 2019-21

2nd reading: House of Commons | 16.10.2020 This Bill is being prepared for publication. The next stage for this Bill, Second reading, is scheduled to take place on Friday 16 October 2020. This is a Private Members’ Bill and was introduced to Parliament on Tuesday 15 September 2020 under the Ten Minute Rule.

Tinda Anand – Openied

Scientists from the Wuhan virus lab have ‘defected’ to the West, reveals senior Trump ally Steve Bannon – as FBI gathers evidence that coronavirus pandemic was caused by an accidental leak

  • Steve Bannon says spies are building case against Beijing that virus was lab leak
  • Mr Bannon says defectors were talking to intelligence agencies in UK and the US
  • He urges Boris Johnson to scrap plans for Huawei to play role in UK’s 5G network 

Experts from the Chinese laboratory at the centre of global suspicion over the coronavirus pandemic have ‘defected’ and are in the hands of Western intelligence, the architect of Donald Trump’s presidential victory claimed last night. 

Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s White House chief strategist and retains close links to the administration, told The Mail on Sunday that spies were building a case against Beijing on the basis that the global pandemic had been caused by a leak from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan and that the subsequent cover-up had amounted to ‘pre-meditated murder’.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Bannon also urged Boris Johnson to scrap plans to allow the Chinese communications firm Huawei to play a role in the UK’s new 5G network.

The Prime Minister is due to make an announcement within days over Huawei’s future, which is expected to lead to the company’s equipment being stripped from the 5G programme within the next decade.

Mr Bannon, 66, who worked as a naval officer, investment banker and film producer before becoming chief executive officer of Trump’s presidential campaign, describes himself as an ‘ultra-hawk’ on China, arguing that Western countries should work together to bring down the ‘brutal, authoritarian’ regime.

His incendiary claims about the source of the virus, which has so far claimed more than 560,000 lives worldwide, came as Western governments gather growing evidence to challenge Beijing’s original claim that the infection first spread from a market. 

Even the Chinese government’s own Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recently admitted that the virus had been brought in to the market, rather than originating there.

Mr Bannon, who has been tipped by the US media for a return to Trump’s inner circle to shore up his faltering campaign for re-election, said: ‘I know that certain defectors are working with the FBI here to try to knit together what happened’ in the Wuhan institute, which he said was ‘horribly run and terribly mismanaged’.

He claimed: ‘They are not talking to the media yet, but there are people out of the Wuhan lab and other labs that have come to the West and are turning over evidence of the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party. I think people are going to be shocked’.

Mr Bannon, who sat on the US National Security Council during his time in the White House, says spies are trying to assemble a case that the virus spread as the result of an accident involving experiments to develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs to deal with Sars-style viruses.

Speaking to this newspaper from a yacht off the East coast of America, Mr Bannon said that defectors were talking to the intelligence agencies in America, Europe and the UK.

He said: ‘I think that they [spy agencies] have electronic intelligence, and that they have done a full inventory of who has provided access to that lab. I think they have very compelling evidence. And there have also been defectors.

‘People around these labs have been leaving China and Hong Kong since mid-February. [US intelligence] along with MI5 and MI6 are trying to build a very thorough legal case, which may take a long time. It’s not like James Bond.’

Mr Bannon even suggested that the French government, which helped to build the institute, had left behind monitoring systems after Beijing shut them out of the project before it opened in 2017. 

He said: ‘The thing was built with French help, so don’t think that there aren’t some monitoring devices in there. I think what you are going to find out is that these guys were doing experiments which they weren’t fully authorised [for] or knew what they were doing and that somehow, either through an inadvertent mistake, or on a lab technician, one of these things got out.

‘It’s not that hard for these viruses to get out. That is why these labs are so dangerous.

Staff are pictured above at the Wuhan Institute of Technology. Speaking to this newspaper from a yacht off the East coast of America, Mr Bannon said that defectors were talking to the intelligence agencies in America, Europe and the UK
Steve Bannon

‘You essentially had a biological Chernobyl in Wuhan, but the centre of gravity, the Ground Zero, was round the Wuhan lab, in terms of the casualty rates. And like Chernobyl, you also had the cover-up – the state apparatus reports to itself and just protects itself.’

‘We are in the most extraordinary crisis in modern American history, more than Vietnam, the Cold War, even the Second World War. A global pandemic and an economic inferno. I have no faith in the WHO, the leadership should face criminal charges and be shut down.’

The Chinese government dismisses claims of a laboratory leak as a ‘conspiracy theory’ and denies any cover-up. The WHO denies any complicity in a cover up.

When he was asked whether Mr Johnson should scrap plans to allow Huawei into the UK’s 5G system, Mr Bannon said that the company was part of the ‘military wing of the Chinese communist party’ and the deal should be axed.

‘We could cut off Huawei and return British Telecom to its former glory,’ he said. ‘The President thinks that it is a huge issue. To me, Huawei should be shut down throughout the world in every country, and their assets liquidated. I say to Boris Johnson – shut down Huawei, and keep calm and carry on.’

In an exclusive interview, with The. Daily Mail Mr Bannon also urged Boris Johnson to scrap plans to allow the Chinese communications firm Huawei to play a role in the UK¿s new 5G network

As reported in The Daily Mail:

More than 700 arrested in ‘biggest ever’ UK operation against organised crime after encrypted phone network cracked

Arrests in UK July 2nd 2020
Importing Guns, Drugs People

Police have arrested more than 700 suspects, seized £54m in cash and tonnes of drugs in the UK’s “biggest and most significant” operation ever against organised crime.

Arrests in UK 2nd July 2020
Importing Drugs Guns People

Officials said previously “untouchable” kingpins who have evaded justice for decades, while enjoying “flashy” lifestyles, were among those detained.

High-level gangs, including those importing guns, drugs and people into Britain, have been targeted in a series of raids after law enforcement agencies accessed a secretive communications network.

Known as EncroChat, it was used on bespoke mobile phones that were designed to be secure against police infiltration and examination.

But in April, an international team cracked its encryption, started spying on users and harvesting their data as they carried on unawares.

Article from the Independant:

‘Biggest ever’ UK operation against organised crime after encrypted phone network cracked

Police have arrested more than 700 suspects, seized £54m in cash and tonnes of drugs in the UK’s “biggest and most significant” operation ever against organised crime. Officials said previously “untouchable” kingpins who have evaded justice for decades, while enjoying “flashy” lifestyles, were among those detained.

NZ PM rushes world’s most extreme abortion legislation into law while country distracted with pandemic

Courtesy BeechMilk on Twitter

New Zealand MPs have introduced the most extreme abortion law in the world after the Abortion Legislation Bill passed its third reading in Parliament.

The bill passed by 68 votes to 51 – a much narrower margin than at the first and second reading.

New Zealand PM

The new law will mean that New Zealand has the most extreme abortion law in the world, this will include:

Polling shows that the new law is strongly opposed by the public in New Zealand and in particular by women, with only 2% of women supporting abortion being available on-demand up to birth, 93% of women opposing sex-selective abortion being legal and 94% of women supporting the current legal standards for abortion providers and premises.

Read the Full Artcle

NZ PM rushes world’s most extreme abortion legislation into law while country distracted with pandemic

New Zealand MPs have introduced the most extreme abortion law in the world after the Abortion Legislation Bill passed its third reading in Parliament. The bill passed by 68 votes to 51 – a much narrower margin than at the first and second reading. The new law will mean that New Zealand has the most […]

Building back a green and resilient recovery

Statement by Lord Goldsmith on Building a Clean and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19 in Support of Climate Action and the Sustainable Development Goals

Published 8 July 2020From:Foreign & Commonwealth Office and The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith

Thank you so much, Helen, for the introduction and for the brilliant framing questions which are spot on, in my view. It’s a huge honour to be co-hosting this event, and I hope this finds you all safe and well.

As Helen has already said, the COVID crisis has already had an unprecedented impact on the world and it has brutally exposed so many of our vulnerabilities. And it is undoubtedly a wake up call, not just in the narrow sense of pandemics. COVID itself is likely a consequence of our abusive relationship with the natural world. But it is just one such consequence and horrific that it has been for so many people around the world, it is nevertheless dwarfed by other threats. If trends continue, the effects of climate change and the industrial scale environmental degradation that we are engaging in will be many times more dramatic and the facts are stark. In my lifetime, more or less, populations of animals on average have more than halved; around a million species now face extinction, many within decades; and every minute the world loses roughly thirty football pitches worth of forests. For the first time ever, environmental risks now fill the top five places of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report. The IPCC, IPBES, the Global Commission on Adaptation, Professor Dasgupta’s review, they all tell the same somber story: we are undermining our very foundations and it makes as little sense economically as it does ecologically.

But as Helen also said, it is also said it is also a moment of opportunity. As we recover and rebuild, as we all must, we can make different decisions, we can make wiser decisions. Governments everywhere are currently designing their economic recovery packages, and they can stick with the status quo, bailing out high carbon, environmentally damaging industries and locking in decades of emissions, or they can choose to make environmental sustainability and resilience the lens through which we map out our recovery.

In the UK, our Prime Minister has committed to “build back better and build back greener”. And through our joint leadership of the ‘recovering better for sustainability’ workstream of the UN Secretary-General’s Financing for Development Initiative, we will set out plans alongside our partners, the EU Fiji, Rwanda, to enhance international cooperation to ensure a Paris and SDG-alligned recovery. We will use our G7 Presidency, and work with the Italian G20 Presidency, both to push for a green and inclusive recovery, and to encourage countries to come forward with much stronger Nationally Determined Contributions ahead of COP26. And on that note, I do want to congratulate our co-hosts Jamaica and Rwanda for submitting new, ambitious plans, and I hope others will do the same.

Through our international climate finance, which we’ve committed to up to doubling to £11.6 billion, which is roughly $14 billion, we’ve established a Green Recovery Challenge Fund to directly support countries to design their recovery packages in a way that supports a green and resilient recovery. And I can proudly say that a green and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will be at the heart of our COP26 Presidency, running through each of our priority action areas.

The UK is committed to reaching a constructive, negotiated outcome at COP26 that concludes the outstanding elements of the Paris rulebook and drives forward collective climate action. And in addition to supporting this, we’ve chosen five key themes for COP26, and I hope you don’t mind me describing them briefly to you now.

First, we want to drive international cooperation on clean energy so the countries realise its potential to create jobs, provide cheaper power and stimulate economic recovery. We want to bring countries, development banks, investors and civil society together to help countries considering new coal plants access investments in the cleaner alternatives. We will increase innovation in technologies like smart green grids through a second phase of Mission Innovation.

The second theme is making zero emission vehicles cheaper than petrol and diesel and speeding up progress on low-carbon transportation to reduce emissions and improve public health.

Third, and underpinning all our goals, we need to harness the power of the markets to deliver a rapid transition and to protect nature. We will need to meet and move beyond the current $100 billion target, accelerating the shift in global financial flows.

Fourth, we need to help every part of society, and especially the most vulnerable, adapt and become more resilient to the effects of climate change by turning the Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience, which was launched at the UN Climate Action Summit last year, into tangible action on the ground.

And then finally, in my view, most importantly, we need to massively ramp up our efforts to protect and restore the natural ecosystems. This current crisis shows what happens when our relationship with nature breaks down. Numerous studies show that biodiversity loss is increasing the risk of infectious diseases like COVID-19, and we know the destruction of nature contributes disproportionately to climate change and poverty. Well over a billion people depend on forests, the same forests that we’re destroying at an appalling rate. Well over a billion people depend on fish as their main source of protein. And we cannot tackle climate change without ramping up our efforts to protect and restore nature. And nature based solutions to climate changes, things like protecting and restoring mangroves, forests, peatlands and even planting trees to cool our cities, these could provide a third of the cost effective climate change mitigation we need over the next decade, while also helping communities adapt to become more resilient.

But despite that, despite the huge contribution, they can make attract just 3% of global climate funding. And that makes zero sense. A growing market for the clean technology revolution is emerging. But that is not so for nature. Consider the Amazon and other great rainforests. The whole world depends on them. Yet their value barely registers, worth much more dead than alive. Financial incentives that destroy forests outstrip those in favor of their protection by over 40 to one. In the UK, we’ve doubled our climate finance, as I said, to £11.6 billion, or $14 billion, and we will be spending much of that uplift on nature.

Under our COP26 Presidency, we will build on the foundations laid at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit and encourage other donor countries to invest far more in nature-based solutions. But the cost of renewing and protecting nature is vastly more than public money can provide. So just as we are doing for carbon, we need to attach a market value to nature recovery and a cost to its destruction. We need to tackle those perverse incentives. Consider, for example, that the top 50 food producing countries spend over $700 billion a year in support for often destructive land use. Agriculture causes around 80% percent of deforestation. Imagine the impact if that support, the $700 billion, was shifted in favour of sustainability.

As countries respond to COVID-19, the coming months are crucial for climate and the 2030 agenda. Decisions that we take now are going to have impacts for decades to come. Countries developed and developing alike, international institutions, donors and civil society, must now work together to show international leadership for a green and resilient recovery that delivers on the promise of the SDGs. Without action, we will simply be backing vast problems for future generations. We have all the tools we need and working together, it is now time to deploy them.

Thank you very much indeed.

Published 8 July 2020:

Building back a green and resilient recovery

Thank you so much, Helen, for the introduction and for the brilliant framing questions which are spot on, in my view. It’s a huge honour to be co-hosting this event, and I hope this finds you all safe and well.

Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization

CNN on Twitter

The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone. 

Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted the news Tuesday. 

“Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the ⁦‪@WHO⁩in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” he wrote.

A State Department official also confirmed that “the United States’ notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO.”

Full on Article by CNN:

Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization

The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone.

Temporary cut to VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5% is announced

Rishi Sunak says while the government has taken “decisive action to protect our economy”

Rishi Sunak Weds 8th July 2020
  1. Plans include a new £2bn scheme to create thousands of job placements for young people
  2. The chancellor announces a temporary change to stamp duty – immediately increasing the threshold to £500,000
  3. Temporary cut to VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5% is announced
  4. Chancellor announces new job retention bonus for employers who bring back furloughed staff
  5. But Labour says the chancellor has “put off big decisions” and should have announced a “back to work Budget”
  6. A £2bn “green homes grant” to help make homes more energy efficient is also unveiled

Coronavirus: Tom Hanks ‘has no respect’ for people not wearing masks

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Tom Hanks, who recovered from Covid-19 earlier this year, has said he “has no respect” for people who decline to wear a mask in public during the pandemic.

The actor and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus while filming in Australia in March.

Many governments now recommend face coverings, but they are not mandatory in most places.

Hanks said: “I don’t get it, I simply do not get it, it is literally the least you can do.”

The actor was speaking to the Associated Press about face coverings while promoting his latest film.

“If anybody wants to build up an argument about doing the least they can do, I wouldn’t trust them with a driver’s licence,” he said.

“I mean, when you drive a car, you’ve got to obey speed limits, you’ve got to use your turn signals [indicators], you’ve got to avoid hitting pedestrians. If you can’t do those three things, you shouldn’t be driving a car.

“If you can’t wear a mask and wash your hands and social distance, I’ve got no respect for you, man. I don’t buy your argument.”

Full Article:

Coronavirus: Tom Hanks ‘has no respect’ for people not wearing masks

Tom Hanks, who recovered from Covid-19 earlier this year, has said he “has no respect” for people who decline to wear a mask in public during the pandemic. The actor and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for coronavirus while filming in Australia in March.