Global Review – 4th October

Data leak reveals offshore secrets of world leaders

Several world media lead with the Pandora Papers leak, as they were called by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which extracted information from 11.9 million new confidential files. They expose the dealings and secret wealth of 35 current and former world leaders and more than 300 public officials and billionaires. Among the revelations is how the King of Jordan secretly amassed £70m of UK and US property, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s link to secret assets in Monaco and how former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife saved more than £300,000 in stamp duty when buying a £6.45m London townhouse. It also reveals an offshore company owned by Maltese former Minister and EU Commissioner John Dalli. The investigation, the result of two-year work of 600 journalists and 150 newspapers, opens up an insight into over 29,000 offshore accounts and goes far beyond the Panama Papers of five years ago, based on the material from a single law firm. The Pandora Papers collect data analysis of 14 different financial services entities in countries and territories that include Switzerland, Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Belize and Cyprus. The documents examined are dated between 1996 and 2020, although some date back to the 1970s.

Inflation to dominate Eurozone Finance Ministers’ summit

Finance Ministers of eurozone member states meet in Luxembourg today with the “temporary” inflation line, supported so far by the European Central Bank, high on the agenda. The line is increasingly under attack after the flare-up of prices in the euro area at 3.4%, at a high of 13 years. Observers believe the presence of the ECB at the summit risks absorbing a large part of the agenda, otherwise dedicated to national reform programmes and stability or convergence programmes (NRPs) and the banking sector.

12 dead, 32 injured in Kabul attack

At least 12 people died and 32 others were injured in an attack on the Id Gah mosque – the second largest in Kabul – while the funeral of the mother of the Taliban spokesperson was being celebrated. According to sources cited by al Jazeera, three people were arrested. Tolo News reports that in the evening, the Taliban “carried out a blitz against an ISIS hideout in Kabul”, specifying that the operation ended with the “killing of fighters” of the terrorist organisation.

Lars Vilks dies in traffic accident

The Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog has died in a traffic accident in southern Sweden. Lars Vilks was reportedly travelling in a civilian police vehicle which collided with a truck near the town of Markaryd. Two police officers were also killed and the truck driver was taken to hospital.  Vilks, 75, lived under police protection after being subjected to death threats over the 2007 cartoon, which offended many Muslims who regard visual representation of the Prophet as blasphemous.

Number of pedophile priests shocks France

France is in shock as a report by an independent comnmission reveals that the number of pedophile priests who have raged undisturbed in the shadows since 1950, were between 2,900 and 3,200. The long-awaited 2,500-page report, by the Commission on sexual abuse in the Church (Ciase), is expected in its entirety by Tuesday – the fruit of two and a half years of work by the Commission, chaired by Jean-Marc Sauvé, a senior French executive, former member of the Council of State and of the EU Court of Justice. It will be delivered to the Bishops’ Conference of France and to the Conference of Religious of the Institutes and Congregations, which had commissioned it.

North, South Korea restore cross-border hotline

North and South Korea have restored their cross-border communication, with officials exchanging their first phone call since August. The restoration comes just days after Pyongyang sparked international concern with a series of missile tests in the span of a few weeks, prompting the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting. North Korea urged South Korea to step up efforts to improve relations, state media KCNA reported.

‘No Time To Die’ towards a record weekend

Daniel Craig’s farewell to James Bond anticipates a record weekend at the international box office. No Time To Die, the latest chapter of the 007 saga, arrived in theatres after several postponements due to the COVID pandemic – and immediately exploded at the box office. Variety quotes sector analysts predicting a total income of $112.9 million over the weekend, which would represent the biggest debut of the pandemic era excluding China (where the film is released on October 29) and North America (October 8). The most interesting feedback comes from the UK: after scoring around $7 million on debut and $7.6 million on Friday (the third highest grossing on Friday in October, and the third highest on Friday for the Bond franchise), with the largest release in UK box office history (3,600 screens in 772 cinemas), it is estimated to have raised $30 million over the weekend, a figure that would exceed Skyfall’s three-day opening in 2012 and would make it the most watched film of the pandemic era in just four days of release.

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