We’re in a class of our own: when it comes to gun violence against women, the most dangerous place for a woman in the developed world is the US.
Tell your senators to support legislation that will keep guns out of the hands of stalkers and domestic abusers and save women’s lives.
After wrecking the U.S. economy and sucking hundreds of billions of dollars from American taxpayers for their own survival, what can our patriotic big banks do for an encore? Why, help American companies flee the U.S. to avoid taxes, of course. For America!
Andrew Ross Sorkin had a must-read New York Times column on Tuesday about how some of our biggest bailout recipients also have the biggest share of the nearly $1 billion banks have made in the past few years helping U.S. companies do “inversions.” That’s when an American company buys a company in an foreign country that has a lower tax rate and then moves its headquarters to that country to shave a few points from its tax bill, possibly costing the U.S. government $19 billion over the next decade. For America.
And you’ll never guess which bank has made the most money on this patriotic activity! OK, you’ll probably guess: It is Goldman Sachs:
Yes, the Vampire Squid has made more than $200 million advising companies on 10 different inversion deals since 2011, according to the NYT’s crunching of Thomson Reuters data. The second-busiest inversion handmaiden is Morgan Stanley, with 8 deals at nearly $98 million. JPMorgan Chase has made more than $184 million on 6 such deals, and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has taken the extra step of publicly defending the practice, Sorkin noted.
“We have a flawed corporate tax code that is driving U.S. companies overseas,” Dimon recently said on a conference call. “Even if you stop and say, ‘Don’t invert,’ capital will move away.”
And then Dimon added this hilarious kicker: “I’m just as patriotic as anyone.” Which is a little like the “some of my best friends are black” racism defense.
I dare say that Jamie Dimon might not be exactly as patriotic as anyone, like, say, a soldier holding it down at a forward operating base in Afghanistan or, I don’t know, maybe the CEO of a company that decides against doing an inversion for reasons of actual patriotism.
But Jamie Dimon is not the first person in a Sorkin column to declare their undying love of country while doing the opposite thing. In a recent column titled “Reluctantly, Patriot Flees Homeland for Greener Tax Pastures,” Heather Bresch, the CEO of drug maker Mylan, called herself a patriot as she reluctantly packed her bags to reluctantly move her company forever to the Netherlands, in order to reluctantly cut her company’s tax bill from 25 percent to the “high teens.”
Dimon and other defenders of inversions claim they keep U.S. companies competitive and so are truly patriotic. If only the U.S. would cut corporate tax rates, they say, then these companies would stop running away. But most of these companies already pay far less than the statutory tax rate of 35 percent. And one tax professor told Sorkin that the U.S. would have to cut its corporate tax rate to less than 10 percent to have any real effect.
Unlike Dimon and Bresch, many bankers involved in inversions apparently have normal human shame responses and thus declined to comment to Sorkin on the record about inversions. One told Sorkin, anonymously:
“This is going to sound cynical, but as much as I may hate these deals and the ramifications for our country, if I don’t do the deal, my competitor across the street will be happy to do it.”
Pro tip: If you ever hear an investment banker start a sentence off with “This is going to sound cynical,” you’d better brace yourself for a blast of weapons-grade cynicism right in the face.
President Obama has called for Congress to stop inversions, so of course they will probably go on forever. But if even Andrew Ross Sorkin, who usually struggles to find reasons to criticize Wall Street, is angry about them, then maybe the chances are a little better than we thought.
He’s Miami’s favorite graffiti artist, whose signature sleepy eyeballs are painted on everything from well-known murals to local record shops to nightclubs tohotels to the warehouse holding one of the city’s most prestigious private collections.
But the artist known as Ahol Sniffs Glue — real name David Anasagasti — says American Eagle Outfitters took his copyrighted imagery worldwide without asking permission or offering compensation.
According to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, the teen clothier is guilty of “blatant, unlawful and pervasive infringement” for using Ahol’s eyeballs motif in advertising on its website, social media pages, targeted marketing, a billboard in downtown New York City, and store displays from Tokyo to Panama.
Incredibly, the clothing chain allegedly even hired artists to recreate one of Ahol’s murals for an eight foot display at a store opening in Medellín, Colombia, and put their own label on it, “essentially incorporating Mr. Anasagasti’s artwork into AEO’s own brand identity.”
Photos from the Medellín event, some of which were included in court filings by the artist’s attorneys, show party guests posing in front of what looks to be a sloppy recreation of Ahol’s work:
Ahol’s eyeballs first made their way into American Eagle imagery when the company held a March photo shoot in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, where the walls of neighborhood buildings are covered in commissioned street art from the likes of Shephard Fairey, Ryan McGuinness, Retna, Kenny Scharf, and locals like Ahol.
The complaint claims American Eagle knew it needed to seek permission to use such “creative works” captured in the resulting advertising campaign — namely, Ahol’s blue "Ocean Glass" mural, which adorns a glass gallery and was copyrighted in April — but never reached out for approval even though they had his contact information.
The lawsuit points out that in one image from the campaign, a “young, clean-cut and apparently-Caucasian” model is posed holding a can of spray paint, suggesting that the model is responsible for creating the Ahol mural behind him. But “in fact, Mr. Anasagasti is bearded, heavily-tattooed and Cuban-American,” the complaint reads.
Check out some of the uses in question below, from screenshots of court documents:
"I think this is a real fucking shame," Books IIII Bischof, one of the creative forces that turned Wynwood into an international destination for street art, told Miami New Times.
Bischof added that “if American Eagle was truly interested in becoming authentic by affiliating its product with a street artist and tapping into a creative vein, they should have approached Ahol for permission and compensated him for his work. And if he didn’t want to work with them for whatever reason, they could go fuck themselves and find someone else.”
Ahol’s aversion to such use of his art is noted in his complaint:
Mr. Anasagasti has never permitted his work to be used to advertise or sell commercial products… Given that he hails from the counter-culture world of underground street artists, Mr. Anasagasti’s reputation as an artist has been founded, in part, on a public perception that Mr. Anasagasti doesn’t ‘sell out’ to large corporate interests. Yet ironically, in today’s fashion marketplace, affiliation with artists bearing such ‘street credibility’ is highly sought-after by retail brands for the cultural cachet and access to the profitable youth demographic that it offers.
"Ahol is not painting for a corporation," his gallerist Gregg Shienbaum told Reuters. “He’s painting because he loves it.”
Ahol’s attorneys say they contacted American Eagle about the use of his work in early May, but the brand was still using the eyeball imagery as recently as the middle of July. The suit seeks not only monetary damages but a permanent injunction that would stop American Eagle from using photos containing his work.
"American Eagle cannot comment on current or pending litigation," a public relations representative for the company told HuffPost.
The task was almost unimaginable in its magnitude.
After the Rwandan genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered over a hundred days in 1994, the U.N. created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with the goal of bringing the organizers of the bloodshed to justice.
The tribunal’s inaugural case, led by two young U.S. prosecutors, would set a number of precedents — but perhaps none more significant than classifying rape as a war crime.
Journalists Michele Mitchell and Nick Louvel have directed a new documentary, “The Uncondemned,” that takes a powerful look back at the tribunal and the unique challenges faced by Pierre-Richard Prosper and Sara Darehshori, the lawyers who prosecuted the first genocide trial. They won their case in 1998 and made history as sexual violence was judged part of genocide for the first time.
"When people think about war crimes tribunals today, they have a vision because it’s been going on for 20 years. But back then, the last time someone had attempted to do anything like that was Nuremberg," Prosper told HuffPost. "Failure literally was not an option — too much depended on it. If we lost, what would that mean to the victims and the survivors? Their deaths were not being recognized or valued."
Sara Darehshori and Pierre-Richard Prosper photographed in 1997.
Darehshori, his co-counsel, was only two years out of law school when she got the assignment of a lifetime.
"It was all very crazy," she said. "We were sort of isolated. We didn’t have the Internet. We didn’t have email, still sending faxes; it wasn’t that reliable. We kind of felt like we were on our own. There wasn’t a huge body of law to look to. We were winging it."
Among the unsettled matters of law was the connection between rape and genocide, despite their long historical association.
According to a 1996 U.N. report on the Rwandan genocide, perpetrators of the killings used rape systematically as a weapon. “Rape was the rule and its absence the exception,” the report noted, estimating that between 250,000 and 500,000 women and girls were raped during the course of the three-month genocide.
The rape crisis that accompanied the mass killings was so widespread that Prosper and Darehshori saw the need to argue that rape should be classified as a war crime and was itself a major component of the genocide.
"Before [the tribunal], rape and sexual violence was just seen as spoil of war," Prosper said. "For the first time in history, rape was put on equal footing with all other crimes committed during the time of war."
The New York Times reported at the time that the decision advanced the “world’s legal treatment of rape and sexual violence,” and provided the first international definition of rape as “a physical invasion of a sexual nature, committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive.”
While participating in the documentary, Prosper and Darehshori returned to Rwanda, where they were reunited with the three Rwandan women who testified about their rapes. While the women were anonymous during the tribunal and had code names to protect their identities, they have come forward publicly for the first time in the documentary.
"It was interesting, over this much time, to get their perspective on the trial and to see they really appreciated playing a role in this," said Darehshori. "It was important to them to tell their story. They felt empowered by their experience at the tribunal."
Watch the trailer above and learn more about the movie, out early next year.