Weekend Roundup: Tax Havens and Refugee Camps Describe Today’s World


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

This week, two faces of globalization — tax havens and refugee camps — were dramatically on display. As the “Panama Papers” revealed, the super-rich and well-connected have been sending boatloads of money offshore to hide their wealth and escape taxation. Powerless and penniless refugees who risked their lives on rickety vessels to reach Europe’s safe shores were being sent back from camps in Greece to an uncertain fate amid the violence, misery and insecurity of the regions from which they had escaped.

Along with a consortium of other global media, The WorldPost this week has been following the continuing revelations in documents leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. World Reporter Nick Robins-Early tells us what we need to know about the Panama Papers, which have so far implicated a wide array of figures from the families of Chinese Politburo members and British Prime Minister David Cameron to cronies of Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko. Taking the spotlight this week though was the prime minister of Iceland, who stepped aside following the leaks. In our “Forgotten Fact,” we look at why the Panama Papers hit a nerve in Iceland. World Reporter Charlotte Alfred also examines how Rami Makhlouf, Syria’s richest man and a close associate and cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad, hid his ill-gotten gains through what appeared to be “shell” companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

This week the European Union began to implement a new plan to block the route of illegal migration to Europe by sending refugees and migrants on the Greek islands back to Turkey. Danae Leivada reports from Athens that the new refugee arrivals in the 24 hours before the deportations began surpassed the number of those being expelled. Writing from Copenhagen, Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen and Helle Malmvig explain how Denmark, once the most welcoming country for refugees, has become an “ugly duckling” that is among the most resistant. In a global video discussion, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel convenes participants from over 30 countries to debate the ethics of asylum and immigration policies. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that “refugees have a right to asylum, not bias and barbed wire” and that the international community must join together to address the root causes of war and radicalization.

Writing from Amman, Jordan, Daoud Kuttab explains how Jordanian authorities are doing a good job handling terrorism through sophisticated intelligence and close knowledge of the community. Writing from Kochi, India, Chandran Nair describes how religions coexist and gender quality is the norm in “God’s Own Country” of Kerala. Dilip Hiro fears that the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir is “the most dangerous place on Earth” as tensions rise between the two nuclear-armed powers. Chen Kai, who heads the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, lauds the commitments made at President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit last week and says China will play “an active role in establishing, constructing and upholding this international nuclear security architecture.” Former National Security Adviser Ra Jong-Yil writes from Seoul that China’s effort to improve ties with South Korea is more about splitting it off from the American-led alliance in Northeast Asia than protecting it from North Korea. Physicist Frank von Hippel and Fumihiko Yoshida worry that, “Today, a number of countries — including France and Japan — are separating plutonium from the spent fuel of their reactors and building dangerous stockpiles of this weapon-usable nuclear material with no good economic purpose.”

Writing about the drift from illiberal democracy to autocracy, Yascha Mounk argues leaders such as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Hungary’s Viktor Orban are, “disdainful of liberal norms and convinced of their unique ability to channel the views of ordinary people even when they are headed for defeat at the ballot box.” Thus, Mounk continues, “they blame all political opposition on traitors at home or abroad and undermine free and fair elections. Voted in as the champions of the people, they slowly and unwittingly start to turn the illiberal democracies they have created into straightforward autocracies.” Mihir Sharma writes that, “the autocrats seek to restore a national pride somehow lost in the age of globalization.” WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on how American and Iraqi comedians are teaming up to lighten the souls of those living in the war-torn country.

In an interview, world-renowned pianist Stephen Hough says, “the Internet tempts us to think that because an email or a new website can be accessed in seconds that everything works at the same instant speed. Art is more like the growth of a plant. It needs time and space.”

Fusion takes a troubling look at the influence of a Colombian hacker who claims to have influenced the outcome of elections, including for the Mexican presidency. “When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything,” he said in a recent interview. Claire van den Heever examines Uber’s unrelenting challenge to its deep-pocketed rivals in China. This heartbreaking video shows a campaign in China to destigmatize so-called “leftover women” who are shamed for being single.

Our Singularity series this week focuses on how technology can help solve the looming global water crisis, including by engineering biology to clear our water and making the oceans drinkable. From Cape Town, filmmaker Sven Harding looks at how the city’s forgotten underground tunnels could help it tackle its drought problem. It’s spring, and the cherry blossoms are bursting out in Japan. Here are some gorgeous photos of them. Finally, in our series on everyday entrepreneurs, we meet a man in the Solomon Islands turning trash into something beautiful.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.