Friday, August 29, 2014

KLEPTOCRATS AND MAFIOSI













Italian Sanator Mario Giarrusso says:  

"Renzi and Berlusconi have eliminated the crime of exchanging political favors with the mafia. According to the Court of Cassation, based on the “416ter” {article 416 comma 3}, something that Renzi and Berlusconi really wanted and that we vehemently opposed, to make a vote-buying arrangement with a Mafioso is no longer a crime if there’s no use of the mafia method in gathering votes. Thus unless the voters are forced to go to the urns at gunpoint, then there’s no crime and any politician making an agreement with a Mafioso is guilty of no crime. This is the meaning of a statement published yesterday afternoon by the Court of Cassation. 

So here we have the battle against the mafia according to Renzi and Berlusconi. What a fuss they made of the new formulation of “416ter”. How they praised the government (with disgusting expressions like "the wording is really beautiful“). Anyone holding important positions in the structures fighting the mafia, is invited to resign since they have amply demonstrated their incompetence and thus they are not fit to hold such a position. We had already foreseen all this and we expressed our opposition to this regulation, and we put forward an alternative that was very different and very effective.  

Thus It’s not a matter of an error but of an intentional action, with the aim of facilitating links between mafia guys and politicians. In a similar situation, any other citizen would be put on trial for aiding and abetting or for external complicity with the mafia. But in the case of our disgraceful parliamentarians they have the benefit of impunity because people voted for them and thus they can show favour to the mafia without any worries. Shame and endless ignominy on those who have favoured the mafia and their collaborators in parliament."

The permanent political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal, yet it is routine among kleptocrats. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but kleptocrats do so routinely. Kleptocrats also get many hot issues, bypassing all fair procedures of distribution.  By funneling hundreds of millions of dollars or euros to supporters, even more campaign donations are ensured. An entire class of investors now makes all of its profits based on influence and access to kleptocrats.  Keynote Speaker Basil Venitis, venitis@gmail.com, http://venitism.blogspot.com

Kleptocrats have transformed politics to trade. They are traders who use their power, access, and privileged information to generate wealth. And at the same time well-connected financiers and corporate leaders have made a business of politics. They come together to form a kleptocratic caste.

Kleptocracy has clearly figured out how to extract wealth from the rest of us based solely on their position and proximity to power. If you have a seat at the table, you are in for a feast. If you don’t have a seat at the table, you are on the menu. Throw them all out!  Waiters are mad as hell, and they are not going to take this from kleptocrats anymore. That’s why they spit on the food of kleptocrats and put live worms on their plates!

The people in power, the people that are benefiting from the status quo, they have no incentive to change it and kleptocrats, of course, don’t want to rock the boat. Kleptocrats do not want to do anything that would bring out short term pain, even if it produces long term gain. Kleptocrats are not in it for the country. They are there to line their own pockets. They want to make as much money for themselves. Kleptocrats want to get re-elected and if that means they have to sacrifice the country in the process, well that is the sacrifice they’re willing to make.

The only thing that is going to change this, is a crash, a crisis which is going to come in the US currency and the US bonds market. Kleptocrats are only going to change, when theey have no alternative when the circumstances force them to change. Unfortunately by then, the problems would have gotten so much bigger, and the pain associated with correcting them would be so much greater.

Political intelligence consultants are hired guns who dig for closely held information to be used to trade stocks. Many work for hedge funds and securities firms, who just happen to be some of the biggest political campaign contributors.

MPs should be citizen-legislators. Those desiring to serve the public would do so for a short period of time and return to their businesses. Instead, what has developed is a permanent political mafia, massively enriched by cashing in on government experience. Citizens disdain kleptocrats, and this is a big part of it. The time has come to lock the revolving door between our public and private sectors. And if kleptocrats refuse to do what is right, voters should remove them.

There is an undeniable connection between how a government operates and whether its people flourish. When a government invites its people to participate, when it is open as to how it makes decisions and allocates resources, when it administers justice equally and transparently, and when it takes a firm stance against corruption of all kinds, that government is, in the modern world, far more likely to succeed in designing and implementing effective policies and services. It is also more likely to harness the talents of its own people and to benefit from their ideas and experiences, and it is also more likely to succeed investing its resources where they are most likely to have the best return.

When a government hides its work from public view, hands out jobs and money to political cronies, administers unequal justice, looks away as corrupt bureaucrats enrich themselves at the people’s expense, that government is failing its citizens. And it is failing to create an environment in which the best ideas are embraced and the most talented people have a chance to contribute. And it is also denying people often access to education, health care, electricity, or a justice system and a market economy that work for them.

And most importantly, that government is failing to earn and hold the trust of its people. And that lack of trust, in a world of instantaneous communication, means that the very fabric of society begins to fray and the foundation of governmental legitimacy begins to crumble. Throw them all out!

As we have seen with the protests that have broken out around our world this year, when people are kept away from participating in the work of their governments or the actions of their leaders, when they have no idea how decisions are made or tax revenues are spent, when they have no voice in the political process, eventually they will say, “Enough.” And it might have been possible for governments to just refuse to be transparent because there were monopolies on sources of information and channels to people. But that is no longer the case.

And we’ve also seen the correlation between openness in government and success in the economic sphere. Countries committed to defending transparency and fighting corruption are often more attractive to entrepreneurs. And if you can create small and medium size businesses, you have a broader base for economic activity. At a time when global competition for trade and investment is fierce, openness is not just good for governance, it is also good for a sustainable growth in GDP.

Since democracy has been transformed to kleptocracy, we have to bypass the rotten system and deal in the underground economy.  We could barter, evade VAT and all kind of taxes, ignore all licenses, and become untraceable. 

Kleptocrats want to make illegal any words or symbols that can be interpreted as threatening a kleptocrat!  We’ve heard many kleptocrats and media parrots saying that calling a politician socialist is out of bounds. Or that saying a government policy is job-killing is incitement. Or that criticism of Big Government is responsible for any act of violence by a deranged individual who thinks his mind is controlled by the government. The logic of this argument suggests that they decide what in politics gets said and how it is said. Throw them all out!

Too many kleptocrats think that not only are they above the law, but above any criticism. Don’t be fooled by any calls for civility by kleptocrats. The Left thinks it is necessarily uncivil to challenge kleptocracy. Calls for civility are a polite way of saying critics of kleptocracy should shut up. Throw them all out!  And too many kleptocrats suggest that dissident bloggers to shut up or go to jail.  Dissident bloggers will not back down in the face of this intimidation. Nor should you. You can be sure bloggers and the Global Tax Revolt will monitor, expose, and fight attempts by kleptocrats  to use the levers of government to trample our free speech rights. 

The raging financial crisis made restoring trust an imperative. As a result of the lessons learned not being put into practice, the world has seen countless examples of trust abused. Trust continues to be eroded. Citizens realize that political corruption denies them a voice, well-being, and justice. Now more than ever we must bring political corruption fighters together to create a more focused effort against the abuse of entrusted power.

People know they can make a difference when they come together in sufficient numbers and with a clear goal. Citizens, acting in coordination, can more effectively challenge kleptocrats that neglect their duty towards them. By focusing on daily lives and concerns, efforts toward transparency and the fight against political corruption empower people. The fight against political corruption must mean more than the passing of new laws. It must mean the practice of transparency in day-by-day government activities; and its impact must be felt at every level of society and compel citizens to join forces.

The most vulnerable people in our society, often severely affected by corruption, must be able to hold kleptocrats to their word, and to expose those who go back on promises. To do so they need access to information through a free press, free blogosphere, unfettered internet, and other open pathways to inform the public and facilitate the fight against political corruption.

Communities must be given the means to hold kleptocrats accountable for their actions in between elections. We must develop ways to draw politicians into collective action against political corruption. Impunity of kleptocrats who abuse positions of power is the #1 problem of our times. If impunity of kleptocrats is not stopped, we risk the dissolution of the very fabric of society and the rule of law, our trust in our politics and our hope for social justice. Impunity of kleptocrats undermines integrity everywhere.

Whether we are investing collective efforts and resources in fighting poverty, human rights violations, or bailing out indebted economies, we need to give the people a reason to believe that impunity of kleptocrats will be stopped. To take this important struggle forward the international anticorruption community should promote greater people engagement and find ways to provide greater security for anticorruption activists. Reducing impunity also requires independent and well-resourced judiciaries that are accountable to the people they serve.

We call on leaders everywhere to embrace not only transparency in public life but a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which kleptocrats are accountable. We call on the anticorruption movement to support and protect the activists, whistleblowers, bloggers, and journalists who speak out against political corruption, often at great risk. It is up to all of us to embrace transparency so that it ensures full participation of all people, bringing us together to send a clear message that we are watching those kleptocrats who act with impunity and we will not let them get away with it.

Political corruption affects all countries, especially Greece.  Political corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Political corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the start-up costs required because of corruption.

Corruption and the lack of transparency eats away like a cancer at the trust people should have in their government, at the potential for broad-based, sustainable, inclusive growth. Corruption stifles entrepreneurship and siphons funding away from critical services.  Poor fiscal transparency makes it impossible to hold governments accountable. And if these problems go on long enough, if they run deep enough, they literally can and have been shaking societies to the core.

Anyone who doubts the power of frustrated citizens to rise up need not only look at the Middle East and North Africa, but increasingly across the globe because social media has given every citizen a tool in order to report and literally post in the matter of seconds the kind of abuses that have been, up until now, just taken for granted. So this is an integral part of national security.

We also know that corrupt practices contribute to the spread of organized crime and terrorism. They underwrite trafficking in drugs and arms and human beings. And we have a major stake in building up partners who can work with us to take on these transnational threats and to promote stability, who will work with us to champion an international standard of behavior that gives more people in more places the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.

Lax U.S. rules and real estate industry’s no-questions-asked approach make it easy for kleptocrats to funnel wealth through high-end Manhattan apartments.

One day during Chen Shui-bian’s second term as Taiwan’s president, several people lugged what a witness described as six fruit boxes into the presidential residence in Taipei.  Inside the crates was 200 million in New Taiwan Dollars, equal to about $6 million in U.S. currency.

The cash was a bribe intended for first lady Wu Shu-jen, a sweetener encouraging her to prod her husband to provide regulatory relief to a securities firm involved in a contested merger.  Pulling strings in such situations required getting consent from Madam.

Documents in U.S. District Court in Manhattan describe the circuitous path the cash followed after it was unpacked from the fruit boxes: First it was stored in a bank vault in Taipei along with other piles of loose cash that the first lady described as political donations. Later much of the cash in the vault was stuffed into seven suitcases and stored in a basement at the home of an executive involved in the corporate merger.  After a time, it was moved, in a roundabout way, through banks in Hong Kong  and the U.S.  and into a Swiss account controlled by the first couple’s son.

A chunk of that money was wired into an account in Miami.  Nine days after Chen had completed his second and final term as Taiwan’s president — money from the Miami account was used to buy a prime piece of a real estate in yet another destination in the money’s global odyssey. The property: a $1.575 million apartment in Manhattan’s Onyx Chelsea, a glass and metal tower steps away from Chelsea Park and Madison Square Garden.

The movement of dirty money from fruit boxes in Taipei into America’s real estate capital illustrates, in vivid detail, one of New York’s dirty secrets: High-end New York real estate is an alluring destination for kleptocrats.

New York is among an elite group of destinations — along with Miami, London, Dubai and a few other cities around the world — that attract large numbers of international property buyers.  Manhattan condos are popular with kleptocrats.  Since 2008, roughly 30 percent of condo sales in pricey Manhattan developments have been to kleptocrats who listed an international address or bought in the name of a limited liability company or some other corporate entity, a maneuver often employed by foreign purchasers. 

Because many kleptocrats go to great lengths to hide their interests in New York properties, it’s impossible to put a number on what proportion of kleptocrats from overseas are laundering bribes.

During his time in office, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a cheerleader for encouraging the mega-wealthy to relocate to the city. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?” he used to muse.

Combine that give-us-your-rich ethos with state and local policies that lavish tax breaks on Manhattan’s wealthiest homeowners and federal policies that allow real estate agents to close their eyes to whether kleptocrats are trafficking in illicit money, and the results are predictable: New York is a magnet for kleptocrats from other lands bearing money of dubious provenance. The flood of foreign capital pouring into New York properties makes it easy for kleptocrats to hide their fortunes amid Manhattan’s residential gold rush.

Kleptocrats like to put their money into high-end real estate for a number of reasons: they need an escape option if things take a turn for them in their home countries, they want to park their assets in an investment that’s known to preserve value, and they want to be able to enjoy and flaunt their wealth. They’re not buying real estate in Detroit. They’re buying in places that give them some sort of status: London, Paris, New York, Malibu.

Many walk a fine line between showing off and staying on the down low. Instead of putting property in their own names, kleptocrats may arrange to put the names of their spouses, children, lawyers or other proxies on property deeds. Often, the buyer of record isn’t even a flesh-and-blood person — it’s an anonymous limited liability company set up in a U.S. state, or an offshore company established in the British Virgin Islands or some other overseas haven.

The story of the Manhattan apartment purchased by Taiwan’s former first family illustrates how offshore structures are used to steer ill-gotten gains into real estate. Along with passing through a tangle of bank accounts, the bribe money’s origins and the identities of the people associated with it were obscured by the use of offshore entities, including a trust registered on the Island of Nevis and shell companies in the British Virgin Islands. 

As a final step, a Miami-based wealth advisor, a German national named Stefan R. Seuss, set up a New York company, West 28th Street LLC, which stood in as the Chelsea condo’s owner of record.  Any check of the LLC’s ownership would have traced back to one of the British Virgin Islands companies and hit a dead end.

Financial crime experts have a name for the process of creating mazes of bank accounts and offshore companies to move and hide money: layering. When the layers are laid down skillfully, it’s often impossible for authorities to detect flows of illicit cash. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that as little as one-fifth of 1 percent of money that’s laundered around the world is identified and intercepted.

In the case of Taiwan’s former first couple, though, an amateurish blunder in the laundering process – having the corporate executive store the cash in his basement – may have helped unravel the scheme. The executive later provided evidence against the ex-president and first lady, who were eventually sentenced to lengthy prison terms on an array of corruption charges.

Court records indicate that Seuss, the wealth advisor, also betrayed the presidential family’s secrets — acknowledging that the first couple’s son and daughter-in-law had asked him to help them buy real estate in New York and Virginia but conceal their ownership of the properties.  It appears Seuss provided this inside information to the government sometime after he was indicted in 2009 in Philadelphia on unrelated money laundering charges.  He later pleaded guilty, paid a fine and served a short stint in jail.

Despite evidence marshaled by authorities in Taiwan and the U.S., American prosecutors had to battle for nearly 2½ years to seize the Chelsea condo as the proceeds of foreign corruption. An attorney representing the first couple’s son denied the family had done anything wrong and charged that the U.S. Justice Department’s forfeiture action was an effort to curry favor with the current government of Taiwan. 

The condo was auctioned for $1.5 million.  As part of a settlement of the litigation, $225,000 of that went to the offshore company that controls West 28th Street LLC.  The rest sits in the U.S. Treasury, apparently waiting for a decision on Taiwan’s request that the U.S. share a portion of its take from the sale.

Seizing real estate under such circumstances is often difficult. Authorities can’t just show that the owner of the property is corrupt. You have to prove the nexus between the corruption and the property itself. Sometimes judges are skeptical: Why are we are going after some foreign kleptocrat who did something in a foreign country?

Other than the occasional after-the-fact legal action — often sparked by investigations in other countries — U.S. authorities don’t put up many roadblocks for kleptocrats who want to launder money through American real estate. Escrow and real estate agents aren’t required to find out the real identities of property buyers and, unlike bankers, stockbrokers and other financial middlemen, they aren’t required to report suspicious transactions to law enforcement.

Money laundering into real estate has increased since 9/11 as scrutiny of other kinds of transactions has increased. The use of real estate as a haven for dirty money  is terribly overlooked by researchers, politicians and regulators. It’s a big hole. 

The lax standards for real estate transactions in the U.S. — money talks, few questions asked — sometimes mean that Manhattan’s financial and cultural elite end up with mysterious kleptocrats as their neighbors.

In early 2008, a British Virgin Islands company, Jolly Star Holding Limited, paid more than $15 million  to buy an apartment and maid’s quarters in Fifteen Central Park West, an A-list address whose residents have included  Sting, Denzel Washington, former Citibank chief Sanford Weill and baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez.

Who was really behind the purchase was hidden behind the cover of British Virgin Islands law, which closely guards the identities of the shareholders of companies chartered there.

Money laundering and New York real estate have a long history. For much of the 20th century, Mafia clans put money squeezed from gambling and other rackets into properties around New York’s Five Boroughs — often low-end, low-profile addresses rather than high-end ones. 

One of the most famous scandals involving money laundering through New York real estate starred a seven-bedroom condo on the 43rd floor of Midtown’s famed Olympic Tower and the former first couple of the Philippines, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.  In 1976, the couple used a series of offshore companies, investigators later charged, to quietly channel almost $700,000 into the purchase and consolidation of three apartments near the top of the tower, which had been built by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

The front man for the purchase was a Marcos ally, Antonio Floirendo, known as the Banana King for his vast plantations in the southern Philippines.  After the Marcoses fled to Hawaii, the Philippines' newly formed Presidential Commission on Good Government moved to seize the Manhattan showplace as part of its push to recover billions of dollars the couple looted from the country. The Philippines government sold the condo for just under $3.7 million. It also auctioned off the apartment’s contents — including a Fantin-Latour painting that went for $400,000  — at Christie’s. Proceeds from the condo and furnishings, Philippine officials promised, would be used to help bankroll the country’s agrarian land reform.

A few years later, money traced to another suspect Philippine official also ended up in a luxury property in New York. The paper trail began to emerge in December 2003, after customs officers at San Francisco International Airport detained two sons of a powerful Philippine army general and accused them of trying to smuggle $100,000 into the U.S. 

Their mother got involved by submitting a handwritten affidavit in which she frankly explained that the position held by her husband, Maj. General Carlos Garcia, is one of privilege, allowing him to benefit from gifts and gratitude money from several Philippine companies that are awarded military contracts to build roads, bridges and military housing. Clarita Garcia also noted, in another odd aside, that the Philippine military provided her five drivers and five vehicles and a cook who played the piano for her upon request. 

The sons’ arrest and the mother’s statement to U.S. officials helped spark an investigation back in the Philippines that turned up evidence her husband had acquired as much as $6 million in undeclared income. He was court martialed, convicted of perjury and sent to prison.

Among the assets that U.S. authorities went after in the wake of the investigation was a condo at New York’s Trump Park Avenue tower. Clarita Garcia and a third son, Timothy, purchased Unit 6A in the luxury building for $765,000 in 2004.  U.S. prosecutors said the money, funneled through a joint account held by mother and son at Citibank, had been amassed through the general’s corrupt activities.

As the forfeiture claim and extradition cases against Clarita Garcia and her three sons dragged on, Timothy Garcia was working as a publicist for Marc Jacobs’ fashion empire, getting photographed at Fashion Week wearing an electronic monitoring device and complaining that the court-ordered ankle bracelet was so uncomfortable, “I can't even wear my knee high croc boots by Sergio Rossi for the fall.”

In late 2012, federal prosecutors in Manhattan won a court order turning over control of the Trump Park Avenue unit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Manhattan real estate has a knack for turning up amid intrigues involving some of the most politically explosive regions in the world. A judge approved U.S. prosecutors’ bid to seize 650 Fifth Avenue, a commercial tower at edge of Rockefeller Center, ruling the property’s owners had violated international embargoes by secretly siphoning profits from tenants’ rental checks to Iran’s government. It is the largest-ever terrorism-related forfeiture.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged that some of the money stolen from Russia’s treasury as part of a $230 million tax fraud known as the Magnitsky affair was used to buy luxury apartments at 20 Pine Street, a 35-story building just off Wall Street that had once been home to the J.P. Morgan  banking empire. The money to buy the New York properties was routed through more than 20 banks and companies on its path from Russia to New York, including a brief stopover in Moldova, Europe’s poorest country. Authorities are trying to seize four apartments at 20 Pine as well as two commercial spaces that were purchased with tainted cash. 

Allies of both the winner and the loser in Ukraine’s presidential elections, engineered money-laundering schemes involving New York properties. Illicit cash gathered by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, was invested by her business associates in an array of New York properties. A former assistant finance minister in Russia plowed part of a $10 million bribe he received from Tymoshenko into real estate in the city. Another associate used money spun off from Tymoshenko’s corrupt schemes to buy 14 Wall Street, an office tower across from the New York Stock Exchange.

Tymoshenko has accused a key contributor to Viktor Yanukovych of engaging in money laundering via New York real estate. In a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, she claims that one of Yanukovych’s political patrons, billionaire businessman Dmytro Firtash, moved money through American banks by pretending he was using it to invest in New York real estate projects. After the cash had been sufficiently laundered, Firtash and other defendants sent much of it back to Ukraine to bankroll political corruption and other racketeering activities.  Firtash was arrested in March in Austria, at the request of U.S. authorities, on suspicion of bribery and organized crime activities.

The massive flow of bribe money into New York real estate helps deprive the kleptocrats’ home countries of wealth and tax revenues. It also helps inflate property values, pricing average New Yorkers out of buying or renting and helping increase the city’s huge homeless population.


ROBBING THE TREASURY

BRIBES AND KICKBACKS GALORE!

WORLD’S RICHEST KLEPTOCRATS

Vladimir Putin, Czar of Putinland, 50 billion euros
Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, 40 billion euros
Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei, 30 billion euros
Abdullah Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, 28 bilion euros
Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine, 25 billion euros
Khalifa Al Nahyan, President of UAE, 20 billion euros
Mohammed Al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai, 19 billion euros
Ferdinand Marcos, President of Philippines,  18 billion euros
Nursultan Nazarbayev, Dictator of Kazakhstan, 17 billion euros
Ali Khamenei, Dictator of Iran, 15 billion euros
Kim Jong-un, Dictator of North Korea, 10 billion euros
Sani Abacha, Dictator of Nigeria, 9 billion euros
Jose Eduardo dos Santos, President of Angola, 7 billion euros
Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechstenstein, 6 billion euros
Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, 5 billion euros
Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile, 4 billion euros
Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, 3 billion euros
Sonia Gandhi, Leader of India, 3 billion euros
Yulia Tymoshenko, Premier of Ukraine, 2.7 billion euros
Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine, 2.5 billion euros
Benigno Noynoy Aquino, President of Philippines, 2.3 billion euros
Albert II, Prince of Monaco, 2 billion euros
Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman, 2 billion euros
Teodoro Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea, 1.9 billion euros
Bashar Al-Assad, Dictator of Syria, 1.8 billion euros
Ilham Aliyev, Dictator of Azerbaijan, 1.5 billion euros
Sabah Al-Sabah, Sheikh of Kuwait, 1.4 billion euros
Alexander Lukashenko, Dictator of Belarus, 1.2 billion euros
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Caliph of Turkey, 1.1 billion euros

Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, 1 billion euros


IMPROMPTU SPEECHES




By John Coleman  

If it’s true that many people fear public speaking more than death, it’s equally true that businesspeople are condemned to a thousand small deaths in client pitches, in boardrooms, and on stage. And that death can turn slow and torturous when you are asked to speak unexpectedly with little or no time to prepare. One of the key demands of business is the ability to speak extemporaneously. Whether giving an unexpected “elevator pitch” to a potential investor or being asked at the last minute to offer remarks to a sales team over dinner, the demands for a business person to speak with limited preparation are diverse, endless, and — to many — terrifying.

I became more comfortable with these situations through one of my primary activities in college, competitive public speaking called “forensics” (from the Latin “forensis,” which means “in an open court, public”). In forensics, one of my favorite categories was “limited preparation” in which we were given between 1 and 30 minutes to prepare a 5–7 minute speech. The lessons learned in those limited preparation events have paid huge dividends to my work in business. They carried me through my first consulting case interviews right out of college. They’ve helped me address complex questions from bosses and board members. And they’ve helped me when I’ve been put on the spot to address college classes and new analyst training sessions.

No matter their position, they can also be useful to you. Here are a few of the tips I picked up along the way:

    Define a structure: The pressure of extemporaneous remarks comes from their ambiguity. What do I say? What do I not say? The worst and most stressful business speeches are those that ramble without purpose. In forensics we’d tackle this issue by quickly drafting a structure on a notecard to support our main point — often an introduction, two or three supporting points, and a conclusion. With these on paper, it was easy to fill in the details with stories, examples, and statistics. Now, when I’m asked to offer unexpected remarks over dinner or at a board meeting, I grab a napkin, notebook, or the back of a PowerPoint deck and jot down my main argument and some key supporting points. Then I fill out the examples and data I need to make those points — usually in 20 words or less. Any ambiguity or tendency to ramble evaporates.

    Put the punchline first: When I worked in consulting, one of the cardinal rules of communication was “punchline first.” Any presentation should have a clear thesis stated up front so that listeners can easily follow and interpret the comments that follow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen business presenters ramble through a speech with the audience wondering to the very end about the point of the comments. Giving a good business speech is not like telling a good joke. Don’t save the punchline for the end.

    Remember your audience: All it takes is a few lines to make an audience feel acknowledged and a speech feel fresh. Tie the city in which you are speaking into your introduction. Draw parallels between the organization you’re addressing and one of the stories you tell. Mention someone by name, connecting them to the comments you’re offering. These are small gestures, but they make your remarks more tailored and relevant.

    Memorize what to say, not how to say it: How many times have you practiced exactly how to say something in your head then frozen up or completely forgotten in the moment? In forensics speeches, we’d often have 5–10 citations to remember, 3–4 examples with names and places, and 3–4 supporting statistics. That’s a lot to research and remember in 30 minutes or less. The trick was this: We’d focus on memorizing key stories and statistics, rather than practicing our delivery. If you spend your time on how to say something perfectly, you’ll stumble through those phrasings, and you’ll forget all the details that can make them come alive. Or worse, you’ll slavishly read from a PowerPoint or vertical document rather than hitting the high points fluidly with your audience. If you know your topic, the words will come.

    Keep it short: Blaise Pascal once famously commented, “I have only made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter.” While it seems like the challenge of speaking with limited preparation would be finding enough to say, the opposite is often true. When at a loss for words, many of us underestimate the time we need — cramming in so many stories and points that we run well over our time and dilute our message. No one will appreciate your economy of words more than your listeners, so when in doubt, say less.

There’s no substitute for practice in offering impromptu remarks, and there are many things to consider when preparing for a great talk. But mastering a few basics, like those above, can make these public comments less stressful to prepare and easier for audiences to hear.



"There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” Mark Twain

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Jerry Seinfeld

“The difference between a word and the RIGHT word is like the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”  Mark Twain

"It ain't over till it's over."  Yogi Berra


SPEAKING TIPS OF BASIL VENITIS

A keynote speech usually lasts an hour, corresponding to a transcript of fifteen regular type pages. The speaker must have a good hook, walk the talk with a powerful presence, entertain, and reach the audience. He must tell them what he is going to talk about, give an inspirational oration with passion, and summarize. Standing ovation is the goal.   


TRANSFORMATION

The audience wants an experience, a transformation, not just information. The speaker must tune in, establish rapport, connect, have a dynamic theme, tell stories, show humor, create a dialogue with smart questions, use eye contact and gestures, master silence, and conclude with a dynamic urge to action. 


EXTEMPORE SPEECHES

The best speeches are extempore, prepared but delivered without notes.  Impromptu speeches are not prepared.  Use your arms naturally to illustrate what you are saying.  Extend your arm periodically, bridging the gap between you and your audience, to reach out with your hand in handshake position.


KINESTHESIA
Kinesthetic speakers feed an audience’s hunger to experience a presentation on a physical, as well as an intellectual, level. Kinesthetic speakers create powerful nonverbal messages that reinforce their verbal ones. By generating kinesthetic, aural, and visual stimuli, kinesthetic speakers create a rich sensory experience for their audiences.

SILENCE, GOD’S ART
Whenever effective public speakers end a sentence or phrase, they usually pause. This gives listeners time to absorb their words.  When I pause, I use the time to make eye contact with individuals in the audience.  I also use the pause to choose precisely what I will say next, based on how the audience is following my presentation. 

SPEAKER FEES

Many huge speaker fees of politicians are camouflage of bribes!  When a kleptocrat gets a hundred thousand euros to speak, you must be sure this is a bribe, pure and simple.  My fee is just five thousand euros.

To have Venitis speak at your event, email venitis@gmail.com



BASIL VENITIS WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK AT YOUR EVENT!

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Basil Venitis speaks up for liberty and tax revolt at events around the world.  At the podium, Venitis criticizes the dysfunctional kleptocracy that exists in all countries today and highlights the need for anarchy, abolition of taxes, privatization of everything, and unlimited personal liberties. http://venitism.blogspot.com


Venitis captures the attention and hearts of conferees by relating the current issues such as debt, depression, privacy, and freedom to political corruption. His unwavering passion leaves conferees motivated to speak out, revolt, and let kleptocrats know what they want.

Smart words are more effective than smart bombs. For your conference, get a dynamic keynote speaker who can transform your people and your world.  Take advantage of a unique libertarian orator, Basil Venitis.  As many associations, colleges, industry groups, companies, political groups, lobbyists, professional congresses, and speakers bureaus have discovered, speeches by Basil Venitis add immeasurably to the enduring value of a conference. 

Venitis doesn't restate what you can learn from regular sources, but he stretches your imagination to new horizons. Venitis is extensively involved in policy issues and the tax revolt. He is often a part of the process, working to shape and direct critical components of libertarian issues. Venitis is a master of a colorful rhetoric enriched with alliterations, metaphors, heightened imagery, and emotional effect.

Speeches by Venitis enable audiences to truly learn, and provide fascinating, provocative insights and analysis, getting to the heart of the matter. It's no wonder that Venitis is so often called upon to present libertarian ideas and to clarify issues for the public.  Your event deserves seven important comparative advantages, the magnificent seven:

* Value. A single speech of Basil Venitis will be cherished by your conferees forever, guiding them at the crossroads of their lives and your organization, increasing their efficiency, and improving the good will of your organization.

* Access. When scheduling Venitis for your event, you work directly with him to craft a keynote speech that fits your precise needs. Venitis works with organizations to ensure that his speeches provide maximum value, and he shares their dedication to making their event a huge success.

* Insight. Given Venitis's great experience in speaking across the globe, and with his unparalleled knowledge of politics, economics, finance, sciences, philosophy, and spirituality, he can help you determine the keynote for your event.

* Transformation. Your people will be transformed to a new level of knowledge, attitude, and organizational climate.

* Revamp. Your organization will be revamped with new soul, vision, and values.

* Affordability. The cost of having Venitis speak at your conference is 5,000 euros plus travel expenses from Athens. 

* Follow up.  Your executives may consult Venitis any time for any questions they might have.

To have Venitis speak at your event, email venitis@gmail.com


PIECES OF MY MIND





By Vladimir Putin 

We have had cases of Ukrainian servicemen ending up on Russian territory, and in far greater number too. In one case there were 450 people, and in another case there were 60. Just recently there were another 60 servicemen with their arms. There were cases when they ended up on our territory and said that they had got lost – in their armoured vehicles and with their weapons. 

This is the truth in fact. I am serious here. I believe that they did get lost because there is no demarcated border there. If military operations are underway or our servicemen are patrolling the border, this is entirely possible. I think that this matter is therefore a technical one.

Mr Poroshenko and I discussed this issue, and he assured me that the Russian servicemen would be handed back to Russia, just as we have handed over Ukrainian servicemen and continue to do so.

What’s more, we provided them with medical assistance, treated them in our hospitals, and so there is every reason to believe that both sides will behave in proper fashion in this matter.

As for the situation overall, it is far more serious of course. To repeat what I have already said about what happened, President Yanukovych postponed the signing of an economic agreement with the European Union because he believed that the document still needed substantial additional work.

Our Western partners, with the support of fairly radically inclined and nationalist-leaning groups, carried out a coup d’état there. No matter what anyone says, we all understand what happened. There are no fools among us. We all saw the symbolic pies handed out on the Maidan. This information and political support, what does it mean?

This was a case of the United States and European countries getting fully involved in a change of power, an anti-constitutional change of power carried out by force, and the part of the country that does not accept this change is being suppressed with brute military force and the use of planes, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems and tanks. If this is what today’s European values are about, then I am more than disappointed.

What happened next? We had numerous discussions with the Ukrainian leadership, the US leadership and the European countries about the need for an immediate end to this fratricidal war and the start of negotiations. What did the Ukrainian government propose three or four weeks ago after all? Unilaterally it all sounded so fine: “We have ended military operations.” But then the very next thing they say is that the ceasefire will last for seven days and whoever does not lay down their arms will be destroyed. Is this the road to negotiations? This is an ultimatum.

Of course the people who had taken up arms could not agree to these conditions. After all, they took up arms so as to defend themselves and their lives and dignity. The military operations then resumed once more and what do we have today? The Ukrainian army has surrounded small towns and big cities and are firing directly at residential areas in order to destroy infrastructure and crush the will to resist and so on. 

Sad as it is to say, but this reminds me of the events of World War II, when the Nazi troops surrounded our towns, in particular Leningrad – you are from St Petersburg, yes? – and fired directly on the towns and their people. On Nevsky Prospekt, as you know, you can still see the sign “Citizens! Take care: this side of the street is most dangerous in artillery attacks.” This is the point things have come to. This is terrible! This is a catastrophe! I can therefore understand the militia in southeast Ukraine, in Donbass and Lugansk, for attempting to defend themselves.  

Why do they call their operation a military-humanitarian operation? What are they trying to do today? They are trying to push back artillery and multiple launch rocket systems from the big towns so that they won’t be able to kill people. But what do we hear in response from our Western partners? We are told that they do not have the right to do this. They are supposed to let themselves suffer, let themselves be killed, and then they will be considered good guys? We need to sit down at the negotiating table. 

It has become clear to me now that our partners’ position amounts to saying that yes, we do need to begin negotiations, but first we need to let the Ukrainian government shoot for a while, and then they might be able to swiftly bring some order there.

But it is time to realise that this is not going to work, and we need to make the Ukrainian authorities start negotiations of real substance, negotiations of substance. Not just talk about the technical issues, which are important too of course, as they deal with humanitarian matters such as prisoner exchanges, as they call it, and other issues too.

There need to be negotiations of substance. [Foreign Minister] Lavrov was here, and the diplomats love this term. Negotiations need to work out in substance what rights the people in Donbass, Lugansk and the entire southeast of Ukraine will have. Their lawful rights and interests must be formulated and guaranteed within the framework of modern civilised rules. These are the issues that need to be discussed. From there I am sure it will be relatively easy to settle matters concerning the border, guaranteeing security and so on. But the problem is that they do not really want to talk.

Now concerning my appeal about the humanitarian corridor, I saw in the news reports above all, and also from the reports of our special services what is happening. I saw the reactions of mothers and wives of these Ukrainian servicemen who are surrounded. This is a tragedy for them too. This was why I appealed to the Donbass militia to open a humanitarian corridor so that people could leave. Many of them have been there for several days without food or water. They have run out of ammunition. They should be given the chance to leave.

The latest news is that the Ukrainian military commanders and the leadership have decided not to let them leave this encirclement and are making attempts to push back the militia forces and fight their way out. I think this is a colossal mistake that will lead to much loss of life. This is terrible.

Now, on the substance. This is an immense tragedy, this conflict in Ukraine. There are historians here, and people with their own views on our country’s history might argue with me, but I think that the Russian and Ukrainian peoples are practically one single people, no matter what others might say.

Correct me of course if you want, but just listen first. There was no Russian people as such back then. There were Slavic tribes. Some say there were 16, others 32, people have different figures for these tribes, Slavs, Drevlians and so on. And with the baptism of Rus, Vladimir was himself first baptised in Chersonesus, and this makes Crimea a holy place for us too, and he then came to Kiev and had the whole of Rus baptised.

It was after this that the Russian nation began to take shape, but it was multi-ethnic right from the start. People living in what is Ukraine today all called themselves ‘Russian’. Yes, there was Galicia, the territories in the west, close to Western Europe, and it was natural that they developed particular relations with the Catholic world and their neighbours through the intermingling of languages and cultures. But they should not impose their views on their entire Ukrainian people.  

My point is that I think that what is happening in Ukraine today is an immense common tragedy for us all. And we need to do everything possible to end this tragedy as soon as possible.

On the matter of the Arctic, this is a crucially important region for Russia. Our country is the world’s biggest in terms of size. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was truly vast, Russia remains the biggest country in terms of territory, but more than 70 percent of our territory is located in the Far North. This is something we need to remember.

The Arctic is a particular region not just for its harsh climate but also in the opportunities it holds. Lomonosov said in his time that Russia would grow through Siberia and this is exactly what is happening, but the Arctic is certainly set to develop too. This is not just because the region holds enormous reserves of mineral wealth, reserves big enough for the entire planet – I’m talking about gas, oil and metals – but it is also an exceptionally convenient region for developing transport infrastructure.

We have begun reviving the Northern Sea Route. You have no doubt read about this many times and probably discuss it with your students. This route will be a powerful competitor for the existing transport routes and could cut freight transport costs for business.

The Arctic plays a very important part for us in terms of guaranteeing our security too. It is regrettably the case that the United States’ attack submarines are concentrated in that area, not far from the Norwegian coast, and the missiles they carry would reach Moscow within 15-16 minutes, just to remind you.

But we have our navy there and quite a big part of our submarine fleet. It is quite easy today to track submarines, but if they go under the Arctic ice this makes them invisible and this is a big problem for the people trying to track them. In short, we have this concentration of interests in the Arctic.

Of course we must give more attention to developing the Arctic and strengthening our position there. You might have noticed that we are already doing this. This concerns our plans to build a fleet of nuclear icebreakers too, and our plans to return to some territories, including islands, return in the economic sense and maintain a military presence too.

I hope that you saw the news recently about our military group that landed in the region. They are there for peaceful purposes but they are a military group and this is our territory. We will redevelop the entire military infrastructure there and the Emergency Situations Ministry infrastructure. We are doing this also because we need to ensure safe shipping and keep the trade routes secure, and not because we plan to fight a war with anyone or seek conflict.

Many view our activeness with caution and concern. We have said on numerous occasions that we will act solely within the framework of international law. We have always acted this way and will continue to do so. Other countries also have many interests there. We will take these interests into account and seek acceptable compromises, at the same time defending our own interests of course. 

On the question of territorial and administrative divisions and organising work in these regions, we have a federal state in which all territories are part of the Russian Federation constituent entities, which have particular powers with regard to these territories’ management. The federal authorities have some powers too, and the regional and local authorities have powers. In individual cases requiring particular attention, we will set up… Incidentally, in some countries, despite having a federal system, some territories are under direct federal jurisdiction. This practice exists, this is true. All in all, there is nothing to stop us from doing this too, but we have no such plans at the present. 

We have organised several regional ministries responsible for developing particular territories. We have ministries for the Far East, the North Caucasus, and Crimea and Sevastopol. We have to see how this will work and what it gives in practice. Now that everything is already up and running, some specialists say that it would be better if every ministry had deputies directly appointed to deal with this or that territory. They say that this might be a more effective system. This is because we have the ministry set up specifically for developing the particular region, but they still have to come to the Finance Ministry, Economic Development Ministry and so on. But it is too early to make any hasty conclusions and we need to see how this will work for the different regions concerned.

Furthermore, there are social issues or issues concerning the use of natural resources that must have the approval of the people living in the region concerned. There are environmental issues for example, respect for environmental standards in mining and extraction operations, including hydrocarbon production in these northern regions. These activities and this work must be carried out in such a way that does not upset the natural way of life, the economic life and traditional forms of life and work that have taken shape among the local people over centuries. But I am not sure that all of this can be regulated in all its subtle nuances from Moscow.