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Pulitzer Center Update November 10, 2014

This Week: Global Companies’ Secret Tax Deals in Luxembourg


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When people think of a tax haven, most have visions of a tropical island in the Caribbean. But what...

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Multiple Authors
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The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last week published a major investigation into lucrative tax shelters that Luxembourg provides to some of America's largest corporations. Tax experts and lawyers helped a team of ICIJ journalists unravel a variety of complicated accounting shell games that allowed corporations dodge billions in taxes.

To help explain the process to readers, Pulitzer Center grantee Mathilde Dratwa produced a short animated video that ran with the series. More than two dozen major newspapers, including The Guardian, Le Monde and Suddeutsche Zeitung, participated in the ICIJ reporting project and published the findings.

"What this shows once again is the power of collaborative cross-border reporting," said Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ. "Journalists in different countries have reviewed the documents relevant to their own communities and shared their findings."


This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Within the European Union—the institution that is the most immediate by-product of European reunification—it will be an occasion of unbridled self-congratulation. But for some EU members, the speeches about the virtues of democracy and free markets will ring hollow.

As Pulitzer Center grantee Yana Paskova illustrates in these bleak collections of photos for The New Yorker and The Washington Post, things have changed in Bulgaria—slowly and not necessarily for the better. According to Yana, who was born in Bulgaria and came to the U.S. as a teen, the story of democracy in her homeland "is a cautionary tale about transplanting a one-size-fits-all model of Western values."

"Bulgaria is still the poorest, most corrupt nation in the EU, and there's a division in the way people remember their communist past. Most shudder at the memory of closed borders and brutality of the communist regime—yet many, turned sour from political corruption and inaction, high crime rates and inflation absent pre-1989, equate democracy to disaster."


Syria's civil war has now seeped across the borders of all of its neighboring states, making several already unsteady regimes extremely nervous. No one, however, has been more profoundly affected by this than the Kurds. In a dispatch for The New Yorker, Pulitzer Center grantee Jenna Krajeski examines the competing and sometimes conflicting aspirations of Kurdish populations in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Jenna, who has been following the story for months, notes that when ISIS, the Islamic State, lay siege to the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, and Turkish tanks prevented Kurdish fighters and supplies from Turkey from coming to the rescue, tensions between Turkey and its Kurds spiked.

"Kobani today is for Syrian Kurds and Turkish Kurds what Halabja was for Iraqi Kurds," one expert told Jenna, referring to the site of Saddam Hussein's chemical-weapons attacks in 1988 against the Kurds. "It's a stepping stone for national mobilization and nation-building…Even if Kobani falls, it will strengthen Kurdishness."

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor


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Transparency and Governance

Transparency and Governance