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Late Night: Fatster’s Roundup

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And here’s your mid-week news.

International Developments

? “There has been further heavy fighting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the northern city of Aleppo.”

? “Militants have killed seven Turkish soldiers and injured at least 56 in a rocket attack on a convoy in the east”. Most of the injured were on a bus which caught on fire.

?”Italy’s highest appeals court has upheld the guilty verdicts of 23 Americans, all but one of them CIA agents, accused of kidnapping a terror suspect” in Milan in 2003. The 23 Americans were tried in absentia. One of them, Robert Seldon Lady, claimed he opposed the abduction but was “overruled”.

? Cyberattacks, apparently from China, are hitting various Japanese government offices, “courts and a hospital”, substituting “messages proclaiming Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu [or Senkaku in Japan) islands”.

? Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said “some of the ‘toughest’ fighting in Afghanistan is yet to come” as an orderly US exit unfolds. With the “rapid increase of ‘green-on-blue-attacks'”, however, the planned NATO exit “appeared to be in serious jeopardy . . ..”

? Video footage showing prisoners being horribly beaten, one even raped with a stick, has led the Georgia president, Mikhail Saakashvill to suspend all prison staff and order patrol police to take over the prisons.

? With Aung San Suu Kyl currently visiting the US, the Treasury Department “has lifted sanctions against Burma’s President Thein Sein and the speaker of the lower house of parliament . . ..” This action follows a series of reforms the Burmese government began in 2011.

International Finances

? Many Greeks can no longer afford heating oil, “following the increase of the special consumption tax to 80 percent”. Greeks in rural regions are turning to firewood which has led to “a massive increase in illegal logging” and a marked increase in firewood imports.

? “Almost a third of Italian adults (31%) live with their parents”. The rate was highest among the 18-29 age group–60.7%–which is also hit hardest by lack of jobs.

? “Canada rises to top five in world economic freedom ranking as U.S. plummets to 18th”. ‘Economic freedom’ is defined as “plenty of personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete and security of private property”, all of which apparently are measurable in terms of “higher GDPs, less poverty, longer life-expectancy and more political and civil liberties.”

? The devastating drought in the US mid-west will result in at least a 15% hike in food prices with farmers slaughtering pigs and cattle early because they cannot afford the feed for them. Pork prices are expected to go up by 31% by the beginning of summer, 2013, and beef by 8%.

? “The Bank of Japan . . . has extended its asset purchasing programme by 10 trillion yen ($126bn)”. The size of the increase took many analysts by surprise.

? The race is on to exploit the Arctic’s newly-accessible cornucopia of oil, gas and minerals, and China is exploring ways to get its toe in the Arctic resources door. [cont’d.]

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David Dayen

David Dayen