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Fatster’s Roundup

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Here’s your evening news!

International Developments

? An estimated 9,000 Syrians–mostly women and children— have fled to Jordan “over the past six days”, for a total of 290,000 Syrian exiles in Jordan.

? The Syrian war death toll: several groups claim various numbers, and criticize the numbers offered by others.  There is no independent group charged with “fact-finding on the ground”, using scientifically accepted methods.

? “Security forces used stun grenades to disperse hundreds of opposition activists trying to stage a march in Kuwait on Sunday and made several arrests.”

? According to an Iranian health official, “Air pollution in Tehran”–which has been so bad the city has had to close down twice in the past month–has left 4,460 people dead in a year”. Carcinogens in Iranian-made gas are higher than international standards. Is this smog crisis a result of US sanctions?

International Finance

? “A senior lawmaker says Iran’s revenues from oil and gas exports have dropped by 45 percent because of sanctions over its suspected nuclear program.”

Money Matters USA

? Forbes: President Obama “Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower”.

? Bank of America has reached a $11.6 settlement with Fannie Mae in the home foreclosure scandal ($3.6bn in claims settlement, $6.75bn to buy back 30,000 mortgages, and $1.3bn in compensation). Fannie Mae’s CEO is Tim Mayopoulous who was General Counsel of Bank of America “and one of the people scapegoated by Ken Lewis”, former Bank of America CEO.

? In another settlement, 10 US banks have agreed to $8.5bn settlement over “wrongful foreclosure practices”, only $3.3bn of which is to go to homeowners, though $5.2bn is supposed to be used for loan modifications.  Settlements good for banks, good for regulators, but “less good for homeowners”.  Surprise, surprise.

? Overall, US banks have agreed to pay $20bn in two settlements for the mortgage crisis they largely created. Bank of America’s settlement share, or $14.1bn, will “reduce its fourth-quarter pre-tax profit by $2.7bn.”

? “The wealthiest Americans save $3 trillion dollars a year through a system of subsidies and tax avoidance schemes, which totals three times more than our annual deficit.  That’s enough for a full-time job for every middle-class household in America.”  Subsidies and loopholes – $1.25 trillion; tax underpayments – $450 billion; tax havens – $250 billion; and on and on.

? Back on Jan 2nd we noted all the corporate goodies in the so-called “fiscal cliff” bill.  Matt Stoller takes a closer look at those goodies and at the reporting (or lack thereof) concerning them.

? If Apple were to “come clean” with the taxman, according to that “could cost the company upward of $28.5 billion”.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.