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Fatster’s Roundup

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Good morning.

International Developments

? “Malian troops and suspected Islamist militants are exchanging heavy gunfire on the streets of Gao in northern Mali.”

? Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now “ready for nuclear talks with US”.

? On his way out, NATO forces commander US Gen. John Allen assures us “the alliance is on the road to winning the war.”

? Who’s responsible, “Violent Salafists”  or Leagues of the Protection of the Revolution, for the recent assassination of Chokri Belaid of Tunisia?   No one’s sure, but “Violent Salafists” is emerging as a major new buzz-word in the Middle East.

? Women, the bravest of all in Egypt.  Although 83% of Egyptian women report sexual harassment, Egyptian males say, using universal predator logic, that sexual assaults of women in Tahrir Square are the women’s fault since their presence “is giving the square a bad reputation”.

International Finance

? Bob Diamond, former CEO of Barclays, had a Tax Avoidance Unit. It’s being closed now, having  “been accused of orchestrating tax avoidance on an ‘industrial’ scale and has generated vast profits for the bank”.  Staff bonuses of  £2bn, however, will continue.

? Tom Hayes, “the former [UBS] senior trader charged by the US Department of Justice in connection with interest rate-rigging, says the scandal goes “much, much higher than me” . . . and warns “senior bank executives” could be implicated.

? Those two “big lawsuits brought by federal and state governments” against credit agency Standard & Poor’s “don’t point the finger at any particular person who was responsible for these dastardly doings.”  Why?  The “best and brightest were diverted to anti-terrorism cases [after 9/11] and not replaced.”  Bin Laden wins again.

Money Matters USA

? Don’t miss!  Neil Barofsky was Inspector General for the TARP program.  Jon Stewart gives us the opportunity to see what kind of a person Barofsky actually is, in stark contrast to the milieu in which he had to operate as IG.  Scroll to videos.

? A rising tide?  Boston-based States Street is embroiled in US lawsuits for “‘massive losses’ amounting to ‘hundreds of millions of dollars'”.  Retirees of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Health Care Trust and the Glass Dimensions Inc Profit Sharing Plan and Trust are bringing the lawsuits.  Glass Dimensions Trust has a $77,000 portfolio compared to State Street’s $2.1tn assets, which shows you what’s up.

Coal companies “pay 25 cents a ton for coal from public lands and then can  turn around and sell it for $35 a ton”.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is supposed to be checking to see if, in addition, the coal companies are low-balling “the value of coal excavated from federal lands” in order to pay lower fees to the government.

? As union membership declined--from around 36% of workers in the late ’50s to 6.6% today–the share of US income taken by the top 1% rose–from around 10% to 23.5%.  The “assault on unions has been deliberate and merciless”.  What can be done to “claw back middle class wealth”. [cont’d.]

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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.