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Bullpen Roundup for Thursday, December 29, 2016

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_ The economy recovery is mostly a myth for the 99%. President Obama said in 2013 that economic inequality was “the defining issue of our time.” If so, Obama largely failed to do anything meaningful to address this issue.

_ Both German Deutsche Bank and Swiss Credit Suisse are settling charges with the United States government over their involvement in fraud in the mortgage market, which led to the 2008 financial crisis. Deutsche Bank will pay a $7.2 billion fine and Credit Suisse will pay a $5.28 billion fine.

_ In a seemingly benign report presented earlier this month about middle class incomes and innovation, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Jason Furman, claimed that jobs with a median wage paying less than $20 an hour have an 83% chance of being automated. Those with less than a high school education had a 44% chance of having their jobs automated.

_ Attorneys general in 20 states sued six generic drug makers for conspiring to increase prices on generic medications to boost profits. The companies allegedly conspired to distort prices for doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic, and glyburide, a diabetes medicine, through a series of “industry dinners.” Pharmaceutical executives agreed to avoid competing with one another as it would reduce their profits. Communications pertaining to those agreements were later destroyed.

Worker’s Corner

_ The Service Employees International Union (SEIU),the heavyweight union behind the fight for a $15 minimum wage, is cutting its budget 30% in preparation for Trump.

_ Though many are focusing on trade, automation may be the longer-term jobs killer according to some economists.

_ Trump’s secretary of labor pick believes workers are ‘overprotected’ and shouldn’t get breaks.

Corporate Crime Watch

_ Former official at New York State Pension Fund and two brokers charged in bribery scheme. A former portfolio manager of New York state’s pension fund steered more than $2 billion in business to two brokerage firms in exchange for bribes that included prostitutes, cocaine, concert tickets and a $17,400 Panerai watch.

_ The son of the former prime minister of Gabon faces up to five years in U.S. prison after pleading guilty in Brooklyn federal court to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act while acting as a contractor for New York-based hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC. Och-Ziff Capital Management Group agreed to pay nearly $413 million in a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission settlement, while an African subsidiary pled guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing government official.

_ US fines Goldman Sachs $120 million in rate-rigging scandal. Goldman Sachs traders between 2007 and 2012 deliberately timed and priced trades to influence the published price of the benchmark interest rate.

_ SandRidge Energy penalized $1.4 million for firing and impeding whistleblower. Oklahoma-based SandRidge Energy Inc. fired an employee who raised concerns inside the company about how it calculated its publicly reported oil-and-gas reserves. SandRidge settled the enforcement action without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.

Military-Industrial Complex

_ It will be very difficult for Trump to shut down the F-35 program. The F-35 program boasts a supply chain that reaches out to practically every state in the country. While government watchdogs and critics have long derided the project’s runaway costs and frequent setbacks, the F-35 program has generated tens of thousands of jobs in 45 states and enjoys strong bipartisan support throughout Congress.

_ Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issues press release exposing $13 billion of wasteful Pentagon spending.

_ The Navy’s $29 billion Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program provides a step-by-step case study in acquisition failures and the costs and risks of unacceptable levels of concurrency. Its design requirements were poorly conceived; the manpower planning was wildly unrealistic; Navy leadership and program managers repeatedly circumvented acquisition rules, increasing concurrency and cost risk; production was approved despite poor and rushed analysis; and production milestones were approved despite glaring program failure.

Money in Politics

_ Former Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has launched a political consulting firm along with former Trump adviser Barry Bennett.

_ Of the 13 cabinet picks Trump has made so far, seven have given a total of more than $455,000 since 1990 to support people who will serve in the next Senate, either directly to their campaigns or to outside groups backing them.

_ Meet the 10 shadowy groups that snuck into your state races. Overall, independent political groups such as these have taken on a larger role in shaping the messages about who to choose for political office, sponsoring about 1 in every 5 political TV ads about state political races since 2010.

_ 2016: Outside spending by race.

Maronite Church in Aleppo, 2009. (by Charles Roffey)
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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.