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February, 2012 by joanneleon
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News



Super rich hiding up to $32 trillion offshore
Up to $280bn is lost in tax revenues as wealthy individuals park financial assets in offshore tax havens.

Rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280bn in lost income tax revenues, according to research published on Sunday.

The study estimating the extent of global private financial wealth held in offshore accounts - excluding non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses - puts the sum at between $21 and $32 trillion.

This amounts to roughly the US and Japanese GDP combined. Roughly 10 million people worldwide have offshore accounts, with 100,000 people owning half of those secreted assets.

[ ... ]

John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network told Al Jazeera that he was shocked by "the sheer scale of the figures".

"What's shocking is that some of the world's biggest banks are up to their eyeballs in helping their clients evade taxes and shift their wealth offshore," said Christensen.

[ Emphasis added. ]

U.S. Poverty On Track To Rise To Highest Since 1960s

WASHINGTON -- The ranks of America's poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

[ ... ]

Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.

[ ... ]

"The issues aren't just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy," said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.

He pointed to the recent recession but also longer-term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization [ ... ]

Want Economic Growth? Forgive and Restructure Debt for American Working Families

Restructuring Private Debt May Be Better Option than Austerity or More Stimulus
by Steve Clemons and Richard Vague

In the Spring of 2011, the Obama administration started to rev up a campaign called "The Summer of Recovery" and planned to deploy the President, VP Joe Biden, and the economically connected Cabinet members and advisers to go to all parts of the country, particularly battleground states, and convince Americans that things were getting better, that jobs were being created, and that the vector of the nation was pointing in a great direction.

[ ... ]

It's private debt that matters most.

There is about $24 trillion in consumer and business debt held in the United States today and this dwarfs the federal debt, money supply, and the nation's GDP.  

[ ... ]

Federal debt was inconsequential to these crises.  Charts in the report (pdf) we are posting today make clear that Spain, economically beleaguered today, was in excellent federal balance sheet health before the recent Eurozone financial quakes started.

Michael Phelps: it would be 'kinda cool to rewrite history' in London
The laid-back American swimmer says that the passion is back as he bids to become the most decorated Olympian of all time by winning three medals at London 2012 to surpass Larisa Latynina

Swimming has been Phelps's life as well but, at 27, he is getting ready to walk away and is determined not to let anxiety, or the expectation of others, spoil the farewell party in London.

The American reckons it would be "kinda cool to rewrite history", as he has done, one way or another, at every Olympics he has attended since Sydney 2000. If he were any more laid-back, however, as he attempts to become the most decorated Olympian of all time, he might fall asleep while making the last-lap flip in the final of his pet event, the 200m butterfly. He has given the impression lately that he is less worried than everyone else about winning the three medals of any colour he needs to surpass the tally of the Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina – who won 18 (nine gold, five silver and four bronze) in consecutive Games between 1956 and 1964.

Commentary: Texas GOP wages war on thinking

In other words, it's just an average week down there in Crazy Town. And that lends a certain context to a tidbit brought to national attention last week by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." Meaning a plank from the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas which, astonishingly enough, reads as follows: "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

Holy wow. That is, without a doubt, the most frightening sentence this side of a Stephen King novel.

The Texas GOP has set itself explicitly against teaching children to be critical thinkers. Never mind the creeping stupidization of this country, the growing dumbification of our children, our mounting rejection of, even contempt for, objective fact. Never mind educators who lament the inability of American children to think, to weigh conflicting paradigms, analyze competing arguments, to reason, ruminate, question and reach a thoughtful conclusion. Never mind that this promises the loss of our ability to compete in an ever more complex and technology-driven world.

Young adults, Depression-era seniors reflect on economic blows

Sanchez and Anderhous are separated in age by 60-plus years, but both have been profoundly shaped by their experiences during times of financial upheaval.

[ ... ]

"This is not a minor blip," said Carl Van Horn, a professor of public policy and director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. "It will have huge defining economic and psychological impact on (young adults) for years to come."

While the national jobless rate hovers at 8.2 percent, the rate is 8.5 percent for those younger than 25 with a college degree. A recent Rutgers survey of 444 college graduates from the classes of 2006 to 2011 found that only 51 percent had full-time employment. The rest were in school, had part-time jobs or were out of the labor force entirely.

The "few bad apples" meme.
Exclusive: Prosecutors, regulators close to making Libor arrests

The prospect of charges and arrests means prosecutors are getting a fuller picture of how traders at major banks allegedly sought to influence the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, and other global rates that underpin hundreds of trillions of dollars in assets. The criminal charges would come alongside efforts by regulators to five major banks, and could show that the alleged activity was not rampant at the lenders.

"The individual criminal charges have no impact on the regulatory moves against the banks," said a European source familiar with the matter. "But banks are hoping that at least regulators will see that the scandal was mainly due to individual misbehavior of a gang of traders."

[ ... ]

Reuters previously reported that more than a dozen current and former employees of several large banks are under investigation, including Barclays Plc, UBS and Citigroup, and have hired defense lawyers over the past year as a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., continues to gather evidence.

Eight killed in deadly 24 hours for NATO in Afghanistan

(Reuters) - A gunman wearing an Afghan uniform turned his weapon against foreign trainers working for NATO in the western province of Herat on Sunday, killing three, in a grim 24 hours for the coalition which also saw five NATO soldiers killed.

[ ... ]

"An individual wearing an Afghan National Security Force uniform turned his weapon against ISAF contracted civilian employees in western Afghanistan today, killing three," a spokesman for the NATO-led coalition said, adding that an unknown number of other people had been wounded.

[ ... ]

The latest attack is not technically considered to be the 21st green on blue attack this year as the victims were all contractors.

[ ... ]

In a separate incident, the Taliban executed five Afghan civilians kidnapped on Saturday who worked for NATO in Wardak province, close to the capital Kabul, a statement from the provincial governor given to Afghanistan's Tolo TV station said.

Lost boys of Bagram still live in prison's shadow

More than 2,500 juveniles have been detained in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay by the United States since 2001, according to a U.N. report.

Most, like Khan, are now free, but many are struggling to rebuild their shattered lives.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm still in prison," said Khan, who, like all foreign prisoners at Bagram, was never charged with a crime.

"They put me in jail for six years. No proof, nothing. I spent my youth behind bars," he said, adding that he and other young detainees were beaten repeatedly during the first few months of their detention.

Syrians flee as battle blazes across Damascus and Aleppo
Fierce fighting continues in Syria's two largest cities with the army bombarding parts of the capital with helicopter gunships

Syria was in the grip of bloody urban warfare on Sunday, with fierce fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government forces raging on the streets of Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo.

[ ... ]

More than 30,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring Lebanon, with others still seeking to escape. The Syrian government imaintained the situation inside the capital on Sunday was normal. It released photographs of President Bashar al-Assad meeting his new chief of staff, General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub. The photograph was impossible to authenticate, although the Israeli military said Assad and his family were still in Damascus. Soldiers were dealing with a few remaining "terrorists", state television said.





Blog Posts of Interest


A Million Square Kilometers of Sea Ice Gone in 9 Days by bobinson on DailyKos

Spanish Bond Yields Continue to Rise, Presaging Bailout by David Dayen on FDL News

Weaving Reality IX: On Integrity by rserven on DailyKos








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