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LIBOR scandal set to rock U.S. as experts warn it could be 'the biggest consumer fraud in history'

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© Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York: It is alleged that the level of interest rate manipulation by the world's largest banks could have fraudulently affected billions of people across the world
As the investigation into the LIBOR interest rate-rigging in the United Kingdom becomes a financial scandal of tsunami-like proportions, some analysts are openly wondering whether 16 of the world's largest banks have perpetrated the biggest fraud in history.

With the public coming round to the global significance of banks potentially colluding like a cartel to favourably set the LIBOR, those same analysts predict lawsuits worth tens of billions being brought against the Western world's largest financial institutions by average consumers.

Early analysis suggests that for a period of several years before and after the 2008 financial crisis, the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) was manipulated to such an extent that a family with a $100,000 mortgage would have been $50 to $100 worse off a month because of the fixing.

As the fallout from Barclay's $453 million fine for admitting influencing the LIBOR hits the U.S., Europe and Japan, banks such as Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC and Deutsche Bank have admitted they are now under investigation for interest rate manipulation.

Economist and financial analysts are predicting that as the scale of the potential fraud becomes clear, the fines and litigation that engulfs the banking sector could dwarf the penalty handed to Barclay's and even herald further, more stringent regulation on Wall Street and multinational banks.

Footprints

Putin sends warships to boost Syria

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© Reuters
Russia's President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has sent a flotilla of warships to its naval base in a key Syrian port in an apparent show of support for President Bashar al-Assad in what would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago.

Two destroyers and three amphibious landing vessels carrying marines set sail from Russian bases in the Arctic and the Black Sea, according to Russian military sources.

The development appeared intended to underline Russia's effort to position itself as an increasingly decisive broker in resolving the anti-government uprising in Syria, Russia's last ally in the Middle East and where Russia has its only foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union.

The move follows Russia's announcement earlier this week that it was halting new shipments of weapons to the Syrian military until the conflict settled down.

Chess

Russian Navy Ready to Break Syria Blockade Says Arms Agency

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© RIA Novosti, Sergey Eshenko
The Russian cargo ship Alaed.
Russian Navy warships will be sent to defend Russian merchant shipping in the event of a blockade due to the situation in Syria, the deputy head of Russia's military technical cooperation agency said at the Farnborough air show in Britain on Wednesday.

"The fleet will be sent on task to guarantee the safety of our ships, to prevent anyone interfering with them in the event of a blockade. I remind you, there are no limits," Vyacheslav Dzirkaln said, when asked about the navy's actions in the event of a blockade.

Footprints

US Congress says acting Palestinian Authority chief Abbas is 'corrupt'

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© Unknown
Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.
The US Congress has made allegations of corruption against acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of taking advantage of his position.

The House Subcommittee on the Middle East held a hearing on the issue on July 10 titled "Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment."
The chairman of the committee, Ohio Congressman Steve Chabot, said that Abbas has reportedly taken advantage of his position to "line his own pockets as well as those of his... sons."

Footprints

Corruption Charges Fuel Move to Cut US Aid to PA

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© Flash 90
Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian Authority said the Obama administration has warned it will cut aid if it goes to the United Nations again for recognition. In Congress, opposition to aiding the Palestinian Authority was fueled by charges that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has "lined his pockets."

Khaled Mesmar, a Palestinian Authority official of the Political Committee of the Palestinian National Council, admitted on Tuesday that the United States has "threatened to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Liberation Office in Washington if the Palestinian leadership submitted another membership bid to the United Nations."

He said the threat was delivered through official channels during a recent visit to Ramallah by an American envoy.

Magnify

Arafat's widow to file charges in France over Palestinian leader's unexplained death

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© AP
Yasser Arafat and his wife Suha hold hands prior to Arafat's departure from Ramallah, October 29, 2004.
Yasser Arafat's widow will launch a court case in France into the unexplained death of the iconic Palestinian leader eight years ago after a media report suggested he may have been poisoned, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

Allegations of foul play have long surrounded Arafat's demise in November 2004 after French doctors who treated him in his final days said they could not establish the cause of death.

The controversy was reignited by an Al Jazeera expose last week in which the Swiss Radiophysics Institute said it found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 on Arafat's clothing - the same substance used to kill former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The Swiss institute said, however, that the symptoms described in the Palestinian president's medical reports were not consistent with the radioactive agent.

"Madame Arafat hopes that the authorities will be able to establish the exact circumstances of her husband's death and uncover the truth, so that justice can be done," lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sud said in a statement.

Footprints

Palestinians pressured not to seek international probe into Arafat's death

Yasser Arafat
© LV
Ramallah - The Palestinians' efforts to launch an international probe into the 2004 death of ex-leader Yasser Arafat face serious obstacles, a Palestinian official said Tuesday.

The obstacles stem from the opposition by some countries including the United States and France, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The United States has put pressure on the Palestinian leadership not to seek such an investigation because it can lead to some negative consequences on the Middle East peace process, which has been stalled since 2010, according to the official.

The amount of pressure mounted on the Palestinian leaders might foil their efforts to stage an international probe into Arafat's death, the official added.

Footprints

Spain unveils massive cuts amid protests


Spain has announced a $79.85bn austerity package that includes tax hikes and spending cuts a day after it won approval from its euro partners for a huge bailout of the country's stricken banks.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told parliament on Wednesday the country's future was at stake as Spain grapples with recession, a bloated deficit and investor wariness of its sovereign debt.

He said the nearly $80bn in savings will be achieved through 2015 by a hike in sales taxes and a series of spending cuts through 2015.

Rajoy explained that the austerity measures were conditions European Union partners demanded in exchange for an emergency bailout of Spain's troubled banks.

He outlined cuts in unemployment benefit and civil service pay and perks in a parliamentary speech interrupted by jeers and boos from the opposition.

"These measures are not pleasant, but they are necessary. Our public spending exceeds our income by tens of billions of euros," Rajoy told parliament.

Footprints

SWAT Raid on Organizers of Occupy Seattle & E4E

Seattle apartment of organizers from the Occupy movement. The sleeping residents scrambled to put on clothes as they were confronted with automatic weapons.

The neighbor Natalio Perez heard the attack from downstairs: "Suddenly we heard the bang of their grenade, and the crashing as police entered the apartment. The crashing and stomping continued for a long time as they tore the place apart."

After the raid, the residents pored over the papers handed to them by a detective. One explained: "This warrant says that they were specifically looking for 'anarchist materials' - which lays out the political police state nature of this right there. In addition they were looking for specific pieces of clothing supposedly connected with a May First incident.

Stormtrooper

New York police attack Occupy Wall Street protesters near Zuccotti Park

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An Occupy Wall Street activist is arrested by New York police officers during a protest at Zuccotti Park in New York July 11, 2012.
American police forces have attacked and brutalized '99%' protesters and journalists during a rally near New York City's iconic Zuccotti Park, Press TV reports.

Eyewitnesses say officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) were waiting in ambush for Occupy Wall Street protesters returning from the so-called Occupy Guitarmy 99 Mile March in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

At least two protesters were arrested and a woman was injured during the NYPD crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators.

The march was to have concluded at landmark Zuccotti Park when NYPD officers pounced on demonstrators and independent media reporters.