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Mon, 24 Jan 2022
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US: Bankster Jon Corzine's Spectacular Failure Just Got More Spectacular

Jon Corzine
© Getty
There's no better argument against the privilege of wealth than Jon Corzine, the clownish former Goldman Sachs CEO who thought his facility for extracting money from a rigged financial game entitled him to run the state of New Jersey. After getting roundly rejected by voters after one term, he got a job from a friend running derivatives firm MF Global. Yesterday it went bankrupt. And today we learned that he's lost $700 million of his clients' money.

That's right - $700 million from client accounts have simply disappeared from MF Global. The missing money first came to light over the weekend as a potential buyer for the struggling firm pored over its books. When it realized that hundreds of millions in client dollars were unaccounted for, it backed out, leaving MF no choice but to file for bankruptcy yesterday.


US: Regulators Investigating MF Global for Missing Money

© Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Jon Corzine, foreground, a former Goldman Sachs executive and New Jersey governor, was trying to revive his Wall Street career.
Federal regulators have discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money has gone missing from MF Global in recent days, prompting an investigation into the brokerage firm, which is run by Jon S. Corzine, the former New Jersey governor, several people briefed on the matter said on Monday.

The recognition that money was missing scuttled at the 11th hour an agreement to sell a major part of MF Global to a rival brokerage firm. MF Global had staked its survival on completing the deal. Instead, the New York-based firm filed for bankruptcy on Monday.

Regulators are examining whether MF Global diverted some customer funds to support its own trades as the firm teetered on the brink of collapse.

The discovery that money could not be located might simply reflect sloppy internal controls at MF Global. It is still unclear where the money went. At first, as much as $950 million was believed to be missing, but as the firm sorted through its bankruptcy, that figure fell to less than $700 million by late Monday, the people briefed on the matter said. Additional funds are expected to trickle in over the coming days.


Japan MP Yasuhiro Sonoda drinks Fukushima water

Yasuhiro Sonoda drinks a glass of decontaminated water
Yasuhiro Sonoda drinks a glass of decontaminated water taken from puddles inside the Fukushima plant on Monday.

A Japanese official has drunk water collected from the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, after reporters challenged him to prove it was safe.

Yasuhiro Sonoda appeared nervous and his hands shook as he downed a glass during a televised news conference.

The water he drank was taken from puddles under two reactor buildings. It is decontaminated before being used for tasks such as watering plants.

Journalists have repeatedly queried the safety of the procedure.


Airlines Charge Fliers to Fix a Problem They Created

© unknown
The airlines have created an evil cycle of fees for flyers: charge passengers for the solution to a problem they created.

It takes twice as long for everyone to get onto their plane now than it did in the 1970s, reports The New York Times, and that's not counting the security line. Part of the reason is because airlines have started charging fees to check baggage, leaving more people with more luggage to stuff into overhead bins. "Checked-baggage fees have only added to the problem, because travelers now bring more roll-ons onboard, blocking the aisles as they try to cram their belongings into any available space," Jad Mouawad writes.

Another reason is the creation of all those priority boarding classes. "As they have added new classes of seating to their cabins and new fees for priority boarding--all in the name of more revenue--they have slowed down the whole process," he writes. So what you're left with is a circle of supply and demand: the airlines provide the supply of complaints and discomforts, passengers demand (and pay for) a way out, which only creates more complaints and discomforts. Which, for now, is apparently working for the airlines: in the first quarter of 2011 alone, airlines made $784 million just for checking bags.

Che Guevara

Wall St. and other "Occupy" Protests Should Re-Brand as "Anti-Oligarchy"

Some of the biggest men in the United States are afraid of something. They know there is a power somewhere, so organised, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it. - President Woodrow Wilson
© unknown
Oligarchy = People with disproportionate power and influence
The "Occupy" protests and other demonstrations across the US and Europe are reported as being "anti-capitalist", "anti-banker", "anti-EU" or simply "anti-government".

But these labels will just not do.

The oligarchs who bring us our successive financial crises and wars will be getting rid of capitalism pretty soon.

Unfortunately they have no intention of disappearing with it.

We know that the entire financial system is going to collapse in fairly short order.

It must.


US: Banks Extract Fees On Unemployment Benefits

© Getty Images
Out of work and living on a $189-a-week unemployment check, Rob Linville needs to watch every penny. Lately, he has been watching too many pennies disappear into the coffers of the bank that administers his unemployment check via a prepaid debit card.

The state of Oregon, where Linville lives, deposits his weekly benefits on a U.S. Bank prepaid debit card. The bank allows him to make four withdrawals per month free of charge. After that, he must pay $1.50 for each visit to the ATM and $3 to see a teller. Managing his basic expenses, including rent, bus fare and groceries, typically requires more than four withdrawals, he says. Unexpected needs -- Linville recently bought a sport coat for $20 to prepare for a job interview -- entail more. He's afraid to withdraw his full benefits in one shot, knowing that the bank could sock him with a $17.50 overdraft fee if he exceeds his balance. So he pulls out small amounts of cash as he needs it, incurring about $15 in fees in the last two months he says.

"I'm so broke," Linville said, his voice expressing resignation that this is simply how the world works. "But I don't really have any other options."

Across the nation, people receiving a range of state-furnished benefits -- from unemployment insurance and food stamps to cash assistance for poor families -- are facing similar options and reaching the same conclusion. In 41 states major banks and financial firms have secured contracts to provide access to public benefits via prepaid debit cards. And banks are increasingly extracting hefty cuts of these funds through an assortment of small fees. U.S. Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and other institutions hold contracts to distribute these benefits on prepaid debit cards.

Heart - Black

US: Court-martial begins for sergeant accused of killing civilians

Calvin Gibbs
© Peter Millett /Associated Press
In this courtroom sketch, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs is seated at lower left as Army prosecutor Capt. Dan Mazzone stands at center and the military judge, Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, listens at top left.
The court martial for Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, accused ringleader of a rogue U.S. Army platoon accused of murdering civilians in Afghanistan for sport, opened Monday, with Gibbs' lawyer admitting Gibbs kept fingers from three victims as souvenirs.

But the defense lawyer, Phil Stackhouse, says Gibbs saw the killings as legitimate engagements, not premeditated murder.

Gibbs was set up for blame by fellow squad members who already have admitted their roles in the killings, Stackhouse said. In proceedings reported by the Associated Press, Stackhouse said Gibbs was misunderstood by his fellow soldiers when he talked about previous killings of civilians during an earlier deployment to Iraq.

The court martial is being held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

Heart - Black

Rogue US army unit leader saw Afghans as 'savages'

Afghanistan US army
© AFP/File, Yuri Cortez
The crimes of a rogue US army unit has threatened Abu Ghraib-style embarrassment for the US military in Afghanistan
The ringleader of a rogue US army unit accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport treated the locals like "savages," a court martial heard.

The so-called "kill team" led by Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs was "out of control," prosecutors added as grisly photos of soldiers posing with a corpse were shown in court.

Gibbs, who sat expressionless in a tiny courtroom where the week-long case is being heard, also allegedly brandished fingers cut off dead bodies in a failed attempt to silence members of his team.

The 26-year-old faces life in prison if convicted on charges including three counts of premeditated murder, in a scandal that has threatened Abu Ghraib-style embarrassment for the US military.

Heart - Black

US: One protester dead in Oklahoma City, nine arrested in Portland

© YouTube
In what was an otherwise calm night across the country, one Occupy Oklahoma City protester was found dead and nine Occupy Portland protesters were arrested.

In a press advisory Monday, Occupy Oklahoma City organizers expressed their sadness at the passing of a homeless protester who went by the name "Street Poet."

"The Poet was found dead in his tent at Kerr Park earlier this afternoon by other participants," they wrote. "Police and emergency personnel were immediately contacted. Occupy OKC is withholding information concerning The Poet's identity pending notification of his family by authorities."

Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said that although the man appeared to be in his 20s, the death was not suspicious.

In a video posted to Facebook, Street Poet explained that he had been "traveling the road on foot doing poetry" since his dad kicked him out at the age of 16 or 17. Another video posted to Google Plus shows the man performing poetry.


US: OU Professor Accused Of Questionable Medical Practices On Students

Using students as guinea pigs and making deals with companies to make money off his research. These are serious allegations against an OU professor.

A former teaching assistant is speaking out about the questionable experiments. This graduate student and several others went to the university to report what they say are questionable practices.

Now that professor is on a leave of absence, and another professor has left the university as well. And we must warn you, some of the video and pictures in this story are graphic.