Sony hack reveals close bond between corporate and state interests | Al Jazeera America

What began as a private embarrassment has now become a matter of national interest. White House officials have reportedly determined that North Korea played a role in the Sony hacking, and the Obama administration is considering an official response.Already the White Houses National Security Council (NSC) has weighed in, saying the federal government was “investigating attribution” of the security breach that led to private emails from Sony Pictures being leaked. The FBI has also launched its own investigation into the leak.The White House has yet to publicly finger North Korea as the culprit. But the incident, which White House press secretary Josh Earnest called a “national security matter,” has struck right at the often fuzzy distinction between public and private interests when it comes to the security of large companies.

via Sony hack reveals close bond between corporate and state interests | Al Jazeera America.

Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus – Salon.com

As the CRomnibus becomes law, many rank-and-file liberals have wondered how Democrats, needing to reconnect with the public after another midterm debacle, could in their first order of business help roll back a key Wall Street reform. The answer lies in the nature of this rollback, along with the real lack of communication between lawmakers ostensibly on the same side.First of all, it’s worth mentioning that the CRomnibus was a horrible bill even without weakening Dodd-Frank. It was loaded with favors to wealthy and well-connected special interests, and its very existence, as a must-pass, short-term budget bill larded up with unrelated policy riders that will last forever, sets a dangerous precedent for the future.But let’s just focus on this one Wall Street rider, and how it made its way into law.

via Inside Wall Street’s new heist: How big banks exploited a broken Democratic caucus – Salon.com.

Five reasons why markets are heading for a crash – Telegraph

Many stock markets are close to their all-time highs, the oil price is plummeting, delivering a significant boost to Western and Asian economies, the European Central Bank is getting ready for full-scale sovereign QE – or so everyone seems to believe – the American recovery is gaining momentum, Britain is experiencing the highest rate of growth in the G7, God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world. All good, then?No, not good at all. I don’t want to put a dampener on the festive cheer, but here are five reasons to think things are not quite the unadulterated picture of harmony and advancement many stock market pundits would have you believe.The first reason to worry is the curiously juxtaposed state of asset prices, with generally buoyant equities but falling sovereign bond yields and commodity prices. They cannot both be right. High equity prices are – or at least, should be – indicative of investor confidence and optimism. Low bond yields and falling commodity prices point to the very reverse; they are basically a sign of emerging deflationary pressures and a slowing economy. If demand was really about to roar away, both would be rising along with equities, not falling. The markets have become a kind of push-me-pull-you construct. They look both ways at the same time.

via Five reasons why markets are heading for a crash – Telegraph.

Chris Rock: If Poor People Knew How Rich Rich People Are, There Would Be Riots

The multi-millionaire comedian pointed out that poor people would be particularly shocked if they knew all the perks rich people get for being rich.”If the average person could see the Virgin Airlines first-class lounge, they’d go, What? What? This is food, and it’s free, and they… what? Massage? Are you kidding me?” he said.If you have never flown Virgin Airlines first class or first class at all, for that matter, these lounges of which Rock speaks are where “Upper Class passengers” can kick back with some “amazing food, fantastic facilities and a chilled out atmosphere,” according to the Virgin website. At London Heathrow Airport, the Virgin lounge has a spa and showers.Virgin Atlantic didnt respond to The Huffington Posts requests for comment.Lavish air travel is just the start. Rich people often get paid to wear jewelry. They get paid to lose weight.Theyre given free laptops and TVs. They also get paid thousands of dollars to just show up at clubs.

via Chris Rock: If Poor People Knew How Rich Rich People Are, There Would Be Riots.

Global corruption a bigger scourge than terrorism – World – CBC News

While the G20 summit in Australia made headlines over global warming, economic growth and terrorism, much less attention was paid to the giant spectre of global corruption.That is too bad as this is a problem that is arguably more dangerous to humanity than even terrorism because it siphons off an estimated $1 trillion from developing countries annually through bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, extortion and other financial crimes.Recent World Bank estimates suggest that much of the worlds direct aid to the poorest countries ends up stolen, perhaps as much as $40 billion in recent years.And it has been estimated that up to 3.6 million of the worlds poorest die annually from inadequate health care and living conditions directly because corruption has leached away development aid of all kinds.At its most extreme, corruption causes people to lose faith in government, states to fail and violence to erupt in the form of organized crime and terrorist movements.Only slightly less malign, its the dirty grease that keeps many repressive and violent dictators in lavish power.

via Global corruption a bigger scourge than terrorism – World – CBC News.

Is Your Head Spinning? 5 Tips to Understand the ‘Lux Leaks’ Files | International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Want to see how global companies can avoid billions in taxes by routing their profits through Luxembourg? All the information is there in the leaked documents, but understanding the complex structures companies set up is not an easy task. Here are a few tips on how to read the documents and knowing what to look for.

via Is Your Head Spinning? 5 Tips to Understand the ‘Lux Leaks’ Files | International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Breaking: Elizabeth Warren Elected to Senate Leadership Post | The Nation

Senator Elizabeth Warren will be part of the Democrats leadership team in the Senate, the party decided on Thursday morning. At the urging of Majority Leader Harry Reid, a new position was created for Warren: strategic policy adviser to the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.Several outlets have reported Warren will be a liaison to liberal groups, which will indeed be part of her duties—but a source close to Reid stressed to The Nation that Warren was brought into leadership to help steer policy and communications decisions. Senate Democrats have a number of important decisions to make as the minority party in the coming two years: which Democratic proposals to highlight, which Republican bills to aggressively oppose, and what amendments to propose to must-pass legislation. Soon-to-be Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will embrace an open amendment process. Senate Democrats will also be an important potential counterweight to any compromises that President Obama may try to work out with Congressional Republicans if Democratic votes are needed. The source close to Reid said Warren will be a “crucial” voice and vote at the leadership table when strategic decisions are being made. Its hard not to conclude that progressives will thus have a stronger ability to steer the partys strategic course going forward. Warren is an outspoken opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal, which is likely to come up for fast-track consideration some time next year. Both McConnell and Obama favor it, while Reid and many but not all Senate Democrats oppose fast-track authority.She also is vocal about closing tax loopholes for corporations and not only protecting Social Security but expanding it. Corporate tax reform is also something Obama and McConnell both ostensibly want, and Social Security could come up during tense budget standoffs between the White House and Congress. Senate Republicans are already planning a commission to “study options” on Social Security.

via Breaking: Elizabeth Warren Elected to Senate Leadership Post | The Nation.