World View: Israel promises Retaliation Against Iran for Bulgaria Bombing

This morning's key headlines from
  • Violence increases in Damascus Syria, as Assad stays out of sight
  • U.S. threatens to act independently after acrimonious U.N. vote on Syria
  • Capital One fined $150 million for credit card fraud
  • Israel promises retaliation against Iran for Bulgaria bombing

Violence increases in Damascus Syria, as Assad stays out of sight

Assad's inner circle, including officials killed on Wednesday (Reuters)
Assad's inner circle, including officials killed on Wednesday (Reuters)

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad appeared briefly on state television on Thursday to swear in the new defense minister. Other than that, al-Assad has remained hidden in an undisclosed location, a day after a bomber penetrated his deepest security and killed three people in his inner circle. Violence increased in the capital city Damascus, with rebel forces attacked by army helicopter gunships, amid rumors that al-Assad is considering the use of chemical weapons. Syrian refugees have been pouring across the borders into Turkey and Lebanon, with 20,000 refugees crossing into Lebanon on Thursday alone. The main concern continues to be that the sectarian war within Syria will spread into a larger Sunni-Shia war in the region, pitting Iran and Hizbollah against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Reuters

U.S. threatens to act independently after acrimonious U.N. vote on Syria

An acrimonious shouting match in the United Nations Security Council followed the veto, by Russia and China, of a new British-sponsored resolution to extend the observer mission of the Kofi Annan Syria peace plan. The plan, supported by the West, demanded that the Bashar al-Assad regime remove all heavy weapons from civilian residential areas or face sanctions. In vetoing the resolution, China's ambassador said Western nations were "arrogant and rigid." Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that the West sought to "fan the flames of extremists, including terrorist groups," and that the West now wanted "military intervention." America's UN ambassador Susan Rice appeared to indicate that the U.S. would go around the Security Council and take independent action:

"We will intensify our work with a diverse range of partners outside the Security Council to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime and to deliver assistance to those in need.

The Security Council has failed utterly in its most important task on the agenda this year."

She's right that it's very hard to justify the existence of the U.N. Security Council these days. The United States has been "policeman of the world" since President Truman announced the Truman Doctrine in 1947, and it's almost always been up to the United States to take action to bring peace.

The British ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, said, "The United Kingdom is appalled at the veto of Russia and China. The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime. They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians." France's ambassador Gerard Araud said, "It is clear that Russia only aims to give more time to the Syrian regime to crush the opposition. Refusing Annan the means of pressure that he asked for is to threaten his mission." Middle East Online

Capital One fined $150 million for credit card fraud

Federal regulators order Capital One Financial Corp. to reimburse $150 million to more than 2 million consumers who were fraudulently sold products they didn't need when they called to activate their credit cards. For example, they sold "payment-protection plans," which cover up to 12 months of minimum payments if they lose their jobs or become disabled. But they sold them to people who were already unemployed or disabled, and after the consumers paid a hefty fee, they were told that they were ineligible for the "protection." Market Watch This reminds me of a scam that I reported in 2009. The Senate Commerce Committee discovered the scan works as follows: You make a credit card purchase online from Priceline or other retailers. At the end of the transaction, you're offered a "reward" of some kind, a coupon worth a few dollars. You click the fine print, and it turns out that you've agreed to let the retailer charge your credit card $10-20 per month. According to the Senate reports, the online retailers were fully aware that they were defrauding consumers, but they didn't care because they were making so much money -- $1.4 billion from millions of customers.

Here's the list of online retailers that the Senate found committed this fraud:    Hotwire 
AirTran Holdings     Intelius          Redcats USA       FTD               Shutterfly
Continental Airlines Orbitz Worldwide  US Airways Group     Pizza Hut         Vistaprint USA

As I keep saying, the global financial crisis is far from over, because the same banksters are in the same jobs finding new ways to defraud people. These people graduated with masters degrees in "financial engineering" in the 1990s, and became world experts in creating highly complex synthetic financial instruments with which to commit fraud. Today, few people would be willing to purchase a fraudulent residential mortgage-back collateralized debt obligation (RMB CDO), so these same people are now using other techniques to defraud people. In the meantime, Eric Holder's Justice Department adamantly refuses to investigate and prosecute banksters who commit even the most obvious fraud.

In the Capital One case, the company is fined some portion of the amount of their illegal gains. The actual people who perpetrated the fraud still keep their 6-7 digit salaries and bonuses, when they should be going to jail.

Israel promises retaliation against Iran for Bulgaria bombing

Israeli officials maintained Thursday that Iran was behind a suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists, and vowed revenge, at least covertly. Iran has accused Israel of being responsible for the killing of two Iranian scientists last year, and the New York Times has published classified information revealing that the Stuxnet virus, which attacked centrifuges in Iran's nuclear reactors, was launched by the United States and Israel. Iran is denying that it caused the Bulgaria bombing, but it's possible that it did so because of a desire for revenge. Washington Post

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