Top 5 News Headlines Friday 5th February 2016


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U.N. Reportedly Finds Julian Assange Has Been “Arbitrarily Detained”

The BBC is reporting a United Nations panel has ruled in favor of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who says he has been “arbitrarily detained” for the past three-and-a-half years because he cannot leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London without being arrested by British authorities. Assange sought asylum in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. Earlier this morning, Assange had said he will accept arrest by British police if the U.N. ruled against him.

Democracy Now!


Russian bombs triggering mass Aleppo exodus, Syria conference told

Increasingly intensive Russian airstrikes are pushing tens of thousands of Syrians from Aleppo towards the Turkish border, the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu has told a Syria fundraising conference.

The Turkish prime minister said he had been sent news of the mass exodus as he arrived in London for the conference, which aims to raise billions of dollars in aid for refugees in Syria and bordering countries.

The Guardian 


VICE News Reveals the Terrorism Blacklist Secretly Wielding Power Over the Lives of Millions

An American Muslim civil rights leader praised by George W. Bush, an economist honored by the British Queen, and a prominent anti-extremism campaigner have all been secretly given a “terrorism” designation on a confidential database that banks use as a reference tool for blacklisting customers, a VICE News investigation can reveal.

The highly influential World-Check database has also listed major charities, activists, and mainstream religious institutions under its category of “terrorism”. Dozens of terror profiles in the database owned by Thomson Reuters seen by VICE News include:

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Executive Director, Nihad Awad, one of a select group of American Muslim leaders invited to join former US President George W. Bush in a press conference condemning the 9/11 attacks. CAIR, the recipient of multiple leadership awards, is also terror-listed by World-Check.

Liberal Democrat politician Maajid Nawaz, who founded counter-extremism think tank Quilliam and has advised successive British prime ministers.

Former World Bank and Bank of England advisor Mohamed Iqbal Asaria, who was given a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) award in the 2005 Queen’s Honours List for services to international development.

Vice News


Global oil glut leaves Kazakhstan reeling

Almaty – The impact of the falling oil prices is being felt globally. The price of US crude fell below $27 a barrel last month amid a global glut in oil supplies that seems to be getting worse.

That is the lowest price since May 2003 and a far cry from the $100 a barrel it fetched in the summer of 2014.

Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s richest nation and its economy is dependent heavily on oil. After Russia, it is the largest oil producer among fomer Soviet states.

The situation in Kazakhstan is no better than it is in other oil-producing countries. In the city of Almaty, many people are struggling to make ends meet.



An Idiot’s Guide to Prosecuting Corporate Fraud

Say you’re the newly elected president of the United States, and you want to make prosecuting corporate crime a top priority.

Where do you start? Here would be good.

A new group called Bank Whistleblowers United have just pushed out a comprehensive plan they think would put the executive branch back in the business of enthusiastically identifying, indicting, and convicting financial fraudsters — restoring accountability while protecting the public.

The cumulative credibility of the group’s four founders is extremely strong. Richard Bowen is the Citigroup whistleblower who unsuccessfully warned top management about the rotten condition of loans inside mortgage-backed securities. Michael Winston spoke out about similarly corrupt practices at non-bank mortgage originator Countrywide. Gary Aguirre, a Securities and Exchange Commission attorney, was fired for refusing to let a Wall Street banker out of an insider trading investigation.

And their ringleader is William Black, an outspoken fraud-fighter and longtime white-collar criminologist who was a two-fisted bank regulator during the savings and loan crisis and now teaches at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC).

“The common theme,” Black said with characteristic bluntness, “is the unbelievably pathetic job of the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

One of the first steps the group proposes – echoing the recommendations Senator Elizabeth Warren made last week – involves appointing aggressive leadership at federal agencies with no conflicts of interest with the entities they regulate, and hiring enough staff trained in criminology and financial fraud to attack the problem.

“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Black. “The Justice Department forgot there was a wheel.”

The template for the plan is the saving and loan crisis of the late 1980s, when just one federal agency, the now-defunct Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) issued over 30,000 criminal referrals and over 1,000 major bank executives went to prison.

By comparison, in the 2008 financial crisis, OTS and their bank regulator counterparts made zero outside criminal referrals on financial crimes. And more recently, the rate of corporate prosecutions has been pathetic.

The whistleblowers would restore a job position from that earlier era: Criminal referral coordinators at every federal agency to meet with their counterparts in law enforcement to press for prosecutions and continually improve the process. They would also issue monthly referral reports to make the process more transparent. George W. Bush eliminated criminal referral coordinators in his first term.

The Intercept