Reading between the lines of the news

Here are some less prominent news items you should be aware of. Click on the titles for full story.

One percent holds 39 percent of global wealth WASHINGTON — Around one percent of households have 39 percent of the globe’s wealth according to a study published Tuesday, pointing to increased inequalities in the wake of the global downturn.

The number of millionaire households across the globe increased 12 percent in 2010, according to The Boston Consulting Group report, increasing millionaires’ share of wealth from 37 percent in 2009.

Despite being at the epicenter of the global financial meltdown, the United States had by far the most millionaires last year, with 5,220 millionaire households, and increase of 1.3 percent from the previous year.

Japan was second with 1,530 and China third with 1,110.

But it is emerging markets in Asia that can expect to see the biggest growth, increasing their share of wealth by 2.9 percentage points in 2010.

Tiny Asian economic powerhouse Singapore boosted the highest number of households with more than a million dollars under management.

HSBC and Goldman managed $335 million of Libyan funds – In a report published on the 26th May, international NGO Global Witness calls for new laws requiring banks and financial institutions to disclose state funds under their management. The concern follows a leaked document to the organisation which reveals that $335 million of Libyan state funds, under the name of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), are managed by HSBC and Goldman Sachs, two of the biggest names in the banking world. The LIA, a Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund was established in 2006, and was widely known in the UK for making numerous property purchases in London; it is reported to own buildings in Mayfair, Oxford Circus and the City of London as well as the recently opened Corinthia Hotel on Whitehall Place. The Gaddafi family has significant control over the funds invested into the LIA, and according to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, “In his position of absolute authority, Gaddafi has control of vast financial resources derived, primarily, from oil revenues. Gaddafi makes no distinction between his personal assets and the resources of the country.”

In Censorship Move, Iran Plans Its Own, Private Internet – BY CHRISTOPHER RHOADS AND FARNAZ FASSIHI Iran is taking steps toward an aggressive new form of censorship: a so-called national Internet that could, in effect, disconnect Iranian cyberspace from the rest of the world. The leadership in Iran sees the project as a way to end the fight for control of the Internet, according to observers of Iranian policy inside and outside the country. Iran, already among the most sophisticated nations in online censoring, also promotes its national Internet as a cost-saving measure for consumers and as a way to uphold Islamic moral codes.

Ex-Blackwater chief’s new army causes alarm in Persian Gulf – A mercenary army formed by Erik Prince, the former chief of the Blackwater private security company, at the behest of an Arab prince is causing concern in the Persian Gulf and raising uncomfortable questions in the US. – THE US internet giant Google has avoided paying more than pound stg. 3 billion ($4.63bn) in tax in Britain and other countries over the past five years. It has an elaborate network of companies spanning at least five legal jurisdictions — including Ireland, Holland and Bermuda — to minimise its tax bill, according to a Sunday Times investigation. Hard-nosed accountancy methods, including schemes known as the “double Irish” and “Dutch sandwich”, mean that overseas profits are legally traded between Google subsidiaries that ultimately lead to the Caribbean tax haven.

The dark side of the Syrian internet – 01 Jun 2011 In his book, The Net Delusion, released in early 2011, Evgeny Morozov warned us of the dark side of the internet, its utility to authoritarian regimes, and the potential for dictators to use it against their citizens. Though online repression was no new thing, Morozov’s thesis took on so-called cyberutopians, whose overly optimistic view of the internet, he argued, ignored its perils. The timing of the book’s release coincided, unfortunately, with the start of the Arab Spring in which Tunisian and Egyptian activists leveraged digital tools to their advantage, using them to assist with the organisation of protests and to amass international attention for their cause. Suddenly, cyberutopians had reason to celebrate, as their belief in the power of the internet for social change was confirmed. But Morozov wasn’t wrong. In Syria, where demonstrations have been taking place since late February, the government has begun to catch up with activists, both offline and online. Though the Syrian internet has long been censored, citizens have for some time had the upper hand, using circumvention and anonymity technologies to get around censorship and protect themselves online.

Qatar freezes assets of ousted Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali

Telegraph – Qatar has frozen assets belonging to deposed Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family, a spokesman for the Tunisian Justice Ministry said.

India, Iran fail to decide on mode of crude oil payment – With stalemate continuing over the mode of payment for crude oil imported from Iran, India today said the two sides are exploring all the options to resolve the five-month-old issue, PTI reported. “The two sides held detailed and constructive discussions for two days on the various options for resolving the issues relating to settlement of payments. Both the sides agreed to continue their engagement in the matter,” a finance ministry statement said.


Source: mainly Modernity, who has lots more:

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