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28 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Russia troops have entered Ukraine, says president

Ukrainian soldiers guard a checkpoint in Mariupol in eastern Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko cancels planned trip abroad as he in effect accuses Russia of invasion

Islamic State: Arab leaders reluctant to heed US call for ‘allies against Isis’

Assad election campaign, May 2014

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan know dangers of Isis but tribal ties and fears of boosting Syria’s Assad are prompting caution

Islamic State (Isis) 5hr 56min ago

Isis hostage’s mother makes emotional plea for his release – video

28 Aug 2014: Video (1min 40sec) Shirley Sotloff, the mother of American journalist Steven Sotloff who is being held captive by Isis militants, makes a plea for the Islamist group to release her son

Detroit resumes shutting off water service after month-long suspension

Nearly 45% of city’s 173,000 water accounts considered past due with 420 customers due to be denied service Tuesday

Opinion

The Americans left me on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar. I just want to be lifted out

We Yazidis fled to the mountain when Isis attacked the town of Sinjar. But without help, I wonder if there is any hope of going home

Plus: Satellite images show Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar

yazidi on sinjar
After American forces bombarded Isis forces around Mount Sinjar on 14 August, many people were able to flee the mountain for safety. Others were too sick to leave quickly and remain stranded. Photograph: Rodi Said / Reuters

I was at home when clashes erupted between the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isis) fighters and Peshmerga forces. Yazidi fighters had volunteered to form a brigade to protect the town of Sinjar against Isis’s relentless efforts to conquer the town. Mortar attacks and gunfire were intensifying, and I could see the residents of the compound started to flee their houses. But I’m 58 year old – and long-time sufferer of diabetes and heart problems – so I was not as swift to flee……………………………

*Al Jazerra

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Shirley Sotloff’s plea to the Islamic State to free her captured son

The militant group has threatened journalist Steven Sotloff with death because of the US airstrikes in Iraq

Topics:
Islamic State
International
Syria
Syria’s War
Crisis in Iraq
Opinion
Blockbuster bank settlements leave consumers hanging

Blockbuster bank settlements leave consumers hanging

Details of homeowner relief stay opaque while tax deductions and accounting loopholes lower cost to banks

Last week Bank of America reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to the tune of $16.65 billion for its role in selling faulty mortgages in the financial crisis. Such big-dollar settlements with large banks — including, in the past year, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase — sound like harsh punishments but in actuality amount only to slaps on the wrist.

For one, those colossal dollar figures are rarely the actual prices the banks will pay. The real costs to these companies is muddled by tax deductions, unclear directives and accounting loopholes. The secretive negotiation process for settlements is also inconsistent with the civil and criminal process the average American faces.

It’s no wonder, then, that the nation has settlement fatigue; the feeling among consumer advocates and the public is that these agreements have negligible impact on the lives of homeowners affected by the financial crisis.

But the tactics used to sell homeowners loans that the Securities and Exchange Commission filing described as “toxic waste” should inspire outrage, not ennui. This settlement, the heftiest in U.S. history was, after all, brought on by intentional practices that ignored the needs of American consumers. Ironically, the Bank of America settlement and the many others like it largely ignore their needs too.

A need for transparency

The first problem with settlements is that they have both cash and noncash elements. The Bank of America settlement, for example, includes $7 billion in so-called consumer relief…………………….

Topics:
U.S. Financial Crisis
Economy
Bank of America
 

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