Press TV – Unknown armed groups have blown up a gas pipeline in the al-Rastan area near the western Syrian city of Homs, Press TV reports. Following the explosion, clashes erupted between Syrian security forces and armed groups in Homs. According to reports, a Lebanese and a Libyan national have been killed in the clashes. Read Article
Bloomberg – President Barack Obama said he will nominate two former U.S. Treasury Department officials for the Federal Reserve Board, including one who served in a Republican administration. Jerome Powell, an attorney who was a Treasury undersecretary for former President George H.W. Bush, and Jeremy Stein, a Harvard University economist who has advised the current administration, are Obama’s picks. Pairing candidates who served under both parties may help ease approval by a Senate where the Democrats’ majority narrowed last year, letting Republicans block administration nominees. The Fed’s seven-member Board of Governors has two vacancies. While the term of Elizabeth Duke, an appointee of President George W. Bush, expires Jan. 31, she can continue to serve until a successor is appointed. Read Article
Editorial Comment – Powell served as the undersecretary for finance under the president George H. W. Bush and was a partner of The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a massive private equity firm and one of the largest defense contractors in the world. Amongst its members are some of the most influential policymakers over the last five administrations including both Bush presidents, former Secretary of State James Baker III, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty, and former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt to name a few. In addition former British Prime Minister John Major was European Chairman of the Group. Other notable investors in The Carlyle Group include the bin Laden family and the Saudi Royal Family. Coincidentally, it has been well documented George H. W. Bush was at a Caryle Group meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington on the morning of September 11th with one of Osama Bin Laden’s brothers.
Independant – The analysis found that the £1bn of tax cuts in April will be outweighed by reductions of more than £2.5bn in the complex tax-credit scheme. Most of the cuts to credits, which top up the wages of low-income families in work, will take effect from April and could catch families unaware. Read article
Interfax – Russian specialists plan to test launch an RS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) (UR-100N UTTKh, Stiletto by Western classification) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, a Yuzhny Space Center spokesman told Interfax. “The main task of the launch is to test intercontinental ballistic missiles’ new combat equipment capable of overpowering existing and future missile defense shields,” he said. Read Article
Reuters – Russia sought to undermine the authority of the United States as a global judge of human rights on Wednesday with Moscow’s first report to detail allegations of torture, phone tapping and abuse by the U.S. government. Criticizing the United States for double standards, Russia said President Barack Obama had failed to shut the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and accused the White House of sheltering officials and CIA operatives from prosecution. Read article