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Friday, October 5, 2012

Argentine Navy Ship Impounded by Hedge Fund

An Argentinean naval vessel was seized by Ghanaian court order following a request from NML Capital on Tuesday. The company, a subsidiary of the U.S. hedge fund Elliot Capital Management (Elliot), is what is known as a vulture fund: a private equity or hedge fund specializing in purchasing the debt of entities that are nearing default for pennies on the dollar and then demanding repayment in full. Argentina controversially defaulted on its debt in 2001 after two decades of hyperinflation accompanied by ineffective government action ruined the country’s already weak economy. Since then, Argentina has been able to restructure $93 billion of its $100 billion in defaulted bonds, paying back around $28 billion. Elliot is one of several hold out creditors that have sued for full recovery. The vessel seized is a sail boat worth around $10 million dollars, a fraction of the $1.6 billion Elliot hopes to recover from Argentina in full.

12,000 Platinum Miners Face Dismissal

Twelve thousand of the 28,000 striking miners at the Anglo Platinum (AMS) mine in South Africa are facing dismissal, after company management declared the strike illegal. The AMS strikers have been asking for a monthly salary of $2000 against the current $500 monthly salary. AMS management said the ‘illegal’ strikes have cost them $82.3 million dollars in lost output. More than 75,000 miners have gone on strike nationwide in South Africa, joined by more than 20,000 truck drivers. Port workers are currently debating striking as well. Forty six people were killed in August, when police fired live rounds on another group of platinum miners. Today the body of an AMS miner was found, having apparently succumbed to wounds suffered from rubber-coated bullets fired by police to disperse demonstrators last night.

Protesters Clash With Police at Temple Mount

Israeli police have entered the al-Aqsa Mosque located on Temple Mount in Old City Jerusalem today, following days of clashes at the site. The disturbances began after Arab Israelis were prevented from their attempt to hold prayers there at the beginning of the week. Two people were injured as police volleyed stun grenades at protestors who threw rocks, and one protestor was arrested for resisting arrest. The al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is generally understood to be the site of Solomon’s Temple. It was captured by Israel from Jordan during the Six Days War in 1967 and incorporated along with the rest of East Jerusalem into Jerusalem proper under the 1980 Jerusalem Law. It has been the site of numerous clashes since, including an incident in 2000 in which Israeli police entered the mosque providing a flash point for igniting the Second Intifada.

Greek Government Out of Money

Greek Prime Minister Atonis Samaras said in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt that without the next installment of aid, the Greek government will run out of money: “Until the end of November. Then the coffers are empty.” Having already taken severe austerity measures in return for the aid promised by the troika, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, Samaras now doubts such onerous terms can be maintained. Citing the resulting negative effect on Greece’s democratic system, he said, “the cuts we have already made have cut to the bone. We are at the limits of what we can ask of our people.” He compared the weak economic condition of his country to that of the Weimar Republic in Germany before the rise of the Third Reich. Greece’s nationalist far right political party, Golden Dawn, has ridden the economic crisis to vast gains in voter support resulting in 18 seats in the Greek parliament, the most the party has had throughout its history.

US Unemployment Rate Falls to 7.3%

The past month saw the US unemployment rate at 7.3 percent, its lowest since early 2009. The Labor Department released a report on its monthly pay roll survey today, saying 114,000 jobs were added this last month. While the Labor Department’s household survey shows more than 418,000 people entered the labor force, and 873,000 more Americans were employed in September than in July. Though the numbers were greeted with enthusiasm by some and skepticism by others, the U.S. job market remains frail. 12.1 million remain jobless in the U.S.; 4.8 million of which have been so for at least 27 weeks.

Weekend Read: Prison Rape: Obama’s Program to Stop It

More than 3 million people are detained in the United States. The Justice Department estimates that over 200,000 people are sexually assaulted while in detention every year. In The New York Review of Books.

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