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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Deadly Riots, Looting in Argentina

At least 7 people are dead and more than a hundred injured after looting and riots followed a police strike that has spread to 17 out of Argentina’s 23 provinces. 10 of those provinces say they have now reached a deal after police refused to go on patrol until their demands were met. The governor of Buenos Aires managed to avoid a strike by agreeing to almost double entry-level pay for officers, wipe out sanctions for many rule-breaking officers, making them eligible for promotions, and enabling officers who are retired on 90% pay to also return to work while still collecting their pensions.

Politicians have appealed for calm as looters broke into stores and fought with business owners. Today marks 30 years of uninterrupted democracy for Argentina.

Regulators Approve Volcker Rule

All five regulatory agencies voted to approve the centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law, which seeks to draw a line between everyday banking and Wall Street trading. The so-called Volcker Rule’ bans banks from trading for their own gain, a practice called proprietary trading. Essentially, they are no longer allowed to use money deposited by clients to trade derivatives.

While the Volcker Rule is seen as a litmus test for the Obama administration’s efforts to rein in risk-taking on Wall Street, it’s just one of over 400 rules under Dodd-Frank and over two-thirds of the regulations remain unfinished.  The rule also leaves it largely up to banks to monitor their own trading and chief executives are only required to testify that they are taking steps to be in compliance with it (not that they actually are).

Singapore Charges 24 in Riots

Sunday saw the first riot in Singapore in over 30 years, when over 400 demonstrators burned police cars and other vehicles while protesting the death of a migrant worker. The police have arrested 24 people in connection with the riots, all Indian nationals, and the number of arrests could rise. The city-state relies heavily on foreign workers – mostly South Asian – to fill its low-wage jobs and exploitation is rampant. The riots have forced this issue into the open, and the question now is whether the government will respond by cracking down on migrant workers or by taking steps to ensure they are better integrated.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Cross-State Pollution

The Supreme Court has been asked to overturn the EPA’s pollution credit trading plan, which seeks to hold states responsible for pollution that crosses their borders and harms downwind states. The air in these states – mostly in the Midwest and South – may meet regulatory standards, but their pollutants prevent neighboring states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic from meeting their legal obligations.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act by implementing this plan.

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