Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Short takes: another arrest in News Int'l phone hacking case; few surprised by former Goldman Sachs directors accusations; U.S. defense secretary unhurt after strange truck episode in Afghanistan

Yet another of those particularly British arrest-by-appointments has occurred. This one involves Neville Thurlbeck a former News of the World reporter.

Thurlbeck was arrested by police officers for "on suspicion of intimidation of a witness" according to British news reports. The officers are from Operation Weeting, which is what the cops are calling the phone hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch's media empire in the U.K.

This op-ed this morning from Greg Smith would have been considered earth shattering many years ago, but today...

Greg Smith is a former Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe - "former" because he resigned today, and topped off his last day by having a broadside published in the New York Times.

According to Smith, Goldman Sachs is only interested in making money off its clients, not working in their interests.

No one seems to see this as either new, though the press is going through the motions of pretending it is.
Today, many of these leaders display a Goldman Sachs culture quotient of exactly zero percent. I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.
Smith goes right up to the line of accusing the company of illegal behavior, but doesn't cross it.

The good news for Smith, of course, is that Goldman Sachs execs are well compensated, and no doubt Smith has already received his annual bonus. Compensation at this level in one year is about a lifetime's worth for the average Joe. Well, maybe a bit more than that, actually.

The lead story right now on the home page of most papers is that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is alive. That should tell you all you need to know about how things are going in Afghanistan.

Panetta was visiting Afghanistan following several incidents that have the Afghanis ready to take revenge on the American – first the burning of the Korans, then the massacre of civilians by a U.S. soldier (who BBC News is reporting has been flown out of the country).

The incident is rather sketchy: apparently a stolen truck sped onto the runway ramp of the airfield. The truck was shooting flames, but later it was revealed that no explosives were found.

The Guardian is calling it a 'suspected attack', while the NYT is saying practically nothing useful for its readers. Hey, maybe it didn't happen at all.