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Geithner: ‘I had no role’ in an AIG cover up

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Update at bottom: Dem Congressman tears into Geithner: ‘It makes me doubt your commitment to the American people’; NY Times notes “liberals and conservatives alike, took turns hectoring”

WASHINGTON — US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers Wednesday he acted properly in the 2008 bailout of AIG and the subsequent disclosure of payouts from the insurance giant to major banks.

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Geithner, facing increasing heat over his role in the bailout when he was president of the New York Federal Reserve, said the actions were aimed at financial stability and that authorities “did not act to help foreign banks.”

“Congress granted the Federal Reserve emergency authority precisely so that the government had some capacity to act to contain a systemic financial crisis,” he said in testimony prepared for delivery to a congressional panel.

“Not to have used that authority at that time would have been deeply irresponsible.”

Geithner also maintained that he was not involved in a decision to withhold information about AIG’s payouts that some have called a “backdoor bailout” of those firms including Goldman Sachs and a number of foreign banks.

“I had no role in making decisions regarding what to disclose about the specific financial terms of… payments to AIGs counterparties,” he said.

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Overall, Geithner offered an impassioned defense of the role of the central bank and other authorities to resscue AIG in the face of what appeared to be a financial system meltdown in September 2008.

“We did not act because AIG asked for assistance,” he said.

“We did not act to protect the financial interests of individual institutions. We did not act to help foreign banks. We acted because the consequences of AIG failing at that time, in those circumstances, would have been catastrophic for our economy and for American families and businesses.”

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Geithner’s remarks were prepared for delivery to the House of Representatives Government Oversight Committee on his role — when he was president of the New York Federal Reserve — in the controversial AIG bailout.

The Fed provided a loan of 85 billion dollars to AIG in September 2008 in what would be the first portion of a staggering bailout worth some 180 billion dollars.

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Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, who has also taken heat over AIG and his economic stewardship, has welcomed congressional efforts to look into the AIG bailout.

As the New York Times reports, “Throughout the morning, Mr. Geithner tried to persuade lawmakers that the government acted ‘in the best interests of the American people,’ and not in the interests of big banks, in particular, as many lawmakers asserted, Goldman Sachs. Mr. Geithner, while keeping his composure throughout the questions, was also forceful in defending his position.”

“I think the commitment to Goldman Sachs trumped the responsibility that our officials had to the American people,” Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, told Mr. Geithner. His voice rising, his finger pointed at Mr. Geithner, Mr. Lynch told Mr. Geithner: “It stinks to the high heavens what happened here. I don’t like the obfuscation. And to top it all off, the disclosure was not there.”

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Lynch said, “It makes me doubt your commitment to the American people.”

The Times adds, “Members of both parties, liberals and conservatives alike, took turns hectoring Mr. Geithner. At times, the hearing took on a scolding, even berating, tone.”

The following video was posted to YouTube by The Financial Dope blog:

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John Oliver unleashes on news sites that sent out stupid push notifications

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver doesn't come back until Feb. 16, but he dropped a new web-exclusive video Sunday complaining to news agencies that they should stop sending out stupid push notifications on their apps.

Oliver told his audience that there are two major criteria when considering a push notification: 1. Is there something I should be doing differently?; and 2. Is this something I need to know now?

Things like declarations of war, earthquakes or acts of terrorism are all perfect examples of things news agencies should inform readers about quickly. But when CNN sent out a push notification about a 115,000 Neanderthal child that was only found "half-eaten" by a bird, Oliver was understandably frustrated.

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Billionaires are now richer than 60 percent of the world’s population: report

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The world's billionaires have doubled in the past decade and are richer than 60 percent of the global population, the charity Oxfam said Monday.

It said poor women and girls were at the bottom of the scale, putting in "12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day," estimated to be worth at least $10.8 trillion a year.

"Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist," Oxfam's India head Amitabh Behar said.

"The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies," Behar said ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will represent Oxfam.

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Alcohol-infused gummy bears infuriating candy giant Haribo

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Ander Mendez and his friends were hoping they'd struck it rich when they came up with the idea of selling alcohol-infused gummy bears -- until they found themselves in the sights of sweet giant Haribo.

Now, these three Spaniards say they're afraid of being shut down by the German confectionery king, which is famed for its vast array of jelly sweets and was founded 100 years ago in the western city of Bonn.

In a not-so-sweetly worded legal letter, Haribo has accused their startup of infringing its trademarked little bear.

But these graduates from the northern Spanish port city of Bilbao insist they will carry on producing their "drunken gummy bears" -- "because people like them."

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