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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Feb 19,2014: News Updates

Catholic Church withholding millions from victims, alleges government

CBCCBC – 6 hours ago

Court documents obtained by CBC News allege that the Catholic Church is withholding millions from former students of Indian residential schools.

The church was part of the Indian residential school settlement reached in 2006. While the government paid the lion’s share of the billion-dollar settlement, the churches were also required to make reparations.

The Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches have met their obligations, but according to the federal government, the Catholic Church is shirking its responsibility.

Rioters seize over 1,500 guns in Ukraine mayhem - security services

Published time: February 19, 2014 14:30

Ukraine’s security service has announced it is launching a counter-terror operation. Radicals have seized over 1,500 firing arms and 100,000 bullets in the last 24 hours, the service said.

 19 February 2014 Last updated at 19:23

Ukraine President Yanukovych sacks army chief amid crisis

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has sacked the head of the armed forces, Col Gen Volodymyr Zamana, according to the president's website.
The move comes after the most intense violence in Ukraine's three-month crisis turned Kiev into a battle zone.

Italians unhappy with ex-PM ouster: Poll

Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:26PM GMT
An Italian poll has shown that a majority of Italians are unhappy about Prime Minister-designate Matteo Renzi’s grab of power, calling the former premier’s ouster a blow to democracy.
The poll published on Wednesday by the Italian daily La Stampa  revealed that 65 percent of Italians believe the ouster of former prime minister Enrico Letta was a “blow to democracy.”
The survey also showed only 26 percent believed the move was a normal change of government.

 Wall Street Girds for China Bribery Probe as IPOs Beckon

By Cathy Chan and Keri Geiger Feb 19, 2014 5:05 PM GMT+0100
Wall Street hiring in Asia is coming under increasing scrutiny in the wake of a U.S. criminal investigation into whether JPMorgan Chase & Co. employed children of China’s elite in violation of anti-bribery laws.

 Blackstone Buys Minority Stake in Senator Hedge-Fund Firm

By Saijel Kishan and Devin Banerjee Feb 19, 2014 7:18 AM GMT+0100
Blackstone Group LP (BX)’s Tom Hill wants to dominate the $2.6 trillion hedge-fund industry.
The firm, already the largest allocator in hedge funds, is setting its sights on buying stakes in the money managers. Senator Investment Group LP, a $6.7 billion firm, told clients yesterday that Blackstone bought a minority piece of its business, less than a week after Hill, who runs the New York-based firm’s $56 billion hedge-fund group, outlined his ambitions for that business.

In 2013 The Fed Bought 150% More Treasurys Than All Foreigners Combined

Now that we have the full history of foreign Treasury purchases in 2013, we know the following: in December 2012 total US paper held by foreigners was $5,573.8 billion; one year later it rose to $5.794.9 billion or a $221 billion increase. So how does this look in the context of QE? In the past year, courtesy of the Fed's $1 trillion in TSY and MBS purchases, Ben Bernanke purchases some $552 billion in Treasurys, or about 150% more than all foreigners combined! Suddenly the need for MyRA is becoming all too clear...

Argentina asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear bonds case

(Reuters) - Argentina filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking to reverse lower court decisions ordering the country to pay $1.33 billion to hedge fund creditors in a case Argentine officials warn could force it to default on its sovereign debt.

The appeal followed a November 18 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York denying Argentina's petition for a rehearing in a decade-long legal battle with bondholders who refused to accept the country's two debt-restructuring offers after the country defaulted on $100 billion in 2002.

 Richest Scandinavians Seek Weak Krone in Bid to Push Up Pay

By Saleha Mohsin Feb 19, 2014 2:37 PM GMT+0100
Though the krone has eased 13 percent against the euro over the past year, it’s still 27 percent overvalued, according to a gauge of purchasing power by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Norway’s biggest labor union urged the central bank to keep a lid on the krone as the group looks for ways to secure pay gains without overheating the economy of Scandinavia’s richest nation.
...“It’s very important that Norges Bank keep the pressure on the krone so it’s low because that’s easier for our export industry,” the 58-year-old union leader said in an interview yesterday. “Our members should get their part in the growth Norway is seeing and we should get our hands on the pension system that the employers are currently controlling.”
Norway, backed by an $830 billion sovereign wealth fund, is struggling to absorb an oil and gas industry that has driven up production costs. That’s threatened to hamper competitiveness for some of the country’s biggest exporters such as Norsk Hydro ASA. (NHY) Though the currency has eased 13 percent against the euro over the past year, it’s still 27 percent overvalued, according to a gauge of purchasing power by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

 Sweden May Shelve Tougher Bank Rules If Recovery Is at Risk

By Johan Carlstrom and Niklas Magnusson Feb 19, 2014 9:57 AM GMT+0100
Earlier this year, Finance Minister Anders Borg criticized lenders for paying what he characterized as excessive dividends, arguing the cash will be needed to comply with even tougher reserve rules in future.
...“What you constantly need to take into the equation is not to hurt the growth that’s about to accelerate, but to find a suitable balance,” Financial Markets Minister Peter Norman said yesterday in an interview in Stockholm. “This is an economic experiment” and “a delicate balance,” he said.
The comments mark a change in tone after Sweden forced through some of the world’s strictest bank capital standards. Earlier this year, Finance MinisterAnders Borgcriticized lenders for paying what he characterized as excessive dividends, arguing the cash will be needed to comply with even tougher reserve rules in future. Swedish banks, including Nordea Bank AB (NDA), Swedbank AB (SWEDA) and SEB AB, have warned that setting capital requirements too high could jeopardize the recovery.

 Deutsche Bank Said to Be Close to Settling Kirch Lawsuits

By Karin Matussek Feb 19, 2014 6:13 PM GMT+0100
Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Germany’s biggest bank, is close to settling litigation over the collapse of Leo Kirch’s media group for more than 900 million euros ($1.2 billion), according to a person with knowledge of the talks.
The bank will pay the businessman’s heirs to end the disputes under the proposed deal, which hasn’t been signed, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Kirch’s heirs are seeking more than 3.3 billion euros in lawsuits against the Frankfurt-based lender.

 UK court upholds Snowden-linked detention

Judges rule that police lawfully detained David Miranda, who was carrying NSA files leaked by Edward Snowden.
Last updated: 19 Feb 2014 12:49

Britain's High Court has ruled that police legally detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist at the centre of the Edward Snowden spying leaks.

The court rejected on Wednesday a legal challenge which argued that the detention of David Miranda, and the seizure of leaked documents, violated free expression.

In a 34-page written judgment, Lord Justice John Laws said the detention "was a proportionate measure in the circumstances" and that its objective "was not only legitimate, but very pressing".

 Colombia fires army chief over scandal

President says 'disrespectful remarks' against judiciary and the country during a phone call cost Barrero his job.
Last updated: 19 Feb 2014 12:05
Colombia's president has dismissed the country's head of armed forces after he verbally maligned prosecutors and suggested action be taken against them in audio recordings obtained a local news magazine.

General Leonardo Barrero's phone conversation with a colonel, who was imprisoned over possible links to extrajudicial killings, was recorded by prosecutors investigating corruption by senior officers in allegedly inflated military contracts, the Semana news magazine reported.

Barrero said such prosecutions were "a bunch of crap'' and suggested that he and others "organise a mafia'' to discredit the officials involved.

 19 February 2014 Last updated at 06:08

Top China official linked to Zhou Yongkang facing probe

A senior official linked to Chinese former security chief Zhou Yongkang is being investigated, state media say.
Ji Wenlin, the vice-governor of Hainan province, was being investigated for "suspected serious violation of discipline and laws", the Communist Party disciplinary body said.
No other details were given of the probe, which comes amid a crackdown on corruption by President Xi Jinping.

China Training For "Short, Sharp War" With Japan, US Navy Warns

In the last year, China has increased the military activity and actions in the South China Sea around the so-called Nine Dash Line — China’s expansive claim into the region which is in conflict with several other international claims.
As USNI reports, Capt. James Fannell, deputy chief of staff intelligence and information operations for PACFLEET, notes that while China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has expanded its training to include a similar attack on Japanese holdings in the East China Sea. He concludes, "the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands]."

New Tinder Security Flaw Exposed Users' Exact Locations for Months

By Nick Summers February 19, 2014
An image from Include Security shows how Tinder users’ locations could be tracked to within 100 feetInclude SecurityAn image from Include Security shows how Tinder users’ locations could be tracked to within 100 feet
Internet security researchers in New York say that a flaw in Tinder, the super-popular hookup app, made it possible to find users’ precise location for between 40 and 165 days, without any public notice from the company.

Free pizza! Chevron issues controversial apology to town plagued by fracking explosion

Published time: February 19, 2014 00:53
With one person missing and presumed dead in an explosion at a natural gas well in a small Pennsylvania town, the company responsible is now under fire after apparently apologizing to the local community by handing out vouchers for free pizza.

It took five days for emergency crews to safely extinguish a fire that was set by an explosion that shook the small town of Bobtown, located in the far southwestern corner of the state. The blast gave off a loud hissing noise that could be heard from hundreds of yards away.

 US mulls bill punishing Israel boycotters

Congress could remove federal funding from academic institutions that decide to boycott Israel.
David Francis Last updated: 19 Feb 2014 09:12
Two congressmen, Peter Roskam and Dan Lipinski - a Republican and Democrat respectively, both from the state of Illinois - have introduced a bill that would strip American academic institutions of federal funding if they choose to boycott Israel.
The move follows a growing international movement to protest the Israeli occupation and violations of Palestinian human rights. The most recent to join the boycott is the American Studies Association (ASA), a group composed of about 5,000 academics and scholars dedicated to the study of American culture.

 19 February 2014 Last updated at 16:24

Phone-hacking trial: Blair 'advised Brooks before arrest'

Rebekah Brooks and Tony Blair Tony Blair advised Rebekah Brooks six days before her arrest over phone hacking, a court has heard
Tony Blair gave advice to newspaper executive Rebekah Brooks on handling the phone-hacking scandal six days before her arrest, a court has heard.
The court heard Mrs Brooks spoke to the former prime minister and passed on what he had said to James Murdoch, then News International executive chairman.
In an email, she said Mr Blair had said he was "available" to her, James and Rupert Murdoch as an "unofficial adviser", the Old Bailey heard.

 Glaxo Memo Shows Drug Industry Lobbying on E-Cigarettes

By Makiko Kitamura Feb 19, 2014 6:59 PM GMT+0100
GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) is pushing for more stringent regulation of electronic cigarettes, which compete with its Nicorette gum and other smoking cessation products, according to e-mails from a company executive.

Europe should follow the lead of the U.K., which plans to require e-cigarettes to be licensed as medicines much the way other nicotine-replacement therapy products are, wrote Sophie Crousse, the Brussels-based vice president of European public affairs for Glaxo’s consumer health-care division.

Master monkey's brain controls sedated 'avatar'

 18 February 2014 Last updated at 16:35
The brain of one monkey has been used to control the movements of another, "avatar", monkey, US scientists report.
Brain scans read the master monkey's mind and were used to electrically stimulate the avatar's spinal cord, resulting in controlled movement.
The team hope the method can be refined to allow paralysed people to regain control of their own body.

'The winds of change are massive!' Tech innovator calls African diaspora to come back and make a difference   

From Lillian Leposo, Nima Elbagir and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN
February 18, 2014 --
In recent years the Kenyan government has actively encouraged ICT development in the country. Christened the "African Silicon Savannah," the $9.2 billion project known as Konza City is an ambitious undertaking that could help Kenya become a technology and innovation hotspot.
The country's technological boom has also been spurred by a rise in the number of innovation centers, where young coders and aspiring entrepreneurs join forces, network and work on their trailblazing ideas.

Turkey's Gul approves law tightening Internet controls

ISTANBUL Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:07pm EST
(Reuters) - Turkish President Abdullah Gul approved a new law tightening control of the Internet on Tuesday in a move bolstering embattled Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan but raising concerns about free speech.

The legislation, along with a law increasing government influence over the judiciary, is seen by Erdogan's critics as an authoritarian response to a corruption inquiry shaking his government, a bid to stymie court cases and to stop leaks circulating online.

NZ court rules Megaupload warrant legal, dealing blow to Dotcom

WELLINGTON Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:56am GMT

(Reuters) - A New Zealand court on Wednesday ruled that the search warrant used in the arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom on U.S. online piracy charges was legal, dealing a blow to the internet entrepreneur who is fighting extradition to the United States.

Acting on the request of U.S. authorities, the New Zealand government successfully appealed a 2012 ruling that police used illegal warrants when they arrested the tycoon in January 2012 at his mansion near Auckland and seized laptops and hard drives.

Homeland Security seeking to develop massive license plate database

Published time: February 19, 2014 04:21

The US Department of Homeland Security is hoping to find a private company that is technologically capable of providing a system that will track license plates across the nation, according to a new report.

84-year-old nun sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison for break-in at US nuclear plant

The Canadian PressBy Travis Loller, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 7 hours ago
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - An 84-year-old nun was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a U.S. nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium, a demonstration that exposed serious security flaws.

Australian policy not to blame for Indonesia incursions: review

ReutersBy Matt Siegel | Reuters – 43 minutes ago

SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian review into violations of Indonesian territory by its navy released on Wednesday has cleared government policy of blame for the incursions, which contributed to a sharp deterioration in relations between the neighbors.
 The review, conducted jointly by the Australian Defence Force and Customs and Border Protection Service, found that breaches occurred on six occasions "contrary to Australian Government policy and operational instructions".
"The breaches were inadvertent and the review found there was nothing in the strategic guidance provided for the operation which required, implied or suggested that a breach of Indonesian sovereignty would be acceptable," the report said.
The finding that the incursions were the result of "incorrect calculation of the boundaries of Indonesian waters rather than as a deliberate action or navigational error" seems to point blame away from the government.

Asylum seeker killed in violent protest at Australian-run detention camp at Papua New Guinea

The Canadian PressBy Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 9 hours ago

CANBERRA, Australia - Police in Papua New Guinea opened fire after hundreds of men pushed down the perimeter fence and broke out of an Australian-run detention camp for asylum seekers during a violent protest in which one inmate was killed and scores were injured, an Australian official said.

EU eases Zimbabwe sanctions, keeps them on Mugabe

ReutersBy Adrian Croft | Reuters – Mon, 17 Feb, 2014

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union suspended sanctions on eight of Zimbabwe's most powerful military and political figures on Monday, but kept them on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, in a cautious easing of policy after last year's disputed elections.
...Mugabe, who turns 90 on Friday, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980. He has frequently clashed with the West over his policies and accused the United States and Britain in a speech to the United Nations last September of trying to control his nation and its resources.

Nigeria harnesses the power of waste (1:57)