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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Feb 22, 2014: News Updates

 22 February 2014 Last updated at 04:53

G20 summit to focus on emerging market turmoil

Stock market and currency turbulence in emerging markets like Brazil and Indonesia are expected to feature at this weekend's G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney.
The official theme of the meeting is restoring global growth.
But the main issue for participants, which also include Argentina, could be the dramatic revaluation of their currencies and share markets.

Ukraine President Flees Kiev After "Coup D'Etat" As Protesters Storm Presidential Palace, Plunder Gold; Army On Hold

It has been a busy night in the Ukraine
First, the newly-installed interior minister declared that the police were now behind the protesters they had fought for days, giving central Kiev the look of a war zone with 77 people killed, while central authority crumbled in western Ukraine. Then despite yesterday's latest anti-crisis "agreement" which we said would last at best hours, the protesters continued their pressure against embattled president Yanukovich, demanding his outright and unconditional resignation, leading to his fleeing Kiev by airplane overnight to the far more pro-Russian city of Kharkiv located in the Eastern Ukraine, even as his arch rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, who is held in prison in the same city, was rumored to have been released on her way to the far more anti-Russian city of Kiev - it turns out those rumors have so far been incorrect.
Then there was a plethora of rumors that he has or is about to either escape the country and/or resign, sparking celebrations in Kiev, only for him to appear on TV subsequently and not only deny a resignation is coming, but that he accused the current leaders in Kiev of staging a coup d'etat and that all parliamentary decisions today have been illegitimate, saying "I did all I could to avoid bloodshed" while comparing recent events in the Ukraine to the "Fascist Revolution" in Germany. This was promptly rebutted by the Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski who tweeted there is no coup in Kiev and President Viktor Yanukovych has 24 hours to sign re-adopted 2004 constitution into law.

Ukraine parliament removes Yanukovich, who flees Kiev in "coup"

KIEV Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:42pm GMT 3 mins ago
(Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovich from office, hours after he abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup.
The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian leader looks likely to dramatically alter the future of the former Soviet republic of 46 million people, pulling it closer to Europe and away from Moscow's orbit.

11 killed as Libyan military plane crashes in Tunisia

February 21, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
(CNN) -- A Libyan military plane crashed in Tunisia's Nabeul province Friday, killing all 11 people on board, the Libyan government said.
The plane was carrying five crew members, a doctor, three patients and two others who were accompanying them on the flight, Libyan officials said.
Among those killed was Sheikh Muftah Mabrook al Dwadi, a senior Islamist figure and deputy minister of Libya's Ministry of Martyrs' Affairs, the Libyan air force said.
Col. Ali Sheikhi, a Libyan military spokesman, said the plane crashed amid "mysterious circumstances."

 HSBC to announce bonuses totalling £2.4 billion - report

LONDON Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:45pm GMT
(Reuters) - HSBC will announce staff bonuses totalling just under 2.4 billion pounds globally for 2013 and is expected to report a significant rise in pretax profit, Sky News reported on its website on Saturday without citing its sources.
Europe's biggest bank is expected on Monday to announce the size of its bonus pool, a sensitive issue as many Britons still blame banks for the 2008 financial crisis after which the state was forced to bail out RBS and Lloyds.
Earlier this month Barclays prompted an angry reaction from politicians and labour unions after it increased its bonuses by 13 percent to 2.4 billion pounds even as it announced plans to axe 12,000 jobs.

 European Banks Are Cooking Up a Nice Regulatory Arbitrage

By Matt Levine Feb 21, 2014 9:41 PM GMT+0100
I don't have much to add to this International Financing Review article titled "Banks target DTAs to boost capital," but it brought tears of joy to my eye, and I'll pass it along because at least some of my readers share at least some of my aesthetic sensibilities. That's probably a minority, even of my readers. Honestly this is some kinky stuff. But if you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like.

 Feb. 21, 2014, 5:00 a.m. EST

Obama plan: Cut tax breaks for richest retirement savers

Plan designed to spur saving by low-, middle-income earners
President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress in early March, as part of his fiscal 2015 budget, to reduce some of the tax advantages for employer-sponsored retirement plans for higher-income earners, according to published reports.

 Fannie Mae Payments to U.S. Will Exceed Bailout

By Clea Benson Feb 21, 2014 4:37 PM GMT+0100

...The mortgage-finance company, which is operating under federal conservatorship, had net income of $6.5 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, Washington-based Fannie Mae (FNMA) said today in a regulatory filing. That brought earnings for 2013 to $84 billion, the highest ever for the 80-year-old firm. ...
...After its latest dividend payment, Fannie Mae will have sent the Treasury a total of $121.1 billion. The company also counts an additional $1 billion in senior preferred stock the Treasury obtained in 2008 as part of its aid package.
The payments to Treasury, which include all of the company’s quarterly profits, count as a return on the U.S. investment and not as a repayment of the taxpayer aid. Currently, there is no mechanism for Fannie Mae to exit government control.

Thai protesters turn in SIM cards seen linked to PM's family

BANGKOK Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:24am GMT
(Reuters) - Some Thai anti-government protesters followed the advice of their leader on Saturday, shunning products of firms linked to the family of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and handing back cellphone SIM cards.
The protesters have blocked main Bangkok intersections with tents, tyres and sandbags, seeking to unseat Yingluck and halt the influence of her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, an ousted former premier regarded by many as the real power behind the government.

 China summons US official in Dalai Lama row

Beijing accuses US of interfering in internal affairs by hosting Tibetan spiritual leader in visit it warned against.

Last updated: 22 Feb 2014 09:34

China's foreign ministry has summoned a senior US embassy official in China after US President Barack Obama held low-key talks with the Dalai Lama at the White House despite warnings from Beijing the meeting would damage ties.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summoned Daniel Kritenbrink, charge d'affaires of the US embassy, on Friday night, according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website, where he expressed his country's rejection of "US interference in China's internal issues."
"China expressed strong indignation and firm opposition" to the "erroneous acts" of the US in interfering in China's internal issues, Zhang said in the statement, the Reuters news agency reported.

 Venezuelan Government denounces attack on the country’s consular office in Aruba. Consular office in Curacao closed.

JauaWILLEMSTAD – The Venezuelan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Elias Jaua, reported that the consular office of Venezuela in Aruba suffered damages by a vehicle this Friday.

 Fracking Boom Leaves Texans Under a Toxic Cloud

By Lisa Song, Jim Morris and David Hasemyer Feb 20, 2014 7:53 PM
...Those three facilities also are allowed to release 142 tons of nitrogen oxides, 95 tons of carbon monoxide, 19 tons of sulfur dioxide, 8 tons of particulate matter and 0.31 tons of hydrogen sulfide per year. Sometimes the emissions soar high into the sky and are carried by the wind until they drop to the ground miles away. Sometimes they blow straight toward the Buehrings' or their neighbors' homes.
The regulation of oil and gas extraction falls primarily to the states, whose rules vary dramatically. States are also responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Air Act, an arrangement that is problematic in Texas, which has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 18 times in the last decade.

 21 February 2014 Last updated at 22:39

Detroit files multi-billion dollar bankruptcy plan

Detroit's emergency manager has filed a plan to restructure the city's debts in the wake of the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.
The plan, awaiting approval from a bankruptcy judge, includes cuts to pensions and creditors to drive down the $18bn (£10.8bn) debt.

Exxon CEO: Don't frack in my backyard

Published time: February 22, 2014 02:36
The CEO of ExxonMobil – the top producer of natural gas in the US – has joined a lawsuit that challenges the construction of a water tower connected to hydraulic fracturing operations near his Texas home, given that it may reduce the property value.
CEO Rex Tillerson and other plaintiffs claim the hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – project will cause unwanted noise and traffic associated with trucking water from the 160-foot tower to the drilling site, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ship loses more than 500 containers in heavy seas

By Tim Lister, CNN
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Their Danish-flagged ship was in the Bay of Biscay last week as hurricane-force winds battered the Atlantic coast of Europe. Amid waves of 30 feet and winds of 60 knots, the Svendborg began losing containers off northern France. After the ship arrived in the Spanish port of Malaga this week, Maersk discovered that about 520 containers were unaccounted for. Stacks of others had collapsed.
It's the biggest recorded loss of containers overboard in a single incident.
....The company told CNN that the extreme weather had an unexpectedly forceful impact on the ship's movements. It said 85% of the lost containers were empty and others included such dry goods as frozen meat. None contained dangerous goods. Maersk is now contacting customers to tell them that their shipments are at the bottom of the ocean.

Freedom to discriminate? Controversial Arizona bill takes step toward becoming law

Published time: February 21, 2014 22:51
The Arizona state Senate approved legislation Wednesday permitting businesses in the state to refuse service to potential customers based on an owner’s religious beliefs, infuriating equal rights advocates who claim the bill legalizes LGBT discrimination.
The bill, known officially as Senate Bill 1062, was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, which voted along strict party lines. State Democrats proposed eight amendments to the bill in an attempt to stop what they decried as discrimination against the gay and lesbian community, but each of those efforts failed.