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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Feb 27,2014: News Updates


Financial fairy dust: G20 detached from real world

Published time: February 27, 2014 08:41
For those who consider economics a cheap conjuring trick, the latest G20 finance Ministers’ meeting seems to have delivered concrete proof.
Several hundred million dollars have apparently disappeared in a meltdown at what was once ‘Magical: The Gathering Online Exchange’.
...Communiques usually alleviate insomnia but the February 22-23 G20 message demonstrates how the political/central banker class has achieved a remarkable elevated state entirely devoid of attachment to the real world.
... Hence, we ended up with the fairy dust sprinkle approach: the entire G20 communique boils down to “we have a magic wand and we’re going to wave it to save the world.”
The likelihood of anybody living economically happily ever after is currently a dim prospect.

‘Treasury empty', Ukraine’s economy in free fall

Published time: February 27, 2014 15:35
​Ukraine’s new Prime Minister, opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk, has promised the government would do its best to avoid a default, a difficult task as the country’s treasury is empty and the economy is in disarray.
Yatsenyuk says he expects an EU/IMF economic stabilization package soon, but didn’t give any specifics on timing.

RBS Posts Biggest Loss Since 2008 as McEwan Details Overhaul

By Gavin Finch and Howard Mustoe Feb 27, 2014 9:08 AM GMT+0100
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc posted its biggest full-year loss since receiving a government bailout in 2008 as Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan outlined plans to shrink its investment banking and overseas operations.

 China to Compile List of Solar Projects Qualifying for Financing

By Bloomberg News Feb 27, 2014 6:38 AM GMT+0100
China, the world’s biggest solar market, plans to compile a list of solar projects that will get financing from China Development Bank Corp.
Recommendations from provincial authorities are due by April 2. Projects to be considered include research and development, technology upgrades, mergers and acquisitions, and overseas development, according to a statement posted on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology yesterday.

China's yuan dislodges Swiss franc as 7th most-used currency: SWIFT

HONG KONG Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:21am EST
(Reuters) - China's yuan surpassed the Swiss franc to become the seventh most-used world payments currency in January, global transaction services organization SWIFT said on Thursday.
With a market share of 1.39 percent, the yuan remained one of the top 10 most-used currencies for payments worldwide for the third consecutive month. It ranked eighth in December.

China paper slams West's 'Cold War mentality' over Ukraine

BEIJING Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:15am GMT
(Reuters) - China's top newspaper criticised the West on Thursday for remaining locked in a "Cold War mentality" against Russia in the contest for influence over Ukraine, calling for the shackles of such outmoded thinking to be cast off to deal with the crisis.
The commentary published in the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, was the strongest reaction yet in Beijing to the rift between the West and Russia that has been growing since the ouster of Moscow's ally Viktor Yanukovich as president following weeks of protests.

 Ukraine on alert after gunmen seize buildings

Tension escalates between Moscow and Kiev after armed takeover, with Ukraine leader warning against Russian aggression.
Last updated: 27 Feb 2014 09:26
Ukrainian troops and police officers are on high alert, after armed men seized government buildings in the Crimea region of the country and raised a Russian flag over a barricade.

GCHQ intercepts Yahoo webcam images of Internet users

Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:41PM GMT
Britain’s domestic spying apparatus, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has been mired in a fresh scandal over its harvesting of webcam images.
The scandal exposed in formerly secret documents published by the Guardian on Thursday, involves a scheme, in which the GCHQ has intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of Internet users with the help of the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Morgan Stanley Warns Of "Real Pain" If Chinese Currency Keeps Devaluing

The seemingly incessant strengthening trend of the Chinese Yuan (much as with the seemingly inexorable rise of US equities or home prices) has encouraged huge amounts of structured products to be created over the past few years enabling traders to position for more of the same in increasingly levered ways. That was all going great until the last few weeks which has seen China enter the currency wars (as we explained here). The problem, among many facing China, is that these structured products will face major losses and as Morgan Stanley warns "real pain will come if CNY stays above these levels," leading to further capital withdrawal, illiquidity, and a potential vicious circle as it appears the PBOC is trying to break the virtuous carry trade that has fueled so much of its bubble economy.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder hospitalized

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP - Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the annual Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington on Tuesday.
 February 27, 6:45 PM
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Thursday morning after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath.
Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Holder, 63, had complained of the symptoms during his regular morning meeting with senior staff.

Credit Suisse CEO says a few bankers are to blame for $10bn in tax evasion

Edited time: February 27, 2014 06:43
US regulators are after Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank for helping Americans conceal as much as $10bn from US tax authorities. The bank's CEO maintains only a few officials are to blame for helping Americans dodge taxes.
Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan told a Senate committee on Wednesday that only a few Swiss-based bankers are to blame, not the bank as a whole.

IMF says taxing super rich can boost economic growth

Published time: February 27, 2014 10:40
A new International Monetary Fund study has found that taxing the super wealthy doesn’t stunt the economic growth of a country, and that redistribution can actually spur gross domestic product.
The paper argues inequality is harmful to a country’s growth, and that redistributing wealth using taxes can reduce inequality and boost growth and the length of growth cycles.

Rome Is On The Verge Of Detroit-Style Bankruptcy

With European peripheral bond yields collapsing every single day to new all time lows (primarily driven by Europe's near-certainty that a US-style QE is imminent as we first showed here in November, despite Mario Draghi's own words from November 2011 that a QE intervention is virtually impossible), increasingly more of Europe is trading just as safe, if not more, as the United States. And in keeping with the analogies, considering a major US metropolitan center, Detroit, recently went bankrupt, it is only fair that Europe should sacrifice one of its own historic cities to the gods of negative cash flows. The city in question, Rome, which as the WSJ reports, is "teetering on the brink of a Detroit-style bankruptcy."

 RSA’s Hester Taps Buffett, Unveils Share Sale to Rebuild

By Sarah Jones Feb 27, 2014 5:51 PM GMT+0100
After less than a month on the job, RSA Insurance Group Plc (RSA) Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hester announced a stock sale and tapped Warren Buffett for reinsurance to help strengthen the insurer after its scandal in Ireland.

A Visual History Of Gold: The Most Sought After Metal On Earth

This infographic introduces the yellow metal and tells the story of how it became the most sought after metal on earth. Gold was one of the first metals discovered by ancient peoples and eventually gold grew to symbolize both wealth, royalty, and immortality. Gold began to be used as money by many cultures, but the Romans were the first to use it widespread.

The rarity, malleability, durability, ease to identify, and intrinsic value of gold made it perfect for money. While many civilizations throughout the world used gold for money, eventually its role would change with the coming of the gold standard system.

SNC-Lavalin paid Gadhafi son's wife as Libya fell: Ex-VP

Former construction executive jailed in Switzerland claims company had long history of funding Gadhafis
 CBC News Posted: Feb 27, 2014 5:00 AM

Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin is facing fresh allegations about the company’s close ties to Libya’s former Moammar Gadhafi regime, including the claim in court documents that SNC put the wife of a Gadhafi son on its payroll during Libya’s 2011 civil war, despite UN economic sanctions and Western military intervention.

 ECB sees yuan challenging greenback

The yuan might one day challenge the role of the US dollar as the world's leading reserve currency, European Central Bank executive board member Yves Mersch said.

The Future Of America: “It’s Coming… Ukraine is a Warning”

Thursday, February 27, 2014
We’re beginning to see more and more discussions about how the laws, policies and regulations of our federal, state and local governments are working to impoverish the people of this country and restrict their liberties. So much so that even the taboo topic of a potential Ukraine-style collapse right here in America is now being openly discussed in mainstream circles.
In a recent panel discussion on Fox News the question of whether or not Ukraine rioting is the future of America came to the forefront and long-time political operative and former Presidential adviser Pat Caddell weighed in

 Central Banker Appointed as Prime Minister of Ukraine

February 27, 2014

A reshuffled Ukrainian Parliament installed following a coup last week has voted to appoint Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new prime minister of the country. Yats, as Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department, called him, is a natural choice. He is a millionaire former banker who served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010.

Ukraine Central Bank Promises Liquidity To Local Banks, With One Condition

While the "developed" world scrambles to find a way to provide Ukraine with a bailout in such a way that Russia doesn't turn off the gas, Ukraine is doing some scrambling of its own to assure the local banks, which have been plagued by both bank runs and a collapse in the currency to record lows over the past few days, that it will be there to provide funding on a business as usual basis. Itar-Tass reports that "Ukrainian banks will be provided with necessary liquid assets, including cash." But there is a condition: the funding will only come "if they will remain under open control of the National Bank of Ukraine,

Supreme Court Rules Police May Search A Home Without Obtaining A Warrant

If the most disturbing, if underreported, news from yesterday, was Obama's "modification" of NSA capabilities, which contrary to his earlier promises, was just granted even greater powers as phone recording will now be stored for even longer than previously, then this latest development from the Supreme Court - one which some could argue just voided the Fourth amendment - is even more shocking. RT reports that the US Supreme Court has ruled that police may search a home without obtaining a warrant despite the objection of one occupant if that occupant has been removed from the premises.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

National Response Center Website Down - 6 Days and Counting?

Savvy SkyTruth Alerts users may have noticed that we haven't published any new oil or hazmat spill reports from the Coast Guard-operated National Response Center (NRC) since February 20.  If you go directly to the NRC website, you see a "down for maintenance" message.  Polluters and concerned citizens can still submit reports to the NRC by phone, at 1-800-424-8802.  But without the website, we can't search for or download pollution reports.  And that leaves a big hole in our SkyTruth Alerts map, and in the daily updates we email to Alerts subscribers.

DR Congo must arrest Sudan president: ICC

Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:18PM GMT
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo to detain visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for the charge of genocide in Darfur.
On Wednesday, the Hague-based tribunal urged the Congolese government to “respect its obligations” to arrest Bashir and hand him over to ICC.

13 workers test positive for radiation at New Mexico nuclear waste site

Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:24AM GMT
Thirteen workers at an underground nuclear waste site in the US state of New Mexico were exposed to nuclear radiation during a leak earlier this month, test results show.
The US Department of Energy said on Wednesday that no workers were underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in southeastern New Mexico on February 14 when the nuclear leak occurred.

 Obama warns Karzai of full troop withdrawal

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama told his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on Tuesday he is now planning a full US troop withdrawal, but did not rule out agreeing a post-2014 mission with the next Kabul government.
The US threat was the latest twist in a long political tug-of-war with Karzai, who has infuriated Washington with his refusal to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) governing a post-2014 mission in the dying months of his mandate.

Morocco suspends all judicial ties with France

Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:35AM GMT
Morocco has halted all judicial ties with France after lawsuits were filed in Paris against the kingdom's intelligence chief over his alleged “complicity in torture.”
The Moroccan Justice Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it made the decision “to eliminate the distortions that have affected them."
It also recalled the judge responsible for liaising with France on the agreements.

Medical marijuana workers start unionizing with government help

Published time: February 27, 2014 19:01
Marijuana may still be illegal at the federal level, but the US labor board believes pot workers still have the same rights as any other American employee.
According to the Huffington Post, attempts to unionize by medical marijuana workers in Maine have attracted what some may think to be an unlikely government ally: the National Labor Relations Board.