Thursday, January 31, 2013

114 billion leaves banks


More than $114 billion exited the biggest U.S. banks this month, and nobody’s quite sure why.
The Federal Reserve releases data on the assets and liabilities of commercial banks every Friday. The most current figures, covering the first full week of 2013, show the largest one-week withdrawals since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Even when seasonally adjusted, the level drops to $52.8 billion—still the third-highest amount on record, and one for which bank experts and analysts were reluctant to give a definitive explanation.
The most obvious culprit is the expiration of the Transaction Account Guarantee program, the extraordinary federal effort to shore up the country’s non-gigantic banks during the 2008 financial crisis. Big banks were considered “too big to fail,” while smaller ones were vulnerable to runs. The TAG program backstopped their deposit bases by temporarily offering unlimited insurance on money kept in non-interest-bearing accounts. That guarantee ended on Dec. 31, so a decrease in deposits would be expected first thing in January.
But hold on: The Fed data show $114 billion leaving the 25 biggest banks—about 2 percent of their deposit base. Only $26.9 billion left all the others, equivalent to 0.9 percent of their deposit base. Experts had predicted that the end of TAG would hurt the nation’s small banks because the big ones are still considered too big to fail. “I think [customers] are going to go back to the mega banks,” the head of a regional bank in Bethesda, Md., told The Washington Post in December. “They’ve been assured by the government that mega banks are too big to fail. It’s a horrible, bad, poorly-thought-out situation.” Small banks fearfully lobbied the Senate to extend TAG, with analysts telling the New York Times that they expected $200 million to $300 million—yes, with an m—to move from affected accounts into money market funds or elsewhere.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena in scandal


Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena, Italy
Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena, Italy (Photo credit: Rome Cabs)
Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena, Italy (Photo credit: Rome Cabs)
Founded in 1472 and headquartered in an ornate Tuscan palazzo, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world’s oldest lender. Now, though, it’s been entangled in scandal by a quintessentially 21st-century practice: derivative trading.
Bloomberg News reported on Jan. 17 that Monte dei Paschi used a secret derivative contract with Deutsche Bank (DB) in 2008 to conceal a €367 million ($488 million) loss on prior swaps with the German bank. The transaction, which was not disclosed to the government or to the bank’s shareholders, took place shortly before the bank started requesting billions in taxpayer bailouts.
Monte dei Paschi has acknowledged doing similar swaps with Nomura Holdings in 2009 and with an unidentified third bank. In each case, the bank appears to have replaced loss-making derivative contracts with even riskier ones, leading to still more losses and ultimately to more government aid. Losses from the transactions totaled about €720 million ($959 million), the newspaper Il Messaggero reported today, citing an interview with the bank’s chief executive, Fabrizio Viola.
“Derivatives per se are not evil, but they need to be communicated,” says Carlo Albert Carnevale-Maffe, a professor of business strategy at Bocconi University in Milan. “If you hide them, you are hiding relevant information from shareholders, regulators, and lenders, including the government, which has been a very crucial lender.”
In a statement on Jan. 23, the Bank of Italy said the swaps had been “disclosed only recently, after hidden documents were found by new executives,” who took over after the former chairman, Giuseppi Mussari, left the bank in April 2012. The swaps “are now being reviewed by the central bank’s oversight division as well as judicial authorities,” the statement said.
Monte dei Paschi shares have tumbled more than 23 percent on the disclosures, including a nearly 9 percent drop Thursday. Shareholders are demanding a full accounting. “The transparency must be full,” the Associazione de Piccoli Azionisti Azione Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, an association of individual investors, said in a statement on Jan. 23. Mussari stepped down this week as head of the Italian Banking Association. He said in his letter of resignation that he had always acted lawfully. He has not responded to requests by Bloomberg News for interviews.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cisco acquires Intucell


Image representing Cisco as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Networking giant Cisco announced it has acquired Israeli self-optimizing network (SON) software developer Intucell for $475 million in an effort to broaden its mobile network intelligence capabilities. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2013, subject to customary closing conditions.

The software is designed to enable mobile carriers to plan, configure, manage, optimize and heal cellular networks automatically according to real-time changing network demands, and adds a network intelligence layer to manage and optimize spectrum, coverage and capacity of Cisco’s offerings.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay approximately $475 million in cash and retention-based incentives to acquire the entire business and operations of Intucell. Upon the close of the acquisition, Intucell employees will be integrated into Cisco's Service Provider Mobility Group, reporting to Shailesh Shukla, vice president and general manager of the software and applications group.

With real time network visibility provided by Intucell’s Virtual Drive Test, Intucell’s systems automatically tune the network to actual conditions as they develop and change. Intucell engages with mobile operators directly and together with its partners, typically starting a deployment with a trial in a limited part of the network. Trials are followed by commercial deployment, where Intucell provides licenses to install its technology across the network.

Cisco said the acquisition would also enhance Cisco's ability to deliver next-generation solutions with a SON software platform that supports multi-application, multi-vendor and multi-technology capabilities as mobile operators look for a more cost effective and efficient way to keep up with demand for bandwidth and reduce complexity. The software could also enable service providers to manage operational costs and make better use of infrastructure investments, a company statement said.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Moody's downgrades 6 Canadian banks

Moody's downgrades 6 Canadian banks

Intel is ramping down its desktop motherboard business after 20 years


Image representing Intel as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Intel is ramping down its desktop motherboard business after 20 years, at a time when demand for computing is moving away from desktops and toward such systems as notebooks and tablets, and the quality of motherboards from manufacturers in Asia continues to improve.

Intel officials announced to the media that the giant chip maker will offer its own branded motherboards with the upcoming launch of its fourth generation Core “Haswell” processors, but that they will disband its desktop motherboard business over the next three years.

The company will continue to build x86-based motherboards for its chips for workstations, servers, Ultrabooks and all-in-one PCs, according to officials. Intel also will develop motherboards for its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) program, a small, self-contained PC.

For desktop systems, Intel will work with the growing number of third-party manufacturers that are building motherboards, including Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and Asrock.

 
Employees working in the desktop motherboard business will be moved to other parts of the company, including the NUC initiative and Intel’s efforts in building its own form factor reference designs (FFRDs) for such devices as tablets and Ultrabooks, according to the company.

“We disclosed internally today that Intel Corporation’s Desktop Motherboard Business will begin slowly ramping down over the course of the next three years,” the company announced, according to the newsite ValueWalk. “As Intel gradually ramps down its motherboard business we are ramping up critical areas of the desktop space including integration of innovative solutions for the PC ecosystem such as reference design development, NUC and other areas to be discussed later.”

Intel will continue supporting existing motherboards throughout their warranties, according to officials.
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Russian authorities to protect state computers from hacking attack

English: ST ANDREW HALL IN THE GRAND KREMLIN P...
English: ST ANDREW HALL IN THE GRAND KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW. The inauguration of President Vladimir Putin. Mr Putin takes the oath to the people of Russia. Русский: МОСКВА, БОЛЬШОЙ КРЕМЛЕВСКИЙ ДВОРЕЦ, АНДРЕЕВСКИЙ ЗАЛ. Торжественная церемония вступления Владимира Путина в должность Президента России. Присяга народу России. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian authorities to protect state computers from hacking attacks, the Kremlin said on Monday, after an Internet security firm said a spy network had infiltrated government and embassy computers across the former Soviet bloc.
Dubbed Red October, the network used phishing attacks - or unsolicited emails to intended targets - to infect the computers of embassies and other state institutions with a program designed to harvest intelligence and send it back to a server.
Putin signed a decree on January 15 empowering the Federal Security Service (FSB) to "create a state system for the detection, prevention and liquidation of the effects of computer attacks on the information resources of the Russian Federation".
 
State computer and telecommunications networks protected by the cyber security system should include those inside Russia and at its embassies and consulates abroad, according to the decree, which was published on a Kremlin website on Monday.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Banks misleading on mutual funds

Banks misleading on mutual funds

global jobless queue will stretch to more than 200 million

Flag of the International Labour Organization....
Flag of the International Labour Organization. Based on an image at Flags of the World. Français : Drapeau du Organisation internationale du travail Italiano: Bandiera dell'Organizzazione Internazionale del Lavoro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The global jobless queue will stretch to more than 200 million people this year, the International Labour Organization said in its annual report on Tuesday, repeating a warning it has made at the start of each of the last six years.
The U.N. jobs watchdog estimates unemployment will rise by 5.1 million this year to more than 202 million, and by another 3 million in 2014, following a rise of 4.2 million in 2012.
If those predictions are right, global unemployment will hit a record. But the ILO has revised its jobless figures down each year as the number of those giving up the job hunt altogether swells, meaning they are no longer classed as unemployed.
A Reuters analysis of previous ILO reports shows that estimates of unemployment made in each of the last six years have subsequently been cut. The original 2007 joblessness figure of 189.9 million is now put at 169.0 million - 11 percent lower.
Figures for 2008-2010 have also fallen by 10-15 million from the original estimates.
Most of the drop is due to people giving up looking for work, said Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, head of director of labour market analysis at the Geneva-based ILO.
"These are people who, because of the seriousness of the crisis, because of long-term unemployment, have given up hope, have decided to not search for work any more, and therefore they are not counted as unemployed but more as discouraged," he said.
The ILO's revised figures mean global unemployment has risen by 28 million since 2007, before the start of the financial crisis, said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.
With a further 39 million "discouraged" people withdrawing from the labour market over the same period, the crisis could be seen to have created a global jobs gap of 67 million, he said.
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wall Street waiting for Apple's earnings

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Want to know how Apple did last quarter? Your guess is as good as Wall Street's.

                        The iPhone and iPad maker is slated to report its fiscal-first quarter earnings on January 23 and estimates are all over the board.                                         
 
                        The consensus view is for a 3% year-over-year decline. But the so-called consensus is hardly that. It's merely the average of all the estimates.                                         
                        And those estimates run the gamut from a nearly 14% decline in earnings to a 12% increase, according to Thomson Reuters.                                         
                        Other professional investors are a bit more bullish than Wall Street analysts. According to crowdsourcing site Estimize, which publishes forecasts from hedge fund managers and other so-called buy side analysts, Apple's earnings should rise by nearly 4%.                                         
                        Still, Wall Street analysts have been ratcheting down their expectations for months, and if Apple does report a drop in profit, it will mark its first decline in nine years.                                         
                        The consensus back in October was for an 11% rise in earnings, according to Thomson Reuters. That was before Apple warned that its profit margins would come down significantly during the final three months of the year due to higher costs tied to all of its new products, including the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

HSBC settles foreclosure with 249 million

English: Foreclosure signs, Mortgage crisis,
English: Foreclosure signs, Mortgage crisis, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The agreement follows similar settlements announced this month with a dozen other banks over foreclosure issues. In total, nearly 4.2 million borrowers will split $3.6 billion in cash compensation, with payments ranging from a few hundred dollars to potentially as much as $125,000 in a small percentage of cases.                                         
                        Roughly $5.7 billion has been earmarked for non-cash forms of relief.                                         
                        HSBC's settlement covers roughly 112,000 borrowers whose homes were in foreclosure in 2009 and 2010 and whose loans were serviced by the bank or its subsidiaries.                                         
                        In April of 2011, regulators hit HSBC and 13 other banks with an enforcement action after finding evidence that, among other things, the firms had in some cases charged excessive fees, wrongfully foreclosed on borrowers or used improper documents.                                         
                        The enforcement action required the banks to hire independent consultants to investigate alleged foreclosure abuses and compensate victims. But this process, known as the Independent Foreclosure Review, proved expensive and slow-going, and has been abandoned in favor of the settlements announced this month.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Windows 8 price hike is approaching


Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
A Windows 8 price hike is approaching and users have only until the end of the month to take advantage of low-cost Windows 8 upgrades.

In a bid to spur demand and build excitement for its new tablet-ready, touch-enabled operating system, Microsoft announced last summer that for a limited time, Windows 8 upgrades would cost $39.99 for Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 users. The deal even undercut the Windows 7 Home Premium launch promotion of $49 upgrades.

Now, time is running out and hopes are dimming that Microsoft would follow Apple's long-established policy favoring inexpensive operating system upgrades.

Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc announced the new Windows 8 upgrade prices that take effect next month. Come February 1st, PC users are facing some steep, although not unprecedented, price increases.
"The Windows 8 Pro upgrade edition will be available online and at retail for $199.99 MSRP (U.S.). The Windows 8 upgrade edition will be available online and at retail for $119.99 MSRP (U.S.)," notified LeBlanc in a company blog post.

Upgrades from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro will cost $99.99 (currently $69.99) and the Windows 8 Media Center Pack, which adds Windows Media Center and DVD playback, will cost $9.99 (currently free for Windows 8 Pro users).
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Monday, January 21, 2013

B.C. Transit Police forgot explosive on Air Canada plane

B.C. Transit Police forgot explosive on Air Canada plane

gigabit-speed broadband community in all 50 states by 2015

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...
Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website and some publications since the early 2000s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski called for at least one gigabit-speed broadband community in all 50 states by 2015 during remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting on Jan. 18.

Genachowski said that establishing gigabit communities nationwide would accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs with ultra-fast Internet speeds and challenged broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to come together to meet what the FCC is calling the “Gigabit City Challenge".
Speeds of one gigabit per second are approximately 100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed Internet connection. At gigabit speeds, connections can handle multiple streams of large-format, high-definition content like online video calls, movies, and immersive educational experiences. Today, approximately 42 communities in 14 states are served by ultra-high-speed fiber Internet providers, according to the Fiber to the Home Council.
To help communities meet the Gigabit City Challenge, Genachowski announced plans to create an online clearinghouse of best practices to collect and disseminate information about how to lower the costs and increase the speed of broadband deployment nationwide, including to create gigabit communities. At the meeting, Genachowski proposed working jointly with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on the best-practices clearinghouse effort.
American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come,” Genachowski said in a statement. “The U.S. needs a critical mass of gigabit communities nationwide so that innovators can develop next-generation applications and services that will drive economic growth and global competitiveness.”
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

google docs support for older Microsoft office formats ends Jan 31


Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
Google Docs users have known since last fall that they'd soon no longer be able to export files to older Microsoft Office formats. Now the drop-dead deadline of Jan. 31 is fast approaching, and Google Docs wants to remind users of the coming changes.

The changes were announced Sept. 25, 2012, with an original planned transition date of Oct. 1, 2012, but users protested to Google that a week's notice wouldn't give them enough time to make the needed changes. The company was ultimately forced to push the transition to Jan. 31 to give Docs users more time to get ready.

As of the end of this month, the transition will now be made, according to a Jan. 17 post on the Google Apps blog.

"In September, we added the ability to export Google documents to the newer Microsoft Office formats that rely on open standards (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx)," the post reported. "To continue adding new features and innovations to Google Drive and Docs, we'll be focusing our resources on exporting to these newer open formats rather than the older, proprietary Office formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt) that were used in Office 97-2003." The changes will mean that after Jan. 31, "users will not be able to export files to the older Office 97-2003 formats," the post reported. "For users who still use Office 97-2003, we recommend installing the free compatibility plug-in from Microsoft, which will allow them to open the modern Office file types."
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Friday, January 18, 2013

consequences of climate change are now hitting the United States


The consequences of climate change are now hitting the United States on several fronts, including health, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture and especially more frequent severe weather, a congressionally mandated study has concluded.
A draft of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on Friday, said observable change to the climate in the past half-century "is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuel," and that no areas of the United States were immune to change.
"Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience," the report said.
 
Months after Superstorm Sandy hurtled into the U.S. East Coast, causing billions of dollars in damage, the report concluded that severe weather was the new normal.
"Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts," the report said, days after scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2012 the hottest year ever in the United States.
Some environmentalists looked for the report to energize climate efforts by the White House or Congress, although many Republican lawmakers are wary of declaring a definitive link between human activity and evidence of a changing climate.
The U.S. Congress has been mostly silent on climate change since efforts to pass "cap-and-trade" legislation collapsed in the Senate in mid-2010.
The 1,146-page draft report is available at ncadac.globalchange.gov/. A three-month period for public comment will now ensue, as well as a review by the National Academies of Sciences, before the final version is produced.
The advisory committee behind the report was established by the U.S. Department of Commerce to integrate federal research on environmental change and its implications for society. It made two earlier assessments, in 2000 and 2009.
Thirteen departments and agencies, from the Agriculture Department to NASA, are part of the committee, which also includes academics, businesses, nonprofits and others.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Edmonton, Ontario zoos top worst list

Edmonton, Ontario zoos top worst list

FCC to increase WiFi networks


Español: Logo WiFi Vectorizado
Español: Logo WiFi Vectorizado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Español: Logo WiFi Vectorizado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The idea of a faster, higher-capacity WiFi sounds great, doesn’t it? But right now the best you can do realistically in public places is to access 802.11n WiFi and hope for the best. Unfortunately, in busy sites such as airports, trade shows or even in offices with a lot of wireless traffic, that may not be good enough to provide reliable wireless connections.

Fortunately, that may change. Federal Communications Chairman Chairman Julius Genachowski says that he wants to give more spectrum to WiFi to enable broader availability of “Gigabit WiFi.” The idea would be to either reassign portions of the 5 GHz band or share it with other users to enable a larger number of WiFi channels and thus provide more bandwidth.

“We all know the frustration of WiFi congestion at conferences and airports,” Genachowski said during an interview with Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association during an event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 9.

“Today, the FCC is moving to bring increased speed and capacity to WiFi networks by increasing the amount of unlicensed spectrum for WiFi. As this spectrum comes on line, we expect it to relieve congested WiFi networks at major hubs like convention centers and airports. It will also help in homes as tablets and smartphones proliferate and video use rises.”
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of internet phone service Skype


Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of internet phone service Skype, believes the next hot tech business will just as likely spring from Istanbul or Sao Paolo as from Silicon Valley or the coolest districts of London.
And he is prepared to fly around the world to find it.
 "Talent can pop up anywhere in the world, it's not just one city block," the Swedish entrepreneur and venture capitalist said at the headquarters of his Atomico fund, based on upmarket New Bond Street in central London.
Zennstrom, who retains faint traces of a Swedish accent despite his years of globetrotting, is looking for start-ups ready to shift up a gear into new markets and has the experience, gained from growing Skype into a service used by millions around the world, to help them.
Skype was sold to eBay Inc in 2005 for roughly $3 billion, before being bought back by a consortium including Zennstrom in 2009 and then two years later sold on to Microsoft Corp for $8.5 billion, leaving him a multi-millionaire.
"If you have a product that works it's important to scale (up) the business as quickly as possible," said Zennstrom, named by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of its 100 most influential people. "As entrepreneurs, usually you may not have that experience; how does Asia work? Europe? Latin America?"
Atomico, founded by Zennstrom in 2006, has invested in companies in northern Europe including Finland-based Rovio, developer of Angry Birds, and Hailo, a London-based startup that has developed an app that connects passengers with taxi drivers and has raised $20 million so far.
It also led a $105 million funding round for U.S. online retailer Fab in July.
FUTURE PORTFOLIO
The investment fund, whose London office reception is decked out with simple designer furniture and modern art pieces, has opened offices in Turkey and Brazil, emerging markets with growing middle classes eager to shop online and buy internet services.
Zennstrom wants to make these markets a large part of Atomico's portfolio in future.
The firm in 2011 backed Brazilian online retailers such as car parts supplier Connect Parts and announced a $16 million investment in a Russian online travel agency in October.
Atomico is not necessarily looking for the latest gizmo or internet trend, but savvy businesses with talented leaders who can take advantage of growth in nascent sectors such as e-commerce.
And Zennstrom, softly spoken and wearing an open-necked shirt and dark jacket, believes emerging market growth is fuelling a new breed of optimism and ambition.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Somali pirate kingpin nicknamed "Big Mouth" has renounced a life of hijacking ships


A Somali pirate kingpin nicknamed "Big Mouth" has renounced a life of hijacking ships that earned him fame and fortune before an international naval crackdown that has curbed attacks on maritime commercial and pleasure craft.
A U.N. Monitoring Group report on Somalia in 2010 said that Mohamed Abdi Hassan "Afweyne" commanded bandits in the Arabian Sea and off the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa for almost a decade, raking in millions of dollars in ransom payments.
"I have given up piracy and succeeded in encouraging more youth to give up piracy," Afweyne told Reuters on Friday.
"This came as a result of my efforts for a long period. The boys also took the decision like me. It was not due to fear from warships, it was just a decision," he said by mobile phone from his base in Adado in central Somalia.
Security analysts saw Afweyne's gesture as symbolic, saying he had already grown rich off the proceeds of piracy and seemed to have decided it was no longer worth the increasing risk.
"(Afweyne's move) may be a tacit recognition that the Somali piracy phenomenon no longer yields the lucrative criminal gains it did in previous years, thanks to successful naval operations and improved security and awareness on merchant vessels," said Rory Lamrock, intelligence analyst with security firm AKE.
"(Pirates) are getting shot up or arrested by private security companies and navies so he (Afweyne) is finding it increasingly difficult to find recruits," said Alan Cole, head of the anti-piracy program at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
"As many as 1,500 young men have left home hoping to come back rich and not come home at all," Cole said from Nairobi, capital of Somalia's southern neighbor, Kenya.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Brazil's mostly "green" energy landscape



English: Official photo of President Rousseff,...
English: Official photo of President Rousseff, taken by official photographer, at Alvorada Palace on January 9th, 2011. Français : Photo de Dilma Rousseff, prise par un photographe officiel, dans le Palácio da Alvorada le 9 janvier, 2011. Português: Foto oficial da presidente Dilma Rousseff feita no Palácio do Alvorada no dia 9 de janeiro de 2011 pelo fotografo oficial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just five years ago, Brazil's mostly "green" energy landscape was the envy of nations dependent on dirtier sources of power and the pride of a government that believed it was leading the country to economic superpower status.
Three-quarters of electricity came from renewable hydro power and the main automobile fuel was home-grown sugarcane ethanol. Plus, Brazil had just found massive oil fields off its coast, putting it on a path to become the world's No. 3 oil producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia by 2020.
Today, the outlook is much darker. Oil output is falling, ethanol production has plunged, and fears have recently returned of electricity rationing that could further depress a stagnant economy and embarrass President Dilma Rousseff.
What went wrong?
Analysts and investors say the current troubles were bred from an excessive optimism during the rosy years, when Brazil's government tried to take greater control of the energy bonanza and ended up scaring off investors.
"Brazil has become a victim of the politics of economic plenty," said Christopher Garman, Latin American director of the Eurasia Group, a New York-based political risk and economic consulting group.
"When things were going so well for Brazil, and after they discovered oil, the administration was infused with a sense of hubris," he said. "They thought they had more room to conduct an active industrial policy and change the regulatory landscape."
Rousseff recently dismissed fears of energy rationing as "ridiculous," despite some energy analysts and investors who say the possibility is quite real.
One of the root problems is beyond her or any government's control: one of the worst droughts in decades in parts of Brazil depriving dams of the water they need to generate electricity.
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Ontario won't stop double-ending

Ontario moves to tighten rules around real estate agents 'double-ending,' but won't ban the practice If legislation is pa...