Showing posts from November, 2013

Canadian banks to identify U.S. Citizens

English: Canadian Bankers Association - Bilingual logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)English: Canadian Bankers Association - Bilingual logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Starting next July, Canadian banks will be required to ask anyone opening a new account if they are now, or ever have been, an American "person."
It comes at the behest of the U.S. government and its efforts to “smoke out” tax dodgers.
The Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2010 and comes into force July 1, 2014.
The law forces all banks and other financial institutions outside the U.S. to search for customers who have certain "indicia." Those are markers that show the person may be a U.S. citizen or a former permanent resident who, under U.S. law, must file income tax returns to Uncle Sam no matter where they reside in the world.
The only other country with similar tax rules for expats is Eritrea.
When announcing the law, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “if …

Telus takeover of Public Mobile gets Competition Bureau OK

requiring banks to hold more capital

Global financial watchdogs should have more policy tools and powers over firms such as hedge funds to counter the risk of a devastating run on investment banks, the U.S. Federal Reserve's top regulator said on Friday.
Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo unveiled new details of the central bank's plans to require banks to hold more capital if they rely heavily on raising short-term cash from other banks, and also pushed regulators writing global rules to do more.
But oversight should not be limited to banks, he said, because risks that could bring them down can often hide in the so-called shadow banking system, a loosely defined set of lending activities outside banks.
"There is a need to supplement prudential bank regulation with a third set of policy options in the form of regulatory tools that can be applied on a market-wide basis," Tarullo said at a conference with other regulators.
Shadow banking remains largely unregulated despite being a key factor in the collapse of L…

Google and Microsoft to block child abuse images

Web search giants Google and Microsoft said on Monday they will block online searches for child abuse images.
The world's two largest search engine operators, in a rare display of unity, said as many as 100,000 search terms will now fail to produce results and trigger warnings that child abuse imagery is illegal.
The child porn crackdown announced during a Internet safety summit in London came after Prime Minister David Cameron in July urged Internet firms to do more to stop access to illegal images in the wake of two high-profile child sex murders in Britain.
Cameron said Britain's newly-established National Crime Agency is joining forces with the United States' FBI in a task force to track down these pedophiles and arrest them.
He described the progress to block illegal content as "significant" but said more needed to be done to track down pedophiles using the so-called "dark web" of encrypted networks that lets people anonymously share images of chil…

Bitcoin surged over 27 percent to a new high

Bitcoin surged over 27 percent to a new high of US$675 ahead of a U.S. government hearing on possible regulation of the digital currency.
While not an official seal of approval, the hearing is giving some legitimacy to a payment mechanism that has been associated with illegal activities even as it gains acceptance by the general public and investment community.
Witnesses at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing include officials from the Secret Service and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
"The government is taking a very thoughtful and balanced approach to bitcoin and bitcoin regulation," said Barry Silbert, founder of the Bitcoin Investment Trust, launched in late September and valued at US$22.8 million on Friday. It holds around 53,000 Bitcoins.
Bitcoin traded as high as US$675 on Monday on Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox, the best-known operator of a bitcoin digital marketplace. That was a rise of 27.7 percent …

Amazon to hire USPS for Sunday delivery

Online retail giant Amazon has struck a deal with the U.S. Postal Service that will bring packages to doorsteps and mailboxes on Sunday. Yes, Sunday.
It’s a historic deal, and not just because the post office will be delivering on Sundays for the first time. For one, a for-profit company is hiring out a government agency as a contractor, not the other way around.
It could also mark the beginning of a profitable future for the USPS, which suffers financial losses every year as competitors UPS and FedEx as well as online businesses take away market share.
Studies conducted for the USPS have projected a rather dismal future as mail volumes, especially profitable first-class items, decline. One 2009 study from the Boston Consulting Group forecast U.S. postal volumes to decrease from 177 billion pieces in 2009 to about 150 billion pieces in 2020 if business as usual continues.
Under the deal, USPS will deliver on Sundays in the Los Angeles and New York metro areas. Amazon and the USPS say …

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sentiment is improving about overall business conditions

A survey finds that sentiment is improving about overall business conditions, with the biggest jump occurring in feelings about the economy. Technology companies plan to hire new staff over the next 12 months but are concerned about a persistent shortage of tech talent, according to a survey by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and CompTIA, a nonprofit association for the IT industry. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the 1,700-plus C-level executives surveyed say they intend to hire new staff over the next 12 months. Small companies (74 percent) and medium-size firms (72 percent) are the most optimistic on hiring. In addition to hiring plans, 59 percent of executives say they'll invest in new products or business lines over the next six months, with small (65 percent) and medium-size companies (62 percent) leading the way. About half of all companies expect to boost expenditures on marketing and advertising, as well as on technology. The survey indicated that there…

Deutsche Telekom to launch secure internet service

English: Logo of Deutsche Telekom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Deutsche Telekom said it would launch a secure internet service next year for smaller companies that find it hard to pay for defenses against sophisticated forms of cyber crime.
The firm presented the plan at a cyber security conference at its Bonn headquarters as a diplomatic row rages between the United States and Europe over spying accusations.
Last month Deutsche Telekom urged German communications companies to cooperate in shielding local internet traffic from foreign intelligence services.
It said on Monday that, for a fixed monthly fee, small and medium-sized firms would be able to access the internet via Deutsche Telekom data centers, where content would transported via a secure data line known as a 'clean pipe'.
"Hackers will have no chance," Deutsche Telekom's management board member Reinhard Clemens said.
"Of course cyber crime needs an international approach but we can't wait until po…

Chinese firms sue Baidu

Image via CrunchBase A group of Chinese Internet firms, including Tencent Holdings and Sohu.Com Inc, has joined a top U.S. film industry body in seeking 300 million yuan ($49.2 million) in damages from China'sBaidu Inc and QVOD for copyright violation.
The Joint Action Against Online Video Piracy in China, which also includes Youku Tudou Inc, Dalian Wanda Group and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), said in a statement that Baidu and others had been using an automated process to obtain content from the other companies.
Baidu, the largest Internet search engine in China, said in a statement it was committed to fighting piracy.
A spokeswoman for Shenzhen-based software company QVOD said: "We are just a video player, we don't provide content." She declined to elaborate on the piracy allegations.
QVOD's mobile and desktop video player links to the web and allows users to stream videos.
China has long been known for its weak intellectual property protect…

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The holidays may not be so merry

J.C. Penney Co. Ghost Sign (Photo credit: Larry Myhre) The holidays may not be so merry and bright this year ... for retailers. Sales growth during the fourth quarter is shaping up to be the weakest since 2008, according to predictions from Morgan Stanley.

Same-store sales, a key metric that measures sales at store locations open at least a year, are expected to grow a mere 1.6% from a year ago during the fourth quarter, Morgan Stanley estimates. Last year's holiday sales were up 3.5% from the fourth quarter of 2011.
The 1.6% figure excludes sales at troubled J.C. Penney (JCP, Fortune 500). That's because J.C. Penney is expected to offer deep discounts to try and get back on track after a disastrous drop in sales last year. As a result, J.C. Penney may not have that tough a time beating last year's low bar. And its results could skew the overall sales figures for the industry.
Why will sales be sluggish this year?The culprit appears to be weak consumer confidence. While Amer…

quant turned whistle blower

"It's really a circus," says Haim Bodek, before he launches into an elaborate metaphor about Metallicaticket scalpers to describe how high-frequency trading (HFT) computers get their hooks into big pension fund investments (the "dumb money" in Wall Street parlance) before anybody else can.
Bodek, a so-called quant (or quantitative analyst) who has held key positions at Hull Trading, Goldman Sachs and UBS, is famous among traders for having broken the Street's omertà and complained to the Securities Exchange Commission in 2011 -- after his own HFT firm, Trading Machines, crashed and burned -- about the secret "order types" that allowed rival algorithms to jump the queue and push him out of business.
Bodek is the lead character in Scott Patterson's 2012 Dark Pools: High-Speed Traders, A.I. Bandits, and the Threat to the Global Financial System. And his scalper metaphor is the centerpiece of The Wall Street Code, Part 2 of Dutch director Marije …

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Merkel puts moratorium on fracking

German ChancellorAngela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed to retain a moratorium on fracking for gas and cut incentives for wind power in areas where it is abundant, if they form a new coalition government.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), emerged as the largest force from the September 22 election but they need a partner.
They are making progress in talks with the center-left SPD to form a government later this month and Friday's agreements on energy policy added to the momentum.
Leaders of the two sides told journalists in Berlin they had agreed to put a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for shale gas.
Ute Vogt, an SPD leader on environment issues in the talks, said that as a result fracking will not be possible in Germany before it is clear that the technology is safe.
"We've agreed to a moratorium," she told reporters.
Shale gas fracking has so far…

vulnerabilities have been found in a D-Link router

English: Router D-Link Polski: Ruter (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A new spate of vulnerabilities have been found in a D-Link router, a security researcher said on Monday.
The D-Link 2760N, also known as the D-Link DSL-2760U-BN, are susceptible to several cross-site scripting (XSS) bugs through its Web interface, reported ThreatPost.
The researcher who discovered the bugs, Liad Mizrachi, said that he notified D-Link about the bugs in August, September, and October, but D-Link did not respond. The report follows a more serious backdoor bug found in the following D-Link routers: DIR-100, DIR-120, DI-524UP, DI-604S, DI-604UP, DI-604+, DI-624S, and the TM-G5240. D-Link told ThreatPost in October that it is working on a patch to the backdoor bug.
Jacob Holcomb, a security researcher who uncovered widespread vulnerabilities in popular routers earlier this year, told CNET that he wasn't surprised by the backdoor bug, and wished that manufacturers would do more to fix security problems when f…

chief technology officer to testify on what happen with health care site

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a subpoena on Friday to compel Todd Park, the chief technology officer at the White House, to testify at a hearing next week about what went wrong with the Obamacare website.
The White House called the subpoena "unfortunate and unnecessary" and said that Park was busy fixing the website. The White House earlier had said he was willing to appear voluntarily in December.
"We had hoped the committee would work with us to find an alternative date to give Todd time to focus on the immediate task at hand: getting the website fixed," said Rick Weiss, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology.
"We are reviewing the subpoena and will respond as appropriate," Weiss said.
Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the committee, told Park that he was the only administration witness at the November 13 hearing who was "unwilling to appear voluntarily" and noted that he h…

fire at spy Canada center

The new billion-dollar “spy palace” in Ottawa’s east end suffered an unknown amount of damage after a fire began in a storage shed on the building’s roof.

Ottawa firefighters responded just before midnight Saturday to the high rise commercial building at 1929 Ogilvie Rd., which will soon house roughly 2,000 employees of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC.

The building, which remains under construction, is expected to open next year right next to CSIS headquarters.

Fire officials believe the fire began in the storage shed, which holds about 95 litres of tar that is heated by an electrical heater.

The fire was under control in less than 30 minutes and nobody was hurt, officials added. The cost of the damage has not been reported and security officials have taken control of the scene.

Exact cost still unclear

The CBC’s Greg Weston received an exclusive tour of the new CSEC building last month. CSEC is a federal agency that spies mainly on foreigners by hacking into…

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New Jersey granted online gambling license

The state of New Jersey granted its first online gambling licenses to several big international gaming companies on Friday, dramatically speeding their re-entry to the lucrative U.S. market.
New Jersey joins Nevada and Delaware in permitting online poker and it is more populous than those states. New Jersey also will allow its residents to play electronic versions of other casino games.
Bills to legalize online gambling are pending in California, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and more states are likely to follow, eventually letting residents of those states gamble against people in other regulated states.
New Jersey's action also is a landmark for the issue of suitability, in which regulators weigh the conduct of the online gaming companies before allowing them into an industry with historic corruption.
State gaming authorities gave "transactional waivers," which do not preclude additional regulatory scrutiny, to companies including the parent of PartyPoker, which domin…

FistData to purchase Perka

FirstData aims to catch up to Square and PayPal by growing its footprint in the mobile payments market, and the acquisition of Perka is its latest salvo. Perka CEO Alan Chung says the company's product developers and employees are staying on, and Perka will maintain its autonomous operations. Chung says the merger with First Data will enable Perka to achieve scale faster than it would have by itself. The Perka purchase is First Data's second buyout in October, following its acquisition of Clover several weeks ago. The earlier merger is intended to enlarge First Data's support for small businesses, especially around point of sale infrastructure. With the Clover deal, First Data customers using older credit card terminals have an opportunity to switch to upgraded models without
resorting to offerings from Square, PayPal, and others. The addition of Perka's subscription loyalty services enables First Data to start the build-out of its in-store payment solution. Since ince…

Delta and Jet Blue allowing gadget friendly flights

JetBlue Embraer 190 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administrationrevised rules to allow gate-to-gate use of personal electronic devices by passengers. The change was expected to be a gradual one as airlines digest the new rules, complete a five-step process to prove their airplanes can handle the electronic emissions, and update safety manuals (and videos).
But, the day after the announcement, Delta and JetBlue were already allowing gadget-friendly flights. How did they get a leg up? Skift explains:
Both airlines were members of the Portable Electronic Devices Aviation Committee, which made recommendations to the FAA, leading to yesterday’s announcement about airlines getting the green light to test their aircraft for the usage of PEDs.
By yesterday afternoon, they had already filed their paperwork with the FAA and tested their aircraft, seemingly getting a leg up on their competitors in part because of their participation on the panel. JetBlue says its…

Serious rail accidents in Canada since May 2013:

Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Serious rail accidents in Canada since May 2013:
Oct. 19: Thirteen CN tanker cars — four laden with crude oil and nine carrying liquefied gas — came off the rails just after midnight in the hamlet of Gainford, about 80 km. west of Edmonton. A massive fire ensued.
Oct. 17: Residents in the northwest Alberta town of Sexsmith were forced from their homes after four CN rail cars carrying anhydrous ammonia left the rails. The cars remained upright and there were no leaks.
Oct. 7: Four empty tanker cars that had been used to carry jet fuel went off the track in Brampton, Ont. A CN employee suffered minor injuries and the derailment caused commuter delays for GO Train travellers.
Sept. 25: Seventeen CN rail cars, some carrying flammable petroleum, ethanol and chemicals, came off the tracks near the village of Landis, in western Saskatchewan, in the middle of the night. A nearby school was closed as hazardous material crews cleaned up spilled oil. No one was in…