Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stripe now accepting Bitcoins

Digital payment provider Stripe is now allowing any merchant in its network to accept payments in bitcoin after nearly a year of beta testing.
Any merchant in Stripe’s network with a US dollar bank account can start accepting bitcoin through the company’s API or its Stripe Checkout feature. Those merchants who are already a Stripe Checkout user can add bitcoin using just one line of code, the company said.
Stripe, which handles payments for Kickstarter and Shopify, as well as powering Facebook and Twitter’s ‘Buy’ buttons, started testing the bitcoin integration in March 2014. The scheme was completed in December.
During the beta programme Stripe conducted bitcoin transactions in 60 different countries, and has long been expected to complete the integration.
Since Stripe started testing bitcoin acceptance, both PayPal and payments subsidiary Braintree have started accepting bitcoin. PayPal only allows merchants in North America to accept the crypto-currency, while Braintree only allows those on its bitcoin private beta to do so.

Friday, February 27, 2015

President Xi Jinping's campaign against corruption nabbing over 70,000 officials

This week's celebrations to welcome in the lunar New Year aren't likely to offer much relief to retailers online or anywhere else in the country.
During China's boom years, Shanxi province was an economic backwater notorious for coal mine accidents and air pollution. According to a 2013 study by researchers at Princeton University, the University of Texas-Austin, and Peking University, the number of Shanxi infants born with neural tube defects is 18 times as high as in the United States.
Now, Shanxi is at the forefront of China's latest trend: the new frugality.
With President Xi Jinping's campaign against corruption nabbing over 70,000 officials last year, stores in the provincial capital of Taiyuan that once catered to officials with tastes running to Gucci and Hermes are empty. "Wealthy coal mine bosses and government officials have long been the patron of these luxury brands in Taiyuan," the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday. "But with the crackdown going strong, stores are finding it hard to get by." According to one manager at a mall in downtown Taiyuan, the news agency reported, sales of men's products have dropped 30% so far this year.
This week's celebrations to welcome in the lunar New Year aren't likely to offer much relief to retailers in Taiyuan, online or anywhere else in the country. The Chinese New Year typically is a big shopping season, but with celebrations to mark the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat and the Year of the Ram) starting on Thursday, prospects aren't good. A few years ago, sales during the holiday grew around 20%. This year, growth will be closer to 10%, according to James Roy, an associate principal at Shanghai-based China Market Research Group.
10% growth isn't bad, but the deceleration in Chinese New Year sales comes as retailers are already struggling. Economic growth in China slumped to a 15-year low in 2014, and traditional retailers also have to cope with the rise of e-commerce rivals such as Taobao and JD.com, which have successfully wooed customers and changed spending habits. For example, instead of shopping for the New Year, many consumers are now spending money on new, online-generated events like the Nov. 11 Singles Day popularized by Alibaba.
Now Xi's anti-graft campaign is putting a damper on the celebrations as people try to avoid conspicuous spending that could land them in trouble. The corruption cops aren't going to stamp out the Chinese taste for bling, but their campaign is leading to a shift in favored designer names, says Sage Brennan, chief executive officer of consulting firm China Luxury Advisors. He sees a move away from "logo-heavy, bling-style brands" and toward "brands that are a little bit less Gucci, less Louis Vuitton." Western designers such as Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and Tori Burch stand to benefit, he says.

Says Roy: "You have a climate within China right now that anyone at a state-owned company who is an official is erring on the side of caution."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

International Business Etiquette

A Handy Little Guide to International Business Etiquette

Written by Lindsay Kolowich | @
international-business
Success in business comes down to building strong relationships with our associates. As our jobs become more and more globalized, many of us find ourselves traveling and building relationships with people across international borders, where manners and expectations might be different than we're used to.
The ins and outs of international business etiquette can get confusing. For example, punctuality is of utmost importance in England, but in France, you're considered to be "on time" if you arrive 10 minutes late. The intricacies unique to each country's business practices can be difficult to keep track of, but they can make or break your international business relationships.
To help you transition seamlessly into doing business in countries other than your own, we gathered tips for conducting business from natives of several countries from around the world. (Note that the tips below are based on their personal experiences, and yours may differ. If you have tips to add or personal experiences to share, please do so in the comment section below!)

Asia

China

  • Punctuality is important.
  • Business attire is fairly formal.
  • The exchange of business cards is a very formal procedure. (This is especially true in Japan, but can be true in China as well.) Business cards should be presented with both hands and accompanied by a head nod. Once business cards are exchanged, it's polite to examine the other person's business card carefully before putting it away. Put it somewhere special, like your breast pocket or an intentional spot in your briefcase.
  • Many business meetings take place around a large, round table. The highest-ranking host will sit at the chair directly facing the main door, while the highest-ranking guest will sit on the right-hand side of the main host.
  • Drinks or food items offered by the host should not be refused. It's considered rude to say that you're "full."
  • Gifts aren't mandatory, but it's acceptable to bring gifts as a sign of respect.
  • Criticism and negative feedback should never be given in public or in front of a large group of people.
  • It's inappropriate to push for a final decision in a first meeting, as decisions are not made in the meeting themselves. Typically, decisions are made after a meeting ends, once the entire group has a chance to collectively make a decision.

Japan

  • Punctuality is important.
  • Business attire is formal, like a suit and tie or a dress.
  • Even more so than in China, the exchange of business cards is a very formal procedure. Business cards should be presented with both hands and accompanied by a head nod. Once business cards are exchanged, it's polite to examine the other person's business card carefully -- and even comment on it before putting it away. Put it somewhere special, like your breast pocket or an intentional spot in your briefcase.
  • It's expected that visitors bring small gifts for their hosts. These gifts are tokens of appreciation and can be small and low-value -- the act of giving is more important than the gift itself -- but they should be wrapped. Make sure to give gifts to everyone present, as it's considered rude to leave anyone out. (Pro tip: Bring extras.) Allow your Japanese counterpart to initiate the gift giving, and receive their gift with both hands accompanied by a small bow. Don't be surprised if they refuse your gift once or twice -- they will usually accept it the second or third time.
  • The senior executive in the room might close his or her eyes and appear to be sleeping. This is a signal to others in the room that s/he trusts his colleagues to handle the meeting.
  • It's inappropriate to push for a final decision in a first meeting, as decisions are not made in the meeting themselves. Typically, decisions are made after a meeting ends, once the entire group has a chance to collectively make a decision.
  • Visitors should account for activities to follow business meetings that take place over dinner or drinks. Karaoke is an especially common post-dinner activity in Japan.
  • Criticism and negative feedback should never be given in public or in front of a large group of people.

India

  • Punctuality is not super important. It's not considered rude to be a little bit late -- within reason, of course.
  • In private business meetings, a simple handshake is an acceptable greeting. Be prepared to fold your hands and greet your host by saying "Namaste" if they initiate this type of greeting.
  • Business meetings are very social. Small talk is expected before getting to the "point" of the meeting -- in fact, it's considered rude to rush through that part. Typically, the first few minutes of a meeting are spent chatting about the family.
  • Tea and coffee are offered at every meeting, and it's expected that all attendees accept something -- even if it's a glass of water.
  • In conversation, it's considered rude to be direct. Rather, it's preferable to speak in a more circular way. For example, instead of saying, "No, it's too expensive," you might say, "Could we make the price a little better? I do want to buy this, but I can't afford it right now."
  • Gift-giving isn't expected in a first meeting, and isn't necessarily expected in later meetings unless you build a close relationship.

Pakistan

  • Soft drinks or chai are often offered at business meetings. 
  • Conversing informally and intimately with clients is not seen as "schmoozing" -- it's seen as a sign of respect. In large, corporate businesses, there are even dedicated positions for making and delivering chai, called the "chai wala."

Europe

Ireland

  • Firm handshakes are the standard way to greet one another in a business meeting.
  • Foreign visitors are expected to be very punctual.
  • Depending on the context, there is a good chance visitors will be brought out for dinner and drinks. If so, visitors should anticipate being involved in "rounds" where they'll be expected to buy drinks for everyone when it's their turn.

Germany

  • Punctuality is important.
  • In business conversation, everyone should be addressed using Mr./Ms./Mrs. no matter what the power relationship is. This is true unless you are expressly asked by your senior to address him or her informally.
  • It's not acceptable to remove your suit jacket in a business meeting. This could even be considered rude.

England 

  • Time is considered to be an incredibly valuable resource, and it's expected that you show up for an appointment exactly on time or slightly early.
  • Hugging, kissing, and touching are generally reserved for family members and close friends. Allow for a certain amount of personal space.

France

  • Punctuality is not super important. You're considered "on time" if you're 10 minutes late.
  • Business attire is formal, fashionable, and well-tailored.
  • It's not acceptable to remove your suit jacket in a business meeting. This could even be considered rude.
  • Polite eating habits are very important: eating with your mouth shut; finishing your plate; hands on the table (but not elbows); not making slurping sounds when you drink; etc.

Latin America

These etiquette tips are true for most Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. This includes Chile, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and México.
  • Men greeting other men shake hands, while women greeting both men and women kiss on the cheek. If you're familiar with one another, it may also be appropriate to hug and tap on the back.
  • Latin Americans converse at a close distance and are casual in demeanor and speech. Maintaining eye contact is necessary to show interest and sincerity. It's also common to hug each other very often in casual conversations when emotions need to be expressed.
  • Titles have become much more casual in the last years, and people refer to each other by their first names in business situations, and in second person. Older executives might prefer to be addressed with the title “Señor” or “Señora” (Mr. or Mrs.). A more formal term to refer to superiors in more hierarchical organizations is "Usted." This term is used in more respectful and formal way -- for example, if an analyst were referring to a member of the board or senior executive.
  • Punctuality is not strictly enforced. At the business level, it's acceptable to be 5-10 minutes late as long as you notify in advance. Meetings usually have a start time, but they don't usually have an end time and tend to run long.
  • Attendees of social functions usually arrive about 30 minutes later than the invite time. (Don’t worry, this behavior is usually accounted for by the host.) At social gatherings, hosts don't expect people to arrive exactly at the time of the invite -- in fact, he or she will probably not be ready by then.
  • Personal relationships are really important in Latin America. Because of this, in a first meeting, it's expected that that most of the time is spent establishing a rapport -- andthen steering the conversation toward business.
  • Business meetings and negotiations are often centered around food and drinks.
  • Need ice breaking tips? Soccer is the common theme in the region. Try to be up-to-date on any soccer tournament that's going around the world at the time. It also helps to know the names some of the famous soccer players in the country you're visiting.

Brazil

  • It's expected that a significant amount of effort is put into appearance, including neat and formal clothing, well-kempt hair, and neat/manicured nails.
  • It's considered rude to jump right into business conversation. It's expected that conversation flow fairly informally, especially at first.
  • In business meetings, it's not uncommon for opposite-sex business associates to greet one another with a kiss on the cheek, especially if they've worked together a few times already.
  • Punctuality isn't super important and meetings are usually started late. Visitors should allow for extra time for each appointment.
  • Small cups of coffee (usually black, kind of like an espresso shot) known as "cafézinho" are usually offered before a meeting.
  • It's common to sign off on business emails with "Abraços" ("Hugs") -- men and women alike. 

Oceania

The following are some etiquette tips for both Australia and New Zealand.
  • Punctuality is important.
  • It's common to greet associates with a handshake. It's also common for women to greet other women or men with kisses on the cheek.
  • Business is commonly done over drinks, particularly beer. Visitors should anticipate being involved in "rounds" where they'll be expected to buy drinks for everyone when it's their turn.

North America

United States

  • Punctuality is important.
  • Business associates typically greet each other with a handshake.
  • While building personal relationships with business associates is considered important, small talk is kept at a minimum during designated meeting times -- unless the meeting is held over drinks or a meal.
Have any to add? Share them with us in the comments below!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Companies and government officials are illegally moving as much as $60 billion out of Africa

JOHANNESBURG—Companies and government officials are illegally moving as much as $60 billion out of Africa each year, according to a report released Sunday, depriving the world’s poorest continent of capital and tax revenue that could spur faster economic growth.
A joint panel run by the United Nations and the African Union and led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki released a report describing the methods some companies use to send money out of the continent illicitly. The losses are staggering not only in terms of dollars but development opportunities lost, Mr. Mbeki said.
“We are talking about large volumes of capital that could play a great role in addressing Africa’s development challenges,” he said in an interview.
The scams range from loggers in Mozambique understating the value of the timber to Nigerian officials who send abroad suitcases of illegally earned cash.
ENLARGE
The panel estimated illicit outflows in part by adding up discrepancies between the reported value of African exports and the higher value those same goods sometimes receive when they arrive as imports to Africa’s trading partners. That investigation showed that most African governments were victims of companies or officials secreting profits and cash out of countries.
Mr. Mbeki said he couldn’t name particular companies that may be at fault because their dealings with tax authorities are confidential. But he did say “large commercial corporations are by far the biggest culprits of illicit outflows, followed by organized crime.”
The problem isn’t unique to Africa. Taken together, developing nations lost nearly $1 trillion through illicit channels in 2012, according to the Washington-based research and advocacy group Global Financial Integrity.
But economists say Africa suffers most because its governments lack the institutions and expertise to spot and stop capital flight. In some countries, regulation is too decentralized—Nigeria alone has 12 agencies with some responsibility for stemming illicit flows— offering wide regulatory and enforcement cracks for those who want to exploit them.
And Africa’s 54 countries have little capacity to exchange information or help each other pursue potential tax dodgers. “There should be an automatic exchange of tax information among African countries,” the report concludes.
The loss of capital is particularly painful because Africa’s development needs are so acute. Even as 300 million Africans entered what the African Development Bank calls a nascent middle class in the past 25 years, rapid population growth pushed the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 414 million from 290 million.
While Africa’s economic growth of around 5% annually in the past decade has outpaced most other regions, Mr. Mbeki’s group said it won’t be enough to guarantee a better life for those hundreds of millions of poor Africans.
“The benefits of this growth have mostly been confined to those at the top of the income distribution and it has not been accompanied by an increase in jobs,” wrote the group, officially called the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

undeclared accounts with HSBC Holdings Plc's private bank in

Dilma Rousseff, minister chief of staff of the...
Dilma Rousseff, minister chief of staff of the Presidency of the Federative Republic of Brazil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Brazil's tax watchdog opened a probe on whether about a dozen people involved in the Petrobras corruption scandal also allegedly had undeclared accounts with HSBC Holdings Plc's private bank in Switzerland, two sources with knowledge of the situation said on Saturday.
A former manager at the state-controlled oil giant Petróleo Brasileiro SA had an account at HSBC's private Swiss bank, said the first source, who requested anonymity since the probe has not been made public. Others include an illegal money changer and two executives from engineering and oil equipment firms that had contracts with the firm, which is known as Petrobras, the same source added.
The sources did not name the people being probed.
The tax watchdog, known as Receita Federal, declined to comment. Efforts to contact members of HSBC's media office in São Paulo were unsuccessful.
HSBC this week admitted failings in compliance and controls in its Swiss private bank after media reports alleged it helped wealthy customers conceal millions of dollars of assets in a period up to 2007. However HSBC noted that there are numerous legitimate reasons for having a Swiss bank account.
In what is being called Brazil's worst corruption scandal in history, prosecutors allege that politicians from President Dilma Rousseff's ruling coalition used Petrobras to skim billions of reais through overpriced contracts for over a decade. So far more than 40 people have been detained over their involvement in the scandal, which is known in the country as "Operation Car Wash."
The second source said that "there is a clear link between 'Operation Car-Wash' and the HSBC Swiss bank accounts." He declined to elaborate further and Reuters could not independently verify his account.
It is not illegal for Brazilians to have accounts abroad, so long as they declare their assets to tax authorities.
Late on Friday, Receita launched a broader investigation to determine whether Brazilians were involved in opening over 6,600 undeclared accounts with HSBC's Swiss private bank. The accounts under investigation were opened between 1988 and 2006 and had an estimated value of $7 billion at the end of that period, a Receita statement said.

"Preliminary analyses of some taxpayers have already helped establish the hypothesis of potential omission or data incompatibility with their respective tax forms filed with Receita Federal," the statement added. Receita is considering asking other countries for cooperation with its investigation.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Michele Ferrero, Italy's richest man dies

A box of Ferrero Rocher
A box of Ferrero Rocher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Michele Ferrero, Italy's richest man and the owner of a global chocolate and confectionery empire, died on Saturday, two workers within the company said. He was 89.
His death is likely to spur talk of succession and potential tie-ups at the family-controlled Ferrero group, which has continued to grow even through Italy's longest recession since World War Two.
The group, which makes chocolate-hazelnut Nutella spread, Ferrero Rocher pralines and chocolate Kinder eggs, is seen by analysts and bankers as Italy's most valuable privately owned company.
The billionaire died at his home in Monte Carlo after a long illness, one of the workers within the company said.
Ferrero's son Giovanni, the chief executive of the Ferrero group, in late 2013 rejected suggestions that the Italian company had been approached by larger Swiss competitor Nestle and said Ferrero was not for sale.
A man of few words who shunned publicity, Ferrero senior turned a Piedmont-based chocolate factory into a global giant. He was known for running Ferrero with an iron fist but was also loved by locals for a tendency to give back to his community and by employees for the company's generous working conditions.
Up until a couple of years ago, Ferrero would commute daily by helicopter from his Monte Carlo villa to the company headquarters in the picturesque town of Alba in northwest Italyto taste and help design new products.

Forbes magazine described Ferrero as "the richest candyman on the planet", putting him and his family in 30th place on their list of the world's wealthiest people, with a net worth of $23.4 billion.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L) faces investigation by U.S. authorities

HSBC Tower, the international headquarters for...
HSBC Tower, the international headquarters for HSBC Holdings plc in Canary Wharf, London. Photo taken in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA.L) faces investigation by U.S. authorities and an inquiry by British lawmakers after admitting failings by its Swiss private bank that may have allowed some customers to dodge taxes.
U.S. prosecutors have stepped up efforts to establish whether HSBC, the world's second largest bank, helped Americans evade taxes after media reports said the bank had helped wealthy customers conceal millions of dollars of assets.
U.S. authorities are also probing whether HSBC manipulated currency rates, and a U.S. law enforcement official said on Monday the investigations could prompt the Department of Justice to revisit a 2012 deferred prosecution agreement with the bank.
The agreement was part of a $1.9 billion settlement that allowed HSBC to avoid criminal charges after it was found to have helped move hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit drug money through the U.S. financial system.
"It is quite possible that the (agreement) may be reopened as a result of the bank's activities on either or both the tax evasion and foreign exchange manipulation front," said the U.S. law enforcement official, who requested anonymity because the investigations are ongoing.
British lawmakers said they plan to open an inquiry into the bank after it came under fire for its past practices in Switzerland.
HSBC shares fell 2 percent by 0845 GMT on Tuesday, underperforming the European bank index .SX7P. They fell 1.6 percent on Monday after media reports about the activities of its Swiss operation based on client data from 2006-07.

A spokesman for HSBC declined further comment on Tuesday after the bank issued a statement late on Sunday in response to the media reports.

Friday, February 20, 2015

U.S. oil and gas producer SandRidge Energy Inc (SD.N) plans to slash its rig count

U.S. oil and gas producer SandRidge Energy Inc (SD.N) plans to slash its rig count in Oklahoma and Kansas by nearly 75 percent, according to a document obtained by Reuters.
The cuts, to be implemented through early April, may amount to what is arguably the most significant pullback in well drilling by a publicly traded shale oil company since crude prices started a 50 percent slide in June.
The document shows SandRidge plans to cut the number of rigs drilling in the Mississippi Lime formation in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas in March and early April to eight, from 28. In November, the company told investors it had about 30 rigs running.
The document makes no mention of rigs in West Texas, where the company also has acreage. It laid off 25 workers in West Texas in January, state data shows.
A spokesman for SandRidge declined to comment but said the company would provide an update for 2015 on a quarterly results call on Feb. 27.
Many companies have reduced spending by 25 percent to 40 percent to conserve cash.
SandRidge has been hit particularly hard in the oil rout because it has a hefty debt load and it drills in the Mississippi Lime.
Mississippi Lime wells typically do not produce as much oil as other shale formations, and the rock also contains a lot of water, which is costly to haul away.
In early January, SandRidge Chief Executive James Bennett said the company was already reducing its rig count and capital spending, citing market conditions.
"Given the market backdrop, we are ... already reducing our rig count and capex levels," he said at the time.
Two of SandRidge's biggest investors include Canada's Prem Watsa and billionaire Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Age of Cryptocurrency

How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order Hardcover – January 27, 2015
by Paul Vigna  (Author), Michael J. Casey  (Author)

The Age of Cryptocurrency:

crypto
“Bitcoins are stored in digital bank accounts or wallets that can be set up at home by anyone with Internet access. There is no trip to the bank to set up an account, no need for documentation or proof that you are a man. Indeed, bitcoin does not know your name or your gender, so it allows you to women in patriarchal societies, at least those with access to the Internet, to control their own money. The importance of this cannot be overstated.” This will give freedom to people that would not ever have the opportunity without this means!
This book will give you another look at the possibility of the future of digital currency. Bitcoins are explained and where it is headed is not guaranteed but I really did enjoy this one! Money, banking and cyber space all leads to a great read for me!
Bitcoin became a buzzword overnight. A cyber-enigma with an enthusiastic following, it pops up in headlines and fuels endless media debate. You can apparently use it to buy anything from coffee to cars, yet few people seem to truly understand what it is. This raises the question: Why should anyone care about bitcoin?
The bitcoin logo
The bitcoin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In The Age of Cryptocurrency, Wall Street journalists Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey deliver the definitive answer to this question. Cybermoney is poised to launch a revolution, one that could reinvent traditional financial and social structures while bringing the world's billions of "unbanked" individuals into a new global economy. Cryptocurrency holds the promise of a financial system without a middleman, one owned by the people who use it and one safeguarded from the devastation of a 2008-type crash.
But bitcoin, the most famous of the cybermonies, carries a reputation for instability, wild fluctuation, and illicit business; some fear it has the power to eliminate jobs and to upend the concept of a nation-state. It implies, above all, monumental and wide-reaching change—for better and for worse. But it is here to stay, and you ignore it at your peril.
Vigna and Casey demystify cryptocurrency—its origins, its function, and what you need to know to navigate a cyber-economy. The digital currency world will look very different from the paper currency world; The Age of Cryptocurrency will teach you how to be ready.
“While many readers understandably have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of non-government-backed currency, journalists Casey (Che’s Afterlife) and Vigna, who blog about cryptocurrency at the Wall Street Journal’s Money Beat blog, here use their considerable expertise to make the Bitcoin phenomenon accessible. They take a thorough, multidisciplinary approach to the topic, including a fascinating examination of the origin of money. The authors are appropriately cautious, warning that despite increased public awareness of Bitcoin, it remains a niche product, and the jury is still out on how far and how quickly it and other digital currency will spread. However, newcomers will gain a better understanding of the revolutionary potential of digital currency, especially for the “roughly 2.5 billion people from Afghanistan to Africa to even America who have been shut out of the modern finance system.” And the explication of the non-currency applications of the concepts behind Bitcoin—such as tamper-proof records of verified information—will be valuable to any reader. Agent: Gillian McKenzie, Gillian McKenzie Agency. (Jan.)”

Reviewed by Robert Richardson in association with St Martins Press

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Anonymous launches massive cyberattack campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization

Anonymous has launched a massive cyberattack campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization, taking down hundreds of social media accounts and promising there is much more to come.
ISIS, believed to be responsible for the recent attack on Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo -- before al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) eventually took responsibility -- is infamous for extremist views, recruitment from Western nations and both the kidnap and torture of civilians across the Middle East.
The terrorist organization has built up a large social media presence across websites including Twitter and Facebook, and also uses YouTube to upload video footage -- including the reported executions of prisoners.
In relation for the brutal killing of pilot First Lieutenant Muath al-Kaseasbeh, Jordan has recently stepped up airstrikes against the group in Syria.
While military forces push back against ISIS, Anonymous has taken to the Internet to conduct its own battle against the terrorist organization.
In a video appearing on YouTube and spreading across Twitter like wildfire, the Anonymous hacktivist collective has promised to take on ISIS under the campaign name #OpISIS. The group says in the video that Anonymous and RedCult have targeted and taken down hundreds of Twitter and Facebook accounts -- and the campaign is far from over.
The groups say:
"Operation ISIS continues. [..] We are Muslims, Christians, Jews. We are hackers, crackers, hacktivists, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy next door. [..] We are young or old, gay or straight. [..] We come from all races, countries, religions and ethnicity. United as one, divided by zero."
In addition, Anonymous released a list of Facebook accounts "suspected to have been keeping contact with the terrorists (ISIS) in Syria & Iraq," and it "won't hurt to keep an eye on them."
One such account allegedly belongs to a woman acting as an ISIS recruiter who "brainwashes young people" to fight in Syria.
There are still thousands of social media accounts relaying the ISIS message, and as noticed by Hacker News, the extremist group has begun circulating a social media guide to try and circumvent the takedowns by taking over legacy accounts.
Anonymous has promised that this is only the start of the campaign, saying:
"ISIS, we will hunt you, take down your sites, emails, accounts, and expose you. From now on, no safe place for you online. You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

SIPC: DISTRIBUTIONS TO MADOFF CUSTOMERS

English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot
English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SIPC: DISTRIBUTIONS TO MADOFF CUSTOMERS NOW COVERING 54 PERCENT OF LOSSES

Madoff Trustee Irving H. Picard Announces Fifth Disbursement of $355.8 Million, Bringing Total to $7.2 Billion for Allowed Claimants.
               
WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 9, 2015 – Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) today applauded Irving H. Picard – the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (Madoff) – on the announcement of the fifth distribution of recovered funds to Madoff customers.  The distribution will total $355.8 million.

The total amount distributed in the Madoff liquidation proceeding to date exceeds $7.2 billion, covering more than 54 percent of the losses of allowed claimants. The overall figure of $7.2 billion includes $823.7 million in committed advances from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. 

When additional settlements awaiting distribution are taken into account, the total recovery to date in the Madoff liquidation proceeding totals $10.551 billion.  (For more information, see http://www.sipc.org/news-and-media/news-releases/20141117.)  

SIPC President and CEO Stephen P. Harbeck said: “The excellent results to date show that the Bankruptcy Code and the Securities Investor Protection Act give the Trustee the ability to recover assets for the investors who lost their funds in this financial tragedy.  SIPC supports the Trustee fully in his efforts to maximize the returns to the victims.”

Harbeck added:  “To that end, SIPC pays for all of the administrative expenses necessary to recover assets for distribution in the Madoff proceeding.  All of the funds recovered are distributed to customers.  No customer money is used for administrative expenses.  We look forward to additional distributions as soon as possible.”

More information on overall recoveries to date and the ongoing Madoff liquidation can be found on the Trustee’s website at www.madofftrustee.com

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...