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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

'Gaddafi orders explosion of Libya's oil pipelines'

"The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya's rebellious tribes: It's either me or chaos," said the report.

Time also reported that the insider said Gaddafi only has the support of about 5,000 soldiers in the army and that the Libyan leader has told people close to him that he realizes he cannot take control over Libya with the troops he has.

Close to 300 people have been killed in the anti-government protests in Libya, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Gaddafi's speech on Tuesday was "very, very frightening," adding that he had declared war on the Libyan people, Reuters reported.

The German chancellor said that if Gaddafi does not end the violence in his country, she would support sanctions against Tripoli, according to the report.

The UN Security Council also condemned Gaddafi's crackdown on anti-government protesters and demanded an immediate end to the violence.

Jerusalem Post


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Food prices at dangerous levels: World Bank

A sharp rise in food prices across Central Asia could also have social and political implications for that region.
WASHINGTON — World Bank chief Robert Zoellick Tuesday said global food prices have reached dangerous levels that could complicate fragile political and social conditions in the Middle East, and warned that their impact also bears watching across Central Asia.
World Bank data released Tuesday showed higher food prices has pushed 44 million more people into extreme poverty since June 2010 in developing countries.
Zoellick said although higher food prices were not the main reason that led to violent protests in Egypt and Tunisia, it was an aggravating factor and could become worse.
He warned that a sharp rise in food prices across Central Asia could also have social and political implications for that region.
“There is no room for complacency,” Zoellick said. “Global food prices are now at dangerous levels and it is also clear that recent food price rises for food are causing pain and suffering for poor people around the globe.”
The World Bank report comes days before a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in Paris, where higher food prices — and the reason for it — will be discussed.
Zoellick said he was concerned that as countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan address causes of their social upheaval, higher food prices may add to “the fragility that is always there any time you have revolutions and transitions.”
The World Bank chief said the international community needed to be aware of such risks and should not exacerbate problems by imposing policies, such as export bans, that would push global food prices even higher.
Catastrophic storms and droughts have hurt the world’s leading agriculture-producing countries, including flooding and a massive cyclone in Australia, major winter storms in the United States, and fires last year in Russia.
Zoellick said a World Bank team was currently in Tunisia taking a closer look at the country’s transition and assessing whether it needs World Bank financial assistance.
He suggested that Egypt may not need additional World Bank financing because its financing situation “is one that should be able to be managed.”
The Washington-based poverty-fighting institution said its food price index increased by 15% between October 2010 and January 2011 and is just 3% below its 2008 peak during the last food price crisis.
But unlike during the 2007-2008 food crisis, higher prices have not yet affected all regions of the world.

Read more: http://www.financialpost.com/Food+prices+dangerous+levels+World+Bank/4288058/story.html#ixzz1E8c2L5Pz

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Oil Rises, Stocks Drop on Libya Revolt; Wheat Falls, Euro Gains

Interesting sign, maybe in a couple of months that will be the price....
Oil rallied, approaching $100 a barrel in New York, as Libya’s uprising threatened exports. Stocks fell amid concern higher energy costs will slow economic growth, while the euro strengthened on speculation of an interest-rate increase.
Crude for April delivery climbed 2.8 percent to $98.07 a barrel at 11:35 a.m. in New York and gasoline and heating oil surged. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.4 percent after tumbling 2.1 percent yesterday, the most in six months. Hewlett-Packard Co. led losses in equities after its forecasts trailed analysts’ estimates. Sugar and cotton dropped more than 3.1 percent. The euro gained 0.9 percent versus the dollar and the pound was 0.6 percent higher.
Concern that surging fuel prices will derail the global economic recovery grew as governments evacuated thousands of expatriates from Libya and opponents to Muammar Qaddafi took control of eastern port cities in Africa’s third-biggest crude supplier. An extended $10 rise in oil cuts 0.5 percentage point off U.S. growth over two years, according to Deutsche Bank AG.
“It’s economic momentum versus geopolitical events,” said Tommy Huie, who oversees about $33 billion as president and chief investment officer of M&I Investment Management in Milwaukee. “The U.S. equity market wants to look beyond the current events in the Middle East. That’s part of the dynamic of a better economy and corporate profits. Obviously, it will all depend on the price of oil and Libya and whether we get more stability sooner rather than later.”

‘Stronger Position’

Gasoline rose for a third day on the New York Mercantile Exchange, gaining 2.9 percent to $2.6767 a gallon. Brent oil for April delivery climbed 3.9 percent to $109.85 a barrel.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the economic recovery has put the world on a better footing to withstand the increase in oil prices caused by turmoil in the Middle East.
“The economy is in a much stronger position to handle” rising oil prices, Geithner said today during a Bloomberg Breakfast in Washington. “Central banks have a lot of experience in managing these things.”
Technology shares led losses in the S&P 500 as Hewlett- Packard sank 11 percent, the most since 2004 on a closing basis. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. paced gains that sent energy producers to the biggest advance among 10 groups in the S&P 500.

Treasury Auction

The yield on the five-year Treasury note increased was little changed at 2.14 percent before the government sells $35 billion of similar-maturity securities. A $35 billion auction of two-year notes yesterday drew the highest demand since November from indirect bidders, which include foreign central banks, as U.S. debt rallied because of the unrest in Libya.
The euro appreciated against 13 of its 16 most-traded peers, rising 0.6 percent versus the yen. ECB officials will “inevitably” have to “rebalance our monetary policy stance,” with the 17-nation euro-area economy strengthening and inflation in breach of the central bank’s 2 percent limit, council member Yves Mersch said yesterday, without giving a time frame.
Policy makers will take the decisions necessary to maintain price stability, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said in Frankfurt today. The central bank kept its key rate at record low of 1 percent for a 22nd month on Feb. 3 to safeguard the economic recovery.

50 Point Increase

The pound strengthened against 10 of 16 peers after minutes from the Bank of England’s Feb. 10 decision showed a third policy maker voted to raise interest rates. The implied yield on the short-sterling futures contract expiring in December rose five basis points to 1.78 percent as traders added to bets that borrowing costs will climb.

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Alarming number of dead dolphins being studied

HORN ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - A research team from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies found four more dead baby dolphins on Horn Island on Tuesday.
Since the first of the year, some 21 young dolphins have washed ashore on the barrier island and mainland beaches of Mississippi and Alabama. That's an alarming increase, since in a typical year only one or two dead dolphins a month are reported.
It's too early to link the deaths to the BP oil spill, but that's one factor scientists are considering.
It didn't take long for the research team to locate the first of four dead dolphins on Horn Island. The first one was along the south shore, near the middle of the barrier island.
Team members went to work quickly, recording measurements and other statistics, then taking tissue samples; including slices of the dolphin's blubber or fat layer.
"Because a lot of chemicals and heavy metals can become trapped in that layer. So, that's a good indicator of what they've been exposed to in their life," said research assistant Megan Broadway.
Time is critical in responding to these strandings. With the weather warming up, decomposition of the animals is hastened.
"The more decomposed it is, the less samples we can get. So we try and get to them as quick as possible when we find out about them so we can get more samples. And the more samples we have, the more we can find out about them," said team member Jamie Klaus.
Rhiannon Blake from Australia is a member of the research team. She studied zoology in college and was attracted to marine sciences. The young researcher is hopeful this field work will help scientists answer the question of why these dolphins are dying.
"It's kind of depressing seeing all the babies on the beach. But hopefully we're doing something about it with all the work we're doing and all the trips out here," said Blake.
A possible link with last year's BP oil spill is just one factor scientists are studying. The head of the IMMS says the alarming numbers could be traced to any number of causes.
"I think it could be the environment. The cold weather. It could be their fisheries. Some changes in their food habits. It could be a cyclical change. Who knows? But we're going to do a forensics study. We're doing the necropsies, the pathology, the toxicology. And try to get to the bottom of it," said Dr. Moby Solangi.
IMMS is working with the Department of Marine Resources to try and find an answer to the dolphin deaths.

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Extremist cleric to lead White House protest calling for Muslims to 'rise up and establish Islamic state in America'

Call to arms: Muslim extremist Anjem Choudary will call for Sharia law to be established across the U.S.
A hardline Muslim cleric who sparked anger across the U.S. with his anti-American comments in a television interview this month is to hold a protest outside the White House.
British extremist Anjem Choudary - who once said 'the flag of Islam will fly over the White House' - has announced he will lead a demonstration calling on Muslims to establish the Sharia law across America.

The rally, planned for March 3, is to take place just weeks after his on-screen row with Fox News presenter Sean Hannity. 

Mr Choudary, 43, called Americans 'the biggest criminals in the world today.'
The former leader of outlawed group Islam4UK told the Daily Star 'we expect thousands to come out and support us.'

Mr Choudary said the March rally was organised by the Islamic Thinkers society, an extremist group based in New York.
Two other British extremists,  Abu Izzadeen and Sayful Islam, have also been asked to speak at the demonstration.

Izzadeen is the hate preacher who caused fury last year when he called British soldiers 'murderers' the day he was released from jail after a three-and-a-half year sentence for inciting terrorism.

Mr Choudary told the newspaper: 'The event is a rally, a call for the Sharia, a call for the Muslims to rise up and establish the Islamic state in America.'

However, whether the three will be able to enter the U.S., especially Izzadeen, remains to be seen. Even a tourist visa requires applicants to answer questions on whether they have been involved in acts of terrorism or plan to commit crimes in the U.S.
'This is a unique event taking place in Washington, outside the White House which, Inshallah, (God willing) will garner huge support.'

He hit U.S. headlines just two weeks ago after his furious exchange with Mr Hannity on Fox News. The presenter became so enraged with his anti-American comments he ended the interview by calling him a 'sick, miserable, evil S.O.B'.

The East London-based cleric's anti-American stance is well-documented. Last year he led protesters in burning the American flag outside the U.S. embassy in London on September 11.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358792/Anjem-Choudary-lead-White-House-protest-calling-Muslims-rise-up.html#ixzz1EbQ7UYVv

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U.K. Home Rents Fall for Second Month as Supply Surges, LSL Says

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- A gauge of U.K. residential rents fell for a
second month in January as more property investors entered the
buy-to-let market, pushing up supply, LSL Property Services Plc said.

The average monthly rent for a home in England and Wales fell 0.3
percent to 682 pounds ($1,102) from December, the lowest average since
July, the Newcastle, England-based company said in an e-mailed
statement today. From a year earlier, it was up 4 percent.

While rents rose last year as prospective homebuyers were put off
purchases as banks curbed mortgages and the government’s budget
squeeze undermined confidence, lending to landlords is now increasing,
bolstering the number of properties for rent, LSL said. The number of
buy-to-let loans rose 6 percent in the fourth quarter, according to
the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

“The recent loosening in the buy-to-let mortgage market has boosted
the supply of rental homes on the market, a crucial factor in the
temporary drop in rents,” David Newnes, estate agency managing
director of LSL, said in the statement. “There are signs that this
trend is continuing into 2011.”

The decline in rents in December and January may also be partly caused
by landlords cutting asking prices during the slower holiday season to
avoid properties being empty, Newnes said.

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Banks 'had to know' of my Ponzi scheme, Madoff tells NYT

A booking mug shot of Bernard Madoff is seen in this undated handout released to Reuters on March 17, 2009

NEW YORK — A frail Bernard Madoff, facing the rest of his life in prison, said a variety of banks and hedge funds were complicit in and “had to know” about his epic Ponzi scheme before it was uncovered, The New York Times reported.
In his first interview for publication since his December 2008 arrest, Madoff said banks and hedge funds who dealt with his investment advisory firm demonstrated a “willful blindness” toward his activities, and failed to examine discrepancies between his regulatory filings and other information.
“They had to know,” Madoff, described as noticeably thinner and dressed in khaki prison clothing, said in a visiting room in the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.”’
Madoff, 72, is serving a 150-year prison sentence for what prosecutors called his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, which was uncovered in December 2008.
Irving Picard, a court-appointed trustee seeking money for Madoff victims, has filed lawsuits seeking tens of billions of dollars from companies and individuals he believes benefited from or aided in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Among the defendants in these cases is JPMorgan Chase & Co , long Madoff’s principal banker and described by Picard as “thoroughly complicit” in the Ponzi scheme.
Other defendants include HSBC Holdings Plc, UBS AG , various “feeder funds” that steered money to Madoff, and the owners of the New York Mets baseball team.
A spokesman for Picard did not immediately return a request for comment. Picard declined to comment to the newspaper. He has recovered about $10 billion for victims so far.
Stephen Cutler, JPMorgan’s general counsel, at a presentation on Tuesday said Picard “overreached” in his $6.4 billion lawsuit against the bank, and that JPMorgan “did not know about or in any way participate in the fraud.”
In the Times interview, conducted in conjunction with a forthcoming book, Madoff acknowledged his guilt and said nothing could excuse his crimes.
He did not assert that any specific bank or hedge fund knew about or was an accomplice in his Ponzi scheme, which Picard said cost investors more than $20 billion.
But in a Dec. 19 email cited in the Times article, Madoff said he had been providing Picard with “information I knew would be instrumental in recovering assets from those people complicit in the mess I put myself into.”
Then, 10 days later, he said “the banks and funds were complicit in one form or another and my information to Picard when he was here established this.”
As to Mets principals Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz, Madoff said: “They knew nothing. They knew nothing.”
In the Dec. 19 email, Madoff also said he had not shared his information with federal prosecutors working on criminal cases related to the fraud.
Eight people have been criminally charged. Madoff, his right hand man Frank DiPascali, and an outside accountant have pleaded guilty. Five, all of whom used to work for Madoff, have pleaded not guilty.
Madoff also told the Times he never thought the collapse of his Ponzi scheme would cause the kind of fallout that has befallen his family.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/Banks+know+Ponzi+scheme+Madoff+tells/4290976/story.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NP_Top_Stories+%28National+Post+-+Top+Stories%29&utm_content=Google+Reader#ixzz1E8csZxeI

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Spain's cajas have 100bn euros-worth of 'potentially problematic' loans

The total exposure of Spanish savings banks to real estate and building amounts to 217bn euros, of which 100bn euros is classed as “potentially problematic”, the Bank of Spain said.

However, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, the governor of the Bank of Spain, insisted that such a risk level did not endanger the Spanish financial sector as a whole.
Mr Fernández Ordóñez also described new rules on capital requirements approved by the government on Friday as “essential and necessary” to avoid a collapse in Spanish banks’ access to external financing, which in turn could cause a much more severe domestic credit crunch.
The regulator gave a breakdown for the first time of savings banks’ risks linked to real estate and construction after a decade-long building boom collapsed, leaving at least 1m homes unsold and more than 20pc of the labour force out of work.
Spain is trying to convince investors it can shore up the banks without overburdening public finances.
Mr Fernández Ordóñez was somewhat more optimistic about the situation than finance minister Elena Salgado, who said recently that any forced state rescue of collapsing cajas would be no more than 20bn euros. He said it would be “clearly” less than that amount.

A state-run restructuring fund was set up in 2009 and has so far disbursed almost 12bn euros to help ailing cajas. The fund has an additional 7.5bn euros at its disposal to inject in cajas, of which 3bn euros is in the form of credit lines.
Mr Fernández Ordóñez said that the recent overhaul of the caja sector compared favorably with banking overhauls in other countries. “We are proud of the important efforts that the entities have undertaken,” he said. “That hasn’t been the case in all countries.”
Next month, the central bank will also publish a breakdown estimate of the financing needs of each caja.

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