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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


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Vladimir Putin hints at Dominique Strauss-Kahn conspiracy

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, has hinted that Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be the victim of a conspiracy to force him from the head of the IMF.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, has hinted that Dominique Strauss-Kahn may be the victim of a conspiracy to force him from the head of the IMF.

Mr Putin said that he finds it hard to believe that the sex charges against the Frenchman are true and that he may have fallen victim to a shadowy plot to discredit him.

"It is hard for me to evaluate the real political underlying reasons and I do not even want to get into that subject, but I cannot believe that everything is as it seems and how it was initially presented," he said. "It does not sit right in my head."

Mr Strauss-Kahn was arrested at JFK airport in New York on May 14 for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid.

Mr Putin's public support for Mr Strauss-Kahn comes days after a French politician alleged that the former IMF chief had said before his arrest that he thought Mr Putin was actively plotting his downfall.

The politician, Claude Bartolone, said: "He said the Russians and notably Putin had allied themselves with France to try to have him fired from the IMF to stop him running for (French) president."

The Telegraph


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Congressman Warns: “Those Who Can, Should Move Their Families Out Of the City”

There are a whole host of events that can bring the world as we know it today to its knees. From a hyperinflationary economic collapse to an electro magnetic pulse originating from the sun or a nuclear weapon , there exists a real and present danger that our system may, in the near future, experience unrecoverable shocks to the power grid and clean water infrastructure, a halt to just-in-time agricultural transportation systems and a collapse of the currency exchange mechanisms that make the economy function.

US Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), lived through the great depression, so he’s seen how bad things can get. In a new documentary, Mr. Bartlett and others discuss the dangers posed to those living in cities and ways that your family can survive if the worst were to ever happen.

We realize that for most people this may be decried as fear-mongering and crazy survival talk. We can’t help but point out, however, that it’s not just Representative Roscoe Bartlett, economist Marc Faber, and trend forecaster Gerald Celente that are recommending you prepare and head for rural areas. The US Pentagon and Military are very much aware of these possibilities and they’re preparing for exactly the scenarios described in this documentary.

The threat is out there, and just because it hasn’t happened in our modern-day society up until now doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. In fact, it has happened through history – strife, poverty, depression, economic collapse, war. You name it and somebody in history has lived it. The government spends hundreds of billions of dollars on emergency preparedness, disaster planning, continuity of government and war gaming these scenarios. There’s a reason for that. We recommend our readers take a queue from them and others who are warning of these outlier possibilities.

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Ya'alon: Military strike may be needed to stop Iran nukes

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Ariel Je

Strategic affairs minister calls on "entire civilized world...to take joint action to avert the nuclear threat posed by Iran."Talk backs.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon called on the world to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, by all means necessary, including a military strike, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Ya'alon made the comments in an interview to Russian news agency Interfax ahead of a visit to Moscow.

"We strongly hope that the entire civilized world will come to realize what threat this regime is posing and take joint action to avert the nuclear threat posed by Iran, even if it would be necessary to conduct a pre-emptive strike," Yaalon said.

Ya'alon emphasized that not only Israel would be endangered by a nuclear-armed Iran. "An Iran possessing nuclear weapons would be a threat to the entire civilized world," he stated.

Western analysts say increasingly tough sanctions on Iran as well as the Stuxnet virus and possible other sabotage have delayed Iran's nuclear progress, even though they say the country now has enough low-enriched uranium for two bombs if refined more.

Jerusalem Post


Ten Die As 'Killer Cucumber' Outbreak Spreads

A man sells cucumbers at a market in Spain, despite the E.coli breakout that has affected other countries in Europe

The world's biggest outbreak of a deadly form of E.coli bacteria has claimed another life as it continues to spread across Europe.

Health officials say the virus, believed to have originated from organic cucumbers imported from Spain, has killed 10 people and infected hundreds more in Germany.

The epicentre of the outbreak has been in the country's north with more than 270 people contracting the disease in recent weeks - four times the normal annual figure of about 60.

Three cases have also been reported in Britain, a further 25 in Sweden and seven in Denmark.

In Austria there have been two cases, while the Netherlands and Switzerland have each had one suspected case.

All of the cases are understood to have been linked with travel to Germany.

Experts said the outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), which affects the blood, kidneys and, in severe cases, the nervous system, was the largest ever in Germany - and the biggest of its kind worldwide.

An 86-year-old woman was the latest victim of the bug after she died in the University Hospital Luebeck on Saturday.

Her husband is among about 70 patients being treated for the bacteria at the northern Germany hospital, whose doctors say they expect to see 10 new cases a day in the coming weeks.

Health officials have advised people in affected areas in Europe to avoid eating cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.

Some of these products have been removed from shop shelves.

But the Food Standards Agency has confirmed that the offending cucumbers have not been on sale at any outlets in the UK.

Sky News

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Japan Faces Debt Downgrade as Jobless Rise

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan

Japan’s debt rating was put on review for a downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service, adding to Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s fiscal challenges after an increase in joblessness and smaller-than-forecast gain in factory production.

Faltering growth prospects and “a weak policy response” may hinder government efforts to cut the nation’s debt burden, said Moody’s, which had put Japan’s Aa2 rating on negative outlook in February. Government reports showed separately that output rose 1 percent in April, half the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey, while unemployment rose to 4.7 percent from 4.6 percent.

Kan, facing a no-confidence motion in parliament, said today he won’t step down, signaling continued political infighting that may hamper legislation to finance long-term reconstruction after the March earthquake and tsunami. Japan, which has the world’s biggest public debt, saw its currency retreat for a second day against the dollar and bonds fall.

“This means we’re one step closer to a downgrade, and it reflects how we haven’t seen any political progress on fixing public finances,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, a senior economist at Itochu Corp. in Tokyo. “There are still plenty of people in the JGB market to keep buying, so it’s not like we’re going to see a sudden spike in yields. But this will put upward pressure on yields through an added risk premium.”


Mobius: ‘Another financial crisis around the corner’

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management’s emerging markets group, said another financial crisis is inevitable because the causes of the previous one haven’t been resolved.

“There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis,” Mobius said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo today in response to a question about price swings. “Are the derivatives regulated? No. Are you still getting growth in derivatives? Yes.”

The total value of derivatives in the world exceeds total global gross domestic product by a factor of 10, said Mobius, who oversees more than $50 billion. With that volume of bets in different directions, volatility and equity market crises will occur, he said.

The global financial crisis three years ago was caused in part by the proliferation of derivative products tied to U.S. home loans that ceased performing, triggering hundreds of billions of dollars in writedowns and leading to the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008. The MSCI AC World Index of developed and emerging market stocks tumbled 46 percent between Lehman’s downfall and the market bottom on March 9, 2009.

“With every crisis comes great opportunity,” said Mobius. When markets are crashing, “that’s when we’re going to be able to invest and do a good job,” he said.

The freezing of global credit markets caused governments from Washington to Beijing to London to pump more than $3 trillion into the financial system to shore up the global economy. The MSCI AC World gauge surged 99 percent from its March 2009 low through May 27.

The largest U.S. banks have grown larger since the financial crisis, and the number of “too-big-to-fail” banks will increase by 40 percent over the next 15 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Separately, higher capital requirements and greater supervision should be imposed on institutions deemed “too important to fail” to reduce the chances of large-scale failures, staff at the International Monetary Fund warned in a report on May 27.

“Are the banks bigger than they were before? They’re bigger,” Mobius said. “Too big to fail.”

The money manager had earlier said at the same event that Africa has an “incredible” investment potential and that he has stakes in Nigerian banks.

“These banks are doing very well and are much better regulated than they were in the past,” Mobius said, without disclosing which lenders he holds.

Banks account for five of the eight stocks in the MSCI Nigeria Index. Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, the country’s No. 2 lender by market value, surged 31 percent in the six months through May 27, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares of Access Bank Nigeria Plc recorded the second-biggest decline on the gauge in the period, the data show.

Financial Post
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Currency Guru Stephen Jen Gives 4 Reasons The Euro Crisis Will Only Get Worse

Can't get enough Eurozone crisis? We've got you covered with the most recent commentary from Stephen L Jen, the former Morgan Stanley currency guru who's know running SLJ Macro Partners.

He spells out four non-cliche reasons why the situation in Europe is so challenging, and will only get worse.

We summarize:
The PIIGS -- or GIPS as he refers to them -- are not vaguely competitive on a global scale. They're not even competitive in Europe, lacking both the proper institutions or the cultural mindset to become competitive.
There is a limit to how much more in aid they can get from core countries. It's getting to the point, where if the GIPS were to default on loans from the European Stability Mechanism, it would put the sovereign debt rating of France at risk. Money from the core is not unlimited.
Meanwhile, the ECB owns 50 billion EUR worth of Greek bonds, and has loaned 90 billion EUR to Greek banks. A Greek default would compromise the balance sheet of the ECB.
Even if an EU-wide fiscal union were formed, it may not be AAA-rated.

His full comment on the situation at the ECB is worth digesting in whole:

The ECB possesses around EUR50 billion worth of Greek bonds, and has lent around EUR90 billion to Greek banks. In the event of a default by Greece, not only would the ECB’s balance sheet be compromised, but the ECB would need to make a decision on whether Greek and other GIPS bonds would be accepted as collaterals. This was the very fear of Mr Weber, and the very reason why he objected to being forced to undertake quasi-fiscal operations. The threats from Messrs Stark and Bini-Smaghi that the ECB would stop accepting defaulted Greek bonds is not 100% credible, as that would certainly trigger a collapse in the Greek banking system.
Business Insider

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/stephen-jen-on-the-problems-with-the-eurozone-2011-5#ixzz1NwZP7iyH

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Greeks lifted 1.5 billion Thursday and Friday from banks

Only a few steps separating from Friday to yesterday's mass panic! From early morning to counter the banks there is serious pressure for withdrawals of deposits, especially small amounts. The pressure on banks began last Wednesday, culminating in yesterday's day.

It is significant that Thursday and Friday, banking sources estimate that rose around 1.5 billion euros in total! According to the same month in May estimated the outflow estimated at least 4 billion from 2 billion in April ...

The majority of depositors rushed to withdraw for pensioners and small savers and amounts ranging from 2-3000 lifted until 10 -15 000 euros. Motivation in most cases it was the fear that led the country into bankruptcy, deposits frozen even temporarily left without cash, or even lose their savings.

This explains the fact that demand high notes 200arikon preferably so before noon on the big notes are exhausted. The ratio of preference of great notes is because they can hide more easily because of the small volume of Hank.

In several cases, officials of banks drew attention to their customers, especially older, be very careful after leaving the store robbery risk. According to data and police have increased the incidence of robberies mostly elderly, from gangs to systematically monitor the traffic outside the bank branches and 'hit' on cars or once they enter the elderly in their homes.

The exacerbation of the phenomenon of withdrawal of deposits Friday, deeply staffs of banks, given Monday. This concern culminated in front-very likely possibility, they have not completely clearing the political landscape in the weekend and uncertainty to continue Monday, which they fear could lead to non-verifiable statements.

If this information is true indeed that institutions affiliated with a political party 'lifted' Friday EUR 2 million from his own account, fully justifies the concerns of bankers, but they still have good reason to worry: that politicians do not seem to fully understand the risks posed by a widespread panic, not only for the stability of the banking system but for the economy and the country.

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800 tons of fish die, rot on Philippine fish farms

TALISAY, Philippines (AP) --

More than 800 tons of fish have died and rotted on fish farms in a lake near Taal volcano south of Manila, with authorities blaming it on a sudden temperature drop.

The massive fish deaths started late last week but have eased. Officials have banned the sale of the rotting fish, which are being buried by the truckload in Talisay and four other towns in Batangas province, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources official Rose del Mundo said Sunday.

The deaths are unrelated to recent signs of restiveness in Taal volcano, which is surrounded by the lake where many villagers have grown milkfish and tilapia — staple food for many Filipinos, officials said. The volcano and lake are a popular tourist draw.

Talisay agricultural officer Zenaida Mendoza said an initial investigation showed the deaths may have been caused by the temperature change as the rainy season set in last week after a scorching summer, which also depleted the lake's oxygen levels.

Schools of fish were seen swimming in circles before they floated dead to the surface in huge numbers. The deaths have occurred in the past at summer's end but in much smaller numbers, Mendoza said.

Some Taal lake areas turned white due to the massive numbers of dead milk-colored fish. Workers covered their noses with their hands or clothing Sunday as they scooped up the rotting fish and placed them into sacks.

"Many were sad and devastated because they invested a lot in these fish cages," Talisay Mayor Zenaida Mendoza told The Associated Press by telephone.

More than 400 tons of milkfish have died in Talisay alone since Friday in 84 out of about 1,000 fish pens — lake areas about half the size of a basketball court which are fenced off by bamboo poles and nets. Damage has been estimated at $770,000 (33 million pesos), Mendoza said. About 400 tons more have died in the other towns.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/05/29/international/i005949D81.DTL#ixzz1NqUEoAVW

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Queen ‘sent for Cameron over Union break-up fear’

THE Queen was thrust into the centre of the debate over Scottish independence yesterday after reports she had expressed concerns about the potential break-up of the UK.

It was suggested that after the SNP’s Holyrood landslide on May 5, Her Majesty met Prime Minister David Cameron at Buckingham Palace to discuss the implications of separation for the monarchy.

It was also reported that palace officials asked Downing Street to bring a constitutional expert to advise on a referendum and the dismantling of the Union if there was a “yes” vote.

Last night, Labour and the Liberal Democrats insisted it was understandable the Queen should share the concerns of people about the break-up of the UK but the SNP Government dismissed the reports.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: “The Queen is identifying potential threats to the UK and she is correct to seek the advice of politicians and experts on this because the threat to the Union is now very real.”

He called on Alex Salmond and his colleagues to outline the cost of independence to the Scottish public, adding: “The voters deserve to know exactly what the terms are on which they will make a decision.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Reports the Queen is concerned about the break-up of Britain would be hardly surprising as so many people are concerned about what they now see as a threat to what has been one of the most harmonious, productive and successful political, social and economic unions.”

The Scottish Government said reports of the Queen’s concerns were “unadulterated rubbish, laughable nonsense and chit-chat from London-based journalists and politicians”.

A spokesman for the First Minister said he had many opportunities to speak to the Queen, and was due to meet Prince Charles this week.

The Queen owns large tracts of Scotland, most notably her estate at Balmoral. Last year she struck a deal to get extra money from the Crown Estate instead of an increase to the civil list.
Herald Scotland


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