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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Markets Slide as ECB Chief Fails to Stop Eurozone Scare

Which grade of insanity have we reach that the markets depends of the comments of a fool....
Markets fell in Europe and the U.S. on Thursday after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi failed to outline specific new measures to tackle Europe’s escalating sovereign debt crisis, disappointing investors.

The regulator “may undertake outright open market operations of a size adequate to reach its objective,” Draghi said, but stopped short of announcing any immediate action to ease Europe's debt woes.

The European Central Bank had previously intervened with bond-buying in March, to drive down the borrowing costs of heavily-indebted eurozone countries.

“Over the coming weeks, we will design the appropriate modalities for such policy measures,” Draghi said.

Draghi pledged last week the ECB was ready to do "whatever it takes" within its mandate to preserve the euro.

The bank chief's statement came after the European monetary regulator decided to keep a key interest rate at a record low 0.75 percent in.

Draghi’s statement today sent stocks and the euro downward.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 1.94 percent at 6,623 while the CAC-40 in France fell 2.12 percent to 3,251 as of 1:42 p.m. GMT. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.85 percent at 5,664.

The euro was trading 0.2 percent lower at $1.2215

In Russia, the MICEX ruble-denominated index was down 1.31 percent to 1,393.40 and the RTS dollar-denominated index fell 1.67 percent to 1,351.98 points as of 5:47 p.m. Moscow time (1:47 p.m. GMT).

The ruble fell by 17 kopecks against the dollar to 32.50 but gained 12 kopecks against the single European currency to 39.69.

U.S. stocks began Thursday with a steep decline in response to Draghi's statement.

RIA Novosti

Our Finite Boundaries - Chuck MIssler

A Front Row Seat to Armageddon


Government fix for housing market?

Scientists create robotic sensitive skin

Artificial skin could soon be created which could be sensitive enough to feel the steps of a lady-bird, or for the cruel-hearted, the stretching and tearing of a Chinese burn.

Engineers at Seoul National University are working on a prototype 'flexible electronic sensor', which uses interlocks hairs which can sense objects through static attraction.

The breakthrough - which was based on research into natural hairs on a beetle's back - could mean artificial limbs could be made to be more sensitive.

The artificial hairs are created from polymer fibres - tiny sheets of material is just 100 nanometres in diametre and a micrometre (one millionth of a metre) in length.

While invisible to the human hair, their tiny size and shape, and their metallic covering which makes them conductive to electricity, all combine to allow highly-sensitive readings.

Some of the potential uses for the skin includes using it as a heart monitor, which can be strapped to the wrist to detect your pulse.

Indeed the artificial skin can pick up brief touches which would not be detectable to humans - touches with a force of just five pascals can be 'felt' by the hairs.

The hairs can detect 'pressure', for instance a weight landing on the on the sheet, 'shear', such as an object sliding across the surface, and the twisting motion, like you might associate with that cruel and childish Chinese burn.

These final two movements are traditionally hard for mechanical objects to detect, but thanks to the electrical, microscopic hairs, the different signals can now be decoded.

The team has tested the pads by bouncing water droplets on the surface and testing out pule detection.

And in perhaps the cutest experiment in the history of science, they got a pair of ladybirds to walk across its surface.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2181662/Scientists-create-artificial-skin-sensitive-feel-gentle-feet-ladybirds-walking-surface.html#ixzz22Kdpj3vJ

Bank of Korea Buys 16 Tons of Gold in July to Diversify

South Korea's central bank said on Thursday it bought 16 tons of gold in July, its second gold purchase in less than a year, boosting its total gold holdings to 70.4 tons as it aims to diversify its foreign reserves.

The total value of the purchase, made on multiple occasions during July, was $810 million, slightly less than $850 million it spent buying 15 tons of gold in November last year, the Bank of Korea in a statement.

A central bank official told reporters the purchases were made sporadically throughout the month in London, but declined to provide the exact net purchase price per ounce it paid for the bullion, typical of most central banks.

Gold accounted for 0.9 percent of South Korea's total foreign reserves in value at the end of July, up from 0.7 percent a month earlier, the central bank said, adding the total book value of its gold holdings was at $3.0 billion.

The South Korean central bank said it now ranked 40th in the world in gold holdings at the end of July, up from 43rd in June.

It announced the gold purchases when it made a scheduled release of the country's latest foreign exchange reserves, which edged up to $314.35 billion at the end of July from $312.38 billion at the end of June.

South Korea, the fourth largest economy in Asia, had the seventh largest foreign exchange reserves in the world as of the end of June, of which securities including government bonds made up 91.1 percent, it added.


San Bernardino, California, files for bankruptcy with over $1 billion in debts

(Reuters) - San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday citing more than $1 billion of debts and making it the third California city to seek protection from creditors.

The city of about 210,000 residents 65 miles east of Los Angeles declared a fiscal crisis last month after a report said local government had tapped out its reserves and projected spending would top revenue by $45 million in the fiscal year that began on July 1.

The filing, made in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central California District, states that the city has "more than $1 billion" in liabilities, and estimated that it has between 10,001 and 25,000 creditors.

It also states that San Bernardino has estimated assets of more than $1 billion.

San Bernardino's city council voted on July 24 to adopt an emergency three-month fiscal plan that would suspend debt payments, freeze vacant jobs and quit paying into a retiree health fund while city staff produce a more detailed bankruptcy plan.

"The bankruptcy filing was just to get the protection in place, to kick the process off," a city spokesperson said.

In late July, San Bernardino reported it had $56 million in indebtedness payable from its general fund, the main budget, including payments on a $50 million pension bond. There is an additional $195 million in unfunded pension obligations, $61 million in unfunded retiree healthcare, and $40 million of workers compensation, compensated absenses and general liabilities.

In the past two months, the cities of Stockton and Mammoth Lakes have also filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, a special bankruptcy provision for municipalities.

Stockton, which like San Bernardino has suffered from the housing crash that was particularly acute in southern California, filed for bankruptcy in June, becoming the largest U.S. city to do so.

Other cities in California are also in deep fiscal trouble and more could file for bankruptcy.

Cities have had the option of filing for bankruptcy since a law was passed during the Great Depression, but it is a relatively rare occurrence. Only about 640 such filings have been made since 1937.

The three California bankruptcy cases will be closely watched by investors and markets. They will be major test cases of whether cities in financial trouble can be allowed to renege on their bond debt and pension obligations.

On July 17, the mayor of Compton, a city outside Los Angeles, said he had asked state auditors to look into unspecified "waste, fraud and abuse of public monies." That city could file for bankruptcy by September 1, its financial officials said.

In Victorville, California, auditors in January said there "was substantial doubt about the city's ability to continue as a going concern."

In San Bernardino, a recent report by the city attorney said officials had falsified budget reports to the mayor and council for 13 of the last 16 years, hiding the scale of the city's debt.

City council members have rejected that allegation, part of a wider political and legal battle in the city over San Bernardino's biggest expense - pay and benefits for police and firefighters.

In a city with 15 percent unemployment, and where tax revenues have been badly hit by joblessness and the housing crash, the city estimates that public safety spending accounts for 73 percent of the general fund benefit.

Pension costs will reach $25 million this year, double the 2006 level.


Biometric authentication to become integral to mobile devices

Biometric authentication solutions will become an integral part of smart mobile devices (SMDs), according to analyst company Goode Intelligence.

According to Alan Goode, founder and MD of Goode Intelligence, there is need for greater security on mobile devices, as they grow in importance for storing personal and business data, accessing corporate networks and making mobile payments through technologies such as Near Field Communications.

Current security capabilities on SMDs are inadequate, and some next generation authentication systems are too expensive, relying expensive specialist hardware, such as tokens and smartcards, Goode said, which is increasing the opportunity for voice and finger print-based biometric authentication.

Goode said that the unique technological characteristics of SMDs could be leveraged for Biometric Security purposes, to meet growing demand for business security driven by the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. Current methods of securing mobile devices against unauthorised access, such as PIN and pattern-based identification, are also inadequate.

"Last year, we forecasted that the mobile biometric security market would grow to 39 million users by 2015" said Goode. "This was based on the expectation that initial growth would come from two biometric modalities; embedded fingerprint sensors and voice biometrics."

Goode pointed to Apple's integration of its voice-based personal assistant, Siri, into iOS 5, and its recent $365m acquisition of fingerprint sensors and security solutions maker AuthenTec Inc, as evidence that SMD vendors are looking to increase their security capabilities.

"Siri gives Apple the potential to move into voice biometrics and is a perfect authentication solution across a wide range of consumer devices including smart phone, tablet and TV - the agile gatekeeper for cloud-based services". Goode added that "we are equally excited with the potential that AuthenTec's mobile security portfolio can now give Apple and we wouldn't be surprised if we start to see fingerprint sensors appearing in future Apple products."


A Russian-Saudi-Turkish-Chinese alliance to contain the Muslim Brotherhood and Obama?

I suggested during our conference call yesterday that the only friend the Muslim Brotherhood has in high places is Barack Obama. I didn't mean that facetiously.

Turkey's application to join the SIno-Russian Shanghai Cooperation Organization following Prime Minister Erdogan's July 19 pilgrimage to Russia is a diplomatic humiliation for the United States, and of the first order. Just when Washington is demanding that Russia withdraw support for the Assad regime in Syria, and when Turkey is the linch-pin for American logistics in support of the Syrian opposition, Erdogan has proposed in effect to joint the Russian-Chinese club (without being compelled to hand in his NATO credentials). As AL Monitor wrote July 19:

The Erdogan government speaks with confidence when it says that the Syrian issue will have no negative impact on bilateral ties with Russia. In fact, there is an expectation in Turkey that Russia will come to understand that it has erred in its Syria policy and that it is time to abandon its support for a dying regime.

That may be so, but Turkey stands to lose if it continues to portray Russia as a wrong-doer. The bilateral relationship is lopsided in Russia's favor because of Turkey's dependence on Russian natural gas.

Moscow, meanwhile, has quietly signaled that it can use its economic leverage over Turkey.

After the Syrians downed a Turkish jet on June 22, Turkey called on NATO member countries to show solidarity and expressed its intention to intercept Russian vessels delivering cargo to Syria. Six days later, the Russian government's food-safety and quarantine service Rosselkhoznadzor issued an announcement disclosing that it had detected 33 cases of infestation in Turkish exports to Russia of fruits and vegetables.Turkish exports of fresh produce to Russia amounted to $2.6 billion by May and are projected to reach $6.2 billion by year's end.

There is more to it than economics (and much more than Russian economics: the cash-strapped Turks, who are financing most of their enormous current account deficit on the interbank market, probably hope for more Chinese investment).

The fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood and its various offshoots represent a threat to everyone in the region:

The Saudi monarchy fears that the Brotherood will overthrow it (not an idle threat, since the Brotherhood doesn't look like a bad choice for Saudis who aren't one of the few thousand beneficaries of the royal family's largesse;

The Russians fear that Islamic radicalism will get out of control in the Caucasus and perhaps elsewhere as Russia evolves into a Muslim-majority country;

The Chinese fear the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim people who comprise half the population of China's western Xinjiang province.

But the Obama administration (and establishment Republicans like John McCain) insist that America must support democratically-elected Islamist governments. That is deeply misguided. The Muslim Brotherhood is about as democratic as the Nazi Party, which also won a plebiscite confirming Adolf Hitler as leader of Germany. Tribal countries with high illiteracy rates are not a benchmark for democratic decision-making.

It appears that the Russians, the Turks and the Saudis will keep Syria at a low boil, making it difficult for either side to fully impose its will on the other, and impossible for a Sunni Islamist regime to emerge. What is remarkable, though, is the success of Russian diplomacy: despite all of the Obama administration's courtship, the Erdogan government has decided to signal its dependence on Moscow in the most visible (and, for Washington) humiliating way possible. It may be that the Turks were compelled to apply for membership in the SCO by the utter fecklessness and stupidity of American policy, both of the administration and of the Senate leadership. As long as the United States declares its support for the humbug of Muslim democracy in Egypt and Syria, the rest of the world will treat us as hapless lunatics and go about the business of securing their own interests without us.

Gatestone Institute

Kari DePhillips on The Peter Schiff Show

Chinese destroyer enters Mediterranean via Suez

A Chinese destroyer sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea, Egyptian daily Al-Shuruk reported on Sunday.

The destroyer could be on its way to the Syrian coast, the Egyptian newspaper reported, adding that the warship is planning to hold naval maneuvers in the area.

Al Shuruk daily further claimed that the canal authority authorized the Chinese ship's crossing through the canal following permission from the Egyptian armed forces.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Al-Wafd website reported that high security measures were taken during the ship's crossing of the canal.

Beijing, an ally of Syria, has repeatedly blocked Western-backedSecurity Council attempts to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to end the violence sparked by a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Last month reports claiming that the armies of Iran, China, Russia and Syria are planning to hold naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea were circling the media outlets. According to the report, 90,000 soldiers from the four countries will take part in the large-scale maritime war games, which will be held off the Syrian coastline.

In February, two Iraniannaval shipssailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, and according to Iranian reports, the ships docked in Syria.

Just last month, Russia said that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria.

Moscow's gesture was the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began. Nearly half of the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines.

Sea News

Assad calls on army to restore stability

ALEPPO, Syria, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad Wednesday called on his military to "give the nation back its stability" as fighting raged on in Aleppo.

Assad's comments came on the 67th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army, CNN reported.

"The enemy is among us and is using inside agents to destabilize the country and the security of its citizens," Assad said. "Today, as every day, our people look to you as you defend their honor and dignity and give the nation back its stability and give the people a sense of security and comfort and morale."

Earlier Wednesday, intense fighting carried into its 12th day in Aleppo and included fresh regime bombardments of rebel-held neighborhoods and street clashes in other parts of the nation's commercial capital, as the army sought to press forward with its counteroffensive to retake control of the northern Chicago-size city of about 2.5 million that fell into rebel hands last month, opposition activists and state media said.

Syrian state TV said Tuesday government forces inflicted heavy losses on "terrorist groups" in and around Aleppo. The United Nations said thousands of residents were trapped.

Activists said regime ground troops and helicopter air assaults pounded opposition strongholds in the Salahuddin and Seif al-Dawla neighborhoods in the city's southwest.

Syrian rebels said they maintained control of those neighborhoods and reported taking over at least two important police stations in central Aleppo that a rebel officer said the regime of President Bashar Assad had transformed into "military centers."

There were no police officers in the police stations, "just security forces and thugs and snipers," Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okeidi, the head of the Aleppo military council of the Free Syrian Army, told The New York Times.

Rebel commanders said the regime launched its attacks from a military base on the city's southern edge, while rebel commanders and activists said the rebels controlled the city's eastern sections as well as the two large southwestern neighborhoods.

Free Syrian Army commanders told the British newspaper The Guardian their forces have stepped up use of improvised explosive devices, also known as a roadside bombs.

The commanders said a secret network of informers inside the Syrian army and other parts of the regime passed on regular information about troop movements, allowing the rebels to strike at the army -- most recently blowing up tanks in a large convoy traveling to attack rebels inside Aleppo.

Iraqi insurgents used roadside bombs extensively in their campaign against the U.S. military and other coalition forces in the Iraq War. The devices were also used by Afghan insurgent groups in the 11-year Afghanistan War.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Tuesday it gave a Washington-based group clearance to provide direct financial assistance to the Free Syrian Army in a new Obama administration bid to support Syria's opposition.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control approved a license July 23 letting the Syrian Support Group engage in "otherwise prohibited" financial activities with the rebel forces, said the license, seen by United Press International.

The license -- which expires July 31, 2014 -- requires detailed reports to the State Department's little-known Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions. It prohibits shipment of military equipment or hardware, but lets the group send money.

Funds would be raised and vetted by SSG, which would additionally provide guidance to rebel officers on their use, Brian Sayers, director of government relations for the support group, told The Wall Street Journal.

"Part of our job is to monitor this," he said.

SSG was formed "to promote the establishment of a free, independent and democratic Syria," the group says on its Web site.

"We advocate military intervention by any willing country to ensure saving lives on the ground," the site says.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/08/01/Assad-calls-on-army-to-restore-stability/UPI-48431343802600/#ixzz22IxQEa6i

China Defiant Over New US Sanctions on Iran

President Obama is redoubling efforts to impose sanctions on Iran. It comes after a wave of sanctions last December aimed at stifling Iran's nuclear program.

The latest sanctions target foreign banks that have direct dealings in Iranian oil--or handle large transactions for major Iranian oil companies.

One of the banks targeted is China's Bank of Kunlun.

After the US announced sanctions against it on Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman threatened that if the US doesn't back off, it will severely damage ties between the two countries--though he gave no specifics.

Despite US pressure, China has continued to do business with Iran. China's crude oil imports from Iran in June jumped 35% from May.