Monday, July 1, 2013

Global shares rise as investors look to new quarter, U.S. growth

Electronic information boards display market information at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London

By Richard Hubbard
LONDON (Reuters) - Shares rose on Monday as investors edged back into riskier assets at the start of a new quarter, pinning their hopes on a U.S. economic recovery and brushing off signs of a slowdown in China.
MSCI's world equity index <.miwd00000pus> rose 0.3 percent by mid-morning in Europe, having finished a volatile three months to June with its first loss since the same period of 2012.
Emerging market stocks (.MSCIEF) touched a 12-day high, having risen more than 4 percent last week after six straight losing weeks on concerns the planned withdrawal of U.S. monetary stimulus will send funds flowing back to developed markets.
Evidence of a slowdown in China's factories had little effect on sentiment despite pointing to weakness in the world's No.2 economy, with markets focused more closely on U.S. prospects.
Investors are highly sensitive to data from across the Atlantic because it will shape when the Federal Reserve begins tapering its $85-billion-a-month asset purchase program.
A report on manufacturing activity likely to show an improvement in June is the next milestone, with Friday's June jobs report, which comes a day after the Independence Day holiday, seen as critical to the market's next direction.
"Moderate payroll growth is probably enough now to keep unemployment ticking down and with that pace you'll get (Fed) tapering starting in September," said Nick Beecroft, senior market analyst at Saxo Capital Markets.
A strong jobs report could fan speculation about an early end to the stimulus, lifting both bond yields and the dollar at the expense of many emerging markets and commodity markets.
"It could be a pretty hairy end to the week. Markets will be pretty whippy and thin on Friday," Beecroft said.
An anticipated end to Fed bond buying supported the dollar near a four-week peak against a basket of currencies (.DXY). It rose 0.45 percent against the yen to 99.57 yen.
The euro, however, was up 0.3 percent at $1.3040 after a survey showed manufacturing in the euro zone stabilized in June.
"Both output and new orders barely fell during June, and on this trajectory a return to growth for the sector is on the cards for the third quarter," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at the survey's compiler Markit.
Traders also looked ahead to Thursday's policy meeting of the European Central Bank - which in contrast to the Fed is likely to emphasize a commitment to keeping policy loose.
"We expect the ECB to continue emphasizing that extraordinary accommodative policies will continue, and that it has other options if looser monetary policy is needed," said analysts at RBC Capital Markets.
The PMI manufacturing survey eased pressure on the ECB to do more, while hopeful individual country surveys helped Spanish 10-year bond yields dip 7 basis points and Italy's equivalent drop 5 bps.
Core German bond prices fell further after posting a second month of losses in June, with cash 10-year yields up 2 bps at 1.75 percent in edgy trading before the U.S. manufacturing data due at 1400 GMT.
After Europe's PMI data, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3) was flat as investors considered their next move following the index's worst quarterly performance in a year.
In commodity markets, renewed demand for copper lifted the metal by 2 percent though it remained near three-year lows as the Chinese data underlined sluggish prospects for metals.
Brent crude edged higher too, closing in on $103 a barrel.
(Editing by John Stonestreet)

Gold climbs after record quarterly drop

(Blank Headline Received)

By A. Ananthalakshmi
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Gold edged higher on Monday after clocking its biggest quarterly fall ever, helped by comments from a U.S. Federal Reserve official on the need to maintain the bank's stimulus measures for longer and as Asian stocks eased.
Bullion fell 5 percent last week to three-year lows as investors dumped gold, fearing an early end to the Fed's $85 billion monthly bond purchases. Stimulus measures have driven liquidity towards commodities and supported gold's appeal as a hedge against inflation.
"What really needs to happen now for gold to regain the trust of investors is that at the very least it needs to consolidate for a few days and gain a little bit more credibility," said a precious metals trader in Hong Kong.
Spot gold rose 0.7 percent to $1,241.21 an ounce by 0345 GMT, while Comex gold rose about $17 to $1,240.80.
Gold fell 23 percent in the June quarter, dropping to below $1,200 an ounce. Outflows from gold backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have accelerated due to the recent decline in prices, erasing confidence in the metal.
"Every time prices try to come back, there seems to be steady selling coming out of the West," the trader said.
Outflows from SPDR Gold Trust, the largest gold ETF, have totalled nearly 13 million ounces so far this year.
San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Friday he had backed off from his earlier view that the Fed should start cutting back on stimulus this summer in part because inflation has been lower than he expected.
Investors are now waiting for the U.S. nonfarm payrolls data expected on Friday to determine the strength of the U.S. economic recovery, which is key for the timing of the Fed's stimulus scale-back.
Asian equities edged lower on Monday after China's factory activity reached its lowest in nine months in June, deepening worries about the world's second-largest economy. Surging stock markets this year have pulled investors away from gold.
Physical demand from India and China, the top two gold consumers, is also being closely watched. Dealers and traders have said demand has not picked up as strongly as expected despite the lower prices.
Strong buying in April, when prices fell the most in 30 years, helped cap some of the metal's losses.
"Demand response from the two key consuming markets is likely to be less powerful than during the previous one, suggesting the Indian government's efforts to curb imports are working, and Chinese consumers might have bought what they wanted," Macquarie analysts said in a note.
The Indian government banned consignment imports and hiked its import duty on gold, in an effort to reduce its current account deficit.
(Editing by Richard Pullin and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Apple's Next Big Leap Forward

Apple is yet to tap the world's biggest pool of potential iPhone buyers: China Mobile's customers. That is set to change. When and how will help determine whether the U.S. technology company's flagging stock can regain momentum.
At about $395, Apple's shares have fallen 44% from an all-time high hit last September. Once the most valuable company in the world by market capitalization, it recently ceded that crown back to Exxon Mobil. Adjusted for net cash, its market cap also has just been surpassed by archrival Google.
 AP A man leaves an Apple store with an iPhone and an iPad in his hands in central Beijing. A big concern weighing on Apple is that the tailwind from increasing distribution for its most lucrative product has dissipated. When the iPhone first launched in 2007, it was sold by just one carrier, AT&T, in just one country, the U.S. That is now up to 275 carriers in 114 countries, says Strategy Analytics.
The most glaring omission is China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier with more than 700 million subscribers. Among them are about 80 million wealthier ones that can afford Apple's pricey smartphone, estimates HSBC analyst Tucker Grinnan. And of that elite group, more than half may be likely buyers of the iPhone, considering that Apple's market share of high-end smartphone sales in China is 55%, according to HSBC. Indeed, more than 20 million of China Mobile's customers already use "unlocked" versions of the iPhone on the carrier's aging 2G network.
For Apple, which sold 261 million iPhones in 2012, those extra tens of millions of potential unit sales represent a big opportunity. Pressure is increasing, too, as Apple's market share for all smartphones in China, high- and low-end, dropped to 9% in the first quarter from 13% in the same period a year before, according to Strategy Analytics.
So Apple investors have anxiously awaited some sort of deal, especially since the fall 2012 launch of iPhone 5, which is the first model that is compatible with China Mobile's 3G network technology.
One reason a deal hasn't been struck may be that China Mobile's controlling shareholder, the Chinese government, doesn't want the company to offer the iPhone yet. Allowing the biggest fish in China's telecom sector to carry Apple's popular device might lead to further market concentration that Beijing would rather avoid.
A problem on Apple's side, meanwhile, may be that it doesn't want users subjected to a relatively poor experience. China Mobile's version of 3G technology, called TD-SCDMA, is less reliable than those supported by smaller rivals China Telecom and China Unicom.
Still, several factors suggest the companies will strike a deal eventually.
First, China Mobile is planning to rapidly roll out its next generation "TD-LTE" network. The iPhone is compatible with that technology as well, which will offer much faster data speeds for users. And Beijing wants to promote the technology world-wide because Chinese companies like Huawei sell supporting equipment. With a $31 billion capital-expenditure budget for 2013, nearly as much as AT&T's and Verizon Communications' combined, China Mobile already is a big buyer of TD-LTE equipment. Getting the iPhone onto that standard would give it additional momentum.
Meanwhile, the risk of fostering additional market concentration may be mitigated later this year if, as some expect, Beijing allows consumers to keep their numbers when they switch networks, as happens in the U.S. That will make it easier for China Mobile customers who have wanted to jump to rival carriers to do so.
One potential sticking point in formulating a deal is high smartphone subsidies. To date, Apple's significant market power has enabled it to extract sweet deals whereby carriers subsidize much of the iPhone's cost. They do so because they can get subscribers locked into expensive wireless plans.
But the big financial hit that Apple's terms appear to have inflicted on rivals won't have been lost on China Mobile. China Unicom was the first Chinese carrier to get the iPhone, in late 2009. But its accounts show that from that year through 2011, while absolute operating profit in its mobile business increased, the margin fell to 27% from 37%. And China Mobile likely has a strong negotiating position due to its size and Apple's need to reignite momentum.
A wild card is the lower-end iPhone that Apple is working on. This could actually help the two companies reach a deal because it would enable China Mobile to attract customers in the fast-expanding lower end of the market while likely not breaking the bank in terms of subsidies. For Apple, the profit impact from widening the potential market for its smartphones is less clear. That is because it also may eat into sales of more lucrative high-end devices, eroding margins.
So how important is China Mobile to Apple? It has historically made percentage gross margins on the iPhone in the mid-50s, according to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi. Even assuming Apple makes only a 40% gross margin on iPhones sold through China Mobile, taking into account the latter's potential negotiating leverage, selling 25 million more iPhones in the first year could mean an extra $6 billion of gross profit.
That would be a welcome boost: Analysts forecast Apple's gross profit at $69 billion for the fiscal year ending in September 2014.
With technology and strategic aims increasingly aligned, for the iPhone and China Mobile, it still is a question of when, not if. A revolutionary new product could always be in the works when it comes to Apple. But a deal in China represents one of the company's biggest potential profit bumps on the immediate horizon.

Nokia to take full control of network venture for $2.2 billion

By Terhi Kinnunen
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia will pay $2.2 billion to buy out partner Siemens AG in their network equipment joint venture, a deal that is likely to bring some stability to the company after it stumbled in smartphones.
Loss-making Nokia also gained full control of the profitable venture, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), at a cheaper than-expected price, analysts said.
"With this transaction, Nokia buys itself a future, whatever happens in smartphones and feature phones," Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu wrote in a note to clients.
But he noted that the acquisition could put pressure on Nokia's balance sheet.
Nokia fell behind rivals Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in the smartphone race, making the controversial decision to switch to Microsoft's untried Windows software in 2011.
In contrast to Nokia's phone business, NSN turned profitable in the second quarter of 2012 after slashing costs and as its focus on fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks began to pay off.
NSN's adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) amounted to 196 million euros in the first quarter of this year.
Nokia will pay 1.2 billion euros in cash and the other 0.5 billion euros will take the form of a secured loan from Siemens that will be repaid later.
"Nokia Siemens Networks has established a clear leadership position in LTE, which provides an attractive growth opportunity," Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop said in a statement.
Nokia and Siemens formed the 50-50 joint venture in April 2007 and the agreement lapsed in April this year. Nokia had said it had wanted NSN to be sold or listed and many analysts had believed it might be sold.
Nokia said it expected to close the transaction, subject to regulatory approval, during the third quarter of this year.
Nokia said it estimated its net cash position was 3.7-4.2 billion euros, adding that if the NSN deal had closed in the second quarter, its net cash position would have been 2.0-2.5 billion euros. ($1 = 0.7693 euros)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy, Jeremy Laurence and Edwina Gibbs)

European Union says U.S. spying claims could affect free trade

EU commissioner Viviane Reding on Sunday warned that landmark negotiations with the United States to create a vast free trade zone could be affected if media reports that Washington had bugged EU premises proved true.
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 30, 2013 16:00 EDT

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EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding on Sunday warned that landmark negotiations with the United States to create a vast free trade zone could be affected if media reports that Washington had bugged EU premises proved true.
“There should be no spying between partners. We can’t negotiate a large transatlantic market if there is any doubt that our partners are bugging the offices of European negotiators,” Reding said at a meeting with EU citizens in Luxembourg, according to her spokesperson.
European Union countries have responded with dismay to a report in German weekly Der Spiegel this weekend which detailed covert surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) on EU diplomatic missions in the United States and in Brussels.
Der Spiegel said its claims are based on confidential NSA documents, some of which it said it had been able to consult via fugitive leaker Edward Snowden.
One document, dated September 2010 and classed as “strictly confidential”, describes how the NSA kept tabs on the EU’s mission in Washington, Der Spiegel said.
Reding on Sunday warned that landmark negotiations with the United States to create a vast free trade zone could be affected if media reports that Washington had bugged EU premises proved true./AFP
Microphones were installed in the building and the computer network was infiltrated, giving the agency access to emails and internal documents.
The EU delegation at the United Nations was subject to similar surveillance, Der Spiegel said, adding that the spying also extended to the 27-member bloc’s Brussels headquarters.
The allegations have put a strain on EU-US ties less than two weeks after they launched long-awaited formal negotiations to create the world’s biggest free trade zone.
Trade in goods between the United States and the 27-country EU last year was worth some 500 billion euros ($670 billion), with another 280 billion euros in services and trillions in investment flows.
The EU says establishing a Free Trade Agreement would add about 119 billion euros annually to the EU economy, and 95 billion euros for the United States.
The first round of talks aimed at creating jobs and boosting the fragile global economy is expected to take place in Washington next month.
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Via: Raw Story

Big banks fight Glass-Steagall to end in Delaware as bills gain traction in D.C. (Video)

DOVER, Del. – Under heavy pressure from the banking industry, Delaware state lawmakers ended their 2013 session Sunday without voting on a financial-reform measure.
Lobbyists from J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America weighed in against Senate Resolution No. 8, which would have added Delaware to the lengthening list of states supporting national reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act.
The measure failed to get a floor vote, but it remains active in committee until June 30, 2014. The resolution had bipartisan backing – including leading Senate Democrats – but stalled in the session's waning days.
The Glass-Steagall campaign got a late boost from New Castle County Executive Thomas Gordon, who praised the resolution sponsored by state Sens. Bruce Ennis and Robert Venables Sr., urging the U.S. Congress to restore the wall of separation between commercial and investment banking.
The Federal Banking Act of 1933, known as Glass-Steagall, walled off commercial bank deposits from speculative investment brokerage houses.
Glass-Steagall's repeal in 1999 preceded the megabank mergers of the early 2000s, which gave birth to the concept of “too big to fail” -- and the multibillion-dollar government bailouts that ensued.
“This was one of the major unravelings,” Gordon noted.
New Castle County Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi added that Glass-Steagall had prevented major financial meltdowns from occurring since the Great Depression.
“Financial panics and economic depressions were fairly common during the century which preceded the Great Depression, occurring at a rate of one every 20 or so years,” said Grimaldi, who formerly worked for Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase's investment bank on Wall Street.
“The Glass-Steagall Act contributed to an era of relative financial stability which sadly came to an end with its repeal.”
Grimaldi said it was important for Congress to take precautions since he believed there was an elevated probability of another correction or crash.
“Both in duration and magnitude, the current equity bull market has become long in the tooth.” Grimaldi said. “It is critical that Congress take proactive measures to mitigate the risk of another financial collapse. Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act would be an important step.”
So far, lawmakers in four states have passed bills calling for Glass-Steagall’s return. Similar measures are pending in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York.
But Delaware is off the list for now. State Sen. Bryan Townsend was among the Banking Committee members who downplayed Glass-Steagall.
"I support as much fluidity in financial markets as possible subject to appropriate risk-balancing and regulatory oversight," the Newark Democrat told the Delaware Way blog, edited by Nancy Willing. "Glass-Steagall was designed for a financial industry that we have long since outgrown."
That said, Townsend acknowledged, "We must find the right policies to encourage wealth-building financial activities that do not result in the same kind of taxpayer-bailout scenarios that were one of the hallmarks of the Great Recession. My hope is that regulators in D.C. are given the authority and resources they need to keep us on a path of wealth-building that benefits society broadly."
Glass-Steagall bills have been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat who co-introduced H.R. 129 with Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said, “The protections in Glass-Steagall are meant for individuals, families and communities.
“The biggest banks are more interested in speculation to drive their short-term profits than following prudent banking practices that work for everybody.
“We know. We’re still climbing out of the crater that Wall Street created.”
H.R. 129 currently has 66 co-sponsors.
Lyndon LaRouche, whose political-action organization is a prime proponent of financial reform, said, "This country has no chance of survival without an immediate return to Glass-Steagall.”
"The U.S. is already hopelessly bankrupt. As long as we continue with the hyperinflationary bailout polices of (Barack) Obama and (Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke, you are as good as dead,” LaRouche said.
“The choice is between killing the gambling debts or killing American citizens, as the citizens of Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are already being killed by willful and genocidal austerity."
While the showdown in Delaware indicates what’s at stake for big Wall Street investment banks, Glass-Steagall garnered more support this week in Washington.
Thomas Hoenig, vice chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair told the House Financial Services Committee they both endorsed re-enactment of the banking law.
Hoenig called it “absolutely necessary.”
Public Citizen, the Ralph Nader-founded group, released a 13-page pamphlet, "Safety Glass — Why It's Time to Restore the 1930s Law Separating Banking and Gambling," in calling for the return of Glass-Steagall.

Homeless Population in Los Angeles County Increases by 16 Percent

A study reveals the number of homeless single adults and children has increased since 2011.

The homeless population of Los Angeles County has gone up 16 percent since 2011, according to a report released Friday.
The report, released every other year by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, showed a sharp increase in youth homelessness, while there was a decrease in the number of homeless veterans and families.
The changes come amid decreased federal funding for local programs that help the homeless and increased efforts in Washington to target veteran homelessness across the country.
LAHSA conducted its most recent homeless count, in which volunteers fan out over the county for two nights, in January. The report is based on that count.
The count found 58,423 homeless men, women and children, compared to 50,214 two years ago. The number of homeless single adults increased by 29 percent, while unaccompanied youth 18 and under went up a staggering 122 percent.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen a significant reduction in federal resources available to fight homelessness,” said Michael Arnold, Executive Director of LAHSA in a press release. “The increase we see today in our homeless population demonstrates the direct relationship between resources to address the problem and our ability to have an impact.”
In August 2012, federal funding for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program expired, a program which brought $80 million to combat homelessness in Los Angeles County between 2009-2012 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the press release.
In addition, sequestration has stopped the ability of local housing authorities to hand out Section 8 vouchers, which provide affordable housing for low-income families and others, Arnold said.
Despite the cutbacks, Arnold attributed the drop in veteran and family numbers to government aid.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has significantly increased federal funding to end veteran’s homelessness,” Arnold said. “Los Angeles family service providers continue to improve services for families and have created new collaborations to better deliver the targeted services they need to regain stable housing.”
“This clearly demonstrates how the right resources, effectively targeted, can prevent and end homelessness,” he said.
The homeless population in Los Angeles among veterans has dropped 23 percent from 8,131 in 2011 to 6,291 in 2013, while the number of homeless families decreased from 9,218 in 2011 to 6,678 in 2013, according to the report.
LAHSA plans to give a more detailed breakdown of the data in the coming weeks, including numbers specifically for the City of Los Angeles.


EU demands clarification over US spying claims

European parliament president 'deeply worried and shocked' by claims published in Der Spiegel that US bugged EU offices

European Parliament President Schulz holds a news conference
European parliament president Martin Schulz warned of a severe impact on EU-US relations if the claims of bugging were true. Photograph: Laurent Dubrule/Reuters
The president of the European parliament has called for full clarification from the US over claims it bugged EU offices in America and accessed computer networks.
Martin Schulz said there would be a severe impact on relations between the European trade bloc and the US if revelations by German magazine Der Spiegel proved to be true.
Der Spiegel reported that the US had bugged offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, according to secret documents, the latest in a series of exposures of alleged US spying.
The magazine quoted from a "top secret" US National Security Agency (NSA) document from September 2010 that it said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had taken with him, and which its journalists had seen in part.
Der Spiegel said the document outlines how the NSA bugged offices and spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the UN, listening to conversations and phone calls and gaining access to documents and emails. It said the document explicitly called the EU a target.
A spokesman for the office of the US director of National Intelligence did not comment on the Der Spiegel article.
Schulz said: "I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations.
"On behalf of the European parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations."
Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, told Der Spiegel: "If these reports are true, it's disgusting. The United States would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies. We must get a guarantee from the very highest level now that this stops immediately."
Snowden's disclosures in the Guardian about US surveillance programmes have ignited a political furore in the US and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA also targeted telecommunications at the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, home to the European council, the collective of EU national governments.
Without citing sources, the magazine reported that more than five years ago security officers at the EU had noticed several missed calls and traced them to NSA offices within the Nato compound in Brussels. Each EU member state has rooms in Justus Lipsius with phone and internet connections, which ministers can use.
Snowden, a US citizen, went to Hong Kong in May, weeks before the publication in the Guardian of details he provided about secret government surveillance of internet and phone traffic. He has been in a Moscow airport transit area since last weekend. The government of Ecuador is reviewing his request for asylum.

PHYSICAL Silver Demand ‘UNPRECEDENTED’? — President of Scottsdale Silver Josh Phair

Scottsdale Silver President Josh Phair talks about what his company has called an “unprecedented time” in the precious metals markets. Silver (and gold) are now available in PHYSICAL form for prices BELOW the true cash costs of mining production. This supply-demand-production anomaly cannot continue forever, or the majority of physical silver production will simply STOP. Josh talks about how his company sources physical silver, the Comex depositories & more.
For REAL News & Information:

36 Hard Questions About The U.S. Economy That The Mainstream Media Should Be Asking

by Michael Snyder
Thinking Questions
If the economy is improving, then why aren’t things getting better for most average Americans?  They tell us that the unemployment rate is going down, but the percentage of Americans that are actually working is exactly the same it was three years ago.  They tell us that American families are in better financial shape now, but real disposable income is falling rapidly.  They tell us that inflation is low, but every time we go shopping at the grocery store the prices just seem to keep going up.  They tell us that the economic crisis is over, and yet poverty and government dependence continue to explode to unprecedented heights.  There seems to be a disconnect between what the government and the media are telling us and what is actually true.  With each passing day the debt of the federal government grows larger, the financial world become even more unstable and more American families fall out of the middle class.  The same long-term economic trends that have been eating away at our economy like cancer for decades continue to ruthlessly attack the foundations of our economic system.  We are rapidly speeding toward an economic cataclysm, and yet the government and most of the media make it sound like happy days are here again.  The American people deserve better than this.  The American people deserve the truth.  The following are 36 hard questions about the U.S. economy that the mainstream media should be asking…
#1 If the percentage of working age Americans that have a job isexactly the same as it was three years ago, then why is the government telling us that the “unemployment rate” has gone down significantly during that time?
#2 Why are some U.S. companies allowed to exploit disabled workers by paying them as little as 22 cents an hour?
#3 Why are some private prisons allowed to pay their prisoners just a dollar a day to do jobs that other Americans could be doing?
#4 Why is real disposable income in the United States falling at the fastest rate that we have seen since 2008?
#5 Why do 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year?
#6 Why are wages as a percentage of GDP at an all-time low?
#7 Why are 76 percent of all Americans living paycheck to paycheck?
#8 Why are so many large corporations issuing negative earnings guidance for this quarter?  Does this indicate that the economy is about to experience a significant downturn?
#9 Why is job growth at small businesses at about half the level it was at when the year started?
#10 Why are central banks selling off record amounts of U.S. debtright now?
#11 Why did U.S. mortgage bonds just suffer their biggest quarterly decline in nearly 20 years?
#12 Why did we just witness the largest weekly increase in mortgage rates in 26 years?
#13 Why has the number of mortgage applications fallen by 29 percentover the last eight weeks?
#14 Why has the number of mortgage applications fallen to the lowest level in 19 months?
#15 If the U.S. economy is recovering, why is the mortgage delinquency rate in the United States still nearly 10 percent?
#16 Why did the student loan delinquency rate in the United States just hit a brand new all-time high?
#17 Why is the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of municipal bondsbeing postponed?
#18 What are the central banks of the world going to do when the 441 trillion dollar interest rate derivatives bubble starts to burst?

#19 Why is Barack Obama secretly negotiating a new international free trade agreement that will impose very strict Internet copyright rules on all of us, ban all “Buy American” laws, give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and force even more domestic manufacturing offshore?
#20 Why don’t our politicians seem to care that the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975?
#21 Why doesn’t the mainstream media talk about how rapidly the U.S. economy is declining relative to the rest of the planet?  According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.
#22 Why is the percentage of self-employed Americans at a record low?
#23 What are we going to do if dust bowl conditions continue to return to the western half of the United States?  If the drought continues to get even worse, what will that do to our agriculture?
#24 Why is the IRS spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on kazoos, stove top hats, bathtub toy boats and plush animals?
#25 Why did the NIH spend $253,800 ”to study ways to educate Boston’s male prostitutes on safe-sex practices”?
#26 Why do some of the largest charities in America spend less than 5 percent of the money that they bring in on actual charitable work?
#27 Now that EU finance ministers have approved a plan that will allowCyprus-style wealth confiscation as part of all future bank bailouts in Europe, is it only a matter of time before we see something similar in the United States?
#28 Why does approximately one out of every three children in the United States live in a home without a father?
#29 Why are more than a million public school students in the United States homeless?
#30 Why are so many cities all over the United States passing laws that make it illegal to feed the homeless?
#31 Why is government dependence in the U.S. at an all-time high if the economy is getting better?  Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent.  In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.
#32 Why does the number of Americans on food stamps exceed the entire population of the nation of Spain?
#33 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 32 million to 47 million while Barack Obama has been occupying the White House.  So why is Obama paying recruiters to go out and get even more Americans to join the program?
#34 Today, there are 56 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  In 2035, there will be 91 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  Where in the world will we get the money for that?
#35 Why has the value of the U.S. dollar fallen by over 95 percentsince the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913?
#36 Why has the size of the U.S. national debt gotten more than 5000 times larger since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913?

Key US-EU trade pact under threat after more NSA spying allegations

Reports in Der Spiegel that US agencies bugged European council building 'reminiscent of cold war', says German minister

The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels
The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, home of the EU council – and subject to a US survellance programme, according to documents seen by Der Spiegel. Photograph: Don McPhee for the Guardian
The prospects for a new trade pact between the US and the European Union worth hundreds of billions have suffered a severe setback following allegations that Washington bugged key EU offices and intercepted phonecalls and emails from top officials.
The latest reports of NSA snooping on Europe – and on Germany in particular – went well beyond previous revelations of electronic spying said to be focused on identifying suspected terrorists, extremists and organised criminals.
The German publication Der Spiegel reported that it had seen documents and slides from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicating that US agencies bugged the offices of the EU in Washington and at the United Nations in New York. They are also accused of directing an operation from Nato headquarters in Brussels to infiltrate the telephone and email networks at the EU's Justus Lipsius building in the Belgian capital, the venue for EU summits and home of the European council.
Without citing sources, the magazine reported that more than five years ago security officers at the EU had noticed several missed calls apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the building that were traced to NSA offices within the Nato compound in Brussels.
The impact of the Der Spiegel allegations may be felt more keenly in Germany than in Brussels. The magazine said Germany was the foremost target for the US surveillance programmes, categorising Washington's key European ally alongside China, Iraq or Saudi Arabia in the intensity of the electronic snooping.
Germany's justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, called for an explanation from the US authorities. "If the media reports are true, it is reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war," she was quoted as saying in the German newspaper Bild. "It is beyond imagination that our friends in the US view Europeans as the enemy."
France later also asked the US authorities for an explanation. France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said: "These acts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable.
"We expect the American authorities to answer the legitimate concerns raised by these press revelations as quickly as possible.".
Washington and Brussels are scheduled to open ambitious free trade talks next week following years of arduous preparation. Senior officials in Brussels are worried that the talks would be overshadowed by the latest disclosures of US spying on its closest allies.
"Obviously we will need to see what is the impact on the trade talks," said a senior official in Brussels. A second senior official said the allegations would cause a furore in the European parliament and could then hamper relations with the US.
Robert Madelin, one of Britain's most senior officials in the European commission, tweeted that EU trade negotiators always operated on the assumption that their communications were listened to.
A spokesman for the European commission said: "We have immediately been in contact with the US authorities in Washington and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports. They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us."
There were calls from MEPs for Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European council – who has his office in the building allegedly targeted by the US – and José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European commission, to urgently appear before the chamber to explain what steps they were taking in response to the growing body of evidence of US and British electronic surveillance of Europe through the Prism and Tempora operations.
Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister and leader of the liberals in the European parliament, said: "This is absolutely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately. The American data collection mania has achieved another quality by spying on EU officials and their meetings. Our trust is at stake."
Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, told Der Spiegel: "If these reports are true, it's disgusting." Asselborn called for guarantees from the very highest level of the US government that the snooping and spying is immediately halted.
Martin Schulz, the head of the European parliament, said: "I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of US authorities spying on EU offices. If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations.
"On behalf of the European parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the US authorities with regard to these allegations."
There were also calls for John Kerry, the US secretary of state, to make a detour to Brussels on his way from his current trip to the Middle East, to explain US activities.
"We need to get clarifications and transparency at the highest level," said Marietje Schaake, a Dutch liberal MEP. "Kerry should come to Brussels on his way back from the Middle East. This is essential for the transatlantic alliance. The US can only lead by example, and should uphold the freedoms it claims to protect against attacks from the outside. Instead we see erosion of freedoms, checks and balances, from within."
Within senior circles in Brussels, however, it has long been assumed that the Americans were listening to or seeking to monitor EU electronic traffic.
"There's a certain schadenfreude here that we're important enough to be spied on," said one of the officials. "This was bound to come out one day. And I wouldn't be surprised if some of our member states were not doing the same to the Americans."
The documents suggesting the clandestine bugging operations were from September 2010, Der Spiegel said.
A former senior official in Brussels maintained that EU phone and computer systems were almost totally secure but that no system could be immune to persistent high-quality penetration operations.
"I have always assumed that anyone with a decent agency was listening, hacking if they could be bothered," he said. "It doesn't bother me much. Sometimes it's a form of communication."
Der Spiegel quoted the Snowden documents as revealing that the US taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany a month. "We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it too," Der Spiegel quoted a passage in the NSA document as saying.
On an average day, the NSA monitored about 20m German phone connections and 10m internet datasets, rising to 60m phone connections on busy days, the report said.
Officials in Brussels said this reflected Germany's weight in the EU and probably also entailed elements of industrial and trade espionage. "The Americans are more interested in what governments think than the European commission. And they make take the view that Germany determines European policy," said one of the senior officials.
Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green party MEP and a specialist in data protection, told the Guardian the revelations were outrageous. "It's not about political answers now, but rule of law, fundamental constitutional principles and rights of European citizens," he said.
"We now need a debate on surveillance measures as a whole looking at underlying technical agreements. I think what we can do as European politicians now is to protect the rights of citizens and their rights to control their own personal data."
Talking about the NSA's classification of Germany as a "third-class" partner, Albrecht said it was not helping to build the trust of Germans or other Europeans. "It is destroying trust and to rebuild that, [the US] will need to take real action on legislation," he said.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that at least six European member states have shared personal communications data with the NSA, according to declassified US intelligence reports and EU parliamentary documents.
The documents, seen by the Observer, show that – in addition to the UK – Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy have all had formal agreements to provide communications data to the US. They state that the EU countries have had "second and third party status" under decades-old signal intelligence (Sigint) agreements that compel them to hand over data which, in later years, experts believe, has come to include mobile phone and internet data.
Under the international intelligence agreements, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level. The US is defined as 'first party' while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy 'second party' trusted relationships. Countries such as Germany and France have 'third party', or less trusted, relationships.
The data-sharing was set out under a 1955 UK-USA agreement that provided a legal framework for intelligence-sharing that has continued.
It stipulates: "In accordance with these arrangements, each party will continue to make available to the other, continuously, and without request, all raw traffic, COMINT (communications intelligence) end-product and technical material acquired or produced, and all pertinent information concerning its activities, priorities and facilities."
The agreement goes on to explain how it can be extended to incorporate similar agreements with third party countries, providing both the UK and the US agree.
Under the third party data-sharing agreements each country was given a codename. Denmark was known as Dynamo while Germany was referred to as Richter. The agreements were of strategic importance to the NSA during the cold war.
However, Simon Davies, an intelligence expert and project director at the London School of Economics who writes the Privacy Surgeon blog, suggested the NSA's role had been given a sharper focus following amendments to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa).
In an interview published in full last night on Davies' blog, former NSA director General Michael Hayden said: "The changes made to Fisa in 2008 were far more dramatic – far more far-reaching than anything President Bush authorised me to do."
Davies told the Observer that confirmation of the secret agreements showed there was a need for the EU to investigate.
"It's clear that the European parliament must intervene at this point through a public inquiry," Davies said. "MEPs should put the interests of their citizens above party politics and create meaningful reforms."
The covert data-sharing relationship between leading European countries and the US was first outlined in a 2001 report by the European parliament.
The report stated: "Germany and the United Kingdom are called upon to make the authorisation of further communications interception operations by US intelligence services on their territory conditional on their compliance with the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights)."

Stocks slip on Fed policy worries, China PMIs

By Masayuki Kitano and Ian Chua
SINGAPORE/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian equities edged lower on Monday, hurt by worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve could start scaling back its massive monetary stimulus in September, and signs of an economic slowdown in China.
European stocks were seen likely to fall on Monday. Financial spreadbetters expect Germany's DAX (.GDAXI) to open down 0.44 percent, and France's CAC 40 (.FCHI) to open down 0.37 percent.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> fell 0.3 percent, having last week posted a 2.8 percent rally, its biggest weekly gain since September 2012.
The index, however, had ended the first half of the year down 7.3 percent, as investors began to fret that the U.S. central bank might start tapering its massive bond-buying later this year and slow down flows into Asian assets.
"I don't think this corrective mode will end immediately," said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
Besides the growing speculation about a possible scaling back of the Fed's quantitative easing, worries about the Chinese economy's outlook may weigh on Asian equities in the near-term, Okagawa said.
China's factory activity reached its lowest in nine months in June as new orders fell despite price cuts by producers, a private survey showed on Monday, reinforcing signs of an economic slowdown in the second quarter.
The HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for June retreated to 48.2, the lowest level since September 2012 and down from May's final reading of 49.2.
A separate PMI survey released by China's government statistics office earlier on Monday slipped to 50.1 in June from 50.8 in May, but came in above the median market forecast of 50.0.
Tokyo's Nikkei share average (NIK:^9452) rose 1.1 percent in choppy trade. Some long-only investors picked up banking shares, while currency-sensitive exporters were supported by a weaker yen.
Optimism that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive stimulus push will lift the economy has helped light a fire under the Nikkei, which is up about 33 percent so far this year.
Data on Monday suggested Abe's plans are on track with a survey showing the mood of Japanese manufacturers turning positive for the first time in nearly two years.
Monday's market moves followed a subdued finish on Wall Street after Fed Governor Jeremy Stein suggested that September could be an opportune time for the central bank to consider scaling back its massive asset-purchase program.
Stein's remarks, echoed by President of the Richmond Fed, Jeffrey Lacker, undid some of the calm that spread through markets last week after several other officials sought to play down market fears of the Fed's plan to taper stimulus.
Critical for markets this week is the U.S. jobs data due on Friday, given it is a key measure for the Fed to consider before deciding to start withdrawing stimulus.
In currency markets, the dollar held near a one-month high against a basket of major currencies. The dollar index stood at 83.111 (.DXY), not far from Friday's high of 83.344, its highest level since early June.
Against the yen, the dollar hit a one-month high of 99.55 yen, and was last up 0.2 percent on the day at 99.39 yen.
The Australian dollar touched a near three-year low against the U.S. dollar earlier on Monday, but later regained a bit of ground, getting some support after China's official PMI was less dire than expected.
The Australian dollar rose 0.6 percent to $0.9193. Earlier, it fell to $0.9110, its lowest level since September 2010.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries fell about 6/32 in price to yield 2.512 percent. The 10-year yield rose 2 basis points on the day but remained below last Monday's high of 2.667 percent, which was the highest since August 2011.
Spot gold rose 1.1 percent to $1,246.31 per ounce, up from a near three-year trough of $1.180.71 set on Friday. Worries about the end of the Fed's stimulus had contributed to the panic selling of the precious metal.
U.S. crude held steady at $96.53 a barrel.
(Additional reporting by Dominic Lau in Tokyo)

Onyx explores possible sale after rejecting Amgen offer

By Ryan Vlastelica and Olivia Oran
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cancer drugmaker Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc (ONXX) said on Sunday it rejected a roughly $10 billion takeover offer from larger biotechnology company Amgen Inc (AMGN) as too low but still is considering selling itself.
Onyx said Amgen's cash offer of $120 a share, which represents a premium of about 38 percent to the company's Friday closing price, "significantly undervalued" its prospects.
Deutsche Bank analyst Robin Karnauskas estimated Onyx's value to a merger partner at up to $148 a share. At $140 a share, the deal would add to Amgen's earnings starting in 2015, she said in a research note.
Onyx said in a statement it was "actively exploring" a merger partner, and that it had hired financial advisor Centerview Partners to contact potential buyers. The San Francisco-based company cited "expressions of interest" from Amgen and other unnamed third parties.
An Onyx spokeswoman declined to comment further on the statement. Amgen did not respond to a request for comment.
Onyx has a market cap of $6.32 billion and revenue of $362 million in 2012, while Amgen is the world's largest biotech company, with a market cap of about $74 billion.
Onyx sells Nexavar, a treatment for liver and kidney cancer, as well as colon cancer drug Stivarga in partnership with German pharmaceutical company Bayer AG (BAYN.DE). Last year, Onyx launched sales of blood cancer drug Krypolis, which Karnauskas estimates will reach peak annual sales of $3 billion.
Amgen has been looking for new ways to boost its product pipeline as sales for its flagship anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen have been in a decline for years because of usage restrictions and safety concerns.
Chief Executive Officer Bob Bradway, who took the helm of the Thousand Oaks, California company just over a year ago, has been able to keep investors happy with higher dividends and share repurchases.
Amgen said earlier this year it was making a push into biosimilars - cheaper alternative versions of biotech medicines - with plans to launch six beginning in 2017.
Amgen's first-quarter sales fell short of expectations, as revenue for the period rose 5 percent to $4.24 billion which was short of Wall Street projections of $4.37 billion.
The Financial Post reported the offer on Friday, sparking a steep jump in Onyx shares in after-hours trading.
As of Friday's close, shares of Onyx had gained 31 percent over the past 12 months. Shares of Amgen were up 35 percent over the same period.
ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum wrote that if a deal were to be made, Onyx's Kyprolis would fit well into Amgen's cancer drug sales and marketing infrastructure and complement Amgen's portfolio of cancer drugs.
Kyprolis, developed for patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least two prior therapies, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last July.
Large pharmaceutical companies have increasingly been looking to acquire smaller biotech firms to gain access to new drugs, often cancer drugs which can command high prices, as they face significant revenue losses stemming from expired patents.
This need has driven the volume of healthcare M&A in the first six months of 2013 to $93.6 billion up 30.2 percent over the same period last year.
Recent deals include generic drugmaker Actavis Inc's (ACT.N) $8.5 billion acquisition of Warner Chilcott and Human Genome Sciences' $3 billion sale to GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L).
(Additional reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Bill Trott, Marguerita Choy and Diane Craft)

Europeans demand answers over alleged US bugging

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union, Paris and Berlin angrily demanded answers from the United States on Sunday over allegations Washington had bugged EU offices, the latest spying claim attributed to fugitive leaker Edward Snowden.
The report in German weekly Der Spiegel is likely to strain relations between the United States and Europe, shortly after they launched formal negotiations to create what would be the world's biggest free trade area.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding warned that the long-awaited negotiations could be affected if the bugging allegations proved true.
"We can't negotiate a large transatlantic market if there is any doubt that our partners are bugging the offices of European negotiators," Reding said at a meeting in Luxembourg, her spokesperson told AFP.
Der Spiegel said its report, which detailed covert surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) on EU diplomatic missions, was based on confidential documents, some of which it had been able to consult via Snowden.
"We have immediately been in contact with the US authorities in Washington DC and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports, " the European Commission said in a statement.
"They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us."

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Snowden's Stuck, But Secrets Keep Leaking

NSA leaker is holed up in Moscow, but Wikileaks' Julian Assange says more secrets going public.
The United States said Sunday it will respond to the EU via diplomatic channels over the bugging allegations.
"While we are not going to comment publicly on specific alleged intelligence activities, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations," added a statement from the office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington.
One document, dated September 2010 and classed as "strictly confidential", describes how the NSA kept tabs on the European Union's mission in Washington, Der Spiegel said.
Microphones were installed in the building and the computer network was infiltrated, giving the agency access to emails and internal documents.
The EU delegation at the United Nations was subject to similar surveillance, Der Spiegel said, adding that the spying also extended to the 27-member bloc's Brussels headquarters.
It said the leaked documents referred to the EU as a "target", in intelligence activity reminiscent of the Cold War.
US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, who was travelling with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Middle East and Asia, declined to comment on Sunday.
In the only US reaction to the Spiegel claims so far, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes on Saturday refused to be drawn into commenting directly on the allegations but said it was "worth noting" the US was "very close" to EU security services.
The Spiegel claims are the latest in a series of allegations about US spying activity revealed by Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is holed up in a Moscow airport transit zone after the United States issued a warrant for his arrest and revoked his passport.
EU powerhouse Germany said the United States must quickly say whether the spying allegations were true or not.
"It's beyond our imagination that our friends in the US consider the Europeans as enemies," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a statement.
"If the media reports are accurate, it is reminiscent of actions among enemies during the Cold War."
-- 'Totally unacceptable' --
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris had also demanded an explanation from US authorities. If the allegations are confirmed, he said the spying activities would be "totally unacceptable".
European Parliament president Martin Schulz said in a statement he was "deeply worried and shocked" by the reports.
"If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations."
In its latest report on Sunday, Der Spiegel said leaked documents showed that the US secret services targeted Germany more than any other EU country.
Citing figures from NSA documents, the magazine said that half a billion forms of communication -- phone calls, emails, text messages and Internet chat entries -- were monitored in Germany every month.
The US authorities issued an arrest warrant this month for Snowden after he revealed details of NSA's so-called PRISM programme which collects and analyses information from Internet and phone users around the world, with access to data from Google, Yahoo! and other Internet firms.
US officials say the information gathered is vital in the fight against global terrorism but the scale of the programme raised deep concerns around the world.
Snowden himself remains in political limbo at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in from Hong Kong last week, unable to fly on without legal travel documents or exit the airport without a Russian visa.
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said that US Vice President Joe Biden had asked Quito to reject any asylum request from the 30-year-old who is wanted by the United States on charges including espionage.
But he said Snowden's fate was in Russia's hands as Quito could not process his asylum request until he was on Ecuadoran soil.
"We have not sought out this situation," said Correa, saying it was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who recommended he seek asylum in Ecuador.
Assange, who is wanted for questioning in Sweden on sexual assault allegations, took refuge at the Ecuadorean embassy in London a year ago to avoid Britain putting him on a plane to Stockholm.
French MEP Jean-Luc Melenchon said France should grant Snowden asylum and called for a suspension of all trade negotiations with the US.
Earlier this month, Brussels and Washington formally launched negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement which would add tens of billions of dollars to the EU and US economies.

MPs may get pay rise if other perks are cut, says David Cameron

PM responds to reports that Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority may recommend £10,000 pay rise for MPs
David Cameron
David Cameron, who was speaking in Islamabad before flying to Kazakhstan. Photograph: Mian Khursheed/REUTERS
David Cameron is prepared to sanction a modest pay rise for MPs on condition that they forfeit other perks to ensure the overall costs of Westminster are cut.
As Ed Miliband indicated that he would reverse a planned £10,000 pay rise for MPs if elected prime minister, Cameron said it would be unthinkable if the overall costs of Westminster were not frozen or even cut.
But in the face of intense lobbying by Tory MPs for Downing Street to allow them to receive a pay rise, the prime minister stopped short of ruling out a rise in their salaries.
The Mail on Sunday reported that the Labour leader would be prepared to intervene amid reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is planning to recommend a pay rise for MPs as high as £10,000. Miliband said MPs should receive no more than a 1% rise (£660) to keep them in line with public sector workers.
The prime minister adopted a more cautious approach. Speaking in Islamabad before flying to Kazakhstan, he said: "Our views – Ipsa asked our views and we gave our views – which were very much reflecting the current pay restraint. But Ipsa is independent, it has to make its recommendation. I don't see any sense on commenting on its recommendation until we know what it is. I have no idea."
The prime minister indicated that if Ipsa does recommend a pay rise, MPs might have to lose other benefits. This could mean cuts in their pensions.
Cameron said: "Whatever Ipsa recommends we can't see the cost of politics or Westminster going up. We should see the cost of Westminster go down. I famously had a plan for reducing the House of Commons, which was nearly there … Anything would be unthinkable unless the cost of politics was frozen and cut, so I'll wait and see what Ipsa have to say. What I said to Ipsa was that restraint is necessary."
There was confusion over the government's position when Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said the government was powerless to challenge decisions by Ipsa. Maude told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News: "It's not in my control, it's in the control of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. It isn't even in the control of MPs themselves. What we do control, which is ministers' pay, we are controlling rigorously and we are controlling and we are cutting back on the cost of running the government."

Wall Street Wankers - An Irishman Abroad - Denis Ryan

Special UK Police Units SOCMINT Watching Your Every Move On Social Media

Horse Slaughtering for Food Set to Resume With USDA OK

A New Mexico company is slated to be the first to slaughter horses for human consumption in the U.S. since 2007 after federal authorities agreed to issue a permit required for its operation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is close to approving two additional horse-slaughter plants, said yesterday it was required by law to issue the permit to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell once the company had met the requirements. The last U.S. horse-meat plant closed six years ago after Congress banned funding for inspections for such facilities. That ban lapsed in 2011 and measures to renew it are before lawmakers.
“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” USDA press secretary Courtney Rowe said yesterday in an e-mail. “Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”
Valley Meat, which previously processed cattle at its facility about 8 miles from downtown Roswell, is one of several applicants asking the USDA to provide inspectors. The USDA said it expects to issue permits for facilities in Gallatin, Missouri, and Sigourney, Iowa, as soon as July 1.

Three Weeks

The USDA told Valley Meat it will be at least three weeks before it can provide inspectors, A. Blair Dunn, an attorney representing the company, said in an interview. Valley Meat sued the agency last year for delays in granting inspections.
“They really don’t want this plant to open and they are actually lobbying for the funding to stop from Congress in the future,” Dunn said in an interview. “They may not follow through.”
Horse slaughter has been an emotional issue among animal-welfare advocates in the U.S., where eating of horse meat is rare and surveys show most Americans oppose the practice.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it is “dismayed” by the USDA decision. “Horse slaughter is inherently cruel,” the organization said in a statement.
“Moving ahead with a government program to fund horse slaughter inspections is a cruel, reckless and fiscally irresponsible move,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA government relations, in an e-mail.

Necessary Disposal

Still, many farmers and ranchers say humane slaughter is necessary to dispose of unwanted animals.
“We realize that a lot of people view horses as companions more than working animals, but a person who has a working horse has a different perspective,” said Mike White, president of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, in an interview. Without a slaughter facility, horse owners are abandoning animals or shipping them to Mexico to be killed.
An appropriations bill to fund the USDA, which the House may consider as early as the week of July 8, would block spending for inspections at horse-slaughter facilities, effectively banning the practice through Sept. 30, 2014.
Similar language was included in a Senate measure the Agriculture Committee approved June 20 and sent to the full Senate for consideration.
“Congress should promptly reinstate the provision that prohibited spending federal dollars to inspect horse slaughter,” Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in an e-mail.
Dunn said Valley Meat anticipates shipping to distributors in Europe. He said there have been inquiries from curious individuals in the U.S., and there may be some restaurants interested in the meat too.
“Nothing serious has materialized as far as anyone in the U.S.,” Dunn said. “If there is a demand in this country, then yes,” the company would sell the meat.

Europe to introduce second euro?

Europe to introduce second euro?. 50467.jpeg
Europe begins to think about the introduction of the "second euro for the chosen." The EU countries with most robust economies should issue their own single currency. This can be a goal to pursue for Germany and the Netherlands in the first place, experts say. France is not in the group: its economic situation is too unstable to make the country a member of the "financial VIP Club."
This was said by the former European Commissioner for Internal Market, Frits Bolkestein, on Dutch television. According to him, the new European money should be in use on a par with the joint European currency. The "second euro" will be issued by the Central Bank of Germany. This measure, according to the politician, will allow most creditworthy EU states to protect their financial positions under the conditions of another financial crisis, the main part of which  of which is yet to come. "It's time to bring order in chaos," said Frits Bolkestein.
France, which is traditionally referred to as one of the leading countries in the European Union, will not be allowed to join the financial VIP club, Bolkestein believes. According to him, the country is "governed poorly" and is "practically bankrupt."
Despite the fact that the politician was too harsh in his remarks about France, there is a grain of truth in his words. The country has a huge foreign debt, as well as quite sizeable budget deficit. This is a very serious problem against the background of eccentric economic policies of the current French leadership. It is not obvious at all that the state will be able to solve them painlessly, since the decisions taken by the authorities are not always reasonable and adequate. For example, the introduction of the infamous 75-percent tax on luxury to improve the financial situation of the country stirred up quite a controversy. Despite the fact that the Constitutional Court of France banned the tax, President François Hollande continues to attempt to somehow bring it back, at least for businesses that pay their workers higher wages.
Meanwhile, analysts say, should Bolkestein's idea come true, it will lead to most lamentable consequences for both most of Europe and the rest of the world. Such a move may trigger a domino effect for the entire monetary.
"Introducing such a parallel currency in the euro zone can seriously weaken the already shaky position of the euro. Exporters, of course, will be happy to get low rates of the euro, but it is unlikely that the offer is viable in its current form," Investkafe analyst Anna Bodrova said.
In case of the introduction of the new European currency and the inevitable devaluation of the euro, Russia will also receive a signal to get rid of the euro in its currency reserves. The share of the euro in them makes up 40-45 percent," a professor of the Higher School of Economics, Alexander Abramov, said, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote.
However, it should be noted that one should be very cautious about the statements from Fritz Bolkestein. The politician, who in 1990-1998 headed the Party for Freedom and Democracy, and in 1999-2004 served as the former EU Commissioner for Tax Policy, has a very scandalous reputation and is known for his strident statements. In particular, Fritz Bolkestein aggressively attacked Turkey, when the latter expressed a desire to become a member of the European Union. The politician stated that "Europe would be Islamized in this case."
He also shocked the Europeans with his bill about the liberalization of services, which became known as "Bolkestein's directive." The project raised a wave of protests from trade unions and left-wing parties in several countries, where workers from Eastern Europe were plentiful. The document was dubbed the "Frankenstein" directive. However, his most eccentric move was a statement about the need for religious Jews to emigrate from the Netherlands to Israel or the United States, because in the native country of Bolkestein they had no future. A number of politicians of the Netherlands questioned the sanity of Frits Bolkesteyn and his ability to deal with politics.
Given the above, it is difficult to say whether it is possible to draw conclusions about the financial plans of the European Union. Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, once said, for example, that "Russia would wash its boots in the Indian Ocean" meaning that Russia was preparing a military expansion in India. Most likely, these two people have something in common.
Anastasia Garina

Euro zone shrank for a seventh straight quarter!!!

Euro zone on track to keep shrinking: Eurocoin
28 June 2013
, by Paul Hannon - London (MarketWatch)

An indicator that has correctly recorded contractions in the euro zone suggests the currency area's economy shrank for a seventh straight quarter in the three months to the end of June, extending its longest postwar slump.

Official figures for second-quarter economic activity won't be released until Aug. 14, but the monthly Eurocoin measure of euro-zone output released Friday signaled a contraction for June, having earlier signaled declines in activity in April and May.

The measure, which is compiled by the London-based Center for Economic Policy Research and the Bank of Italy, also showed a drop in GDP in each of the three months of the first quarter, an indication borne out later when official data showed the euro-zone economy shrank by 0.2%, the equivalent to an annualized decline of 0.9%.

Following its recovery from a deep contraction in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the euro zone's economy first contracted again in the final three months of 2011 and continued to shrink in each quarter of 2012.

The index is one of the earliest measures of growth in the currency area and is consistent with surveys of purchasing managers in manufacturing and services, which also have pointed to a contraction in June.

But while many recent economic data releases and surveys have suggested the contraction is easing and may end soon, the Eurocoin points in the opposite direction.

The CEPR and the Bank of Italy said the Eurocoin indicator fell to -0.18% from -0.15% in May, its second straight month of decline to reach its lowest level since February.