Refugees or Enemies?

They ran away from the falling bombs that brought the horror to their life and walked days and weeks to find the same horror Macedonian’s policemen who fired tear gas to stop a group of about 5,000 migrants from entering the country from Greece after the former Yugoslav Republic and its neighbors cut the number of refugees they’ll accept crossing their borders.

The group was pushed back after some broke through a fence at the border and one officer was injured, national police spokeswoman Dejana Nedeljkovic said by phone from Skopje on Monday. Officials from both countries are now meeting to try to find a solution to how to handle the thousands of people trying to cross Greece and the western Balkans from Turkey to seek better lives in richer European Union nations, said Igor Ciobanu, senior field coordinator for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Macedonia joined its northern Balkan neighbors and Austria this weekend by cutting the number of refugees it’s allowing to enter, crimping the main route of people fleeing war and poverty in northern Africa and the Middle East. Greece warned on Thursday that countries shutting their borders to the north would trigger a humanitarian crisis as more refugees arrive on its shores. The number of those trying to traverse Greece’s northern border swelled to about 8,000 on Monday, from 6,000 earlier, Ciobanu said by phone.

Slovenia and Croatia both said last week they’ll accept only about 500 refugees a day, a fraction of the thousands of people who’ve been crossing the countries’ borders daily. The closures underscore the EU’s struggle to solve its worst migration crisis since World War II. Leaders from the 28-member bloc will hold a summit next month to try to forge a strategy to deal with the crisis and avoid having to curtail Schengen, its visa-free travel zone.

 

What is going on?

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Something is going on behind the curtains that made the central bankers from the U.S. and Europe said weaker global growth will affect the economic outlook and may have implications for the pace of monetary policy divergence.

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said Friday at a panel discussion in New York that the pace of interest-rate increases in the U.S. may be slower than previously anticipated, as she urged officials across the world to coordinate efforts to increase demand. European Central Bank Executive Board member Peter Praet said at the same event that weaker readings on the European economy are a warning sign.

Their comments come as finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 developed and emerging market economies gather in Shanghai to discuss how best to revive the world economy. While U.S. and Chinese officials called for increased government spending, Germany argued that using debt to fund growth just leads to “zombifying” economies.

“As policy adjusts to the evolution of the data, the combination of heightened spillovers from weaker foreign economies, along with a lower neutral rate, could result in a lower policy path in the United States relative to what many had predicted,” Brainard said. “The difficult start to the year should be a prompt for greater policy coherence and clarity. This might be a good time for policy makers to reaffirm their commitment to work toward the common goal of strengthening global demand.”

The International Monetary Fund cut its projections for 2016 world growth to 3.4 percent in January and lowered its estimate for 2017 to 3.6 percent. In both years, it foresees expansions of 2.6 percent in the U.S. and 1.7 percent in the euro area.

“In some economies there is scope for monetary policy to be more effective with fiscal policy working in the same direction,” said Brainard, who attended G-20 meetings in her previous role as the Treasury Department’s top international official. She joined the Fed in 2014. “A joint determination by policy makers across major economies to better deploy policy tools to provide support for global demand could be beneficial,” Brainard said.

Warning Sign

Praet noted that global growth is losing momentum, and “if you look at Europe, you can see some weakening of indicators. It’s not dramatic, but I think it’s kind of a warning.”

ECB officials have held out the prospect of more stimulus as early as next month as inflation in the 19-nation region remains stubbornly below the bank’s goal of just under 2 percent. Annual consumer prices probably stagnated in February and are expected to decline in the coming months.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation accelerated to 1.3 percent in January, illustrating the challenge for U.S. central bankers as they consider tighter monetary policy amid feeble global markets. Policy makers raised rates in December for the first time in almost a decade. They hold their next meeting on March 15-16.

 

Update the war between Apple and the FBI

Here are the latest news about the negotiations between the FBI and Apple Inc. regarding the suggested  backdoor in the IPhone to access to the lucked data.

That’s what Apple Inc. calls the newest product in its pipeline. It’s not the brainchild of the gadget masters in Cupertino but rather an iPhone operating system conceived by some buttoned-down folks in Washington, D.C. And unlike the latest iPhone or iPad, it wasn’t revealed on a stage before thousands of the faithful. Instead, it was unveiled in a stark response to the Obama administration’s attempt to force the computer maker to assist in a terrorism probe. And, Apple has warned, it may someday lead to every American being made an unwilling assistant to law enforcement.

In a 65-page federal court filing on Thursday in Riverside, Calif., Apple said making it override the encryption of an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooterswas wild overreach. As a legal matter, Apple’s lawyers swiftly disassembled the government’s use of an 18th century law (the All Writs Act) to justify its demand and described in minute detail how forced compliance would play out, both for Apple’s technicians and whoever else is next.

Although Apple has a growing number of lawyers in this fight, it may have telegraphed its intent to make a First Amendment argument a pillar of the case. Forcing someone to write code is like forcing them to speak, Apple suggested, and that’s usually a constitutional no-no. The brief’s main author, Ted Boutrous of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, is one of the nation’s premier media lawyers. Here are some highlights:

A Broader Threat

“Under the same legal theories advocated by the government here, the government could argue that it should be permitted to force citizens to do all manner of things ‘necessary’ to assist it in enforcing the laws, like compelling a pharmaceutical company against its will to produce drugs needed to carry out a lethal injection in furtherance of a lawfully issued death warrant, or requiring a journalist to plant a false story in order to help lure out a fugitive, or forcing a software company to insert malicious code in its autoupdate process that makes it easier for the government to conduct court-ordered surveillance. ” 

A Threat to Privacy on a Global Scale

“This is not a case about one isolated iPhone. Rather, this case is about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe.”

A Trifecta of Illegality

“No court has ever authorized what the government now seeks, no law supports such unlimited and sweeping use of the judicial process, and the Constitution forbids it.”

Christmas for Criminals and Spies

“The government wants to compel Apple to create a crippled and insecure product. Once the process is created, it provides an avenue for criminals and foreign agents to access millions of iPhones. And once developed for our government, it is only a matter of time before foreign governments demand the same tool.”

The Internet of Big Brother’s Things

“If Apple can be forced to write code in this case to bypass security features and create new accessibility, what is to stop the government from demanding that Apple write code to turn on the microphone in aid of government surveillance, activate the video camera, surreptitiously record conversations, or turn on location services to track the phone’s user? Nothing.”

“Compelling Apple to create software in this case will set a dangerous precedent for conscripting Apple and other technology companies to develop technology to do the government’s bidding in untold future criminal investigations.”

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Beyoncé will be protected by F.O.I

The black nation in the United Stated of America showed love and support to Beyonce as the head of the Nation of Islam has slammed critics of superstar performer Beyoncé. If police officers offended by her latest song refuse to staff her world tour,  she can count on the Nation’s security team for protection, Farrakhan said.

His suggestion that the Fruit of Islam, or F.O.I., could provide protection at her shows is the latest twist in the fallout over Beyoncé’s new music video and her Super Bowl halftime show performance of the song, “Formation.” Some police officers and their supporters consider the song to be anti-law enforcement — and are so angered that they have called for a boycott of her shows.

In his Sunday speech, Farrakhan sarcastically cited former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was among the first to accuse the superstar of using the Super Bowl as a “platform” to attack the police.

“She started talking that ‘black stuff,’” Farrakhan said at an event for Saviours’ Day, an annual celebration of the birth of the man the group considers the “Messiah of the Christians.”

“White folks like ‘we don’t know how to deal with that,’” Farrakhan said. “Well, you taught us everywhere we went about the Holocaust. But we have sympathy for you. But when one of us shows some independence look at how you’re treating Beyoncé now. You’re going to picket. You’re not going to offer her police protection, but the F.O.I. will.”

Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam is considered an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization. The “anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric” from its leaders and its “bizarre theology of innate black superiority over whites,” earn the group “a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate,” the SPLC writes in a profile.

And, despite its name, many Muslims do not consider the young religious group to be a part of their faith.

Crude Oil over $30 again

light gain in the crude oil price Monday to $33 per barrel but that did not last longer than one day.

As the price fell sharply on Tuesday, erasing most of their gains from the previous session’s rally, as bearish comments from officials in Saudi Arabia and Iran provided few signals of any forthcoming reductions in the massive global supply glut in the near-term future.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, WTI crude for April delivery wavered between $31.66 and $33.52 a barrel before settling at $31.81, down 1.58 or 4.73% on the day. Crude prices retreated on Tuesday, one day after surging more than $1.40 a barrel to reach its highest levels in nearly three weeks. Despite the considerable sell-off, U.S. crude futures are still up more than 16% since falling to 13-year lows at $26.05 on February 11.

On the Intercontinental Exchange, brent crude for April delivery traded between $33.10 and $35.09 a barrel, before closing at $33.24, down 1.43 or 4.18% on the session. North BrentSea futures have still rallied by approximately 9% since dropping below $30 a barrel in mid-February.

Meanwhile, the spread between the international and U.S. domestic benchmarks of crude stood at $1.43, above Monday’s level of $1.30 at the close of trading.

Speaking before an audience at the CERAWeek 2016 Energy conference in Houston, Saudi Arabia oil minister Ali al-Naimi reiterated on Tuesday morning that the kingdom will not lower production from its current levels, resisting calls to slash output in an effort to rescue prices. In effect, al-Naimi did not deviate from Saudi Arabia’s policy shift adopted in November, 2014, when the major producer abandoned a strategy of defending prices in favor of boosting market share. Crude prices have tumbled more than 60% since the meeting, pushing a number of top energy companies to near bankruptcy and creating massive budget deficits among a host of oil-reliant nations.

Last week, Saudi Arabia agreed in principle with Russia and two other OPEC members tofreeze production at its January level. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top exporter, pumped approximately 10.2 million barrels per day in January, down slightly from June’s record-high of 10.5 million bpd.

“A freeze is the beginning of a process. If we can get all the major producers to agree not to add additional barrels then this high inventory we have now will probably decline in due time,” Al-Naimi said at the morning address. ““This is not the same as cutting production. That’s not going to happen.”

Al-Naimi’s comments came hours after Iran counterpart Bijan Zanganeh ridiculed the pact, calling the plan “ridiculous,” according to Iran news agency Shana. The deal is contingent on receiving approval from Iran, which has been hesitant to cap output weeks after a group of Western Powers eased long-term economic sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation several weeks ago. Following last month’s Implementation Day announcement, Iran is expected to ramp up its production and exports by as much as 1 million bpd over the next year.

Zaganeh, who is willing to freeze output when it returns to pre-sanction levels from 2007, said Tuesday that the proposal places “unrealistic demands,” on his country.

Elsewhere, energy traders will keep a close eye on the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly crude inventory report on Tuesday afternoon after the bell, as storage facilities nationwide continue to near full capacity. Separately, Wednesday’s government report could show that crude inventories rose by 3.2 million barrels for the week ending on Feb. 19.

Freedom Or Safety?

You are American, so you have to choose as apple trying to protect their users from the FBI who wants to have a back door to your data.

Tim Cook has picked a fight with the U.S. government and Silicon Valley is joining his side.

From Google Inc. to Facebook Inc., the industry’s biggest names rallied around Apple Inc.’s chief executive officer after he vowed to resist a court order demanding it help unlock the iPhone of a shooter in a terrorist attack. Cook described the request as an “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers” and called for a public debate.

The escalation with the FBI, which has been pushing for access to mobile devices since Apple tightened its encryption in late 2014, galvanized the company’s U.S. peers and forced them to choose between helping the government fight crime and protecting their customers’ privacy. The decision in the Apple case could apply to the broader tech industry and it may spur requests from China and other nations that want similar abilities to access users’ encrypted content.

Reform Government Surveillance, a group representing companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft Corp. and Twitter Inc., issued a statement on Wednesday reiterating that, while it’s “extremely important” to deter crime and terrorism, no company should be required to build backdoors to their own technology.

1x-13

No Backdoors

“This particular case is a tricky one for anybody to oppose a government’s request on because it deals with not just a suspected terrorist, but somebody who is very clearly guilty of a heinous act,” said Jan Dawson, an independent technology industry analyst. “It’s a really tough case for anyone to jump in on Apple’s side.”

Cook took his stand after the Federal Bureau of Investigation won a court order to make Apple help investigators unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in a deadly Dec. 2 attack in San Bernardino, California.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai came to Cook’s defense, saying the government’s request could spur “a troubling precedent” in comments echoed by WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum. Billionaire Mark Cuban saidCook deserved a “standing ovation” for his stand.

California Attack

Google provides law enforcement access to data “based on valid legal orders, but that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data,” Pichai wrote in a series of tweets. “Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue.”

Ultimately, the matter needs to be decided by Congress, said Robert Cattanach, a lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney who practices in areas of regulatory litigation including cybersecurity.

“This is a classic legislative function, the courts aren’t really equipped to weigh the policies in the forum of a democratic society — what’s more important, protection against terrorists or protections against your privacy?” he said. “The tech industry sees this as the tip of the iceberg.”

Yes it is trust problem

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One of the realistic things in this word is that OPEC has real trust problem.

One of the ironies of the proposed freeze in oil production by Saudi Arabia, Russia and others is that it is — according to an OPEC delegate quoted by Argus on Tuesday — aimed in part at building trust.

It’s understandable that Saudi Arabia may not regard Russia as the most reliable partner when it comes to voluntary supply cuts. But mutual suspicion runs like a fissure within OPEC itself, and thus the cartel’s long history of busted production quotas and internecine warfare.

Besides geopolitical and sectarian tensions, simple economics serve to divide OPEC. It would be a lot easier to agree on a common approach to influencing the global oil market if OPEC’s members were all roughly equal in terms of income and financial strength — but they are far from that.

For example, while Saudi Arabia has a financial cushion to absorb the losses inflicted by its strategy of keeping output high, some of OPEC’s have-nots (notably Venezuela), do not. Worse, there are wide differences in the oil price each government requires to balance their books.

 

Another success for Airbus

The Philippines Airlines showed interest about the A350-900s what makes Airbus Group SE secured an order from Philippine Airlines Inc. valued at $1.8 billion as the Southeast Asian carrier seeks to fly to New York and the U.S. West coast.

Closely held Philippine Air will take delivery of the A350-900s in two years and the aircraft are meant to replace older A340 models, Jaime Bautista, president of the carrier, said at the Singapore Airshow Wednesday. The agreement with Airbus includes an option to purchase six more of Airbus’s latest widebody jet. The order value is based on the $308 million list price of the aircraft, before discounts that are customary in the industry.

Airbus, Boeing Co., Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. and ATR have announced orders totaling $4.2 billion this week at the Singapore Airshow amid concern that a two-year, multi-billion-dollar order spree by Asian carriers is losing steam. Chicago-based Boeing Wednesday announced a $1.3 billion order with China’s Okay Air.

The two days of orders at the airshow come amid speculation the heyday of giant orders from India and Southeast Asian nations is ending, and that airlines in the region might have to delay delivery of planes as economic growth slows.

 On Sunday, International Air Transport Association President Tony Tyler said Southeast Asian airlines may defer plane orders as they battle overcapacity and intense competition among half a dozen low-fare carriers.

France Brazil Airbus

Watch out, Banks are changing

Wherever you around the world, working with banks for the long run is one of the risky things sometime.

For investors seeking reasons to worry about banks, here’s another: They’ve lent a lot of money in currencies that borrowers will have a hard time paying back.

The phenomenon illustrates how capital flows work in a financially integrated world — and how they can contribute to booms and busts. As the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank held interest rates extremely low to support their own economies, they pushed banks to seek higher returns elsewhere, and also made borrowing in their currencies very attractive all around the world. The result was that the total amount of dollar and euro lending to non-bank borrowers outside the U.S. and the euro area grew 57 percent during the past six years — to $12.7 trillion, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Here’s how that looks:

ChartA20160212

Such rapid credit growth is a classic precursor of financial crises, and the foreign-exchange element adds a nasty twist. The Fed’s plans to increase interest rates, together with growing concerns about emerging markets, have caused the value of the dollar to rise sharply against a range of currencies. The euro has gained against some currencies, too. So for borrowers in countries such as Brazil and Turkey, whose currencies have weakened, the cost of paying back all that debt has shot up. Here’s a breakdown by country, estimating how much the local-currency value of dollar and euro debt to banks (including that of financial institutions, companies and governments) has grown as a share of gross domestic product during the past two years, due to exchange-rate changes alone:

ChartB20160212

The result tends to be what we’ve seen happening in global markets. Concerns about defaults cause investors to flee — a response that, by pushing exchange rates down further and halting the flow of credit, makes those defaults ever more likely. The question then becomes whether lenders — those same banks whose share prices have gyrated in recent days — have enough equity capital to absorb the losses. If not, the financial distress can spread quickly, as the world learned in 2008.