Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sweden's King Celebrates 70th Birthday

Via The Local:

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated his 70th birthday Saturday joined by royals from Europe and beyond, as Swedes lined the streets to wish him many happy returns.

Neighboring Norway's royals did not however attend, staying at home as their nation reels from a deadly helicopter crash which killed 13 oil workers the day before.

On a day of pageantry and colour, the Swedish king was cheered by onlookers as he reviewed the royal guard. Later Gustaf and his family appeared on the palace balcony, cheered by thousands.

The list of invited royalty included Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Philippe of Belgium, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Princess Takamado of Japan and Jordan's Prince Raad bin Zeid and Princess Majda Raad Zeid.

But members of the Norwegian royal family cancelled after a helicopter carrying North Sea oil workers crashed on Friday near Bergen, Norway's second biggest city.

Born on April 30th, 1946, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus Bernadotte was only nine months old when his father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, was killed in a plane crash in Denmark.

He assumed the throne in 1973 following the death of his grandfather, the long-reigning Gustav VI Adolf.

The king has for many years struggled to shed his image as a car-mad playboy after being thrust onto the throne at age 27.

His finest hour came in January 2005, after some 500 Swedes lost their lives in the tsunami that swept across tourist resorts in southeast Asia.

"What if I, just like the king in the fairytales, could make everything all right and end the story with 'and then they all lived happily ever after' ", he said.

"But I, just like you, am just a grieving, searching, fellow man", he said in a speech at the time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone Relaunches Jelly As A Human-Powered Search Engine

Via Tech Crunch:

Calling it an “un-pivot”, Biz Stone is bringing back Jelly, the Q&A app he created in 2013. Launching today, the new and improved Jelly remains close to its roots, but with an added twist. This time, everything is anonymous so you can ask what you really want to know.

Referring to the new Jelly an “on-demand search engine,” Stone said that one lesson he learned from the original Jelly was that people didn’t necessarily want to ask questions to their social network. “Would you want your Googles to be your tweets?”

Some might draw similarities to Quora or Yahoo Answers, but Stone is hoping that this Jelly will be an alternative to Google.

“We think the future of search engines is just ask a question, get the answer”, he added. It’s “ten or 15 minutes you didn’t have to spend looking around on links”.

Users can sign up to answer questions on Jelly. People can rate whether responses were helpful. If someone receives a lot of positive feedback on a certain topic, they are more likely to be selected to answer future similar questions.

The new Jelly is optimized for mobile, but will also be available for desktop searches.

Jelly was founded by both Biz Stone and Ben Finkel in 2013. Backers included Spark Capital, Greylock, Jack Dorsey and Bono.

Says Stone of the change of plans. “We made a rookie mistake. We got talked into pivoting”. So the Jelly co-founders decided to go back to “our original dream, our original vision”.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ISIS Fighters In Sweden To attack "Civilian Targets" In Stockholm - Reports

Via RT:

Swedish security services are on high alert in connection with a potential terror threat, officials said. Reports in Swedish media say several Islamic State fighters have arrived in Sweden to carry out attacks on civilian targets in the capital Stockholm.

“Right now we're gathering information and intelligence and coordinating with our national and international partners”, security police (Säpo) press spokesman Simon Bynert told the TT news agency.

He added that Säpo is also cooperating with the national police service.

“That means we're sharing this information with them to see if they can implement measures that fall under their remit”.

The Swedish Expressen newspaper reported that the country's security service received information from their Iraqi colleagues about an imminent terror threat in the country.

About seven to eight Islamic State terrorists arrived in Sweden to carry out attacks in Stockholm, Expressen sources claimed.

Speculation has appeared in local media claiming that Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf's 70th birthday on April 30 could be a possible target for extremists, AP reported. Such events usually bring together Sweden’s royal family, government officials and EU royal visitors.

At least 300 Swedish nationals have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) according to research conducted by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), published on April 1.

In March, Europol said that between 3.000 and 5.000 so-called ‘foreign fighters’ – EU citizens trained in IS terror camps - have returned to Europe and pose a “completely new challenge”.

An April report in the Swedish media said Islamists have successfully infiltrated Sweden’s Green Party. According Lars Nicander from the Swedish National Defense University, there is “a very similar effect today in which people close to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist party, are apparently gaining large footholds in the Green Party”.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 Successfully Crossed The Pacific Ocean To Land In California

Via Gizmodo:

After taking off from Hawaii at 6:30am, pilot Bertrand Piccard reported that he felt great after a day of travel, and after a total 62 hours of flight time, he successfully landed at Moffett Airfield, California.

The solar-powered aircraft is working on circumnavigating the planet, and was grounded 9 months ago after its record breaking trip from Japan to Hawaii.

Now, pilot Andre Borschberg, will take over for the next leg of the journey, from California to New York. From there, there’ll figure out the next destination, based on weather and what they’ve learned about the aircraft, as they continue on their trip to Abu Dabi, where they first took off in March 2015.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Russia Issues Chilling Warning To America Over Provocative Naval Incident

Via Before It's News:

Russia has accused the United States of intimidation by sailing a U.S. naval destroyer close to Russia’s border in the Baltics and warned that the Russian military would respond with “all necessary measures” to any future incidents.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Survivors Say Hundreds Drowned In Migrant Shipwreck Off Libya

Via Gawker:

On Wednesday, the UN Refugee Agency announced that it had spoken to survivors of a maritime disaster reported earlier this week, in which as many as 500 refugees and migrants are rumored to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere between Libya and Italy.

The 41 survivors (37 men, three women, and a three-year-old child) include 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, 6 Egyptians, and a Sudanese. They were taken on April 16 to a stadium in the Greek coastal city of Kalamata, where a UNHCR team interviewed them:

The survivors told us that they had been part of a group of between 100 and 200 people who departed last week from a locality near Tobruk in Libya on a 30-metre-long boat.

After sailing for several hours, the smugglers on charge of the boat attempted to transfer the passengers to a larger ship carrying hundreds of people in terribly overcrowded conditions. At one point during the transfer, the larger boat capsized and sank.

The 41 survivors include people who had not yet boarded the larger vessel, as well as some who managed to swim back to the smaller boat. They drifted at sea possibly for three days before being spotted and rescued on 16 April.

If confirmed, this would be the worst loss of life at sea in the past year. Per the terms of a new agreement between Turkey and the EU and because the EU has no returns agreement with war-torn Libya, the Guardian reports that the survivors are not likely to be deported.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Apple Car Is Reportedly Being Developed In A Secret Berlin Lab

Via Business Insider:

Apple could be developing the Apple Car in a secret Berlin lab, according to a report from Frankfurter Allgemeine.

The German publication said on Monday that it had "learned from informed sources that Apple is running a secret laboratory for the development of an automobile — and this in the middle of Berlin". The laboratory is reportedly home to 15-20 staff with backgrounds in engineering, software, hardware, and sales.

Apple could also be looking at building the vehicle — widely referred to as either the Apple Car or the iCar — in Vienna, Austria, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine. In order to build the car in Vienna, Apple will reportedly team up with vehicle engineering and contract manufacturing firm Magna.

Apple has never admitted that it is working on an electric car but the company has recruited dozens of automotive experts from companies like Ford and Mercedes-Benz, according to The Financial Times.

The Apple Car, which may or may not be self-driving, is being developed under the code name "Titan", according to The Wall Street Journal. There may be hundreds of of people working on the project. At one point, former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky, who helped build the iPhone, and Johann Jungwirth, who was Mercedes Benz's R&D chief, were both working for Apple.

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited BMW's German headquarters in 2014, according to a Reuters report in January, which also stated that senior Apple executives went on a tour of BMW's Leipzig factory to learn how it manufactures the i3 electric car.

Apple is hoping to start shipping the Apple car in 2019, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal in September 2015.

Silicon Valley heavyweights like Google and Uber are carrying out their own research into autonomous cars, as are many of the traditional car manufacturers, including BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Scientist Warns Of Imminent 10+ Magnitude Earthquake To Split California In Half

Via Before It's News:

Scientist from Iran Dr. Mehran Tavakoli (M.T.) Keshe predicting major earthquake(s) 10+ to split California (Just like the Gulf of California) and some other surrounding areas. He says it could be on land or if its in the water there will be a massive tsunami.

Also he says the North and South American continents will separate with an earthquake perhaps even larger than the one in California. "Its so big it will separate two continents. Japan was the pin that started it, but there's two other pin's yet to release; when one goes it releases the second one. A series of movements will happen at the same time to different plates, the continents are locked into each other. It's the natural process of the planet".

Based off of his plasma/field forces model with the earth's inner core, the plates and the sun. He refuses to give a date, but he has one in mind. He makes it sound like its happening very soon. He said the probability of it happening in the autumn/fall is more likely than the summer, or winter (based off of the field forces of the sun/plates/earth's inner core) and he says if it doesn't happen this year, it will happen next.

"Two weeks ago (Sept 3) while watching Knowledge Seekers Workshop #77, M.T. Keshe warned of multiple 10+ earthquakes for the West Coast of the USA... That video was deleted shortly after that same day. He clarifies further about what he thinks is shortly about to happen... which will also effect other countries".

His biography: http://www.keshefoundation.org/introduction/mehran-tavakoli-keshe/68-mehran-tavakoli-keshe-en

Also one video I found interesting from another person comparing the different months of the year to show that Summer has less 8.0+ earthquakes since 1900 than most other months of the year and that Fall and Spring have some of the highest in numbers (Except October). (From 45 seconds to 2:45 in the video below):

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Unchaperoned Bill Clinton Loves Jokes: "Shoot Every Third Person On Wall Street"

Via Gawker:

Bill Clinton is still, somehow, allowed to speak at important public events, and he’s certainly making the most of it. The former president and now first-man-in-training took that privilege to a whole new level this week, giving his thoughts on the rival of his wife, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

I can’t imagine a reason for why this would be appropriate, but on Friday Clinton told an NBC correspondent about all this hubbub about opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders. From The Daily Beast:

“I think it’s fine that all these young students have been so enthusiastic for her opponent, and it sounds so good, just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine,” Clinton told NBC News, according to reporter Brad Jaffy. Clinton later said that “that’s a joke, it’s a total joke”.

An NBC reporter clarified that it really was just one big hoot.

Ah, the ol’ “shoot every third person” joke. Kills every time.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

5 Things To Watch For At Tonight's Democratic Debate In Brooklyn

Via abc NEWS:

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere -- or so they say. And now, after competing press releases and months of negotiations, the two Democratic presidential candidates have their chance to show which one of them is ready to make it all the way to the White House.

A political subway series, if you will, ladies and gentlemen. Two (sort of) New Yorkers battle it out on the debate stage again just days before the Empire State votes on Tuesday, April 19.

Here's what to look for tonight:

A NEW YORK ONE-MAN UPMANSHIP

Will the real New Yorker please stand up? Over the past few weeks, Clinton and Sanders have showed off their New York City chops as they’ve campaigned across the five boroughs. Clinton —- who lives in Westchester County north of New York City, is a former senator with campaign headquarters based in Brooklyn -- made a stop for cheesecake at Juniors diner in Brooklyn and took a subway ride in the Bronx. Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn, held campaign events in front of his childhood home and iconic locations such as Coney Island and Washington Square Park. Tonight at the debate, the two candidates could likely try to one up each other about who lays greater claim to the Empire State.

THE QUALIFIED SPAT

In recent weeks, Clinton and Sanders have engaged in a back-and-forth spat about who is -- or isn’t -– qualified to be president. Sanders first said Clinton was not qualified to be president and incorrectly said she had said he wasn’t. Then he backtracked -– slightly -- and said his opponent is both qualified and unqualified to be president. Clinton, meanwhile, said “yes” Sanders is qualified for the job, but then went on to question his policy proposals and experience. Sanders’ interview with the New York Daily News editorial board, where he stumbled during a question about his Wall Street plan, only added fuel to the fire. "I noticed that under the bright spotlight and scrutiny here in New York Senator Sanders has had trouble answering questions”, Clinton told reporters. Tonight will be the first time the two candidates can confront each other about the feud.

WALL STREET & TERROR

In a debate held in New York City, there’s no question both Wall Street and terrorism are bound to come up. Just this week, Sanders criticized a $5 billion settlement Goldman Sachs reached with the Justice Department and debuted a new ad criticizing the bank (which, as he’ll be the first to point out, has paid Clinton six-figures for a speech). Tonight’s debate is also the first since the terror attacks in Brussels. Since then, Clinton has played up the commander in chief aspect of the job and played up her foreign policy experience, in some ways suggesting her opponent isn’t as tough.

A FRACK-TIVIST

A staunch opponent to hydraulic fracking, Sanders this week proposed a national ban on the controversial shale gas extraction technology. While speaking in cities in upstate New York in particular, Sanders used this to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Clinton, who as Secretary of State, on occasion advocate for fracking abroad. New York state banned fracking a year ago after a large push by activists and so by highlighting this component of his environmental policy, Sanders also gets to talk about and hype up the recent successes of grassroots organizers. Expect the Sanders, who is relying on the mobilization of progressives, to talk about this issue.

THE ‘MO’

The underdog candidate has picked up steam with victories in seven out of the last eight contests. On then eve of the debate, Sanders’ campaign threw another mega-rally in the heart of downtown Manhattan too that drew over 27.000 people, according to estimates from the campaign. “I don’t think that there is any doubt but that our campaign today has the momentum”, Sanders proclaimed during his Wednesday night rally. On the other hand, Clinton has maintained her significant lead in the delegate math and on the trail dismisses charges about the enthusiasm around Sanders’ campaign, by reminding people that she has received more votes than he has. Expect both candidates tonight to argue that their campaign is the one on the move.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Pound Will Get Demolished If Britain Becomes A "Rogue Nation"

Via Business Insider:

The pound will have to tackle "serious challenges" if Britain decides to leave the European Union when the country votes in the EU referendum on June 23, 2016.

In a note sent to Business Insider, foreign exchange firm Caxton FX has reiterated its concerns about Brexit, saying that if Britain votes leave and becomes a "rogue nation" it will sent investors scrambling to move money from the UK, cause huge amounts of uncertainty in the markets, and weaken sterling significantly.

Here's what Caxton analyst Nicholas Laser-Ebisch has to say (emphasis ours):

If the UK becomes a rogue nation and is all of a sudden one of the only large western European countries to not be a member of the EU, then this will be seen as political instability and will likely spook investors. An exit from the EU represents discontent among the citizens of the country, which is a sign that there is internal turmoil in the UK.

If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely that the pound will weaken significantly directly after. An “out” vote will mean that it is likely confirmed that the UK will begin the process of exiting from the EU and investors (both foreign and domestic) will quickly start liquidating their UK assets and move them into euros, US dollars, or other currencies.

Caxton's concern about the state of the pound comes the day after the International Monetary Fund said that Brexit could cause "severe regional and global damage" and downgraded the UK's growth forecast.

The warning is also one that it has made before. In early March, the firm argued that Brexit could spark a "currency crisis" with Laser-Ebisch saying that "investors would leave the UK investment market faster than a jack rabbit on a hot greasy griddle in the middle of August" if Britain votes for a Brexit.

Worries about Brexit have already taken a huge toll on the pound.

The pound crashed to its lowest level against the dollar, its key cross rate, since 2009 in late February, falling more than 2% in one day at one point, and dropping as low as $1.3844 on the final day of the month. It has recovered since then, and is at $1.4234 as of 4.10 p.m. BST (11.10 a.m ET) on Wednesday.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Greece And Creditors "Make Progress" In Review Talks

Via EUobserver:

Greece and its international lenders have made “progress” in talks on a review of Greek reforms needed to unlock new money, as talks continued on Monday (11 April). Representatives of the European Commission, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM, the eurozone's bailout fund), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB), had talks which lasted until deep in the night, and were due to be picked up again on Monday.

“Progress has been made over the weekend,” EU commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Monday.

The same day, press agency Reuters reported a Greek government source as saying negotiators were “very close” to reaching a conclusion.

Greece and its lenders hoped to secure a deal before the IMF spring meeting later this week or before the next Eurogroup meeting on 22 April.

The talks concern a review of Greece's bailout reforms, and need to be concluded before up to €5 billion in aid can be unlocked. Athens needs the cash to pay bills and repay loans to the IMF and ECB.

A positive review of the reforms is also needed to convince the IMF to take part in the €85 billion bailout programme agreed last summer.

But to conclude the review, Greece on one side and the EU lenders and the IMF on the other side have to agree on budget targets and the scale of reforms.

While the IMF wants far-reaching reforms followed by some debt relief to make Greece's finances viable in the long term, Europeans are ready to agree on smaller reforms but are wary of debt relief.

According to Klaus Regling, managing director of the ESM, the IMF has to be on board.

Speaking to a group of journalists in Luxembourg last week, Regling noted that while the ESM is modelled after the IMF, the Washington-based fund is still needed for its expertise.

“We imported the recipes of the IMF into Europe,” he said about the ESM, which is an intergovernmental organisation established in 2012, as a permanent successor to a temporary bailout fund.

“That was good, because we didn't have to reinvent the wheel. We used basically the same instruments as the IMF uses.”

However, Regling said that his organisation, with a staff of 160, could not replace the IMF.

“The ESM has many advantages ... but we are still a young and small institution. … We have no intention of competing with the IMF or taking over the functions of the IMF. That is not possible and there is no intention of doing that. We want the IMF on board.”

Regling would not comment on the leaked transcript of IMF officials, which suggested the fund saw threatening Greece with a default as an option.

However, he did note that to have four different institutions involved “makes the process a bit more complicated” and is “not an easy set-up”.

“In all these teams there are excellent economists, and we know that excellent economists sometimes don't agree on everything. Often even if three economists sit in one room, they may have four opinions,” said Regling.

The German official also noted while Greece and its lenders may have different views on how the reforms should be implemented, Greece does not dispute the objectives of the reforms.

“[Greek prime minister] Tsipras had said several times in parliament that the current [pension] system is not sustainable, that it would be broke in five years.

“So there is agreement that it has to be reformed, but there are many different ways how to reform a pension system. None of them is easy. But it makes sense to argue about the difficult possibilities and find the best possible way”.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

It’s Not Just The Supreme Court. Republicans Are Screwing Lots Of Other Courts Too.

Via The Hufffington Post:

It sucks to be Merrick Garland right now. He was nominated to the job of his life — Supreme Court justice — and Republicans won’t even give him a vote. It’s not that they have bad things to say about him; they just don’t want President Barack Obama to fill the empty court seat.

It’s worth noting there are 46 other Merrick Garlands. That is, 46 other judicial nominees are in the same boat. They’re not in line for the Supreme Court, but like Garland, they’re nominees to federal courts who aren’t getting votes (except one, who just got scheduled for a Monday vote). That’s because GOP leaders don’t want to confirm judges until 2017. By then, they hope, a Republican will be in the White House and will put forward nominees they like better.

Not only are they screwing the judicial branch of government by dragging out confirmations — when vacancies pile up on district and circuit courts, people’s cases can get delayed for years and judges burn out — but they’re screwing themselves. Some GOP senators really need judicial nominees confirmed, but are being denied by their own party leaders.

Take Marilyn Horan, who would fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, a post that’s been vacant for 921 days. She has the support of her Republican senator, Pat Toomey, and has been ready for a confirmation vote since January. But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn’t scheduled it. Suzanne Mitchell would fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma that has been empty for 1,006 days. Both of her senators, Republicans James Inhofe and James Lankford, back her. But it’s been four months since her nomination and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman, hasn’t even given her a hearing.

For some broader perspective, consider that Republicans have only confirmed 16 judicial nominees since becoming the Senate majority in January 2015. At this same point in President George W. Bush’s eighth year, when Democrats controlled the Senate, 40 judicial nominees had been confirmed.

Obama said what Republicans are doing to the courts is “dangerous”.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to get done and you need judges, and right now, there are emergency situations in districts across the country”, the president said at a Thursday event in Chicago.

When vacancies don’t get filled on the Supreme Court and elsewhere, “people then just view the courts as an extension of our political parties — polarized political parties”, he continued. “If confidence in the courts consistently breaks down, then you start seeing our attitudes about democracy generally starting to break down, a legitimacy breaking down in ways that are very dangerous”.

The last time the Senate confirmed a judge was in mid-February, and that was only because McConnell postponed a package of judicial nominees from 2015 into the new year. There are 15 judicial nominees ready for a confirmation vote right now, but only one of those votes has been scheduled. Another 32 are waiting on the Judiciary Committee, which hasn’t held a hearing for a nominee since January. Federal courts, meanwhile, are at 79 vacancies and climbing.

“All the air in the room has been taken out by the Supreme Court, but the lower courts are equally problematic, if not worse”, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who specializes in judicial confirmations. “Ninety-nine percent of cases are decided in the lower courts”.

The one nominee who is scheduled for a vote is Waverly Crenshaw, a Tennessee district court nominee. If ever there was an obvious nominee to confirm, it’s Crenshaw: He’s been waiting nine months for a vote, he cleared the Judiciary Committee unanimously and he has the support of both of his GOP senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. The seat is also a judicial emergency.

Giving Crenshaw a vote “is just giving the least [that the] GOP can”, Tobias said.

It’s unclear whether GOP leaders will relent on giving Garland a vote (it’s not looking likely), or if they’ll pick up the pace on judicial confirmations in general. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said Friday that he doesn’t expect Crenshaw to be the last judicial confirmation of the year.

“No announcements for you yet, though”, he said.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Putin Says Panama Papers Leaks Are Attempt To Destabilize Russia

Via The Huffington Post:

The Russian president said his friend who was named in the leaks spent the money on expensive musical instruments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said a friend of his named in the “Panama Papers” leaks had done nothing wrong and spent the money he earned from business on buying expensive musical instruments which he was donating to public institutions.

Media reports based on the leaked documents from a Panama-based law firm alleged that Sergei Roldugin, a cellist and friend of Putin, had quietly built up a sprawling business empire involved in offshore transactions that might be linked to the Russian leader.

Speaking to supporters in St Petersburg, Putin said the leaks were part of an orchestrated attempt to destabilize Russia by fabricating allegations of corruption.

“Our opponents are above all concerned by the unity and consolidation of the Russian nation. They are attempting to rock us from within, to make us more pliant”, said Putin, in his first public comments on the leaks.

“There is a certain friend of the president of Russia, he did such and such a thing, and there is probably a corruption element there,” Putin said, describing the allegations.

“But there isn’t any (element of corruption)”.

Putin said Roldugin was a brilliant musician and a minority shareholder in a Russian company from which he earned some money but not “billions of dollars”.

He said Roldugin had spent almost all the money he had made from the venture on acquiring expensive musical instruments abroad which he was in the process of handing over to state institutions.

“I am proud to have such friends”, said Putin.

The papers, which included more than 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. They then became part of a broader investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The files, which contained the details of clients around the world, prompted Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, the prime minister of Iceland, to quit, put British Prime Minister David Cameron under pressure over his family’s financial affairs, and sparked calls in Ukraine to investigate President Petro Poroshenko.

But in Russia, where state media closely hews to the Kremlin’s line, the allegations have either been played down or portrayed as part of an attempt to undermine the ruling elite before parliamentary elections later this year.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, has dismissed the allegations as the result of “Putinophobia” and said that the journalistic consortium behind the Panama Papers included “many former state department and CIA employees, as well as those of other intelligence services”.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Iceland’s Prime Minister Resigns After Panama Papers Leaks

Via The Huffington Post:

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson is to step down after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm showed his wife owned an offshore company with big claims on collapsed Icelandic banks, his party said.

Gunnlaugsson became the first prominent casualty from the revelations in the so-called Panama Papers, which have cast light on the financial arrangements of an array of politicians and public figures across the globe and the companies and financial institutions they use.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gunnlaugsson had asked Iceland’s president to dissolve parliament in the face of a looming no-confidence vote and mass street protests over the revelations.

The deputy leader of his Progressive Party, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, told reporters the party will suggest to its coalition partners in the Independence Party that he should become the new prime minister.

With the fallout from the leaks reverberating across the globe, British Prime Minister David Cameron came under fire from opponents who accused him of allowing a rich elite to dodge their taxes.

And in China, the Beijing government dismissed as “groundless” reports that the families of President Xi Jinping and other current and former Chinese leaders were linked to offshore accounts.

Beijing also moved to limit local access to coverage of the matter. State media denounced Western reporting on it as biased against non-Western leaders.

The more than 11.5 million documents were leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Among those named in them are friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the leaders of China, Britain, Iceland and Pakistan, and the president of Ukraine.

The papers have caused public outrage over how the world’s rich and powerful are able to stash their cash and avoid taxes while many people suffer austerity and hardship.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Keep A Separate Credit Card Just For Bills In Case Your Wallet Is Stolen

Via LifeHacker:

Most banks have accommodating policies for credit card theft. However, it can still be kind of a pain to cancel your card and all of its automatic payments. NerdWallet writer Virginia McGuire has a solution: designate a specific card for automatic bill pay.

After her credit card was stolen, McGuire went through the hassle of resetting her bill payment info. We’ve all been there, and she explains her solution:

Most of us have more than one credit card anyway. If you already have multiple accounts, it’s the easiest thing in the world to designate one credit card exclusively for automated bill payments.

I now keep that credit card at home — well-hidden and protected by a burglar alarm — and carry a different credit card for daily spending. That way, if my wallet takes a walk without me a third time, I won’t have to change the payment information on my Netflix account yet again.

Yes, that credit card info can still be compromised (maybe one of the providers gets hacked), but her method still minimizes the overall risk. It’s a smart idea, and an easy enough one to implement.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Greece Is Predicting An Imminent Descent Into Violent Chaos Over New Refugee Rules

Via Business Insider:

Greece is predicted to descend into rioting and chaos next week when the new agreement between the European Union and Turkey — to allow Greece to send back migrants that either do not apply for asylum or fail in their claims — comes into effect.

The Greek government’s migration spokesman, Giorgos Kyritsis, told the Observer newspaper:

We are expecting violence. People in despair tend to be violent.

The whole philosophy of the deal is to deter human trafficking [into Europe] from the Turkish coast, but it is going to be difficult and we are trying to use a soft approach. These are people who have fled war.

They are not criminals.

European Union members are all trying to thrash out the best way to accommodate the one million migrants arriving in the 28 nation bloc per year, some countries like Greece are struggling to cope with the influx due to its own battered economy.

On April 4, Greece will be allowed to send back Syrian refugees to Turkey, if they entered the country illegally from Turkey. The deal also means that for every Syrian migrant arriving in Greece, one will be sent back to Turkey while one Syrian in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.

In order to enforce the deal, the EU are sending 2.300 officials to help enforce the new agreement. That includes security officials and translators.

Kyritsis told the Observer: “We are still waiting for the legal experts and translators they said they would send. Even Frontex personnel haven’t got here yet”.

Greek officials warned that the move is likely to enflame tension amongst the Greek community and the refugees. Already, 800 people broke out of a detention center on Chios on Friday, pointed out the Observer which spoke to Greece's migration official.

The report added that 750 immigrants are set to be sent back between Monday and Wednesday from the island of Lesbos to the Turkish port of Dikili due to new rules.

AFP, citing the Athens News Agency, said more than "5.600 migrants have been registered on Greek islands since March 20, the date on which the agreement took effect". It added that 250 people would be returned each day through Wednesday.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) confirmed on December 30, 2015 that more than one million refugees and migrants reached the continent by sea since the start of 2015.

This is versus 219.000 in 2014.