Associated Press expects you to pay to license 5-word quotations (and reserves the right to terminate your license)

In the name of “defin[ing] clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt” the Associated Press is now selling “quotation licenses” that allow bloggers, journallers, and people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. The licensing system exhorts you to snitch on people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in reward money (they also think that “fair use” — the right to copy without permission — means “Contact the owner of the work to be sure you are covered under fair use.”).

It gets better! If you pay to quote the AP, but you offend the AP in so doing, the AP “reserves the right to terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher’s reputation.”

Over on Making Light, Patrick Nielsen Hayden nails it:

The New York Times, an AP member organization, refers to this as an “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt.” I suggest it’s better described as yet another attempt by a big media company to replace the established legal and social order with with a system of private law (the very definition of the word “privilege”) in which a few private organizations get to dictate to the rest of society what the rules will be. See also Virgin Media claiming the right to dictate to private citizens in Britain how they’re allowed to configure their home routers, or the new copyright bill being introduced in Canada, under which the international entertainment industry, rather than democratically-accountable representatives of the Canadian people, will get to define what does and doesn’t amount to proscribed “circumvention.” Hey, why have laws? Let’s just ask established businesses what kinds of behaviors they find inconvenient, and then send the police around to shut those behaviors down. Imagine the effort we’ll save.

Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish.

Welcome to a world in which you won’t own any of your technology or your music or your books, because ensuring that someone makes their profit margins will justify depriving you of the even the most basic, commonsensical rights in your personal, hand-level household goods.

The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it. Whether or not you have ever personally taped a TV show or written a blog post, if you think you’re going to wind up on top in the sort of world these people are working to build, you are out of your mind.

Source: boingboing.net

American Express: The Economy is Worsening

June 25 (Bloomberg) — American Express Co., the biggest U.S. credit-card company by purchases and cash advances, said customers are falling further behind on their debt, signaling the economy is worsening.

“Business conditions continue to weaken in the U.S. and so far this month we have seen credit indicators deteriorate beyond our expectations,” Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Chenault said in a statement today announcing the company would receive as much as $1.8 billion in a settlement with competitor MasterCard Inc.

American Express and rivals Capital One Financial Corp. and Discover Financial Services have fallen by more than a third in the past 12 months in New York trading as consumers absorb the housing slump, rising unemployment and higher food and fuel bills. New York-based American Express adopted a “cautious view” for the year in January after cardholder spending slowed and overdue payments rose in December.

“If you look at the employment situation, clearly that’s deteriorated, and consumer confidence is down as well,” said Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst with KBW Inc. in New York who has a “market perform” rating on the stock. “Both play a key role in the credit-card industry.”

The Federal Reserve today left its benchmark interest rate at 2 percent, saying “uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high.” Consumer prices rose 4.2 percent in the 12 months ended in May, the fastest pace since January, while the unemployment rate rose by the most in more than two decades.

Consumer Confidence

Confidence among Americans dropped to the lowest level in 16 years, the Conference Board said yesterday.

Read moreAmerican Express: The Economy is Worsening

Faster Inflation May Unleash `Financial Tsunami’: Chart of Day

June 24 (Bloomberg) — Rising consumer prices will leave more U.S. consumers unable to pay their debts and may lead to a “financial tsunami,” according to Bennet Sedacca, president of money manager Atlantic Advisors LLC in Winter Park, Florida.

“Whether it is anecdotal or statistical evidence, I see inflation everywhere, and this is where the financial tsunami cometh,” Sedacca wrote in a report published yesterday. “A battered, over-indebted consumer, if forced to retrench, could create even more problems for the banking system as loan delinquencies would begin to rise even further. All sorts of delinquencies are rising. This is now a systemic issue.”

The four-part chart of the day shows how U.S. householders are struggling to pay their home loans. The top white chart shows the surge in delinquencies on all mortgages, while the yellow one measures foreclosures. The green chart tracks delinquencies on subprime adjustable-rate mortgages, and the purple one shows subprime mortgages that are 60 days behind on their payments.

Sedacca wrote that current financial-market conditions remind him of “someone standing on a lonely beach, armed with only a small bucket, trying to stop a rare tsunami that hits the shores. It is how I feel about our markets and the tools being utilized by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and other regulatory bodies. They are overmatched for what they are facing and, worse yet, they helped create the mess in the first place by being far too easy with money and debt creation.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gilbert in London at magilbert@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: June 24, 2008
By Mark Gilbert

Source: Bloomberg

L.A. seeing more people living out of their cars

LOS ANGELES: Having lost her job and her three-bedroom house, Darlene Knoll has joined the legions of downwardly mobile who are four wheels away from homelessness.

She is living out of her shabby 1978 RV, and every night she has to look for a place to park where she won’t get hassled by the cops or insulted by residents.

“I’m not a piece of trash,” the former home health-care aide said as she stroked one of five dogs in her cramped quarters parked in the waterfront community of Marina del Rey.

Amid the foreclosure crisis and the shaky economy, some California cities are seeing an increase in the number of people living out of their cars, vans or RVs.

Read moreL.A. seeing more people living out of their cars

As first-time buyers vanish, the lights go out across Britain

House price inflation scared them away. Now prices are falling but they’re still not coming back – undermining the market and putting estate agents and builders out of business. Richard Northedge reports

Like a giant pyramid scheme, the housing market relies on first-time buyers to enable those already on the bottom rung of the ladder to sell their starter homes and climb higher. New blood is needed for the additional funds that will keep the market buoyant.

Yet this vital source of investment has all but dried up. The number of first-timers this year could be the lowest on record. In 1999, almost 600,000 people bought their first property, but then soaring prices started to make homes unaffordable and that number dropped steadily. Last year it stood at 358,000 – its lowest level since 1991.

However, with prices now falling, potential first-timers are still not taking the plunge even though properties are cheaper. On current trends, they will buy barely more than 200,000 homes this year. Indeed, the total could fall below the 198,000 sales recorded in 1974 and be the lowest since records began.

Read moreAs first-time buyers vanish, the lights go out across Britain

The Gold Confiscation Of April 5, 1933

From: President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt
To: The United States Congress
Dated: 5 April, 1933
Presidential Executive Order 6102

Forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion and Gold Certificates By virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 5(b) of the Act of October 6, 1917, as amended by Section 2 of the Act of March 9, 1933, entitled

An Act to provide relief in the existing national emergency in banking, and for other purposes~’,

in which amendatory Act Congress declared that a serious emergency exists,

I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do declare that said national emergency still continues to exist and pursuant to said section to do hereby prohibit the hoarding gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates within the continental United States by individuals, partnerships, associations and corporations and hereby prescribe the following regulations for carrying out the purposes of the order:

Section 1. For the purpose of this regulation, the term ‘hoarding” means the withdrawal and withholding of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates from the recognized and customary channels of trade. The term “person” means any individual, partnership, association or corporation.

Section 2. All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933, except the following:

Read moreThe Gold Confiscation Of April 5, 1933

Government Is Sued Over Seizure of Liberty Dollars

The federal government’s attempt to stop a group of gold-standard activists from minting an alternative to the greenback is about to face its first legal test.

A dozen people around the country filed suit in U.S. District Court in Idaho this week demanding the return of all the copper, silver, gold, and platinum coins – more than seven tons of metal in all – that the FBI and Secret Service seized in November during raids of a mint in Idaho and a strip mall storefront in Indiana.

The Justice Department had decided that the coins, many of which bear the familiar symbol of Lady Liberty and the phrase “TRUST IN GOD,” were being illegally marketed as government-sanctioned currency, according to the sworn affidavit of an FBI agent.

The creator of the coins, Bernard von NotHaus, who lives in Miami, claims that the federal government is trying to shut down production of his liberty dollars, as the coins are called, because of the competition they pose to the greenback. In recent years, his precious metal coins have outperformed the dollar, whose value has plunged in relation to gold.

The raids in November were the result of a two-year undercover investigation of Mr. Von NotHaus and how he sold liberty dollars. The Justice Department has not followed up with any criminal charges against Mr. Von NotHaus or the regional distributors of his coins.

In the suit filed in Idaho, the various plaintiffs say the federal government has no right to continue holding onto their coins any longer.

While it is common for agents to warehouse property seized during criminal investigations, such as firearms or surveillance equipment, the plaintiffs say coins of precious metal should be off-limits.

The coins “do not constitute contraband or other property subject to seizure,” the legal papers state, adding that the seizures violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs.

Read moreGovernment Is Sued Over Seizure of Liberty Dollars

Dollar Diving

Dollar to fall to metals in upcoming rallies, rate hikes soon wont be able to fix economic problems, real inflation understated for years, USDX contracts plummet, why arent people fleeing from the stock market… Exchange Traded Funds are a disaster, losses from global write downs, Fed still invited to intervene in spite of failures

The dollar has once again collapsed. Get ready for the next dollar debacle and the coming rally in gold and silver which have just broken out. The elitists have lost all credibility. The would-be lords of the universe have told so many pathological lies that no one “in the know” believes anything emanating from the forked tongues of Buck-Busting, Bear-Bashing, Big-Ben Bernanke and Hanky Panky Paulson. If our Fed Head and Treasury Secretary had been characters in the Walt Disney movie entitled “Pinocchio,” their noses would have quickly grown to lengths that could have been wrapped around the earth’s equator several times. God would have had to reverse the earth’s rotation to extricate them.

Wall Street tells us the odds favor two quarter percent rate hikes to the Fed funds rate by the end of the year. We ask whether that would be before or after the economy collapses? If before, the Fed’s rate hikes will destroy what is left of our economy, and the dollar will collapse, thereby erasing any benefits from the rate hikes. If after, you will see rate cuts instead of rate hikes as the Fed attempts to save the fraudsters on Wall Street who are not even remotely close to recovering from the credit-crunch despite what the elitists might tell you to the contrary. We ask who the morons are that make up these odds, and what planet they come from. They give aliens a bad name. These index predictions are just another form of jaw-boning and disinformation.

As soon as the economy starts its final descent into Davy Jones’ Locker, which is likely to occur in the very near future, the Fed and the US Treasury will unceremoniously toss the so-called “strong dollar” policy into the nearest financial dumpster in order to save the economy and the fraudsters. Accompanying the “strong dollar” policy on its way to the dumpster will be the next round of derivative toxic waste that is on its way courtesy of the upcoming surge in fallout from tanking real estate markets in a process that will see the Fed blow what remains of its general collateral in exchange for such waste. Once the Fed’s general collateral is exhausted, we will be ushered into a new hyperinflationary era characterized by direct monetization of US treasuries to fund our deficits and to absorb more toxic waste as it continues to pour down on elitist financial institutions like Niagara Falls.

A few measly quarter percent cuts will do absolutely nothing to slow the acceleration of inflation, especially if the Fed keeps the M3 at current levels. Only a double-digit Fed funds rate and greatly reduced M3 could have any eventual and meaningful impact on the inflation that is built into the system for at minimum the next year and one half at levels in the area of 15% to 18%, and even then the impact will not be felt until the current baked-in inflation has run its course. Direct monetization of treasuries to replenish Fed collateral and to absorb our growing deficits will put inflation beyond the point of no return, as will the breaking of OPEC dollar pegs.

As you can see, there is no way that any of the proposed diminutive rate hikes will have a positive impact on the economy, on the dollar or on the balance sheets of the fraudsters. Therefore, there will not be any rate hikes. Any increase in the Fed funds rate would be accompanied by an economic catastrophe of epic proportions that would occur as a direct result of the raising of that rate. Any rate hike would take a year to a year and a half to have an impact on inflation. By the time the anticipated Fed rate hikes could have any kind of impact whatsoever, the economy will already be in a state of rampant hyperinflation, and would be well on its way to depression, far too late to save the dollar or the economy. Ergo, the new elitist motto will soon become: “Damn the inflation, full greed ahead!”

Read moreDollar Diving

New Zealand: Rising costs start to bite

The average Kiwi has to work until smoko time each Wednesday just to fuel up the car and buy the groceries.

Calculations by the Sunday Star-Times show that on the average Kiwi wage of $45,000 a year, a worker needs to toil away for 17 hours a week just to keep their family fed and their car fuelled. That is because food prices have gone up by 11.8 per cent in the past year, while petrol prices have jumped 34 per cent. By contrast, wages for most people have risen by only about 3 per cent.

An average couple with two dependent children can now expect to spend around $244 a week on groceries, plus another $47 a week on petrol (more if they own a second car or a gas-guzzling 4WD). That’s an increase of about $43 on grocery and fuel costs compared with a year ago.

Wages have not risen at the same rapid rate which means more of their income is being swallowed up by necessities each week.

Read moreNew Zealand: Rising costs start to bite

Gold May Rise to $5,000 on Inflation, Schroder Says

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June 19 (Bloomberg) — Gold prices may rise to $5,000 an ounce as investors seek to protect themselves against accelerating inflation, said Schroder Investment Management Ltd., which oversees $277 billion of assets globally.

“You could easily see for the next several years that prices rise not to $1,000 an ounce, but prices rise to $5,000 an ounce or beyond as inflation psychology becomes more and more embedded and people become desperate to have a source of value,” said Christopher Wyke, London-based emerging market debt and commodities product manager at Schroder, which oversees about $10 billion of commodity assets.

Investors are turning to gold for protection as two-thirds of the world’s population cope with inflation rates that are climbing to more than 10 percent, Wyke said. Cash and inflation- linked bonds are poor substitutes as low interest rates, coupled with surging inflation, erode the real value of assets, he said.

Read moreGold May Rise to $5,000 on Inflation, Schroder Says

Wealthy Investors Shift Funds From Global Banks to Reduce Risks

June 19 (Bloomberg) — High-net worth individuals, those coveted financial-services customers with at least $2 million to invest, are shifting assets from brokerages and large global banks to smaller, more conservative alternatives.

“For the first time in my career, I saw concern about the location of one’s assets,” said Robert Balentine, the head of Wilmington Trust Corp.‘s investment management group. “We’ve seen tangible evidence of very wealthy clients shifting assets out of brokerage firms in great numbers.”

Trust companies like Wilmington are benefiting from record subprime-infected losses at companies led by Zurich-based UBS AG, the world’s biggest money manager for the rich. UBS clients probably withdrew a net $39 billion during the past three months after the company reported more than $38 billion of writedowns and credit-market losses in the past year, London-based analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimate.

Clients may say “if UBS can’t manage its own capital, then what the hell are they going to do with mine?” said David Maude, a financial services consultant in Verona, Italy, who calls UBS the “Rolls Royce” of the industry. “It does tarnish their reputation, certainly.”

UBS contacted 2.5 million Swiss consumer and wealth- management customers last month after losing 11.5 billion francs ($10.9 billion) in the first quarter and seeing a net withdrawal of 12.8 billion francs in its asset and wealth-management units.

The company has responded with “proactive, ongoing communication” with clients, said Jim Pierce, co-head of UBS’s U.S. Wealth Management Advisory Group, in an e-mailed response to questions. UBS is “willing to have the difficult conversations,” Pierce said.

U.S. Market

Read moreWealthy Investors Shift Funds From Global Banks to Reduce Risks

Seniors Increasingly Facing Bankruptcy

(June 17) – Swamped by debt and rising medical bills, elderly Americans have been seeking bankruptcy-court protection at sharply faster rates than other adults, a study to be released Tuesday indicates.
From 1991 to 2007, the rate of personal bankruptcy filings among those ages 65 or older jumped by 150 percent, according to AARP, which will release the new research from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project. The most startling rise occurred among those ages 75 to 84, whose rate soared 433 percent.

The study did not address the specific reasons behind the trend. But experts say medical bills have played a major role in the debt that has forced many elderly Americans into bankruptcy proceedings.

“Health care is a big issue for the elderly,” says George Gaberlavage, director of consumer and state affairs at the AARP Public Policy Institute. “And out-of-pocket expenses have been going up.”

As a result, Gaberlavage says he thinks health care is the single biggest cause of the rise in filings.

Read moreSeniors Increasingly Facing Bankruptcy

Mexico: Food Prices to Be Frozen

Food manufacturers promised to freeze prices on more than 150 products to help families cope with rising costs. President Felipe Calderón announced that prices for goods like cooking oil, flour, canned tuna, fruit juices, coffee, ketchup and canned tomatoes would remain fixed until Dec. 31. “This reflects the commitment of Mexican businessmen to the country and to price stability,” said Mr. Calderón, who has blamed rising global energy prices, soaring food demand in China and India and the use of corn for ethanol production for high food costs.

Published: June 19, 2008
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Morgan Stanley warns of ‘catastrophic event’ as ECB fights Federal Reserve


Jean-Claude Trichet is taking a hard line on rates

The clash between the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve over monetary strategy is causing serious strains in the global financial system and could lead to a replay of Europe’s exchange rate crisis in the 1990s, a team of bankers has warned.

“We see striking similarities between the transatlantic tensions that built up in the early 1990s and those that are accumulating again today. The outcome of the 1992 deadlock was a major currency crisis and a recession in Europe,” said a report by Morgan Stanley’s European experts.Morgan Stanley doubts that Europe’s monetary union will break up under pressure, but it warns that corked pressures will have to find release one way or another.

This will most likely occur through property slumps and banking purges in the vulnerable countries of the Club Med region and the euro-satellite states of Eastern Europe.

“The tensions will not disappear into thin air. They will find fault lines on the periphery of Europe. Painful macro adjustments are likely to take place. Pegs to the euro could be questioned,” said the report, written by Eric Chaney, Carlos Caceres, and Pasquale Diana.

The point of maximum stress could occur in coming months if the ECB carries out the threat this month by Jean-Claude Trichet to raise rates. It will be worse yet – for Europe – if the Fed backs away from expected tightening. “This could trigger another ‘catastrophic’ event,” warned Morgan Stanley.

The markets have priced in two US rates rises later this year following a series of “hawkish” comments by Fed chief Ben Bernanke and other US officials, but this may have been a misjudgment.

An article in the Washington Post by veteran columnist Robert Novak suggested that Mr Bernanke is concerned that runaway oil costs will cause a slump in growth, viewing inflation as the lesser threat. He is irked by the ECB’s talk of further monetary tightening at such a dangerous juncture.


Ben Bernanke is reported to be irked by the ECB’s approach

Read moreMorgan Stanley warns of ‘catastrophic event’ as ECB fights Federal Reserve

RBS issues global stock and credit crash alert

The Royal Bank of Scotland has advised clients to brace for a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyses the major central banks.

“A very nasty period is soon to be upon us – be prepared,” said Bob Janjuah, the bank’s credit strategist.

(Got Gold and Silver? More under “Solution– The Infinite Unknown)

A report by the bank’s research team warns that the S&P 500 index of Wall Street equities is likely to fall by more than 300 points to around 1050 by September as “all the chickens come home to roost” from the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets.

Such a slide on world bourses would amount to one of the worst bear markets over the last century.

  • RBS alert: Quotes from the report
  • Fund managers react to RBS alert
  • Support for the euro is in doubt
  • RBS said the iTraxx index of high-grade corporate bonds could soar to 130/150 while the “Crossover” index of lower grade corporate bonds could reach 650/700 in a renewed bout of panic on the debt markets.

    “I do not think I can be much blunter. If you have to be in credit, focus on quality, short durations, non-cyclical defensive names.

    “Cash is the key safe haven. (No way!!! Yet it is still good to have some cash. – The Infinite Unknown)
    This is about not losing your money, and not losing your job,” said Mr Janjuah, who became a City star after his grim warnings last year about the credit crisis proved all too accurate.

    RBS expects Wall Street to rally a little further into early July before short-lived momentum from America’s fiscal boost begins to fizzle out, and the delayed effects of the oil spike inflict their damage.

    “Globalisation was always going to risk putting G7 bankers into a dangerous corner at some point. We have got to that point,” he said.

    US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank both face a Hobson’s choice as workers start to lose their jobs in earnest and lenders cut off credit.

    The authorities cannot respond with easy money because oil and food costs continue to push headline inflation to levels that are unsettling the markets. “The ugly spoiler is that we may need to see much lower global growth in order to get lower inflation,” he said.

  • Morgan Stanley warns of catastrophe
  • More comment and analysis from the Telegraph
  • “The Fed is in panic mode. The massive credibility chasms down which the Fed and maybe even the ECB will plummet when they fail to hike rates in the face of higher inflation will combine to give us a big sell-off in risky assets,” he said.

    Read moreRBS issues global stock and credit crash alert

    Army Overseer Tells of Ouster Over KBR Stir


    Shawn Baldwin/Reflex News, for The New York Times

    An employee of KBR serving dinner to an American soldier at a base in Baghdad. In 2004, a civilian official questioned KBR’s request for about $200 million in payments for food services.

    WASHINGTON – The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops.

    The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations.

    Army auditors had determined that KBR lacked credible data or records for more than $1 billion in spending, so Mr. Smith refused to sign off on the payments to the company. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that.”

    Read moreArmy Overseer Tells of Ouster Over KBR Stir

    Ahmadinejad to OPEC: Dump weak dollar


    Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    Iran urges the OPEC member states again to convert their cash reserves into a basket of currencies rather than the tumbling US dollar.

    Speaking at a ceremony to open the 29th ministerial meeting of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated his proposal made about six months ago in a rare summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’s heads of states.

    “The fall in the value of US dollar is one of the pressing problems of the world today,” warned the Iranian president at the conference in Isfahan on Tuesday.

    He further expressed concern over the adverse effect of the dollar depreciation on the international community, especially energy exporting countries through increasing the price of commodities like wheat, rice and oilseeds. (This could have also been said by Ron Paul or Jim Rogers. – The Infinite Unknown)

    Ahmadinejad said he warned six months ago in the summit conference in Riyadh that there were many indications pointing to continued fall in the value of the greenback.

    “And we see that this continues to happen and the resources and wealth of OPEC member countries have been hugely damaged.

    “I again repeat my previous proposal; we should have a basket of different international hard currencies as the basis or the member countries should come up and produce a new hard currency for petroleum contracts,” he stressed.

    “They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper,” Ahmadinejad said earlier after the close of the summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. (Which is absolutely correct too.)

    The comments by the Iranian president gained backing from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he said at the same event, “The empire of the dollar has to end.”

    Read moreAhmadinejad to OPEC: Dump weak dollar

    Tech Crunch – Here’s Our New Policy On A.P. stories: They’re Banned


    The stories over the weekend were bad enough – the Associated Press, with a long history of suing over quotations from their articles, went after Drudge Retort for having the audacity to link to their stories along with short quotations via reader submissions. Drudge Retort is doing nothing different than what Digg, TechMeme, Mixx and dozens of other sites do, and frankly the fact that they are being linked to should be considered a favor.

    After heavy criticism over the last few days, the A.P. is in damage control mode, says the NYTimes, and retreating from their earlier position. But from what I read, they’re just pushing their case further.

    They do not want people quoting their stories, despite the fact that such activity very clearly falls within the fair use exception to copyright law. They claim that the activity is an infringement.

    A.P. vice president Jim Kennedy says they will issue guidelines telling bloggers what is acceptable and what isn’t, over and above what the law says is acceptable. They will “attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.”

    Those that disregard the guidelines risk being sued by the A.P., despite the fact that such use may fall under the concept of fair use.

    The A.P. doesn’t get to make it’s own rules around how its content is used, if those rules are stricter than the law allows. So even thought they say they are making these new guidelines in the spirit of cooperation, it’s clear that, like the RIAA and MPAA, they are trying to claw their way to a set of property rights that don’t exist today and that they are not legally entitled to. And like the RIAA and MPAA, this is done to protect a dying business model – paid content.

    So here’s our new policy on A.P. stories: they don’t exist. We don’t see them, we don’t quote them, we don’t link to them. They’re banned until they abandon this new strategy, and I encourage others to do the same until they back down from these ridiculous attempts to stop the spread of information around the Internet.

    June 16, 2008
    Michael Arrington

    Source: Tech Crunch

    AP To Set Guidelines For Using Its Articles In Blogs

    The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright.

    The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances. For example, a book reviewer is allowed to quote passages from the work without permission from the publisher.

    Fair use has become an essential concept to many bloggers, who often quote portions of articles before discussing them. The A.P., a cooperative owned by 1,500 daily newspapers, including The New York Times, provides written articles and broadcast material to thousands of news organizations and Web sites that pay to use them.

    Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.

    On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was “heavy-handed” and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.

    The quick about-face came, he said, because a number of well-known bloggers started criticizing its policy, claiming it would undercut the active discussion of the news that rages on sites, big and small, across the Internet.

    The Drudge Retort was initially started as a left-leaning parody of the much larger Drudge Report, run by the conservative muckraker Matt Drudge. In recent years, the Drudge Retort has become more of a social news site, similar to sites like Digg, in which members post links to news articles for others to comment on.

    But Rogers Cadenhead, the owner of the Drudge Retort and several other Web sites, said the issue goes far beyond one site. “There are millions of people sharing links to news articles on blogs, message boards and sites like Digg. If The A.P. has concerns that go all the way down to one or two sentences of quoting, they need to tell people what they think is legal and where the boundaries are.”

    On Friday, The A.P. issued a statement defending its action, saying it was going to challenge blog postings containing excerpts of A.P. articles “when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste.” An A.P. spokesman declined Friday to further explain the association’s position.

    After that, however, the news association convened a meeting of its executives at which it decided to suspend its efforts to challenge blogs until it creates a more thoughtful standard.

    Read moreAP To Set Guidelines For Using Its Articles In Blogs

    Emerging markets face inflation meltdown


    Downward spiral: Chinese stocks have slumped by almost 50pc since October while Mumbai’s BSE index has lost 27pc of its value

    Central banks across much of Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe will soon have to jam on the breaks or risk a serious crisis as inflation spirals into the danger zone. As the stark reality becomes ever clearer, this year’s correction in emerging market bourses and bond markets has now accelerted into a full-fledged rout.

    Shanghai’s composite index touched a fourteen-month low of 2,900 yesterday. It follows moves this week by the central bank raised reserve requirement yet again, draining a further $60bn from the banking system. Chinese stocks have now slumped by almost 50pc since peaking in October.

    In India, Mumbai’s BSE index has lost 27pc of its value as the exodus of foreign funds accelerates. The central bank has raised rates to 8pc to curb inflation and halt a run on the rupee, but critics still say the country waited too long to tackle overheating. The current account deficit has shot up to near 3.5pc of GDP. A plethora of subsidies has pushed the budget deficit to 9pc of GDP.

    Russia, Brazil, India, Vietnam, South Africa, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Chile – among others – have all had to raise interest rates or tighten monetary policy in recent days. Most are still behind the curve.

    “The inflation genie is out of the bottle: easy money is the culprit,” said Joachim Fels, chief economist at Morgan Stanley.

    “Weighted global interest rates are 4.3pc, while global inflation is above 5pc. The real policy rate in the world is negative,” he said
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    The currencies of Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia have come under pressure this week as investors scramble for dollars in moves that echo the East Asia crisis in 1997-1998. Several countries have had to intervene to slow the currency slide.

    The sudden shift in sentiment appears to follow comments by Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner, the heads of the US Federal Reserve and the New York Fed, leaving no doubt that Washington has lost patience with the crumbling dollar.

    It is almost unprecedented for Fed officials to take a public stand on the Greenback. The orchestrated move is clearly aimed at halting the vicious circle in the oil markets, where crude prices are feeding off dollar weakness – with multiples of leverage.

    The “strong dollar” campaign has switched into high gear. US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has conducted an aggressive lobbying drive behind the scenes in the Middle East and Asia. America’s friends and foes have been left in no doubt that the enormous strategic might of the United States is now firmly behind the currency. From now on, they cross Washington at their peril.

    The markets are now pricing in two rate rises by the Fed this year. Investors no longer doubt that the US – and Europe – will do what is needed to restore credibility. This display of resolve has suddenly switched the focus to the very different universe of emerging markets, where a host of countries have repeated the errors of the 1970s.

    Richard Cookson, a strategist at HSBC, advises clients to slash their holdings in these regions.

    “Inflation looks like a very real problem in Asia, and the risk is that investors will lose faith in the region’s currencies. Although markets have fallen savagely from their peaks, they’re still looking pricey. We’ re lopping exposure even further, to zero,” he said.

    “Where to put the money? We think corporate debt is stunningly cheap compared with equities. Seven-year to ten-year ‘BBB’ [rated] corporate bonds in the US haven’t been this cheap since the Autumn of 2002,” he said.

    “Until and unless policy makers in the emerging world – especially those in China – tighten policy dramatically, the inflation rates are unlikely to fall much. Our guess is that most don’t have much will to tighten pre-emptively,” he said.

    Russia’s inflation is 15.1pc, yet interest rates are 10.75pc. Vietnam’s inflation is 25pc; rates are 12pc. Fitch Ratings has put the country on negative watch and warns of brewing trouble in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the Balkans, and the Baltic states. The long-held assumption that emerging markets are strong enough to shrug off US troubles is now facing a serious test. The World Bank has slashed its global growth forecast to 2.7pc this year. The IMF and the World Bank define growth below 3pc a “global recession”.

    There is a dawning realization that China is facing a major storm as inflation (7.7pc), the rising yuan (up 5pc this year), soaring oil prices, and an economic downturn in the key export markets of North America and Europe all combine to crush profit margins. China uses five times as much energy as the US to produce a unit of GDP. It is acutely vulnerable to the energy crisis.

    A quarter of the 800 shoe factories in the Guangdong region have shut down in recent months, and several thousand textile workshops are battling to stay afloat. Hong Kong’s industry federation has warned that 10,000 firms operating in the South of China may soon go out of business.

    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Last Updated: 13/06/2008

    Source: Telegraph

    Turkey, Syria eye nuclear energy cooperation: agency

    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey and Syria are considering setting up a joint energy company and could build joint nuclear power plants for electricity, Syria’s oil minister was quoted as saying on Friday.

    Turkey’s state-run Antolian agency quoted Oil Minister Sufian Alao as saying that the two countries will announce the establishment of a joint energy company in the coming days, which could explore for oil in Turkey, Syria and in third countries.

    “We could also enter into cooperation in the nuclear field. I spoke to (Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler) Mr. Guler on cooperation. In the future we could found joint nuclear power plants for electricity production,” he was quoted as saying.

    Washington released intelligence in April which it said showed Syria secretly built an atomic reactor with North Korean help. Damascus, a U.S. foe and ally of Iran, denies any covert nuclear activity and has said it would cooperate with a U.N. investigation into the allegations.

    Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, is already under pressure from Washington because of its natural gas cooperation with Iran, whose secretive uranium enrichment program has been under scrutiny since 2003.

    The general director of Turkish state energy firm TPAO, Mehmet Uysal, was also quoted as saying the two countries had decided to set up a joint energy company and that a deal could be signed by the end of the year, but did not mention cooperation on nuclear energy.

    (So what now? Bomb them all? -The Infinite Unknown)

    Fri Jun 13, 10:57 AM ET

    Source: Reuters

    California Home Foreclosures Skyrocket by Over 400 Percent

    (NaturalNews) The number of California homes foreclosed on in the fourth quarter of 2007 was more than 400 percent higher than in the same quarter of 2006, according to DataQuick Information systems.

    A total of 31,676 California homes were foreclosed in the last quarter of 2007, compared with only 6,078 in the fourth quarter of the year before. The total number of foreclosures in 2007 was 84,375, or more than six times the 2006 total of 12,672.

    It was the most foreclosures since DataQuick began keeping records in 1988, and more than two times the previous high of 15,418 in the third quarter of 1996.

    Read moreCalifornia Home Foreclosures Skyrocket by Over 400 Percent

    Central bank body warns of Great Depression

    The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the organisation that fosters cooperation between central banks, has warned that the credit crisis could lead world economies into a crash on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

    In its latest quarterly report, the body points out that the Great Depression of the 1930s was not foreseen and that commentators on the financial turmoil, instigated by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, may not have grasped the level of exposure that lies at its heart.

    According to the BIS, complex credit instruments, a strong appetite for risk, rising levels of household debt and long-term imbalances in the world currency system, all form part of the loose monetarist policy that could result in another Great Depression.

    Read moreCentral bank body warns of Great Depression

    Total Notional Value Of Derivatives Outstanding Surpasses One Quadrillion

    The notional value of all outstanding derivatives now totals approximately $1.144 QUADRILLION.

    This appears to be Bank of International Settlement Spin to announce the largest gain in derivatives outstanding since they started to report. As of the last report it appeared that both listed and OTC derivatives was under $600 trillion. Now listed credit derivatives alone stood at $548 Trillion. The OTC derivatives are shown as $596 trillion notional value, as of December 2007. One can only imagine what number they are at now.

    Well we hit a QUADRILLION. We have more than $1000 trillion dollars in all derivatives outstanding. That is simply NUTS because notional value becomes real value when either counterparty to the OTC derivative goes bankrupt. $548 trillion plus $596 trillion means $1.144 quadrillion.

    It would be an interesting piece of research to see what the breakdown is of listed derivatives according to exchange to see if it adds up to the reported number. Spin is now everywhere.

    This means that no OTC derivative house can be allowed to go broke. This means that whatever funds are required to rescue failing international investment banks, banks and financial entities will be provided.

    Keep this economic law in mind. Monetary inflation proceeds price inflation and is its primary cause in economic history from Rome to present.

    Nothing can stop the juggernaut of price inflation heading towards every nation like a runaway freight train down a mountain.

    Gold is going to at least $1650. I am probably way too low with that estimate.

    The US dollar will trade down to at least .5200 as measured by the USDX.

    Gold is the easiest market to trade for the aggressive investor. Sell 1/3 when the market looks like a Rhino Horn which you will see with your French Curves at the point of the rollover.

    Buy 1/3 back when the price of gold looks like a fishing line hanging off a fishing rod. Your maximum power down trend line will give you this.

    Read moreTotal Notional Value Of Derivatives Outstanding Surpasses One Quadrillion