The Required Disclosures
Friday, April 22, 2011
For many people, it's also a religious holiday.
So, if you find yourself getting ready to call your broker today - particularly if you find yourself getting ready to call your broker to sell something or to demand to know why something hasn't settled yet - stop and think.
Then put that phone down. It'll wait until Monday. And even if it can't, since everything is closed, it pretty much will have to.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
- Detainees at an Australian immigration detention center in Sydney have rioted, burning down nine buildings. They also threw roof tiles and furniture at firefighters, preventing them from putting the fires out.
- The Japanese government has declared the 20-km evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to be a no-go zone. Anyone breaking the ban can be fined up to 100,000 yen (about $120) and be arrested.
- The Libyan government responded to threatening talk from NATO by shelling Misrata for several hours.
- Libyan state television is reporting 7 people dead and 18 wounded after NATO airstrikes on the Khallat al-Farjan area of Tripoli.
- The UN's aid chief has rejected offers from the EU to provide military escorts to protect aid deliveries, saying that it would blur the lines between military operations and relief work.
- Admiral Mike Mullen, US Navy, has accused Pakistan's intelligence service of having "a long-standing relationship with the Haqqani network. Haqqani is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners." How much of this is accurate, and how much is diplomatic reprisals for Pakistan's expulsion of CIA employees from the country is unclear at this time.
- South Korea has sent a warship to the Arabian Sea after the Hanjin Tianjin, a 75,000 ton South Korean freighter, lost contact after emitting a distress call. It is believed to have been seized by pirates, who have already seized the Italian Rosalia D'Amato.
- BP has marked the one year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill by suing Halliburton and Transocean, seeking $42 million in damages from Halliburton and $38 million from Transocean. "Halliburton's improper conduct, errors and omissions, including fraud and concealment, caused and/or contributed to the Deepwater Horizon incident," BP said in it's filing. Analysts do not expect BP to win, and assume the company is trying to force the companies to settle.
- Fiat will be paying $1.27 billion for an additional 16% stake in Chrysler, raising their ownership to 46%.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Global Horizons and farms in Hawaii and Washington state for subjecting "the claimants to uninhabitable housing, insufficient food and kitchen facilities, inadequate pay, significant gaps in work, visa and certification violations, suspension, deportation, and/or physical violence." An attorney for the head of global Horizons said the workers were paid "more money than they ever were in Thailand."
- Not to be paranoid, but it turns out that the iPhone stores timestamped latitude and longitude information of everywhere it goes in a hidden file, which is then backed up to the owner's computer when synchronized. If you acquire a new iPhone, the data files are moved onto the new system. The researchers who made the discovery have set up a FAQ web site, if you're interested.
- The UN Security council has called for restraint and dialog between protesters and authorities in Yemen, but the talks ended with no consensus. Separately, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has indicated that he is willing to hand over power, but only to "safe hands". He has left the meaning of "safe hands" rather vague, however.
 For the shooting death of two civilians by one CIA contractor, and for civilian deaths caused by US drone attacks along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
- Paleontologists announced the discovery of a 165 million year old spider with a 15 cm (about 7 inches) legspan.
- The European Commission has asked for a 4.9% budget increase. The short version of the response from the UK, Germany, and France has been "no".
- The Japanese finance ministry has announced that exports are down 2.2% from a year ago in March, mostly due to the earthquakes and tsunami.
- Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris today, with reports indicating that the talks will focus on how to bring about a democratic transition in Libya.
- In the spirit of peaceful democratic transitions, the French government has confirmed that it will send a small team of military officers to advise the Libyan rebels, and has promised to intensify air strikes.
- Libyan foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi has warned that the French and British plans to send military advisors to Libya will damage chances of peace in the country and prolong the conflict.
- In what is likely to be the first steps towards civil war, General Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the results of the presidential election that he lost. International observers said that the election was reasonably free and fair, but he claims that his supporters were not allowed to vote in southern Nigeria.
- A draft law was passed by Syrian authorities overnight to end the nation's 48 year "state of emergency". In celebration, Syria's political security division arrested opposition leader Mahmoud Issa by dragging him from his house at midnight.
- Elisabeth Sladen, an actress most famous (at least to geeks like me) for her role as Sara Jane Smith in the BBC series Doctor Who, passed away yesterday at the age of 63.
- Spot gold hit a high of $1,505.21 per ounce at 5:42 AM EDT, driven by news that Greece may have to restructure its debt and S&P's threat to downgrade the credit rating of the United States.
- The Federal Trade Commission has asked federal courts "to temporarily halt the allegedly deceptive tactics of 10 operations using fake news websites to market acai berry weight-loss products." The FTC states that the websites "are meant to appear as if they belong to legitimate news-gathering organizations, but in reality the sites are simply advertisements."
- Wildfires in Texas have burned more than one million acres of the state in the past two weeks, and now cover over 100,000 acres. The flames are now near Fort Worth.
- PFC Bradley Manning, arrested in May 2010 and held in solitary confinement since that time on charges of passing restricted material to WikiLeaks, is to be moved to a military prison in Kansas.
- Toyota has announced that it will cut production at its North American plants by 70% through June 3, due to parts shortages. Employees have been asked to work only four-hour shifts during the period, but will remain on the payroll. The company also announced that it will operate factories in China at 30% to 50% capacity.
- In response to videos showing unsanitary conditions and possibly illegal and inhumane treatment of animals in factory farms, the Iowa legislature is considering a bill which would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess video or photos taken without permission at an agricultural facility. Yes, that's right - their response to unsanitary conditions and inhumane treatment on farms is to make it illegal to tell anyone about the conditions or treatment.
- In the first use of Michigan's new emergency powers, Emergency Manager Joseph Harris has stripped the elected officials of Benton Harbor of all decision-making powers.
- The US Justice Department has intervened in a lawsuit filed against the Berkeley County Detention Center by the ACLU, which alleges that the prison does not allow prisoners access to any books except the King James translation of the Bible.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The latest Regional and State Employment and Unemployment news release (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf) was issued today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Highlights are below.
In March 34 states reported over-the-month unemployment rate decreases, 7 had increases, and 9 states and the District of Columbia had no change. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 38 states and decreased in 12 states and the district.
News releases archives: http://www.bls.gov/schedule/archives/all_nr.htm
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- The Cuban Communist Party congress has approved an economic reform that will allow individuals to buy and sell their homes for the first time since 1959. Details have not yet been announced, and President Raul Castro has also warned that the concentration of property will not be allowed.
- Workers at the Fukushima reactor have begun to remove 25,000 tons of radioactive water from the basement of a reactor building, which should give workers access to carry out repairs to coolant systems. TEPCO is optimistic that the crisis should be under control by the end of the year.
- The UN reports that the Libyan government has promised humanitarian aid workers access to areas under its control.
- Some 16,000 people have fled their homes in northern Nigeria after riots prompted by the reelection of President Goodluk Jonathan. President Jonathan was declared victor with 57% of the vote, and international observers have said that the vote was reasonably free and fair.
- The US State Department, in the wake of a recent WikiLeaks revelation that the US has secretly funded Syrian opposition groups, has taken steps to assure the Syrian government that they are not working to undermine them. "Trying to promote a transformation to a more democratic process in this society is not undermining necessarily the existing government," said a State Department spokesman.
- Syrian securty forces used automatic weapons to "disperse" an anti-government protest in Homs.
- Efforts to raise 740 million euros to build a new containment shield around the Chernobyl nuclear poweer plant have fallen short, with only 550 million euros raised.
- That horrible plummeting sound from yesterday was the reaction of the US equity markets to Standard & Poor's issuing a negative outlook on the US credit rating. They haven't actually cut the rating yet, but they did say that there is at least a one-in-three chance that they will unless the US finds a way to substantially cut its budget deficit within two years.
- Both sides in the ongoing Washington budget battle are now using the Standard & Poor's US credit outlook as ammunition. The Republicans are calling for deep spending cuts and making permanent the Bush tax cuts, while the Democrats are calling for somewhat less severe spending cuts and increased taxes on "the rich".
- An anonymous source is reporting that the US Treasury is looking at selling a "big chunk" of its 33% stake in GM in either summer or fall of this year. The Treasury, which lost money on the IPO late last year, would need to sell it's remaining 500 million shares at $53 per share in order to break even 9according to the Wall Street Journal). In related news, as of yesterday the one-year high for GM was $39.48.
- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would require presidential candidates to prove US citizenship before getting on the state's ballot. "I do not support designating one person as the gatekeeper to the ballot for a candidate, which could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions," said the governor in a statement. The Republican backers of the bill insist that the bill is not aimed at President Obama.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Statement of Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets Mary Miller on Credit Rating Agency Announcements Today
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