Tue 30 May, 2017

07:46 Barclaycard trials personal 'pocket checkout' in staff canteens» Finextra Research Headlines
Staffers in Barclaycard's works canteen are trying out a new mobile app to scan and pay for their sh...
07:41 Turkish banks debut national payment scheme for consumers» Finextra Research Headlines
Turkey at the crossroads of Europe and Asia has a banking sector that defies expectations. It has gr...
07:07 ShotSpotter IPO: Five things to know about the gunshot-detection company» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
ShotSpotter, a gunshot-detection company with the goal of reducing gun violence in violence-racked cities, is aiming for Wall Street. .
07:07 UK General Election 2017: Fintech And The Party Manifestos» Forbes Real Time
In 10 days, the United Kingdom will vote in the snap general election and I examined what their pledges would mean for the fintech industry and the country, as a whole, in terms of Brexit.
07:05 Merck wins FDA approval for combination treatment for HIV-I infection» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
07:03 Advaxis and Bristol-Myers to collaborate on cervical cancer treatment» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
07:03 6 Ways To Deal With Political Talk In The Office» Forbes Real Time
Fifty-four percent of workers have discussed politics on the job since the election—and it isn’t going well, according to the American Psychological Association. Here's what to do when it comes up.
07:02 Array Bipharma shares jump 13% in premarket trade» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
07:02 Array Biopharma and Bristol-Myers to collaborate on treatment for colorectal cancer» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
07:00 Why Industry and Government Leaders Need To Realize The Vulnerabilities Of The Cloud» Forbes Real Time
We must carefully consider the vulnerability of storing highly sensitive information and systems to the cloud.
07:00 FRTB will have complex challenges» Finextra Research Headlines
Vinod Bhaskaran, Global Solution Lead, Trading and Risk, Misys, outlines the importance of FRTB and...
07:00 BogeyBox Delivers Experiential Golf Shopping, At Your Doorstep Or Its New NYC Store» Forbes Real Time
BogeyBox Golf Club has declared war on golf fashion, with a personalized style service for men that shows up on your doorstep as often as you'd like.
07:00 What American Women Should Wear In The Middle East» Forbes Real Time
Elizabeth MacBride writes about what it's like covering the Middle East as a woman business journalist.
07:00 Are Your Business Dealings Being Harmed By Archetypal Behavior Patterns?» Forbes Real Time
Some of the age-old paradigms do little to foster modern day success: On the contrary, they may cause great harm to an organization's culture.
07:00 The Shared Office Is Hotter Than Ever, With 1.2 Million Co-Working» Forbes Real Time
By the end of 2017, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space. WeWork may be leading this trend, however, in recent years a few other highly innovative companies were established, which are helping to shape the future of our working environments.
07:00 5 Mobile App Features Your Customers Want» Forbes Real Time
Which elements of a mobile app are the most critical for customers? Discover the essential functions in my latest post.
07:00 2017 NBA Finals MVP: Odds And Winning Predictions For LeBron James, Kevin Durant And More» Forbes Real Time
Check out a complete list of odds for the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, including top players such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant, plus long shots like Draymond Green and Kyle Korver. Plus see who is predicted to win the award at the end of this exciting battle between the Warriors and Cavaliers.
07:00 With the Talent Crunch Worsening, Start Hiring For These 5 Tech Skills Today» Forbes Real Time
Hiring has to happen. But if there’s anything Silicon Valley ought to have learned from the “dot-bomb” era, it’s that you can’t just throw resources at a problem and expect it to disappear.
07:00 Viewership Of MLB Games On FS1 Off To Strongest Start, Ever» Forbes Real Time
MLB on FS1 are seeing a viewership increase. Here's viewership numbers for every game through May 18 for 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
07:00 Virtual Reality -- The Future Of Media Or Just A Passing Trend?» Forbes Real Time
Virtual reality can enhance digital media -- though perhaps not for a few more years.
07:00 Macron's Victory Is A Huge Relief, But We Must Not Be Complacent» Forbes Real Time
DR. MOSHE KANTOR -- Can we really be so sure that one day soon one of these dangerous and unconscionable far-right parties will not win the power they crave?
06:57 The New York Post: Pissed off artist adds statue of urinating dog next to ‘Fearless Girl’» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Sculptor Alex Gardega — seething over the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue placed across from Wall Street’s Charging Bull — has decided to retaliate with a work of his own, a pooch that takes direct aim at the girl’s left leg.
06:55 Market Extra: The bill for British Airways’s IT carnage? $111 million, Citi estimates» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
A global IT glitch at British Airways sparked chaos and frustrations among thousands of passengers over the weekend, and that can end up as a costly affair for the airline.
06:53 Currencies: Dollar slips as euro, pound rebound from political-driven losses» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
The dollar drops slightly on Tuesday, as the pound and euro rebounded after recent losses driven by political uncertainty in Italy, Greece and the U.K.
06:52 Grecoff leaves Cinnober to lead surveillance startup» Finextra Research Headlines
Michael Grecoff, Head of Americas and International Sales at Cinnober Financial Technology has left...
06:52 Congress Should Repeal the Durbin Amendment Because It Is a Price Control» Forbes Real Time
Compounding that mistake, a Republican-controlled Congress is now going out of its way to protect a price control hatched by a liberal senator from Illinois. This fact alone is enough to question the cosmic balance of the universe.
06:48 Jumo selected for Google Launchpad Accelerator» Finextra Research Headlines
JUMO is delighted to announce that we were accepted into Class 4 of the Google Launchpad Accelerator...
06:44 Monster Core-i9 7980XE 18-Core CPU Confirmed: Intel Launches Core X-series Desktop Processors» Forbes Real Time
Intel looks set to spoil AMD's plans at the high-end, with massive range of new Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs including 18-core monster Core i9-7980XE, which costs $2000
06:40 Malaysia's MyClear and MEPs merge» Finextra Research Headlines
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) wishes to announce the merger of MyClear[1] and MEPS[2] to form Payments...
06:40 The Best Protein And Energy Snacks For 2017» Forbes Real Time
Four of the newest energy and protein snacks offer excellent alternatives to junk food.
06:35 Europe Markets: European stocks head for 4th straight loss as banks suffer from Italian jitters» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
European stocks drop almost across the board on Tuesday, with banks leading the charge lower after a broker downgrade and concerns over a potential early election in Italy.
06:28 How To Measure Supplier Performance: 3 Basic Metrics To Gauge Success» Forbes Real Time
In business, measurement is half-way to performance improvement. Assessing supplier performance is a difficult task. This article overviews price, cost and quality supplier performance measurement tools to aid this decision-making process.
06:26 Economic Preview: The economy seems frozen in time, but underneath the ice the water is warming » MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
A new pro-business president, record stock-market prices and the highest level of consumer confidence in years shows a lot has changed for the U.S. economy in 2017. But one thing hasn’t: growth is still pedestrian. Another healthy increase in hiring in May won’t change that.
06:25 Bank of Montreal invites startups to join fintech incubator» Finextra Research Headlines
Bank of Montreal is bidding to strengthen its fintech partnership ties with the launch of a second f...
06:23 Global shares weaker as investors await economic data» AP Top Business News at 6:21 a.m. EDT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Global stock markets were generally weaker Tuesday as investors stayed on the sidelines before the release of a raft of economic data later this week....
06:18 Trump administration nearing completion of Cuba policy review» Top News & Analysis
The Trump administration is nearing completion of a policy review to determine how far it goes in rolling back former President Barack Obama's engagement with Cuba.
06:17 High-Priced Drugs Raise Costs for Seniors in Medicare Part D» WSJ.com: US Business
An analysis of government data by The Wall Street Journal found expensive medicines are increasingly denting the pocketbooks of seniors and other beneficiaries in Medicare’s prescription-drug program, Part D.
06:15 Key Words: Texas lawmaker threatens to ‘put a bullet in the head’ of colleague as immigration scuffle breaks out» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
A scuffle broke out in the Texas House Monday over a noisy protest against the state’s clampdown on “sanctuary cities,” media reports said, ending in a threat by one state representative to shoot another.
06:10 The Fed Is About To Hike: Why That Is Bullish For Bonds»

With the market pricing in near certainty of a June rate hike despite the Fed's tacit warning that it would like to see evidence the recent economic slowdown is over, a recurring question among trading desks is why aren't long-dated bonds selling off more, or rather why is the 10 and 30Y seemingly bid the closer we get to the next Fed hike with everyone - from hedge funds, to central banks to primary dealers - buying in surprising amounts.

Overnight, an answer came from Wes Goodman, a Bloomberg columnist, who explains that the more the Fed hikes, the more bullish it is for bonds, i.e., the entire market is once again betting on "policy error" by the Fed.

Here is latest Macro View note titled "The Fed Is Going to Hike. That’s Bullish for Bonds"

The Fed’s likely rate hike next month will probably send Treasury yields lower, and investors from hedge funds to banks are loading up on U.S. government debt ahead of the move.


Contrary to conventional wisdom, Treasuries have rallied following the last three rate increases. Instead of sending yields higher, the hikes are driving speculation that rising short-term borrowing costs will curb the economic expansion and make it tougher for the Fed to sustain its 2% inflation target.


Hedge funds and other large speculators boosted their net long position in 10-year futures to the highest level in almost a decade.


U.S. commercial bank holdings of Treasuries and agency debt surged the most in 16 months in the latest weekly data, extending a record high.


Treasuries held by foreign central banks in custody at the Federal Reserve rose this month to the most since June 2016.



Primary dealer holdings of U.S. government securities have surged 50% from this year’s low in March, and they’re now about even with the average over the past 12 months.

Goodman's conclusion: "All this demand may be enough to drive benchmark 10-year yields to a new low for 2017, below 2.16%."

Of course, if this is correct, the implication is that the higher the Fed hikes short-term rates, the lower long-term rates go, flattening the curve and eventually inverting it. And, at some point in the near future, this will once again bring up the even more ominous question: is the Fed once again making a policy error by hiking into an economy that can not sustain it. For now the jury is out.

06:06 Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures hold steady, amid buzz that the bull market is back» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
U.S. stock futures on Tuesday point to little change at the open, as analysts say last week’s record-setting advance means the market’s bull run is back.
06:04 Banco BNI Europa makes €10M investment in Portuguese peer-to-peer platform Raize» Finextra Research Headlines
Banco BNI Europa has signed a strategic agreement with Portugal’s largest peer-to-peer lender RAIZE...
06:03 Tudor Announces David Beckham As Brand Ambassador: Another Instance Of Sharing With Breitling?» Forbes Real Time
Tudor announces global style icon and soccer player David Beckham as its face of the "Born to Dare" campaign.
06:03 The Next Big Voice For Black Millennials Makes Her Case For A New Urban Media» Forbes Real Time
Interactive One's Vice President of News and Men's Programming, Jamilah Lemieux, discusses the misconceptions millennials face in the workplace as well as the importance of supporting black media.
06:02 The Future Lawyer» Forbes Real Time
What will the future lawyer be? They must defend the rule of law and other challenges. That's no easy task and requires new skills. They have an opportunity to transform a long- static industry by better utilizing technology and process to re-engineer outdated traditional law firm delivery model.
06:01 US senator calls for probe into promotion of Kushner Cos deal» Top News & Analysis
Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa, called for an investigation into a property development involving the family company of White House advisor Jared Kushner.
06:00 This is Denny's ace in the hole as it ventures into delivery» Top News & Analysis
Denny's is launching delivery to 50 percent of its restaurants and with it a new way to keep food fresh on the trip.
05:53 Japan faces most extreme labor shortage in 40 years» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
Japanese government data published Tuesday revealed that the country's labor shortage has reached its most extreme level in more than 40 years.
05:49 VCs: how not to behave» Finextra Research Headlines
I have anonymised my email chain below to spare the blushes (one hopes) of the individual and (reput...
05:42 Deutsche Bank is making a big bet on the future of finance» Markets

deutsche bank

Deutsche Bank is making a big bet on financial technology. 

The German bank is investing in fintech startups.  It just opened a fourth innovation lab, this time in the financial district in New York. A chunk of its website is dedicated to digital banking

Now it's making a push to advise financial technology companies, too.

The German bank has hired Tommaso Zanobini as global head of financial technology, based in New York. He was most recently global head of financial technology and services at Jefferies, and was previously global head of technology services at Barclays. 

The fintech group at Deutsche Bank is a joint venture between the financial institutions group and the tech, media and telecoms group, and Zanobini will report to financial institutions specialist Celeste Guth and tech banker Mark Keene. In his new role, he will work with Rahul Singla, Americas financial technology head, and Vipin Chhajer, who is European head.

His hire marks the fourth managing director level hire in Deutsche Bank's financial institutions group so far in 2017. John Cryan, group CEO, now oversees the business on the management board

The appointment comes at an interesting time for the financial technology industry. Morgan Stanley said in a note this month that venture capital firms, which poured $117 billion into fintech startups from 2012 to 2016, have been pulling back on their investments. Established financial firms are positioned to step up their spending, meanwhile.

"Financials and payments incumbents are likely to be emboldened to step up R&D and take the investment lead, and this combination of VC/incumbent behavior represents a paradigm shift that should benefit incumbents' [return on investment]," Morgan Stanley said. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: HENRY BLODGET: Bitcoin could go to $1 million (or fall to $0)

05:39 "This Market Is Crazy": Hedge Fund Returns Hundreds Of Millions To Clients Citing Imminent "Calamity"»

While hardly a novel claim - in the past many have warned that Australia's housing and stock market are massive asset bubbles (which local banks were have been forced to deny as their fates are closely intertwined with asset prices even as the RBA is increasingly worried) - so far few if any have gone the distance of putting their money where their mouth was. That changed, when Australian asset manager Altair Asset Management made the extraordinary decision to liquidate its Australian shares funds and return "hundreds of millions" of dollars to its clients according to the Sydney Morning Herald, citing an impending property market "calamity" and the "overvalued and dangerous time in this cycle".

"Giving up management and performance fees and handing back cash from investments managed by us is a seminal decision, however preserving client's assets is what all fund managers should put before their own interests," Philip Parker, who serves as Altair's chairman and chief investment officer, said in a statement on Monday quoted by the SMH.

The 30-year investing veteran said that on May 15 he had advised Altair clients that he planned to "sell all the underlying shares in the Altair unit trusts and to then hand back the cash to those same managed fund investors." Parker also said he had "disbanded the team for time being", including his investment committee comprising of several prominent bears such as former Morgan Stanley chief economist and noted bear Gerard Minack and former UBS economist Stephen Roberts.

Altair chairman and chief investment officer Philip Parker.

Parker said he wanted "to make clear this is not a winding up of Altair, but a decision to hand back client monies out of equities which I deem to be far too risky at this point."

"We think that there is too much risk in this market at the moment, we think it's crazy," Parker said with a candidness few of his colleagues are capable of, at least when still managing money.

"Valuations are stretched, property is massively overstretched and most of the companies that we follow are at our one-year rolling returns targets – and that's after we've ticked them up over the past year. Now we are asking 'is there any more juice in these companies valuations?' and the answer is stridently, and with very few exceptions, 'no there isn't'."

Parker outlined a list of "the more obvious reasons to exit the riskier asset markets of shares and property". These include:

  • the Australian east-coast property market "bubble" and its "impending correction";
  • worries that issues around China's hot property sector and escalating debt levels will blow up "later this year";
  • "oversized" geopolitical risks and an "unpredictable" US political environment;
  • and the "overvalued" Aussie equity market.

But, to Parker, it was the overheated local property market that was the clearest and most present danger. "When you speak to people candidly in the banks, they'll tell you very specifically that they are extraordinarily worried about the over-leverage of the Australian population in general," he said. He flagged how exposed the country's lenders were to a correction.

"If they get a property downturn anything similar to 1989 to 1991 then they are going to have all sorts of issues," Parker said.

Parker's decision comes after a robust year of double-digit gains on the ASX. Not only that, but he is acting on his convictions by returning money to clients and abandoning the fees attached to a $2 billion advisory agreement.

Parker, however, displayed little nervousness about making such a significant decision. In fact, he said he has never been more certain of anything.

"Let me tell you I've never been more certain of anything in my life," Parker said. "I am absolutely certain we are in a bubble in this property market. Mortgage fraud is endemic, it's systemic, it's just terrible what's going on. When you've got 30-year-olds, who have never seen a property downturn before, borrowing up to 80 per cent to buy three and four apartments, it's a bubble."

In a rather dire forecast, Parker outlined a situation where the stock market could fall as low as 5200 points in the coming months, depending on the confluence of his identified risk factors.

"Australia hasn't had its GFC event, we've been living in this fool's paradise. But if China slows down the way the guys think it will towards the end of this year, then that's 70 per cent of our exports [affected]. You can see already that the commodity market is turning down."

Some speculated whether there is another motive behind the sudden shuttering, but Parker stridently denied any suggestion that there were other factors at play other than a pure investment decision. No personal issues, no position that has blown up and forced his hand. "No, God no," he said. "We've sold out all of our positions at huge profits for our clients."

"This game is all about reputation. I feel that we are right."

For now, Mr Parker said he was happy to take some time off. "I've never had more than five weeks off in a row. I'm probably going to have four months in a row, and if something happens in between, I'll think about it. Otherwise I'll enjoy the time off."

Come to think of it, in this "market", that may be the smartest thing to do.

05:35 Hearings open in Navalny vs. Usmanov defamation case» AP Top Business News at 6:21 a.m. EDT
MOSCOW (AP) -- A judge in the defamation case between Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and multi-billionaire Alisher Usmanov on Tuesday struck down motions to summon Russia's prime minister to testify on his alleged wealth - the key issue in the case....
05:35 Skyrocketing bitcoin is more than just an investment — it could help the world, says investor» Top News & Analysis
Bitcoin is an attractive investment, but it is also a potential solution to easing a strained global financial system, according to a top money manager.
05:33 European trading houses face up to regulatory burden» Finextra Research Headlines
Regulation is overwhelmingly the biggest hurdle traders face, according to a major survey of equity,...
05:31 Signicat gets ready for PSD2 with MobileID authentication» Finextra Research Headlines
Signicat, the first and largest identity assurance provider in the world, has launched MobileID, its...
05:20 Outside the Box: This stock market is priced to sell » MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Fear of missing out on the rally could cost you plenty, writes Vitaliy N. Katsenelson.
05:20 Deep Dive: This money manager sees no end in sight for bull market» MarketWatch.com - Top Stories
Hank Smith of Haverton Trust expects good times to continue for stock investors, but with lower returns.
05:19 Stocks: 5 things to know before the bell» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
Here's what you need to know about the markets before you start your business day.
05:16 First Data acquires CardConnect» Finextra Research Headlines
First Data is to acquire payment processor CardConnect for $750 million in cash.
05:13 Bank of Sydney signs with Fiserv» Finextra Research Headlines
Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV), a leading global provider of financial services technology solutions, t...
05:11 Vendor risk management is all about the pre-plan» Finextra Research Headlines
Supply chain failures compromise the ability of an organisation to operate effectively and in extrem...
05:10 Axioma contracted by Mirova and Natixis Asset Management» Finextra Research Headlines
Axioma, a leading provider of enterprise market risk and portfolio management solutions, and FactSet...
05:07 Visa begins build-out for 3-D Secure 2.0» Finextra Research Headlines
Visa (NYSE:V) today announced upcoming enhancements to its Verified by Visa service, a global soluti...
05:04 Shares in British Airways' parent company tumble» AP Top Business News at 6:21 a.m. EDT
LONDON (AP) -- Shares in British Airways' parent company have tumbled after a catastrophic IT failure stranded thousands of passengers during a holiday weekend....
05:02 Taxi strike across Spain to protest Uber, Cabify services» AP Top Business News at 6:21 a.m. EDT
MADRID (AP) -- Taxi drivers across Spain's are striking to protest the increase in cars run by private companies offering cheaper, mobile ride-hailing services....
05:00 New Generation Of Bombs Undetectable By Airport Scanners: What's The Solution?»

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

In response to Homeland Security Ponders Laptop Ban On All International Flights: Surefire Way to Stop Bombs on Planes reader Brindu sent a pair of interesting links discussing new bombs that airport scanners cannot detect.

Please consider U.S. Believes ISIS’ Bomb-Making Research Includes New Generation of Explosives.

Amid the bombed-out ruins of Mosul University, U.S. officials say they have uncovered evidence that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was developing a new type of bomb that could pass through an airport scanner undetected.


CBS News joined Iraqi Special Forces in Mosul just days after the hard-fought battle to recapture the University in January. It’s long been believed that Mosul University was the center of the militants’ bomb-making projects, using the school’s equipment and labs.


Now, U.S. officials believe that research includes a new generation of more powerful explosives that could be concealed in a computer.


When ISIS overran Mosul in 2014, they also captured the city’s international airport. And with it, all the modern security scanner and screening equipment necessary to test their new bombs.

Professional Pilots Discussion

The Professional Pilots Rumor Network, PPRuNE Website, has a discussion on undetectable bombs.

Dubaian: What’s to stop ISIS putting this clever new ‘undetectable’ stuff in pretty well anything a PAX might take on board. And it’d be easier than replumbing a laptop.

Peekay4: A working explosive is composed of several elements. These elements can be disguised within a laptop, large tablet, etc. Put them into a box of chocolates or a can of Pringles, they would be very easy to detect.

EDLB: What can they detect in checked luggage but not in a carry-on?

Peekay4: Not going into specifics but part of the reason for requiring them in checked luggage is not only for detection but also isolation (containment).

Lomapaseo: Containment from what? If they go boom as baggage the damage is variable as hell based on location. If they go boom in the cabin the damage is predictable based on seat location and/or overhead storage which is specific by PNR (boarding pass). And then there is the fire hazard from a typical LI cheap battery in passenger luggage. In the overhead or cabin, it’s specific in location and ability to assess and contain.

Infrequentflyer789: If they go boom in the cabin the damage is predictable based on exactly where the attacker decides to set it off, which is nothing to do with a boarding pass. A small boom set by a clever attacker in the right place is going to be as big a threat as a large boom placed randomly, and that’s before we get onto stuff like shaped charges and really clever placement.

Edmundronald: This will make Chromebooks and other net-connected empty-shell computers the tool of choice for biz travelers. Rent one or buy a cheap one as soon as you touch down.

RTD1: Rather, this will result in a massive push towards video conferencing/telepresence in lieu of business travel. I’ve been a management/technology consultant flying weekly for 20 years now, and if this ban were extended to all domestic and international flights, I’d likely either find an alternative to in-person meetings or switch careers if it were not feasible. I haven’t checked a bag (save for gate checking carry-ons on puddle jumpers) in years. I keep my timelines from landing to meeting starts pretty tight, and I count on flying time for working. I’m not unique, such a rule would be devastating for business travel.

Pax Britanica: There is always an element of business travel that is not really necessary but its hard line to draw between beneficial and essential. There are also events like conferences where most of the attendees don’t’ actually attend but meet with peers from other companies and do business just because a lot of people from one industry are in the same place. Ie the conference itself isn’t really ‘necessary’ but it’s a good opportunity to meet clients and suppliers without doing separate trips. Video links are usually fine for inside the company work and some external stuff but many cultures like the physical presence bit.

Mickjoebill: What about camera crews and photographers who carry kilos of lumpy electronic gear onboard? It is trivial to provide enough power to activate a camera to make the battery appear unadulterated when the cells have been repacked with something deadly.Unless every item is sniffed, a laptop ban seems half arsed.

ISIS Knows What We Know About Them

The preceding comment by Mickjoebill gets to the heart of the matter. And that was the point of my satirical suggestion on a  Surefire Way to Stop Bombs on Planes.

ISIS knows, that we know, that they had been working on laptops. As a result, ISIS will likely shift to an electronic toy or camera equipment (as I suggested in my post).

FAA Traffic by the Numbers

In 2105, the FAA Traffic by Numbers website shows some interesting air traffic statistics.

  • There were 8,727,691 commercial flights in 2015.
  • There are 7,000 planes in the sky at any given time.
  • There are 23,911 flights a day

Convenience vs Safety

Does it make sense to ban all laptops on all flights as they are discussing now?

Banning laptops alone is insufficient. It is impossible to eliminate all airplane risk without banning all flights.

Reader Maxx offered this pertinent thought:

At some point to unravel a knot, you have to start pulling on the other end of the string. Technology chasing technology only goes so far.


For all the time spent harassing a new mom about baby formula, we could be using those hours to interview a 20-year-old “quiet” male with no real friends and an extensive Facebook trail to a Pakistani ISP.


When are people going to wake up and realize politically correct bull&h!t is FATAL. This is costing our economy enormously.

04:36 Nearly Washed Up in the U.S., 'Pirates' Finds Loot Overseas» WSJ.com: US Business
Johnny Depp and his “Pirates” crew took on water during a slow Memorial Day weekend at the domestic box office but found treasure overseas.
04:33 North Korea warns of 'bigger gift package' for US after latest test» Top News & Analysis
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of a new ballistic missile controlled by a precision guidance system, KCNA news reported.
04:30 Investing in financial inclusion» Finextra Research Headlines
Arjun Costa, Partner, Omidyar Network, discusses how to influence and develop the financial inclusio...
04:23 Millions Of Americans Just Got An Artificial Boost To Their Credit Score»

Back in August 2014, we first reported that in what appeared a suspicious attempt to boost the pool of eligible, credit-worthy mortgage and auto recipients, Fair Isaac, the company behind the crucial FICO score that determines every consumer's credit rating, "will stop including in its FICO credit-score calculations any record of a consumer failing to pay a bill if the bill has been paid or settled with a collection agency. The San Jose, Calif., company also will give less weight to unpaid medical bills that are with a collection agency." In doing so, the company would "make it easier for tens of millions of Americans to get loans."

Then, back in March of this year, in the latest push to artificially boost FICO scores, the WSJ reported that "many tax liens and civil judgments soon will be removed from people’s credit reports, the latest in a series of moves to omit negative information from these financial scorecards. The development could help boost credit scores for millions of consumers, but could pose risks for lenders" as FICO scores remain the only widely accepted method of quantifying any individual American's credit risk, and determine how much consumers can borrow for a new house or car as well as determine their credit-card spending limit

Stated simply, the definition of the all important FICO score, the most important number at the base of every mortgage application, was set for a series of "adjustments" which would push it higher for millions of Americans.



The outcome of these changes was clear for the 12 million people impacted: it "will make many people who have these types of credit-report blemishes look more creditworthy."

Now, as the Wall Street Journal points out today, efforts to rig the FICO scoring process seems to be bearing some fruit.  The average credit score nationwide hit 700 in April, according to new data from Fair Isaac Corp., which is the highest since at least 2005.

Meanwhile, the share of consumers deemed to be riskiest, with a score below 600, hit a new low of roughly 40 million, or 20% of U.S. adults who have FICO scores, according to Fair Isaac. That is down from 20.5% in October and a peak of 25.5% in 2010.



Of course, to be fair, we are also reaching that critical 7-year point where the previous wave of mortgage foreclosures start to magically disappear from the FICO scores of millions of Americans. 

Mortgage foreclosures stay on credit reports for up to seven years dating back to the missed payment that resulted in the foreclosure. Foreclosure starts, the first stage in the process, peaked in 2009 at 2.1 million, according to Attom Data Solutions. They totaled nearly 1.8 million in 2010 and remained above one million during each of the next two years.


Personal bankruptcies are more complicated and can stay on credit reports for seven to 10 years.


Consumers who filed in 2007 for Chapter 7 protection—the most common type of bankruptcy, in which certain debts are discharged and creditors can get paid back from sales of consumers’ assets—are now starting to see those events fall off their reports. Some 500,000 Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases were filed in 2007, a figure that swelled to nearly 1.1 million in 2010, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.


13 bankruptcies, in which consumers enter a payment plan with creditors, usually stay on reports for at least seven years. Those filings reached a recent peak of nearly 435,000 in 2010 and are set to start falling off reports this year.



All of which, as the WSJ points out, will help to "boost originations of large-dollar loans for cars and homes."  Which is precisely what the average, massively-overlevered American household needs...more debt.

Fresh starts for credit reports are likely to help boost originations of large-dollar loans for cars and homes. Consumers have a greater chance of getting approved for financing if they apply for loans after negative events fall off their reports, in particular from large banks that have stuck to strict underwriting criteria, says Morgan Whitacre, who oversees consumer-loan underwriting at Bank of America Corp.


Credit-card lending, already on the rise, could increase further as a result of fresh starts. Consumers who have one type of bankruptcy filing removed from their credit report experience a roughly $1,500 increase in spending limits and rack up $800 more in credit-card debt within three years, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

So maybe that auto lending bubble has a little room left to run afterall...

04:15 Short Victorious War: US President's Magic Wand To Wave In A Pinch»

Authored by Andrei Akulov via The Strategic  Culture Foundation,

Putting together the bits of information coming from various sources leads to the conclusion that a US pre-emptive strike against North Korea is a possibility that may turn into reality pretty soon. Everyone knows it’s fraught with implications and nobody wants it but there is a good reason to believe it’s coming closer.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised the test of a new anti-aircraft weapon system and ordered its mass production and deployment throughout the country. It took place after Pyongyang conducted a second missile test within a week, sending a medium-range ballistic missile into the waters off its east coast on May 21. North Korea said the test was a success and the weapon could now be mass-produced. If a strike to knock out the nuclear and ballistic missile program infrastructure is planned, it would better be delivered before the air defense systems are in place.

North Korea's missile program is progressing faster than expected, South Korea's defense minister said on May 16, after the U.N. Security Council condemned the launch of a new long-range missile and demanded Pyongyang halt weapons tests. North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, including from Russia and China. The country’s leadership openly states that it has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the US mainland, and the recent tests are steps toward that aim. North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests so far, including two last year.

During the US-China summit at Mar-a-Lago estate, Florida, in early April, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked US President Donald Trump for a 100-day grace period to deal with North Korea’s military provocations. The May 21 launch cast doubts on the efficacy of the measures taken. The 100-day period would end around the time the G20 summit is held in Germany on July 7-8 with the problem of North Korea high on the agenda. The US and China’s leaders will tackle the burning issue on the sidelines of the event.

Meanwhile, a third US aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, will be deployed by Washington in the Western Pacific Ocean in order to join two US warships, stationed near the shores of the Korean Peninsula in the light of the crisis. USS Nimitz will join USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan in the area. Three carrier groups out of eleven is a huge force to be deployed only for a large-scale operation coming soon.

The US is to conduct another test of its Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) simulating a North Korean ICBM aimed at the US The military has used the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to intercept other types of missiles, but never an ICBM.

Finally, it has been recently revealed that the US military has moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea. President Trump was likely referring to an Ohio-class guided missile submarine (SSGN), the USS Michigan, which made an official port call in Busan, South Korea on April 25, and the Los-Angeles-class attack submarine (SSN) USS Cheyenne, which visited Sasebo, Japan on May 2 as part of its regional deployment. The US Navy on average is deploying up to ten Los-Angeles, Seawolf, or Virginia-class attack submarines worldwide on any given day.

Michigan is used for first strike missions. It is one of four Ohio strategic subs (SSBNs) converted to only fire conventional Tomahawks instead of nuclear ballistic missiles. The boat carries a massive load of 154 land attack cruise missiles. On top of that, Michigan carries the Dry Deck Shelter, which allows it to deploy special operations forces and their swimmer delivery vehicle mini-subs. Cheyenne is a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, which routinely accompanies carrier groups. It can fire Tomahawks.

Trump has said «a major, major conflict» with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table. On May 19, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expressed a cautious stance toward immediate military action against North Korea.

The US president is under assault from all sides. The possibility of his impeachment is openly discussed in media and Congress. According to Politico, Conservatives begin to whisper: President Pence.

Donald Trump knows that military actions are an effective tool to hike ratings. The president saw a bump in his own poll numbers after the cruise missile strike in Syria he ordered on April 7. His approval rating jumped from 34 percent up to 42 percent. It leaped from 42 to 50 percent after the «Mother of all bombs» was used on April 13 against Islamic State positions in Afghanistan. The public support has dramatically slid down to roughly 38 percent since then. The president is in a pinch. Something needs to be done immediately to rectify the situation.

The trend is worrisome and the best tried-and-true way to reverse it is a short victorious war. True, it’s a great risk. But bombing one’s way to popularity may happen to be a temptation impossible to resist. A sixth North Korean nuclear test or test-fire of an intercontinental ballistic missile may prompt the action even before the 100 days «grace period» is over. The forces are there and poised. They cannot be in high alert stand-by mode too long. While the world public attention is riveted to Syria, a large-scale military conflict with terrible consequences may spark anytime and the probability is very high.

04:15 Brexodus Builds - More EU Citizens Are Leaving The UK»

After the Brexit referendum, more EU citizens are leaving Britain, while less Europeans are coming in. As the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show, 2016 brought 84,000 less migrants, compared to the previous year. Statista's Fabian Moebus points out that the net migration of 248,000 people is the lowest number of yearly newcomers in over three years. Immigration from EU countries decreased by 43,000 people while emigration increased by 31,000, which makes Europeans the main factor behind the trend with a net change of minus 74,000.

Infographic: More EU Citizens Are Leaving the UK | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

In the run-up to the elections, Theresa May declared to bring net migration below 100,000, a promise that dates back to the Conservative 2010 manifesto. The target has widely been criticized as insubstantial because it is highly dependent on the individual behavior of many different groups, like temporary students from abroad or British pensioners retiring elsewhere. Whether the numbers continue to wane hinges mainly on the outcome of the upcoming elections and the future development of Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU.

03:56 TRADING THE WEEK: Back to Basics» Traders Magazine - Latest News
The trading markets went back to trading on the economic basics rather than on tweets, Presidential soundbites and pictures, and politics. Just when the markets looked ready to plummet lower along came President Trump’s first overseas trip last week. The trip to the Middle East and Europe came at the perfect time as it took market focus off of the administration’s follies and back on the economic fundamentals.
03:50 FirstSolar: This Analyst Just Doesn't Get It» Most popular articles
03:39 Zookeeper dies in accident in British zoo» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Zookeeper dies in accident in British zooA British zookeeper is killed by a tiger in a 'freak accident'. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

03:20 IAG shares steady in Madrid after falling 2.8% on Monday» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:18 IAG shares slide 3.9% on first U.K. trading day after British Airways IT glitch» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:14 Merkel says she's a 'convinced trans-Atlanticist' despite voicing frustration with Trump» Top News & Analysis
German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally on Monday.
03:11 Bitcoin is outperforming major assets but hedge funds are still staying away from the cryptocurrency» Top News & Analysis
One hedge fund veteran told CNBC that the industry doesn't "know enough about it".
03:02 FTSE 100 index opens down 0.4% to 7,511.72» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:01 French CAC 40 index open 0.9% to 5,281.20» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:01 German DAX 30 index opens down 0.4% to 12,582» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:01 Stoxx Europe 600 index opens down 0.4% at 389.88» MarketWatch.com - Real-time Headlines
This is a Real-time headline. These are breaking news, delivered the minute it happens, delivered ticker-tape style. Visit www.marketwatch.com or the quote page for more information about this breaking news.
03:00 DNC Lawsuit Exposes Corruption, Data Breaches, Raises Questions About Death Of Shawn Lucas»

Via Disobedient Media

In June of last year, attorneys Jared Beck and Elizabeth Beck of law firm Beck and Lee filed a class action law suit against the DNC and former chairwomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The suit claims that the DNC acted against its charter when it showed demonstrable favoritism towards  Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and failed to secure the data of DNC donors. The suit could have massive significance for the Democratic Party and could have an even wider impact if the origin of the DNC leaks are disclosed in the proceedings.

Attorney Elizabeth Beck described the lawsuit to US Uncut:“We think that the DNC has been running absolutely out of control and completely disregarding their responsibilities, rights, and duties to the public.”

The DNC lawsuit has so far received very little press coverage, despite revealing blatant corruption in the Democratic establishment. The death of Shawn Lucas, a process server who would have been a federal witness for the Becks, added further fuel to speculations of corruption surrounding the case. Jared Beck has also stated that Seth Rich would have been a potential witness in their case.

The lawsuit has so far revealed an absolutely unabashed level of corruption in the Democratic Party establishment. Attorney Bruce Spiva stunningly argued in defense of the DNC during the latest April 25th hearing on the case: "There's no right to not have your candidate disadvantaged or have another candidate advantaged. There's no contractual obligation here,” Spiva further stated that the party had the right to select its candidate in any way it chooses and was "not bound by pledges of fairness."

Spiva's defense has proved controversial, as it effectively admits the DNC primary process was rigged, but argues that this was not illegal. Jared Beck told US Uncut that he believed their suit would prove successful based on Article 5, Section 4 of the DNC charter which explicitly requires the chair of the DNC to remain impartial during the primary.

The New York Times reported that the DNC leaks  that formed the impetus for the DNC lawsuit had suggested the DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, and other officials "favored Hillary Clinton over Mr. Sanders." The DNC leaks have also raised serious questions regarding DNC funding methods.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a defendant in the DNC lawsuit.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a defendant in the DNC lawsuit. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Disobedient Media spoke with Jared Beck, who said that the initial momentum for the case stemmed from the rigging of the primary, but added: "There's another aspect to this case that deals with why information leaked into the public domain, and that's also part of this very intense mystery... that a lot of us are very concerned about right now."

Beck told Disobedient Media that in addition to the claims based on donations made to the Bernie Sanders campaign, and to the DNC, he also believed that there is a claim based on the DNC's negligent failure to secure the data of its donors. This may be an important claim in terms of establishing why that data was released into the public (due to DNC negligence, in Beck's view). Beck stated that he thought his team might be able to get discovery on this issue and specifically how it came to be that the data was released. Beck said that he believed the topic to currently be a very important issue right now given public interest about who leaked the DNC documents.

Beck also discussed how the DNC lawsuit's claims regarding DNC negligence with donor data may be especially important as it relates to the unsolved murder of Seth Rich. Rich was a staffer for the DNC who died in an unsolved murder last July. In August last year Fox News reported that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had strongly hinted that Seth Rich was the source for the DNC leaks. The Washington Post also reported that Wikileaks  had offered a reward for information leading to a conviction in Seth Rich's murder. Jared Beck has stated via twitter that Seth Rich would have been a potential witness in the DNC lawsuit.

If the Becks successfully gain the right to discovery on the origin of the DNC documents, the mystery regarding whether Seth Rich leaked the information might potentially be resolved. If Rich did indeed leak the DNC emails to Wikileaks, the 'Russian hacking' narrative would be utterly negated.

The Becks based their lawsuit on Guccifer2.0's release of the information, which occurred in June last year, before Wikileaks had announced they would be releasing DNC documents. Guccifer2.0's role in the DNC leaks was discussed in a previous report by Disobedient Media. There has been speculation that Guccifer2.0's early release of the information was intended to smear Wikileaks and potentially Seth Rich as the leaker, by intentionally fabricating evidence of 'Russian hacking' in the earliest available version of the data.

Adding further questions surrounding the lawsuit was the unexpected death of Shawn Lucas, who was filmed serving defendants in the suit last July. Police reports describe how Luca's girlfriend found him unconcious on the bathroom floor  in early August. Paramedics were unable to revive him. The Becks have indicated Shawn Lucas was to be a Federal witness in the proceedings.

Jared Beck told Disobedient Media that Lucas would have served as a witness in order to rebut the defendant's contention that process was incorrectly served. This would have included a sworn declaration from Lucas; Beck stated that footage of Lucas serving process had been introduced as evidence in the case in his stead, due to the unexpected death.



The Becks have provided Disobedient Media with copies of their communications with Washington D.C. police that include discussion regarding the body cameras worn by police as well as Shawn Lucas' death report. Lucas' cause of death was described by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of Washington D.C as "Combined adverse effects of fentanyl, cyclobenzaprine, and mitragynine," with the manner of death listed as "accident." Fentanyl is a strong opioid pain medication, sometimes used as part of anaesthesia. Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant, while mitradynine is a substance found in Kratom.

As the case continues to be a developing story, Disobedient Media will provide further coverage of the DNC lawsuit should new facts emerge.

02:54 LSE to buy Citi's fixed-income analytics and index operations for $685 million» Top News & Analysis
London Stock Exchange (LSE) has agreed to buy Citigroup's fixed-income analytics platform and index business for $685 million in cash, the companies said on Tuesday.
02:45 Norway's 'CIA' Pushes Plan To Unleash "Facebook Police"»

Kripos, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service, is reportedly examining the legal aspects of how police accounts could be given access to areas of Facebook that are not open to the public. It would mean police gaining access to closed groups and interacting with members as they search for evidence of criminal activity, the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv reported.

“We have looked into the possibility of creating 'uniformed accounts'. But we have not decided whether it is something we should do,” communications officer Axel Wilhelm Due told Dagens Næringsliv, via the Local.

As The Telegraph reports, police in Norway and elsewhere have previously used fake Facebook profiles to investigate crimes including smuggling alcohol and tobacco.

Facebook has not given police profiles with enhanced access to private groups but they can apply for access to them in connection with criminal cases, Dagens Næringsliv reported.

Police superintendent Emil Jenssen of Kripos told Norwegian broadcaster NRK:

"We get lots of tips on areas where it is sold bootleg, drugs or other illegal things. Then we go inside these groups to preserve evidence for criminal cases.


"If there is a criminal case we can go to court and get an injunction and send it to Facebook. They send us so the information we need.


"We have the ability to do this in necessity as well if there is danger to life and health. When it goes very quickly, often under an hour. In other criminal cases it takes longer."

The company’s Norwegian press office told the paper that it didn’t want to comment on whether it would permit officially verified police accounts.

But such a decision would be a step forward for Facebook in terms of how it handles transparency surrounding intelligence or law enforcement agencies operating on the site. As the Snowden leaks revealed, Facebook and other tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple are already compelled to share our data with the National Security Agency, when it’s asked for.

If police officers are allowed to patrol content on the site, maybe Facebook could abandon some of its convoluted policies for policing what its users can and cannot see.

It also begs the question: Would this officially make “fake news” a crime?

02:43 Asian markets close mixed after directionless session; China and HK closed» Top News & Analysis
Markets closed mixed on Tuesday following directionless trade in yesterday's session.
02:42 Defensive Fund With A Habit Of Raising Dividends» Most popular articles
02:37 General Electric: Management Simply Confirmed 2 Things That We Should Have Already Known» Most popular articles
02:15 McCain says Putin bigger threat than ISIS» Top News & Analysis
U.S. Senator John McCain said Russian President Vladimir Putin is a bigger threat to global security than ISIS, and warned that the Senate would push for sanctions against Moscow.
02:08 Codel Partners with GMEX to Deliver Digital and Physical Parity in Commodities» Traders Magazine - Latest News
The companies will collaborate in areas where it is critical to prove digital data integrity throughout the value chain as well as connecting physical commodities with their digital equivalents. Also, Codel has added to its Board of Directors.
02:00 We Know What Inspired The Manchester Attack, We Just Won't Admit It»

Authored by Patrick Cockburn via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will then become open to recruitment by Isis and al-Qaeda clones.

This approach of not blaming Muslims in general but targeting “radicalisation” or simply “evil” may appear sensible and moderate, but in practice it makes the motivation of the killers in Manchester or the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015 appear vaguer and less identifiable than it really is. Such generalities have the unfortunate effect of preventing people pointing an accusing finger at the variant of Islam which certainly is responsible for preparing the soil for the beliefs and actions likely to have inspired the suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

The ultimate inspiration for such people is Wahhabism, the puritanical, fanatical and regressive type of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia, whose ideology is close to that of al-Qaeda and Isis. This is an exclusive creed, intolerant of all who disagree with it such as secular liberals, members of other Muslim communities such as the Shia or women resisting their chattel-like status.

What has been termed Salafi jihadism, the core beliefs of Isis and al-Qaeda, developed out of Wahhabism, and has carried out its prejudices to what it sees as a logical and violent conclusion. Shia and Yazidis were not just heretics in the eyes of this movement, which was a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, but sub-humans who should be massacred or enslaved. Any woman who transgressed against repressive social mores should be savagely punished. Faith should be demonstrated by a public death of the believer, slaughtering the unbelievers, be they the 86 Shia children being evacuated by bus from their homes in Syria on 15 April or the butchery of young fans at a pop concert in Manchester on Monday night.

The real causes of “radicalisation” have long been known, but the government, the media and others seldom if ever refer to it because they do not want to offend the Saudis or be accused of anti-Islamic bias. It is much easier to say, piously but quite inaccurately, that Isis and al-Qaeda and their murderous foot soldiers “have nothing to do with Islam”. This has been the track record of US and UK governments since 9/11. They will look in any direction except Saudi Arabia when seeking the causes of terrorism. President Trump has been justly denounced and derided in the US for last Sunday accusing Iran and, in effect, the Shia community of responsibility for the wave of terrorism that has engulfed the region when it ultimately emanates from one small but immensely influential Sunni sect. One of the great cultural changes in the world over the last 50 years is the way in which Wahhabism, once an isolated splinter group, has become an increasingly dominant influence over mainstream Sunni Islam, thanks to Saudi financial support.

A further sign of the Salafi-jihadi impact is the choice of targets: the attacks on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in 2015, a gay night club in Florida in 2016 and the Manchester Arena this week have one thing in common. They were all frequented by young people enjoying entertainment and a lifestyle which made them an Isis or al-Qaeda target. But these are also events where the mixing of men and women or the very presence of gay people is denounced by puritan Wahhabis and Salafi jihadis alike. They both live in a cultural environment in which the demonisation of such people and activities is the norm, though their response may differ.

The culpability of Western governments for terrorist attacks on their own citizens is glaring but is seldom even referred to. Leaders want to have a political and commercial alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil states. They have never held them to account for supporting a repressive and sectarian ideology which is likely to have inspired Salman Abedi. Details of his motivation may be lacking, but the target of his attack and the method of his death is classic al-Qaeda and Isis in its mode of operating.

The reason these two demonic organisations were able to survive and expand despite the billions – perhaps trillions – of dollars spent on “the war on terror” after 9/11 is that those responsible for stopping them deliberately missed the target and have gone on doing so. After 9/11, President Bush portrayed Iraq not Saudi Arabia as the enemy; in a re-run of history President Trump is ludicrously accusing Iran of being the source of most terrorism in the Middle East. This is the real 9/11 conspiracy, beloved of crackpots worldwide, but there is nothing secret about the deliberate blindness of British and American governments to the source of the beliefs that has inspired the massacres of which Manchester is only the latest – and certainly not the last – horrible example.


01:54 The REAL Exchange Disruptor Strikes Again!» Traders Magazine - Latest News
Guest columnist David Weisberger analyzes how Bats Global Markets' recent proposal to offer as much as an 80% discount to matched trades in the closing auction should be welcomed.
01:47 NEX Infinity Placed Into Production Testing for FX and Cash Equities on Distributed Ledger» Traders Magazine - Latest News
NEX Optimisation announced that it has built the underlying architecture for NEX Infinity, a cloud hosted, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.
01:41 Can Financial Institutions Navigate the Labyrinth of 871(m) Compliance?» Traders Magazine - Latest News
Over four months since the new tax rule IRS 871(m) came into force, many financial institutions are still struggling to find the best approach to manage the complex tangle of data required for compliance. Phillip Lynch, Global Head Markets, Products & Strategy at SIX Financial Information, explores the challenges and counsels that compliance isn’t the only issue at play.
01:32 Opportunities for Fintech Startups in Singapore» Finextra Research Headlines
The “American Dream” was one of those overused buzzwords until a few decades ago. That promise of
01:32 Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega dies at 83, president says» Top News & Analysis
Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who spied for the CIA before his drug trafficking and brutal regime sparked a U.S. invasion in 1989, has died aged 83.
01:08 China isn't the only country propping up North Korea» Top News & Analysis
Weak regulations in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia are contributing to North Korea's revenue streams, recent research shows.
01:03 Synechron will Launch Blockchain Apps on Microsoft Azure» Traders Magazine - Latest News
Those apps included are the Blockchain Accelerator for Trade Finance now available on JPMorgan's Quorum, the Blockchain Accelerator for Insurance Claims Processing on Ethereum, and the Blockchain Accelerator for Smart Margin Calls now available on Corda.
01:00 Ryanair Profit Edges Up» WSJ.com: US Business
Ryanair posted a 6% rise in net profit for the past financial year after Britain’s decision to exit the EU and terrorist attacks weighed on earnings, and the airline said growth this year would advance amid stronger bookings.
00:27 Annaly Capital's BV, Dividend, And Valuation Compared To 18 mREIT Peers (Post Q1 2017 Earnings) - Part 1» Most popular articles
00:06 Navios Maritime Acquisition Failed A Credit Facility Covenant Test During Q1» Most popular articles

Mon 29 May, 2017

23:57 Three Leakers Of Classified White House Information Said To Be Identified, Expected To Be Fired»

As reported over the weekend, having returned from his first foreign trip president Trump is preparing a "war room" in response to the barrage of Russian news blanketing the media, and plans to restructure the White House communications strategy and possibly staffing.

There have been rumors around Washington that press secretary Sean Spicer's job is in danger (and that Jared Kushner, the focus of much of the latest newsflow, may be forced to take a "step back") but the White House has denied these rumors. In an interview with Fox News' Jeanine Pirro earlier this month, Trump said Spicer has been "doing a good job but he gets beat up."

But the biggest issue plaguing the White House at this moment is the seemingly relentless leakage of confidential information surrounding Trump's activities, with Trump administration officials saying last week the recent high-profile leaks of classified information are "coordinated and timed."

And in a new development, CBS News has confirmed that three leakers of classified information at the White House have been identified and are expected to be fired

According to CBS, "officials within the Trump White House believe leaks of Mr. Trump's conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are a "deliberate attempt" by officials who are holdovers from President Obama's administration and are trying to damage the Trump presidency."

Last week, the Trump campaign released an email to supporters entitled "SABOTAGE," in which the campaign said, "There are people within our own unelected bureaucracy that want to sabotage President Trump and our entire America First movement."

The White House has yet to announce any terminations or staff reallignment. Instead, overnight Trump took another swipe at reports that his Twitter privileges may be removed, saying that "the Fake News Media works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don't want America to hear the real story!"

23:55 China Huishan Faces Corporate-Governance Meltdown» WSJ.com: US Business
One of China’s largest dairy companies is facing a corporate-governance meltdown: All of its board members except its chairman have left since a fateful day in March, when the company’s shares plunged 85% in a single trading session.
23:49 This bank is betting that boat racing will bring in the millennial customers» Top News & Analysis
Singapore-based bank DBS is hoping an aquatic event can help it ride the millennial wave.
23:37 Enhancing POS Terminal Security» Finextra Research Headlines
The thefts of credit card details from a host of retail outlets and, more recently, from a series of...
23:17 Get ready for the big jobs report, a potential June market swoon & more» Top News & Analysis
This week, it's all about the May jobs report on Friday. Plus, the market could change its tune in June and Trump returns. Buckle up!
23:04 Venezuelan opposition threatens country won't pay Goldman Sachs' $2.8 billion bond deal» Top News & Analysis
Venezuela's National Assembly leader threatened a later government may refuse to pay $2.8 billion in bonds Goldman bought.
23:03 Microsoft has identified a kind of person who can make A.I. more human» Top News & Analysis
Microsoft is studying multilingual speech patterns that might be used to make virtual assistants more human-like.
22:26 Singapore slaps fines on Credit Suisse and UOB in money laundering probe of Malaysian development fund» Top News & Analysis
Singapore's central bank on Tuesday said it has fined Credit Suisse and UOB for 1MDB-related breaches.
22:21 North Korea leader Kim supervised missile test of new guidance system: KCNA» Top News & Analysis
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of a new missile controlled by a precision guidance system, KCNA said.
22:20 Dutch Court Backs Akzo Nobel in Dispute With Elliott Management» WSJ.com: US Business
U.S. activist investor Elliott Management lost a legal battle to try to remove Akzo Nobel’s chairman, heaping pressure on PPG Industries to make a hostile bid for the rival Dutch paint and chemicals giant or abandon its monthslong takeover pursuit.
21:39 BMW Slows Some Production Due to Parts Shortage From Supplier Bosch» WSJ.com: US Business
BMW AG, the German luxury car maker, is slowing or halting production of certain models in response to a shortage of parts caused by delivery problems from supplier Bosch GmbH.
21:34 British Airways Faces Third Day of Flight Disruption After IT Outage» WSJ.com: US Business
British Airways said a far-reaching computer outage would disrupt flights for a third day and pledged to avoid a repetition of the events that led to hundreds of canceled flights over the weekend.
21:21 Book Show Brings Politics to the Forefront» WSJ.com: US Business
Politics will be front and center at BookExpo, the book-publishing industry’s annual trade show that opens Wednesday in New York. Hillary Clinton is expected to speak about her untitled memoir about the 2016 campaign.
21:11 Woods apologizes for DUI arrest, blames medication» Top News & Analysis
Former world number one golfer Tiger Woods said an unexpected reaction to medications was to blame for his DUI arrest.
21:10 Japan household spending sags again in April» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Japan household spending sags again in AprilJapanese household spending dropped again in April, official figures showed Tuesday, as consumers kept a tight hold on their purse strings despite years of government efforts to boost spending. The fresh data attests to what analysts believe is a broader picture of the world's third largest economy -- it is picking up steam overall but tepid consumption continues to act as a drag. Japan's prospects have been improving on the back of strong exports, with investments linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also giving the economy a shot in the arm.

20:38 Tencent vs NetEase: Let the Games Begin» Barron's Most Viewed Today
New games are the latest weapon in the battle for supremacy in China’s competitive online gaming market.
20:23 Denver Post cuts ties with sports writer over tweet » Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
The Denver Post has cut ties with a reporter who said he was "very uncomfortable" with a Japanese driver winning the Indy 500.
20:01 Legacy tech will become barrier to fighting financial crime - survey» Finextra Research Headlines
More than 90% of senior financial crime professionals working in the UK banking industry are worried...
19:26 Britain's Heathrow says BA to run full flight schedule on Tuesday» Top News & Analysis
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19:15 UK PM May's Conservatives see poll lead narrow again» Top News & Analysis
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17:45 Egypt to press ahead with air strikes after Christians attacked» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

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17:33 Republicans Face Rifts Over Spending Bills» WSJ.com: US Business
Congressional Republicans disagree internally over how to win support for appropriations from within the party and from Democrats to avoid a partial government shutdown Oct. 1.
16:59 Why Wall Street is to blame for airline industry's customer service problems » Top News & Analysis
Pressure on corporate America is creating an increasingly Dickensian experience as companies focus on maximizing profit.
16:40 Special counsel in Trump-Russia probe stresses value of honesty and integrity in student graduation address» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Special counsel in Trump-Russia probe stresses value of honesty and integrity in student graduation addressThe man leading the federal investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow, has stressed integrity, patience and humility in a student graduation speech. Robert Mueller, a former FBI Director, said that “nothing else matters” if people were not honest. “As the saying goes, if you have integrity, nothing else matters, and if you do not have integrity, nothing else matters,” Mr Mueller told graduating students at Tabor Academy in Massachusetts.

16:39 Here’s the main reason the market will keep rallying, according to PNC» Top News & Analysis
A strategist lays out the fundamental reasons that will take the market even higher.
16:31 Op-Ed: How Hollywood can help make things right for veterans » Top News & Analysis
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16:26 Frank Deford, renowned sportswriter, dies at 78» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
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16:09 Indian tech boss: H-1B visa curbs 'will hurt' » Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
Vineet Nayyar, vice chairman of outsourcing firm Tech Mahindra, said H-1B visa restrictions will make life tougher for India.
16:05 3 car buying tricks to get a good deal» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
Come Memorial Day, Labor Day and even the Fourth of July, auto sellers will pull out all the stops with balloons, burgers and bands to get you on their lot and sell you a vehicle. But are those sales for real?
15:35 Mylan: Is This Generics Maker Part Of The Bargain Bin?» Most popular articles
15:20 'Trumponomics' needs 3% growth to work, but this aspect of Trump's agenda undermines that plan» Top News & Analysis
Trump's budget needs 3 percent growth to work. But the labor force is shrinking, and his policies ignore the problem.
14:28 Iconic hedge fund manager Seth Klarman says investors are missing huge risks» Markets

Seth Klarman

An iconic hedge fund manager says investors are misperceiving risks in the markets – at a time when markets are hitting historic highs.

Baupost Group's Seth Klarman laid out his concerns in an April client letter, a copy of which was reviewed by Business Insider.

Risk, Klarman wrote, is the most important consideration when investing, and investors are being too trusting.

To make his point, Klarman contrasted today to the start of financial crisis.

"When share prices are low, as they were in the fall of 2008 into early 2009, actual risk is usually quite muted while perception of risk is very high," Klarman wrote. "By contrast, when securities prices are high, as they are today, the perception of risk is muted, but the risks to investors are quite elevated."

Klarman oversees one of the US' largest hedge fund firms with some $30 billion under management. He has a huge following on Wall Street, with investors naming his book "Margin of Safety" their favorite investment book in a recent SumZero surveyA used copy on Amazon retails for more than $900. 

He is no stranger to raising concerns on the markets under President Donald Trump. Earlier this year, he laid out his worries in a separate investor letter, raising red flags about Trump's tax cuts, for instance, which could considerably raise the government's deficit.

Markets have rallied since Trump was elected in November, as Wall Street took confidence in the president's plan to cut taxes, roll back on regulations, and boost infrastructure spending. Even as the Trump administration faces notable headwinds – federal investigations over Russia's influence in the campaign, flubs in passing healthcare – the markets don't seem to care.

There could be several reasons for that. In Klarman's more recent letter, he flagged three forces that investors are regularly combatting: 

  • greed and fear, which "pressure investors to do the wrong thing at every turn"
  • "aggressive brokers, investment bankers and traders who routinely promise more than they can deliver"
  • and investors focusing on the short-term and trend-following, and restrictions that are supposed to limit risk but actually prevent outperformance. 

As for potentially missing the Trump rally, by continuing to hedge and focusing on the long term? "We truly don't care," Klarman wrote. "We’re not going to fall into the trap of trying to outsmart others with clever short-term trading."

Baupost managed $30.3 billion at the start of the year, according to the Hedge Fund Intelligence Billion Dollar Club ranking. A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment. 

SEE ALSO: A $30 billion hedge fund's foreboding letter on Trump starts with quotes from The Joker, 'Lord of the Flies,' and Thomas Jefferson

DON'T MISS: http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-singers-elliott-hedge-fund-on-trump-administration-policies-2017-5

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: SCOTT GALLOWAY: WeWork is arguably the most overvalued company in the world

14:10 Nobody wants to buy this Connecticut ghost town that's on sale for $2.62 million» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Nobody wants to buy this Connecticut ghost town that's on sale for $2.62 millionJohnsonville, Connecticut, looks straight out of an episode of “Twin Peaks” — old mill included. But unlike the small town on TV, Johnsonville has been abandoned for nearly 20 years.

14:07 Gay Father Plans To Sue United Airlines Following Incident» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Gay Father Plans To Sue United Airlines Following IncidentA gay father has reportedly hired a lawyer and is planning to sue United Airlines after he was falsely accused of inappropriately touching his own son during a May 20 flight.

14:00 Why leaders need term limits» Top News & Analysis
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13:43 France's Macron meets with Vladimir Putin, promises tough talk and cooperation on key issues» Top News & Analysis
France's Emmanuel Macron welcomed Vladimir Putin, promising both frank talks and cooperation, Reuters reports.
13:39 Trudeau seeks papal apology over Canada school abuse» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

Trudeau seeks papal apology over Canada school abusePope Francis on Monday met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who sought an apology over the abuse of indigenous Canadians at church-run boarding schools. A Canadian truth and reconciliation commission wanted an apology from the Roman Catholic Church in its extensive list of recommendations in a 2015 report. The report into a "cultural genocide" of more than a century of abuse collated evidence over six years from some 7,000 former students in Canada.

13:33 The anti-terror ad going viral in the Middle East» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
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13:30 Why working from home may be making you miserable (and how to fix it)» Top News & Analysis
Working from home can have negative consequences for your state of mind.
13:04 50 books that inspire Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other tech titans» Top News & Analysis
These reads worked to encourage billionaires, and they could also work for you.
12:39 6.6-magnitude quake hits Indonesia's Sulawesi» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

6.6-magnitude quake hits Indonesia's SulawesiA shallow, 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit inland on the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi Monday, US seismologists said, causing people to panic but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. Muhammad Guntur, who lives on the outskirts of the town, said it was felt strongly. A hotel worker in Poso also said that people panicked when the quake struck but that things had returned to normal there.

12:34 8 paid iPhone apps on sale for free right now» Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines

8 paid iPhone apps on sale for free right now

Whether you're looking for some new games to play, an app to build email newsletters or a note-taking app that doubles as a sketchbook, we've got you covered with today's selection of paid apps gone free for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. If you act fast, you can snag some of Friday's free apps too.

These are paid iPhone and iPad apps that have been made available for free for a limited time by their developers. There is no way to tell how long they will be free. These sales could end an hour from now or a week from now — obviously, the only thing we can guarantee is that they were free at the time this post was written. If you click on a link and see a price listed next to an app instead of the word “get,” it is no longer free. The sale has ended. If you download the app, you will be charged.

Bokeh Lens

Normally $0.99.

Bokeh Lens will turn your iPhone photos into DSLR-quality photos with creamy and pleasing bokeh!

I love the portability of iPhone and being able to take snapshots everywhere. However, I miss the beautifully blurred background and bokeh effects that I can get using my DSLR camera. 'Bokeh Lens' for iOS will let you make the subject in your photo stand out by making the background blurred with natural-looking bokeh effects through the easy editing process.

Selecting the foreground area (area to be remaining as sharp) is the key factor to get the best possible result. The selection tool in this app was designed and developed to meet your detail-oriented editing needs. It will display a loupe (magnifying glass) when you zoom-in and try to select/deselect area. The loupe is very handy because otherwise you can't see the spot you're touching as your finger is blocking your view.

You can also adjust bokeh level (aperture) to control how much your photo's background should be bokeh-blurred.

Download Bokeh Lens


Normally $1.99.

Breezeblox is an addictive puzzle game where the objective is to reach the end cube without moving off the platform. Special cubes throughout the puzzles will trigger different actions on the platform to aid you with progressing. With 150 challenging puzzles to complete, your brain will be plenty busy.

Download Breezeblox


Normally $0.99.

Change is a beautifully, well designed and simple app that helps you convert currencies easily. All you need to do is choose your currency and slide right or left to compare other currencies.

Change is perfect for: travelers, online shoppers and non-professionals Forex traders who are looking for easy way to understand how much money they to convert.

Change key features:

* Simple to use: Just choose your currencies from the coins list and you ready to go. Now just scroll right or left for an quick exchange, Notice, you can scroll the top and the bottom coins.

* Well deigned: Change built by web designers, not by brokers. we care about every design issues so we create great user experiment with photos and text.

* Quick response: No need to wait until data is updated.

In first use, the app shows 8 different coins, but you can add and exchange over 85 coins.

Download Change

Game of Dragons HD

Normally $6.99.

Help a charming princess save her father’s kingdom!
Glory Lind has never known her father. So when one day a taxi driver tells her that her father Edward is an emperor who has been waiting to meet her for many years, she feels scared yet happily excited. Teleported to the Empire of Newterra, a parallel world of magic and dragons, Glory must first pass the royal family test to prove she is a real princess.
Before long, she finds out that being a princess has its dangers, however. It seems her evil cousin Simon is trying to get rid of her and become the only heir to the throne of Newterra. Travel to the mysterious Dragon Island with Glory and meet the old hermit Carl, who will share his secrets and magic to help defeat Simon and rescue the emperor!

● 52 exciting levels to reach
● Nine cleverly crafted mini-games
● Six enigmatic characters to meet
● Two difficulty modes to choose from
● Concept art, wallpapers and a walkthrough
● Game Center Support
● New iPad Retina Display Support

Download Game of Dragons HD

HTML Mailer

Normally $4.99.

Powerful newsletter and marketing email designer. Create professional HTML emails without needing to write any code.

About HTML format emails

Before sending emails in HTML format, it is important to understand not all mail clients have full HTML support. Most modern mail clients on iOS and Mac have excellent support. However, on clients with no or partial support, designs may lose original layout and inline images may show as attached. To learn more, please visit support website.

Create and send emails with stylish fonts, web hyper links and photos
- hyper link text boxes and photos in your mail to websites
- make a bigger impact by adding shapes and photos to your emails
- select from 17 beautiful fonts and over 200 font sizes
- choose from over 100 gorgeous colors and shades

Zero coding, easy to use drag and drop designer
- instantly generates rich email designs into HTML to provide formatting and semantic markup capabilities in emails that are not available with plain text
- make a bigger impact by adding images and web hyper links into your emails
- feature packed editing tools including support for undo, redo, text alignment, grids, multiple layers and free form arrangement

Build and save mailing lists
- build to, cc and bcc mailing lists by selecting directly from the Address Book or by importing comma delimited email lists

Save, update and reuse
- save your customized email designs or make copies of your work so you can increase your productivity by creating once, update and reuse!

Professional email templates
- start from a blank canvas or choose from any one of the professionally designed templates

Download HTML Mailer


Normally $2.99.

Give Oilist an image and it will automatically generate a genuine and unique work of art based on it. Painted for you in real time! Participate or spectate, it's up to you, Oilist will delight!

Oilist comes with 18 infinitely customizable styles; from impressionist to abstract.

Oilist is not a photo filter. Unlike most filter apps, Oilist will never generate the same results twice, and is capable of creating from impressionistic to abstract artwork based on the user’s photos. Instead of applying a fixed formula to an image as photo filters typically do, Oilist analyzes the supplied image using computer vision technology, then paints simulated paint particles that are applied using various brush strokes and techniques.

At anytime during the painting process, 4k resolution images may be captured as often as desired.

When Oilist is painting, styles may be infinitely customized by selecting from 12 different painting moods, choosing from 15 different brushes, setting brush options such as the size and spacing, and by injecting imperfections with the exciting Chaos tool. The gravity of the paint can be controlled by tilting the device and the brush angles may be controlled by yawing (rotating) the device. To rapidly change settings, it is possible to pause the painting by tapping in the paint area, make any desired changes, the tap in the painting area again to unpause the painting.

New and interesting results may be obtained by alternating settings with new settings painted on top of the previous settings. For instance, first paint a layer using the Warm mood followed by a layer using the Cool mood. The use of large brushes tend to create more abstract artwork and smaller brushes work best for high definition detail.

Oilist will automatically provide smaller brush strokes and greater photo-realism to detected faces. This can optionally be disabled by opening the Settings app, tapping on Oilist and disabling face detection.

Download Oilist


Normally $0.99.

A Golden Geek Best Solo Board Game Nominee, Onirim is a card game where you play as a Dreamwalker, lost in a mysterious labyrinth, and you must discover the oneiric doors before your dreamtime runs out - or you will remain trapped forever!

Wander through the chambers of dreams, hoping that chance will reveal the doors, or linger in each type of room. In either case, you will have to deal with the slithering Nightmares which haunt the hallways of the labyrinth.

Onirim is a solitaire card game. You must work against the game to gather the eight oneiric doors before the deck runs out. You can obtain door cards either by playing cards of the same color three turns in a row or by discarding one of your powerful key cards when a door appears from the deck. In both cases, you will have to decide the best use of each card in your hand and carefully play around the Nightmares. Those cards are hidden in the deck and will trigger painful dilemmas when drawn.

In addition to the exciting solo mode, players will enjoy the intuitive user interface, automated deck management, and stats to track their progress and successes against the game!

Onirim includes :
• Shadi Torbey's base Onirim game in solitaire mode
• Original artwork from the base game by Philippe Guerin and Elise Plessis, enhanced by animations
• Solo play
• Detailed, interactive, turn-by-turn, in-game tutorial.
• Offline stats record so you can track your progress
• No in-app purchases or ads
• Languages available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

Download Onirim

Zen Sketch

Normally $1.99.

Zen Sketch is a cross between a note-taking and a painting app. We wanted to give people an app with a balance between power and simplicity: A place that could stay out of the way and let them think, but also contained an environment with the ability to add serious detail to their work. And so Zen Sketch was born. The app goes beyond regular ink handwriting apps by using an industry standard drawing/painting engine, but still organizes your work in a logical fashion like any good note-taking app.

Use Zen Sketch to create powerful notes or paintings. All your work can easily be exported out of the app as images or PDFs, and shared in just about every way imaginable. The app has no learning curve, and lets you work in a streamlined and clean interface designed with the latest technology in mind.

Download Zen Sketch

12:32 Greece: Creditors must deliver on promise to lighten debt» AP Top Business News at 6:21 a.m. EDT
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's finance minister insisted Monday the country had met all its reform commitments, and said it was now up to international creditors to agree on how to make Greece's debt sustainable and help the nation emerge from its financial crisis....
12:29 Will Trump stick with Paris climate accord?» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
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12:23 Expanded laptop ban would impact thousands» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
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12:20 VC founder: 'We need to have more women founders'» Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com
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12:00 Obamacare hasn't collapsed, but Trump and the GOP might just let it» Markets

Former U.S. President Barack Obama waves after speaking at the Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

A month into his presidency, Donald Trump was surprised.

"Nobody knew healthcare could be this complicated," Trump mused during a White House event on February 27.

Three months, two votes, and one hugely unpopular bill later, the Republican Party is still struggling with just how complicated healthcare can be.

Despite advancing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) out of the House, the GOP's attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is still, at best, from completion. A series of snags have complicated the top item on the party's agenda.

Between crumbling insurance markets, policy divisions in the party, and public dissatisfaction with their proposals, the GOP's healthcare overhaul is on shaky ground.

What's the score?

The AHCA took another hit this week when the Congressional Budget Office released its updated projections on the legislation's effects on premiums and coverage.

The CBO found that the bill would bring down premiums in the aggregate and reduce the deficit, but also result in 23 million fewer people having health insurance in 2026 than under the current baseline.

Perhaps most strikingly, the CBO found that a new provision in the AHCA, imposed by the so-called MacArthur amendment, would undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions and leave them subject to sky-high premiums.

(Read a full breakdown of the new CBO score»)

Even before the score, the bill was not popular with Americans.

A poll released by Quinnipiac University on Thursday showed just 20% of Americans support the AHCA, and other polls consistently show that the bill is deeply unpopular.

At the same time, Obamacare has seen a surge in popularity. A recent Gallup poll showed 55% of Americans support the law, its highest level of approval since its passage more than seven years ago.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to Reuters during an interview in Washington, U.S., May 24, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

'It's a very awkward process'

Republicans in Washington have heard the pushback — at least in the Senate.

Even as House GOP leaders were celebrating the passage of the AHCA in a white House Rose Garden ceremony with Trump earlier this month, Senate GOP members were saying they were prepared to scrap the legislation and write their own version of the bill.

Senate Republicans have worked over the last few weeks in an attempt to come up with their own version of a healthcare bill. 

It doesn't appear to be going smoothly.

On Tuesday, GOP Sen. Bob Corker expressed frustration with the Senate process, questioning the working group of roughly 13 lawmakers that are crafting the bill.

"It’s a very awkward process, at best," Corker said, according to the HuffPost. "There are no experts. There’s no actuarial. ... Typically, in a hearing, you’d have people coming in and you’d also have the media opining about if a hearing took place, and X came in and made comments."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even told Reuters on Thursday that he doesn't "know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment."

While there are plenty of issues to iron out, there are two major disagreements, said Cynthia Cox, associate director at nonpartisan health policy think tank The Kaiser Family Foundation:

  1. Medicaid funding: The House version of the AHCA would cut $880 billion in funding from the 2026 baseline, something that did not please some Republican senators. The ACA expanded Medicaid to people making up to 138% of the federal poverty line, resulting in roughly 11 million more people on the program's rolls. "There are red states that have expended Medicaid and they may want to keep this additional Medicaid funding," Cox told Business Insider. Additionally, changes to how the federal government funds Medicaid and how quickly funding would grow could cause cracks in the GOP.
  2. Funding for tax credits: The AHCA proposes flat tax credits based on age instead of adjusted for income under Obamacare. This means that poorer and older people could see their premiums skyrocket, an alarming proposition to many GOP senators. "There is some acknowledgement that the AHCA are lower for older people and people in rural areas," Cox said. "So there are questions over whether to just increase the total on the AHCA flat tax credits or start to adjust for income and location, which is closer to the ACA."

Both of these issues, Cox said, do have a common theme: money.

"To make any of those changes, they need one relative to the AHCA," Cox said. "So it would also come down to which taxes they cut, or don't."

Donald Trump Paul Ryan

'They really need clarity'

As all of the concerns swirl around Washington, insurers and state insurance markets across the country face an uncertain future for a critical piece of Obamacare — and a hard deadline.

So-called cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments help to offset costs to insurers for providing low-income Americans with affordable plans that reduce out-of-pocket costs. Their future is uncertain.

(Read more about how CSR payments work »)

As Obamacare was signed into law, the Obama administration stipulated that CSR payments would be funded via the executive branch. That authority was contested by the Republican-led House in a lawsuit that has been ongoing for several years. The House argues that only Congress has the authority to appropriate the funds.

A court ruled in 2016 against the Obama administration, endangering the future of the CSR payments. The Obama administration appealed the ruling. Now, the Trump administration must ultimately decide whether to continue with the lawsuit. Trump himself has cast serious doubt as to whether it will.

On Monday, the Trump administration and the House agreed to delay the next step in the case, punting another 90 days to try and come up with a solution outside of the courts.

But the uncertainty over the critical CSR payments have left insurers in limbo as they decide their plans for the exchanges' 2018 plan year. The deadline to submit plans for the exchanges next year is late June, giving insurers little time and clarity on how to price their plans — or whether it's worth participating at all.

Cox said the uncertainty over the payments could end up driving insurers away, or cause the companies to increase their premiums.

"They really need clarity on this now," Cox said. "Without this clarity, they're either going to have to decide to leave the market or raise their premiums substantially, and in most cases I would expect insurers to do one of those two things."

Matthew Fiedler, a fellow with the Brookings Institution's Center for Health Policy, agreed that the uncertainty could have a negative effect on consumer choices.

"The fact that the administration is a big question mark that needs to be resolved at some point later in the summer can't make them feel particularly good about where the market is," Fiedler told Business Insider. "I think it continues to make them place significant weight on the idea that the payments might ultimately not be there next year and when there's any possibility that they won't be paid it just makes it very hard to plan."

FILE PHOTO: Protesters demonstrate against U.S. President Donald Trump and his plans to end Obamacare outside the White House in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Market wobbles

Already, states where insurers have submitted their 2018 exchange plans have seen significant premium increases. 

Republicans have argued that the rates are another sign that Obamacare as it stands is failing and that the need to pass a repeal and replacement is even more urgent.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's website labeled a New York Times editorial attributing some of the insurer exits from insurance exchanges to the AHCA as "disingenuous nonsense."

"The writing was already on the wall that Obamacare was failing," said the post. "Unfortunately, the Left is only now calling it out — with a pathetic attempt to point the finger at Republicans."

Fielder pushed back against that argument.

"We know how large insurers losses were in 2015 and 2016 and we know how much they raised rates in 2017," Fiedler said. "That allows us to reach a pretty good guess as to what their margins are for 2017 and that all suggests that they should've been breakeven for 2017 without market disruption or even a little better. So it's just not plausible given what we know about insurers financials in previous years that they would need to impose another round of very large increases for next year."

In terms of exits, insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, which announced Wednesday it was leaving exchanges in Missouri and Kansas, have cited not only losses, but also "the uncertain direction of this market."

One insurer took this a step further and clearly pinned the blame on the AHCA for serious instability in the individual insurance market.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina said the company decided to more than double their requested premium increase due to the CSR uncertainty.

The company has requested a 22.9% increase for the average premium in 2018, but said that if the CSR payments were guaranteed, that would only by 8.8%.

"The latest news came earlier this week as the Trump Administration delayed a decision on whether to fight the House lawsuit," Brian Tajlili, the director of actuarial and pricing services for Blue Cross NC, wrote in a blog post on Thursday explaining the decision. "As a result, insurance companies can’t count on being paid for reducing cost-sharing for eligible ACA customers."

Tajlili went on to tie the increase directly to the uncertainty surrounding the CSR payments, saying more clarity on the ACA's future from lawmakers could have driven the premium increases even lower.

"In other words, with the right actions coming out of Washington to stabilize the market, the rate increase from Blue Cross NC would have been between 5% and 6%," Tajlili wrote. "That looks a lot different from the 22.9% we filed."

Blue Cross NC CEO Brad Wilson was even more direct in his criticism of Washington.

"The failure of the administration and the House to bring certainty and clarity by funding CSRs has caused our company to file a 22.9% premium increase, rather than one that is materially lower," Wilson told The Washington Post. "That will impact hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians."

SEE ALSO: BOEHNER: Paul Ryan is fighting Trump over a tax idea that's 'deader than a doornail'

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Sally Yates go toe to toe with Ted Cruz over Trump's immigration ban

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Europe is coming to terms with a new reality: The United States will no longer be a reliable partner.
11:51 2,000 Wall Streeters just had a meeting in Las Vegas, and they all kept making the same awkward noise» Markets

bellagio hotel las vegas dark

One distinct noise dominated the biggest Wall Street conference of 2017. It wasn't the "Wolf of Wall Street" types screaming at the craps table, or the plink-plink-plink of slot machines as dad-bros clinked scotch-filled glasses over market talk.

The noise was nervous laughter, and for what is supposed to be the biggest Wall Street party of the year, it was incredibly weird.

We're talking specifically about the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT, an annual hedge fund meeting (and party) for the 1%.

If you've never been to a dayslong Wall Street conference in Las Vegas, let me explain to you what it's like: You sit in dark rooms while the sun is shining. You wear dark suits inside while all the happy civilians are wearing bathing suits and jumping in pools outside. While you are listening to lecture after lecture about credit conditions and opportunities in the stock market, the rest of the world is making slot machines ring and drinking off their hangovers.

This experience is best when the mood is light — when the market is strong and tailwinds are pushing you forward. In years like that, there's a seamless transition from a world leader's one-on-one interview to a bunch of hedge fund dad-bros crushing Champagne by the pool.

This year at SALT, though, the mood was not light.

It's true the US market is near record highs, but there's a feeling across the world that the wind is turning. The millionaires and billionaires at SALT have been feeling it for weeks. And that's why the halls and auditoriums of the Bellagio were filled with one distinct sound.

Nervous laughter.

Even the Masters of the Universe, the men at the highest heights of this country, are starting to worry about what it's like to fall. President Donald Trump, a man they thought they could level with, is starting to show that his critics were right to worry about his erratic behavior and inexperience. No one knows when a market slide will happen, or if it will happen at all.

They've been wrong before, and they hope they're wrong now.

A master of none

No one could get the nervous laughter going at SALT better than the chairman of the conference, Anthony Scaramucci. He has long been known on Wall Street as a man who sees opportunity and takes it, even if it means biting off more than he can chew.

His opening remarks on Wednesday were about something like that. Last May, right before the conference, Scaramucci pledged his loyalty to Trump and joined his campaign. Unfortunately for him, the position he thought he would receive in the White House has not materialized.

Instead of hiding from this, he dove into it and explained his current position as he addressed a dark, worried crowd.

"If [Trump] wants me to serve, I'm ready to serve. If he doesn't want me to serve, that's fine," Scaramucci said. "I have no bitterness about it. It's politics."

He also acknowledged that not a lot of the people in the room were Trump fans. This time last year, Scaramucci was in Trump conversion mode — this year he was in Trump conciliation mode.

anthony scaramucci

As part of his attempt to soften the crowd, Scaramucci told a story of what he found on the campaign trail with Trump.

At a stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the millionaire met hundredaires at best — people holding down multiple jobs just to survive. He shook their hands and heard their stories. He related it to his working-class upbringing as an Italian kid on Long Island. Alongside the tragedy of America's wealth gap, he found a feeling of connection to ordinary people.

"I spent 28 years of my life trying to join the global elite," he said, with a hint of regret. "But it took a billionaire who lives on Fifth Avenue in a tower next to Tiffany's jewelry store to show me what I missed."

Nervous laughter.

The chorus

Just after Scaramucci spoke, Ben Bernanke, a former the chair of the Federal Reserve who was one of the most powerful men in the world, shared his thoughts. He said Trump's lack of leadership was a "reasonable concern."

"I did not anticipate how these various issues, Russia and so on, would create uncertainty," he said.

Bernanke also said that what Wall Street called the "Trump trade" was "overdone."

After Trump was elected, the market rallied sky-high — like a rocket off to Mars to meet Jesus. The standard explanation for this glorious move was that Wall Street expected tax cuts for corporations and the rich. It expected infrastructure spending and a Congress that would ignore deficit reduction. It expected the rollback of regulations on our banking system, on our energy companies, of Obama-era measures meant to protect land, sea, and sky.

Bernanke gently explained, as one would tell a child there is no tooth fairy, that there is no Trump trade. The tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and deregulation are not coming. Bernanke told Wall Street: You will not have what you were dreaming of. Some people are not who they say they are.

This is where we are now. The financiers in the room have realized that Trump can and will do nothing for anyone other than himself, the long-hoped-for economic policies vanishing in the face of scandal — of Russian intrigue, of accusations of corruption and mendacity.

Trump has become another major stressor for an industry that has been worried since 2015 about clients demanding lower fees and higher returns. At SALT, the mood was darker and attendance lower than in years past. Wall Street, just like the market, is starting to crack ever so slightly in the face of uncertainty.

That slow realization is what the nervous laughter is all about.

Pointing out that things can get worse still, Erik Schatzker, who moderated Bernanke's talk, asked him, "What if loyalty becomes the No. 1 requirement for the Fed chairman?"

Nervous laughter.

Bernanke responded gravely: If the Fed chair has no credibility, people won't believe in the markets.

What, then, is there to believe in? This is all coming at a time when the industry has more than enough to worry about. Returns have for years been weak, fees are going lower, and hedge funds are blowing up. Uncertainty in Washington is the last thing anyone needs.

Ben Bernanke

Louder and louder

The billionaire investor Jeff Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital, the man known as Wall Street's "bond god," spoke at the conference from a studio in Los Angeles, appearing as a hologram during lunchtime. A year before, he predicted Trump would win the election, but he didn't seem thrilled about it then or now.

"Trump says inconsistent things from time to time, you may have noticed," he said.

Nervous laughter.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Sam Zell, the billionaire real-estate investor from Chicago, defended Trump at the conference.

"All of this is excessive," he said of Trump's Russia scandals. "Not much will come of this."

There was no laughter there, but Zell — notorious for decrying the danger of economic redistribution and his hatred of Barack Obama and liberals at large — got a laugh later. While extolling the virtues of the deregulation of the coal industry he offered another story from China, one that seemed to illustrate the opposite point of the one he was trying to make.

The air quality in Beijing is so bad as a result of coal-burning power plants, Zell said excitedly, that after a trip there, "my pilot told me we had to take the plane back to Chicago and clean it before we got to New York City or we'd lose the paint job."

Nervous laughter — with an audible groan.

The groan was so loud, in fact, that Zell's moderator, Fox News' Liz Claman, took a jab.

"God forbid you lose the paint job," she said jokingly.

'Wake up'

The standout keynote speech of the conference was former Vice President Joe Biden's address on Thursday evening. For quite a bit of his talk, his head was in his hands.

That's because Biden, as you probably know, is not very good at hiding his emotions. This time, he was showing clear disappointment.

"We need to think big!" Biden exclaimed to the silent crowd of mesmerized financiers.

The America he sees now, he said, is an America that thinks little of itself, that pretends it can take on only small challenges rather than energetically tackle big ones. It is a tired and small America, not an exhilarated America, or, rather, the America that Biden knows and would prefer.

It is an America where people behave selfishly and cling to what they know, rather than one where people work with one another to forge another rich and glorious American century.

Today that makes us weak, but we are weak today only because we are afraid.

Biden does not believe America is a country of sudden losers; he believes in facts. Yes, the future brings violent change along with it. But we are a country of solutions — of the "most nimble" venture capitalists and more research universities than any other country in the world. We are blessed with arable land and a healthy population. According to a man who knows we desperately need to hear it, we can do anything we put our minds to.

And so we should.

In that dark room of nervous suits, Biden explained the truth. If America invests in America, America will be nothing but great. And then he said something that makes moneymen uncomfortable: There is no proof that people keeping their tax money for themselves and their children will enrich the economy. But education will. Investing in public goods will. Focusing on the future will.

"Raise your hand if you think 12 years of education is enough in this economy," he said to the crowd.

Nervous silence.

So we need $9 billion, Biden said. To Wall Street, that's nothing. Wall Street knows that for America, it's nothing. But that $9 billion would pay for free community college for people who want it, Biden said. That, in turn, would add two-tenths of a percent to gross domestic product.

"Wake up," he demanded.

It was an order, but it's hard to comply with. Trump has made Wall Street wonder whether the party in the market is over, and quietly in Las Vegas, Wall Streeters wondered if this would be the last SALT they would attend. You would think that given the Wall Street image of testosterone-charged traders and savvy bankers the business would face this challenge with energy. But that isn't the case. Wall Street has lost its nerve.

And so what we have here now is lethargy — and nervous laughter.

SEE ALSO: I went to the biggest Wall Street party of the year and everyone was miserable

Join the conversation about this story »

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apple tim cook celebrate

No area of the stock market has been hotter than tech since the election, and it seems investors still haven't gotten their fill.

They poured $1.8 billion into the largest exchange-traded fund tracking the sector on Tuesday, the biggest single-day inflow since September 2010.

That jibes with data compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch last week, showing that the group is on pace to absorb the most capital since the dot-com bubble 15 years ago.

It's a remarkable signal of confidence for the tech industry, which has already surged by 21% since the US presidential election. So why are people so keen to continue loading up on shares? Look no further than the sector's torrid earnings growth.

It boasts the best profit expansion in the S&P 500 at the moment, excluding energy, and is projected to see earnings expansion of 19% for the full-year 2017, while the broader benchmark is expected to see ex-energy growth of just 9.2%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

QQQ chart

Led by juggernauts like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, internet companies specifically are driving gains. As BAML chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett pointed out last week, the 90-stock Nasdaq internet index is on pace for a 75% gain in 2017.

Hedge funds are also helping. The aforementioned trio of tech firms are the three stocks that matter most to hedge funds right now, according to Goldman Sachs, which combed through 821 funds holding a combined $1.9 trillion.

But just because tech stocks have caught fire doesn't mean investors are throwing all caution to the wind. Options traders are paying the most since early January to protect against a 10% loss in the PowerShares QQQ Trust Series ETF over the next six months, relative to a 10% increase.

With all other signs pointing to extended bullishness for the sector, it's likely investors are simply protecting the considerable gains they've already realized, rather than speculating on a large decline.

QQQ price chart

SEE ALSO: Corporate America investing in itself is going to be what powers stocks higher

SEE ALSO: Tech stocks are on pace to do something that hasn't been seen since the dot-com bubble

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