Sunday, February 23, 2014

Euro Maidan Victory

 President Viktor Yanukovych has been deposed (BBC)

Oleg Mokhnytsky, a Svoboda Party member of parliament who now runs the general prosecutor’s office, promised the Verkhovna Rada on Feb. 23 that the murders of nearly 100 protesters since January will be investigated. 
Parliament is meeting in special session today to consider many items, including the possible appointment of a new prime minister and a possible vote on approving an association agreement with the European Union, the same deal that ex-President Viktor Yanukovych rejected on Nov. 21, a decision that led to his downfall. Kyiv Post

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kiev's inferno


These pictures were taken today. So far over 60 people confirmed killed.

More heartbreaking pictures from Kiev today

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kiev lit up

Open warfare broke out on the streets of Kyiv today, with at least 22 persons reportedly killed and more than 1,000 people injured. It was a day of non-stop bloodletting, smoke, fire and screeching ambulances. Kyiv Post

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

UN slams North Korea on human rights abuses

A panel of experts mandated by the UN's Human Rights Council said North Koreans had suffered "unspeakable atrocities", and that those responsible, including leader Kim Jong-un, must face justice.

The panel heard evidence of torture, political repression and other crimes.

Pyongyang refused to co-operate with the report and rejects its conclusions. BBC
Here's the actual UN report.

Taba bombing was a suicide bomb attack

The bombing of a tourist bus on Sunday in Taba, South Sinai, was caused by a suicide bomber who boarded the bus and detonated the explosion immediately after, said interior ministry spokesperson Hani Abdel-Latif. 
Prior to the blast, the bus driver had accompanied two South Korean tourists to the baggage hold. As they returned to the bus, an unknown man followed them inside and the bomb went off immediately, said Abdel-Latif, as reported by Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Offshore accounts

The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigations has an interesting report showing some examples of how schemes involving offshore shell companies have been used to evade US taxes. It's from 2006.

Two weeks later, Mr. Greenstein sent Mr. Wilk an email suggesting that the considerations in
hiring a firm [a tax law firm to produce a written opinion to the effect that a proposed scheme would be legal] were not only who had the best credentials, but who would be most "aggressive":

"Had drinks last night with friends from Mayer Brown & Platt/ Akin Gump, Strauss & Howard/ Millbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy/ Battle Fowler. Battle Fowler does a lot of real estate and some very aggressive basis savings transactions. My friend thinks they would have clients with high basis low FMV[fair market value] assets (the bad assets) and clients who would like our trade because they have low basis high FMV real estate. He also thinks they would be willing to opine. My friend also told me that Shearman and Sterling had been very aggressive on 704(c) transactions prior to the re-write of that section and would probably still retain an aggressive stance. Spoke with Chris ... about Mayer Brown & Pratt. He will check but believes UBS would take their opinion and told me that there had been an occasion when MBP opined for the Bank when Cravath would not."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tracking unrest around the world

This looks a very valuable service. Things are turning upside down in many parts of the world. It is though not comprehensive (it doesn't track the situation in CAR or South Sudan). It is also missing the current protests in Venezuela. 

Venezuela in revolt

All the major cities are facing massive demonstration
more pictures are here and here

The student protesters are being shot

A redditor described what happened
Venezuelan here. Mind you I was on today's protest on the anti-government side, this means I'm biased. You may not know, but Venezuela is spiraling into debt. With Chavez death and the rule of President Nicolás Maduro, we had two bid devaluations. The Dollar went from 4,30 Bs (Bolivares "Fuertes") to 11,36 approx. on one year. We can't find basic food elements like milk, flour, cooking oil, and even toilet paper on our marts and markets, this scarcity is beyond patience: 
Insecurity is rampant. We are now one of the most violent countries on the world. We had even one of our Miss Venezuela killed, it was because she was famous, not because she had money, it wasn't a hitman. She died with same modus operandi every Venezuelan gets killed. The government is secretly working with a lot of "collectives" (mafias, armed groups, violent gangs) as means of intimidation and is turning a blind eye to violence. 
Here is a video of the police and government enforcers shooting and kicking people: 
Here are some videos of these armed collectives shooting protesters: you can see one protester shot death and the police not doing anything. Police brutality against protesters (not today, not in Caracas but in Mérida) 
Armed collectives shooting and robbing. These are the Tupamaros, considered a legal political party: 
You won't find this on the news except on CNN. Our TV media is buyed by the goverment. It was funny and infuriating watching TV today and finding soup operas an bullshit shows while everybody was marching and the tension was boiling. Pardon my writing. I can't write well due to anger. There is so much more about this but I can't think straight, I'm too damn angry right now, so I think this info is kinda limited. I hope someone complement this.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scottish Independence Referendum

The Scottish people will decide whether they will be independent from United Kingdom this September 2014.

The current British Government has been making various threats about consequences of leaving the UK.
Amid strong polling evidence that financial matters have become the decisive factor in voters' minds, George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls are each planning to deliver an unequivocal warning that an independent Scotland could not keep the pound. 
David Cameron signalled at his Downing Street press conference on Tuesday that Osborne would be first out of the blocks later this week. The chancellor will reject a currency union as he develops his warning last week that first minister Alex Salmond's proposal had been "demolished" by the Bank of England governor Mark Carney in a speech in Edinburgh last month. Guardian

I think it's a mistake. The more the British Government announces these type of threats, the more people will join the independence movement. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The shine is off BRICS

"The South has risen at an unprecedented speed and scale," reads the United Nations Human Development Report 2013, completed just a few months ago. Historian Niall Ferguson wrote in his 2011 book "Civilization: The West and the Rest" of "the end of 500 years of Western predominance." It is, he suggested, an epochal change.

But now, after having become so used to success in recent years, reality has begun to catch up to the BRICS states. Growth rates in 2013 were far below where they were at their high-water marks. Whereas China's growth rate reached a high of 14 percent just a few years ago, for example, it topped out at just 8 percent last year. In India, economic expansion fell from a one-time apex of 10 percent to less than 5 percent in 2013; in Brazil growth went from a high of 6 percent to 3 percent. Such values are still higher than those seen in the EU, but they are no longer as impressive. Spiegel

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Wife Beating Law

A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse. 
The small but significant change to Afghanistan's criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai – will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering. Guardian
Count your blessing that you do not live in Afghanistan.  

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Two Radiologists raise alarms on CT scan overuse

CTs, once rare, are now routine. One in 10 Americans undergo a CT scan every year, and many of them get more than one. This growth is a result of multiple factors, including a desire for early diagnoses, higher quality imaging technology, direct-to-consumer advertising and the financial interests of doctors and imaging centers. CT scanners cost millions of dollars; having made that investment, purchasers are strongly incentivized to use them.

While it is difficult to know how many cancers will result from medical imaging, a 2009 study from the National Cancer Institute estimates that CT scans conducted in 2007 will cause a projected 29,000 excess cancer cases and 14,500 excess deaths over the lifetime of those exposed. Given the many scans performed over the last several years, a reasonable estimate of excess lifetime cancers would be in the hundreds of thousands. According to our calculations, unless we change our current practices, 3 percent to 5 percent of all future cancers may result from exposure to medical imaging. NY Times

Letting kids be kids work

Ripping up the playground rulebook is having incredible effects on children at an Auckland school. 
Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don't cause bedlam, the principal says. 
The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing. tvnz