Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Capture of Zetas leader unlikely to quell violence

FILE - This undated file image downloaded from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website, shows the leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias ?Z-40?. Mexican media reports and a U.S. federal official confirmed that Trevino Morales has been captured. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

FILE - This undated file image downloaded from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website, shows the leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias ?Z-40?. Mexican media reports and a U.S. federal official confirmed that Trevino Morales has been captured. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

FILE - This undated file image downloaded from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website, shows the leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias ?Z-40?. Mexican media reports and a U.S. federal official confirmed that Trevino Morales has been captured. (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

(AP) ? The capture of the notoriously brutal Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales is a serious blow to Mexico's most feared drug cartel but experts cautioned that taking down the group's command structure is unlikely to diminish violence in the border states where it dominates through terror.

Trevino Morales, 40, was captured before dawn Monday by Mexican Marines who intercepted a pickup truck with $2 million in cash on a dirt road in the countryside outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo, which has long served as the Zetas' base of operations. The truck was halted by a Marine helicopter and Trevino Morales was taken into custody along with a bodyguard and an accountant and eight guns, government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told reporters.

It was the first major blow against an organized crime leader by a Mexican administration struggling to drive down persistently high levels of violence. Experts on the Zetas said that the arrest, at least the eighth capture or killing of a high-ranking Zeta since 2011, could leave behind a series of cells scattered across northern Mexico without a central command but with the same appetite for kidnapping, extortion and other crimes against innocent people.

"It's another link in the destruction of the Zetas as a coherent, identifiable organization," said Alejandro Hope, a former member of Mexico's domestic intelligence service. "There will still be people who call themselves Zetas, bands of individuals who maintain the same modus operandi. There will be fights over illegal networks."

The Zetas remain active in Nuevo Laredo, the nearby border state of Coahuila, the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, parts of north central Mexico and Central America, although Trevino Morales' arrest means the gang has become "a franchise operation not a vertical organization," said George Grayson, an expert on the Zetas and professor of government at the College of William & Mary.

The Zetas leader and his alleged accomplices were flown to Mexico City, where they are expected to eventually be tried in a closed system that usually takes years to prosecute cases, particularly high-profile ones.

Trevino Morales, known as "Z-40," is uniformly described as one of the two most powerful cartel heads in Mexico, the leader of a corps of special forces defectors who went to work for drug traffickers, splintered off into their own cartel in 2010 and metastasized across Mexico, expanding from drug dealing into extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking.

Along the way, the Zetas authored some of the worst atrocities of Mexico's drug war, leaving hundreds of bodies beheaded on roadsides or hanging from bridges, earning a reputation as perhaps the most terrifying of the country's numerous ruthless cartels.

On Trevino Morales' watch, 72 Central and South American migrants were slaughtered by the Zetas in the northern town of San Fernando in 2010, authorities said. By the following year, federal officials announced finding 193 bodies buried in San Fernando, most belonging to migrants kidnapped off buses and killed by the Zetas for various reasons, including their refusal to work as drug mules.

Trevino Morales is charged with ordering the kidnapping and killing of the 265 migrants, along with numerous other charges of murder, torture and other crimes, Sanchez said.

President Enrique Pena Nieto came into office promising to drive down levels of homicide, extortion and kidnapping but has struggled to make a credible dent in crime figures. And his pledge to focus on citizen safety over other crimes has sparked worries among U.S. authorities that he would ease back on predecessor Felipe Calderon's U.S.-backed strategy aimed above all at decapitating drug cartels.

The arrest of Trevino, a man widely blamed for both massive northbound drug trafficking and the deaths of untold scores of Mexicans and Central American migrants, will almost certainly earn praise from Pena Nieto's U.S. and Mexican critics alike.

Trevino Morales' capture adds to the long list of Zetas' leaders who have been arrested or killed in recent years, including Zeta head Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, whose fatal shooting by authorities last year left Trevino Morales in charge.

The debilitation of the Zetas has been widely seen as strengthening the country's most-wanted man, Sinaloa cartel head Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who has overseen a vicious turf war with the Zetas from hideouts believed to lie in rugged western Mexico.

Trevino Morales is expected to be succeeded by his brother, Omar, a former low-ranking turf boss seen as far weaker than his older brother.

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales began his career as a teenage gofer for the Los Tejas gang, which controlled most crime in his hometown across the border from Laredo, Texas. He soon graduated from washing cars and running errands to running drugs across the border, and was recruited into the Matamoros-based Gulf cartel.

Trevino Morales' brother, sister and mother lived in Dallas but he had many relatives around Nuevo Laredo and, while moving frequently to avoid authorities, he was believed to often return to his hometown, the U.S. official said.

Trevino Morales joined the Zetas, a group of Mexican special forces deserters who defected to work as hit men and bodyguards for the Gulf cartel in the late 1990s.

Stories about the brutality of "El Cuarenta," or "40" as Trevino Morales became known, quickly became well-known among his men, his rivals and Nuevo Laredo citizens terrified of incurring his anger.

One technique favored by Trevino Morales was the "guiso," or stew, in which enemies would be placed in 55-gallon (208-liter) drums and burned alive, said a U.S. law-enforcement official in Mexico City, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. Others who crossed the Zeta commander would be beaten with wooden planks, the official said.

Around 2005, Trevino Morales was promoted to boss of the Nuevo Laredo territory, or "plaza," and given responsibility for fighting off the Sinaloa cartel's attempt to seize control of its drug-smuggling routes, according to U.S. and Mexican officials. He orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of Laredo.

In 2006, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas defeated the Sinaloa cartel in Nuevo Laredo, a victory that emboldened them as they began spreading south to towns and cities that had never before seen extensive organized crime. They set up criminal networks to control transit routes for drugs, migrants, extortion, kidnapping, contraband of pirated DVDs and CDs, and countless other criminal activities, intimidating local residents and committing gruesome murders as an example to the uncooperative.

According to the U.S. official, Trevino Morales was in charge of Nuevo Leon, Piedras Negras and other areas until March 2007, when he was sent to the city of Veracruz following the death of a leading Zeta in a gunbattle there.

That same year, Trevino Morales and Lazcano began pushing for independence from the Gulf cartel after cartel head Osielo Cardenas Guillen's extradition to the U.S.

The Zetas split from the Gulf cartel and by 2008 had operations in 28 major Mexican cities, according to an analysis by Grupo Savant, a Washington-based security think tank.

In February 2008, Lazcano sent Trevino Morales to Guatemala, where he was responsible for eliminating local competitors and establish the Zetas' control of smuggling routes. Trevino Morales was then named by Lazcano as national commander of the Zetas across Mexico despite his lack of military background, earning him the resentment of some of the original ex-military members of the Zetas, the official said.

The promotion involved Trevino Morales in virtually every decision by the Zetas, the official said.

Trevino Morales rose to the top of the Zetas last year after leader Lazcano died in a shootout with Mexican marines in Coahuila state.

Trevino Morales was indicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in New York in 2009 and Washington in 2010, and the U.S. government issued a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

According to the indictments, Trevino Morales coordinated the shipment of hundreds of pounds of cocaine and marijuana each week from Mexico into the U.S., much of which had passed through Guatemala.


Follow Michael Weissenstein on Twitter at ?


Alicia Caldwell contributed to this report from Washington, D.C. Rodriguez and E. Eduardo Castillo contributed from Mexico City.

Associated Press


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Kama High Club for Odd Singles

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Kama High Club for Odd Singles

At Kama high school, a club has been made for students who are lonely but cannot find anyone in their life because of their odd interests. It is a chance for students to find their soulmate.


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Forum for completely Out of Character (OOC) discussion, based around whatever is happening In Character (IC). Discuss plans, storylines, and events; Recruit for your roleplaying game, or find a GM for your playergroup.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Sam Houston State University has rejected a property donation from a local busin...

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Ryan Davis

Former Gorman star Shabazz Muhammad focuses on passing his own test at NBA Summer League


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Minnesota Timberwolves Shabazz Muhammad guards NBA D-League Select Elijah Milsap Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack?Center.

NBA Summer League - Shabazz Muhammad

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Shabazz Muhammad started his first career NBA Summer League game with a specific plan. Judging by the statistics it didn?t go so well, but like a lot else in his life, Muhammad disagrees with the outside perception.

?I though I played really well,? said the former Bishop Gorman and UCLA wing.

Muhammad didn?t play badly Saturday in the Minnesota Timberwolves 83-81 loss to the NBA D-League Select Team at the Thomas & Mack Center. And even if he had, it?s an incredibly small sample size at the start of what the lottery pick hopes is a long NBA career.

The 14th pick in this year?s draft finished with seven points on 3-for-7 shooting, including 1-for-3 on 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist, three turnovers and four fouls. His plan for the game didn?t have anything to do with how many points he scored, although he surely would have preferred to pour in three more for a victory.

?I know I can score the ball,? Muhammad said, ?and I?m just trying to learn how to really pass the ball.?

How does he do that while also adjusting to NBA speed, even if it?s just Summer League speed? The answer ? keep your head up and look for teammates ? sounds simpler than it is.

Muhammad recently finalized his rookie deal, making him one of the few players on the court with a guaranteed contract. He doesn?t, however, have any guaranteed playing time come the regular season. Figuring out how best to find his teammates while learning to pick his spots to score could serve him well in finding court time for a suddenly loaded Minnesota roster.

Since the draft, in which the Timberwolves effectively traded Trey Burke for Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, the team signed veterans Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer to three-year deals. They also added shooting guard Kevin Martin, creating a logjam at multiple positions.

Of course, anonymity could be exactly what Muhammad needs. After spending at least the past two years under a spotlight this time away from it may be what he needs to learn his role and how best to create for others.

?It is a fresh start,? Muhammad said.

The Timberwolves return to the Mack on Monday at 3:30 p.m. vs. the Phoenix Suns. Considering Muhammad?s confidence in his ability to score won?t change between now and then he?s likely to go into that game with the same plan: don?t rush shots and find his teammates.

With enough games that may become something he can just do instead of telling himself to do it. For now he?s working on that plan game-by-game in front of a crowd happy to see him again.

?It felt great,? Muhammad said. ?Vegas is always my home.?


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Shahrukh, Hrithik movies inspired Chinese trio to intrude into India

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Source: --- Sunday, July 14, 2013
The three claimed that they were driven out by extreme poverty from home and wanted to come to India because they had seen it as a land of prosperity on the sliver screen ...


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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jurors in Zimmerman murder trial resume deliberations in Florida

George Zimmerman wipes perspiration from his face after arriving in the courtroom for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford

George Zimmerman wipes perspiration from his face after arriving in the courtroom for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford (POOL, REUTERS / July 12, 2013)

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida jury on Saturday resumed deliberating the fate of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, a case that has attracted wide attention and triggered debate in the U.S. public for more than a year.

The six-woman jury began deliberations inside the Seminole County courthouse in this town in central Florida on Friday but adjourned late in the day after about 3-1/2 hours. They resumed work at about 9 a.m. EDT.

They are to decide whether Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense in February last year, is guilty of second-degree murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Tom Brown and sandra Maler)


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Now on Google Earth: marijuana fields

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS -- Venture into the virtual world of Google's satellite imagery and one can find, throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, what appear to be very real, very large marijuana grows.

Visible to anyone with an Internet connection, the sites appear to be well-financed operations, frequently with bulldozed sites, long greenhouses and even staff. And they go to the heart of an ongoing county debate over whether suppliers of medical marijuana dispensaries should be regulated, both in remote mountain areas and in residential neighborhoods.

"If we do nothing, all of the socio-environmental issues we're currently seeing will get worse," said Supervisor Zach Friend, who has asked county staff to look into the issue as part of a suite of pot club rules the county board could weigh in September. "It's not a secret that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and I'm hopeful that what we come up with returns neighborhoods to neighbors and environmentally sensitive areas back to nature."

It's not known whether the apparent marijuana operations depicted on Google Earth are street suppliers, sell directly to local medical marijuana dispensaries, or both. But officials say that is part of the problem -- marijuana is illegal under federal law, and while its medical use is allowed in the state, there are no standards for how the industry should be run.


Santa Cruz County sheriff's

spokesman Sgt. Patrick Dimick said local authorities can find themselves waiting for an evolving mix of local rules and court rulings before figuring how to respond to grow operations. A local licensing scheme would provide some clarity, he said.

As for whether local law enforcement would ever tap Google Earth as a resource, Dimick didn't rule it out.

"A lot goes into play as far as resources into an investigation," Dimick said. "It could stem from Google Earth, it could stem from interviews with people nearby, it could stem from search warrants for electricity bills. It goes on and on."

It is not clear if the operations are still in existence. Google uses commercial satellite imagery providers, and it can take awhile before those images make it to the Web. Pictures are typically at least six months old, and sometime several years old.

But the images also raise other issues, serving as a reminder that in the modern world, anyone's activities could be captured and recorded at any time -- even in the remote peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Google did not respond to repeated attempts to reach it, but Google Earth has sparked controversy before. Local officials in one Florida city used Google Earth to check on code complaints, and officials in Greece and in Riverhead, N.Y., used it to look for unpermitted pools.

County Planning Director Kathy Previsich said Google Earth is one tool for local code compliance officers, as well. The department does not proactively look for violations, but it isn't hard to enter an address into Google.

"Certainly, when we get a complaint it's one of the ways of beginning to investigate," Previsich said.

The county board's regulation of grow operations is expected to come as part of a package of rules governing local pot dispensaries. The board is likely to require everything from minimum distances from schools to programs for low-income patients.

Medical marijuana providers have welcomed those rules, seeing them as an official stamp of approval after operating for years in a legal gray area. Ben Rice, a Santa Cruz attorney who works with several dispensaries, said grow regulations -- which would place the county on the cutting edge statewide -- are welcome as well.

"My clients are upset that there are people that are using terrible practices and ignoring sensible approaches and making it harder for everyone," said Rice, who also has called for testing pot for pesticides and other chemicals -- as a few other states have -- to protect patients and the land.

As for the legal implications of Google's accidental surveillance, Rice said he has seen law enforcement use Google Earth in court. But more often, he added, they conduct flyovers themselves rather relying on satellites.

"They don't really need them," Rice said.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jason Hoppin at


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Friday, July 12, 2013

Apoorva Lakhia stumbles upon Ram Charan in Japan

We all recently heard that a Japan's leading confectionery manufactured cream biscuits with Ram Charan on its cover after the immense popularity the South Superstar received after the blockbuster Magadheera released there. To honor his fan following, the company has manufactured and called the cream biscuits as Charan Love Cream Biscuits with his picture on it.

Well, director Apoorva Lakhia who was on a personal visit to Japan (buzz is that it is a recce for his next film which he extensively wants to shoot in Japan) was in for a pleasant surprise we hear! He was roaming in the market when he came across the Charan Love Cream Biscuits which had Ram Charan on it.

A source close to the team said, "Apoorva and Ram Charan have become really good friends since the latter will be seen in his next ambitious project Zanjeer! This was Apoorva's personal visit to Japan and he was quite excited and surprised when he saw the Charan Biscuits."

Meanwhile, Ram Charan is all gearing up for his big debut in Bollywood with action film Zanjeer opposite Priyanka Chopra.


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wolters Kluwer Launches Fair Lending Training | RV Business

Wolters Kluwer Financial Services today (July 10) launched a new comprehensive fair lending training program targeting the automotive, recreational vehicle, marine and powersports dealer industry, according to a press release.

Developed as a response to increased lender pressure and industry scrutiny of fair lending practices within the dealer marketplace, the training provides dealers with a comprehensive program to educate finance department personnel and equip them with fair lending standards needed to help them ensure compliance and maintain strong lender relationships.

In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published Bulletin 2013-02, Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Since then, the CFPB has issued subpoenas in an expansive probe into indirect auto lending practices, and the justice department is investigating auto dealers for their rate markup practices, hinting that further legal action targeting dealers directly may be on the horizon. It has prompted a great deal of analysis, discussion and concern within the network of dealers and their lender relationships.

?While dealers generally fall outside the jurisdiction of the CFPB, recent developments have made it clear the lenders they work with will not escape the scrutiny of regulatory bodies which enforce ECOA compliance. These lenders are certainly starting to exert pressure on dealers to find ways to demonstrate that they are in compliance with fair lending regulations,? says Chip Zyvoloski, senior attorney, indirect lending with Wolters Kluwer Financial Services. ?Our fair lending training is designed to help dealers comply with the law, protect them from risk and at the same time provide them with a way to demonstrate ongoing compliance to their lender relationships.?

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) has announced their endorsement of the Wolters Kluwer Financial Services fair lending training program.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Israel Corp unit plans 2 billion pound listing in London: report

US-ISRAELCORP-LISTING:Israel Corp unit plans 2 billion pound listing in London: report

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A company being spun-off from Israel Corp <ILCO.TA>, one of Israel's largest conglomerates, is planning a 2 billion pound ($2.98 billion) listing on the London Stock Exchange, the Sunday Times reported on Sunday.

Israel Corp, controlled by billionaire Idan Ofer, announced last month it would split off some of its less-profitable assets into a new, listed company in a bid to boost the value of its core businesses and attract a broader range of investors.

Israel Corp did not announce where the listing would take place, but said the process of separating the company into two would be completed within 6-12 months.

The Israeli holding company will keep two of its most lucrative and stable companies - fertilizer and specialty chemicals maker Israel Chemicals (ICL) <ICL.TA> and Oil Refineries <ORL.TA>, Israel's biggest refinery.

The Sunday Times reported that the London listing would include shipping company Zim, chipmaker TowerJazz <TSEM.TA>, IC Power and Israeli-Chinese carmaker Qoros. Ofer is already planning to move his family to London as well, it added.

Before the reorganization, Israel Corp will work towards resolving Zim's $2.7 billion debt load through a restructuring with banks, shipyards and bondholders.

An Israel Corp spokesman declined to comment on the report.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Source:Reuters. All Rights Reserved


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Church of England issues formal apology for child sex abuse failures

A meeting of the General Synod was disrupted when a man, described by the Church of England as having "personal health issues", was arrested for allegedly assaulting two stewards.

A spokesman for the Church said a man was asked to wait as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu moved in procession to the front of York Minster. He reportedly then lashed out, leaving a member of Dr Sentamu's staff Dave Smith requiring treatment from ambulance staff.

The police said they responded within minutes of being called, and arrested a 42-year-old man on suspicion of assault.

The Church later said the man was not a protester, and said in a tweet that he was a "local man with personal health issues and known to police". It asked followers to "please pray for him".

The worrying breach in security came as members of the Church's national assembly are today expected to formally endorse an apology over clerical child abuse.

The Synod will be asked to back an apology issued by Mr Welby and Dr Sentamu over failings in procedures to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse by clergy and others.

The apology also covers the "failure to listen properly to those so abused."

The debate at the University of York comes after a final report was published in May into the operation of child protection policies following a series of scandals involving clergy within the Diocese of Chichester.

The report comes after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, now Lord Williams, ordered an inspection of the diocese in December 2011.

At the time the report was published, the Most Rev Welby renewed his apology to the victims of clerical abuse for their "pain and hurt".

The Government's welfare reform programme - and whether to back a call rejecting the "misleading characterisation" of all welfare recipients as "scroungers" will also be debated by General Synod members.

A briefing document drawn up for the General Synod by Philip Fletcher, chairman of the Church's Mission and Public Affairs Council, has accused Government spokesmen of making "political capital" out of presenting unemployment as a "strivers" versus "scroungers" debate.

The Most Rev Welby and Dr Sentamu, backed a letter to the Daily Telegraph earlier this year criticising the Government over benefit cuts.

The letter, signed by 43 bishops, opposed to a 1% cap on benefit rises saying this could push 200,000 children into poverty.

Additional reporting: PA


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Harrison Ford

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What?s next for Cub Swanson after UFC 162 win?

At UFC 162, Cub Swanson won an unorthodox, but thrilling bout. He earned a TKO win over Dennis Siver in the third round by knocking him down with a right hand, then following him to the ground. The knockout followed a back and forth bout that somehow saw these two strikers hit the ground. Swanson was able to come back and win, giving him his fifth win in a row.

Swanson's last loss came to Ricardo Lamas at UFC on Fox 1 in November of 2011. Since then, he's rattled off wins over George Roop, Ross Pearson, Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, and now Siver. Four of those five wins came by a knockout or TKO.

The big question coming out of his win is if this performance qualified him for a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Though every fighter wants a shot at the title, getting it against Aldo would be a little sweeter for Swanson than most. In 2009, when they were still in the WEC, Aldo knocked out Swanson with a flying double knee in just eight seconds.

Swanson's biggest obstacle to getting to Aldo is just how many people have a claim on the next UFC featherweight title shot. Champion Jose Aldo is set to face Chan Sung Jung in August. Jung replaced Anthony Pettis, who missed on his chance to fight for the title because of an injury. Ricardo Lamas also has the resume for a title shot.

Even if Swanson can't get at Aldo -- or Jung, if he wins in August -- he should take a major jump up competition for his next bout, which could set the stage for a chance at the belt.

Who do you want to see Swanson fight next? Speak up on Facebook or Twitter.


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Friday, June 28, 2013

Nevada gambling regulator says Macau junkets, triads on the decline

June 28, 2013

macau-nevada-burnettNevada Gaming Control Board chief A.G. Burnett told Congress it was ?common knowledge? that Macau?s VIP gaming rooms have ?long been dominated by Asian organized crime.? Burnett made the comments on Thursday while addressing the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which is investigating alleged money laundering activities in the Asian gambling hot spot. Burnett suggested that since the arrival in Macau of three US-based casino companies ? Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts ? ?much of those triad activities had actually decreased in one fashion or another.?

However, at least two of those operators ? Sands and Wynn ? are currently the subjects of US federal investigations regarding their Asian activities. Asked whether Nevada regulators had ever seen fit to punish a US operator for its activities in Macau, Burnett admitted they hadn?t, but suggested that the operators had nonetheless ?suffered? due to their footing the bill for Burnett and his ilk to fly out to Macau on fact-finding missions. ?Travel to China is not cheap.?

Burnett said he believes US casino operators in Macau are conducting satisfactory due diligence on their junket partners, but Burnett also claimed the junket operators? influence was on the decline thanks to the casinos? new preference for the higher margins offered by so-called ?premium mass? tables, which don?t operate on credit, eliminating the need for junkets. Burnett said there would be no need for junket operators if China would only loosen restrictions on its citizens? ability to take money out of the country. The RMB 20k (US $3,240) limit is ill-suited to the financial needs of China?s high-rollers, leaving them little alternative but to seek out junket operators or engage in some creative dealings with Macau?s pawnshops.

The political appointees conducting Thursday?s hearing were a singularly unimpressed lot. Commission member and former GOP senator Jim Talent said the truth was that ?we really don?t have any idea what?s going on in Macau,? while fellow commissioner Michael Wessel described the casino-junket relationship as ?so complex it reminds me of a Rube Goldberg-style equation.? The Commission strongly suggested that Treasury Department assistant secretary for terrorist financing Daniel Glaser should increase scrutiny of Macau?s casino industry. It?s worth noting that in 2011, the US State Department claimed a direct link between Macau casinos and terrorist financing, only to backtrack when challenged to back up these allegations with, you know, evidence.

As if on cue, Macau?s Judiciary Police (JP) have just announced the takedown of what they claim is the biggest loan-sharking gang the city has seen in over a decade. The Macau Post Daily reported that 13 suspects were arrested Tuesday, including six locals, five Hong Kong residents and two from the Chinese mainland, while the JP seized around HKD 500k ($64.5k) in cash. The investigation began in 2010 following a tip-off about loan sharks prowling casino floors looking for gamblers down on their luck. The sharks would offer loans in the form of gambling chips, while collecting commissions of 30% directly off the top, or 10% of every wager or anytime the ?lucky? baccarat gambler hit an eight or nine.


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For nationwide gay marriage, more battles ahead (The Arizona Republic)

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Obama Looks to the Clean Air Act as Inspiration for Tackling Climate

A little while ago, President Obama revealed the details of his Climate Action Plan, which describes the first-ever federal regulations on restricting carbon dioxide (CO2).

The plan has three main prongs, and many minor ones. The first is to cut CO2 emissions stateside. The second is to ?prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change,? including sea level rise, fires and coastal flooding. The third is to ?lead international efforts in a coordinated assault to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts.? He outlined these in his speech.

The cornerstone, however, of Obama?s plan for at home emissions reductions involves finalizing the creation of carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants. These plants are the countries ?largest concentrated source of emissions, says the Plan, which details the EPA?s new role in?helping reducing these emissions through the creation of carbon pollution standards. An effort that began last year, ?but met with much resistance.

To pave a smoother road for these standards, President Obama, during his speech, recalled the creation of the Clean Air Act of the 1970?s. At the time of its inception, Congress realized that cutting air pollution and building the economy through the creation of new technologies could go hand-in-hand, and also protect human health and clean the air.?The Clean Air Act passed the Senate in an unanimous vote. Only one vote was cast against it in the House.

Obama also recalled that six years ago, in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in?Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are covered by the Clean Air Act?s definition of air pollutant. Later, the EPA determined GHGs?to be pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. This cleared the way for the possible regulation of these gases.?Today, with approximately 40% of U.S. total carbon pollution being emitted from power plants, yet ?no federal limits on how much can be emitted, Obama simply declared, ? That?s not right. It?s not safe. And it needs to stop.?

Obama then called on the EPA to put an end to limitless dumping of carbon pollution by creating carbon standards for existing and new power plants, and to develop the standards in an open and transparent way. He said doomsayers will say this will kill jobs and crush the economy. They did this with the Clean Air Act, he said, as well as with other groundbreaking environmental legislation. An example? The phase out of CFCs to stop the destruction of the ozone layer. Obama half-jokingly said this ?didn?t kill refrigerators, or air conditioners or deodorant.?

His main point about tackling climate change in the end was not to fear change, but seize it as an opportunity. The Clean Air Act can serve not only as a sort of blueprint for this, but an inspiration.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court strikes down section of Voting Rights Act (cbsnews)

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Tsunami may have hit East Coast earlier in June

(AP) ? A storm that blew through earlier this month might have triggered a rare phenomenon for the East Coast: a tsunami.

Tsunami-like conditions were observed June 13 at more than 30 tide gauges along the East Coast, Bermuda and Puerto Rico, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The highest peak amplitude was recorded in Newport, R.I, where it reached just under a foot above sea level. Gauges in Kiptopeke, Va., and Atlantic City, N.J., recorded similar peaks, according to NOAA.

"From North Carolina up through Massachusetts, we can find that signal, even though it's very small, which tells us there was something going on," Mike Angove, head of NOAA's tsunami program, said Tuesday. "We're trying to piece this back together."

A strong storm moved through the region and offshore that day, and scientists were trying to determine if it played a role.

Angove stopped short of saying it was a tsunami, but acknowledged it had specific characteristics of one. NOAA's West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center posted a statement calling it a tsunami.

Brian Coen was spearfishing at Barnegat Inlet in Ocean County, N.J., around 3:30 p.m. on June 13, when he saw a strong outrush of water as the tide went out, according to a description provided by NOAA. He said it carried divers over submerged rocks that serve as a breakwater. The rocks, normally three to four feet deep, eventually were exposed, he said.

Then, according to NOAA, Coen saw an approximately 6-foot wave come in. It carried the divers back over the breakwater and also swept three people off rocks that are usually five to six feet above sea level. Two of them needed medical attention.

Chuck Ebersole, steward at Wickford Yacht Club in North Kingstown, R.I., said he saw a strong current of about 7 knots, or 8 miles per hour, going out through a channel into Narragansett Bay. Normally, he said, the current is 1 to 2 miles per hour. The current was so strong that one large boat pulled its cleat out of the dock, he said.

After a while, the current reversed at the same speed, he said. A nearby gauge recorded that the sea level changed by 1.3 feet.

Angove said it is a specific feature of tsunamis for water to be drawn out to sea and then rapidly rush back in, and the water speeds Ebersole reported in Rhode Island indicated something other than a storm surge.

He said researchers are looking for a cause. One possibility is a rare meteotsunami (pronounced MEE'-tee-oh tsoo-NAHM'-ee), which is a tsunami caused by weather. Or it could have been caused by a landslide off the continental shelf, which is less rare but still uncommon, he said.

Angove hopes to send a boat with sonar out to the shelf to look for a landslide and help determine what happened.

"If we can't do that, it's going to be tough to put this egg back together," he said.

At the yacht club, there was only minor damage to the dock and two boats, Ebersole said.

"For a little while there, I thought it might have been some runoff from the storms we had that week, but it was too much water for that," he said. "It was very exciting at the time."

Associated Press


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Saturday, June 22, 2013

At the Core: Response to Canada&#39;s Spot on the G8 Impact Investing ...

I have a lot of respect for the social finance, social enterprise, and impact investing entrepreneurs and initiatives in the UK?folks like Daniel Brewer at Resonance Limited, Servane Mouazan at Ogunte, Elisicia Moore at Petit Miracles, Theresa Burton at Buzzbnk, Suzanne Biegel at Clearly Social Angels, Rachel Sinha at the Finance Lab, the list goes on?but do not for a second credit Prime Minister David Cameron.?

The Big Society campaign was launched amidst his bid for the election win in 2010. In parallel to the various initiatives such as Big Society Capital, there were policies and plans to privatize a key social services. ?

The UK is not leaps and bounds ahead of Canada. ?

We must be mindful of the scale of the social enterprise sector compared to mainstream financial and investment services??600m in the Big Society Bank is a drop in the bucket?and the inequality that exists (and Canada is not immune to it). I would never ever wish for the concentration of wealth nor influence to lie the hands of a few elite (which Sir Ronald Cohen and David Cameron are a part of) to happen in Canada as it has in the UK. ?

In Canada, doing business in a way that takes care of individuals, their families, their neighbours, their communities, and future generations is embedded in our culture. In Canada we have businesses with purpose baked into the business models and corporate culture. Social enterprises, locally owned businesses, and purposeful ventures do business side-by-side and hand-in-hand with big corporates. It is not token. It is not just part of a big corporate's social responsibility mandate. It is because for the most part Canadians still appreciate that business and investing is about people?that it is about "taking care of the village", that investing is not a game about getting the highest score and knocking all the competitors off the field.

I don't advocate for a Canadian version of Sir Cohen, that has the ear of the PM. Instead I want a Prime Minister that is highly and actively engaged with the citizens of the country he or she leads and whose interests he or she serves, and a vocal and active citizenry.

There are lots of amazing, disruptive, creative things happening in the UK (led by people I'm proud to call my friends), but the environment there is very different. Could I do what I'm doing in Canada over in the UK (disrupt the investment sector by investing with integrated decision-making, and with the lenses of impact and gender)? Yes, I probably could (in fact I piloted an activist angel training program in the UK, espousing this more integrated approach to investing, with Servane Mouazan), but it would be a hard slog and I'd feel like I was part of a "niche" community as opposed to fully welcomed in the business community and taken just as seriously as as the bankers on Bay Street or Canary Wharf.

I was born and raised in Canada, immigrated to the UK and lived there for 12 years. I had an investment banking career in London, but I got there from humble beginnings, with unrivaled access to great education as a child. In 2009, I began to integrate purpose and my values into my work in impact investing in the UK and in 2011, I took a look at where in the world, me and my family could have the life, lifestyle, and livelihood we wanted, that was healthy and nurturing in all respects.?

We chose Vancouver and here we are. I collaborate with entrepreneurs, investors, and changemakers in Canada, the US, and the UK, helping people access the essential resources they need to live happy and thriving lives. My work is well supported here in Canada and I am fiercely proud to be a Canadian entrepreneur in the impact investment sector. Canadians - do not underestimate nor undersell yourselves!

The question is not, "where is Canada on the G8 Impact Investing totem pole?". Instead, the answer is that impact investing is at Canada's core.


Editor's note: The post to which Ms. Foley-Wongs comments refer, "Canada's Spot on the G8 Impact Investing Totem Pole: An Interview with Ted Anderson," can be found here.?


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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Older is wiser: Study shows software developers' skills improve over time

Apr. 29, 2013 ? There is a perception in some tech circles that older programmers aren't able to keep pace with rapidly changing technology, and that they are discriminated against in the software field. But a new study from North Carolina State University indicates that the knowledge and skills of programmers actually improve over time -- and that older programmers know as much (or more) than their younger peers when it comes to recent software platforms.

"We wanted to explore these perceptions of veteran programmers as being out of step with emerging technologies and see if we could determine whether older programmers are actually keeping up with changes in the field," says Dr. Emerson Murphy-Hill, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. "And we found that, in some cases, veteran programmers even have a slight edge."

The researchers looked at the profiles of more than 80,000 programmers on a site called StackOverflow, which is an online community that allows users to ask and answer programming questions. The site also allows users to rate the usefulness of other users' questions and answers. Users who are rated as asking good questions and providing good answers receive points that are reflected in their "reputation score." The higher an individual's reputation score, the more likely it is that the user has a robust understanding of programming issues.

For the first part of the study, the researchers compared the age of users with their reputation scores. They found that an individual's reputation increases with age, at least into a user's 40s. There wasn't enough data to draw meaningful conclusions for older programmers.

The researchers then looked at the number of different subjects that users asked and answered questions about, which reflects the breadth of their programming interests. The researchers found that there is a sharp decline in the number of subjects users weighed in on between the ages of 15 and 30 -- but that the range of subjects increased steadily through the programmers' 30s and into their early 50s.

Finally, the researchers evaluated the knowledge of older programmers (ages 37 and older) compared to younger programmers (younger than 37) in regard to relatively recent technologies -- meaning technologies that have been around for less than 10 years.

For two smartphone operating systems, iOS and Windows Phone 7, the veteran programmers had a significant edge in knowledge over their younger counterparts. For every other technology, from Django to Silverlight, there was no statistically significant difference between older and younger programmers.

"The data doesn't support the bias against older programmers -- if anything, just the opposite," Murphy-Hill says.

The paper, "Is Programming Knowledge Related To Age?," will be presented May 18 at the 10th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories, sponsored by IEEE and ACM in San Francisco, Calif. Lead author of the paper is Patrick Morrison, a Ph.D. student at NC State.

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