Federal Reserve stands by aggressive stimulus but says the US economy has strengthened AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the U.S. economy has strengthened but still needs the Fed’s extraordinary support to help lower high unemployment.In a statement after a two-day meeting, the Fed stood by its plan to keep short-term interest rates at record lows at least until unemployment falls to 6.5 per cent, as long as the inflation outlook remains mild. And it said it would continue buying $85 billion a month in bonds indefinitely to keep long-term borrowing costs down.Speaking at a news conference, Chairman Ben Bernanke stressed that while the economy has improved, the Fed won’t ease its aggressive stimulus policies until it’s convinced the economic gains can be sustained. An unemployment rate of 6.5 per cent is a threshold, not a “trigger,” for a possible rate increase, he said.Bernanke also said the Fed might vary the size of its monthly bond purchases depending on whether or how much the job market improves. The unemployment rate has fallen to a four-year low of 7.7 per cent, among many signs of a healthier economy.“We are seeing improvement,” Bernanke said. “One thing we would need is to see this is not temporary improvement.”Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said the Fed appears focused on “whether recent improvement continues, and no changes to the (bond) purchase program appear imminent.”But O’Sullivan said he thinks the Fed might scale back its bond purchases in the second half of this year if job growth continues to accelerate.Brian Bethune, an economics professor at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., said the Fed’s first move might be to reduce its monthly bond purchases in the October-December quarter of this year and again in the first quarter of 2014. Reducing the Fed’s bond purchases would likely cause interest rates to rise, making loans more expensive, and possibly cause stock prices to fall.But investors seemed pleased with the Fed’s decision to maintain its low-interest rate policies indefinitely for now. The Dow Jones industrial average close up about 56 points, having risen slightly after the Fed’s statement was released at 2 p.m. EDT.The Fed’s statement took note of the global stresses that have been intensified by the turmoil in Cyprus, which is trying to stave off financial ruin. No longer does the Fed statement say, as it did in December, that “strains in global financial markets have eased somewhat.”Bernanke was asked at his news conference whether the flare-up in Cyprus signals that the U.S. financial system might be more vulnerable than bank “stress tests” have shown. He sought to downplay the dangers posed by the tiny Mediterranean nation. Bernanke said that “at this point,” he sees no major risks to the U.S. financial system or economy.The Fed noted in its statement that the U.S. job market has improved, consumer spending and business investment have increased and the housing market has strengthened. But its latest economic forecasts, also released Wednesday, show that the Fed still doesn’t expect unemployment to reach 6.5 per cent until 2015.The Fed also cautioned that government spending cuts and tax increases could slow the economy. It predicts that growth won’t exceed 2.8 per cent this year, slightly lower than its December forecast of 3 per cent.A total of 13 Fed officials still think the first rate increase won’t occur until 2015, the same number that thought so in December. One Fed official thinks the first boost in the short-term lending rate won’t occur until 2016.The statement was approved on an 11-1 vote. Esther George, president of the Kansas City regional Fed bank, dissented for a second straight meeting. She reiterated her concerns that the Fed’s aggressive stimulus could heighten the risk of inflation and financial instability — a concern shared by other critics.Some economists say they fear the Fed has pumped so much money into the financial system that it could eventually ignite inflation, fuel speculative asset bubbles or destabilize markets once the Fed has to start raising rates or unloading its record $3 trillion investment portfolio.And while the Fed’s low interest-rate policies are intended to boost borrowing, spending and stock prices, they also hurt millions of retirees and others who depend on income from savings.“Things are not going to get better for savers,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “Rates are going to stay low for borrowers, and the Fed’s accommodation will continue to be a positive for the stock market. Right now, the market is addicted to Fed stimulus.”The economy slowed to an annual growth rate of just 0.1 per cent in the October-December quarter, a near-stall that was due mainly to temporary factors that have largely faded. Economists think growth has rebounded in the January-March quarter to an annual rate around 2 per cent or more. The most recent data support that view.Americans spent more at retailers in February despite higher Social Security taxes that shrank most workers’ paychecks. Manufacturing gained solidly in February. And employers have gone on a four-month hiring spree, adding an average of 205,000 jobs a month. In February, the unemployment rate, though still high, reached its lowest point since December 2008.One reason for the Fed’s reluctance to reduce its stimulus is the history of the past three years. In each of the three, economic prospects looked promising as the year began. Yet in each case, the economy stumbled.Though the economy has brightened this year, it still faces threats, including across-the-board government spending cuts that took effect March 1 and are expected to trigger furloughs and layoffs.The Fed’s forecasts for the economy are rosier than those issued by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO has warned that the government spending cuts, along with the Social Security tax increase and higher taxes on top earners, could slow growth by 1.5 percentage points this year, to 1.5 per cent.___AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report. by Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press Posted Mar 20, 2013 2:01 pm MDT
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Nikolay Mladenov delivered his latest monthly briefing to the Security Council, noting that he was doing so at a time when “regional tensions are taking an increasingly perilous turn.” His comments echoed remarks by UN Secretary-General António Guterres who opened the meeting by underscoring his commitment to achieving two democratic States living side-by-side in peace.Mr. Guterres emphasized the Organization’s long-held support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stressing: “There is no Plan B.”“This is a time for dialogue, for reconciliation, for reason,” the UN chief said, expressing concern that global consensus on the issue may be eroding.Warning that “obstacles on the ground have the potential to create an irreversible one-state reality,” Mr. Guterres underscored however that: “It is simply impossible to square the circle of a one-state reality with the legitimate national, historic and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”“At this moment of grave consequence, I appeal for effective concerted action by all parties. It is more important than ever.”Mr. Mladenov reported on developments such as the need to maintain support for the UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees across the region, UNRWA, as it faces a substantial funding shortfall.He also spoke of the violence affecting both sides, including the killing of seven Palestinians by the Israeli security forces and the stabbing death of an Israeli civilian by a Palestinian in the West Bank.Mr. Mladenov also said it was time to “break the cycle” in Gaza, which has been under the control of Hamas for a decade and which currently is facing what he described as a “humanitarian, economic and ecological calamity.” He called for Gaza to be returned to the control of the Palestinian Authority, adding that “there can be no Palestinian state without Palestinian unity.”Mr. Mladenov also urged the international community to continue advocating for “substantial” Israeli policy changes related to the West Bank, including halting settlement construction there: something the UN considers illegal under international law. UN Photo/Loey FelipeNickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefs the Security Council.“In this chamber, we have often spoken of the need for leadership on both sides to reach a deal, a compromise, through negotiations that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to separate and be master of their own fate. But these negotiations would not be negotiations between equals,” he said.“For one side is under military occupation. Its leadership has committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict through negotiation. I urge, in closing, the international community not to give up on support for the moderate Palestinian leadership or on building up the institutions that will increase the chances of success. Our window of opportunity is closing and, if we do not seize it quickly, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict will be engulfed in the whirlwind of religious radicalization that remains present in the region.”Also addressing the Council, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed concerns surrounding the status of Jerusalem, considered holy by both Jews and Muslims as well as Christians.He recalled the decision announced last December by United States President Donald Trump to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.“It did so ignoring that East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territory. It is occupied since 1967. And it is our capital open to all the faithful of the three monotheistic religions,” he said.Mr. Abbas described the situation of the Palestinian people as “no longer bearable,” and he called for an international peace conference to be convened this year as a means to find a solution to the stalemate.Israel’s representative to the United Nations Danny Danon also touched on the issue of Jerusalem, observing that the Palestinian leader had left the room prior to his presentation.“Let me be clear: for thousands of years, Jerusalem has been the heart and soul of our people. Jerusalem has been our capital since the days of King David and Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel forever,” he said.“We will always insist on Israeli sovereignty but even fair-minded observers would agree that under any possible agreement, Jerusalem would be recognized internationally as our capital.”Prior to the start of Tuesday’s meeting, ambassadors observed a moment of silence in honour of one of their former colleagues, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of the Russian Federation, who died a year ago that day.
Sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Decker (68) gets set to block a defender during a game against Iowa Oct. 19 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 34-24.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe No. 24 Ohio State women’s volleyball team is looking to put a halt to a five-match losing streak, but will have to take down another top-15 opponent to do it.The Buckeyes, in the midst of a 2-7 start to Big Ten play, are scheduled to face No. 13 Nebraska at 7 p.m. at St. John Arena.Coming off a three-set loss to No. 2 Penn State, freshman setter Maggie Heim said in an email that she and her teammates will have to keep their heads up in order to end their losing streak.“Keeping a very positive demeanor both on and off the court is huge,” she said. “Our energy and passion for the game will play a big role in a quick bounce back.”Heim said the 3-0 loss at Penn State “revealed many things that we need to work on.” She also said she has “no doubt” the Buckeyes will be able to get back in the mix by the end of their conference schedule.OSU started the season 12-0 in non-conference play before dropping then-No. 10 Michigan at home in its first Big Ten match, but have since slid down not only the conference rankings, but the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 Poll.A win against Nebraska is likely the only thing that could keep the Buckeyes, once ranked as high as No. 12, from falling out of the poll completely.While it would help the team’s standings, junior setter Taylor Sherwin, who has recently been splitting time with Heim, said in an email it would “feel awesome” and spark the team for the rest of the season if they could get a win against Nebraska.Junior defensive specialist Alyssa Winner said in an email a victory over Nebraska at home would feel even better than beating the Cornhuskers 3-1 on their home court last season.In the short term, the Buckeyes recognize that they have to improve their offensive efficiency. The team hit minus .030 in the loss to Penn State, and Winner said they know how to get it done.“Keep working as a team on our tempos and holding blockers on the other side of the net to get open looks,” she said.Heim said the Buckeyes have to take a new mindset heading into the Nebraska match.“Playing with a chip on our shoulder like we have nothing to lose will also help,” she said.While the Penn State match marked the end of three games on the road, OSU will only be back in Columbus for a single match. The Buckeyes head back out on the road for matches against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., Nov. 1.
The Ohio State Men’s Basketball team played Michigan State on Feb. 17 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing, Mich. Ohio State lost 44-62. Photos by Casey Cascaldo Ohio State sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson (34) attempts a shot in the first half of the game against Michigan State on Feb. 17. Ohio State lost 44-62. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor
THE SHERIFF OF Houston’s Harris County has adopted a sweeping policy designed to protect and guarantee equal treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inmates, including allowing transgender individuals to be housed based on the gender they identify with instead of their biological sex.The new policy, which Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s office believes to be one of the most comprehensive in the country, states “discrimination or harassment of any kind based on sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited,” and outlines how such inmates will be searched, booked and housed.The policy also covers intersex inmates, defined as people born with sex chromosomes or reproductive systems that can not be distinctly identified as male or female.Houston has the third-largest county jail in the US, after Los Angeles and Chicago’s Cook County, and processes some 125,000 inmates annually. Other major jails, including LA, Washington, D.C., and Denver, have taken similar steps to meet new federal standards for protecting inmates from sexual abuse and assault.But Harris County is the first in Texas to adopt this extensive of a policy, according to Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, a state agency that inspects, regulates and provides technical assistance to county jails.The 11-page policy, along with a separate three-page document protecting this population from workplace discrimination, went into effect this week.“It represents a significant step forward,” said Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality, who worked closely with Garcia and his staff.The new policy may be notable because it’s occurring in a staunch red state proud of its conservative values, Tobin said. But she emphasised it’s not about politics.This is not a red or blue issue. It is an issue of preventing violence, of meeting the state’s legal and moral responsibilities to keep people safe and safeguarding public funds that when sexual abuse happens in prison need to be spent on medical care and mental health care and recovery.According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the jail currently has about 8,900 inmates and at least 250 of them, or 2.8 percent, identify themselves as lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender.A “safe zone project” will promote a “positive relationship of solidarity” between the sheriff’s department and the gay community, according to the document. Members of this staff will wear an obvious identifier so they can be easily spotted.The sheriff’s department will also have “zero tolerance” for staff sexual misconduct or sexual harassment toward members of the gay community. Violations could “result in termination” or referral for criminal charges or other action.Another key section of the policy states that members of the transgender community will be addressed by their chosen name, even if it has not legally been changed, both when spoken to and on their identification bracelets.Read: Fear of rejection still biggest barrier to coming out for trans community>Read: Cyberbullying and homophobic bullying policies now mandatory for schools>
We’ve all heard the warnings about ATMs being “modified” with card skimmers in order to steal your details and siphon money from your account. But that doesn’t mean they are easy to spot, or in fact how much trouble criminals go to so as to ensure your details and PIN are logged.Brian Krebs from KrebsonSecurity has posted details of a fairly new ATM Skimmer that was discovered at a bank in San Fernando Valley. As you can see, from the front you really can’t tell this is a fake card reading slot, and as long as it is attached to a machine that has a similar color scheme, most people wouldn’t give it a second thought.Look around the back though, and you see the kit required to make this scam work. Those big batteries we all rely on to power our smartphones for hours every day apparently also work very well when powering a skimmer. In this case one is powering the circuitry to record and store the details of an inserted card.You can also see a pinhole on the right side of the casing. Behind that is mounted a camera which, when activated, records the key presses of the person who just slid their card into the machine. The footage of the PIN entry, coupled with the card details, give the criminal everything he/she needs to commit fraud.A big battery and a few gigabytes of flash memory and this kit could collect hundreds of card details over the course of a few days. The skimmer also seems to be from an organized person (gang?) who is doing this on a large scale–that “5” etched on the inside of the case suggests there’s a number of these skimmers deployed in the area.Read more at KrebsonSecurity
Two Vancouver residents and two Oregon residents were indicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland in connection with a global conspiracy in which more than $1.2 billion in illegal drugs were sold online to buyers around the world, according to the Justice Department.Jason W. Hagen, 39, and Chelsea L. Reder, 23, both of Vancouver, and Richard E. Webster, 45, and Donald R. Bechen, 39, both of Washington County, Ore., allegedly participated in the conspiracy by selling methamphetamine internationally for the digital currency, called bitcoins, on a website dubbed the “Silk Road.”They are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine over the Internet, conspiracy to export methamphetamine to other countries and 15 counts of international and domestic money laundering.Before its seizure in October, the “Silk Road” provided a virtual marketplace for distributors and suppliers of illegal drugs, firearms and fraudulent identification cards to peddle their products on the Internet through an encrypted network called “The Onion Router.”Hagen, Webster, Bechen and Reder participated in the marketplace by selling more than 17 pounds of methamphetamine on the website, the justice department said. The sales involved about 3,169 transactions, the justice department said.
Rae Bareli: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday reached Rae Bareli to meet the family of former Congress legislator Akhilesh Singh, who passed away on August 20. Priyanka spent about half an hour with the family of the late leader and conveyed to them condolences from her mother Sonia Gandhi, who is an MP from Rae Bareli. Also Read – Shah urges women to shun plastic bags Advertise With Us Akhilesh Singh’s daughter Aditi Singh is now a Congress MLA from the Rae Bareli Sadar seat, which was earlier held by her father. Priyanka later left for the Bhuemau Guest House, where she will meet her party workers. She will then proceed to Lalganj’s Modern Rail Coach Factory, the workers of which are protesting against its privatisation. Also Read – Free bus travel for women gets Cabinet nod Advertise With Us Some of the agitating workers had met the Congress leader in the morning upon her arrival here to inform her of their demands. Priyanka assured the workers that she would support them in their efforts to prevent the factory’s privatisation. The Ministry of Railways has envisaged corporatisation of its seven production units and associated workshops under one entity called the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company. Advertise With Us Sonia Gandhi had on July 1 raised the issue of privatisation of public sector units in the Lok Sabha and accused the government of selling the country’s assets to private players at a throwaway prices. This is Priyanka Gandhi’s second visit to Uttar Pradesh. Earlier this month, she visited Ubbha village in Sonebhadra district, where at least 10 tribals were killed in a caste carnage last month over a land dispute.
Share Government cargo planes flew in supplies and troops began distributing boxes of food to jittery survivors of an earthquake that destroyed a large part of Juchitan and killed at least 37 people here, even as officials on Sunday raised the nationwide death toll to 90.Drone footage shows rescue efforts in the Mexican city of Juchitan, which was devastated by a powerful 8.1-magnitude earthquake pic.twitter.com/FS3Ktn8xz4— AFP news agency (@AFP) September 10, 2017Some people continued to sleep outside, fearful of more collapses, as strong aftershocks continued to rattle the town, including a magnitude 5.2 jolt early Sunday. Some prompted rescue workers to pause in their labor.Local officials said they had counted nearly 800 aftershocks of all sizes since late Thursday’s big quake, and the U.S. Geological Survey counted nearly 60 with a magnitude of 4.5 or greater.Teams of soldiers and federal police armed with shovels and sledgehammers fanned out across neighborhoods in Juchitan to help demolish damaged buildings. Dump trucks choked some narrow streets as they began hauling away the many tons of rubble.Maria de Lourdes Quintana Lopez said she couldn’t wait for the government’s assistance as she oversaw the demolition of her family candy business’ warehouse.“We have to work so that we’re not overcome with sadness,” Quintana said. “We’re not going to wait for the government to do what it has to do.”The 8.1 magnitude earthquake claimed 65 lives in Mexico, but nowhere more than Juchitan.Juchitan city government officials say more than 1,000 homes and hundreds of businesses were destroyed by the 8.1 earthquake. @cgtnamerica pic.twitter.com/6mz4mfjnIE— Franc Contreras (@FrancMex) September 9, 2017There were so many deaths that slow-moving funeral processions caused temporary gridlock at intersections as they converged on the city’s cemeteries.Scenes of mourning were repeated over and over again in Juchitan, where a third of the city’s homes collapsed or were uninhabitable, President Enrique Pena Nieto said late Friday. Part of the city hall collapsed.On the outskirts of the city, the general hospital settled into its temporary home — a school gymnasium with gurneys parked atop the basketball court. The earthquake rendered the hospital itself uninhabitable, so the gym contained a mix of patients that pre-dated the quake and those who suffered injuries as a result of it.Maria Teresa Sales Alvarez said it was “chaos” when the earthquake struck the single-story hospital, but staff moved patients outside and transferred most of those who required specialized care to other facilities.Selma Santiago Jimenez waved flies away from her husband and mopped his brow while he awaited transfer for surgery. He suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident before the earthquake. Windows broke and doors fell in the hospital, but staff quickly helped get her husband out, she said.Gov. Alejandro Murat said Sunday that the death toll in his state had risen to 71. Officials have reported 19 killed in neighboring states. Two others died in a mudslide in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz after Hurricane Katia hit late Friday.Pena Nieto said authorities were working to re-establish supplies of water and food and provide medical attention to those who need it. He vowed the government would help rebuild.At the local fairgrounds in Juchitan, about two dozen residents of a central neighborhood gathered at the gates to what the military was using as a staging ground.They came to complain that aid packages that the military started distributing Saturday had not arrived to many families. An army captain pleaded for patience, but ultimately agreed to take two pickups full of packages and water to their neighborhood.It wasn’t enough to satisfy all the residents who mobbed the trucks, but the captain promised soldiers would continue canvassing the city street by street.