Thursday, August 11, 2011

Canadian Dollar Receives Hit from US

Canadian DollarCanada’s dollar plunged today as demand for the nation’s assets deteriorated because of pessimistic outlook for the economy of the biggest nation’s trading partner — the US.

The depressed mood caused fall of equities and decline of commodities. The MSCI World Index of stocks slumped 1.9 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell as much as 2.1 percent.

There are positive sing, though, that may precede a change of the trend. The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 0.4 percent. Crude oil, the main export of Canada, rallied 3.2 percent to $81.82 per barrel. Yield on the two-year government bonds fell five basis points to 0.81 percent.

USD/CAD jumped from 0.9771 to 0.9921 as of 19:19 GMT today. EUR/CAD advanced from 1.4044 to 1.4088 after reaching the intraday high of 1.4174. CAD/JPY fell from 78.70 to 77.38 and declined during the day to 76.82, the lowest level since March 2009.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Canadian Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Canadian Dollar:

Canadian Dollar Falls Along with Other Commodity Currencies (2011-08-02)
Loonie Declines as Economy Contracts (2011-07-29)
CAD Sets New Multi-Year Record on US Crisis Expectations (2011-07-26)
Canadian Inflation Slows, Loonie Retreats (2011-07-22)
CAD Reaches Three-Year High vs. USD (2011-07-22)

This entry was posted on TopForexNews on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 at 7:19 pm and is filed under Canadian Dollar. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Quotes of the day

posted at 10:41 pm on August 10, 2011 by Allahpundit

“President Barack Obama is getting hammered on all sides for a stumbling U.S. economy and his uneven response to it, raising pressure on him to take steps to create jobs or risk being ousted in next year’s election…

“He received negative reviews from pundits for a speech on Monday that offered no new policy ideas and failed to cushion a steep sell-off on Wall Street…

“David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said a host of problems is playing on Americans’ minds, from weak job growth, and slumping markets to the recent deaths of 30 American troops in Afghanistan, a war that is increasingly unpopular.

“‘There’s that feeling, that things are out of control, that we’re not on top of this anymore,’ Yepson said.”


“Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategist in North Carolina, a swing state Mr Obama is likely to struggle to retain in 2012, said: ‘Democrats are worried. He looks weak, he doesn’t say anything that grabs you, and people are looking for some kind of magic.’

“He said some activists were asking ‘do we need someone tougher to fight the tea party?’ ‘You see a yearning for a Bill Clinton-type approach and Hillary would reflect that. Obama is just a different political animal, he is a low-key guy,’ he added.”


“All that remains of the great hopes Americans and the world had pinned on Obama, inspired by his stirring campaign speeches about change and renewal, is a battlefield of unsatisfactory and contradictory compromises. Obama, who just turned 50 and was once a symbol of youthful change, suddenly seems old and worn out, as gray as his hair has become…

“The clash with the Tea Party has highlighted Obama’s shortcomings. His opponents have everything he seems to lack. They are loud, confident and uncompromising, sticking to their principles while he repeatedly hesitates and delays. In the US midterm elections, dozens of Tea Party candidates managed to get elected to Congress by capitalizing on the rage of people who Obama had failed to connect with…

“It is now clear that Obama is simply not the man to help conflicting parties out of entrenched positions or give new impetus to an alliance. He instinctively leans toward measured, often delayed reactions, leaving his promises of change to fall by the wayside.”


“‘We just wish he’d be more of a fighter,’ said one influential Democrat with a grimace. Another agreed: ‘You can’t blame him for everything. I just wish he would come across more forceful at times, but that is not the dude’s style. Detached hurts you when things are sour. You need some of Clinton’s ‘I feel your pain’ compassion.’…

“Obama’s response on Monday to Friday’s Standard & Poor’s downgrade and to the 22 Navy Seal commandos and 8 other soldiers killed by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan was once more too little, too late. It was just like his belated, ineffectual response on the BP oil spill and his reaction to the would-be Christmas Day bomber; it took him three days on vacation in Hawaii to speak about the terrorist incident when the country was scared about national security, and then he spent the next week callously shuttling from the podium to the golf course…

“His withholding and reactive nature has made him seem strangely irrelevant in Washington, trapped by his own temperament. He doesn’t lead, and he doesn’t understand why we don’t feel led.”

Americans say Obama government can't fix US economy: Poll

WASHINGTON: Barely one in four Americans feels confident that the Obama government can fix America's economic problems with a large majority agreeing that the policymaking process in Washington is unstable and ineffective, according to a new poll.

As many as 46 percent of registered voters say they plan to vote against President Barack Obama next year, versus 21 percent who say they will definitely vote for the president and 33 percent who say they will consider giving him another term, a Washington Post poll released on Wednesday said.

The poll underscores the damage caused to Obama and both Republicans and Democrats by the long standoff over the debt ceiling and the weakened economy, the influential US daily said.

The results could have significant implications for both parties, although the anger appears directed evenly between the two parties, as record numbers of Americans now say they are interested in new congressional representation when they vote in November 2012, it said.

Only 26 percent of respondents in the poll said they were confident that leaders in Washington could actually solve the economic problems facing the country.

Fifty-two percent of respondents to the Post poll said they believe Standard & Poor's decision to downgrade its rating on the US debt was a fair assessment, with 71 percent saying they thought S&P's assessment of the American political system as "less stable, less effective and less predictable" was fair.

Among those who believe that Washington is focused on the wrong issues, 30 percent blame Obama and Democrats, 30 percent blame Republicans and 32 percent blame both sides equally.

Confidence in Obama to make the right decisions for the country's economic future is down 10 points to 33 percent since January. Confidence in Congressional Republicans, which was at 35 percent in January, has dropped to 18 percent.

Obama's overall job ratings sit at 44 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval in the new poll, both numerically down from three weeks ago, when he was at 47 and 48 percent, respectively.

However, the poll found despite growing disillusionment with the political situation, 77 percent of Americans agree with this statement: "Whatever its faults, the United States still has the best system of government in the world." That number is unmoved from October 2010.

Tom Friedman fantasizes: What if Boehner joined forces with Obama and totally dismissed the tea party?

posted at 10:06 pm on August 10, 2011 by Allahpundit

As bad as that sounds, you need to know that this column was written as a faux AP news article to appreciate its true horror. So desperate is the left’s intelligentsia to see Obama fulfill his promise as redeemer of liberal dreams that they’ve given up analysis and taken to fanfic instead.

This guy may very well have action figures of Obama and Boehner stashed away in his home.

    Washington (AP) — It was a news conference the likes of which the White House had never seen. President Obama stood in the East Room, flanked by the House speaker, John Boehner; the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell; the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid; and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. The president asked Mr. Boehner to speak first:

    “My fellow Americans,” the Ohio Republican began. “We have just concluded a meeting with the president, prompted by this moment of extraordinary economic peril. Our party, as you know, is convinced that the main reason for our economic decline is that we have too much debt, that government has grown too big and that taxes and regulations are choking our dynamism. But I have to acknowledge that, over the years, our party has contributed to this debt burden and government spending binge. We are not innocent, and, therefore, we owe the country a strategy for governing and for fixing a problem that we helped to create — instead of just blocking the president. The G.O.P. is better than that and has more to offer the nation. Therefore, we have informed the president that our legislators are ready to reopen negotiations immediately on a ‘Grand Bargain’ to address all these debt issues once and for all and that everything will be on the table from our side — including tax reform that closes loopholes and eliminates wasteful subsidies, and, if need be, tax increases. To those who voted for us, rest assured that we will bring our conservative values to these negotiations and an emphasis on markets and meritocracies, but also a spirit of compromise and a recognition that both sides will have to bend if we are going to get the kind of comprehensive budget agreement the country needs. To my Tea Party colleagues, I say: thank you. Your passion helped spur the nation to action, but the country cannot be governed, and our future secured, by bowing solely to the passions of any single group — liberal or conservative. I know that the Tea Party activists are true patriots and they will work with us as well. President Obama: Let’s fix the country together and then compete in 2012 over who can best manage a growing pie rather than a shrinking one.”

And so it came to be that John Boehner became a centrist Democrat and repudiated the core constituency that made him Speaker. After that comes a “warm embrace” between Obama and Boehner and a Grand Bargain very much along the lines of Tom Friedman’s (and Obama’s) own policy preferences before the column ends: “At that point, all five leaders shook hands and retreated into the Oval Office. It was exactly 9:29 a.m. One minute later, the New York Stock Exchange opened. The Dow was up 1,223 points at the open — an all-time record.” Apart from a few days in late 2008, when the Dow was insanely volatile due to the financial crisis and TARP, the biggest gain it’s ever made was 499 points. Such is the awesomeness of the Friedman platform that, if only congressional leaders would endorse it, we’d shatter the all-time one-day record on Wall Street in a burst of green, pro-ChiCom, “effective government” exuberance. They pay Friedman hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to write this stuff.

I almost feel guilty making you read it. Here, here’s a video of the greatest hitter of all time taking batting practice to try to redeem this post.

Consumer Sentiment Curbs Appeal of Aussie

Australian dollarThe Australian dollar resumed its movement down after the yesterday’s gains as consumer sentiment declined this month, reducing attractiveness of the nation’s currency.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment index fell 3.5 percent in August from July. This declined followed the drop by 8.3 percent in July. The Aussie (the nickname of the Australian currency) also weakened as the pledge of the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates stable hasn’t reduced pessimism among Forex traders.

AUD/USD retreated from 1.0353 to 1.0343 as of 11:51 GMT after jumping to 1.0414 today. AUD/JPY fell from 79.66 to 79.15, following the advance to 80.34.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions regarding the Australian Dollar, feel free to post them using the commentary form below.

Earlier News About the Australian Dollar:

Australian Dollar Attempts Stop Decline, Fails (2011-08-09)
Eighth Session of Suffering for Aussie (2011-08-08)
AUD Down on Economic Outlook Revision (2011-08-05)
Australian Dollar Continues Its Correction on Weak Retail Sales (2011-08-03)
AUD Surges Against Everything on Higher Inflation Numbers (2011-07-27)

This entry was posted on TopForexNews on Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 at 11:51 am and is filed under Australian Dollar. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the en

Kanon Wakeshima

Kanon Wakeshima (分島 花音) is a Japanese singer and cellist. Produced by Mana, Wakeshima debuted under the DefStar Records label on May 28, 2008 with the single "Still Doll", the ending theme for the anime adaptation of the manga series Vampire Knight. She also provided the voice for a maid that appears in the eighth episode of the series. Wakeshima's second single "Suna no Oshiro", released on November 12, 2008, was used as the ending theme for the series' second season (subtitled Guilty). | She was nominated for a Best Newcomer award for 2008 in the fourth annual Shojo Beat Music Awards, nominees of which are determined by surveying "record companies, music journalists, music experts, and music fans".

Kanon Wakeshima Pictures

Video: When open-carry is your only option

posted at 11:25 am on August 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Reason TV takes a close look at the issue of handgun rights and carry permits in California, one of the few “may-issue” states left in the nation. County sheriffs may issue or deny permits at their discretion, and as the video states, they don’t usually approve applications from most law-abiding citizens. That forces people like Sam Wolanyk to carry unloaded weapons openly, which has the state legislature in a lather — and people debating the nature of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, or in this case, bare arms

As most Hot Air readers know, I have a carry permit in Minnesota, although even some people in this state don’t realize that the permit doesn’t restrict me to concealed carry. I can open-carry if I like.  Normally, I don’t like, although I support those who do.  To me, open carry is unnecessarily provocative, plus it marks me as a primary target if, God forbid, I end up in a dangerous situation where it becomes an issue.  Police officers carry openly because it’s part of their job, and if carry permit training teaches anything valuable (it teaches many valuable lessons, of course), it’s that a carry permit is not a Junior G-Man badge.  I have it for my own personal safety, for specific as well as general reasons.

I’d take an even dimmer view of open carry of unloaded weapons — an unloaded gun provides all the provocation with none of the immediate defense capacity — but in this case, it’s instructive.  The state of California wants to ban a practice that presents no immediate threat, conducted by law-abiding citizens with no record, that has produced no shooting incidents.  Anti-gun advocates would rather waste time on this than, say, solving the massive budgetary and debt problems the state faces, as well as solving the problem by allowing law-abiding citizens to get concealed-carry permits with a “must-issue” law.

This reaches the point of absurdity near the end of the video, when the author of a bill to ban open carry of unloaded weapons,Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, tells Reason TV that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to protect property — which doesn’t include the person himself.  That’s actually backwards, even under existing lethal-force-in-self-defense laws.  People are not permitted to use lethal force to protect property in California, or Minnesota either, with or without carry permits.  (Neither can the police, by the way.)  They can only use lethal force of any kind when faced with an immediate threat in which a reasonable person fears for their own life or of “great bodily harm,” which roughly means losing a limb or an eye, not just getting beaten up.  All the carry permit allows is the ability to have the lethal force at hand if that situation arises; it doesn’t exempt the permit holder from laws defining lethal force in self-defense.  In most cases, and certainly in Minnesota, those laws require a victim to retreat first if possible rather than using the lethal force, sometimes even in their own homes.

It seems that Portantino doesn’t even understand current law in his own state.  Why should Californians trust him to amend it in ways that reduce their ability to defend themselves?

Addendum (previously published but still applicable): My late friend Joel Rosenberg literally wrote the book on carry licensing in Minnesota, The Carry Book: Minnesota Edition.  Unfortunately Joel passed away before he could complete an edition that looked at the issue nationally, but even if you’re not in Minnesota, there is a ton of good advice for those who want to pursue carry licenses and handle firearms.  My particular favorite chapter of the book is titled, “Cowardice 201: A PhD Seminar in Advanced Staying Out of Trouble,” in which Joel reveals that the true secret of karate is to run faster than everyone else.  Self-defense starts with keeping out of situations where you will likely find yourself threatened.  Joel’s book is a sobering read, literally and figuratively
Saturday, July 23, 2011

More photos of Vasuki Sunkavalli, Miss Universe India 2011

Road to Miss Universe 2011

Vasuki Sunkavalli was crowned Miss Universe India 2011 or I Am She 2011 on Friday July 15, 2011 in Mumbai. She is 26-year-old and stands 1.73 m. She will represent India in Miss Universe 2011 pageant.

Yuko Ogura (小倉優子)

Name: Ogura Yuko (小倉優子)
Nickname: Yukorin (ゆうこりん)
Born: November 1, 1983 in Mobara, Chiba, Japan
Blood Type: B
Height: 162cm
Measurements Bust: 80cm Waist: 56cm Hips: 83cm
Talent: Piano, flute, swimming, impersonations

Yuko Ogura (小倉 優子) is a Japanese idol and model who typically aims for the cute, innocent schoolgirl look. In Japan, she is mostly called by her nickname Yūkorin (ゆうこりん?).

Ogura regularly, if not entirely seriously, claims to be one "Princess Apple-Momoka" (りんごももか姫) of the apple-shaped planet Korin (こりん星). This is apparently an in-joke dating back to her middle school days. Having an alternate name was trendy at one point, and one of her friends told her that she looked like a Momoka. She liked the name and still uses it today.

She is known outside of Japan for her song "Onna no Ko / Otoko no Ko" (オンナのコ・オトコのコ: Girls・Boys?) which is the ending theme of the anime School Rumble.

Yuko Ogura Pictures

Kojima Fujiko

Name: 小島藤子 (こじま ふじこ) | Name (romaji): Kojima Fujiko | Profession: Actress and talento | Birthdate: 1993-Dec-16 | Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan | Blood type: O | Talent agency: ABPinc

Kojima Fujiko Pictures

Japanese Model Yui Hasumi

Name: Yui Hasumi | Japanese name: 蓮美ゆい | Birthdate: 4-29, 1983 | Zodiac: Taurus | Breasts: B85 cm (33 in) | Cup: D-65 | Waist: W57 cm (22 in) | Hips: H86 cm (34 in) | Height: 162 cm (5 ft 4 in) | Weight: 44kg ( lb) | Blood Type: O | Hobby: movie, listening music

Yui Hasumi is Japanese model formerly U15). Though the current status of her career is uncertain, she has done some acting work in various dramas and movies previously.

Yui Hasumi Pictures

Tokyo Actress Nao Matsushita

Name: Nao Matsushita | Japanese name: 松下奈緒 (まつした なお) | Name (romaji): Matsushita Nao | Profession: Actress, singer and pianist. | Birthdate: 2-8, 1985 |
Birthplace: Kawanishi, Hyogo, Japan | Measurements: B86cm-W62cm-H92 cm | Height: 175cm | Weight: 60kg | Star sign: Aquarius | Blood type: AB | Talent agency: JI-Promotion

Nao Matsushita Pictures

Tokyo Actress Saeko

Name: Saeko | Japanese Name: サエコ | Chinese name: 沙耶子 | Real name: 道休冴子 (どうきゅう さえこ) / Dokyu Saeko | Occupation: Actress | Birthdate: Nov-16, 1986 | Birthplace: Miyazaki City, Miyazaki, Japan | Height: 157cm | Weight: 43kg | Star sign: Scorpio | Blood type: O | Family: Husband/baseball player Darvish Yu and son | Talent agency: Topcoat

Saeko (サエコ) is a Japanese actress and media talent who has acted in a number of films and television dramas. Though she has been credited under the stagename Saeko Dōkyū, her real name remains a secret. Saeko enrolled at Waseda University in 2006, and began a major in Communications. She married Yu Darvish in 2007 and they have 2 sons.

Saeko Pictures

CNN poll: Perry in 2nd place?

posted at 3:10 pm on July 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

CNN’s latest look at the Republican primary fight shows a big move being made by the man who hasn’t made his big move yet.  Mitt Romney remains in first place at 16%, but only within the margin of error, as a group of speculative candidates have crowded right behind him.  Texas Governor Rick Perry finishes second with 14%, and that’s not all:

    As Texas Gov. Rick Perry comes closer to jumping into the race for the White House, he’s also close to the top of a new national survey in the battle for the GOP presidential nomination.

    A CNN/ORC International Poll released Friday indicates that 14% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP pick Perry as their first choice for their party’s nomination, just two points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who’s making his second bid for the White House.

    Romney’s two point margin over Perry is within the survey’s sampling error.

Right behind Perry come Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, both at 13% and both within the MOE, too.  None of these close finishers have actually declared a candidacy, which means that 40% of survey respondents not only are dissatisfied with the current lineup, they’ve picked non-candidates in their stead.  That’s not good news for Romney, whose high profile from the 2007-8 campaign means that the problem isn’t a lack of familiarity with the electorate. Only 14% declare themselves “very satisfied” with the field, less than half of those who are either not very satisfied or not satisfied at all with the field (34%).

Bachmann finishes at 12%, the last candidate in double digits.  Tim Pawlenty only gets 3% of the survey respondents’ endorsement, falling behind Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich, which puts a lot of pressure on Pawlenty to score big in next month’s Ames straw poll.  Curiously, when Rick Perry gets removed from the list of choices, Bachmann scores best, picking up three points to finish tied for second with Palin at 15%.

Among independents, there are some surprising results.  Mitt Romney finishes third at 12%, where Giuliani and Perry tie for second at 14% — and Bachmann wins at 15%.  Bachmann comes in third among self-professed conservatives at 13%, with Romney beating her at 16%, but getting edged by Perry at 17%.  Among both groups, Palin comes in fourth place.   Not surprisingly, Perry wins the South handily, 21% to the 13% for Romney and, er, Giuliani? Romney and Giuliani also tie for first in the suburban demographic at 14%, with Perry close behind at 13%.

Clearly, Perry will be a force if and when he enters the race.  If he’s the last person in, he may find even wider support, because right now it appears that Republicans are still holding their breat

Obama: It’s that gosh-darned divided government that has kept us from a budget solution, or something

posted at 1:50 pm on July 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

I swear, you just can’t make this stuff up. Responding to a question at his town-hall meeting today that expressed frustration at the slow process in the debt-ceiling negotiations, Barack Obama put the blame on voters for the divided government. If Democrats had the town all to themselves, Obama says, he’d be able to spend more time this summer with his daughters:

Say, didn’t Democrats have the town to themselves in 2010? Didn’t they have an opportunity to raise the debt ceiling at that time, and pass a budget for FY2011 as well? In fact, Democrats still control the Senate in 2011. Where is their plan to deal with the issues? For that matter, where is Obama’s?

After all, the House has now passed two of their own plans, the Ryan budget plan that would have (slowly) brought the federal government’s budgets into balance, and the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act that would have forced Washington to do it a lot more quickly. Where the Democrats still have control, they have produced … nothing. Except, of course, whining about how presidenting is kinda tough.

Microsoft sued over Kinect for patent infringement

A Bay Village, Ohio, company has sued Microsoft for allegedly infringing on its patents with the rapidly selling Kinect motion-sensing video game controller.

Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360
(Credit: CNET)

Impulse Technology filed the suit in federal court in Delaware, accusing Microsoft and several game makers--including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and THQ--of violating patents related to, among other things, tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space. The suit was filed on July 1, but was only recently written about by the Web site Law360.

Impulse claims that the Kinect violates seven patents, issued from 2001 to last year. In its suit, the company said it notified Microsoft in March about the patents. The suit does not mention if Microsoft replied to the notification. And Impulse's attorney did not return a call.

Microsoft declined to address the specific charges, but said it works hard to make sure its products don't violate patent holders' rights.

"While we can't comment about this specific case, Microsoft invests heavily in protecting our intellectual property rights and has hundreds of pending and issued patents covering Kinect," Kevin Kutz, director of public affairs at Microsoft, said in a statement.

DOJ takes swipe at EFF over encryption passphrases

The U.S. Department of Justice took a thinly veiled swipe at an online civil liberties group that's arguing a Colorado woman can't be forced to decrypt her laptop for police inspection.

In a legal brief filed yesterday in what is likely to be a precedent-setting case, the Justice Department claimed that the Electronic Frontier Foundation had previously agreed that being forced to type in your passphrase was legal and did not violate Americans' rights to self-incrimination.

Prosecutors are hoping to convince a federal judge to order Ramona Fricosu, accused of running a mortgage scam, to decrypt an encrypted laptop that police found in her bedroom during a raid of her home. Fricosu has been charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering as part of an alleged attempt to use falsified court documents to illegally gain title to homes near Colorado Springs.
EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury

EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury
(Credit: EFF)

EFF's Know Your Rights guide, prosecutors said, warns the public that "a grand jury or judge may still order you to disclose your data in an unencrypted format under certain circumstances."

The upshot, they said, is that "EFF's 'Know Your Rights' publication correctly states that a judge may properly order the production of unencrypted data consistent with the Fifth Amendment." (The Fifth Amendment broadly protects Americans' right to remain silent--see CNET's Q&A with defense attorney Phil Dubois.)

EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury, a former public defender in San Diego, wrote the guide. Fakhoury told CNET today that the Justice Department isn't exactly describing his work fairly:

    This (the guide) is simply stating the obvious: whether the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination applies is fact-dependent. EFF believes that under the facts presented in the Fricosu case, the privilege applies and prevents the government's attempt to force Ms. Fricosu to decrypt the laptop. Under a different set of facts, the outcome might be different; something that's true in most areas of the law.

    This is obviously a situation in which the government is trying to do something it has rarely tried to do before, so the courts are just starting to consider it. That is why EFF got involved in the first place, to assist the court by providing it with what we think the law should be. I'm flattered the government believes the guide I wrote is legal precedent, and I look forward to the day when that's actually the case.

The Justice Department also argues that Fricosu's Fifth Amendment rights are effectively nullified because the government obtained the laptop through a search warrant, not a grand jury subpoena.

"Evidence obtained through search warrants does not implicate the self-incrimination clause because search warrants do not compel individuals to make statements..." prosecutors said. "The applied-for order would use as the source of evidence only material seized with a warrant; it would not make use of any compelled statements."

Prosecutors have stressed that they don't actually require the passphrase itself, meaning Fricosu would be permitted to type it in and unlock the files without anyone looking over her shoulder. They say they're not demanding "the password to the drive, either orally or in written form," and that they know the laptop is hers because of a legally intercepted phone call she made to someone in prison.

Competing legal analogies: What's a PGP passphrase like?
The question of whether criminal defendants can be legally compelled to cough up their encryption passphrase remains an unsettled one, with law review articles for at least the last 15 years arguing the merits of either side of the issue. A U.S. Justice Department attorney wrote an article in 1996, for instance, titled "Compelled Production of Plaintext and Keys."

Much of the debate has been over which of two analogies comes closest to the truth. Prosecutors tend to view PGP passphrases as akin to someone possessing a key to a safe filled with incriminating documents. That person can, in general, be legally compelled to hand over the key. Other examples include the U.S. Supreme Court saying that defendants can be forced to provide fingerprints, blood samples, or voice recordings.

On the other side are civil libertarians citing other Supreme Court cases that conclude Americans can't be forced to give "compelled testimonial communications" and extending the legal shield of the Fifth Amendment to encryption passphrases. Courts already have ruled that such protection extends to the contents of a defendant's minds, so why shouldn't a passphrase be shielded as well?

While the U.S. Supreme Court has not confronted the topic, a handful of lower courts have.

In March 2010, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that Thomas Kirschner, facing charges of receiving child pornography, would not have to give up his password. That's "protecting his invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination," the court ruled (PDF).

A year earlier, a Vermont federal judge concluded that Sebastien Boucher, who a border guard claims had child porn on his Alienware laptop, did not have a Fifth Amendment right to keep the files encrypted.

Update 3:15 p.m. PT: I've heard back from Phil Dubois, Fricosu's criminal defense attorney. Dubois' position remains, he said in an e-mail message:

    That to force my client (assuming that she has the ability) to decrypt the hard drive would be an unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional search and so a Fourth Amendment violation; and

    That to force her to decrypt the drive would not be the same as compelling her to surrender the key to a safe, the new technology making that analogy inapposite, but would instead be compelling her to use the content of her mind to perform an affirmative act to assist the government to prosecute her, which raises the Fifth Amendment problem.

AT&T customers try to block merger with T-Mobile

Talk about a David and Goliath story. The New York-based law firm of Bursor & Fisher is working with some AT&T customers in the hopes of blocking AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile.
AT&T to buy T-Mobile

The firm is working on behalf of a small group of AT&T customers to demand arbitration from the company, which is the second largest wireless phone company in the U.S. and one of the biggest political contributors in the country. In its arbitration filings, Bursor & Fisher alleges that the deal between AT&T and T-Mobile would violate the Clayton Antitrust Act and harm competition in the wireless market. The firm has already signed up 11 AT&T customers, and it's soliciting more on its Web site: It filed the first arbitration demand Thursday in a 236-page document.

The main argument in the arbitration request is that the merger will lead to higher prices and diminished service, which would harm consumers. The customers are asking that the merger be blocked or at the very least that certain requirements be put on the merger, such as AT&T divesting some wireless spectrum and stopping its practice of entering into exclusive contracts with handset makers.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are already reviewing the merger. It's expected to take the agencies a year to complete their evaluation of the merger. The Justice Department in particular will be looking at potential antitrust claims while the FCC's main obligation is to ensure that the merger will serve the public interest, since the wireless licenses that AT&T and T-Mobile hold are regulated by the FCC. The FCC said this week that it has stopped the clock on its review as it obtains additional information from AT&T.

Scott Bursor, a partner at Bursor & Fisher, said his firm expects to file hundreds of these cases. While arbitration is typically used to dispute individual complaints, such as an erroneous charge on a bill, Bursor said he thinks the process can also be used for antitrust disputes, since class-action lawsuits are not available to AT&T customers.

"The law gives private parties the opportunity to sue in antitrust cases," Bursor said. "So we are using this arbitration process to help consumers, who are barred from filing class-action suits."

In its contracts, AT&T prohibits customers from suing the company directly or as part of a class-action lawsuit. A U.S. Supreme court decision in April upheld this practice. Instead, consumers must use an arbitration process. But consumers are also prohibited from filing arbitration as a group or class and instead must file claims individually, which is why Bursor has said the company will file hundreds of these claims.

And because each arbitration request is assigned to a separate judge, each case will be evaluated independently, which in theory could increase the chances of a beneficial outcome for the customers filing the complaint.

AT&T said in a statement that the arbitration process is not intended to hear class-action cases, such as the ones Bursor plans to file.

"The claims made by the Bursor & Fisher Law Firm are completely without merit," the company's statement said. "An arbitrator has no authority to block the merger or affect the merger process in any way. Our arbitration provision allows customers to resolve their individual disputes with AT&T in a prompt and consumer-friendly manner."

Bursor's firm has worked with wireless customers in the past on class-action suits over early-termination fees. His firm also sued AT&T over mobile-handset exclusivity. Michael Aschenbrener of Aschenbrener Law in Chicago, who has also brought class-action suits against wireless companies in the past, said that using the arbitration process to air antitrust complaints is unusual. So it's difficult to say if it will be effective. But he said at the very least it might get these consumers' concerns heard.

"Arbitration is a new approach in this context but necessary in light of recent anticonsumer Supreme Court precedent," he said. "Whether these consumers will be successful remains to be seen, but this demonstrates that consumers want to be heard and will be heard--no matter how much the courts and big businesses try to silence them."

These AT&T consumers involved in the arbitration are not the only ones opposed to AT&T's plan to buy T-Mobile. Sprint Nextel has also expressed its opposition. And this week, Senator Herb Kohl, who heads up a subcommittee on antitrust matters, asked regulators to block the deal.

Some states are also taking a closer look at the merger. California's Public Utility Commission is examining it. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced in March that his office would "undertake a thorough review of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile" and analyze the merger for "potential anticompetitive effects on consumers and businesses."

Meanwhile, AT&T has also garnered support from a number of groups. There are already governors in 26 states that have signed on to support the merger. And 76 members of Congress have also expressed their support for the merger.

AT&T said earlier this week during its earnings call that it is confident it will get the approval for the merger. And the company said it expects the deal to close in the first quarter of next year.

EU Does Their Part!

By Mike Conlon, on Jul 22, 2011 01:21:21 GMT

Yesterday’s market reaction to the news out of the EU could not have been a more perfect scenario for those searching for a ray of hope that the global economy might actually be able to move forward. News out of Brussels was that indeed a solution to the Euro debt crisis had been agreed upon, going a lot further than most had thought possible.

While the markets are still trying to judge the merits of the resolution, the EU took some bold steps to try to stem the crisis. Some of the highlights: Greece gets a larger bailout—but needs to enact major austerity to receive it; Greece gets AAA-rated terms for borrowing from the ECB and EFSF, as does Portugal and Ireland if needed; the ECB will buy bonds and essentially be a “bidder of last resort”, all but daring speculators to try to drive yields higher on Spain, Italy, or others (think ‘don’t fight the Fed’). These are extraordinary measures that will give the debt-burdened countries a chance at redemption. However, the question remains as to whether or not the austerity required is too draconian, and the likelihood that it can be accomplished. One other thing to note however is that the EFSF was not expanded so the size of the emergency facility remains at 440 billion euros, which hopefully is enough to manage future liquidity issues.

While this serves the markets purposes for now, it appears likely that the EU economy is going to shrink in size as austerity is enacted throughout the region. One early sign is that German IFO confidence figures have come in lower than expected, though Euro zone industrial orders picked up for the month.

The rally that took place yesterday has followed through to this morning, with stocks in Asia and Europe up overnight, as are commodities. Next up is the US debt ceiling debate, and the politics surrounding it has gotten so nasty that it’s almost become comical. A deal will definitely get done and the only question is at whose expense.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is mostly higher, easily clearing the resistance identified yesterday at 1.08 vs. USD. Export and import prices have risen, which could give rise to inflation down under.

Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is has rocketed higher to 86.75, just south of my target of .87 from earlier this weak. Inflation expectations are rising, which means that so are interest rate hike expectations as well.

Loonie (CAD): The only other fundamental data out his morning has come from Canada, which reported lower than expected CPI data that has sent the Loonie lower, despite oil trading up to $100. Core CPI came in at 1.3% vs. an expectation of 1.9%, and the headline figure came in at 3.1% vs. an expected 3.6%. This may buy the BOC time to allow the economy to continue with lower rates as prices seemingly are under control. Better than expected retail sales figures showed a gain of .5% vs. an expected .3%, which shows economic improvement. (Click chart to enlarge)

Euro (EUR): The Euro has pulled back some to under 1.44 vs. USD as markets are set to open slightly lower here in the US. While the market seemed pleased with the initial resolution form yesterday, as more is learned about the deal, the less enamored the markets may become. (Click chart to enlarge)

Pound (GBP): The Pound is also pulling back after yesterday’s rally and with no news on the docket may be a victim of having traveled too far, too fast.

Swissie (CHF): The SNB has been thankful of late that risk is abating in the global economy as the franc becomes less desirable when safe-havens are out of favor.

Dollar (USD): I’ve read some analyses that claim that yesterday’s massive moves were more a function of Dollar weakness than Euro strength. The markets are looking for any indication that the global economy is stabilizing, as the appetite for risk is increasing as cheap money floods the globe. We need a compromise on the debt ceiling debate to really instill confidence.

Yen (JPY): The Yen is picking up some strength as risk appetites are turning to risk aversion as the morning moves forward. Nevertheless it was lower yesterday as carry trades were re-established.

As I said yesterday, “buy the rumor, sell the news”. While the Euro debt crisis resolution may be better news than expected, the devil is always in the details. As the markets start the comprehend all that needs to be done, opinions over the deal may change.

While we are seeing a pull-back in the early action here in the US, this could be more of a function of jittery markets still being fearful heading into the weekend. The debt ceiling debate rages on here in the US and should it seem less likely that a deal can be reached, then the markets may react quickly.

So now it is up to the US, and hopefully we can cast the politics aside for the better of all and not just a specific political base.

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Solutions In Sight?

By Mike Conlon, on Jul 19, 2011 01:27:19 GMT

This morning markets are rallying as the Euro zone moves one step closer toward a solution to the debt crisis that has been plaguing them and the global markets in general. The Greek Finance Minister came out and said that an agreement on debt is “attainable” and the ECB seems ready to deal as well.

News in the US today has the Republicans largely going through the political motions of introducing a bill on the debt ceiling debate that will be vetoed by the President if it passes the House, but rumors of a “secret meeting” taking place have raised hopes that a compromise can be reached.

The global markets are in need of some sort of stability as these crises have left Central banks around the globe in limbo as they need to allow these situations to play out before they can potentially raise interest rates to cool off their own expanding economies. At least that’s the thought in Australia and Canada as the release of the minutes from the RBA rate policy meeting and the BOC interest rate decision confirm.

Rounding out the morning are US Housing Starts and Building Permits figures which are likely to beat expectations as the bar has been lowered so much after last month’s dismal reports. So the markets are in risk-taking mode this morning, with global stocks higher, as well as oil and gold.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is mostly higher on risk appetite as the minutes from the RBA rate policy meeting confirmed that the RBA was in “wait and see” mode with regard to the Euro debt and US debt ceiling crises. Inflation is a mild concern but does not outweigh the overall risk to global economic stability.

Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is also higher this morning on risk appetite and the carry-over effects of the CPI data that was reported earlier this week. The RBNZ may want to “normalize” rate policy to slow down inflation.

Loonie (CAD): The Loonie is also higher this morning as oil is trading higher despite the fact that the market expects the BOC to leave interest rates unchanged this morning at 1%. The reasoning behind this is similar to that of the RBA, but the market is expecting at least 2 quarter point rate hikes before the end of the year, the first of which could come at the September meeting. (Click chart to enlarge)

Euro (EUR): The Euro is also trading up despite the weaker than expected ZEW economic survey figures that were reported earlier this morning. The big news is that Euro zone ministers are moving closer to finding a solution to the debt crisis, as the ECB has indicated it may be more “flexible”. Yields on a Spanish bond offering soared from just 1 month ago. (Click chart to enlarge)

Pound (GBP): With no news on the docket, the Pound is drifting higher ahead of tomorrow’s release of the BOE rate policy meeting minutes.

Swissie (CHF): The Swissie is lower across the board as demand for safe-havens has decreased due to increased risk appetite. Gold is also trading slightly lower, though still above $1600.

Dollar (USD): The Dollar Index is falling this morning after much better than expected Housing Starts and Building Permits figures showed that the housing market may not be dead just yet. Improving economic data may mitigate fears of QE3, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Yen (JPY): The Yen is mostly lower on risk themes and department store sales came in better than expected, showing signs that domestic demand may be improving as a result of the devastating natural disasters.

It’s not over until it’s over, as the saying goes, and these words couldn’t ring more true with regard to the Euro debt crisis and the US debt ceiling debate. While markets may believe that solutions are near, risk still abounds.

Meanwhile, just to update, the BOC did indeed leave rates unchanged, but the hawkish tone could mean a rate hike at September’s meeting.

Until that time, watch the economic data to see signs of economic improvement globally and whether or not Central bankers will be able to address their own domestic economies.

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Euro Bank Stress Tests In Focus!

By Mike Conlon, on Jul 15, 2011 01:18:34 GMT

Stressful Situations!

Specifically, I am referring to two events taking place around the globe that have effectively put the markets on edge. The first today is the release of the results of the European bank stress tests, and then the on-going saga of the debt ceiling debate here in the US.

The bank stress tests are intended to allay the fears of the marketplace that the European banks are adequately capitalized and that they could withstand a major shock to the system such as sovereign default. This will likely throw a few banks under the bus which is obviously bad for some individual players, but this has to be done in order to ensure “credibility” that the tests were sufficient.

The debt ceiling debate is likely to be more drawn out as the politics behind the scenes have gotten so ugly that neither side is willing to budge. So we are headed on a collision course toward disaster unless one side is willing to compromise. S&P has put the US on negative credit watch and said that a debt downgrade may be forthcoming if a deal is not reached.

This has induced some mild risk aversion in the markets today, with stocks flat to slightly lower and commodities pulling back.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is mostly lower on risk aversion and that money flows are leaving the Aussie in favor of the Kiwi on rate hike expectations.

Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is higher despite the risk in the marketplace after the much better than expected GDP report showed that the economy was growing at 1.4% vs. an expectation of .5% after having to deal with the two earthquakes. The market believes that this positive growth story means that the RBNZ could be next to raise rates. (Click chart to enlarge)

Loonie (CAD): The Loonie is somewhat higher against the Dollar despite lower oil prices and mild risk aversion in the markets. Canada’s close ties to the US economy make the Loonie slightly more desirable when the risk comes from Europe rather than the US.

Euro (EUR): The Euro is slightly lower ahead of the bank stress tests results that are due out at 12PM EST. Trade balance figures came in better than expected, though the market is more concerned with the news at noon.

Pound (GBP): The Pound is mixed as austerity measures are bringing down inflation, albeit slowly. This will likely mean that the BOE will be on hold for some time.

Swissie (CHF): The Swissie has been on a tear of late as its safe-haven status has been exploited by those who do not want to own the US dollar. (Click chart to enlarge)

Dollar (USD): The Dollar has been moving higher after Bernanke backed away from his comments the other day that has led the market to believe that QE3 is very much on the table. CPI data came in largely as expected this morning, showing a headline figure of 3.6%. However, the Empire manufacturing index came in at –3.76 vs. an expectation of 5. Michigan consumer confidence figures are due out later this morning.

Yen (JPY): Much like the Swissie, the Yen has been appreciating of late as it’s a Dollar alternative for a safe haven play. Too much strengthening could cause the BOJ to take action, especially if QE3 looks more like a reality.

With the stress in the marketplace adding to the already declining economic data, it is only a matter of time before something gives. The Euro bank stress tests are intended to instill confidence in an already skeptical market and if the tests are deemed to not be rigid enough, then this may become a non-issue. Nevertheless, expect volatility surrounding the release.

Here in the US, we have a different kind of stress over the debt ceiling debate. President Obama will be speaking on it later this morning but expect the same political rhetoric to take place. Meanwhile, markets that are already jittery over a worsening economy have extra reasons to be cautious. Potential US credit downgrades are adding fuel to fire, as they typically occur after the fact.

Prospects don’t look great for the global economy despite better than expected corporate stock earnings. There is a major disconnect between the markets and the real economy, so don’t be surprised if at some point they begin to resemble each other more realistically.

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Markets Call For Debt Deals Now!

By Mike Conlon, on Jul 20, 2011 12:45:00 GMT

There is major optimism that tomorrow’s meeting of EU Finance Ministers in Brussels is going to produce a sensible solution to the debt crisis in Europe which means that the politics of doing the unpopular have been cast aside. This could come in the form of the bond buying from the emergency lending facility, which would essentially be quantitative easing to help keep individual countries’ yields low and then allow them to buy back later.

This situation practically mirrors what is going on here in the US with the debt ceiling debate, as the markets will take any solution at this point. While I personally don’t believe it’s a good idea to raise taxes in this economic climate, fixing loopholes is not the same thing. If unemployment gets worse as a result, then let the leaders bear the blame.

But we have been down this road before, where the markets anticipate a deal because they are weary and because it makes perfect sense; and then the politicians defy logic. By the end of this week we should have more clarity, and the risk appetite in the market is reflecting that sentiment.

In the UK, the release of the BOE rate policy meeting minutes confirmed there was no change of stance, though some have noted that there may be lesser resolve for additional bond purchases.

In the US, existing home sales are due out later this morning and yesterdays housing starts numbers surprised to the upside, showing that the housing market may not be dead just yet.

So this all adds up to risk taking this morning, with stocks and oil higher, and gold giving back prices gains as it sheds some of its safe haven status.

In the forex market:

Aussie (AUD): The Aussie is mostly higher on risk themes despite an index of leading indicators number that came in slightly negative, showing a decline of .1%. More pressing was the release of the RBA minutes, which showed that Central bank might not move on rates for some time.

 Kiwi (NZD): The Kiwi is also mostly higher ahead of tomorrow’s release of consumer confidence figures. One item that has escaped attention is that the Chinese Yuan has appreciated the most in nearly 17 years (though still less than the weekly swings in Euro), which could be good for NZ exports.

Loonie (CAD): The Loonie continues to approach 2011 highs vs. USD after yesterday’s hawkish statement from the BOC at the rate decision. Today’s release of the monetary policy report may confirm that if not for global instability, rates might be higher. Oil back to $99 is also pushing Loonie.

Euro (EUR): It’s make-or-break time for the Euro this week as the entire globe is looking for a resolution to the debt crisis. The major impediment so far has been German political opposition, but as world opinion moves against them, they may be forced to bite the bullet. While no one expects the solution to emerge tomorrow from the meeting in Brussels, the market is optimistic that significant steps will be taken. (Click chart to enlarge)

Pound (GBP): The Pound is bouncing off of earlier lows as the indeed the BOE confirmed that they are willing to turn a blind eye to inflation (some say up to CPI gains of 5%!) in order to ride out the government austerity. Tomorrow’s retail sales figures will show whether or not the consumer in the UK is active, or if they are heading straight for stagflation. (Click chart to enlarge)

Swissie (CHF): The Swissie has been the most-favored safe haven currency of late so naturally it is giving back some of those gains as risk appetite has increased due to increased market optimism. Tomorrow’s trade balance figures will show whether or not a stronger currency has damaged the trade balance significantly.

Dollar (USD): The market is hoping that yesterday’s news on housing starts carries over to existing home sales figures due out later this morning. However, if the data begins to improve too much, then the market may assume that QE3 is off of the table which may cause some Dollar strength. What is more likely though is that good news will be received well by the stock market, which has been reporting great corporate earnings.

Yen (JPY): The Yen is mostly lower as safe haven demand has lessened. If the global economy can get past these two major debt hurdles, then it could be game on again for significant carry trades.

Markets are a forward-looking and discounting mechanism so gains we are seeing now are in anticipation of these debt problems getting fixed. This in and of itself does not mean that deals have been reached, however.

The politics surrounding all of these deals has been the major impediment so far, so the markets are saying just get it done. Uncertainty at this point is worse than bad policy and while the devil is in the details, the markets will decide later whether or not they approve. Let’s face it, I have very little confidence that any of these deals will be perfect, so just let the chips fall where they may.

If the markets do not see significant progress or agreements in principle to resolve these issues, then we could see this week’s gains vanish. For that is the problem with rising expectations; the letdowns hurt that much more!

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New York to Open Gay-Marriage Era as Lottery Winners Celebrate

July 22, 2011, 4:54 PM EDT
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By Esmé E. Deprez

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Two grooms and two brides now adorn mugs, rubber duckies and snow globes in the souvenir shop of the City Clerk’s office in Manhattan as New York state prepares to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The city received 823 lottery entries from couples for 764 spots available for marriage at clerks’ offices July 24, said Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. To accommodate all of the couples who applied, the city increased the number of slots in Manhattan to 459 from 400, he said.

Jo-Ann Shain and Mary Jo Kennedy of Brooklyn, who have been together 29 years, entered the 48-hour lottery after it was announced on July 19.

“At first we thought maybe it will be crazy, that it’ll be a zoo,” Shain, a 58-year old freelance medical editor, said in a telephone interview. “Then it occurred to us that we’ve waited so long, have fought so hard, it would be crazy not to be there on such a historic day.”

Shain said the couple plans to be married by a friend, who is a judge, outside the Manhattan clerk’s office as their 22- year old daughter, Aliya, looks on.

With 19.4 million residents, New York is the sixth and most populous U.S. state to grant same-sex couples the right to wed, a move championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and approved by the Legislature in Albany on June 24, the last day of its session. The victory for gay-rights advocates, which made headlines around the world, more than doubled the number of Americans free to marry either gender to 35 million.

Record Day

The couples to be wed July 24 will mark the city’s most in one day, Bloomberg said this week. The previous record was set on Valentine’s Day in 2003, when 621 couples tied the knot.

As of yesterday, 3,145 couples had preregistered for marriage licenses, said Mark Botnick, a spokesman for the mayor. Of that, about 2,200 are estimated to be same-sex couples, he said.

Clerks’ offices in all five boroughs, which are normally closed on Sunday, will open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at an additional estimated cost of $70,000, Botnick said. About 60 judges have volunteered to perform ceremonies, he said. The offices will remain open for two extra hours next week to handle the expected flood.

Three-Step Process

The Albany clerk’s office will provide licenses beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday to 10 couples, according to the Empire State Pride Agenda. Clerks in Binghamton, Brighton, Brookhaven, Buffalo, Greenburgh, Ithaca, Niagara, North Hempstead, Oneonta, Rochester, Syracuse and Woodstock will also hold Sunday office hours, the Manhattan-based gay advocacy organization said.

All couples -- gay or straight -- face a three-step process to get married. They must obtain from a clerk a $35 marriage license, for which they can apply online or on site. Judges will be on hand to grant judicial waivers eliminating the state’s 24- hour waiting period. Couples may then have a clerk perform a civil marriage for $25 or hold a religious ceremony at another location.

Same-sex marriages in New York will be recognized in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C., where the practice is legal, as well as in Maryland and Rhode Island, according to the mayor’s office.

Debate began at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on July 20 on the proposed Respect for Marriage Act, which would let the federal government extend benefits such as Social Security and health-insurance coverage to same-sex married couples. It would end the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which bans recognition of those unions. The proposal wouldn’t require states to legalize same-sex marriages.

Rabbi to Preside

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village will marry people outside the Manhattan clerk’s office starting at 8:30 a.m. July 24. About 80 couples have signed up, with the final count depending on how many win the lottery, said Gabriel Blau, a congregation spokesman.

When Kleinbaum went to lobby for the marriage law’s passage in Albany, people pushed her and spat at her and said, “You are not a Jew,” Blau said.

Bloomberg plans to perform a marriage for John Feinblatt, his chief policy adviser, and Jonathan Mintz, the city’s commissioner for consumer affairs, at Gracie Mansion on July 24. The couple is the sole exception to the lottery.

The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company Bloomberg LP.

--With assistance from Sarah Frier in New York and Victoria Pelham in Washington. Editors: Mark Schoifet, Stephen Merelman

To contact the reporter on this story: Esmé E. Deprez in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at

Management Tips from an 80-Year-Old Badass

Florida Marlins skipper Jack McKeon may not Twitter, but so what? This octogenarian knows his baseball and runs a tight ship

By Joel Stein
Illustration by John Ueland; McKeon: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images; Field: Nick Laham/Getty Images

Not wearing a hearing aid is one of the many tricks Jack McKeon has learned during his six decades in baseball. “I used to be a very strong disciplinarian,” says McKeon, sitting in the Oakland Coliseum one recent afternoon as his players take batting practice. “Then I decided to back off a little bit. I don’t use the hearing aids because I don’t want to see a lot of things, and I don’t want to hear a lot of things.”

It may be too late for that. McKeon took over the last-place Florida Marlins on June 20, the day after then-manager Edwin Rodríguez quit. While Rodríguez wanted the Marlins to offer him a long-term contract, McKeon didn’t exactly need one. The 80-year-old’s appointment is almost without precedent in pro sports. In 2003 the Marlins hired a 72-year-old to take over a club filled with young, inexperienced players. That year, McKeon’s Marlins beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Still, hiring a bona fide octogenarian is even harder to believe. The odds of McKeon winning the World Series this year (1 in 75, according to are longer than the odds of him dying this year (1 in 15.5, according to Social Security’s actuarial tables).

While there are at least a dozen chief executive officers even older than McKeon—Hong Kong-based Run Run Shaw is, somewhat inexplicably, both a media mogul and 103 years old—none of them is running an outfit of men largely in their early 20s. Yet this management challenge doesn’t faze McKeon. “I got nine grandchildren, I’m in tune with what’s going on,” he says. “Maybe I’m not about to put my personal stuff on Facebook and all that crap, like the video stuff, whatever the hell they call it,” he explains, moving his thumbs as if he’s using a video-game console.

He doesn’t follow his players on Twitter, either. Marlins right fielder Logan Morrison recently posted, “McKeon asked me what I had going on tonite. Told him I was going home 2 play w/ Twitter. He replied ‘oh, what kind of dog is it?’ ” When I ask McKeon if he wants me to show him what his players are tweeting, he says: “No. I don’t care what they say. What do they say?” Then I show him Morrison’s tweets about his recent visit to Twitter headquarters, and McKeon makes a grumpy face. “I just want them to concentrate on baseball 100 percent once they enter that clubhouse. If he goes down to the minor leagues, he ain’t going to have any Twitter friends.”

Although affable, McKeon is known as a tough manager. During his first game this season, he benched his best player, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, for tardiness. He also pulled pitcher Randy Choate in the middle of a count. (“I’ve never had that happen before,” says Choate. “It worked.”) When he told his players they couldn’t hang out in the clubhouse during games, they knew he was serious; in 2003, McKeon locked the clubhouse doors and required players to hand him bathroom passes when they couldn’t hold it in any longer. He may be the only 80-year-old man who is willing and able to go three hours without peeing.

It’s taken McKeon decades to hone this management approach. “When you first start managing, you want the players to like you—so you let a lot of things slide,” he says. “You feel like these are veteran players and you need them on your side to help you.” However, McKeon eventually came to realize that “it doesn’t work that way. So when I come in, I try to establish me.” He’s learned that the best way to get personnel to buy into his detail-oriented program is by loosening them up—and playing to his own strengths. These days, one of McKeon’s signature bits is to call his players by the wrong name. When I ask him if this is really a bit, or if he actually has trouble telling Gaby Sanchez apart from Anibal Sanchez, he pauses and thinks. “They think, ‘He’s old. He forgot my name.’ So, s–t, I just go along with it.”

Britain’s Second-Quarter Economic Growth Probably Eased to 0.2%

July 23, 2011, 6:32 AM EDT
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By Fergal O’Brien and Mark Evans

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Britain’s second-quarter economic growth probably slowed as weak consumer spending continued to restrain the recovery, economists said.

Gross domestic product rose 0.2 percent compared with a 0.5 percent increase in the first quarter, according to the median of 32 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The Office for National Statistics will publish the data at 9:30 a.m. on July 26 in London.

Output was hit in the second quarter by supply disruptions stemming from the earthquake in Japan, while plants shut down and workers booked vacations to take advantage of consecutive four-day weekends in April to mark Easter and the royal wedding. Bank of England policy makers left their benchmark interest rate at a record low this month and warned that the current economic weakness may persist “for longer than previously thought.”

“The economy is likely to have eked out marginal growth at best in the second quarter, and there is a very real danger that it could have contracted modestly,” said Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London, who forecasts 0.1 percent growth. “Activity clearly took a significant hit in April from the extra public holiday, but the softness of the economy runs deeper than this.”

Manufacturing growth slowed in June, while expansion among services companies remained “below trend,” Markit Economics Ltd. said in reports this month. Consumer confidence fell as Britons grew more pessimistic about the outlook for the economy, Nationwide Building Society said on July 21.

Demand is being hit by government spending cuts while high inflation is eroding household incomes at the fastest pace since the 1970s. The economy has effectively stagnated since September, with the first quarter’s growth leaving the level of GDP no higher than it was in the third quarter of last year.

Four of the economists surveyed forecast a contraction in the second quarter, with Hetal Mehta at Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Ltd. projecting a 0.3 percent drop in GDP. At the other end of the range is Azad Zangana at Schroders Plc, with a forecast for growth of 0.4 percent.

--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Eddie Buckle

To contact the reporters on this story: Fergal O’Brien in London at; Mark Evans in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at

Man Charged in Deadliest Norway Attacks Since World War II

July 23, 2011, 6:10 AM EDT
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By Josiane Kremer and Stephen Treloar

(Adds Clinton comment in 13th paragraph.)

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Twin attacks in Norway, the deadliest since World War II, left 91 people dead after a gunman killed 84 people at a youth camp on an island near Oslo and a bomb explosion in the center of the capital killed seven people.

A 32-year-old Norwegian man was arrested on the island of Utoeya, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Oslo, and authorities have begun interrogating the suspect, police said at a press briefing today. The same person is likely behind the bombing and the shootings on the island, they said. The suspect’s name is Anders Behring Breivik, local media reported. Police declined to confirm the suspect’s name.

The man has been charged on two counts of “dangerous crime to society,” which means he could be sentenced to 21 years in prison, Norway’s toughest punishment, Roger Andresen, deputy Oslo police chief, told reporters today. The man is a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing tendencies, Andresen said.

The blast in central Oslo shattered windows at the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Hundreds of youths were attending the camp organized by the youth wing of Stoltenberg’s Labor Party.

“Not since World War II has our country experienced a greater tragedy,” Stoltenberg said in a speech today. “For me, Utoeya was the paradise island of my youth that was transformed into hell.”

“The search may take a while as the island has a number of buildings and forested areas,” Anders Frydenberg, a spokesman for Oslo police, said by telephone today. He declined to say whether police believe the shooting was carried out by a single gunman or multiple people and declined to comment on the motives for the attack.

Man in Custody

“The police are not going to confirm his name,” Frydenberg said. “We have a man in custody and are asking him questions about shooting episodes at the island. We are still talking to him.”

Police “see a connection between the attack in Oslo center and the attack on the island because both attacks are at political sites in Norway,” he said. “The bomb blast in Oslo center was toward government buildings, which are being ruled by the Labor party. The youth camp was a Labor party youth camp. That’s the connection between the two attacks.”

Stoltenberg, called the attack on his office “cowardly” and said it wouldn’t interrupt government functioning. Stoltenberg was due to appear today at the youth gathering on Utoeya, Sponheim said. The suspected shooter, who wore a police uniform, wasn’t a police officer, he said.

‘A Lot Unclear’

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he contacted Stoltenberg to convey his condolences. “From a Swedish perspective, we’re following the ongoing development,” he said. “There is still a lot that is unclear about what has happened.”

Neighboring Sweden had a brush with what police treated as a possible terrorist attack in December when a suicide bomber injured two people in central Stockholm.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen sent a statement conveying his “deepest sympathy and solidarity” with the Norwegian people. U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague described the bombing in a press release as “horrific.” China, Australia and New Zealand condemned the attack and expressed their condolences.

‘Peaceful People’

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke away from her prepared remarks at an entrepreneurship event in Bali, Indonesia, to express sympathy.

“This tragedy strikes right at the heart and soul of a peaceful people,” the top U.S. Diplomat said. “Norway is well known for its efforts to resolve conflict and bring people together.”

Before the explosion, a car drove into the government quarter, the police said in a statement. No government ministers were hurt, Stoltenberg told broadcaster NRK.

Eirik Borg, a back office worker at stockbrokerage Fearnley Fonds based near the scene, said he saw smoke billowing from the government quarter after hearing the blast.

‘Hard Impact’

“We felt the impact very hard throughout the building,” Borg said in a phone interview. “All the windows were breaking and we actually thought lightning hit our roof. From our terrace, we saw white smoke.”

The bombing initially sent Norway’s currency and stocks lower. The krone weakened as much as 1 percent against the dollar and was trading 0.4 percent lower at 8:30 p.m. local time yesterday. Against the euro, the krone was little changed at 7.7851 after losing as much as 0.4 percent. The benchmark OBX stock index fell as much as 0.4 percent before closing little changed.

“Large sections of the center of Oslo have been evacuated and the police are urging people to stay away from the center of the city and limit their use of mobile phones,” police said in a statement. Sponheim said police don’t expect further blasts.

The country’s Ministry of Petroleum suffered “massive damage” as a consequence of the blast, spokesman Haakon Smith- Isaksen said by phone. Norway is the world’s seventh-largest oil exporter.

“There was a huge explosion, the windows just blew out,” Smith-Isaken said. “There is much debris, people are injured.”

--With assistance from Frances Schwartzkopff in Copenhagen, Kati Pohjanpalo and Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki, Ola Kinnander, Johan Carlstrom, Adam Ewing, Kim McLaughlin and Toby Alder in Stockholm. Editors: Chad Thomas, Marianne Stigset

To contact the reporters on this story: Josiane Kremer in Oslo at; Stephen Treloar in Oslo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at
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