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  • California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training

    Reuters - 18 minutes ago

    By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California lawmakers, their reputation tarnished by fraud and corruption scandals, on Wednesday took a break from normal business to attend ethics training, the latest step by the state Senate to repair its image as elections loom. The all-day, mandatory sessions, held behind closed doors away from the Capitol in Sacramento, were scheduled after three Democratic senators faced criminal charges in a spate of embarrassments for their party, which dominates the state's Legislature. "When it comes to mixing campaigning and public policy making, everybody should know when to have that gut reaction that 'Nope, we cannot have this conversation,'" Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg said. Last month, Democratic state Senator Leland Yee was arrested on charges that included accepting bribes in the form of campaign contributions. More »California lawmakers, bruised by scandal, turn to ethics training

  • Hole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bags

    Reuters - 2 hours 35 minutes ago

    By Jeremy Laurence and Mirwais Harooni KABUL (Reuters) - A $375 million hole in the Afghan budget is threatening public projects and civil servants' salaries, officials say, putting the aid-dependent economy under stress just as Afghanistan awaits a new leader and foreign troops prepare to go home. U.S., U.N. and Afghan finance ministry officials have discussed ways to resolve what they say has become a critical situation for the budget, with civil projects most at risk as international assistance starts to taper off. "If the political situation of the country does not become normal and businesses do not start again soon this problem will become even more worrying," Alhaj Muhammad Aqa, director general of the treasury at the finance ministry, told Reuters on Wednesday. "We will not only face problems in paying salaries of employees but we will have difficulties in other issues too." Funding for security will not be affected, as costs are met by foreign governments which recognize that any chance of stability in Afghanistan rests on quelling the Taliban insurgency. More »Hole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bags

  • 6 Things You Must Do 36 Months Before Your IPO

    Entrepreneur - 3 hours ago

    If you wait till the last minute, the public offering will disrupt your business. And if that happens, what's the point? More »6 Things You Must Do 36 Months Before Your IPO

  • South Korean prosecutors raid family home of ill-fated ferry's owner

    Reuters - 9 hours ago

    By Miyoung Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - Prosecutors investigating the fatal sinking of a South Korean ferry have raided the home of Yoo Byung-un, the head of a family that owns the Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd, the company that operated the ship. South Korean prosecutors and agencies tend to adopt a blanket approach in raids, rather than targeting specific lines of inquiry. They raided the home of one of Yoo's sons on Wednesday, but found that he was away and the door was locked and they could not enter the house. The finances of Chonghaejin and its complex share structure have come into the spotlight after the ferry disaster, which has shocked South Korea. More »South Korean prosecutors raid family home of ill-fated ferry's owner

  • Austria says more sanctions on Russia would inflame tensions

    Reuters - 9 hours ago

    Additional sanctions against Russia would inflame tensions between Moscow and Kiev, Austria's chancellor said on Wednesday, urging de-escalation of the conflict instead. "I would fundamentally support what the German foreign minister (Frank-Walter) Steinmeier made clear again today: that conflict between Russia and Ukraine should not be inflamed by additional sanctions, but on the contrary, that de-escalation is what is required," Werner Faymann told reporters after the Austrian government's weekly cabinet meeting. "I support that 100 percent." He added that the Austrian central bank and finance ministry were working on a factual assessment of the potential consequences of sanctions scenarios posed by the European Union. More »Austria says more sanctions on Russia would inflame tensions

  • Billions needed to upgrade Egypt's power grid as summer crunch looms

    Reuters - 12 hours ago

    By Maggie Fick CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt needs to find at least $5 billion to invest in its dilapidated power grid, a government official told Reuters, highlighting a major challenge for the next president as the country faces the risk of worsening blackouts this summer. Energy is a politically explosive issue in Egypt, where power cuts have become commonplace even in the capital Cairo. Blackouts deepened discontent with Islamist President Mohamed Mursi before his ouster last July. While gas shortages have been blamed for the crisis, senior electricity ministry official Sabah Mohamed Mashaly said modernizing the grid should be a priority. More »Billions needed to upgrade Egypt's power grid as summer crunch looms

  • Import tariffs strain rich-poor gap in 'madly expensive' Luanda

    Reuters - 13 hours ago

    By Shrikesh Laxmidas LUANDA (Reuters) - In Luanda's Jumbo supermarket, a half-liter tub of imported vanilla ice-cream used to cost $25, testament to the Angolan capital's rank as one of the world's most expensive cities. With new import tariffs imposed last month, that price has jumped to $31, enough to make even wealthy locals and expatriates pause and putting it even further beyond the reach of millions of poor Angolans struggling to feed their families. Luanda already ranks as the world's most expensive city for expats, with the presence of thousands of foreign workers, many involved in the oil industry, helping to drive up prices. Sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer, still rebuilding after emerged in 2002 from a 27-year civil war, imports three quarters of the goods it consumes. More »Import tariffs strain rich-poor gap in 'madly expensive' Luanda

  • Detroit bankruptcy judge taps consultants for city's plan

    Reuters - Tue, Apr 22, 2014 11:36 AM EDT

    (Reuters) - The federal judge overseeing Detroit's historic bankruptcy case tapped a top restructuring official at Phoenix Management Services on Tuesday to help the court determine if the city's plan to adjust its $18 billion of debt is feasible. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes also named Richard Ravitch as a consultant to the court on municipal finance matters. Ravitch, who advised New York City during its fiscal crisis in the 1970s and who had served as a New York State lieutenant governor, agreed to consult for free and will not be required to testify in the case, according to the judge's order. Martha Kopacz, a senior managing director at Phoenix Management Services in Boston, beat out four other applicants, including Ravitch, for the position of expert witness. More »Detroit bankruptcy judge taps consultants for city's plan

  • Exclusive: Cuba may revive Paris Club debt negotiations

    Reuters - Tue, Apr 22, 2014 8:20 AM EDT

    By Marc Frank HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba and the Paris Club of wealthy creditor nations are working to resume talks over billions of dollars of official debt in a new sign the communist government is interested in rejoining the global economy. A Paris Club delegation quietly traveled to Havana late last year to meet with Cuban bank officials, who were prepared with various proposals and appeared eager to strike a deal, according to Western diplomats. They said Cuba must first show creditors its books, which so far it has refused to do. Cuba considers its level of foreign reserves a state secret and publishes scant data on its current account and foreign debt, which it last revealed for 2010. More »Exclusive: Cuba may revive Paris Club debt negotiations

  • Japan finance minister expects stronger Japan-U.S. alliance through summit

    Reuters - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 8:29 PM EDT

    Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday that he expects Japan and the United States will strengthen their alliance through this week's summit meeting. "I expect the most that the Japan-U.S. alliance will be strengthened through the summit meeting in order to further promote peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting. U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Tokyo from Wednesday through Friday to hold a summit meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. More »Japan finance minister expects stronger Japan-U.S. alliance through summit

  • Polish PM calls for EU energy union to end dependence on Russian gas

    Reuters - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 5:56 PM EDT

    By Jan Strupczewski BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union must create an energy union to secure its gas supply because the current dependence on Russian energy makes Europe weak, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk wrote in an article in the Financial Times. Russia, which provides around one third of the EU's oil and gas, sent shockwaves through the international community with its military intervention and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March. The action prompted the United States and its European allies to begin imposing sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's inner circle and to threaten to penalize key sectors of Russia's economy if Russia escalates tensions with Ukraine. More »Polish PM calls for EU energy union to end dependence on Russian gas

  • U.S. court signals narrow bondholders win in Argentina subpoena case

    Reuters - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 4:13 PM EDT

    By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday indicated that creditors should be able to seek limited information about Argentina's non-U.S. assets in a case about bank subpoenas in decade-long litigation over Argentina's obligations to bond investors. During a one-hour-long oral argument over hedge fund NML Capital Ltd's efforts to seek payment of court judgments it says are worth around $1.7 billion, several justices suggested that military and diplomatic assets should be off-limits, which would narrow the scope of the ruling. Depending on how a ruling along those lines is written, it could make it harder for NML to enforce the court judgments it has won. Buenos Aires-based economist Guillermo Nielsen, Argentina's finance secretary from 2002 to 2005, indicated that the government has few commercial assets around the world. More »U.S. court signals narrow bondholders win in Argentina subpoena case

  • Former British PM Brown steps up bid to keep Scotland in UK

    Reuters - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 7:49 AM EDT

    By Belinda Goldsmith LONDON (Reuters) - Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is stepping up his efforts to stop Scotland leaving the United Kingdom as opinion polls show growing support for independence. Brown, a Scot, will on Tuesday make his first speech in support of the cross-party Better Together campaign, warning Scots of a possible deficit in pension funds if they opt out of the 307-year old union in a September 18 referendum. Polls show growing support for independence with the gap between the two sides narrowing to just a few percentage points after a split seemed unattainable a year ago. Brown, a former Labour leader who has kept a low profile since losing the 2010 general election, said he will set out the case for why Scotland should stay in the United Kingdom in a speech at Glasgow University. More »Former British PM Brown steps up bid to keep Scotland in UK

  • China heightens alert over illegal funds as internet finance booms

    Reuters - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 3:03 AM EDT

    The fast development of internet finance in China is driving an increase in cases of illegal fund raising, a situation that could worsen if regulation does not catch up, a senior official at the country's banking sector watchdog said on Monday. Liu Zhangjun, a director at the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) in charge of combating illegal fund-raising, said some of the recent cases have been disguised as normal online financial services, requiring tighter scrutiny. He particularly singled out cases conducted in the name of "crowd funding" and "P2P lending", two types of internet finance that are gaining increasing popularity among China's vast number of depositors. "As internet finance is developing rapidly, many illegal funding activities are moving from offline to online," Liu told a media briefing jointly held with the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme Court. More »China heightens alert over illegal funds as internet finance booms

  • Bankrupt British loans official resigns, embarrassing PM Cameron

    Reuters - Sun, Apr 20, 2014 10:51 AM EDT

    By Andrew Osborn LONDON (Reuters) - The head of a British government agency that hands out billions of pounds of loans to local authorities has resigned after failing to reveal he was bankrupt, Prime Minister David Cameron's office said on Sunday. Cameron appointed Tony Caplin, a former senior official in his ruling Conservative party, to head the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) last year. The PWLB is in charge of distributing infrastructure loans to local authorities across Britain and controls a loans portfolio of up to 60 billion pounds ($100.85 billion). More »Bankrupt British loans official resigns, embarrassing PM Cameron

  • Social Security to resume benefits statement mailings

    Reuters - Sat, Apr 19, 2014 7:10 PM EDT

    By Mark Miller CHICAGO (Reuters) - Paper Social Security benefits statements, which used to be mailed out every year and then fell victim to budget cuts, are going to make a partial comeback. Starting this September, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will resume mailings at five-year intervals to workers who have not signed up to view their statements online, an agency spokesman told Reuters. The statements will be sent to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60, he said, adding the agency would continue to promote use of the online statements. The SSA stopped mailing most paper statements in 2011 in response to budget pressures, and saved the SSA $70 million annually - about 50 cents per mailed statement. More »Social Security to resume benefits statement mailings

  • Smartphone or Sex: Which Would You Rather Give Up? (Infographic)

    Entrepreneur - Fri, Apr 18, 2014 12:25 PM EDT

    More Americans report they would rather forgo sex than a mobile phone, and almost 70 percent of Americans say they check their mobile phone even when it hasn't made any indication of a message arriving. More »Smartphone or Sex: Which Would You Rather Give Up? (Infographic)

  • Women edge into Gulf boardrooms as economies, societies shift

    Reuters - Fri, Apr 18, 2014 8:37 AM EDT

    By Mirna Sleiman DUBAI (Reuters) - Amina al-Rustamani, a member of a prominent UAE family, raised eyebrows among friends and relatives when she started her career in Dubai 13 years ago as an electrical engineer, becoming one of few females in the Middle East to enter the profession. She is now chief executive of TECOM Investments, part of a conglomerate owned by the ruler of Dubai which manages a complex of nine business parks and spearheads the emirate's economic ambitions in information technology, science and education. Almost unimaginable just a generation ago, Rustamani's rise to the highest level of business in a Gulf Arab country underlines a shift in the business environment that is allowing the gradual entry of women into boardrooms and other positions of economic power in the region. "There's always this challenge to fit in and excel but once you prove that you are competent, you will earn society's respect," said Rustamani, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from The George Washington University in Washington DC. More »Women edge into Gulf boardrooms as economies, societies shift

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