RT News

Friday, February 28, 2014

LNG Contract with newly company established by Ex-Motashib Saifur Rahman

NEW TURN IN PURCHASE PRICE OF LNG FOR PAKISTAN FROM THEIR OWN COMPANY HEADED BY THE FRONT MAN MR SAIF UR REHMAN EX-MOTASIB E ALA PAKISTAN SITTING IN YEMEN Heart warming news for the nation, the corrupt government of Pakistan, which came to power through fraudulent means, in the light of hue & cry made by one particular media group (ARY) and public in general has forced these scoundrels to shamelessly reduce previously selected price of 19.5 $ for the purchase of LNG for Pakistan from their own newly established company in Yemen through their front man Ex- Motasib e Ala Mr. Saif ur Rehman, downwards to 16.5 $. The interesting point worth mentioning, that India buys same product from Yemen in 12 .5 $ (including all Kickbacks, Commissions, Cuts etc, etc) and Japan buys at 12.0 $. Now one can imagine easily as to what is going to happen in days to come, and how this gang of corrupt is going to rob mercilessly 180 million down trodden people of Pakistan in the name of sham democracy. Knowledgeable people in the subject believe that including all Kickbacks, Commissions & Cuts the purchase price for LNG delivered in Pakistan should be not more than 11.5 $, because Pakistan happens to be located nearest, then all other purchasers of LNG from Yemen. Thus in a way, still these cruel vultures of Lahore, the so called democrats are planning to rob this poor nation by 4 $ per unit in purchase price only, which as worked out would amount to 400 million dollars per year (depending upon the units agreed to be purchased per year). On top of every thing the tenure of the purchase agreement between the newly established company and Government of Pakistan would be for 15 years, having an inbuilt clause, that if the agreement is terminated before the designated period of time than the Government of Pakistan would have to pay a huge amount in lieu of damages. This deal would certainly leave the Sheikhs of Yemen to learn a lot from these Thugs from Pakistan, who also some time back purchased 49% shares in the largest steel mill of New Zealand out of money looted from Pakistan. This is how son of one foundry owner of Lahore became the richest man in Pakistan, looting the country --- The Nawaz Sharif government. Adnan Khan Unfortunate country ruled by Robbers . Must see this video link placed here under to know as to how the nation is being defrauded by Sharif government to rob its own country by millions of dollars every year and that for 15 years to their personal benefit under disguise of purchase agreement of LNG Gas from a newly established company in Yemen by old Pimp Saif ur Rehamn becoming bed partner of our Sharifs once again putting countrys interest is at stake. Shameless agreement with newly established company of Saifur Rahman is being signed in couple of days to come. Unfortunately, no other channel has raised their voice against back stabbing of the poor people of Pakistan.being committed http://videos.arynews.tv/khara-sach-21-jan-2014/#.Ut-IjpuLCSk.email

Fluor completes RasGas offplot project

Fluor completes RasGas offplot project Article posted by Pipeline Staff. | Sunday, 13 December 2009 08:00 Facebook Twiiter Linked In Email 0 Comments Print This page US engineering specialist Fluor Corporation has completed RasGas Company’s RL3 Common Offplot Projects in Ras Laffan City, Qatar. Fluor began the $1.5 billion project in November 2005. Fluor has said that its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) management scope for the common offplot facilities included power distribution, pipelines, storage tanks utilities and related equipment required to provide common storage and loading operations supporting numerous new liquefied natural gas, gas-to-liquids (GTL) and gas sales projects in Ras Laffan City. Jim Heavner, senior vice president of Fluor’s Energy and Chemicals Group, said: “Over the past three-plus years, our project team has consistently demonstrated engineering and construction excellence on this milestone-driven megaproject for RasGas. “Our project team successfully trained more than 62,000 different workers at the site coming from 40 different countries with peak construction manpower reaching nearly 9,000 workers in January 2008.” ==== WorleyParsons is a dynamic, entrepreneurial, empowered EPCM employing over 40,000 people across 41 countries. With a recognised global reputation as a provider of professional services to the energy, resources and complex process industries, WorleyParsons continues to push the boundaries and extend its capabilities around the world. Headquartered in Australia, we are a global company that prides itself on providing safe and high quality services that exceed our clients' expectations. WorleyParsons strives to be an industry leader in health, safety and environmental performance. Our vision is to achieve zero harm to people and assets, and zero environmental incidents. We select people who share our values, beliefs and commitment to this vision and who demonstrate the expected behaviours, competencies and performance associated with their prospective roles within the company. WorleyParsons Iraq was recently awarded a new project for the Rehabilitation of a facility in Southern Iraq for reduction of flaring and the utilization of the surplus gas. We are the PMO on the world's largest flare reduction project; this project will last for 25 years and has a total budget of $70 billion USD. The project is in the FEED stage. We now urgently require a Sr. Contracts Engineer with a minimum of 15 years' experience that are ready to work in Iraq for a minimum of 12 months. The terms and conditions for this project are attractive and there is longer-term potential for these roles. ==================

Kerry urges Russia to join U.S., allies in helping Ukraine

Kerry urges Russia to join U.S., allies in helping Ukraine Thu, Feb 27 15:56 PM EST WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia on Thursday to join the United States and allies in stabilizing Ukraine and said he would watch closely whether Moscow keeps its word not to interfere in the internal affairs of the former Soviet republic. Kerry's comments came as Ukraine warned Russia about troop movements after armed men seized the parliament in Ukraine's Crime region and raised the Russian flag. Kerry said he spoke by phone on Thursday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who reaffirmed earlier statements by President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Lavrov also underscored that Russian military exercises on the border of Ukraine were previously scheduled and not related to events in Ukraine, Kerry added. "We believe that everybody now needs to step back and avoid any kind of provocations," Kerry said during a news conference with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "We want to see in the next days ahead that the choices Russia makes conform to this affirmation we received today," Kerry said. Moscow has said it will not intervene by force, although its rhetoric since the removal of ally President Viktor Yanukovich by Ukraine's parliament appears to echo that of the run-up to its invasion of Georgia in 2009. Steinmeier welcomed the formation on Thursday of an interim government in Ukraine. He said the government should be given the breathing space to stabilize the country and cautioned that now was not the time to try to pressure it to turn more to the West. "Given the critical situation, it is important that Ukraine is given breathing space, a reprieve, in order to stabilize the situation on the ground," Steinmeier said through an interpreter. "It ought not to be our mission at this particular point in time to draw Ukraine towards the West or to the East." Steinmeier said he would meet the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, on Friday and hoped the institution would move quickly to approve emergency funding for Ukraine, which is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. He said the European Union would likely provide about $1 billion in funding assistance to Ukraine. Kerry said on Wednesday the United States was considering $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine as well as budget support to help its ailing economy. Steinmeier said the international community first needed to assess how much funding Ukraine needed. "We have heard many different figures placed on the table. It is difficult for anyone to give an exact idea how much Ukraine needs (because) Yanukovich has kept the figures hidden under his desk," he added. Both Europe and the United States have insisted that Ukraine must seek an IMF program before they disburse funding to Kiev. An IMF program would include economic reforms to put the country's struggling economy on a sounder footing. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Peter Cooney) =================== Armed standoff in pro-Russian region raises Ukraine tension Fri, Feb 28 02:05 AM EST image 1 of 4 By Alessandra Prentice and Alissa de Carbonnel SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - The United States told Russia to demonstrate in coming days that it was sincere about its promise not to intervene in Ukraine as armed men stormed the regional parliament and hours later others seized the airport in a mainly ethnic Russian region. Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new leadership in Kiev since pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted at the weekend. The region also provides a base for the Russian navy's Black Sea Fleet. Kiev's new rulers said any movement by Russian forces beyond the base's territory would be tantamount to aggression. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had assured him by telephone that Moscow would not intervene militarily in its neighbor. "We believe that everybody now needs to take a step back and avoid any kind of provocations," Kerry said at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "We want to see in the next days ahead that the choices Russia makes conform to this affirmation we received today." The United States pledged its support for the new government in a call on Thursday by Vice President Joe Biden to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk. Yanukovich, who fled Kiev after scores of demonstrators were killed last week, was expected to hold a news conference in Russia on Friday. He has declared he is still Ukraine's president, but has lost support even in regions where the ethnic Ukrainian population mainly speaks Russian as he does. Crimea, which was administered as part of Russia within the Soviet Union until it was transferred to Ukraine in 1954, is a more tendentious question. Separatism there has often flared up at times of tension between Moscow and Kiev. A group of armed men in military uniforms seized the main regional airport in Simferopol, Crimea, Interfax news agency said early on Friday. A day before, unidentified gunmen seized the Crimean parliament and raised a Russian flag. The gunmen issued no demands and police hardly seemed to treat the event as a major security incident. Instead, they casually guarded the building while hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators assembled, including elderly people who danced cheerfully to recordings of Soviet martial music. The regional parliament even managed to hold a session inside the building on Thursday despite the siege, where it voted to stage a referendum on "sovereignty" for Crimea. By the early hours of Friday, police guarding the building would not say what had happened to the gunmen or whether they were even still there. Russia's flag still flew from its roof and lights were on in the windows of its top floor. Oleksander Turchinov, Ukraine's acting president, warned Russia not to move personnel beyond areas permitted by treaty for those using its naval base: "Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory will be seen by us as military aggression," he said. Russia has repeatedly declared it will defend the interests of its citizens in Ukraine, and on Wednesday announced war games near the border involving 150,000 troops on high alert. Kerry said Lavrov told him the war games were pre-planned. Although Moscow says it will not intervene by force, its rhetoric since the removal of its ally Yanukovich has echoed the runup to its invasion of Georgia in 2008, when it sent its troops to protect two self-declared independent regions and then recognized them as independent states. Witness accounts suggest those who captured the Crimean parliament building in the early hours of Thursday were pro-Russian gunmen of some kind. "We were building barricades in the night to protect parliament. Then this young Russian guy came up with a pistol ... we all lay down, some more ran up, there was some shooting and around 50 went in through the window," Leonid Khazanov, an ethnic Russian, told Reuters. "I asked them what they wanted, and they said 'To make our own decisions, not to have Kiev telling us what to do'." Ukraine's new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said the attackers had automatic weapons and machine guns. The regional prime minister said on Thursday he had spoken to the people by telephone, but they had not made any demands or said why they were there. They had promised to call him back but had not done so, he said. With the siege apparently still under way, the regional parliament met in another part of the building and voted to hold its referendum on May 25, the day Ukraine plans to elect a new president to replace Yanukovich. The measure, if passed, would declare Crimea sovereign, with its relationship to the rest of Ukraine governed by treaty. The pro-Russian crowd outside cheered the news. "In three months we will have a chance to choose our future," said Yuri Lukashev, 58, a carpenter standing in a group of other ethnic Russian men outside the building late at night. "We're celebrating our victory. It's a chance for peace in Crimea, guaranteed by Russia." However, elsewhere there was some anger at the invasion of the regional parliament and the flying of the Russian flag.
Alexander Vostruyev, 60, in a leather cap and white beard, said: "It's disgrace that the flag of a foreign country is flying on our parliament ... It's like a man coming home to find his wife in bed with another man."
(Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Bernard Orr and Lisa Shumaker)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

15 German tunnel boring machines for Doha Metro

February 26, 2014 - 3:25:52 am The Minister of Transport H E Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti (centre) with other officials at the Herrenknecht plant in Schwanau. DOHA: The German company Herrenknecht will soon deliver 15 high-tech tunnel boring machines (TBM) for the Doha Metro project. A Qatari delegation, led by the Minister of Transport H E Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti yesterday visited the Herrenknecht plant in Schwanau to have a closer look at the first TBM for the project. Former chancellor Gerhard Schrِoder was also present. TBMs are important for the project as majority of work is done underground, said a senior Qatar Rail official. The delegation of senior representatives of Qatar Rail, the joint venture QDVC/GS Engineering and Construction /Al Darwish Engineering and the Qatari consul inspected the first machine which is ready for use, a statement said yesterday. The minister underscored the importance of the project and said, “Qatar holds its hopes and aspirations for the future in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030. One of the most important elements in fulfilling the vision is infrastructure. We have allocated tremendous resources and a generous budget to upgrade infrastructure, including Qatar Rail’s Doha Metro project.” Engineer Abdulla Abdulaziz Turki Al Subaie, Managing Director, Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail), said, “Qatar Rail has placed full faith in Herrenknecht’s abilities to deliver exceptional quality products with attention to detail; that’s why it has been selected to supply TBMs.” Engineer Saad Ahmed Al Muhannadi, CEO, Qatar Rail said, “TBMs are important for the Doha Metro project as there is minimal interference in the day-to-day life of people working and living in the city as a vast majority of work is done underground with only one point of entry. “The environmental impact is also minimal, with almost no pollutants released into the air or groundwater. A decision will be made soon to determine the best TBM for Qatar’s geological makeup; however, the Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) and Slurry Shield types are most suitable.” Martin Herrenknecht, Founder and Chairman of the board of Herrenknecht AG, thanked the Minister, client representatives and contractors for confidence in German technology. “With our high-tech TMBs and reliability we will contribute everything possible to ensuring Doha gets a metro tunnel system to the highest global standards.” The Lehwaila and Al Wakra EPB shield with a diametre of 7,050mm and a cutting head drive of 1120kW were ordered by QDVC/GS Engineering/Al Darwish. The joint venture is responsible for the construction of the metro section Red Line South. The Red Line will handle the bulk of the national transport and connect the most important stadiums of the World Cup in 2022. As a central line it will also connect the city with the airport and the West Bay Central. For expansion of the first section of the Doha Metro, Herrenknecht will supply 15 EPB shield TBMs. By 2019, they are to drive about 90km of tunnel through the limestone foundation of Doha for the Red Line South, Red Line North and the Green Line. There are plans to complete a second section by 2026. Then the Doha Metro with 93 stations, four lines and over 354km length will connect residential and business centres of the capital with each other and the suburbs. The Peninsula =================== Four more tunnel boring machines arrive for Doha Metro project June 05, 2014 - 6:42:50 am A German-made tunnel boring machine (TBM) being delivered at the Doha Port yesterday. Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) has received four more TBMs for phase one of the Doha Metro project. DOHA: Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) has received four more tunnel boring machines (TBMs) for phase one of the Doha Metro project. The TBMs Al Mayeda, Al Khor, Lehwaila and Al Wakra were manufactured by Germany’s Herrenknecht and will be used for the Red Line North and South Underground projects. TBMs are ideal for Doha; they interfere very little to the vibrant and active city life. Needing only one point of entry, they can tunnel below the city streets, practically unknown to the population above. They are also ideal for longer lengths of uninterrupted tunnelling, as is required for the Doha Metro project, Qatar Rail said yesterday in a press statement. Al Mayeda and Al Khor will be used for the Red Line North Underground. The design and build for the project will be undertaken by a joint venture led by Italy’s Salini Impregilo. Four TBMs (Lebretha, Al Mayeda, Al Khor and Al Bidda) already on site to be assembled) are proposed to bore required tunnels for the Red Line North project. Lehwaila and Al Wakra will be launched for the Red Line South Underground project. The design and build for the project will be undertaken by a joint venture led by the French-Qatari company QDVC Five TBMs (Lehwaila, Al Wakra, Mushaireb, Doha and Al Zubara) will be utilised for the tunnelling on the Red Line South Underground project. Each TBM will travel between 7km and 9km and take about two years to complete their journeys. The TBM average speed will be between 12m/day and 21m/day, depending on ground conditions. Daily excavation quantity will be over 600 cubic metres, with an estimated predicted total excavation quantity of over 5,000,000 cubic metres. Work for Red Line North Underground comprises design and construction of about 13.4km twin-bored tunnel, including seven underground stations, between the proposed Msheireb Underground Station and Doha Golf Course via Doha West Bay. Tunnels will be built at an average depth of about 20 meters below ground. Red Line South Underground extends from Msheireb in the north to Hamad International Airport in the south. Work includes seven underground stations and design and construction of about 14km twin-bored tunnel to be built at an average depth of about 25 meters below ground. Qatar Rail is awaiting the delivery of another 16 TBMs in the coming months, to be utilised between the Red Line North, Red Line South, Green Line and Gold Line Underground projects. The Green Line, a joint venture led by Austria’s PORR Bau, will receive six TBMs, while the Gold Line – recently awarded a design and build contract to a joint venture led by Greece’s Aktor SA – will also receive six TBMs. The Peninsula ======================================

Gas tank on the roof of the outlet explodes

11 die in restaurant blast February 28, 2014 - 5:27:47 am Ministry sets up probe committee At least 11 people were killed and 35 injured, including a woman and a child, in a huge gas tank explosion in a Turkish restaurant in a petrol station complex behind the Landmark Mall yesterday morning. All the dead were Asians, including five Indians, four Nepalese and two Filipinos. The (Istanbul) restaurant building collapsed under the impact of the explosion, which led to the high casualties, the Ministry of Interior said. The cause of the blast was not immediately known. The tank belonged to Woqod. A Woqod official claimed that there was no safety lapse on the part of the company and the tank involved had been properly inspected. The Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani is briefed at the site of the explosion. The Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani visited the site. The Interior Ministry announced the formation of a special committee to investigate the incident. The panel comprises representatives from the ministry, Lekhwiya and Woqod. The blast at 10.12am was the second major incident in Qatar after a fire in Villaggio Mall killed 19 people in 2012. The fatalities yesterday included seven employees of the neighbouring Tasty restaurant, which was also damaged. In a statement, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) said 11 people were killed and 35 injured. The toll was confirmed by the ministry. “Thirty-five patients are being treated at Hamad General Hospital, one of them is in a critical condition, the others are stable,” HMC said. Among those receiving treatment include two female patients — a woman and a child. Those remaining admitted at the hospital include one Qatari, 12 Indians, nine Nepalese, five Pakistanis, two from the Philippines, two from Egypt and one each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Yemen and Tunisia, said HMC. Public Security Director General Staff Major General Saad bin Jassim Al Khulaifi told a press conference in the afternoon that the victims were restaurant staff and customers as well as passers-by. Shrapnel after the explosion scattered 50 meters away. The blast led to a small fire, which was contained swiftly, he said. He added that the deaths occurred due to the explosion rather than a resulting “limited” fire. Preliminary investigations suggested a gas tank on the roof of a Turkish food restaurant and gas cylinders on neighbouring roofs had exploded, the Qatar News Agency reported. Three fire control units, including 15 multifunctional vehicles, were dispatched to the spot. Civil Defence personnel arrived eight minutes after the incident was reported, said Brigadier Hamad Al Duhaimi, Director of Operations at General Directorate of Civil Defence. “Concerned agencies inspected the whole area and searched for the missing people, even at the neighbouring stores and the external areas which were not effected to ensure all are safe in the surrounding areas. All associated agencies are taking part in the investigation to find out the cause of the incident,” said Al Duhaimi. A 60-strong search and rescue team of Lekhwiya used 18 vehicles for the operation. Trained police dogs were also used to look for any victims under the collapsed building. The Technical Director of Woqod, Hajji Al Rumaihi, told the press conference that company officials were at the site isolating gas tanks within the explosion range and protecting them from hazards. “The Woqod conducts periodical inspection of all gas tanks in all restaurants and expert engineers ensure inspection procedures have been carried out by approved companies. We never allow anybody to fix any product that is not approved by Woqod. All equipment of this restaurant and the tank were inspected on January 15. For additional safety, Woqod had fixed a gas detector on the top of the restaurant, beside the tank,” Al Rumaihi said. Staff Maj. Gen. Saad bin Jassim Al Khulaifi said investigation continues and the ministry has asked the Woqod to carry out a technical probe into the blast. He said the committee formed to investigate the explosion will also assess the losses caused by the blast. The Peninsula ============= Gas tank blast: Embassies rush to help victims Click to view full-size picture Ailyn Agonia and Santhosh Chandran Doha EMBASSIES of India, the Philippines and Nepal have promptly come to the aid of the victims of the Istanbul Restaurant explosion. A gas tank blast killed 11 people on Thursday. Speaking to Qatar Tribune on Friday, the Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Crescente Relacion said that the two Filipino nationals admitted to Hamad Hospital are in stable condition. The envoy added that the embassy has extended all the necessary assistance to the family members of the Filipino expatriates Charlie de Castro and Romar Faduhilao who were among the 11 dead. "The next of kin of Faduhilao was already informed. However, de Castro's relatives are yet to be informed. Officials of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration's (OWWA) regional representatives were on their way this morning to the home province of the relatives of de Castro to inform about the accident," the envoy said. When asked about the kind of assistance to be provided by the community's umbrella body, the United Filipino Organizations in Qatar (UFOQ) to the victims, its chairman Engineer Jhun Tabuzo Jr said they still have to confer with the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO-OWWA) on the extent of help they can offer and provide. Meanwhile, a senior official at the Indian Embassy said that the mortal remains of Indian expatriates died in the gas tank blast will be sent back home soon."The formalities are under process. The mortal remains will be sent back to India without any delay after following the necessary documentation and the routine procedure," the official told Qatar Tribune. Among the dead were: Zakaria Padinjare Anakandi from Vadakara in Kozhikode district, Pulikkal Palangad Abul Salam from Malappuram district and Riyas Kizhakkemanoli from Kozhikode in the south Indian state of Kerala. They were all employees of an eatery next to the ill-fated restaurant. The other Indian victims Venkateswarlu Thammala and Sheikh Babu from the state of Andhra Pradesh were at the restaurant for breakfast. After visiting the employer of Sheikh Babu, prominent Indian community member and President of Indian Community Benevolent Forum Karim Abdulla said,"Sheikh Babu, who was working as a driver, was on his way back to his work place from India after vacation. His passport has been damaged in the fire." Two injured Indians were reportedly shifted from emergency department to outpatient department on Friday. A total of nine injured Indian expats were under treatment. Most of them have been discharged. The Embassy of India also conveyed"its heartfelt condolences to the families of all the victims of the tragic gas explosion". The authorities have confirmed the death of five Indian nationals. They have also confirmed that 12 Indian nationals have been treated for injuries. In a statement on Friday, the embassy said that they are in active contact with all concerned for the transportation of the mortal remains of the deceased to their respective native places in India. A prominent member of the Nepali community in Qatar told Qatar Tribune on Friday that Nepalese embassy officials"were in constant touch with the victims and were trying to do their best to help them and their families in this moment of sorrow". A condolence meeting organised by Indian Cultural Centre was also held on Friday. Indian Ambassador to Qatar HE Sanjiv Arora paid his deep condolence and praised the quick rescue operations led by Qatari Prime Minister. Second Secretary of Nepal Embassy Harihar Kant Poudel was also present on the occasion. ============================ Tribune News Network Doha Twenty-six of the 36 people injured in the gas tank explosion at the Istanbul Restaurant near the Landmark Mall on Thursday have been discharged from the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) hospitals after treatment. Only one of the injured is in critical care. In a medical bulletin issued on Friday, HMC Executive Director, Corporate Communications Department, Ali Alkhater said,"A total of 36 patients were received. Twenty were discharged on Thursday and 16 stayed overnight. As of 2pm on Friday, six more were discharged leaving 10 patients in our hospitals." Alkhater said that out of the 10 injured, two are admitted in Al Wakrah Hospital, one in Rumailah and seven in Hamad General Hospital. Two of them are children and the rest are adults. The nationalities of those still in hospital are as follows: Nepali and Pakistani (three each), Filipino (two), Indian and Egyptian (one each). Philippines Ambasssador to Qatar HE Crescente Relacion told Qatar Tribune that the two Filipinos continuing to receive treatment are in stable condition. The Philippines Embassy has rendered the necessary help in the case of Filipinos Charlie de Castro and Romar Faduhilao who died in the incident."The next of kin of Faduhilao have been informed about his death, while the relatives of de Castro are yet to be informed. Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration regional representatives were on their way this morning to the home province of the relatives of de Castro to inform them about the tragedy," the ambassador said. Meanwhile, a senior Indian embassy official said that the bodies of the five Indians who died in the explosion will be sent to India after the formalities are complete. The victims in the accident are Zakaria Padinjare Anakandi from Vadakara in Kozhikode district, Pulikkal Palangad Abul Salam from Malappuram district and Riyas Kizhakkemanoli from Kozhikode in the state of Kerala. The other two victims, Venkateswarlu Thammala and Sheikh Babu, from the state of Andhra Pradesh were having their breakfast at the restaurant at the time of the explosion. The Indian embassy expressed its condolences to the families of all the victims of the tragedy. At a condolence meeting organised at the Indian Cultural Centre on Friday, Ambassador HE Sanjiv Arora expressed appreciation for the rescue operations led by Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani. President of Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) Karim Abdulla said,"Sheikh Babu who was working as a driver had come back to Qatar after his vacation." It was business as usual at the Landmark Mall a day after the gas tank explosion. However, despite being a holiday on Friday the turnout of shoppers was less than usual. Aluminum sheets and police barricades have been erected in the affected area around the petrol station. Entrance to the Landmark Mall has been partially blocked since Thursday. As a result, visitors can access the mall only from the front entrance with the entrances to the west and the rear having been blocked. see also page 2 >> ======================== Report: Four men charged with negligence in deadly Qatar gas blast By: Shabina S. Khatri | 4 hours agoView as "Clean Read" | 24 Comments 182 SHARES Pin It EmailUPrint Peter Kovessy The aftermath of a gas explosion that killed 11 people on Feb. 27, 2014 in Duhail. With reporting from Ankita Menon Qatar’s Public Prosecutor’s office is charging four men with negligence following a gas blast that killed 11 people in February, according to local media reports. The explosion took place at a Turkish restaurant inside of a petrol station complex on Feb. 27, injuring 35 others and destroying several cars and restaurants. An article in Al Raya states that one of the men on trial is a supervisor for Qatar Gas (an expat from Egypt), one is a supervisor for Woqod (an Indian expat) and two others are Turkish employees who worked for Istanbul Restaurant, where the blast originated. Nobody was inside of the Turkish restaurant at the time of the accident, and the majority of those killed and injured were eating at the nearby Tea Time eatery. All the defendants remain in jail as the case gets underway, the Arabic daily reports. Gulf Times translates: “The four persons were charged with negligence in undertaking their work duties, which caused the loss of the lives, severe injury to many, risked the safety of others and caused undue destruction of the material assets of others.” Finding fault Last month, a government inquiry into the deadly accident concluded that the blast was caused by a pizza oven that was not properly turned off. The subsequent leaking liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which is supplied by Woqod, was apparently ignited by the electrical current in the restaurant’s refrigerator, officials said at the time. A fire expert from the Ministry of Interior testified to these findings. According to the prosecutor, missteps made by each defendant include: •The Woqod supervisor failed to tell the company’s distribution department to stop the restaurant’s gas supply as maintenance work was carried out there; •The Qatar Gas supervisor connected the restaurant’s new gas line without seeking a safety compliance certificate; •The restaurant’s baker failed to turn off the gas valve of the oven; and •The restaurant’s accountant did not check to make sure all the gas valves in the restaurant were securely closed. Representatives of Woqod, Qatar Gas, Istanbul Restaurant and the Turkish embassy could not immediately be reached for comment on the case. It is not clear when the next court hearing will be held. Petrol station re-opens Meanwhile, the Q-Mart Petrol Station near the blast is now operational, though the surrounding shops and restaurants remain closed. A staffer at Hot Chicken told Doha News that the eatery will re-open in two to four months, as will several other restaurants that were not badly damaged by the blast. Cleanup efforts are continuing on site, added an employee at the Duhail Quick Service Center, which is inside of the petrol station and operating normally. Thoughts? ========== I thought there was a law that didn't allow gas in restaurants near petrol stations, so surely there is a restaurant owner and government inspector culpable? Or maybe the law was passed after this tragedy? With so many entities, I wonder who will shirking the responsibility of paying blood money to these innocent victims? The accountant thing is odd, maybe he was last to leave the night before??

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bank of America disputes $2.1 billion claim in U.S. fraud suit

پاکستان کی سعودی عرب نواز وہابی حکومت کی بیہودہ وزارت خارجہ کے تمام دعویٰ جھوٹے ثابت ہوگی پاکستان سے ہتھیاروں کی پہلی کھیپ کراچی سےاردن روانہ پاکستان سے تین ہزار ریٹائرڈ فوجی پانچ مارچ کو بشاراسد کے خلاف جنگ میں شرکت کے لئے روانہ ہوں گے۔ روس کی سعودی عرب کو دہشت گردوں کے لئے ہتھیار خریدنے پرسخت تنبہی بعض خبروں سے نشاندہی ہوتی ہے کہ پاکستان سے ہتھیاروں کی پہلی کھیپ اردن منتقل ہوگئی ہے۔ ایک غیر ملکی پشتو سرویس کے نامہ نگار جاوید رشید نے اپنی ایک رپورٹ میں اعلان کیا ہے کہ پاکستان کے صوبے سندھ کے مرکز کراچی سے ایک C 130 طیارے کے ذریعے پاکستان اور سعودی عرب کے درمیان سمجھوتے کے دائرے میں طیارہ و توپ شکن میزائیلوں اور چند قسم کے ریڈاروں کی کھیپ آج اردن منتقل کردی گئی ہے۔ کہا جارہا ہے کہ ایک سمجھوتے کی بنیاد پر کہ جس پر اسلام آباد و ریاض نے دستخط کیئے ہیں پاکستان کے وہ تین ہزار ریٹائرڈ فوجی کہ جو 2010 میں ریٹائرڈ ہوئے ہیں ، پانچ مارچ کو شام کے صدر بشار اسد کی حکومت کے خلاف جاری جنگ میں شرکت کے لئے روانہ ہوں گے۔ یہ ایسی صورت حال میں ہے پاکستان کی وزارت خارجہ کی ترجمان "تسنیم اسلم" اور اس کے وزیر اعظم کے خارجہ امور کے مشیر "سرتاج عزیز" نے اس قسم کی رپورٹوں کو بے بنیاد قرار دیتے ہوئے مسترد کردیا ہے۔ دریں اثناء روس کی وزارت خارجہ نے سعودی عرب کی طرف سے شام میں سرگرم دہشت گردوں کے لئے ہتھیاروں کی خریداری پر شدید تشویش کا اظہار کرتے ہوئے سعودی عرب کو خبردار کیا ہے۔ روسی وزارت خارجہ نے ایک بیان میں کہا ہے کہ سعودی عرب کی طرف سے دہشت گردوں کے لئے طیارہ شکن راکٹوں کی خریداری پر روس کو سخت تشویش لاحق ہے۔ مغربی ذرائع نے اس سے قبل خبر دی تھی کہ سعودی عرب شام میں سرگرم دہشت گردوں کے لئے طیارہ شکن اور ٹینک شکن توپیں خرید رہا ہے۔ سعودی عرب کے حکام نے ابھی تک ان خبروں کی تردید نہیں کی۔ Bank of America disputes $2.1 billion claim in U.S. fraud suit Wed, Feb 26 21:38 PM EST By Jessica Dye NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) said it does not owe the U.S. government the $2.1 billion it is seeking in penalties after a jury found the bank liable for fraud over defective mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit, according to a court filing made on Wednesday. Lawyers for the bank said the government's request "contradicts every pertinent legal principle" and called it a "dramatic departure from reality," the filing stated. Bank of America said in the filing that it should only have to pay the amount it made in profit from selling the loans, which it contended was zero. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment. A spokesperson for Bank of America could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening. A federal jury in New York in October found Bank of America and Rebecca Mairone, a former mid-level executive at Countrywide, each liable for fraud in the civil lawsuit. The case focused on a mortgage lending process at Countrywide, which Bank of America acquired in July 2008, called the "High Speed Swim Lane," or alternatively "HSSL" or "Hustle." The government contended that Countrywide's program emphasized and rewarded employees for the quantity rather than the quality of loans produced and eliminated checklists designed to ensure that loans were sound. Bank of America and Mairone denied wrongdoing. Bank of America has said it was evaluating options for an appeal. Any penalty would be assessed by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff. Prosecutors initially asked for $863.6 million, but later raised the amount to $2.1 billion. In its response on Wednesday, Bank of America said that the U.S. government erred by basing the proposed penalty on its gross "gain" from the loans. Instead, the law requires the penalty amount to be calculated by measuring the bank's "pecuniary gain," or amount of profit that it made from selling the materially defective HSSL loans, the bank said. It estimated that amount to be zero, according to the filing. Oral arguments have been set for March 13. (Editing by Matt Driskill)

What should our focus be? We are told that Shaikan is huge, equivalent to the distance between Heathrow and City Airport.

Author Dalesmann Date posted Wednesday 14:08 Subject What should our focus be? We are told that Shaikan is huge, equivalent to the distance between Heathrow and City Airport. Into this huge anticline we have only drilled 8 wells, which in term of the vast area covered by Shaikan is a very small number on which to assess reserves. A reserve engineer will err on the side of caution. He will calculate the volumes in a small radius around each drilled well and effectively say that within that small radius he can be certain of x million barrels which he assigns the tag P1 (Proven) he will then assign a further figure as P2 (Proven + Probably) and finally a P3 figures (Proven+ probable + possible) The area that is covered by these figures, will be small and so in this first CPR I expect a low number to be assigned to 2P Reserves. That figure is only the beginning, the starting point and that figure will rise over time. Just for emphasis I’ll say it again, this is not a final number. As further development drilling takes place in the spaces between existing wells, this uncertainty due to extreme distances will be resolved. These gaps in understanding will be filled and the 2P figure will rise over time. Determining what lies outside a small circle described around a well bore is a tricky business for the reserve engineer and his reputation will be on the line - hence I expect a conservative report. If connectivity can be proved to his satisfaction between wells then the reserve figure will also rise and this may well be the case for some of the wells at Shaikan, particularly those clustered around PF1. Without this additional insight the reserve engineer has no way of assessing if the intervals between wells are tight or the fracture system is continuous over a large area. He needs to know the properties of the fracture system, its ability to channel oil to the well bore and he needs to assess the possibility of compartmentalization in various far flung areas of the field. (I'm thinking of the Shaikan 6 area) The ultimate 2P figure will undoubtedly rise with time and with production, more insights will be available to the reserve engineer. The depletion rates will become available and these too can be fed into the equation. As an aside John G has said that the depletion rates at SH1 have been minimal – good news. Add into this mix the application of enhanced recovery methods and the 2P reserves WILL rise. Shell raised a 0.3% RF to 30% in tight fractured carbonates in Oman using steam injection. In conclusion to this section of my post I'm not at all worried about a lowish reserve figure as it is just the starting point. The figure is needed for listing. This figure also allows a considerable amount of reserve based lending to be available to the company. As well as reserves a CPR will also allocate contingent/ prospective resources. Reserves, Contingent and Prospective resources all require a recovery factor to be applied and this will be the first time that a definitive RF will have been produced. Both CR and PR will have a value, which can be also be applied to GKP. The reserve figure will in addition allows a considerable amount of reserve based lending to be available to the company should it be needed. Indeed the current talk about these first reserve figures is actually a distraction. We are at the beginning of the race towards the prize. The reserve figures will be considerably greater in the future and will increase as many more wells are sunk. Look at the figures for DNO. Their reserve figures have been dramatically elevated over time as development wells were drilled. As DNO has moved to drilling horizontal wells, DNO have also been increasing production. It is this increase in production that should be the focus for GKP PI’s, not reserves. In addition (IMHO), we have not yet been given the final OIP numbers for Shaikan. Nothing has ever been quantified for the cretaceous and additional areas to the NW I believe have still not been included in the final figures. 21 billion OIP is IMO a distinct possibility and any such addition will lift the final valuation. A major will have its own valuation and IMHO it will be applying figures for forward production and what it believes it can elevate that production over the length of the contract (which I think it would re negotiate) including the application of ERM. I therefore don’t see a low ball CPR as a problem. What we SHOULD be focusing on is the RISING production figs. 20,000 to 40,000 to 100,000 and on to 250,000 bopd +. In all this talk about reserves these figures are conveniently being lost and yet it is the production figures that should be the prime focus for investors. The reserve figures are only part of the mechanism for listing to be achieve. Concentrate on the rising production and you then get a truer valuation of the company, and a greater understanding of the potential that GKP offers to its shareholders. Kind regards Dalesmann

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox goes dark in blow to virtual currency

Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox goes dark in blow to virtual currency By Ruairidh Villar, Sophie Knight and Brett Wolf TOKYO/ST LOUIS Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:22pm EST Mock Bitcoins are displayed on a table in an illustration picture taken in Berlin in this January 7, 2014 file photo. Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, looked to have essentially disappeared on February 25, 2014, with its website down, its founder unaccounted for and a Tokyo office empty bar a handful of protesters saying they had lost money investing in the virtual currency. Credit: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski/File Related VideoProtests after bitcoin exchange disappears 8:33am EST Mt.Gox's Bitcoin security breach isolated: NYU's Sundararajan 1:56pm EST Digital doubts after Bitcoin debacle 5:37pm ESTFactboxWhat is bitcoin and how does it work? 6:47pm ESTRelated NewsMt. Gox receives subpoena from federal prosecutor: WSJ 9:21pm ESTRelated TopicsTech » TOKYO/ST LOUIS (Reuters) - Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, abruptly stopped trading on Tuesday and its chief executive said the business was at "a turning point," sparking concerns about the future of the unregulated virtual currency. Several other digital currency exchanges and prominent early-stage investors in bitcoin responded with forceful statements in an attempt to reassure investors of both bitcoin's viability and their own security protocols. The website of Mt. Gox suddenly went dark on Tuesday with no explanation, and the company's Tokyo office was empty - the only activity was outside, where a handful of protesters said they had lost money investing in the virtual currency. Hours later, Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles told Reuters in an email: "We should have an official announcement ready soon-ish. We are currently at a turning point for the business. I can't tell much more for now as this also involves other parties." He did not elaborate on the details or give his location. Bitcoin has gained increasing acceptance as a method of payment and has attracted a number of large venture capital investors. At a current price of about $517, the total bitcoins in circulation are worth approximately $6.4 billion. Investors deposit their bitcoins in digital wallets at specific exchanges, so the Mt. Gox shutdown is similar to a bank closing its doors - people cannot retrieve their funds. A document circulating on the Internet purporting to be a crisis plan for Mt. Gox, said more than 744,000 bitcoins were "missing due to malleability-related theft", and noted Mt. Gox had $174 million in liabilities against $32.75 million in assets. It was not possible to verify the document or the exchange's financial situation. If accurate, that would mean approximately 6 percent of the 12.4 million bitcoins minted would be considered missing. A statement on Bitcoin's website said, "In the event of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox's operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly." The digital currency has caught the eye of regulators concerned with consumer protections and bitcoin's use in money laundering. Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services for the State of New York, said in a statement, that while all of the facts surrounding Mt. Gox are "not yet clear, these developments underscore that smart, tailored regulation could play an important role in protecting consumers and the security of the money that they entrust to virtual currency firms." Lawsky said last month that he planned to issue rules for businesses handling virtual currencies. SECURITY QUESTIONS Mt. Gox halted withdrawals earlier this month after it said it detected "unusual activity on its bitcoin wallets and performed investigations during the past weeks." The move pushed bitcoin prices down to their lowest level in nearly two months. Even with the halt on February 7, Mt. Gox still handled more transactions than any other in the past month. Over the last 30 days, Mt. Gox has handled more than one million bitcoin transactions denominated in dollars, or about 34 percent of activity, according to Bitcoincharts, which provides data and charts for the bitcoin network. Critics of the exchange, from rivals to burned investors, said the digital marketplace operator had long been lax over its security. Investors in bitcoin, who have endured a volatile ride in the value of the unregulated cyber-tender, said they still had faith in the currency despite the problems at Mt. Gox. "Mt. Gox is one of several exchanges, and their exit, while unfortunate, opens a door of opportunity," The Bitcoin Foundation, the digital currency's trade group, said in a statement. "This incident demonstrates the need for responsible individuals and members of the bitcoin community to lead in providing reliable services." United Kingdom-based Bitstamp, the second-largest bitcoin exchange by volume, said on its website that it had done an audit of its systems and that it was not subject to the same kind of "malleability" that "was apparently exploited at Mt. Gox." Similarly, BTC-E, another exchange, assured investors that it has "no vulnerabilities during client transactions." "VERY ANGRY" Bitcoin has been a roller-coaster of late, rising and falling dramatically, sometimes on an intraday basis, and its price varies greatly depending on the exchange. The program that runs the currency has been the target of hackers disrupting transactions recently. The Mt. Gox bitcoin, which traded at $828.99 before February 7, when the exchange halted withdrawals, since plunged 83.7 percent to $135. At Bitstamp, the price hit a low of $400 on Tuesday, down 40 percent since February 7. It had recovered lately to $517. Bitstamp has had more than 800,000 U.S. dollar transactions in the last 30 days, according to Bitcoincharts. In the last two days, Bitstamp has handled more volume than Mt. Gox. Mt. Gox was a founding member and one of the three elected industry representatives on the board of the Bitcoin Foundation. A bitcoin exchange since 2010, Mt. Gox is a relatively old player, having grown quickly when there were few alternatives. On Sunday Karpeles resigned from the Foundation's board. "I'm very angry," said Kolin Burges, a self-styled "crypto-currency trader" and former software engineer who came from London for answers after Mt. Gox did not tell him what happened to his bitcoins, which at one point were worth $300,000. Six leading bitcoin exchanges - which allow users to trade bitcoins for U.S. dollars and other currencies - distanced themselves from Mt. Gox.
"This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt. Gox was the result of one company's actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry," the companies - Coinbase, Kraken, Bitstamp, BTC China, Blockchain and Circle - said in the statement. "As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we're seeing today."
Venture capitalists, many of whom have invested in bitcoin and related services, jumped to bitcoin's defense. Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures and a backer of Coinbase, which allows consumers to easily buy and sell bitcoins with wallets directly connected to their bank accounts, wrote in a blog post that part of the maturation of a sector "will inevitably be failures, crashes, and other messes." "The wonderful thing about a globally distributed financial network is that if one of the nodes goes down, it doesn't take the system down," he wrote, adding that he had bought some bitcoin on Tuesday.
"I always feel good buying when there is blood in the streets in any market."
Marc Andreessen, whose venture capital firm has invested millions in bitcoin ventures, told CNBC that other exchanges are doing fine. In Boston, Kyle Powers and Chris Yim, co-founders of Liberty Teller, a company that operates a bitcoin automated teller machine, answered customers' questions at their kiosk in South Station Tuesday. Yim said he expects a price dip in bitcoin, but no long-term problems with the currency. TEETHING PROBLEMS
Virtual currency exchanges "stand to benefit from the Mt. Gox fallout," but there will be "increased expectations on the transparency and disclosures they need to make to customers," said Jaron Lukasiewicz, co-founder and chief executive of Coinsetter, a New York-based bitcoin exchange.
Steve Hudak, spokesman for Treasury's anti-money laundering unit, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), said it is "aware of the reports regarding Mt. Gox" but had no additional comment. To date it is the only U.S. regulatory agency to have any oversight of Mt. Gox. Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement that Mt. Gox "is a reminder of the damage potentially ill equipped and unregulated financial actors can wreak on unsuspecting consumers. U.S. policymakers and regulators can and should learn from this incident to protect consumers." Karpeles himself, while insisting on his own exchange's reliability, has made no secret that bitcoin is, as he told Reuters last April, a "high-risk investment." "If you buy bitcoins, you should buy keeping in mind that the value could be zero the day after." The concierge at his home - an upscale apartment in the Shibuya district - said he was not answering his intercom. His mailbox was so stuffed with mail that the flap would not close. (Reporting by Ruairidh Villar and Sophie Knight in Tokyo, and Brett Wolf of the Compliance Complete service of Thomson Reuters Accelus in St. Louis; Additional reporting by Cheng Herng Shinn, Stanley White and Noriyuki Hirata in Tokyo, Dominic Reuter in Boston, Sarah McBride in San Francisco, Karen Freifeld in New York, and Chris Peters in Bangalore; Writing by William Mallard and David Gaffen; Editing by Ian Geoghegan and Tiffany Wu) =============

With its extraordinary $19 billion swoop on WhatsApp last week, Facebook proved its stock is not so different from the crypto-currency of the moment, bitcoin. They can both be used for certain, specific purposes. Neither is backed by a government. Both depend on vast networks of individuals. And their worth reflects demand, which is based on murky fundamentals. The trick: monetize them while they still have value.

Unlike U.S. dollars, neither Facebook shares nor bitcoins are an official form of legal tender. But some people are willing to accept them as payment. A prominent example is WhatsApp’s founders and financial backers, who happily exchanged their stakes in the text-messaging startup for Facebook stock worth $15 billion. Yet Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, would have struggled to purchase a coffee with his shares at the German bakery where he and WhatsApp Chief Executive Jan Koum appear to have hatched the deal.

Similarly, bitcoin enjoys no universal acceptance. True, at Bandana’s Bar-B-Q in Coralville, Iowa the currency will buy a slab of ribs. But it will not get a Big Mac at any of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. outlets. Bitcoin is not money as most people understand it. There is no Department of the Treasury controlling its issuance or value. It is backed only by mathematics, and its total stock is limited at 21 million virtual coins.

In that sense, bitcoin is only as useful as the network of people and businesses that are willing to accept it in exchange for goods and services. It goes without saying that a similar “network effect” underpins Facebook’s entire existence.

There is one big difference. Unlike bitcoin, Facebook’s share count can expand. Last week, it issued 182 million new shares and 46 million restricted stock units to WhatsApp’s owners, adding some 9 percent to the total of shares outstanding. Such share-printing could undermine the share’s value, just as governments debase their currencies by printing too much money. Of course, Facebook does something – it’s not merely a putative store of value like bitcoin. So it can grow into its larger equity base.

The risk for Facebook and bitcoin, respectively, is that someone creates a better social network or decentralized digital currency. History suggests both will happen - innovators almost never retain their dominant positions ad infinitum. Indeed, there are signs this may already be occurring.

So far, Facebook shareholders are happy with their dilution. The stock price rose on the purchase of an upstart with no financial track record on which to judge its future success within Facebook. However, the acquisition makes Zuckerberg look fearful. Although Facebook’s business is robust today, it seems that it must make big, near-blind wagers on the next big thing, lest it lose its edge.

The fundamental value of bitcoin is incredibly tricky to pin down. According to the MIT Technology Review, bitcoin was four times more volatile in 2013 than the average stock, and the dollar-bitcoin exchange rate was 10 times more volatile than the dollar rate with major currencies like the euro or yen.

What’s not hard to recognize: bitcoin’s worth has nearly halved since the beginning of December. Whatever the similarities, or differences, between the pseudo-currencies of Facebook shares and bitcoins are, their values are clearly not fixed. Next to selling them, the wisest course of action would be to capitalize on their value. Zuckerberg just did that with Facebook stock in the WhatsApp deal.

Bitcoins created by enthusiast Mike Caldwell are seen in a photo illustration at his office in Sandy, Utah, in this September 17, 2013 file photo. Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, looked to have essentially disappeared on February 25, 2014, with its website down, its founder unaccounted for and a Tokyo office empty bar a handful of protesters saying they had lost money investing in the virtual currency. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/Files A mock Bitcoin is displayed on a table in an illustration picture taken in Berlin January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski Mock Bitcoins are displayed on a table in an illustration picture taken in Berlin in this January 7, 2014 file photo. Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, looked to have essentially disappeared on February 25, 2014, with its website down, its founder unaccounted for and a Tokyo office empty bar a handful of protesters saying they had lost money investing in the virtual currency. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/File ===============

Imagine that the leading stockbroker in a country closed its doors without giving any reason. Its clients would be in a panic and customers of rival firms would be very nervous. That is exactly what has happened to bitcoin, the leading pseudo-currency.

The website of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo disappeared from cyberspace on Tuesday morning, with no explanation provided. The exchange had previously admitted to problems with “transaction malleability,” a bitcoin-world euphemism for susceptibility to hacking.

Internet chat was intense. What looks like an internal memo from the company was circulating the web, stating that there had been thefts from accounts that Mt. Gox customers had assumed were perfectly safe. It is not clear whether the document is genuine. The price of bitcoin on other exchanges dropped 8 percent, down 55 percent from last November’s all-time high, according to bitcoinaverage.com.

If Mt. Gox were an officially licensed broker, the government would be the first port of call. The relevant authorities would investigate and might even make good on some losses under a taxpayer- or industry-funded compensation scheme. Of course, if Mt. Gox had to meet government-mandated security standards, it might not have been allowed to operate without correcting a software vulnerability identified as far back as 2011.

But bitcoin’s central appeal is that it is free from government interference. That is not quite true, since bitcoin cannot make illegal activity legal. Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem was an industry leader until his January indictment for attempting to use the techno-currency to launder money.

Still, the distance from the official world is great enough that Mt. Gox customers are almost totally on their own. The purported internal memo suggests that other bitcoin fans might help out, so as to salvage the would-be financial asset’s reputation. That’s a thin reed to cling to.

The expensive regulation and political backstops of conventional money are far from foolproof – look at the recently released Federal Reserve minutes from 2008 to see dysfunction in action. But the system is better than any known alternative, including one based on sophisticated software algorithms.

"The pseudo-currency’s main exchange has disappeared from cyberspace, leaving customers at least temporarily bereft. Bitcoin’s supposed attraction is being government-free. When things go awry, users learn why conventional finance has expensive regulation and political backstops." Reuters: Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox disappears in blow to virtual currency

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How on earth can Facebook justify WhatsApp price?

How on earth can Facebook justify WhatsApp price? | Considered View | Breakingviews
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Sunday, 23 February 2014


How on earth can Facebook justify WhatsApp price?

For mere mortals who haven’t partaken in whatever Kool-Aid Mark Zuckerberg is serving at Facebook’s Hacker Way headquarters, is there any way to justify the $19 billion it is paying for WhatsApp?

It takes extraordinary suspension of disbelief – and a new Breakingviews calculator – to see how the social network can bring the messaging startup’s valuation in line with its own.

How could Facebook justify WhatsApp's price tag?

Any fact-based analysis is handicapped by a paucity of hard numbers. WhatsApp says it has 450 million active users and is adding 1 million new users per day. The app is free for 12 months, after which it costs $1 a year. WhatsApp doesn’t say what proportion of its customers pay. What’s clear, however, is that it has, for the time being, no other sources of revenue: WhatsApp has foresworn advertising.

Say Zuckerberg is right and WhatsApp reaches 1 billion users by 2016. Costs are probably low: rival Viber, which has fewer users, spent around $30 million in 2013. Assume WhatsApp, which has about 50 employees, currently spends $50 million on overhead, servers and bandwidth this year. Maybe that rises to $75 million by 2016.

If the ban on advertising remains, WhatsApp’s valuation boils down to how many customers will pay and how much they’ll spend. At the moment, the proportion is probably low. If WhatsApp is to justify its price tag, it needs to increase both.

Over time, if it could convince a tenth of users to pay, it would equate to 100 million people. At $1 a month – well above today’s $1 a year charge – it would yield net income of $675 million in 2016. That’s equivalent to 28 times Facebook’s purchase price, the same multiple the market puts on the social network’s stock. Equally, if an improbable 800 million people pay $1.50 a year, the valuation could also stack up.

Charging a bit for messaging sounds plausible, especially if it undercuts existing mobile phone charges. But such apps are ubiquitous and the barriers to switching relatively low. The financial logic for buying WhatsApp can be modeled, but requires a big quaff from Zuckerberg’s punchbowl.

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Facebook on Feb. 19 said it had reached an agreement to buy mobile messaging service WhatsApp for up to $19 billion in cash and stock. The social network led by Mark Zuckerberg is paying $4 billion in cash, about $12 billion in Facebook shares and $3 billion in restricted stock units, to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees, that will vest over four years.

WhatsApp, founded in 2009, says it has over 450 million people using its service each month, 70 percent of whom are active on any given day.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chairman and chief executive, said he believed that WhatsApp was on track to hit 1 billion users.

WhatsApp charges users $1 a year to use the application, after a one-year free period. The company declined to say how many customers pay the fee.

Why More Americans Are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

Why More Americans Are Renouncing U.S. Citizenship by Ari Shapiro February 20, 2014 3:42 AM number of U.S. citizens renouncing their American citizenship spiked to 3,000 last year, up from about 500 in earlier years. While reasons vary from person to person, a U.S. tax law passed in 2010 has complicated life for many Americans living abroad. David Sucsy/iStockphoto The number of U.S. citizens renouncing their American citizenship spiked to 3,000 last year, up from about 500 in earlier years. While reasons vary from person to person, a U.S. tax law passed in 2010 has complicated life for many Americans living abroad. David Sucsy/iStockphoto A few times a year, the Treasury Department publishes a long list of names announcing all of the Americans who have lately abandoned their U.S. citizenship. According to the legal website International Tax Blog, the number hovered around 500 a decade ago. Last year, it hit a record high of nearly 3,000. This was not a gradual change. It was a sudden spike. It's a story of dominoes falling, one after another, leading to an unexpected outcome. The first domino fell in 2008, when federal prosecutors accused the Swiss bank UBS of helping wealthy Americans hide their money tax-free in overseas accounts. It was a big case, leading to indictments, fines and prison time. The U.S. Congress wanted to make sure it didn't happen again. During the economic recession, lawmakers saw a chance to bring in massive sums of money and stop tax cheats at the same time. "They just found UBS in a terrible scheme to encourage tax evasion," Barney Frank, the Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, told NPR in 2009. "I think there are clearly tens of billions that can be recovered there." The next year, in 2010, Congress passed the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act. The law affects every foreign bank that does business with the U.S. And not just banks: It also applies to retirement accounts, mutual funds, and more. Renouncing citizenship is not as easy as throwing a passport onto the fire. It's a lengthy process, involving interviews, paperwork and legal procedures. So people who do it generally have a compelling motivation. And while individual reasons for renouncing may vary from person to person, experts in the field say the recent dramatic spike has more to do with the 2010 tax law than any other factor. Wisconsin financial adviser David Kuenzi works with Americans overseas who are affected by the law. "[Congress] said to all of these institutions, 'You need to follow this set of criteria to determine all of the Americans who are your clients," says Kuenzi, "and you need to report directly to us on their holdings.' " Shut Out Of Foreign Banks Foreign banks looked at the new law and decided that the regulations would be a huge hassle. Many of them decided to wash their hands of American account-holders. "They canceled the accounts of just about every American in Europe," says retiree John Mainwaring, "including me." Seventy-year-old Mainwaring grew up in Ohio, served in the U.S. Army, and has lived in Munich, Germany, for about 40 years. After his old German banks kicked him out, he tried to find new ones that would take him in. "I went everywhere," he says, "to every bank in Germany. The problem is, the ones here don't deal with Americans." Congress wanted to catch tax cheats. But the net also snagged Americans whose foreign bank accounts let them pay their bills in the countries they now call home. U.S. Taxes Americans, No Matter Where They Live The United States is very unusual in this respect. Most countries in the world don't tax their citizens living abroad. So, for example, a Spaniard living in Canada won't pay Spanish taxes. Instead, he'll pay Canadian taxes. But the U.S. taxes American citizens wherever they are in the world. "If I can compare it to romance, I say the U.S. is like Fatal Attraction," says Suzanne Reisman, a lawyer in London who advises Americans abroad. "Once they've got you, they never let you go. You have to renounce your citizenship, or you have to die." So today, Americans who don't like the Fatal Attraction relationship are giving up their U.S. citizenship in record numbers. In Switzerland, so many people want to renounce their citizenship that the U.S. Embassy actually has a waiting list. "I want to be clear: It's not about a dollar value of taxes that I don't want to pay," says Brian Dublin, a businessman who lives near Zurich. "It's about the headache associated with the regulations, filing in the U.S., and then having financial institutions in the rest of the world turn me away." Dublin says he is ready to renounce, despite the ties he feels to the country of his birth. "I grew up in America. I love my country. But I just feel that the current regulations are onerous." Officials from the Treasury Department, the State Department, the IRS and Congress spoke on background for this story. None would talk on tape. They all generally agree on the facts of the situation. Even so, there is very little pressure to change it. As one Senate staffer pointed out, nobody in Congress represents overseas Americans. And government officials think this law is succeeding at catching the tax cheats. That may be worth the side effect of losing a few thousand American citizens every year. ​26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report Published time: February 28, 2014 22:55 Get short URL AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson Tags Corporate news, Global economy, USA Twenty-six of the most powerful American corporations – such as Boeing, General Electric, and Verizon – paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report detailing how Fortune 500 companies exploit tax breaks and loopholes. The report, conducted by public advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), focuses on the 288 companies in the Fortune 500 that registered consistent profit every year from 2008 to 2012. Those 288 profitable corporations paid an “effective federal income tax rate of just 19.4 percent over the five-year period — far less than the statutory 35 percent tax rate,” CTJ states. One-third, or 93, of the analyzed companies paid an effective tax rate below 10 percent in that timespan, CTJ found. Defenders of low corporate taxes call the US federal statutory rate of 35 percent one of the highest companies face in any nation. But the report signals how the most formidable corporate entities in the US take advantage of tax breaks, loopholes, and accounting schemes to keep their effective rates down. “Tax subsidies for the 288 companies over the five years totaled a staggering $364 billion, including $56 billion in 2008, $70 billion in 2009, $80 billion in 2010, $87 billion in 2011, and $70 billion in 2012,” CTJ states. “These amounts are the difference between what the companies would have paid if their tax bills equaled 35 percent of their profits and what they actually paid.” Just 25 of the 288 companies kept tax breaks of $174 billion out of the $364 billion total. Wells Fargo received the largest amount of tax subsidies - $21.6 billion - in the five-year period. The banking giant was joined in the top ten on that list by the likes of AT&T, ExxonMobil, J.P Morgan Chase, and Wal-Mart. AFP Photo / Etienne Franchi AFP Photo / Etienne Franchi About 1 in 11 of the 288 companies paid a zero percent effective federal income tax rate in the five years considered. Pepco Holdings – which supplies utility services to Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey – paid a cumulative five-year effective rate of -33 percent, the lowest of any company in that period. In fact, utilities came out particularly well among other industries. Reuters / Jonathan Ernst Reuters / Jonathan Ernst “The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the five-year period were utilities (2.9 percent), industrial machinery (4.3 percent), telecommunications (9.8 percent), oil, gas and pipelines (14.4 percent), transportation (16.4 percent), aerospace and defense (16.7 percent) and financial (18.8 percent),” CTJ reported. CTJ said the companies are allowed to pay such low federal rates based on factors that include offshore tax sheltering, accelerated asset depreciation based on continued investment, stock options, and industry-specific tax breaks. “Of those corporations in our sample with significant offshore profits, two thirds paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate than they paid in the U.S. on their U.S. profits,” according to CTJ. The non-profit group says this lax taxation climate among the most powerful US corporations comes amid an aggressive push by lobby and trade groups on Capitol Hill “to reduce the federal corporate income tax rate, based on the claim that our corporate tax is uncompetitively high compared to other developed nations.” Just this week, US House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R) introduced a tax reform proposal that would lower the maximum federal effective tax rate to 25 percent. Though, tellingly, this aspect of the plan – among other attempts at bipartisan consensus in the proposal – renders it no chance of even getting a hearing in the Republican-dominated House during a mid-term election year, when such a conciliatory offering can be used as a cudgel against disapproving conservatives. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla) House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla) Companies have already disputed CTJ’s report, saying that the study only looks at federal income taxes while ignoring other tax burdens they face, such as on the state and local level. In addition, the companies say low effective rates are part of congressional attempts to offer tax relief to corporate America in order to create larger economic opportunity. To reverse low corporate federal tax rates, CTJ recommends Congress end corporations’ ability to "defer" taxes on offshore profits; limit use of executive stock options that reduce taxes by "generating phantom 'costs'” the companies don't really incur; end accelerated depreciation opportunities; restore the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax; and strengthen corporate income and tax disclosure regulations. “These findings refute the prevailing view inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway that America’s corporate income tax is more burdensome than the corporate income taxes levied by other countries, and that this purported (but false) excess burden somehow makes the U.S. ‘uncompetitive,’” CTJ concluded.