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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Hungary Bank deputy chief resigns

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The deputy governor of the Hungarian central bank resigns in protest at changes to the way the bank operates.

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Protesters demonstrate against eurozone bailout deal outside Cyprus parliament – video

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Hundreds protest outside parliament in Cyprus

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No Dash for Gas campaigners set up anti-EDF website

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Members of pressure group who occupied energy firm’s plant in West Burton last year urge switch to smaller, greener suppliers

A group of environmental campaigners being sued for £5m by energy company EDF for occupying one of the company’s power plants in October last year has launched a website encouraging EDF customers to switch to alternative providers as a gesture of opposition to the civil action.

Members of the campaign group “No Dash for Gas” occupied EDF’s gas-fired power plant in West Burton for a week in October last year, protesting against fossil fuels and carbon emissions. Last month, 21 activists pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated trespass, and face possible custodial terms when they are sentenced later this month and in April.

Separately, EDF initiated civil proceedings against 21 of the campaigners to recoup what it says were damages in excess of £5m caused by the protest, a figure that includes staff and labour costs, delays to the completion of the station, specialist security and lost carbon emission credits.

The parents of one of the campaigners started a Change.org petition against the civil action two weeks ago, which has attracted more than 63,000 signatures, including those of Naomi Klein, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins and Mark Ruffalo.

Supporters have created a stand-alone website, EDF*off, promoted via social media, giving their perspective on the case and encouraging readers to switch to small, green energy providers as a result of the civil action. The site claims the civil action is an attempt to stifle protest: “The civil lawsuit represents just 10 hours’ profit for EDF, yet could result in protesters losing their homes and being saddled with lifelong debts,” it claims. “It’s a tactic to deter more people from taking urgently needed action on climate change.”

The move follows messages left on Facebook and Twitter from people claiming to be EDF customers incensed at the move.

One Twitter user warned EDF they were “losing 5 business contracts with us for life because you’re attempting to sue those protesters”, while several dozen Facebook users wrote on EDF’s wall to say they were switching away from the provider in the days after details of the civil action were first published in the Guardian.

EDF said it supports the right to protest, but said a civil action against protesters was necessary.

“EDF Energy supports the right to lawful protest and respects differing points of view. However, the consequences of this illegal activity put lives at risk, caused considerable disruption to the site during its construction, and considerable financial losses,” said a spokesman. “It is important that those considering this kind of action understand that they may face consequences through civil action for the damage, cost and disruption they cause.”

Kerry will call on Egypt leaders to reform and unlock IMF cash

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US Secretary of State set to urge bickering leaders to end the political chaos that is blocking a large international loan

US Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on Egyptian leaders and opposition politicians to forge a political consensus that will allow the country to emerge from economic crisis. Kerry, who is on his first overseas trip as a member of Barack Obama’s cabinet, was scheduled to meet a number of opposition figures and Egypt’s foreign minister on Saturday. He will see President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday.

US officials said Kerry was particularly concerned that Egypt should make the reforms necessary to qualify for a $4.8bn International Monetary Fund loan package. One official said it was extremely important for the new Egypt for there to be a firm economic foundation, which required reaching agreement with the IMF. To get that Egypt must make reforms, like increasing tax collections and curbing energy subsidies.

Agreement with the IMF would also unlock significant US assistance, including portions of the $1bn that president Obama pledged last April. Getting the IMF deal will also be contingent on an end to the political chaos that has wracked the country since Morsi’s election. Kerry will press for all political players to come to a basic agreement on the country’s direction ahead of parliamentary elections that begin in April, the official said.

Liberal and secular Egyptians have complained that Washington is siding with Morsi’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood. The main opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has said it will boycott the upcoming elections. The US official said Kerry would not tell the front what to do, but would stress that they should participate if they want their ideas and values heard and represented. At the same time, the official said Kerry would impress on Morsi the need for inclusiveness and tolerance.

The visit by the US state secretary was marked by protest on Saturday. In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a small group of anti-Morsi demonstrators held banners reading: “Kerry – member of the Brotherhood” and “Kerry, you are not welcome here”. The protests in the capital were largely peaceful. However, unrelated demonstrations Saturday in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura saw clashes in which at least one person died. Meanwhile in Port Said, a mob torched a police station, according to security sources.

Egypt has been locked in political crisis for months, amid waves of protests against Morsi that have repeatedly turned into deadly clashes and rioting. The opposition accuses the president and the Brotherhood, from which he hails, of dominating power in Egypt, effectively stepping in to the same role as the ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak and failing to carry out reforms while seeking to instill a more religiously conservative system. Morsi’s administration and the Brotherhood say their opponents are trying to use street unrest to overturn their rule.

Kerry’s visit to Egypt is the sixth leg of a nine-nation dash through Europe and the Middle East. He will travel next to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Iberia workers begin five-day strike

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Workers at the Spanish airline Iberia have begun a five-day strike in protest at planned job cuts and salary reductions.

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Thousands march in Spain against education cuts – video

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Students, teachers and union members take to Spain’s streets on Thursday to protest against government plans for cuts to the public education system

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Federal Reserve hacked

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US central bank confirms intrusion after hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen 4,000 bankers’ details

The US Federal Reserve bank has confirmed one of its internal websites was broken into by hackers after the Anonymous group was claimed to have stolen details of more than 4,000 bank executives.

“The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product,” a spokeswoman for the US central bank said.

“Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system,” the spokeswoman said, adding that all individuals effected by the breach had been contacted.

The admission follows a claim that hackers linked to the hacktivist group Anonymous struck the bank on Sunday. The technology news site ZDNet separately reported that Anonymous appeared to have published information said to containing the login information, credentials, internet protocol addresses and contact information of more than 4,000 US bankers.

The claim was made via Twitter using an account registered to OpLastResort, which is linked to Anonymous, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on other government and corporate sites.

OpLastResort is a campaign some hackers linked to Anonymous have started to protest against government prosecution of the computer prodigy Aaron Swartz, who killed himself on 11 January.

The bank declined to identify which website had been hacked. But information it provided to bankers indicated that the site, which was not public, was a contact database for banks to use during a natural disaster.

A copy of the message sent by the bank to members of its Emergency Communication System (ECS) and obtained by Reuters warned that mailing address, business phone, mobile phone, business email and fax numbers had been published. “Some registrants also included optional information consisting of home phone and personal email. Despite claims to the contrary, passwords were not compromised,” the bank said.

The website’s purpose is to allow bank executives to update the Fed if their operations have been flooded or otherwise damaged in a storm or other disaster. That helps the bank assess the overall impact of the event on the banking system.

Hackers identifying themselves as Anonymous infiltrated the US sentencing commission website in late January to protest against the government’s treatment of Swartz.

Swartz was charged with using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s computer networks to steal more than 4m articles from Jstor, an online archive and journal distribution service. He faced a maximum sentence of 31 years if convicted.

Women’s rights activists protest at Davos – in pictures

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Activists from the Ukrainian-based group Femen stage a topless protest for women’s rights at the 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

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Our protest must shortcircuit the fossil fuel interests blocking Barack Obama | Bill McKibben

Category : Business

The pace of climate change action promised by this pragmatic president is just too slow to tackle the physics of global warming

Change usually happens very slowly, even once all the serious people have decided there’s a problem. That’s because, in a country as big as the United States, public opinion moves in slow currents. Since change by definition requires going up against powerful established interests, it can take decades for those currents to erode the foundations of our special-interest fortresses.

Take, for instance, “the problem of our schools”. Don’t worry about whether there actually was a problem, or whether making every student devote her school years to filling out standardized tests would solve it. Just think about the timeline. In 1983, after some years of pundit throat clearing, the Carnegie Commission published “A Nation at Risk”, insisting that a “rising tide of mediocrity” threatened our schools. The nation’s biggest foundations and richest people slowly roused themselves to action, and for three decades we haltingly applied a series of fixes and reforms. We’ve had Race to the Top, and Teach for America, and charters, and vouchers, and … we’re still in the midst of “fixing” education, many generations of students later.

Even facing undeniably real problems – say, discrimination against gay people – one can make the case that gradual change has actually been the best option. Had some mythical liberal supreme court declared, in 1990, that gay marriage was now the law of the land, the backlash might have been swift and severe. There’s certainly an argument to be made that moving state by state (starting in nimbler, smaller states like Vermont) ultimately made the happy outcome more solid as the culture changed and new generations came of age.

Which is not to say that there weren’t millions of people who suffered as a result. There were. But our societies are built to move slowly. Human institutions tend to work better when they have years or even decades to make gradual course corrections, when time smooths out the conflicts between people.

And that’s always been the difficulty with climate change – the greatest problem we’ve ever faced. It’s not a fight, like education reform or abortion or gay marriage, between conflicting groups with conflicting opinions. It couldn’t be more different at a fundamental level.

We’re talking about a fight between human beings and physics. And physics is entirely uninterested in human timetables. Physics couldn’t care less if precipitous action raises gas prices, or damages the coal industry in swing states. It could care less whether putting a price on carbon slowed the pace of development in China, or made agribusiness less profitable.

Physics doesn’t understand that rapid action on climate change threatens the most lucrative business on Earth, the fossil fuel industry. It’s implacable. It takes the carbon dioxide we produce and translates it into heat, which means into melting ice and rising oceans and gathering storms. And unlike other problems, the less you do, the worse it gets. Do nothing and you soon have a nightmare on your hands.

We could postpone healthcare reform a decade, and the cost would be terrible – all the suffering not responded to over those 10 years. But when we returned to it, the problem would be about the same size. With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to the timetable set by physics, there’s not much reason to act at all.

Unless you understand these distinctions you don’t understand climate change – and it’s not at all clear that President Obama understands them.

That’s why his administration is sometimes peeved when they don’t get the credit they think they deserve for tackling the issue in his first term in office. The measure they point to most often is the increase in average mileage for automobiles, which will slowly go into effect over the next decade.

It’s precisely the kind of gradual transformation that people – and politicians – like. We should have adopted it long ago (and would have, except that it challenged the power of Detroit and its unions, and so both Republicans and Democrats kept it at bay). But here’s the terrible thing: it’s no longer a measure that impresses physics. After all, physics isn’t kidding around or negotiating. While we were discussing whether climate change was even a permissible subject to bring up in the last presidential campaign, it was melting the Arctic. If we’re to slow it down, we need to be cutting emissions globally at a sensational rate, by something like 5% a year to make a real difference.

It’s not Obama’s fault that that’s not happening. He can’t force it to happen. Consider the moment when the great president of the last century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was confronted with an implacable enemy, Adolf Hitler (the closest analogue to physics we’re going to get, in that he was insanely solipsistic, though in his case also evil). Even as the German armies started to roll through Europe, however, FDR couldn’t muster America to get off the couch and fight.

There were even the equivalent of climate deniers at that time, happy to make the case that Hitler presented no threat to America. Indeed, some of them were the same institutions. The US Chamber of Commerce, for instance, vociferously opposed Lend-Lease.

So Roosevelt did all he could on his own authority, and then when Pearl Harbor offered him his moment, he pushed as hard as he possibly could. Hard, in this case, meant, for instance, telling the car companies that they were out of the car business for a while and, instead, in the tank and fighter-plane business.

For Obama, faced with a Congress bought off by the fossil fuel industry, a realistic approach would be to do absolutely everything he could on his own authority – new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, for example; and of course, he should refuse to grant the permit for the building of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, something that requires no permission from John Boehner or the rest of Congress.

So far, however, he’s been half-hearted at best when it comes to such measures. The White House, for instance, overruled the EPA on its proposed stronger ozone and smog regulations in 2011, and last year opened up the Arctic for oil drilling, while selling off vast swaths of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin at bargain-basement prices to coal miners.

His State Department flubbed the global climate change negotiations. (It’s hard to remember a higher profile diplomatic failure than the Copenhagen summit.) And now, Washington rings with rumors that he’ll approve the Keystone pipeline, which would deliver 900,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest crude oil on Earth. Almost to the drop, that’s the amount his new auto mileage regulations would save.

If he were serious, Obama would be doing more than just the obvious and easy. He’d also be looking for that Pearl Harbor moment. God knows he had his chances in 2012: the hottest year in the history of the continental United States, the deepest drought of his lifetime, and a melt of the Arctic so severe that the federal government’s premier climate scientist declared it a “planetary emergency”.

In fact, he didn’t even appear to notice those phenomena, campaigning for a second term as if from an air-conditioned bubble, even as people in the crowds greeting him were fainting en masse from the heat. Throughout campaign 2012, he kept declaring his love for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, where apparently oil and natural gas were exactly as virtuous as sun and wind.

Only at the very end of the campaign, when Hurricane Sandy seemed to present a political opening, did he even hint at seizing it – his people letting reporters know on background that climate change would now be one of his top three priorities (or maybe, post-Newtown, top four) for a second term. That’s a start, I suppose, but it’s a long way from telling the car companies they better retool to start churning out wind turbines.

And anyway, he took it back at the first opportunity. At his post election press conference, he announced that climate change was “real”, thus marking his agreement with, say, President George HW Bush in 1988. In deference to “future generations”, he also agreed that we should “do more”. But addressing climate change, he added, would involve “tough political choices”. Indeed, too tough, it seems, for here were his key lines:

“I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I won’t go for that.”

It’s as if second world war British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had declared:

“I have nothing to offer except blood, toil, tears, and sweat. And God knows that polls badly, so just forget about it.”

The president must be pressed to do all he can – and more. That’s why thousands of us will descend on Washington, DC on President’s Day weekend, in what will be the largest environmental demonstration in years. But there’s another possibility we need to consider: that perhaps he’s simply not up to this task, and that we’re going to have to do it for him, as best we can.

If he won’t take on the fossil fuel industry, we will. That’s why on 192 campuses nationwide active divestment movements are now doing their best to highlight the fact that the fossil fuel industry threatens their futures. If he won’t use our position as a superpower to drive international climate change negotiations out of their rut, we’ll try. That’s why young people from 190 nations are gathering in Istanbul in June in an effort to shame the UN into action. If he won’t listen to scientists – like the 20 top climatologists who told him that the Keystone pipeline was a mistake – then top scientists are increasingly clear that they’ll need to get arrested to make their point.

Those of us in the growing grassroots climate movement are going as fast and hard as we know how (though not, I fear, as fast as physics demands). Maybe if we go fast enough, even this all-too-patient president will get caught up in the draft. But we’re not waiting for him. We can’t.

Bangladesh mine activists dump coal outside GCM meeting in London

Category : Business

Protester dressed as Santa Claus delivers sack in row over plans for mine in Phulbari, Bangladesh

Activists dumped coal outside the annual meeting of mining firm GCM Resources in London on Thursday in protest at the company’s plans for a controversial mine in Bangladesh.

The meeting at the Institute of Directors was brought to an end after a protester dressed as Santa Claus delivered a sack of coal to the GCM chairman, Gerard Howell. Two protesters were arrested for breach of the peace but released without charge.

The firm, listed on London’s junior Aim market, wants to run an open pit coal mine in the Phulbari township in the north of the country, despite claims that up to 130,000 people could be displaced and warnings by the UN that human rights could be violated.

An official complaint to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been made by the World Development Movement and the International Accountability Project, saying the company would forcibly evict up to 130,000 people if the project went ahead. The complaint mentions a UN report from earlier this year warning that “access to safe drinking water for some 220,000 people is at stake”.

The company claims the mine will displace 40,000 people but create 17,000 jobs.

The 1,000ft-deep mine, which could stretch across 14,500 acres has been put on hold since 2006 after local opposition.

According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, GCM bosses have approached Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry to soothe relations between the company and the Bangladeshi government.

In 2006, three people were killed and 800 injured at the mine during protests about the possible evictions. GCM said development of the mine was essential for meeting Bangladesh’s energy needs by providing about 114m tonnes of coal for domestic consumption with the remaining 458m tonnes sold abroad.