Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ukraine:Crisis and Context

President Vladimir Putin put Russian troops on high alert to stage war games in the Western Military District,near Ukraine,on Wednesday at 1400 hours,Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.Russia was also taking measures to guarantee the safety of facilities,infrastructure and arsenals of its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea,where Russia leases a naval base from Ukraine.
Ethnic Russians staged a protest in Crimea,saying Crimea was Russian and calling for independence from Ukraine.Most of the Crimean penninsula's population is ethnic Russian.Eastern Ukraine is also heavily ethnic Russian and looks to Moscow for support,while Western Ukraine is the center of Ukrainian nationalism and leans to Western Europe and the United States.*
In the Ukrainian capital Kiev,the Western protest movement's Euromaidan Council appointed several interim officials.Former economy minister Arseny Yatseniuk was named interim prime minister;career diplomat Andriy Deschytsya,foreign minister;and former economic minister and deputy central bank head Oleksandr Shlapak,finance minister.
The new ministers must engage in talks with the IMF to secure the country's finances,as Russia will probably cancel its 15 billion dollar support package extended to Moscow ally Victor Yanukovych,now believed to be in hiding in Crimea-perhaps in the Russian naval base.The EU and US have also expressed a willingness to financially aid the fledgling government in Kiev.*
The Russian military alert announced Wednesday raised a red flag in Western circles in light of Putin's actions of 2008,when he invaded the Republic of Georgia to defend ethnic Russians in two breakaway regions there,and recognised their independence after a brief war.Any Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a grave mistake,US Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canada Repeats Bobsled Gold;Ligety Lands Giant Slalom

Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyes became the first females to repeat a bobsled gold at the Winter Olympics,beating Americans Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams by a 10 second margin Wednesday at the Sochi Games.Fellow Americans Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans took the bronze.
Lauryn Williams became the fifth person to medal at both the Summer and Winter Olympics with their silver.She had previously won silver in the 100 meter sprint at Athens 2004 and gold for the 400 meter relay at London 2012.She and Meyers led through the first three bobsled heats,but Meyers' driving mistakes cost them the gold as Canada-1 surged past them in the final heat.*
In alpine skiing,Ted Ligety became the first American to win two golds in alpine with his sweeping arcs down through the soft snow of the Caucasus Mountains.Two Frenchmen,Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault,took the silver and bronze medals,respectively.
I was able to lay it on the line and ski the way I know I can ski,Ligety said.He admitted he would be a dark horse for Saturday's slalom race,the final alpine event of the Sochi Games,which end on Sunday.*
The US moved into first place in the medals count with 23,while Russia and the Netherlands are tied for second with 22,and Canada is in third with 18.Germany has the most gold medals(8).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sochi Winter Olympics:Russia's Return;America's Mixed Results

When the Soviet Union broke up,Russia's great Olympics tradition was in jeopardy.It seemed in disarray as the mighty state apparatus for selecting,training,and supporting athletes disapppeared,or at least shrank.With the Sochi Winter Olympics,however,there is definitely a sense of new life in Russian sport.
Figure skating is certainly righting itself in Russia,as evidenced by its return to dominance in the pairs competition.Volosozhar and Trankov vaulted into gold medal position with their long program performance Wednesday.They wept openly after their nearly flawless and very difficult program,perhaps moved by the realisation that they had just brought their sport back from the brink it faced when Russia was shut out of figure skating medals at Vancouver 2010.Fellow Russians Stolbova and Klimov took the silver,and Germans Savchenko and Szolkowy the bronze.*
For the US,it has so far been a mix of success and disappointment,with star athletes Bode Miller,Shaun White and Shani Davis failing to reach the podium as of yet,let alone win a medal.On the other hand,the unknown Kaitlyn Farrington,24,won the snowboard halfpipe gold seemingly out of nowhere,and Erin Hamlin's bronze was the first US medal in history in the sport of luge.The US and Russia are tied for third in total medals at nine each.
Defending gold medalist Torah Bright ensured Australia will take home at least one medal when she won the silver in the snowboard halfpipe event,while American Kelly Clark,30,the Methuselah of snowboarding,took her second career Olympics bronze an astonishing 12 years after she won the gold in the event at Salt Lake City 2002.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

News Notes:Turkey's Rate Hike;Yahoo's Report

Turkey's central bank more than doubled interest rates January 29 in an effort to support the nation's currency,the lira.When you see the Turkish rate hike,you're gonna see their economy in decline,predicted CNBC market analyst Jim Cramer on the "Squawk On The Street" program.I think we could see a 2-6% downside based on the emerging markets.This is the way it is,and you just have to ride it through.It doesn't work.You end up with hyperinflation.When you're going down,it's a source of panic and worry.
We have to go through the handwringing.It's like an HBO drama.I wish I hadn't seen it happen over and over before.You're gonna see people come in and say Turkey is terrible,and they will sell.Twenty-two years ago we went through this cycle in Turkey.We weren't as connected as we are now.We didn't have shows like this to talk about Turkey.
This could be a 2-6% decline in the S&P.It's the arc of freaking out.*
Tech titan Yahoo reported a drop in revenue for the fourth consecutive quarter,with a drop in display ad prices.As well,Yahoo was affected when Alibaba growth slowed.
These are tech companies,not content companies.CEO Marissa Meyer's up against really big,great companies like Google and Facebook-two of the great arsenals of democracy.You can't go up against Facebook and Google without spending a fortune, master investor Jim Cramer pointed out.
On the plus side,Yahoo received 340,000 applications for employment,and 40% of its hires were engineers.There was big growth in its Tumblr site.There were also signs of improving display ad revenues,and Yahoo did beat its earnings estimate,while matching its revenue estimate.*
Jim Cramer's new book,"Get Rich Carefully,"is on sale now.*