Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blackstone's Deals;GeoResonance Claim Checked

The absolute levels of securities are on the higher side,said Stephen Schwarzman,CEO of The Blackstone Group,but there are deals to be had and we are quite active.We never buy anything unless we can improve them significantly.There are more than two trillion dollars in cash available,so you're gonna see deals.*
Long term,China's a really interesting place.I'm not in the non-believer school.Per capita income is very low there.Their middle class has grown immensely,but it's not as big as it needs to be.You have to transition from an export economy to a consumption economy.*
We've been very active buying both companies and real estate.Overall,this has been a very active time for us.We've bought and sold a lot of companies as well.Our companies are outperforming the S&P in a pretty significant way,Mr.Schwarzman observed.*
US pending home sales were up 3.4% in March.It's a good solid gain,a beat,but we need to see it continue throughout the Spring,said CNBC real estate correspondent Diana Olick.*
Bangladesh is sending two navy frigates to check out a claim by Australian firm GeoResonance that it may have found the wreckage from lost flight MH-370 in the Bay of Bengal.The Australian search committee has dismissed the claim because it doesn't fit with the satellite data provided by British firm Inmarsat,nor the pings detected by a search vessel in the southern Indian Ocean.
GeoResonance says its technology was created to search for nuclear,biological and chemical weapons under the ocean or in bunkers underground.They claim it is reliable and has successfully located submersed structures,ships,munitions and aircraft.In some instances,objects that were buried under layers of silt could not be identified by other means.The technology records electromagnetic fields by airborne multispectral imaging,but GeoResonance will not divulge exactly how the proprietary method works.
About 190 kilometers/118 miles off the coast of Bangladesh,they found traces of aluminium,titanium,copper and other trace elements that hadn't been there before the airliner disappeared on 8 March.These elements are suggestive of a commercial airliner such as MH-370,a Boeing 777.The company is not declaring this finding is MH-370;however,it should be investigated,their press release stated.*
The Blackstone Group LP(BX)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Voices and Visions:Russian Power Politics in Eastern Europe

A former US ambassador to NATO,Kurt Volker,has been analysing the Ukraine crisis.In a March 12 editorial for,Mr.Volker wrote the following:"Putin is smart enough to create a veneer of legality(a referendum),a story-line designed to blur morality(fascists in Kiev,defending Russian citizens),and a threat of retaliation against European economies to deter would-be defenders of Ukraine.But the fact remains that this is a raw exercise of power to seize territory of a type not seen in Europe since World War II-except,of course,for Putin's invasion of Georgia in 2008."*
Mr.Volcker also appeared on CNN Wednesday,noting that,in 2008,the Russians were continually poking and probing in order to provoke a response so they could invade Georgia militarily.I think what NATO is doing about Ukraine is on the right track in reassuring the allies.The second thing is the ability to make Russia think twice.Russia is very well-positioned to use military force.What is incumbent upon NATO is to provide training,tactics and equipment to Ukraine,and make Russia wonder what kind of reaction they might get from Europe if they invade Eastern Ukraine.
If we did not take the steps we're taking now in sending troops to Poland and the Baltic states,Putin might think invading a NATO member is an option.He'll only stop when he feels pushback.Russia is gonna be probing constantly,Mr.Volker warned.*
In his March 12 editorial in,the former ambassador to NATO concluded by saying:"But a contributing factor to the situation in Ukraine today was a relatively complacent attitude in Europe and the US.By failing to continue to press forward with the development of a Europe whole,free and at peace,we helped create a vacuum filled by the worst elements of Ukrainian politics,and now by Russia."
Kurt Volker is currently executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.*
Congressman Mike Rogers(R-Michigan),Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,feels about Vladimir Putin that we're not dealing with somebody who has the same rational thought process that he had two years ago.*
Tom Donilon, a former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama,said Mr.Putin saw a piece of his sphere of influence threatened.They'd rather see a destabilised Ukraine than a stable Ukraine aligned with the West.I believe we'll get to more severe sanctions because I don't believe the Russians will back down,Mr.Donilon predicted.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ukraine and the West:Decision and Danger

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that there will be more planes in the air;more ships in the water;and more readiness on the land in response to Russia's recent moves in the Ukrainian crisis.Just how dangerous is the current situation in Eastern Europe?I think it's pretty explosive,said General Richard Myers,US Air Force retired,former Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff.Russia is doing several things that are dangerous:1.The overflight of the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea by a Russian fighter aircraft;2.Massing so many troops on the border with Ukraiine;3.Taking over at least 10 towns in Eastern Ukraine.World War I started as an incident that got out of hand.This is very dangerous stuff that Russia is playing with.
If shots are fired and people are killed,this could escalate.I'm sure there are lots of options being presented to President Obama,such as providing weapons to Ukraine or providing weapons to them along with US advisors.They'll go thorugh them in the Situation Room.I don't think there are good military options.As for Russia attacking a NATO country,you would think not and you would hope not,but I don't know.*
Major General Mark Kimmitt,US Army retired,who was Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs under President George W. Bush,said Russia's moves are part of the great chess game.You can almost hear the echoes of Czechoslovakia 75 years ago.
These are Russian provocateurs in Eastern Ukraine.The term "Ukraine" means "border."President Putin wants to restore that buffer zone with NATO.There's no reason that a reasonable deployment of US and European troops in Ukraine woudn't stop Putin with a show of strength,General Kimmitt believes.*
Overnight Wednesday,Ukrainian soldiers reportedly fired shots in the air when armed pro-Russian forces attempted to storm a military base in Eastern Ukraine.
Update:During this incident,three Russian militants were reportedly killed and 19 wounded.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ukraine Unrest;MH-370 Search;The Masters

Pro-Russian demonstrators have 48 hours to reach a negotiated settlement and vacate two government buildings they seized in Eastern Ukraine,or be forcefully removed,the Ukrainian government says.Unrest has erupted in the eastern cities of Luhansk,Donetsk and Kharkiv,which are near the border with Russia.Secretary of State John Kerry says it is being instigated by paid Russian agents.*
At the same time,the NATO alliance commander,US Air Force General Philip Breedlove,has been tasked with developing new options for reinforcing the alliance's military presence in the region and reporting back to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.NATO is gravely concerned about the persistence of some 40,000 Russian troops along the Russian border with Ukraine,which Russia insists are only on military exercises.*
Fourteen planes and thirteen ships are out searching for the lost flight MH-370 today,Thursday.The search area has been whittled down to a site smaller than the state of West Virginia.The plane's wreckage is believed to be deeper under the ocean than the Titanic.The searchers will not deploy the Blue Fin autonomous underwater vehicle with its sonar as long as there is a prospect of hearing more pings from the aircraft's black boxes,in order to further reduce the search area for the slow-moving AUV.*
It's very difficult to reach the top,but it is also difficult to stay there.
-Arnold Palmer,Hall of Fame golfer
An international field of the world's best golfers will hit the tough course at Augusta National in Georgia today for the opening round of The Masters tournament,one of the world's most prestigious and traditional sporting events.Adam Scott of Australia is the defending champion.World Number One golfer Tiger Woods is sidelined by a back injury.*

Monday, April 7, 2014

Annetta - adaptable and flexible (+playlist) Standard Chartered Bank

Monday Newsline:Asian Shares Lower;Indian Election;MH-370 Progress

Asian markets were mostly lower Monday on the disappointing US jobs report Friday,which fell short of analysts' growth projections.The Nikkei cratered 1.69%,while the HSI fell 0.74 and the ASX slipped 0.17.US stock futures were also lower.The Shanghai Composite defied the trend,rising 0.74%.
Wheat prices are up on widespread dryness in breadbasket areas from Ukraine to the United States.*
The world's largest democracy has begun its elections today as India goes to the polls.The nationalist BJP party is the frontrunner over the incumbent Congress Party.The BJP is led by Narendra Modi,Chief Minister of Gujarat state.Some label him as a fascist guilty of human rights violations,and he was denied entry to the US in 2005.He is popular in corporate circles as Gujarat state has done well.*
The search for flight MH-370 entered a new,more promising phase Monday as searchers zeroed in on the Australian Defence Ministry vessel Ocean Shield's detection of two extended audio events near the bottom of the Indian Ocean.The great depth of the pinging episodes consistent with the plane's flight recorders,one of which lasted for two hours twenty minutes and the other for thirteen minutes at some 4500 meters/2.8 miles,suggest why this search has been the most challenging in aviation history.
The pings were picked up by the US Navy's pinger locator device that the Ocean Shield was towing at depth over the new area off Western Australia's northern coast.The searchers need a third pinging event so they can triangulate the location and send the Blue Fin 21 submersible down to take still photos of the possible wreckage.It's a process that could require days to complete,retired Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston,the search coordinator,told reporters in a Perth press conference.He said we are very close to where we need to be.Clearly this is a most promising lead.In the search so far,it is probably the best information that we have had.*
In sport,Australian golfer Matt Jones won the Shell Houston Open,securing a place for himself in The Masters tournament this weekend in Augusta,Georgia.It was Jones' first PGA victory.American Matt Kuchar came in second,and Sergio Garcia of Spain took third.
Meanwhile,American Lexi Thommpson made the traditional leap into Poppy's Pond at Mission Hills Golf Club in Rancho Mirage,California as the winner of the Kraft Nabisco Open,the year's first major on the LPGA circuit.It was the fourth LPGA win for Thompson,19,who is known for her long drives.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Voices and Visions:MH-370 and the International Community

We've explored less than 5% of our oceans-less than 1% of the bottoms,said explorer Fabien Cousteau,the grandson of Jacques Cousteau.It could take years to find the airliner.We just don't have the technology.The reality is,there's just so much down there that we don't understand,Mr.Cousteau observed.*
It's a very difficult search-the most difficult in human history,said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Perth Wednesday.We in Australia are throwing everything we have at it.We owe it to the families,to our good friends the Malaysians,to the troubled citizens of the wider world.I say to the families:be patient.
We cannot be certain of ultimate success,but we can be certain that we will spare no effort.It is an extraordinary international effort that has taken place here.This is an antidote to pessimism.This is one time when we are all working together,Mr.Abbott pointed out.*
A new refined area of search has given us new hope,added Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.Australia has proven an invaluable friend.The disappearance of MH-370 has tested our collective resolve.I can promise the families that we will not give up,Mr.Razat said during his visit to the search operations centre in Perth.*
At this point,many safety officials are looking at this and they're bewildered;they don't know what to do,because we don't know what happened,said journalist Andy Pasztor of The Wall Street Journal.The investigation is fragmented,without direction.The two strands of this investigation were never properly merged.The wrong search area was due to bad coordination.
You really get a sense that from the very beginning there have been tremendous problems in coordination.The Malaysians just haven't been able to get appropriate oversight and coordination.In the future,experts say,it will be a much more coordinated and international probe from the very beginning,Mr.Pasztor noted.