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Apr 25, 2018

Google | Google rolling out gmail changes to enhance security, privacy- April 25, 2018.

Financial Service | The Housing Market Is In A Hyper Bubble And When It Pops The Economy Will Collapse Fabian Calvo - April 25, 2018.

The Guardian | North Korea nuclear test site has collapsed and may be out of action – China study | World news

North Korea nuclear test site has collapsed and may be out of action – China study | World news

Justin McCurry

North Korea’s main nuclear test site has partially collapsed under the stress of multiple explosions, possibly rendering it unsafe for further testing and leaving it vulnerable to radiation leaks, a study by Chinese geologists has shown.
The findings could cast doubt on North Korea’s sincerity in announcing last weekend that it would stop testing nuclear weapons at the site ahead of Friday’s summit between the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.
The test site at Punggye-ri, in a mountainous area in North Korea’s north-east, has been the location for all six of the regime’s nuclear tests since 2006.
The findings, by scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China, suggest the partial collapse of the mountain that contains the testing tunnels, as well as the risk of radiation leaks, have potentially rendered the site unusable.
The study was published soon after Kim said his country would stop testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and close down Punggye-ri before his meeting with Moon just south of the countries’ heavily armed border.
Nuclear explosions release enormous amounts of heat and energy, and the North’s largest test, in September last year, was believed early on to have rendered the site - a network of tunnels beneath Mount Mantap - unstable.
The Chinese scientists collected collected data for their study following the most powerful of the North’s six nuclear tests, on 3 September.
The controlled explosion, which caused an initial magnitude-6.3 tremor, is believed to have triggered four more earthquakes over the following weeks. The study concluded that eight-and-a-half minutes after the test, there was “a near-vertical on-site collapse towards the nuclear test centre”.
The Chinese university paper, written by Tian Dongdong, Yao Jiawen and Wen Lianxing, said that was followed by an “earthquake swarm” in similar locations.
The yield of the bomb was estimated at more than 100 kilotons of TNT, at least 10 times stronger than anything the North had tested previously. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of about 15 kilotons.
“In view of the research finding that the North Korea nuclear test site at Mount Mantap has collapsed, it is necessary to continue to monitor any leakage of radioactive materials that may have been caused by the collapse,” the authors said in a summary dated Monday and seen on Wednesday on the university’s website.
The new study is peer-reviewed and has been accepted for publication by the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The Chinese study made sense and was based on well-understood research, said Rowena Lohman, a seismologist at Cornell University who wasn’t part of the work.
A study published last month by the journal, written by a team led by Liu Junqing at the earthquake bureau in Jilin province along the border with North Korea, found similar results from the September explosion. It described the aftershock that followed seconds later as most likely the “rapid destruction of an explosion-generated cracked rock chimney due to cavity collapse”.
Beijing is particularly concerned about the North’s nuclear tests, since the Punggye-ri site is less than 100km (60 miles) from the border with China.
North Korean nuclear tests have caused seismic events in Chinese border towns and cities, forcing evacuations of schools and offices, sparking fears of wind-borne radiation and leading to a backlash among some Chinese against their country’s unpredictable traditional ally. Chinese authorities have said they’ve detected no radiation risk from the tests.
Kune Yull Suh, a professor of nuclear engineering at Seoul National University, warned last year that further tests could threaten to cause a volcanic eruption at Mount Paektu, which is about 100km away.
On Saturday, Kim announced North Korea would close its nuclear testing facility and suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests – a move welcomed by US president Donald Trump as “big progress” – and which comes ahead of a planned summit between the leaders in late May or early June.
However, Kim stopped short of promising to give up his nuclear weapons, and the missile test ban does not include shorter-range weapons capable of reaching Japan and South Korea.
Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Guardian | Business: Banking Royal Commission on April 26, 2018.

Banking royal commission: Association of Financial Advisers chief quizzed – live | Australia news

Gareth Hutchens

Orr takes Kewin through another example and a review committee report, and says it seems the board was being asked to make a decision about disciplinary sanctions based on what would make the least reputational risk to the AFA.
Kewin doesn’t believe so.
Orr: “The important thing was to terminate the members, to expel them, wasn’t it?”
Kewin: “In both cases, I believe the essence was also to follow due process.”
Orr: “If an Asic banning order isn’t enough what does it take to get expelled from the AFA?”
Kewin says there was an appeal pending, and rather than undertaking an additional investigation, “if you suspended the member they’re no longer an active member”.

An AFA member was banned for five years by Asic in 2017 and expelled from the FPA.
An Asic investigation said, among other things, there were several instances of misleading conduct by the adviser designed to get people to switch superannuation. The adviser also engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by failing to disclose a client’s pre-existing medical condition on an insurance form.
Despite the findings and actions of Asic and the FPA, an AFA recommendation was that to respond to such findings would amount to “hearsay” and the adviser’s membership should only be suspended, not terminated.
Orr asks if the adviser “wasn’t eligible for practitioner membership and had been banned from providing financial services, why would the AFA retain him as a member?”
Kewin: “His membership was suspended.”

The AFA has discussed with Asic about receiving notifications of compliance concerns about its members, which would be “advantageous”, Kewin says, but the regulator said they couldn’t for confidentiality reasons while investigations were ongoing.
Orr asks if the AFA has asked licensees to notify them of suspensions or terminations of members. Kewin says there is one formal agreement in place, with CBA. It was put in place before Kewin’s tenure.
Orr: “Why do you not have other formal agreements in place with other licensees?”
Kewin: “I don’t know, I can’t answer that.”

Under questioning, Kewin says the AFA is seeking to gain new members, and while they have members who are also members of other organisations he concedes there is some competition.
Orr: “Can the AFA operate effectively as a co-regulator of the financial advice industry when it is competing with rival bodies for members?”
“I believe so,” says Kewin.
Orr rephrases: “Isn’t there an inherent conflict?”
Kewin: “I don’t think so.”
Asked if it’s more desirable for a regulator to be independent of the industry it regulates, Kewin says he’s looking through the lens of what is known of professional standards and that you can have multiple codes and bodies to monitor them.

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“There’s not a lot” the AFA could do for regulation that Asic or a licensee couldn’t, admits Kewin.
After several questions, he concedes there could be a tension between being a “co-regulator” and also a promoter of financial advice and advisers.
“We’ve already seen there can be tension in those relationships,” he says.

We have finished with De Gori now. The next witness is Philip Kewin, chief executive of the Association of Financial Advisers.
He’s being asked whether he sees financial advisers as professionals. He does, and he thinks clients would too. Others perhaps not, based on what’s come out over recent weeks.
The professionalism comes from the way they conduct themselves, and the advice and support they give, he says. He also believes they can be trusted.
The primary function of the AFA is to promote the value of financial advice, says Kewin.
Orr asks about the function noted in Kewin’s statement, which is “to promote ethical practice, exercise oversight over professional standards of members, and to support and protect the character status and interests of the financial advice profession generally, and the professional standing of members”.
That function was only added to the AFA’s constitution in October last year, Kewen says, after a review “to make sure it was satisfying what we believe were the needs of the profession and the customer and general public”.
Another function was added at the same time to get the AFA on the way to becoming a co-regulator of the industry.

A quick recap of the FPA’s budget:
It relies on membership fees, and it will pull in an expected revenue of $8m in 2017-18.
  • $1m of that is set aside for a “professional standards budget”, which includes supporting the conduct review commission.
  • $1.7m is set aside for marketing and communication, to raise awareness of the financial advice industry.
  • $1m is set aside for the chief executive.
On the last point, De Gori wanted Orr to know that that $1m didn’t all go to him; it went to the “department of the CEO”, which included his staff and a bonus pool.
Orr asked: “Yes. You and your staff. How many?”
De Gori replied: “One staff.”

The FPA’s disciplinary panel has made only six determinations since January. Self-reporting is a big part of it, as are complaints. The FPA has regular meetings with Asic and may have discussions about individuals “on an informal basis”, but has no formal process of inquiring about its members.
“Wouldn’t you want to know if the regulation is investigation or imposing sanctions on your members?” Orr asks.
“Absolutely, and in some cases where we know there are reports or proceedings ... we have asked Asic,” De Gori replies.
Orr: “So you wait until there’s a public report by Asic and then follow up with a request for information?”

According to the FPA’s 2017-18 budget, membership revenues bring about $8m a year to the association.
A pool of money is set aside to “discretionally provide” to staff for performance bonues, based on key performance indicators. For some staff a KPI is to bring in new members.
The professional standards budget – of about $1m a year – includes four staff and supporting the conduct review commission of the FPA.
Orr suggests investigating complaints of conducting disciplinary proceedings is not one of the primary objects and purposes of the FPA.
De Gori says it’s “equal” with education, training and providing resources and services to members.
A $1.7m budget for marketing and communication is partly devoted to consumer advocacy and raising awareness of the financial advice industry, De Gori says in answer to questions.
Orr puts to De Gori that it’s difficult to promote advisers while also enacting disciplinary actions. De Gori says it’s a challenge but not a contradiction in aims.

FPA asked the royal commission to protect anonymity of Henderson

Orr reads a letter from the FPA’s head of professionalism to the royal commission:
In it the FPA reconfirms disciplinary hearings against Henderson hadn’t finished, and asks that the matter be treated confidentially as “any publication by the royal commission identifying Mr Henderson would render the CRC [conduct review commission] process worthless to Mr Henderson and cause significant damage to the reputation of Mr Henderson, undermine the process of the CRC, and damage the FPA’s relationship with other members.”
Orr asks for some clarifaction.
De Gori says he believes the first part of the statement meant that if the disciplinary process was going to have any conclusion “participation by Mr Henderson in that process would obviously not be forthcoming as a result of any publication of his name”.
The FPA was concerned Henderson wouldn’t interact with the process at all if he was named.
Asked about the line about the FPA’s relationship with members, De Gori says he thinks members would expect identities would remain confidential while the process was underway.

One FPA sanction against Henderson was that he had to pay his outstanding FPA fees.
“It’s nothing to do with Ms McKenna’s complaint, is it Mr De Gori?” asks Orr.
He replies that it’s not, but the FPA can also look at issues outside of the complaint.
Orr reads out from a document that other sanctions included reviewing current practice to ensure he was complying with FPA rules, appointing an independent expert to conduct “certain reviews” and to report to the FPA on his implementation of an action plan.
The FPA “agreed to be restrained from publication of Mr Henderson’s name” in return for compliance with the agreed sanctions, she reads out.
Threat of publication and promise of anonymity is the strongest mechanism to ensure compliance, says De Gori.

abc | ACTION NEWS: ABC Action News on Demand | April 25, 630PM

WWFC Asia | Noam Chomsky: Capitalism and Democracy on April 25, 2018.

WWFC Asia | Noam Chomsky : Trump Supporters and Current regime on April 25, 2018.

WWFC Asia | Noam Chomsky What is Nationalism?

Associated Press (AP): Suspected Waffle House Shooter Angered in Tapes on April 25, 2018.

RT | Madrid premier resigns after shoplifting scandal - April 25, 2018.

The Washington Post | Politics: Michael Cohen to invoke Fifth Amendment right in Storny Daniels case on April 25, 2018.

Michael Cohen to invoke Fifth Amendment right in Stormy Daniels case

President Trump has rejected the possibility Michael Cohen would turn against him. Here's how the Cohen investigation could impact Trump.
Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, told a federal judge on Wednesday that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself in a lawsuit brought by adult entertainer Stormy Daniels.
Cohen’s declaration, in support of his request to pause proceedings in the civil case, cited an “ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”
Earlier this month, the FBI raided Cohen’s home, office and a hotel room where he had been staying. That investigation includes looking into the effort to quash embarrassing stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump years ago, is seeking to void a confidentiality agreement she signed just days before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for $130,000. Cohen has said he facilitated the payment using his own money from a home-equity line of credit.
The suit, filed last month, named the president and Essential Consultants, a company Cohen created as a vehicle for the payment, as defendants. Daniels later added Cohen as a defendant.
In the filing Wednesday, Cohen said the FBI had seized “various electronic devices and documents” that contained information relating to the payment to Daniels, as well as related communications with Cohen’s lawyer, Brent Blakely.
“This is a stunning development,” Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, said in a tweet. “Never before in our nation’s history has the attorney for the sitting President invoked the 5th Amend in connection with issues surrounding the President. It is esp. stunning seeing as MC served as the ‘fixer’ for Mr. Trump for over 10 yrs.”
It is not uncommon for defendants facing both civil liability and criminal prosecution to request a pause in civil proceedings to avoid giving sworn testimony and producing documents that could prove incriminating.
Even so, in 2016, Trump sneered at Hillary Clinton aides for exercising their right not to self-incriminate during a congressional investigation into her private email server.
“The mob takes the Fifth,” Trump said at one campaign rally. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Yet in 1990, Trump himself took the Fifth to avoid answering 97 questions in a divorce deposition.
Cohen’s attorneys argued last week for a pause in the Daniels case, in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California. Judge S. James Otero ordered them to file a declaration from Cohen himself, stating whether he intended to assert his constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Otero must now decide whether there is evidence of enough overlap between the civil case and the criminal investigation to justify a pause.
In New York, meanwhile, lawyers for Cohen and Trump continue to fight for the ability to review material seized in he raids before prosecutors have access to it.
They have argued Cohen should have the ability to decide whether some of the material relates to communications between Cohen and his legal clients and therefore should be shielded from prosecutors’ review.
In letters to the court filed Wednesday, lawyers for Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization said they were prepared to put significant resources into quickly reviewing the documents. A lawyer for Trump wrote that the president himself would be available “as needed” to assist in the process.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has ordered that prosecutors let Cohen’s lawyers review some of the seized material. She has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to provide an update on the issue.

Anonymous Official | Something Enexplainable is going on... (2018 - 2019)

CNN | New Allegations against Trump's VA pick on April 25, 2018.

CNBC | Stocks making the biggest moves after hours: Facebook, AT&T, Chipotle & more on April 25, 2018.

FB, T, CMG & more

Ingrid Angulo

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook
Check out the companies making headlines after the bell:
Shares of Facebook surged 7 percent after hours. The social networking service's earnings and revenues both surpassed expectations.
Daily and monthly active users bounced back. Average revenue per user also increased this quarter, surprising investors.
AT&T stock dropped more than 4 percent post-market. The telecommunications company reported earnings and revenues that missed analyst expectations that sent shares falling further. The stock is already down over 10 percent this year.
Chipotle Mexican Grill shares soared 10 percent in extended trading after an impressive earnings report. The fast-casual restaurant chain reported revenues in line with estimates and a big beat on earnings. Same-store sales were also better than expected.
The company attested some of its sales improvements to higher menu prices, originally instituted last April.
eBay shares slipped more than 3 percent after the bell. The e-commerce corporation announced earnings per share that fell in line with Wall Street estimates but missed on revenues and guidance.
Ford stock jumped nearly 3 percent in the extended session. The automaker's earnings per share and revenues surpassed analyst expectations, partially due to a more beneficial tax rate. Guidance for the upcoming year was modestly raised.
Shares of PayPal jumped nearly 6 percent in the extended session after the online payment system beat estimates on top and bottom lines. Full-year earnings guidance was lowered, but revenue guidance was raised. PayPal's total payment volume was higher than expected and total payments for its Venmo service increased 80 percent from last year.
Qualcomm shares gained more than 1 percent after the bell. The semiconductor company's earnings and revenues were better than expected, but guidance was slightly weak.
Visa shares rose nearly 3 percent after hours following a positive earnings report. Earnings per share and revenues beat Wall Street estimates with revenues up 13 percent year over year. Payments volume has also grown, leading the financial services company to increase its 2018 guidance.
Advanced Micro Devices shares spiked nearly 10 percent after the bell. The chipmaker released earnings and revenues that were better than expected, with revenue jumping 40 percent year over year. The company's Computing and Graphics Business Segment led the biggest gains.
Shares of Xilinx jumped more than 5 percent post-market. The semiconductor company just missed expectations on earnings, but beat on revenues. Guidance for the upcoming quarter is also strong.
Align Technology stock rose more than 4 percent in extended trading after the medical device company announced higher-than-expected revenues and earnings.
O'Reilly Auto Parts shares soared more than 11 percent in the extended session. The retailer's earnings per share were well above expectations and revenues fell in line with estimates. Same-store sales grew more than analysts estimated.

NYT | DealBook / Business & Policy: How Fake Mark Zuckerbergs Scam Facebook Users Out of Their Cash on April 25, 2018.

How Fake Mark Zuckerbergs Scam Facebook Users Out of Their Cash

Jack Nicas

SAN FRANCISCO — A Facebook notification on Gary Bernhardt’s phone woke him up one night last November with incredible news: a message from Mark Zuckerberg himself, saying that he had won $750,000 in the Facebook lottery.
“I got all excited. Wouldn’t you?” said Mr. Bernhardt, 67, a retired forklift driver and Army veteran in Ham Lake, Minn. He stayed up until dawn trading messages with the person on the other end. To obtain his winnings, he was told, he first needed to send $200 in iTunes gift cards.
Hours later, Mr. Bernhardt bought the gift cards at a gas station and sent the redemption codes to the account that said it was Mr. Zuckerberg. But the requests for money didn’t stop. By January, Mr. Bernhardt had wired an additional $1,310 in cash, or about a third of his social-security checks over three months.
Mr. Bernhardt eventually realized that he had been the unwitting victim of a scam that has thrived on Facebook and Instagram by using the sites’ own brands — and its top executives — to lure people in. At a time when the real Mr. Zuckerberg has vowed to clean up Facebook, the Silicon Valley company has failed to eliminate impostor accounts masquerading as him and his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to swindle Facebook users out of thousands of dollars.
“I got all excited,” said Gary Bernhardt, a retired forklift driver who thought Facebook’s chief executive had contacted him about winning a Facebook lottery. “Wouldn’t you?” Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times
An examination by The New York Times found 205 accounts impersonating Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg on Facebook and its photo-sharing site Instagram, not including fan pages or satire accounts, which are permitted under the company’s rules. At least 51 of the impostor accounts, including 43 on Instagram, were lottery scams like the one that fooled Mr. Bernhardt.
The fake Zuckerbergs and faux Sandbergs have proliferated on Facebook and Instagram, despite the presence of Facebook groups that track the scams and complaints about the trick dating to at least 2010.
A day after The Times informed Facebook of its findings, the company had removed all 96 impostor Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg accounts on its Facebook site. But it had left up all but one of the 109 fakes on Instagram.
Fake Instagram accounts using the names of the Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.
“Thank you so much for reporting this,” said Pete Voss, a Facebook spokesman. He could not say why Facebook had not spotted the accounts posing as its top executives, including several that appeared to have existed for more than eight years. “It’s not easy,” he said. “We want to get better.”
Facebook requires people to use their authentic name and identity. Yet the company has estimated that perhaps 3 percent of its users — as many as 60 million accounts — are fake. Some of those accounts are disguised as ordinary people, some pretend to be celebrities such as Justin Bieber.
In congressional testimony this month, Mr. Zuckerberg said Facebook was improving its software to automatically detect and remove such accounts. Facebook officials have said the company blocks millions of fake accounts trying to register each day and analysts said the social network has improved its efforts to remove the accounts.
“Fake accounts, over all, are a big issue, because that’s how a lot of the other issues that we see around fake news and foreign election interference are happening as well,” Mr. Zuckerberg told lawmakers, adding that Facebook is hiring more people to work on reviewing content.
But major holes remain. Interviews with a half-dozen recent victims — and online conversations with nine impostor accounts — showed that the Facebook lottery deception is alive and well, preying particularly on older, less educated and low-income people.
The Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg impostor accounts typically use the executives’ pictures as profile photos and list their Facebook titles. Some post manipulated images of people holding oversize checks. The names of Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg are sometimes misspelled, or use parentheses and middle names (Elliot for Mr. Zuckerberg and Kara for Ms. Sandberg) to evade Facebook’s software.
Screenshots show the search results on Facebook for variations of the names of Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg.
Many of the impersonators had dozens to hundreds of followers; several had thousands. They are aided by a network of other sham accounts with generic names, such as Jim Towey and Mary Gilbert, which purported to be “Facebook claim agents.”
The scammers seek victims who, based on their Facebook and Instagram profiles, seem vulnerable, said Robin Alexander van der Kieft, who manages several Facebook groups that track the scams. The various fake accounts share information about successful shakedowns and continue pouncing on those victims, he said. He has traced many of the internet protocol addresses of these fake accounts to Nigeria and Ghana.
The pitch often begins with an unsolicited “Hello. How are you doing?” on Facebook or Instagram. The fake accounts then proceed, sometimes in broken English, to inform people of their enormous Facebook lottery prize.
After several messages between The Times and a fake Sheryl Sandberg account on Instagram last week, the impostor offered $950,000 and a new car via the “Facebook splash promotion 2018.”
When asked for proof the account was Ms. Sandberg, the scammer sent a Photoshopped identification. “I want you to know that this Promo is 100% Real and Legitimate and the Government are aware of this Promo you don’t have to be skeptical all you just have to do is to follow all instruction giving to you okay,” the account added.
Three days later, the account said it needed a $100 iTunes gift card to process and activate the winning A.T.M. card. (iTunes gift cards can quickly be redeemed and traded on the black market for cash.)
After initially resisting, the sham Ms. Sandberg agreed to a phone call, adding “I’m not the one that will be speaking to you O.K.” Seconds later, a call arrived from a number with a 650 area code — Silicon Valley.
“You have to be careful, there are lots of scam artists,” a man said in accented English after he was informed that he was speaking with The Times. He added, “All I’m trying to do is get your winning package.”
The Times reached out to more than 50 impostor accounts. Most messages went unreturned. None that replied broke character.
The charade has ensnared people like Donna Keithley, 50, a stay-at-home mom with four children in Martinsburg, Pa. In March 2016, an account with the name Linda Ritchey messaged Ms. Keithley “on behalf of the Facebook C.E.O Mark Zuckerberg” to pass on word of her good fortune: $650,000 in lottery winnings. Ms. Keithley wired $350 — a delivery fee — the next day.
That began a monthlong saga. According to a 28,000-word transcript of a Facebook Messenger conversation between Ms. Keithley and the account, the scammer repeatedly played on Ms. Keithley’s Christian faith to get her to send more money.
“Are you good Christian with god fears?” the Linda Ritchey account asked. “Can you trust me and also have believe in me?”

Donna Keithley’s Messages With ‘Linda Ritchey’

An exchange Donna Keithley had with an account that purported to belong to an employee of “the Facebook social Network Inc.” Messages from the account suggested that Ms. Keithley charge $500 to her credit card.
Linda Ritchey
March 21, 2018 at 7:25 PM
I will contact you once this is posted and I make this payment.
Donna Keithley
Good Donna.
Linda Ritchey
Did you get message from Mr Mark yet?
Good Donna.
Are you told about $500 that will enter your second card huh?
Good Donna.
You can see am trying my best as a Good Christian with God Fearing huh?
I am only human. God made me the way I am. Amy human would ask questions and doubt things. Do you realize there are many people that take people for granted and then people get leery because it's publicly made aware. I put my trust in the Lord.
Okay Donna.
I also put my trust in God too
Well I got to get work done so I can spend time with my girls when they get home.
Okay Donna, But did you still have trust in me huh?
I trust you.
Same here too
Over the next month, Ms. Keithley received not only Facebook messages but a call from a Mr. Zuckerberg impostor who assured her the lottery was real. She even heard from a Facebook account masquerading as Eileen M. Decker, the former United States attorney in Los Angeles, asking for $205 to process her winnings.
The Times found at least five Facebook accounts posing as Ms. Decker and advertising government grants, another known scam. Ms. Decker told The Times that she has tried to get Facebook to remove the accounts, but the site wanted a picture of her government-issued identification to do so. She refused. “To me, they’re not a trusted source,” she said. She added that she had contacted the F.B.I. and hired a lawyer.
Ms. Keithley’s scammer ordered her to open new credit cards and bank accounts, and even to get a loan using her husband’s 2001 Ford Taurus as collateral. Midway through the month, she said she had a minor stroke from the stress.
By April 2016, she had used her family’s tax refund and loans from relatives to pay the scammer $5,306.43 — much of it in money transfers to the name Ben Amos in Lagos, Nigeria.
“It just devastated the whole household,” said her husband, Tim Keithley, a security guard who was making $10 an hour at the time.
The ordeal was so costly, Ms. Keithley said, the family’s telephone service was shut off. They also had to go to a food bank.
While Ms. Keithley still gets messages from accounts claiming to work for Facebook, she said she is now wiser. “Lord as my witness, no one’s getting any more money from me,” she said.
After they are duped, victims may struggle with what to do next. Mr. Bernhardt, the retired forklift driver, said he didn’t know how to report the scammers to Facebook. Ms. Keithley said she had called a number for Facebook she had found online, though she was not sure the number was authentic. She also reported the scam to local police, who said they couldn’t help, and the Pennsylvania attorney general. A spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general said the office did not have a record of Ms. Keithley’s report, but that it planned to contact her.
Others said they regularly report scammers to Facebook, but the company can be slow to act.
Kathryn Schwartz, 55, from Lodi, N.J., said she has been in credit-card debt since she lost $1,742 trying to claim bogus Facebook lottery winnings in 2016. She said she has since been barraged by scammers and regularly reports them, including in messages to the real Mr. Zuckerberg.
One Facebook account named Mary Williams recently messaged Ms. Schwartz, saying it would help her claim her winnings. A review of the account showed that in March it had renamed itself, purporting to be a Boise, Idaho, native who works at Facebook. Years of posts before that depicted a man in Nigeria.
When Ms. Schwartz posted on Facebook last week that Mary Williams was a con artist, the account left a comment: “You think you are smart but you are not. If you were smart why were you scammed.” The emojis tacked at the end of the message were crying with laughter.
Mr. Bernhardt said that since he wired his last payment to the Mr. Zuckerberg masquerader in January, he has heard from two other Mark Zuckerbergs, one Sheryl Sandberg and other accounts promising him winnings in return for more cash.

Gary Bernhardt’s Messages With ‘Sheryl Sandberg’

An exchange Gary Bernhardt had with someone he believed to be Facebook’s chief operating officer, who promised him lottery winnings if he first paid $500 in fees.
Once you get the fee just get back to me so that I can update the delivery agent so that they can be ready to delivery you're winnings to your home door step
April 10, 2018 at 3:51 PM
Well I guess I’m not going to be able to get the money
Gary Bernhardt
Because I have a friend or family to give me any money
What do you mean
Because they know that I been scammed before
Oh I see
What are you going to do now
To get this fee
Are you there?
Yes I’m here
So now what is going on about your winnings now
So you mean you are not interested in your winnings
I'm interested in the winnings
Then just get this fee send so that you can get your winnings without any delay
I try to get a loan
When are you going to do that
It could take a couple days to see if I can get a loan
Make sure you did not tell them about your winnings news
Is that understood
I will try today
No conversations have gone as deep as with his original scammer. “I thought we were getting real close,” Mr. Bernhardt said. “He started calling me Mr. Gary and I started calling him Mr. Mark.”
He said he had told his scammer about growing up in a foster home and his dream of owning a house on a lake.
“They sucked me in because they knew my dreams,” he said.

DealBook / Business & Policy: ConocoPhillips Wins $2 Billion Ruling Over Venezuelan Seizure on April 25,2018.

ConocoPhillips Wins $2 Billion Ruling Over Venezuelan Seizure

Clifford Krauss

Supporters of President Hugo Chávez during a speech in 2007 in which he said foreign oil companies, including ConocoPhillips, had illegally profited from their operations in Venezuela. Howard Yanes/Bloomberg

HOUSTON — ConocoPhillips won a ruling on Wednesday that says it is entitled to more than $2 billion over Venezuela’s expropriation of several oil projects more than a decade ago.
Now the problem is trying to collect. The Venezuelan government has resisted the demands of companies whose assets it has confiscated, and it is effectively bankrupt.
A drawn-out international legal struggle began in 2007 when ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil refused to cede control of their major oil production ventures to the Venezuelan government, as demanded by Hugo Chávez, who was president.
Several other oil companies, including Chevron, Repsol of Spain and Total of France, agreed to the demand and accepted partnerships with the national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, better known as Pdvsa.
“We are pleased,” Janet Langford Carrig, a ConocoPhillips senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement after Wednesday’s ruling by an arbitration tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce. “The ruling upholds the contractual protections to which ConocoPhillips is entitled.”
A statement by ConocoPhillips, based in Houston, said it would “pursue enforcement and seek financial recovery of its award to the full extent of the law.”
The company has a separate, but parallel, legal action against Venezuela pending before a tribunal of the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
Pdvsa and the Venezuelan government are already in default on more than $50 billion in bonds after failing to make interest payments since last fall. In pursuing its claim, ConocoPhillips could seek legal authority to seize assets owned by Pdvsa abroad, including oil tankers or the refineries and pipeline networks in the United States owned by Citgo, a Pdvsa subsidiary.
But the roughly 20 international companies with claims against Venezuela have made little progress in such efforts.
Last summer, a United States appeals court ruled that Exxon Mobil could not enforce an international arbitration award against Venezuela. The court said the company should have made its attempt under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which offers strong protections to sovereign defendants.
Several oil companies have decided to remain in Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, figuring that it is worth waiting for a possible resolution to the country’s political turmoil.
BP stayed for a few years before selling its small stake to TNK-BP, a Russian affiliate.
Companies that have remained have shuffled personnel out of the country over the last two years because of unrest. Two Venezuelan employees of Chevron were arrested last week for refusing to sign a contract. Halliburton this week wrote off its remaining $312 million invested in Venezuela.
Daily oil production in Venezuela is collapsing, and is 200,000 barrels lower than late last year, helping to raise global oil prices.

The Guardian | Opinion: Australia has neglected its relationship with the Pacific – but that can change | Australia news on April 25, 2018.

Australia has neglected its relationship with the Pacific – but that can change | Australia news

Australia’s responsibility to the Pacific is unique – besides our historical ties with the UK, it is the only relationship specifically mentioned in the constitution. And for 10 of the more than dozen island nations in the region, unquestionably their most important bilateral relationship is with our country. Two things we often forget.
But for the last half decade or so there have been three very clear signs of a distinct step back in terms of Australia’s engagement with the Pacific – all of which has materially changed the way we are viewed in the region we call home.
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Firstly, and perhaps where most attention is often singularly focused, there has been an overall reduction in Australia’s international aid. Even though this has been concentrated back in the Pacific under the Coalition Government – and at $1.1bn annually we are still the largest donor – the narrative has been negative. Nothing lingers more in the minds of the Pacific than projects that were slated to happen and never have as a result of this reduction, no matter how much other activity there has been.
Secondly, there has been a visible lack of prime ministerial attention on the region. Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Howard and Kevin Rudd all visited the Pacific on their first trips overseas as prime minister. In contrast, Julia Gillard waited until her third year in office, and Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull until their second – with Abbott causing great upset after he and Peter Dutton shared a joke about rising sea levels.
Strangely, the reverse has also not been encouraged. Only two Pacific leaders have been invited for official visits to Australia since 2013, despite a number of unofficial engagements and a constant stream of transiting Pacific politicians through the airports of Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns. Symbolism matters in diplomacy, and protocol matters in the Pacific, and this will not have gone unnoticed.
Thankfully the trend at foreign ministerial level has been more consistent. Julie Bishop has been to the region an extraordinary 30 times, Bob Carr visited in his first month, Stephen Smith on his first trip, Alexander Downer used to conduct an annual pre-Christmas swing, and Gareth Evans’ first trip was entirely dedicated to the Pacific.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there has been an increasing schism between the extent to which Australia says it will be represent Pacific interests on the world stage, and the extent to which we have. This was perhaps best evident during Australia’s campaign for a seat on the Security Council when we promised to be a voice for the Pacific (whose votes are really important in these contests), but then did very little that stood out as much. However, it is our position on climate change that is perhaps the most telling example – though there are many other instances where we have been at odds with the Pacific, including on the new Nuclear Ban Treaty.
The fact that all this has occurred at the same time as the bedrock of our people-to-people ties have also been hollowed out as cheaper airfares mean more Australians now holiday in Asia rather than the Pacific, has also not helped.
While none of this individually has been enough to shake us from our usual perch of being many in the Pacific’s most favoured friend, it has been enough for the Pacific to begin to seriously – and quite rightly – begin to cast their gaze much wider. Even if it does help illustrate the point, the nature of Vanuatu’s discussions with China, and how we would rationally handle such a scenario after the hysteria of the last week is irrelevant here – there is a broader current at play.
Indeed, with referendums set to take place shortly in Bougainville and New Caledonia, and the Cook Islands pushing for a seat at the United Nations, the Pacific is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, and the race for the Pacific is very much on. In the last few years, Xi Jingping and Narendra Modi have both visited the region, Emmanuel Macron will do so next month, and in November the leaders of APEC – including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Justin Trudeau – will all descend on Port Moresby. Just this week the United Kingdom also announced it would ramp up its presence in the region post-Brexit.
If Australia is to remain a genuine and strong member of the Pacific family – for our own benefit as much as theirs – then reversing these trends would be a good place to start. But these days, this can only be a start. And we will need to be quick.
Ultimately, we need to embrace our place in the Pacific in a way we never have before. We need to be more welcoming and let more Pacific Islanders call Australia home if they so choose, boost our people-to-people ties through greater political and educational exchanges and encourage more Australians to spend time in the region, change our curriculums to teach about the Pacific, and seriously ramp up our military cooperation beyond disaster recovery efforts. Perhaps every Australian diplomat should have to first do a posting in the Pacific before going off to the wider world. Some countries have a similar approach with their neighbours or key bilateral partners, and Port Moresby is, after all, home to one of our biggest embassies already. This would all help materially shift our own understanding and engagement with the region – and in time, our place.
Richard Marles has powerfully made the case for going even further and offering a genuine “pledge” to the Pacific (not a “Compact” type relationship as others have suggested), including to assist with government service delivery as we already do in some narrow circumstances. Even just extending more of our own frontline services – like the Royal Flying Doctor – to the Pacific would help save lives and make a big difference (something I can personally attest to having witnessed the tragedies that happen when help cannot quickly arrive by air).
A White Paper on the Pacific would be a good way to explore all this – and most importantly, to kickstart a serious national debate – and then signal a shift in our national thinking in the same way we tried with the White Paper on Australia in the Asian-Century in 2012. Business also has a big role to play, as our relatively strong relationship with Papua New Guinea shows.
But – to use a quintessentially Australian term – “it’s the vibe” that really matters. The Pacific know when Australia’s engagement is genuine, sustained and on an even footing, and when it is not. And when the Pacific feels we do not prioritise the region for our benefit as much as theirs, we cannot expect the Pacific to continue to prioritise us. We need to embrace our place in the Pacific, not ignore it.
Thom Woodroofe (@thomwoodroofe) is a UN Representative with Independent Diplomat, a non-profit diplomatic advisory group

CNBC | Asia, Europe and U.S. Stock Markets Reporr on April 25, 218


dollar moves and oil prices in focus

Saheli Roy Choudhury

Markets in Asia traded lower on Wednesday, following an overnight drop in U.S. stocks as investors worried about rising interest rates and the outlook of the economy.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 62.80 points, or 0.28 percent, to 22,215.32 while the Topix index declined 2.02 points, or 0.11 percent, to 1,767.73.
Shares of Takeda Pharmaceutical dropped 7.03 percent after news emerged that the company increased its acquisition offer for London-listed drugmaker Shire, to about 46 billion pounds ($64 billion).
In South Korea, the Kospi was down 15.33 points, or 0.62 percent, at 2,448.81.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.15 percent as of 3:03 p.m. HK/SIN. Chinese mainland markets were mixed with the Shanghai composite declining 10.92 points, or 0.35 percent, to 3,117.99 and the Shenzhen composite rose 4.85 points, or 0.26 percent, to 1,809.25.
Australia and New Zealand markets were shut for the Anzac day public holiday.
"Risk off sentiment heightened after the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield touched 3 [percent] handle for the first time since Jan. 2014," analysts at Singapore's OCBC Bank wrote in a morning note.
"The normalization of U.S. yield at a faster than expected pace raised the concern about equity valuation, which led to increasing market volatility," they wrote. The analysts added that the recent dollar surge paused despite investors trying to "re-establish the correlation between dollar and higher yields."
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 90.981 as of 2:43 p.m. HK/SIN. The index rose from levels below 90.00 reached in the previous week and briefly crossed the 91.00 level in the Tuesday session.
The Japanese yen traded at 109.10 to the dollar while the euro fetched $1.2211.
Oil prices fell overnight as concerns that the U.S. might reinstate sanctions against Iran faded.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that the U.S. could soon reach an agreement with France that would preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Trump made his comments during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is trying to dissuade his American counterpart from pulling out of the accord.
Still, Eurasia Group analysts said in a note that it did not change their "overall call that the Iran nuclear deal has a 65 [percent] probability of collapsing during Trump's first term."
But many analysts also believe that an oil market slump which started in 2014 has ended and that a sustained price rally is likely due to supply disruptions and strong demand from Asia, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday afternoon during Asian hours, oil prices were down a notch — U.S. crude was lower by 0.13 percent to $67.61 and global benchmark Brent declined 0.12 percent to $73.77 a barrel.
— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher and Reuters contributed to this report.


European stocks close lower as rising yields put investors on edge

Alexandra Gibbs, Silvia Amaro, Ryan Browne

European stocks closed lower Wednesday, as rising yields in the bond markets offset excitement surrounding corporate earnings.


FTSE FTSE 7379.32
-46.08 -0.62% 907005441
DAX DAX 12422.30
-128.52 -1.02% 111934765
CAC CAC 5413.30
-30.86 -0.57% 80470471
IBEX 35 --- --- --- --- --- ---
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed provisionally down 0.77 percent, with most sectors and all major bourses in the red. Basic resources stocks were down almost 1.8 percent while industrials were almost 1.7 percent lower. Overall, market players were worried with the impact of higher interest rates on the stock market, and more broadly, on the global economy.
The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield topped 3 percent on Tuesday — the first time it has done in more than four years. Investors around the world have been fixated on the 10-year note, with concerns looming that hitting the 3 percent barrier could trigger a reaction from financial markets both in the U.S. and internationally.
On Wall Street, stocks dropped, adding to losses from the previous trading session, with investors worried about the impact of higher interest rates.


Metso jumped to the top of the European benchmark Wednesday, up more than 7 percent after reporting an operating profit that was up by 28 percent in the first quarter. Credit Suisse rose 3.8 percent after delivering an earnings beat.
Kering was among the top performing stocks in Europe, up by 4.6 percent, after posting a strong first-quarter growth in sales.
The German lighting group Osram sank 17 percent, after cutting its forward guidance for the 2018 fiscal year. U.K. lender Metro Bank fell near to the bottom of the index, down by 7 percent, on rising costs. The bank added it might need an equity raise.
Sticking with the corporate space, the board of biotech firm Shire announced that it had received a revised acquisition proposal of £46 billion ($64 billion) from Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. In a statement, the Irish group said it was willing to recommend this revised offer to its shareholders.

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Looking to politics, President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to strive for stronger measures on Iran, in regards to the nuclear deal established in 2015.
The U.S. leader also revealed on Tuesday that NAFTA talks could be agreed on quickly, and showed positivity on the country's relationship with North Korea, saying that the Asian leader Kim Jong Un had been "very honorable" and wanted to hold a summit soon; Reuters reported.

                                                                       U. S.

Dow snaps 5-day losing streak as Boeing soars on earnings

Fred Imbert, Alexandra Gibbs

The Dow Jones industrial average closed higher for the first time in six sessions on Wednesday, recovering from sharp losses seen earlier in the day, as Boeing soared on strong earnings.
Boeing rose 4.2 percent after reporting quarterly results that easily beat analyst expectations. The stock's rise helped the Dow bounce back from a 201.05-point deficit and snap a five-day losing streak. The Dow closed at 24,083.83, up 59.70 points.
The S&P 500 also erased earlier losses, closing 0.2 percent higher at 2,639.40. The Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, slipped 0.1 percent to 7,003.74.
Stocks fell sharply earlier in the day as interest rates rose to levels not seen in years.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield traded at 3.03 percent after breaking above 3 percent for the first time since 2014 on Tuesday. Investors are worried rising borrowing costs may slow the economy and hurt companies' ability to buy back their own stock.
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Brendan McDermid | Reuters
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
"For 10 years, rates were kept artificially low to encourage risk taking," said Jack Ablin, founding partner of Cresset Wealth. "Once we get to more normal levels, that's going to become a challenge for equities as an asset class."
Financial markets around the globe fell as yields rose, with European and Asian indexes closing in the red Wednesday.
U.S. equities fell sharply in the previous session, with the Dow dropping more than 400 points and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both declining more than 1 percent.
The recent market volatility is taking place despite a string of strong corporate earnings. Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported thus far, 81 percent have topped analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
On Tuesday, Caterpillar posted earnings and revenue that beat expectations, but the shares fell after the company's CFO said their first-quarter results may have been the "high watermark" for the year. Those remarks helped push the market lower in the previous session.
Twitter also reported stronger-than-forecast earnings on Wednesday, but the stock fell 2.4 percent. Comcast, NBCUniversal's parent company, also released better-than-expected earnings Wednesday.
"Earnings have been strong, but right now the market has a high bar for earnings with the tax cut in place," said Jeff Zipper, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "The market also appears to be looking for any bad news" to sell.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect Jeff Zipper's correct last name.