Saturday, July 11, 2015

Espionage Lessons from the OPM Hack - Saturday July 11th, 2015 at 2:00 PM: "At the strategic level, the exploit of OPM’s four million records means very little. It has not and will not change how the United States conducts the business of foreign policy, but the entire intelligence community needs reevaluate how it might conduct its mission. It is important to keep the real issue of cyber espionage in mind as we debate the future of conflict."


Pope Praises Paraguayan Women

Beach evacuated; witnesses report boom, woman knocked down - USA TODAY

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USA TODAY

Beach evacuated; witnesses report boom, woman knocked down
USA TODAY
A July Saturday summer day got a jolt when a Rhode Island beach was evacuated after reports of a sand explosion. The explosion, in Narragansett at Salty Brine beach around 11 a.m., blew a woman onto the rocks, authorities told ABC News. She was taken ...
Apparent explosion injures woman on Rhode Island beach: officialsReuters
Explosion Report Prompts Evacuation at Rhode Island BeachABC News
Rhode Island beach evacuated after possible explosion injures womanNew York Daily News
CBS News -CBS Local -Minneapolis Star Tribune
all 48 news articles »

Confiscated mafia loot worth billions gives Italy an unexpected ... 

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home · US · world selected · opinion · sports · soccer · tech · arts · lifestyle · fashion · business · travel · environment · science. browse all sections close. home · US · world selected · UK · europe · americas · asia .... More news ...

Nazi Enigma machine expected to sell for £70,000

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The Enigma 1, which dates from between 1930 and 1938 is also known as the Wehrmacht, or 'Services' Enigma, and was used by German military and the railways before and during the war.

Isis's female Gestapo wreaking terror on their own sex

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One teacher told of her horrifying capture in the Syrian city of Raqqa by the ruthless all-women police unit, the Al-Khansa brigade, created to enforce IS rules.

2nd Tunisia terror attack foiled as 5 ISIS extremists shot dead

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Five Islamic extremists on the verge of carrying out another terrorist attack on holidaymakers in Tunisia were yesterday shot dead as thousands of tourists were flown home.

Satanic Temple still plans to unveil devil statue in Detroit, despite protests 

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The Satanic Temple plans to unveil a large statue dedicated to the devil in the city of Detroit later this month, despite intensified protests by church leaders and residents that have caused the original venue to back out of the event.
Originally slated to be unveiled on July 25 at Bert’s Warehouse in Detroit before the venue canceled its involvement, the 9-foot bronze statue of Baphomet, a goatlike idol with a man’s body, horns and wings originally associated with the Knights Templar. The statue reportedly weighs one ton and is made of bronze.
On its website, the Satanic Temple said the state “is intended to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on Oklahoma State Capitol grounds.”
“The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures. The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation,” temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement earlier this year.
Although the statue was originally meant to stand alongside the 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma, the state Supreme Court there recently ruled that the monument must be removed because government property cannot be used to show support for any religion. Now without a home for the statue, the Satanic Temple is considering applying for space near a 10 Commandments monument at the Arkansas State Capitol, according to Fox News.
“The message behind Baphomet is a reconciliation of the opposites, not this call to arms of one against one, but a merging of the two,” Director of the Detroit Satanic Temple chapter and national spokeswoman Jex Blackmore told Fox. “That’s part of the reason that it can only exist standing next to the Ten Commandments. That’s part of the message. We wouldn’t want to proselytize as a single voice in the public square.”
Until then, it’s planning a special unveiling in Detroit, home to the organization’s first chapter.
However, backlash from the community is making the event tougher to pull off than the group anticipated. Feeling the heat, Bert’s Warehouse pulled out of the event, leaving the Satanic Temple searching for another venue. The group told local WXYZ it was disappointed in the decision but that it still plans to continue with its unveiling on the same date at an unnamed location.
Local church leaders have banded together to oppose the statue and declared their intent to organize a protest on the same day the state is revealed.
“The last thing we need—in a city where we’re fighting against violence and fighting against economic problems and unemployment and the water crisis—is a statue dedicated to Satan right downtown,” Pastor David Bullock of the St. Matthew Baptist Church told Christian Today.
“They’re bringing a Baphomet statue to the city of Detroit valorising, elevating Satan. This is not even a real religion in my estimation,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Temple has marked the occasion as a special one, saying it will “serve as a call-to-arms” for the group to begin a fight “in the name of individual rights to free exercise against self-serving theocrats.”
A recent story by Vice News highlighted one aspect of this battle, describing the group’s effort to challenge laws restricting abortion on the grounds that such regulations actually violate a Temple member’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion. According to Vice, the Temple believes an individual’s body is “inviolable” and therefore only he or she can decide what to do with it. Because the group also believes a fetus is not a person, but rather “tissue that belongs to a woman,” it’s up to the woman and not the state to determine whether or not to keep it.
        
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AP Top News at 12:51 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 12:51 p.m. EDT
Car bombing at Italian Consulate in Egypt's capital kills 1CAIRO (AP) - A car bomb ripped into the Italian Consulate in Cairo early Saturday, destroying a section of the historic building in a powerful blast that killed one Egyptian and marked the most significant attack yet on foreign interests as militants target the country's security forces. A group calling itself The Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the bombing in a message circulated on social media. The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified but it was distributed by known militant sympathizers. Previous claims linked to Islamic State attacks in Egypt had been signed as the group's Sinai Province. It wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, the new name signified.
After years of declining crime, a spike in city violenceCHICAGO (AP) - Police departments across the country that have spent years boasting about plummeting crime numbers are now scrambling to confront something many agencies have not seen in decades: more bloodshed. Houston, St. Louis, New Orleans and Baltimore have all seen significant spikes in the number of homicides this year. The totals are up in other cities, too, including New York and Chicago.
Chinese counterfeiter finds a comfortable life in CaliforniaSHANGHAI (AP) - The Chinese woman has a history of selling counterfeit luxury goods. She has been sued in the U.S. by eight luxury brands. She owes Chanel Inc. $6.9 million for selling products online under its name. None of it has stopped Xu Ting, a 45-year-old immigrant, from achieving a comfortable suburban life in San Diego with her husband and their 3-year-old son. Last year, she became a legal resident.
20 years on, ex-SC gov Beasley's prayer on flag answeredCOLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Confederate battle flag has been an albatross around David Beasley's neck for 20 years, costing him the political legacy of a second gubernatorial term, a seat in the U.S. Senate and beyond. Now that it's been removed from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds, the former Republican governor says the unity that has grown from the flag debate was worth the wait - and personal sacrifice.
The Latest: Paraguay's Guarani language part of papal MassASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) - Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis' trip to South America: ---
Afghanistan says US strikes destroy its Islamic State branchKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan said Saturday that recent U.S. airstrikes it assisted destroyed the top leadership of a fledging Islamic State affiliate there, potentially striking a major blow to an insurgent group already targeted by local Taliban fighters. While U.S. officials declined to confirm it, Afghan authorities said an American airstrike Friday killed Islamic State affiliate leader Hafeez Sayeed and more than 30 other militants. That comes after Afghan officials said another U.S. airstrike Tuesday killed the affiliate's second-highest official, Gul Zaman, and six others, including a former Pakistani Taliban spokesman named Shahidullah Shahid who earlier had joined the group.
Srebrenica ceremonies marred by attack on Serbia's premierSREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - A crowd of furious Bosnian Muslims jumped over fences and attacked Serbia's prime minister with stones and water bottles on Saturday, marring the 20th anniversary commemorations of the Srebrenica massacre. Aleksandar Vucic, a former ultranationalist during the Balkan wars but who is now a moderate with a pro-Western stance, escaped serious injury. He said he was hit in the face with a rock as the crowds chanted "Kill, Kill" and "Allahu akbar," the Arabic phrase for "God is great."
Papal Mass in Paraguay becomes makeshift Argentine welcomeCAACUPE, Paraguay (AP) - Pope Francis received a very Argentine welcome Saturday at Paraguay's most important pilgrimage site, with thousands of his countrymen joining hundreds of thousands of Paraguayan faithful for a Mass that served as a makeshift homecoming for the Argentine pope. Argentina's blue and white flag and its national team soccer jersey were ubiquitous among the mate tea-sipping faithful who packed the main square and nearby streets at Caacupe, which houses a little wooden statue of the Virgin Mary that is close to Francis' heart.

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ISIS Supporters Claim Fatal Car Bombing in Egypt’s Capital

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(CAIRO)—A car bomb ripped into the Italian Consulate in Cairo early Saturday, destroying a section of the historic building in a powerful blast that killed one Egyptian and marked the most significant attack yet on foreign interests as militants target the country’s security forces.
A group calling itself The Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the bombing in a message circulated on social media. The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified but it was distributed by known militant sympathizers. Previous claims linked to Islamic State attacks in Egypt had been signed as the group’s Sinai Province. It wasn’t immediately clear what, if anything, the new name signified.
Egypt faces threats from multiple insurgent factions, including the Islamic State affiliate in the restive Sinai that the military says killed at least 17 soldiers in a recent assault there. Security officials from several branches of Egypt’s security forces previously told The Associated Press that that attack killed dozens more.
The bombing struck at around 6:30 a.m. (0430 GMT, 12:30 a.m. EDT), exploding in a side street in downtown Cairo near the building’s back entrance and a busy highway overpass. Italian authorities said the consulate was closed at the time and none of its workers were wounded.
The blast killed a passer-by and wounded eight, one of whom is still in the hospital, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Egyptian Heath Ministry official Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar told the AP that the man killed had some of his limbs blown off.
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi after the attack, saying in a statement: “We will not leave Egypt alone: Italy and Egypt are and will always be together in the fight against terrorism.”
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that Italy would increase security at Italian sites in Cairo and greater Egypt.
“This is not a challenge that the West will win by itself,” he said. “It is a challenge that we will win together with the large majority of the Islamic community and of the Arab governments.”
An Egyptian security official said investigators were reviewing closed-circuit video recordings from the area, noting that one vehicle that disintegrated in the explosion had license plates from the canal city of Suez.
The blast heavily damaged the distinctive early 20th century building that once housed a school and became the Italian Consulate after World War II. Charred car parts littered the street, which flooded in some areas from rupture water pipes. Several floors of the consulate were destroyed on one side, leaving a gaping hole.
The purported Islamic State claim said the group had used 450 kilograms (990 pounds) of explosives in the attack. It warned Muslims to stay away from such “security nests” that were “lawful targets” for attacks.
The bombing marked the first large-scale attack on a foreign diplomatic installation since President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi took office a year ago, following his 2013 ouster as army chief of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Since then, attacks on security personnel and officials have intensified, most recently one that killed the country’s chief prosecutor near his home in Cairo.
Some bombs went off near branches of foreign businesses ahead of an international investment conference in March. A few months prior, the British and Canadian embassies closed after senior Egyptian security officials said suspected militants revealed plans to target the embassies, abduct foreign nationals and assassinate public figures.
Egyptian authorities have blamed many attacks on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group, which denies using violence and condemned Saturday’s bombing. The Brotherhood’s ranks have grown divided recently over whether to violently confront the government in response to a nearly 2-year-old heavy crackdown that has killed hundreds and imprisoned thousands of its members.
It wasn’t clear if Italy was specifically targeted in Saturday’s attack. Italy hosted el-Sissi’s first official visit to Europe late last year, and the Italian Consulate building also housed a restaurant popular among Westerners and Cairenes.
The consulate sits on one of the busiest intersections in downtown Cairo, along a major artery that connects Ramsis Square to the heart of the capital. The surrounding area includes a large hospital, a major police station surrounded by blast walls, a central ambulance dispatching station and the state-owned flagship newspaper Al-Ahram.
Meanwhile Saturday, a mortar shell fired by Sinai militants at an army position hit a car instead, killing one civilian and wounding three near the border town of Rafah, security officials said. All Egyptian officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
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This Weekend’s Foreign Policy Must-Reads 

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“Moral injury is its own separate trauma with symptoms that can include feelings of shame, guilt, betrayal, regret, anxiety, anger, self-loathing, and self-harm. Last year, a study published in Traumatology found that military personnel who felt conflicted about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of a combat situation were at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior afterwards, compared with their peers who didn’t have that same sense of ambiguity. The main difference between the two combat-induced traumas is that moral injury is not about the loss of safety, but the loss of trust—in oneself, in others, in the military, and sometimes in the nation as a whole.”
For the men and women who fight, wars never entirely end. Nor does the moral responsibility to care for veterans. The better we understand the particulars of the traumas they have faced, the more we can do to help them.
“The populist message of the [right-wing Danish People Party] has expanded well beyond attacks on immigration. The party has increasingly campaigned on the safeguarding of welfare rights and social protection, successfully placing themselves to the left of the Social Democrats in the popular imagination (despite having voted for almost all of the recent neoliberal economic reforms). This has allowed them to reach broader electorates that would otherwise be repelled by their harsh anti-immigration stance.”
These are trends that we are seeing across the continent. And while the world focuses on the dramatic brinkmanship that continues between Greece and its creditors, the more insidious threats to European unity continue to grow.
Caucasian Jihad – The Economist
“Russia may hope that letting jihadists leave the country is good riddance. Insurgent activity in the North Caucasus has certainly gone down. The chances of [Islamic State] militants returning are slim; Russia does, in fact, tightly control its borders. Yet Akhmet Yarlykapov, a Dagestan expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, says the tactic is short-sighted. Russia itself is faced with a major threat from IS: it recently claimed the entire territory of Caucasus as one of its provinces.”
This is a dangerous strategy, because it presumes that extremism can be stopped at the border. But if the Islamic State can use the Internet and social media to bring recruits to Syria and Iraq, it can also inspire like-minded people to launch attacks where they live.
The Invisible Digital War – Foreign Policy
“Project Shield uses Google’s infrastructure — which has been bolstered greatly to keep services like YouTube and Gmail online — to protect news and human rights-focused websites from [distributed denial of service] attacks. Google allows the websites under its protection to route their traffic through its servers, which are built to withstand even the most massive of attacks, dramatically reducing the load on their partners’ web infrastructure… The initiative, which is currently accepting applications for new sites, protects any organization that is focused on news, human rights, or election monitoring, regardless of their political views.”
Information activism in action. Once upon a time, turmoil in a police state set off a race for the TV and radio broadcast centers. Control of information is now a much more complex operation, and governments and their challengers are playing both offense and defense. Good for Google in creating Project Shield to provide protections for consumers of information and ideas.
“For Charlie Hebdo, the small satirical weekly transformed into a global symbol of freedom of expression by the slaughter early this year of its staff, money has also been an adversary, an idea that sat uneasily with its history and causes… Charlie Hebdo, irreverent mocker of all forms of power, reportedly finds itself sitting on more than $33 million in cash, a once unthinkable sum… All the money, [Charlie Hebdo writer Patrick Pelloux] muses, complicates this rebirth. It raises, again, the question of the paper’s political allegiances. Charlie, in its self-image, is of the left, the scrappy outsider rather than the moneyed insider. It is above all of the school that believes there is a right in Western democracies to laugh at everything, to blaspheme, and to commit sacrilege. It’s an equal-opportunity, anti-clerical mocker unconcerned by bad taste.”
Another collision at the intersection of Ideology and money. “Which side are you on, boy? Which side are you on?”
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Pope Praises Paraguayan Women

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Pope Francis celebrated Paraguayan women as the “most glorious women of America” in a sermon at the shrine of the country’s patron Madonna Saturday, the second-to-last day of his weeklong visit to South America.

Espionage Lessons from the OPM Hack

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It has almost been a month since the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) infiltration was made public and shockwaves of the hack reverberates in Washington, D.C. and beyond. In response, officials have shut down the E-QIP background investigation system. Security and privacy professionals seem united in their demands that OPM director Katherine Archuleta be held accountable for the security lapses in the organization. Commenter after commenter diagnoses the problems in our systems, institutions, and infrastructure, demanding accountability and change. While we continue to extract negatives from the story of the OPM hack, three lessons emerge that might give us hope for a secure future.

Lesson #1: Security is not assured in digital systems 

The incident should remind us that every networked system is vulnerable. Cyber espionage is a reality and a problem every institution will have to deal with. The events of the last few months only make this clear as the U.S. government officials admitted the State Department was hacked, which then led to an intrusion that even included some of Obama’s personal emails. The Syrian Liberation Army hacked the mil.gov website and public relations portal. Of course, to top it off, records for 4 million (or possibly many more) federal workers were stolen from the OPM, likely by the Chinese. Included in this massive amount of information is the background form that every employee who seeks secret clearance must fill out and includes some of the most intimate details about one’s personal life.
Searching for someone to blame is not really the answer. Rethinking what is available and networked is since the Internet was never designed with security in mind. Yet we continue to trust it with our deepest and darkest secrets. Once the vulnerabilities and the weaknesses of our systems are made clear, we can move forward with fixing the problems and altering the nature of how we share information. The simple conclusion is that we have entered an era of cyber espionage, not necessarily cyber war.

Lesson #2: U.S. human intelligence will need to adapt to the digital age

Some have gone so far as to call the OPM hack a greater national intelligence failurethan the Snowden affair. Make no mistake, the hack was large and comprehensive, but we also must move beyond the spy fantasies that pervade analysis of the OPM hack. The typical story is that this information could be used as a stepping stone to siphon off state secrets. Using cheap and available data mining tools similar to the NSAs’, the opposition could use the information to build a profile of individuals susceptible to blackmail, such as a federal employee with a history of extra-marital affairs and ties with the Chinese nationals, information all in the SF86 form were  stolen. Once identified, these targets could be subject to honeytraps, a threat that MI5 has previously warned about in other contexts.
Whatever the Chinese do with the data, not all is lost. As Knake writes “I don’t think we are giving theCIA enough credit here, but if it’s true, the harm can be mitigated since we know what data was lost.” For example, while it may now be very difficult to establish cover for an agent already working in intelligence system, this does not prevent the intelligence community from hiring new agents or converting current government employees who have not requested security clearance into assets in the future. The U.S. has not lost all of its HUMINT capabilities because of the hack and information leak, but it will need to adapt to take into account OPM-style attacks in the future.

Lesson #3: The main vulnerability to security systems remains external to U.S. government networks

The perpetrators hacked the OPM by stealing the credentials of an outside contractor. There are things being done to increase security in U.S. government systems, yet vulnerability will remain through external contractors with access, like Edward Snowden. This is why it is important do more than monitor systems constantly, we must hunt those who already have access and are using it maliciously, or those that might do in the future, as Richard Bejtlich advises.
The deeper need is to rethink how we store critical information. That the director of the OPMdescribed their systems as a “hackers dream” in November 2014 should give us pause and rethink our reaction to this latest violation and the need for basic cyber hygiene. There is a collective incompetence in the digital security management of the United States that needs to be rooted out. Merely hiring a new computer security manager for the OPM will not fix the deeper problem of failing to understand the security needs of our infrastructure.
At the strategic level, the exploit of OPM’s four million records means very little. It has not and will not change how the United States conducts the business of foreign policy, but the entire intelligence community needs reevaluate how it might conduct its mission. It is important to keep the real issue of cyber espionage in mind as we debate the future of conflict. Our current focus on war in an era of dramatic peace can be counterproductive if we do not first focus on the defense and protecting our networks from exploitation. These continued attacks reinforce the point that our security starts with reforming how we protect information.
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OPM hack's unprecedented haul: 1.1 million fingerprints

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This is extremely sensitive information, especially as we increasingly use biometric scanners on phones and computers.
This could be one of the potentially worst parts of the Office of Personnel Management hack affecting 21.5 million people. Whoever has this information -- U.S. intelligence thinks it's likely China -- could use the stolen fingerprints to better spy on America.
"It's across federal agencies. It's everybody," an OPM spokesman told CNNMoney on Friday.
In a Mission Impossible-type scenario, the thieves could create physical copies using latex or similar materials, then break into the fingerprint-locked devices of U.S. diplomats and government agents. This would expose secret conversations, disrupt investigations or poison international negotiations.
And potentially worse, these stolen records could unmask undercover investigators masquerading as other people.
"They're completely compromised," said biometrics expert Ramesh Kesanupalli. "A secret agent's name might be different. But they'll know who you are because your fingerprint is there. You'll be outed immediately."
Kesanupalli has given fingerprints a lot of thought. He created something called the FIDO protocol, a safe way to use the human body to unlock devices. And now he wonders if this collection of 1.1 million stolen fingerprints will end up on the black market. It would create a brand new type of trafficked stolen good: biometrics.
That's worse than exposed Social Security numbers. Those can be replaced.
"It's not like they have someone's password. Fingerprints are data that doesn't change. They'll never change. Twenty years from now, this will still be useful," said Robert M. Lee, co-founder of cybersecurity software maker Dragos Security.
Cybersecurity experts are trying to make fingerprints even harder to duplicate.
Karl Weintz, who leads the biometrics company Sonavation, said his firm is creating a biometric fingerprint that uses ultrasound to scan 5 millimeters deep, mapping bone structure, blood vessels, and even nerve endings.
At this point, it's difficult to determine how detailed and exact the stolen records are. Some federal agencies use classic ink-on-paper, while others use high-resolution digital scans. OPM couldn't immediately determine how all 1.1 million records were stored, but the stolen batch does include fingerprint records going to back to 2000, when ink images were regularly used.
"They have the most secure keys for people who are interesting enough for OPM to get fingerprints of," said Jonathan Sander, an executive at cybersecurity firm STEALTHbits. "What locks can these guys open? That's the question."
Hackers steal data from federal agencies
CNNMoney (New York) July 10, 2015: 7:52 PM ET
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Brics Create Their Own IMF

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July 11, 2015 1:48 a.m. ET
The five countries that make up the Brics account for nearly half of the world’s population, and now they officially have their own bank.
At their annual summit last week, leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa said that their New Development Bank is getting ready to lend after years of haggling. Each country will have an equal vote in the infrastructure projects that the institution finances. The bank, with a $100 billion lending pool to start, might never be a major rival to the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. But plans for intercountry cooperation on projects, combined with the fast ascent of the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank–it has 57 founding members, including many developed countries–underscores a financial and geopolitical shift away from the lending hegemony of Europe and the U.S.
It remains to be seen how representatives of the five emerging economies share power and choose projects. China and India are relatively healthy economically, but have a long list of technology, energy, and other infrastructure needs. Brazil, Russia, and South Africa are slogging through the bottom of a bad commodities cycle, and have their own project lists. It took a lot of debate before the Brics decided that China, with its hefty reserves, wouldn’t control the reins. But the bank is based in that country, which will contribute $41 billion to the lending pool. Brazil, India, and Russia will each provide $18 billion and South Africa, $5 billion.
The New Development Bank’s first president is an Indian banker, Kundapur Vaman Kamath. He most recently was the nonexecutive board chairman of ICICI Bank (ticker: IBN) and Infosys (INFY). Kamath told an Indian news service that the bank is likely to approve its first loan by April 2016. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly suggested that the bank’s first major project should be in clean energy. Some non-Brics are closely watching the new bank. Venezuela wants in, and Greece–no surprise–is interested.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is already in line. He suggested that Russian oil producerRosneft (OJSCY) could qualify for financing. But will the Brics bank choose a company stymied financially by Western sanctions after Russia’s unpopular Crimea land grab? Not likely.
While the bank is viewed as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank, Kamath and others emphasized there is room for multiple global lenders, given the vast need for infrastructure improvement in developing markets.
Indeed, the Brics bank will struggle initially to offer what Bruce Jones, director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution, calls the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” IMF approval of a project often draws in private investors, lenders, and other multilateral partners.
The Brics bank is a “storm in a teacup,” Jones says. “The original sin was the unwillingness in the West to include the Brics in the G-7 in the mid-2000s when we controlled the terms of the game.”
ALL IS NOT WELL for Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, who has been globe-trotting to drum up investment in her nation. She was at the table with the Brics bank leaders in Russia last week, after meeting with President Barack Obama at the end of June.
Her government’s approval rating–in the single digits–is the lowest for any in a quarter-century. And that ugly word—impeachment—is cropping up again. Why?
For starters, Brazil’s economy is expected to contract by 1.5% this year, and with stubborn inflation, the central bank is unlikely to loosen monetary policy soon. Brazil’s currency could face further weakness when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. Brazil’s benchmark Selic rate could reach 14.75% by September, the highest since 2006, says PNC economist Bill Adams. While the Federal Open Market Committee minutes released last week exhibited concern for emerging currencies and economies, Brazil might not be able to catch a break.
And then there’s the corruption scandal at state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), which doesn’t seem to go away. That’s no good for Rousseff, who has denied knowledge of any misdeeds, although she headed the Petrobras board when some of the alleged malfeasance occurred. Brown Brothers Harriman analysts suggest that while impeachment is a tail risk, it is also a rising danger if her political opponents decide to dig into 2014 government fiscal accounts or campaign financing.
After another recent arrest in the scandal, a Brazilian prosecutor said that the company’s corruption losses are likely to be larger than the six billion Brazilian reals ($1.9 billion) announced in April. Does that mean Petrobras will have to take another charge or restate earnings? Possibly.
Petrobras shares have been a disaster for long-term investors, down 45% over 12 months. However, this year, they have gained more than 13%. But the latest scandal news, combined with another downdraft in oil prices, has again pressured the stock, which has fallen roughly 8% this month.
WITH CHINA VOLATILE AND GREECE keeping everyone on tenterhooks, emerging markets had a rocky week. Even after a late-week rally, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets VWO2.820910973084886% Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF U.S.: NYSE Arca 39.73 1.092.820910973084886% /Date(1436562000120-0500)/ Volume (Delayed 15m) : 16642299 AFTER HOURS 39.69 -0.04 -0.10067958721369243% Volume (Delayed 15m) : 9103 P/E Ratio N/A Market Cap N/A Dividend Yield 3.8862320664485277% Rev. per Employee N/A More quote details and news » VWO in  Your Value Your Change Short position ETF (VWO) was down about 4% through Friday, the iShares China Large-Cap FXI 4.547677261613692% iShares China Large-Cap ETF U.S.: NYSE Arca 42.76 1.86 4.547677261613692% /Date(1436562000158-0500)/ Volume (Delayed 15m) : 49583350 AFTER HOURS 42.8 0.04 0.09354536950420954% Volume (Delayed 15m) : 3227384P/E Ratio N/A Market Cap N/A Dividend Yield 1.990177736202058% Rev. per Employee N/A More quote details and news » FXI in  Your Value Your Change Short position ETF (FXI) was off more than 7%, and the iShares MSCI BRIC BKF 3.384437373445184% iShares MSCI BRIC ETF U.S.: NYSE Arca 35.74 1.17 3.384437373445184% /Date(1436561882527-0500)/ Volume (Delayed 15m) : 41173 P/E Ratio N/A Market Cap N/A Dividend Yield 2.113088975937325% Rev. per Employee N/AMore quote details and news » BKF in  Your Value Your Change Short position ETF (BKF) fell by about 5%.
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BRICS Central Banks Sign Forex Reserves Pool Pact - Real Time Economics

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The Bank of Russia in Moscow. The central banks of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have signed an operational pact to set up a pool of foreign exchange reserves.
Bloomberg News
The five major emerging national economies, known by the acronym BRICS, were a step closer to setting up a $100 billion pool of mutual reserves by signing an “operational agreement” on a visit to Moscow, the Bank of Russia said Tuesday.
The pool would be drawn on by the central banks of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa whenever they suffered a shortage of dollar liquidity, helping them maintain financial stability, Russia’s central bank said.
Financial stability has been Moscow’s sore point over the past year as the Russian economy has slipped into recession, while the country has lost access to global capital markets, due to Western sanctions, and has had to drain billions of dollars from its reserves.
The five central banks signed the agreement, which “outlines the terms of mutual support for member states in the framework of the agreement on BRICS Pool of Conventional Currency Reserves,” the Bank of Russia said.
Since 2013, BRICS states have been considering creating a fund, which would be an alternative to the International Monetary Fund, after seeing investors pull money away from emerging economies, devaluing their currencies.
China will contribute $41 billion to the currency pool. Brazil, India and Russia will each provide $18 billion, while the remaining $5 billion will come from South Africa.

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In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism

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Having returned to his native Latin America, Pope Francis has renewed his left-leaning critiques on the inequalities of capitalism, describing it as an underlying cause of global injustice, and a prime cause of climate change.