Saturday, 25 August 2012

Canon EOS-1D X field review

DNP Canon EOS1D X field review
Just before Halloween in 2009, Canon announced its most powerful DSLR to date. The $5,000 full-frame EOS-1D Mark IV was the company's answer to Nikon's market-leading D3S, which rang in just shy of $5,200. On the basis of price alone, Canon won that round. Then, after two years of silence, the company launched its new flagship, the 1D X. The date was October 18th, 2011 -- roughly 10 (or "X") years after the very first model in the series was announced, way back in 2001. A decade ago, Canon priced that introductory 1D at $5,500 -- a princely sum considering the 4.15-megapixel CCD on board. Now, the 1D X, which is arguably the most powerful sub-five-figure camera available, commands 6,799 of your hard-earned dollars, or $800 more than the D4, Nikon's $6,000 equivalent. All this talk of price may seem to skirt the camera's long list of lust-worthy features, but when the cost of any piece of hardware approaches a year's tuition at a public university, a purchase decision deserves thorough consideration.
A camera in this league is absolutely to be used as a professional tool. And while deep-pocketed amateurs may pick one up -- in the way folks with cash to burn may build a collection of overpowered two-seaters -- the vast majority will live in $30,000-plus kits, where they'll reach six-figure shutter counts, and will likely change hands several times before their eventual retirement. Right now, you're probably researching the 1D X as exhaustively as you would a new car -- in fact, you may have even lined up a test drive, through the company's Canon Professional Services group. Many months after it was first announced, we've had an opportunity to take the new eXtreme model for a spin ourselves, and it's every bit as impressive as its price tag suggests. Canon's top model isn't any smaller or lighter than its predecessors, the 1D Mark IV or 1Ds Mark III -- but is all that bulk justified, despite strong contenders like the workhorse 5D? Buckle up and join us in the field (ahem, after the break) to find out.
Canon doesn't need to budget any precious advertising funds to spread word about the 1D. The company's flagship model is one of the most photographed DSLRs on the planet, though like the shooters that stand behind it, this camera spends much of its time in the background. Perhaps you caught some of the World Series, or the Super Bowl, or maybe the Olympics earlier this month -- behind each of those enormous white "paparazzi" lenses, there was likely a Canon 1D. The camera's design has become iconic, symbolizing professionalism, quality and power.
To the untrained eye and with a bit of gaffer tape atop the prominent silver X, this 1D would look like any other -- superficially, the design hasn't evolved all that much in a decade, though button placement has shifted as controls have been added. And, since it hasn't changed a lick since our first demo last year, we're including that accurate account above. Like other full-size DSLRs, this model is designed to provide a natural feel in portrait mode (positioned vertically), should you find yourself in a studio setting or alongside a red carpet. Key controls like the AF-ON button, exposure lock and focus position all enable easy toggling regardless of your orientation, while secondary shutter release and exposure dials provide direct access in both positions as well.
DNP Canon EOS1D X field review
Dual CF card slots tucked behind a textured plastic door let you duplicate your captures (with identical cards) or boost capacity, while the large secondary control wheel to the left of the storage compartment hasn't changed a bit over the years. Also identical is the battery design, which provides for easy access while also enabling a secure fit, letting you swap 2,450mAh LP-E4N packs. Up top, you won't find a flash or even a focus-assist lamp, but instead you'll see Canon's signature raised pentaprism, with a hot shoe atop, which you can use to accommodate a Speedlite flash, or perhaps even one of those nifty floral silver covers.

Apple, Samsung respond to the jury's decision; September 20th court date set for injunction hearing

Apple, Samsung respond to the jury's decision September 20th court date set for injunction hearing
Well. The verdict for the tech industry patent trial of the week is in, and the jury agreed with Apple's version of the events enough to award it a billion dollars and change in damages while awarding Samsung... nothing. Naturally, the two companies differ in their viewpoints on this ruling, with Apple celebrating a decision that supports its originality and innovation, and is "sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn't right." Samsung, on the other hand, claims it's all about standing up for the consumer, who it believes will be the true victim here, forced to pay more for fewer choices and less innovation now that one company has "a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners."
Before we get to the inevitable appeals, Apple is seeking a preliminary injunction against Samsung's infringing products and Judge Lucy Koh has set September 20th as a date for the hearing. Apple has until the 29th to file its motion, which Samsung will have 14 days to respond to, before Apple has two days to craft a response of its own. While we all take a breather before the lawyers get back at it, you'll find the statements from both companies after the break.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Nexus 7 review: the best $200 tablet you can buy

DNP Nexus 7 review
In 2008, when the Eee PC was revolutionizing the computing world and driving every manufacturer to make cheaper and smaller laptops, Sony washed its hands of the whole thing. The "race to the bottom," the company said, would profoundly impact the industry, killing profit margins and flooding the market with cheap, terrible machines. Sony was wrong, its stance lasting about a year before joining the competition with its own VAIO W.
Four years on we're buying better laptops than ever before and, with the netbook class now more or less dead, that downward competition seems to have shifted to the tablet front. A flood of cheap, truly awful slates preceded Amazon's Kindle Fire, the $200 tablet from a major brand that looks to have been the proper catalyst in plunging prices. The latest challenger to enter the competition is ASUS, partnering with Google to create the first Nexus tablet, a device that not only will amaze with its MSRP, but with its quality. It's called the Nexus 7, it too is $200, and it's better than Amazon's offering in every way but one.

Pussy Riot Trial: Feminist Punk Band Guilty Of Hooliganism, Motivated By Religious Hatred

MOSCOW — A Russian judge found three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism on Friday, in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history. The judge said the three band members committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers. The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow's main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia's president a few days later. They face a maximum seven years in prison. The sentence is to be handed down later Friday. The case has attracted international attention as an emblem of Russia's intolerance of dissent. It also underlines the vast influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although church and state are formally separate, the church identifies itself as the heart of Russian national identity and critics say its strength effectively makes it a quasi-state entity. Protests timed to just before the verdict or soon afterward were planned in more than three dozen cities worldwide. Prosecutors have asked for three-year sentences, down from the possible seven-year maximum and Putin himself has said he hopes the sentencing is not "too severe." Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork have called for them to be freed, and protests are planned around the world Friday. Before Friday's proceedings began, defense lawyer Nikolai Polozov said the women "hope for an acquittal but they are ready to continue to fight." There was a heavy police presence around the court building in central Moscow, where hundreds of protesters and band supporters were gathering. Even if the women are sentenced only to time already served, the case has already strongly clouded Russia's esteem overseas and stoked the resentment of opposition partisans who have turned out in a series of massive rallies since last winter. The case comes in the wake of several recently passed laws cracking down on opposition, including one that raised the fine for taking part in an unauthorized demonstrations by 150 times to 300,000 rubles (about $9,000). Another measure requires non-government organizations that both engage in vaguely defined political activity and receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents."

Trulia Goes After Zillow’s Real Estate, Files $75M IPO; Now Has 22M Monthly Users

Trulia, the online real estate listings giant, has now publicly filed an IPO of up to $75 million — effectively confirming reports from the end of July that the company had already filed for an IPO privately. The company’s S-1 also provides an update on the state of the business, showing some encouraging signs of user growth, but declining revenues and growing losses, too. It says that as of June 30, 2012, it has 22 million monthly unique visitors, up from 5 million in June 2009; and paid subscribers — its primary source of revenue — have also grown massively. They’re now at 21,544 versus 2,398 two years ago. But not all numbers are going up: revenues in the last six months actually dipped compared to last year: $29 million today versus $38.5 million a year ago. Meanwhile, net losses are growing: they’re now at $7.6 million ($6.2 million last year). Trulia, which has picked up $33 million in VC backing, is looking to public markets to raise significantly more money to better compete against its bigger rival Zillow. Its $29 million in revenues for six months puts Trulia at about half the size of Zillow at the moment in terms of sales. The latter company reported in Q2 that it had sales of $27.8 million for the quarter. It also has 33.5 million monthly unique users at the moment. Both companies, which offer listings but lots of new technology to better search those listings, are going after a market that has been in the doldrums for the last couple of years. In Trulia’s case, it offers mobile apps and supplements listings data with local information on schools, crime, and neighborhood amenities to provide unique insights into each community, as well as a social media bent, letting users contribute local information. It says it’s had 5 million unique user contributions to date. The private filing at the end of July is possible because of a provision in the JOBs Act, which lets companies with less than $1 billion in revenue to file without listing publicly with the SEC. Reuters points out that this lets the companies “sidestep” some reporting requirements. It also means that companies can avoid scrutiny if they decide to withdraw the IPO. Seems that Trulia got the all-clear internally and with its financial advisors, which include JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank; hence the public filing today. More to come.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

How To Get 100,000 Facebook Likes For Your Blog Fan Page

Editor’s note: James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and entrepreneur. He is Managing Director of Formula Capital and has written ten books. His latest books are I Was Blind But Now I See and 40 Alternatives to CollegeYou can follow him on Twitter @jaltucher.
I wanted to have 100,000 Facebook fans for my blog. I don’t have a product to sell. I’m not trying to get advertisers on my blog. I’m not even trying to get more speaking gigs because of my blog. But I believe in the message of my blog and I enjoy having an audience for it. So I wanted to expand that audience.
We have entered the “Choose Yourself” era.No longer do you have to wait for the big media companies to reach down from the heavens and bless you with a column, a book advance, a TV show, a job, a career, money, or even customers. In 2008 the tide came in, the financial system collapsed, and we saw that the myth of corporate safety was just another example of the brainwashing that we had undergone since we were kids.
Now, if you want to spread the truths of your brand, of your ideas, of your products, of your message, you have to create your own platform, you have to spread it across all media, and then you have to manage each medium differently. I can’t just link my blog posts on Facebook. Or tweet links to my posts on Twitter. Your message has to be spread across the entire digital landscape and treat each medium as its own channel, with your message, formatted, designed, and massaged to have the greatest impact in that particular channel.

Mitt Romney Could Benefit From GOP Engagement, Pew Research Poll Says

Elections 2012 Polls Obama
Who's really ahead, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?
WASHINGTON -- Political junkies have been scratching their heads again this week as another batch of national surveys produced results ranging from a 13-percentage point lead for President Barack Obama to a 5-point advantage for his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
When rolled together into the HuffPost Pollster chart, the collective result from all the polls remains roughly where it has been for the past month and for much of the period before the contentious Republican primaries: Obama holds a narrow net advantage in the national polls, just under 1 percentage point.
Poll watchers are busily speculating about the cause of all the variation. But for those who care about where the race is headed, the most important results of the week might be those from an in-depth survey from the Pew Research Center, which measured voter interest and engagement in the presidential election.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Surface vs. iPad: 7 Things Microsoft's Tablets Have That Apple's Don't

Microsoft Surface
Microsoft trotted out its new line of Surface tablets earlier this week at a press conference in California. Two versions will be available: one equipped with an ARM processor and running Windows RT, the other equipped with an Intel processor and running Windows 8 Pro. Prices for both tablets have yet to be announced.
Microsoft's competition in the tablet space is fierce, and no devices are as fearsome as the mighty iPad. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in April that 67 million iPads have sold since the device launched in early 2010,per the New York Times. Though Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do, it seems to be off to a solid start with the Surface.
Microsoft is leaving us in the dark on key details, such as the price and exact release date of the Surface, but so far we've seen a few tantalizing features that the iPad lacks.

Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: Individual Mandate Decision May Be Announced Thursday [UPDATED]

Supreme Court
UPDATE: The Supreme Court did not announce a ruling on the health care case or the Arizona immigration law Thursday. The next time to announce decisions is Monday.
EARLIER: The Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's health care law could be announced Thursday morning, a development that would have major implications regardless of the decision.
As HuffPost's Supreme Court correspondent Mike Sacks reported, the verdict is anyone's guess:
During oral arguments in late March, the court's five Republican-appointed justices appeared to lean strongly toward invalidating the Affordable Care Act's individual health-insurance mandate. The four Democrat appointees lined up solidly behind the law. Still, views may have softened in the weeks since the arguments, and the complexity of the issues involved may have left some room for twists and turns as the justices sat down to write their opinions.
After prolonged anticipation, the court is expected to hand down its decision on whether the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is constitutional by the end of the month. If no ruling is issued on Thursday, the decision could come next Monday. The justices could also decide to add more decision days next week, further adding to the uncertainty of when the ruling will arrive.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Report: Google’s Chromebooks Account For Less Than .02% Of All Desktop Traffic

Google has been putting quite a bit of its weight behind its Chromebook initiative, but it’s been rather quiet about how well these browser-centric laptops have been selling. Judging from the latest data from online advertising firm Chitika, Chromebooks remain a novelty. Across Chitika’s network, just 0.019% of all traffic comes from ChromeOS. To put this into perspective, Sony’s PlayStation, which isn’t exactly a web browsing powerhouse, easily beats ChromeOS with a usage share of 0.042%.
This data, Chitika told us, includes all ChromeOS traffic from all ChromeOS versions currently in use (given that ChromeOS updates itself, we can safely assume that most users are currently using the most recent version, though). As usual, it’s worth remembering that this data only includes sites that use Chitika’s advertising service. The data was compiled between June 7 and June 13 and aggregates data from “hundreds of million impressions.”
As I noted in my Samsung Series 5 Chromebook review last week, the actual devices have greatly improved since the first generation. They do remain niche products, though, and don’t appeal to a mainstream audience (yet).

Earlier this week, Chitika’s also took a look at the tablet space. Here, unsurprisingly, the iPad dominates and is responsible for 91% of all web traffic to sites in Chitika’s network. What was somewhat surprising about this data, though, was that the Barnes & Noble Nook overtook the Kindle Fire in these stats, though the difference here is between two tablets that account for 0.85% and 0.71% of all traffic.

Top Facebook Exec Bret Taylor Leaving To Do His Own Thing, More Departures Could Follow

Screen Shot 2012-06-15 at 2.02.12 PM
And so it begins: Facebook CTO and platform guru Bret Taylor is leaving Facebook this summer, Kara Swisher is reporting, off to do a startup with Google App Engine founder Kevin Gibbs. Taylor confirmed the news in (of course) a Facebook update.
This is one of the first in a wave of Facebook departures we’re hearing, as a slew of older employees have hit their four year stock cliffs, and the 90 day IPO lockout fast approaches. According to a source, many Facebook employees including one other executive are already planning what to do next.
It makes sense. With the stock price low, additional RSUs granted to keep people sticking around won’t be nearly as good a retention mechanism.
I’ve also been hearing separately that due to the IPO fallout, Facebook is currently under a modified hiring freeze, with groups that were previously allotted slots for senior-level positions having had those slots reneged. Lower level deals and hires are still happening from what I’m hearing.
So is this a harbinger of a hiring sea change? Facebook has had a monopoly on the best and brightest engineering talent for the past couple of years and it’ll shake the Valley to its core if this is indeed the case.
Well, if the founder life isn’t for you future Facebook refugee, we hear Pinterest is hiring.

The Way Things Work

Magic, they call it. And indeed we may add an appendix to that old saw: any sufficiently advanced, or sufficiently obscure, technology is indistinguishable from magic.
You must know the story of the Mechanical Turk. How princes and tradesmen were amazed by this ingenious device’s ability to play chess intelligently. In an age of steam and brass hinges! Yet at the time thousands were fooled. Had they known a bit more about machines, they might have realized it was not just improbable, but impossible.
The Mechanical Turks of our day aren’t designed for entertainment, but to be bought and used, yet a similar goes into preventing the secrets of their operation from being questioned. In fact, we are already at a time where it is more or less impossible for one person to understand or question them. Apple may be ahead of the curve on this trend, but while it appears they’ve been leading the industry by the nose, they in turn are being led by the inexorable forward motion of technology. Open hardware advocates fight the good fight, and they fight it valiantly, but defeat is inevitable.
And what would victory be, exactly? A laptop you can repair in the comfort of your home? Sounds good, to be sure — but how deep does that capability really go? If your hard drive breaks or your RAM is corrupted, will you pull out a magnifying glass and correct the faulty sectors with your electron drill? Adjust the drive head in your billion-dollar repair toolshop out back? No, you’ll order a new drive, new RAM, a new screen.
RAM used to be pieces too, you know. In an excellent (so far) book about the origins of the computer, Turing’s Cathedral, the mechanical nature of early computing machines is presented for your humble contemplation. ENIAC, for instance, had 17,468 vacuum tubes, 1500 relays, and 500,000 hand-soldered joints. Operation was complicated, but mechanical: if you weren’t careful, you might get your finger caught in the RAM. If something broke, you needed a wrench. Now a stored bit takes up so little space that if it gets much smaller it will cease to be governed by Newtonian physics.
This is the real problem. Technology actually is approaching the magic point. You want to know how your laptop works. You can’t know. Even the people who made it don’t know. Apple has to call up LG or Sharp when it wants a high-density display. LG has to call Samsung when they want MLC flash storage. Samsung has to call NVIDIA when they want graphics cores. NVIDIA has to call ARM to make SoC architecture. Vertical integration is a thing of the past because no company can do it all. It took Intel five years and billions of dollars to develop just the processor your laptop runs today. The whole system is the culmination of a century of work by geniuses and specialists. Control over your hardware is the flimsiest of illusions. You only understand the snow frosting the top of the iceberg, and even then all you can do to fix it is pay for more.

Pennsylvania Public Defenders Rebel Against Crushing Caseloads

At half past 5 on a cold, cloudy April morning, Ed Olexa kneels by his front door, sorting through stacks of case files for the coming day's hearings. Olexa works as a public defender in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania, and he's quadruple-booked this morning, which means four clients are scheduled to appear at the same time before different judges.
"My choice last night was to watch 'American Idol' or get my files in order," he says.
Olexa represents nearly 120 clients at a time for the Luzerne County defender's office, the majority of them charged with felonies. It's a typical caseload for the office, which is one of the most troubled in the state, according to a 2011 report commissioned by the Pennsylvania legislature. The report excoriated the state system as a whole, calling it obsolete and ineffective, but singled out Luzerne as a place where inadequate training, funding and supervision of defenders contributed to a "shocking deterioration" in the quality of representation given to some poor people.
Public defenders are infamous as the workhorses of the legal system, charged by the courts with representing poor defendants in criminal matters ranging from misdemeanors to death penalty cases. The pay is low, the hours long and the turnover high. Complaints that they suffer from crushing caseloads and inadequate support staff can probably be heard in any courthouse in the country.

Friday, 15 June 2012

A Simple Trick With Color To Make People Buy Your Stuff

Bidders at auction
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Everyone knows that different colors influence our moods in different ways, but they also may affect how much we spend on products.
According to a recent study from Rajesh Bagchi, Pamplin College of Business and Amar Cheema, McIntire School of Commerce, seeing the color red increases aggression and makes us bid higher on products during auctions. This can make a big difference if you're selling your items on eBay and want to motivate buyers to bid higher and quicker.
However, in negotiations and fixed price situations, red tends to make buyers bid lower; calmer colors like blue are better used in these situations.
All of this can be a very useful and easy way to maximize your sales, whether online or at a physical store according to the paper:
Our results suggest that incidental exposure to color on webpage backgrounds or on walls in brick-and-mortar stores can affect willingness-to-pay. Our findings therefore have important implications for website and store design. It is fairly straightforward to change background colors of websites and firms could even customize colors based on selling mechanism and product characteristics. For instance, in situations where consumers compete with each other to buy a scarce or a limited edition product, firms may increase consumers’ willingness-to-pay by exposure to red versus blue backgrounds. By contrast, in situations where a product is readily available and the consumer competes with the seller to get a lower price through extended price search or through haggling, consumers’ willingness-to-pay may be enhanced via exposure to blue versus red color backgrounds.

Obama Administration To Stop Deporting Younger Undocumented Immigrants And Grant Work Permits

Illegal Immigration Obama
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States without documents but who have attended college or served in the military.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
Under the administration plan, undocumented immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.
The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods.
"Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration's action. "Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Home Depot Cuts Prices After Debit Card Swipe Fee Limit Takes Effect

Home Depot Prices
After the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act limited the debit card swipe fee charged to retailers, Home Depot lowered prices for its customers.
At one store, financial regulation is helping customers in a demonstrable way.
Home Depot has lowered the prices of more than 3,000 products after regulators started enforcing a cap on debit card swipe fees in October, American Banker reports. Home Depot's decision lends credence tothe argument that retailers are likely to pass on the savings from the Durbin Amendent on to consumers.
"The money saved [by] Durbin goes into the pool of savings, lowers our overall operating costs, and allows us to reinvest in the business to lower prices," Dwaine Kimmet, Home Depot's treasurer and vice president of credit, said in an interview with American Banker. "We have absolutely lowered prices...[but] what I can't do is draw that direct correlation to Durbin."
Home Depot sells about 40,000 items in its stores, according to its website, so the 3,000 products that now have lower prices constitute 7.5 percent of Home Depot's products.
Clarification: This article has been updated to include Kimmet's full quote that was published in American Banker and the number of items that Home Depot sells in its stores.
The Durbin Amendment, which went into effect on October 1, cuts the maximum debit card swipe fee charged to retailers in half. Before the bill, retailers were paying an average of 44 cents for every debit card transaction. Now, the Federal Reserve is enforcing a limit of 21 cents per transaction and 0.05 percent of the transaction, as well as an extra penny for card issuers with fraud-prevention standards, according toFox Business.
The banking industry has been charging new fees to try to make up for their lost revenue from the Durbin Amendment. Banks argue that the Durbin Amendment forces them to have no choice but to charge customers more fees, while retailers saythat higher debit card swipe fees in the past forced them to raise prices above their true value.
Indeed, debit card swipe fees have made selling some products at a reasonable price just unprofitable for some retailers.
The next frontier appears to be credit card swipe fees. Credit card swipe fees have been adding about 7 cents per gallon to gas prices, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Spain's Borrowing Rate Hits High Not Seen Since Country Joined Euro

MADRID -- Spain's key borrowing rate hit a fresh high Thursday not seen since the country joined the euro in 1999, after a credit ratings agency downgraded the country's ability to just above junk status amid rising fears a bank bailout may not be enough to save the country from economic chaos.
The interest rate – or yield – on the country's benchmark 10 years bonds rose to a record 6.96 percent in early trading Thursday, close to the level which many analysts believe is unsustainable in the long term and the rate that forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek bailouts of their public finances.
The ratings agency Moody's downgraded Spain's sovereign debt three notches from A3 to Baa3 Tuesday night, leaving it just one grade above "junk status".
Moody's said the downgrade was due to the offer from eurozone leaders of up to (EURO)100 billion to Spain to prop up its failing banking sector, which the ratings agency believes will add considerably to the government's debt burden.
The lowered score means that even fewer investors will buy Spanish debt, because organizations like pension funds are mandated to avoid assets with such low creditworthiness.
Spain won't immediately collapse if the rate hits 7 percent, but reaching that point would affect Spain next week when it is scheduled to auction debt.
"The clock is definitely ticking," said Michael Hewson, an analyst with CMC Markets.
The bank bailout is intended at recapitalizing the Spanish banking system and calming Europe's debt crisis. Instead, investors seem unnerved by the government taking on extra debt and have pushed Spanish bond yields – a measure of market jitters – higher all week.
Moody's said the Spanish government's ability to raise money on global markets was being hindered by high interest rates, a situation which had led it to accept eurogroup funds to recapitalize debt-burdened banks.

Monday, 11 June 2012

John Bryson Hit-And-Run: Obama Commerce Secretary Cited For Felony

UPDATE: Bryson suffered a seizure in connection with the crashes, according to the Commerce Department.
SAN GABRIEL, Calif. -- U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson was cited for felony hit-and-run following two Los Angeles-area traffic crashes that left him injured and unconscious, police said Monday.
Bryson, 68, was treated at a hospital for injuries following the crashes around 5 p.m. PDT Saturday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department and the San Gabriel Police Department said in a joint statement.
"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident over the weekend," the Commerce Department said Monday. "He was taken to the hospital for examination and has been released. He has sustained no injuries and the investigation is ongoing."
Bryson is facing felony hit-and-run charges, San Gabriel Police spokesman Lt. Ariel Duran said.
The secretary was driving alone in a Lexus on a major street in San Gabriel when he allegedly struck the rear end of a vehicle occupied by three males that had been stopped for a passing train.
He spoke briefly with the occupants and then hit their car again as he departed, the officials said. The three followed him while calling police.
"We did cite him for felony hit-and-run," Duran said. "Later the case (will be) submitted to the DA's office which will make a determination on what they are going to charge him with."
Bryson then allegedly caused a second collision minutes later, also on San Gabriel Boulevard, in the nearby city of Rosemead, striking a car occupied by a man and a woman, the police agencies said.
Bryson was found alone and unconscious in his car and was treated at the scene before being taken to a hospital.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Spanish Bailout: Big Questions Still Remain

While European soccer players were expertly kicking the ball down the field this weekend in the Euro 2012 tournament, European finance ministers were expertly kicking their debt crisis down the road.
Spain's request on Saturday for a 100 billion euro loan (about $125 billion) to recapitalize its banks seems likely to be at least a short-term solution to the worries lately that have gripped European financial markets, raising concerns about a global economic slowdown that could push the United States back into recession.
As the odds of a bank run in Spain have increased in recent weeks, Spanish borrowing costs have soared, while the values of the euro and risky assets such as stocks and commodities have tumbled. Saturday's news could at least temporarily reverse some of those ugly moves.
Even better for Spain, it gets to avoid additional austerity measures as a condition of the loan, as Greece and other bailed-out nations have suffered in the recent past.
But still some big questions linger.
First, will 100 billion euros ultimately be enough? A report by the International Monetary Fund suggests this will be more than enough and that Spanish banks need to raise 60 billion to 80 billion euros to mollify investors and cover losses in Spain's real estate market.
But those losses might continue to grow, which would mean that Spain has to go back to the well again. JPMorgan Chase analysts recently estimated that Spain could need as much as 350 billion euros, the Telegraph reported.