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Police lay claim to slum in Rio crime crackdown

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2010 at 11:22 am

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – Armored vehicles rumbled through a sprawling Rio slum on Thursday as police said they had pried it back from drug gangs after a five-day assault that killed at least 30 people.


Gunfire had crackled through the streets and residents took cover during the day as six M113 armored personnel carriers armed with .50 caliber machine guns drove through Vila Cruzeiro, a shantytown in northern Rio de Janeiro.

Riot policemen get ready to enter Vila Cruzeiro shantytown on an armoured personnel carrier on November 25, 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. AFP

“At this moment, Vila Cruzeiro belongs to the state,” police spokesman Rodrigo Oliveira said late Thursday, adding that forces remained on alert.


The gangs had fought back by spraying police posts with machine gun fire and torching buses, sending dark smoke high above the ramshackle skyline.


TV helicopters orbiting above the fighting had meanwhile shown scores of men with packs and automatic rifles scrambling up the hills beyond the slum ahead of the operation, while others fled in cars and motorcycles.


Many had come to Vila Cruzeiro to escape fighting in nearby districts, and it was not immediately clear whether the police had defeated the gangs or merely sent them scattering off to fight another day.


“We’ve taken an important step, but nothing’s been won,” state security chief Jose Beltrame told reporters, warning that operations would continue on Friday.


“It’s important to arrest people, to gather up drugs and ammunition, but it’s more important to get them out of the territory,” he said, referring to the drug traffickers that rule many of Rio’s largest slums.


Residents expressed shock at the scale of the operation, but many welcomed what they said was long-overdue action to combat the gangs and, in a sign the crackdown may be working, spoke out openly in support of the police.


“I’ve never seen anything like this! It’s a real war operation,” said Elias, a 44-year-old principal. “But it is necessary. This is the only way to confront the drug traffickers.”


“Many will die, but we need things to change here,” said Jefferson, a 27-year-old bartender.


At the same time, he blamed local authorities for allowing the situation to fester, and attributed their new-found urgency to the city’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics two years later.


Police say they have killed 30 suspected drug traffickers since the operation began on Sunday.


Their armored vehicles were backed by helicopters, snipers and thousands of heavily armed men from the military police and navy, with another 17,500 reinforcements “on alert” for the operation, police said.


The armored tracked vehicles, also known as Gavins, are nimble enough to climb the steep hills where the slums are located and can “roll over any obstacle they face,” a police spokesman told local media.


Police said they were battling two factions of drug dealers that have joined forces seeking to disrupt a two-year-old pacification program aimed at wresting the densely populated areas from the gangs’ grip.


But Marcelo Freixo, a state deputy from Rio and longtime critic of local police tactics, said the operation would accomplish little.


“The police can enter Vila Cruzeiro and kill another hundred, but that won’t solve the problem in Rio de Janeiro,” he told AFP.


“The finger that pulls the trigger is not the same as the one that counts the money from arms smuggling, and in that sense the government appears to be concerned with only one of them.”


Violence erupted late Sunday when gang members attacked police stations in northern Rio.


At least 180 people have been detained since then, including many who were caught holding bottles of gasoline, according to police, who said they had also seized weapons and drugs.


At least 60 vehicles, including nearly a dozen city buses, have been set ablaze since the violence began, they said.


The urban warfare has paralyzed a large part of Rio, as local television has been dominated by images of buses engulfed in flames and heavily armed police and special forces fighting their way through the slums.


Police have meanwhile erected checkpoints across neighborhoods seized earlier in the week where they keep a tense watch over mostly empty streets.


Around two million of Rio’s inhabitants — a third of the population — live in more than 1,000 slums, locally known as “favelas.” Authorities hope to pacify 100 of the most violent ones by 2014.


In October 2009 drug gangs shot down a police helicopter near the Maracana stadium — one of the main sites of the upcoming World Cup — killing three officers.

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Source: SGGP

Ha Noi police crackdown on highway traffic drivers

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Thai ‘Red Shirts’ rally six months after crackdown

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 6:14 am

Thai PM pledges to honour investigation into crackdown

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 at 11:42 am

BANGKOK, June 1, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday he would accept the findings of an independent investigation into a deadly army crackdown on anti-government “Red Shirt” protesters.


Abhisit has been accused by his political opponents of violating human rights in the tense standoff between the demonstrators and armed troops, who fired live rounds during several confrontations in the capital.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva speaks during a no-confidence debate at Parliament in Bangkok on June 1, 2010. AFP photo

“Whatever the outcome of the fact-finding investigation, (deputy premier Suthep Thaungsuban) and I are ready to accept it,” Abhisit said on the second day of a debate in parliament on a censure motion against his government.


He said the government “will not interfere” with the probe, which has not yet been set up.


The Red Shirts’ street rally, broken up on May 19 in an army assault on their vast encampment in the retail heart of Bangkok, sparked outbreaks of violence that left 88 people dead, mostly civilians, and nearly 1,900 injured.


Abhisit — who has surprised many by remaining in power during the crippling street protests — is expected to survive the no-confidence motion thanks to his ruling coalition’s majority in the lower house.


Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader and opposition member of parliament, urged Abhisit and his deputy Suthep to “enter the justice process.”


“I don’t expect any change (after the parliamentary debate) but I want people to hear the facts. It is up to the prime minister and deputy prime minister to decide what will they do,” Jatuporn said late Monday.


UN human rights chief Navi Pillay called Monday for an independent probe into the recent deadly violence in Thailand and for “all those found responsible for human rights violations are held to account.”


The Red Shirts were campaigning for elections they hoped would oust the government, which they view as undemocratic because it came to power with the backing of the army after a court ruling threw out the previous administration.


After video footage of the Bangkok street violence was shown to parliament, deputy premier Suthep issued a sharp rebuke to the opposition over their accusations.


“In the past two days your aim has been to make people believe that the prime minister and I ordered the military to kill people,” Suthep said. “Your allegations are extremely unfair to those soldiers.”

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Source: SGGP

Thai deputy PM faces complaint over crackdown

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 4:47 am

BANGKOK, May 11, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s deputy premier went to the authorities Tuesday to hear a complaint against him by “Red Shirt” opposition protesters demanding he surrender over his role in a deadly crackdown.


The demonstrators vowed Monday to keep up their crippling rally in the Thai capital until Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaungsuban turned himself in to take responsibility for an April 10 operation which left 25 people dead.


Suthep was overseeing security when armed troops launched the attempt to clear an area in the capital’s historic district, sparking fierce street battles between the army and protesters.

Suthep Thaungsuban listens to complaints made against him by anti-government protesters at the Department of Special Investigation in Bangkok on May 11, 2010. AFP photo

It was unclear whether his visit to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) would satisfy the Red Shirts, who have been staging mass protests in Bangkok for two months in a campaign for elections to replace the government.


“Suthep will come to hear the complaint and I think an arrest warrant against him is not necessary as he has shown his innocence,” DSI director Tarit Pengdit told reporters.


The DSI is under the supervision of the justice ministry and deals with special cases. The Red Shirts have called for Suthep to go to the police instead, but Tarit said the case would be referred to the DSI anyway.


A total of 29 people have been killed and almost 1,000 injured in outbreaks of violence since the Red Shirts launched their campaign in March for immediate elections, the worst civil unrest in the capital for two decades.


“If Suthep refuses to surrender himself to police, we refuse to end the rally,” a leader of the red-clad protest movement, Nattawut Saikuar, said Monday. “If Suthep surrenders to police, then we will go home.”


While arrest warrants have been issued for protest leaders on terrorism charges, “there has been no legal action against the government,” he said.


Red Shirt leaders asked a Bangkok court Tuesday for arrest warrants against them to be dropped, but their petition was rejected. A lawyer for the movement said they would appeal the decision.


Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had demanded at the weekend that the opposition demonstrators give a “clear answer” on whether they would fully accept his peace roadmap.


The protest movement said Monday that it had no objection to Abhisit’s proposal to dissolve parliament in the second half of September for elections on November 14, dropping a previous demand for a specific dissolution date.


The mainly poor and working class Reds, who broadly support fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have pledged to enter into the reconciliation process, but have voiced suspicion of the government’s sincerity.


Abhisit has warned he will scrap the plan for early elections if the protesters do not leave their vast base, which has been fortified with barricades made from piles of fuel-soaked tyres, bamboo poles and razor wire.


Crowds at the Reds’ camp, which swelled to as many as 100,000 people in the early days, dwindled to just a few thousand last week as a resolution appeared near and thunder storms dumped heavy rain on the garbage-strewn protest site.


But their ranks were boosted over the weekend by 5,000 more supporters who arrived from the movement’s heartland in the impoverished rural northeast, defying a ban on rallies in the capital, which is under a state of emergency.


The Reds consider Abhisit’s administration undemocratic because it came to power in a 2008 parliamentary vote after a controversial court ruling ousted elected allies of Thaksin, who was himself unseated in a 2006 coup.


They have said the government is intent on clinging to power until at least September to ensure the new army leadership line-up is appointed and the national budget is approved in parliament.

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Source: SGGP

Goldman fraud charges trigger prospect of wider crackdown

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 at 7:26 pm

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2010 (AFP) – Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs faced charges of financial fraud Saturday as US financial firms eyed the prospect of a wider crackdown on those that bet on the collapse of the housing market.


A civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a financial product based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.

Goldman Sachs booth is pictured on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as a television report airs about the company’s lowered stock price on April 16. AFP photo

The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.


The charges are believed to be the first brought against a Wall Street firm for speculating on the collapse of the housing market, which is still struggling to emerge from the worst financial crisis in decades.


Underlining persistent concerns about the unfettered trade, US President Barack Obama said Friday he would veto a Wall Street reform bill that lacked tough rules for complex financial instruments.


“I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework assures that we don’t have the same sort of crisis we have seen in the past,” Obama said.


The SEC said Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund had helped put together the controversial financial product known as collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and was at the same time betting against it.


Paulson & Co, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which it could take speculative positions against mortgage securities chosen by the fund, the commission said in a statement.


The deal, which took place during a massive mortgage meltdown in 2007 and as the country was about to fall into a brutal recession, was said to have cost investors around one billion dollars.


Goldman claimed that it lost 90 million dollars from its own investment in the security.


“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact,” the company said.


Goldman said it would “vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”


Paulson & Co founder John Paulson said he had no role in choosing the mortgages. The 54-year-old fund manager was not named as a defendant in the suit, and Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement at the SEC explained that, unlike Goldman, Paulson & Co had not made misrepresentations to investors buying the security.


The lawsuit also named Fabrice Tourre, then a vice-president at Goldman. He was said to be the creator and salesman of the product, which caused investors to lose about one billion dollars.


“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Khuzami in a statement.


Analysts said a long courtroom battle could now be expected.


The authorities have not ruled out the possibility of others involved in the alleged fraud or other similar types of fraud.


“The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the US housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress,” said Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s structured and new products unit.


It is not known whether the SEC might refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.


“The fact that the only individual charged here, after what was presumably a very thorough investigation, was a vice president rather than a managing director or higher, is relatively reassuring news for Goldman,” said Bank of America-Merrill Lynch research analyst Guy Moszkowski.


He said it seemed most likely that the potential for more serious charges rose dramatically the higher up the management chain the charges went.


Among investors of Goldman’s controversial product were German commercial bank IKB.


Goldman shares dived 12.79 percent Friday to 160.70 dollars, after falling as much as 15 percent when news of the fraud charges first hit the market.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 125.91 points or 1.13 percent to end the week at 11,018.66 points, snapping a six-session winning streak that had driven the blue-chip index to a fresh 18-month high.


Oil prices also fell sharply, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, slipping 2.27 dollars to 83.24 dollars a barrel.


On Saturday, The New York Times suggested in an editorial the charges may be just the beginning of a broader government campaign against Wall Street.


“Goldman is not the only bank to have sold mortgage-backed securities and then bet against them,” the newspaper said. “We suspect that after Friday, others on Wall Street may have a harder time sleeping.”

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Source: SGGP

Goldman fraud charges trigger possible wider crackdown

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

Top Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs faced charges of financial fraud Saturday as US financial firms eyed the prospect of a wider crackdown on those that bet on the collapse of the housing market.


A civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a financial product based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.


The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.


The charges are believed to be the first brought against a Wall Street firm for speculating on the collapse of the housing market, which is still struggling to emerge from the worst financial crisis in decades.


Underlining persistent concerns about the unfettered trade, US President Barack Obama said Friday he would veto a Wall Street reform bill that lacked tough rules for complex financial instruments.


“I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework assures that we don’t have the same sort of crisis we have seen in the past,” Obama said.


The SEC said Goldman failed to tell investors that a major hedge fund had helped put together the controversial financial product known as collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and was at the same time betting against it.


Paulson & Co, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which it could take speculative positions against mortgage securities chosen by the fund, the commission said in a statement.


The deal, which took place during a massive mortgage meltdown in 2007 and as the country was about to fall into a brutal recession, was said to have cost investors around one billion dollars.


Goldman claimed that it lost 90 million dollars from its own investment in the security.


“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact,” the company said.


The firm said it would “vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”


Paulson & Co. founder John Paulson said he had no role in choosing the mortgages.


The lawsuit also named Fabrice Tourre, then a vice-president at Goldman. He was said to be the creator and salesman of the product, which caused investors to lose about one billion dollars.


“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Robert Khuzami, SEC’s director of the enforcement division in a statement.


Analysts said a long courtroom battle could now be expected.


The authorities have not ruled out the possibility of others involved in the alleged fraud or other similar types of fraud.


“The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the US housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress,” said Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s structured and new products unit.

It not known whether the SEC might refer the case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

“The fact that the only individual charged here, after what was presumably a very thorough investigation, was a vice president rather than a managing director or higher, is relatively reassuring news for Goldman,” said Bank of America-Merrill Lynch research analyst Guy Moszkowski.

He said it seemed most likely that the potential for more serious charges rose dramatically the higher up the management chain the charges went.

Among investors of Goldman’s controversial product were German commercial bank IKB.

Paulson was not charged because it was not obligated to disclose any conflict of interest to investors, Khuzami said.

“Goldman made representations to investors, and Paulson did not.”

The firm reportedly made billions of dollars by betting against the housing market in the years before its collapse.

“Paulson did not sponsor or initiate” Goldman’s product, the Paulson firm said in a statement.

Goldman shares dived 12.79 percent Friday to 160.70 dollars, after falling as much as 15 percent when news of the fraud charges first hit the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 125.91 points or 1.13 percent to end the week at 11,018.66 points, snapping a six-session winning streak that had driven the blue-chip index to a fresh 18-month high.

Oil prices also fell sharply, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, slipping 2.27 dollars to 83.24 dollars a barrel.

Source: SGGP

Mobile phone firms face crackdown

In Vietnam Economy on March 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm




Mobile phone firms face crackdown


QĐND – Monday, March 22, 2010, 20:39 (GMT+7)

Mobile phone promotions are undercutting competition and leading to inactive phone numbers and a waste of digital resources, Government sources say.


The problem has led to the formation of a draft management plan by the Ministry of Information and Communications to control mobile phone promotions and reduce the “chaos” in the market.


The draft plan puts a limit of 90 days a year on which mobile phone promotions can be run and a limit of 45 days on each promotion.


In also mandates that mobile networks must maintain the quality of their services during promotions and the information given to subscribers must comply with regulations.


Under the draft plan, minimum charges set by the Government may not be reduced and any promotion reduction may not exceed 50 percent of the service’s total value.


The ministry has called for comment on the draft management plan which is expected to become the final plan by the end of the month.


Ministry telecom department head Pham Hong Hai said close management of mobile promotions aimed to create healthy completion.


While promotion programmes attracted users, Hai said, they were tending to be used to undercut competitors and had led to and crease in the number of inactive subscriptions, resulting in a waste of digital resources.


Changes had already been made to the promotions regulations. At the end of last year, mobile operators were limited to 50 percent promotions for pre-paid cards, instead of 100 percent or more before.


The Ministry of Industry and Trade said the country’s telecommunication market was in chaos because of promotion “races” to attract subscribers to domestic networks.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

British PM vows law to crackdown on banker bonuses

In World on November 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised Sunday to introduce legislation to “transform” the policing of Britain’s financial sector when his government sets out its political programme this week.


Brown said a Financial Services Bill would offer tough new powers to regulators to tear up bankers’ contracts if they include excessive pay and bonus deals which might threaten the stability of the financial system.








(File) Finance workers protest against bank bosses in central London earlier this year. (AFP photo)

Some observers blame the bonus culture of the world’s two pre-eminent financial sectors — the City of London and Wall Street — for encouraging excessive risk-taking, which helped to tip the global economy into chaos.


Speaking in a podcast on the Downing Street website ahead of Wednesday’s policy-setting Queen’s Speech in parliament, Brown said Britain had a “bright future” ahead after the economic turmoil of the past year.


He insisted that despite being one of the few major European economies still in recession, Britain had fared well in terms of jobs and repossessions compared with the last slump in the early 1990s.


The main opposition Conservatives have promised to introduce belt-tightening measures if they defeat Brown’s Labour Party in next year’s general election, but Brown said he “optimistic” about the coming period.


He said he believed it could be “one not of austerity but progress”.


Finance minister Alistair Darling said the Financial Services Authority, the financial sector watchdog, would be given new powers to stop bankers collecting excessive bonuses or to cancel pay packages which rewarded undue risk-taking.


Legislation to be unveiled on Wednesday will also enable the FSA to require banks to renegotiate remuneration packages which breach its pay code, and fine those which continue to offer unjustifiable sums.


Brown said: “We will ensure that the banking crisis we have experienced over the last two years should never again come at a cost to the taxpayer.


“This means a transformation of the way the financial sector is policed, with banks themselves and not the taxpayer made to pay for bank failings.”


Darling told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that bankers must start seeing themselves as “fellow citizens” and said some of the bonuses they had received were viewed by the public as “ludicrous”.


The new rules will come into effect next year if the Bill completes its passage through parliament before the election — which must be held by June 3.


The rules would affect all new contracts and would apply to all British banks, including RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC as well as the British operations of global investment banks like Goldman Sachs.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Minister vows crackdown on fake fertilisers, feed

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

HA NOI — Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has pledged to punish businesses producing and distributing counterfeit fertilisers, feed and pesticides.


The plans were discussed in an online meeting on improving the quality of industrial agricultural material between the minister, the ministry’s authorities and 63 provincial agriculture and rural development departments on Monday.


The current fine for each violation is just VND200,000-500,000 (US$12.5-31.25), and Phat commented that this and other measures against businesses caught producing counterfeit agricultural material were not strict enough.


Phat suggested applying stricter punishments like withdrawing business licences, suspending operations, publicising their names or even criminal charges.


According to statistics released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, industrial agricultural materials make up 60 per cent of all necessary inputs for cultivation, and 80 per cent of input for livestock husbandry.


However, low-quality and fake agricultural materials account for almost 30 per cent of domestic supplies in Tien Giang Province, 48 per cent in Hai Duong Province and 38 per cent in Lam Dong Province.


“It is our responsibility that our farmers have to use the bad-quality and counterfeit fertilisers, pesticides and feed,” said Phat.


As farmers often cannot avoid using counterfeit agricultural materials, this affects not only the productivity of their crops and livestock but also land and water resources, according to farmer Nguyen Thi Toan from Ha Noi City’s Thach That District.


“Local authorities and relevant agencies need to be responsible for checking the quality of agricultural materials, because as farmers, how we can check it?” asked Toan.


The Minister asked the chairmen of provincial-level people’s committees to entrust district chairmen to perform regular inspections.


Businesses caught producing and selling these materials should not only be fined but punished to a point that stops them from continuing the illegal practice, said Luong Le Phuong, deputy minister of agriculture and rural development.


Nguyen Quang Minh, the head of Plant Protection Department under the ministry, noted that such small fines were useless if they were less than the profit these companies made. —