(NY Daily News) – Wall Street rebounds after positive news from Greece, China

The market reacted favorably to a proposal submitted by Greece on Thursday that makes substantial concessions to the country’s lenders. The proposal includes raising taxes and eliminating some tax breaks.

Positive news from overseas Greece-d Wall Street’s wheels on Friday, as traders cheered a possible resolution for the Greek economic crisis and a rebound in Chinese stocks.

The Dow climbed 212 points, or 1.2% to close at 17, 760. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also rose more than 1%.

“You had positive news flow, whether it was China or Greece,” Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research, told the Daily News.

The market reacted favorably to a proposal submitted by Greece on Thursday that makes substantial concessions to the country’s lenders.

The proposal includes raising taxes and eliminating some tax breaks. In exchange, Greece is looking to get $59 billion to cover its debts. On Friday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appealed to his party to back his reform package to save Greece from a financial meltdown.

Euro zone finance ministers are set to meet on Saturday to consider the plan and determine whether Athens will get a bailout.

Wall Street also got a lift from China, where stocks rallied strongly for the second day in a row thanks to government support measures. As of mid-week, panic selling in China had slashed one-third of the market’s value since its peak in June.

“There is optimism that Greece is opening up to accepting a deal which would let it stay in the EU. But to me, the fact that China staged a late week bounce is more meaningful,” Ryan Detrick, strategist at See It Market, told the News. “With both of these worries calming, it allowed the bulls to take charge.”

But investors could be in for a bumpy ride as the U.S. stock market is expected to continue to respond to headlines from overseas, Salamone said.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know what that news will be,” he said.

On the domestic front, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said on Friday that she expects the Fed to raise rates this year. But she also noted that the U.S. labor markets remain weak and that more workers could be brought back into the workforce with stronger economic growth.

read more


(BBC News) – Greek MPs back bailout reform plan

Greece’s parliament has backed a government package of economic reforms aimed at ending the country’s debt crisis and securing a new bailout.
In a late-night debate, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted many proposals fell short of his party’s anti-austerity promises.
But he said there was a “national duty to keep our people alive and in the eurozone”.
The proposals are to be studied by eurozone finance ministers later.
EU sources says Greece’s creditors – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – believe the plan is positive.
Eurozone officials are also expected to discuss Greek requests for some of the debt to be rescheduled.
While a majority of the 300-member parliament backed the plans in the early hours of Saturday, several government MPs voted against or abstained.
Mr Tsipras is asking for €53.5bn ($59.47bn) to cover Greece’s debts until 2018.
In return, he has given in to demands for a pension overhaul, tax rises and privatisations – measures rejected in a referendum last Sunday.
Greek banks are days away from running out of money and unless a deal is struck the country faces exiting the euro.
The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says the Greek reform package is a major climbdown for the prime minister, whose radical left-wing Syriza party was elected on a strong anti-austerity platform.

read more

(NBC News) – Mistakes in Dylann Roof’s Background Check Fuel Gun Law Debate

The errors that led to accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof purchasing a gun even though he faced drug charges fueled both sides of the debate over stricter gun laws Friday.

On Wednesday, two days before the FBI said Roof should not have been allowed to buy the gun he allegedly used to gun down nine church parishioners, those victims’ families rallied on Capitol Hill for a bill that would expand background checks on would-be gun buyers.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said Friday that the bill, H.R. 1217, could have prevented the missteps, including a background check oversight, which allowed Roof to acquire the weapon.

“Dylann Roof’s arrest on a drug charge, combined with his admission of prior drug use, should have prevented him from buying a gun, and it’s a tragedy that is not what happened. This news underscores the urgency of the message that Charleston families and the Brady Campaign took to Capitol Hill this week,” said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign.

RELATED: Gun Purchase Background Checks: Casting a ‘Wide Net’ With Many Holes

One of the problems that led to Roof’s gun purchase was that a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) examiner couldn’t find the jurisdiction where Roof had been arrested on the drug charges.

Since the NICS system was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched in 1998, it has blocked more than 2.4 million illegal gun sales, according to the organization Everytown for Gun Safety.

But the Brady Campaign wants to see it do more, and they say H.R. 1217, which according to the bill would “ensure maximum coordination and automation of reporting of records,” can prevent even more illegal gun sales from taking place.

But Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research said “it’s hard to say whether H.R. 1217 could have prevented mistakes of this type” because the bill focuses more on documenting court records than arrest records.

“That said, there is a public safety interest in improving these records for background checks for gun sales,” Webster added.

H.R. 1217 would also expand background checks to cover gun sales made online and at gun shows, according to the Brady Center.

Regardless of the depth or scope of background checks, current gun sale laws only mandate a three-day period for the checks to be conducted. Roof was sold a gun after the NICS examiner couldn’t find the origin of his drug charges within those three days.

“The scary issue brought to light by this is just how faulty the 72-hour ‘default proceed’ is,” said Garrett McDonough, the Communications Director for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Inefficiencies or lack of time and resources leads to criminals and other dangerous people being able to purchase guns and, in this case, kill innocent people,” McDonough said.

On the other side of the stricter gun laws argument, some don’t think the existing system needs improvement. After the FBI said Friday that Roof should not have been able to buy the .45-caliber Glock handgun in question, Sen Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that the failure didn’t stem from a lack of regulations.

“It’s disastrous that this bureaucratic mistake prevented existing laws from working and blocking an illegal gun sale,” Grassley said in a statement. “The facts undercut attempts to use the tragedy to enact unnecessary gun laws.”

Others who don’t want stricter gun laws might use Roof’s illegal purchase of a gun to argue that NICS doesn’t work and therefore shouldn’t be expanded, Webster said.

“But on an average day, 526 people are denied from purchasing firearms because of the laws,” he said. “The more comprehensive the system is in terms of covering all sales, the more types of records are checked abd … the more effective (it is) in keeping guns from dangerous people and saving lives.”

read more

(gizmodo.com) – Google’s Dream Robot Is Running Wild Across the Internet

Remember a few weeks back, when we learned that Google’s artificial neural network was having creepy daydreams, turning buildings into acid trips and landscapes into Magic Eye pictures? Well, prepare to never sleep again, because last week, Google made its “inceptionism” algorithm available to the public, and the nightmarish images are cropping up everywhere.

The “Deep Dream” system essentially feeds an image through a layer of artificial neurons, asking an AI to enhance and build on certain features, such as edges. Over time, pictures can become so distorted that they morph into something entirely different, or just a bunch of colorful, random noise.

Now that the code for the system is publicly available, anyone can upload a photo of their baby and watch it metamorphose into a surrealist cockroach, or whatever. If you need some inspiration, or an excuse to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your face, and wait for the world to end, just check out the hashtag ‘DeepDream’ on your social media platform of choice.

read more

(belfast telegraph) – Ariana Grande sincerely sorry for doughnut blunder

Ariana Grande

Earlier this week a video emerged that showed the singer, her new boyfriend Ricky Alvarez and some friends in a bakery. Ariana was caught on tape licking some of the produce out on the counter and proceeded to slam a tray of baked goods brought out by a shop assistant, branding them “disgusting” and the reason she “hates America”.

The 22-year-old issued a statement to Us Weekly afterwards, clarifying she loves the US and is merely an “advocate of healthy eating”. However, she’s now decided further remorse is needed.

“I’m making this video from wisdom tooth recovery hell. I just want to make a video to apologise again for the whole doughnut fiasco and craziness because I feel like the apology I posted, I kind of missed my opportunity to actually sincerely apologise and express how I was feeling because I was too busy preaching about my feelings with the food industry, which is not relative,” she says in a clip posted on YouTube.

It seems the footage, which inadvertently outed Ariana’s relationship with dancer Ricky, has proved a real shock to the star. Trying to prove how sorry she is, she detailed how mortified she was when she first saw it.

“Seeing a video of yourself behaving poorly that you had no idea was taken is such a rude awakening. I was so disgusted with myself,” she continues.

“I shoved my face in a pillow and wanted to disappear, but instead of that I’m going to come forward, own up to what I did, take responsibility, and say I’m sorry… I reacted in a way that wasn’t necessary to say the least and also wasn’t me at all. I apologise for my poor choice of words and my behaviour. Seeing how ugly it looks when you behave a certain way makes you never want to behave that way again.”

Yesterday it emerged the incident is being investigated by public health officials but no crime was committed by Ariana, so she likely won’t come under investigation.

© Cover Media

read more

(gadgets.ndtv.com) – Facebook Makes It Easier to Tweak What You See in Your Feed

Facebook wants you to see more of what you want to see.
New tools will help you weed through the clutter of boring, unwanted information, often from long-forgotten acquaintances, and surface the gems from close friends and interesting pages.

You’ll now be able to choose the friends and pages you want to see on your news feed first.

To do this, go to the friend’s profile. Click on the box that says “following” and select “see first.”

Facebook’s computer software uses a wide range of information you provide to decide what to show. This includes what friends you interact with and how often, or whether you tend to like photos, videos or text updates more.

In announcing the new tools Thursday, Facebook acknowledged that its automated system isn’t perfect, so it wants to give users a way to set their own preferences.

In addition to selecting who or what page you will see first, you’ll still to be able to “unfollow” friends so you won’t see them at all. This option has been available before to people who don’t want to take drastic step of unfriending someone but would rather not read about their lives.

For the rest, though, Facebook will continue to use its software to choose what to show you. So unless you want to see someone’s posts all the time or not at all, you’re stuck with what you’ve got.

The update is available Thursday on iPhones and iPads and is being rolled out in the coming weeks to Android phones and personal computers.

read more

(CNN) – Legendary actor Omar Sharif dies at 83

(CNN)Omar Sharif, the dashing actor whose career included star turns in “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago,” died Friday. He was 83.

The Egyptian-born actor suffered a heart attack this afternoon in Cairo, according to his agent, Steve Kenis. Egyptian state media report that Sharif had been in the hospital for a month.

Antonio Banderas, who starred with Sharif in 1999’s “The 13th Warrior,” expressed his sorrow on Twitter.

“My great friend Omar Sharif has passed away. I will always miss him. He was one of the best,” Banderas posted.

In his prime, Sharif — with his dark eyes, debonair demeanor and exotic accent — was considered one of the most handsome men on the planet, his looks getting as much attention as his acting ability.

“When he walked on the ‘Zhivago’ set in Spain, I took one look and said, ‘I can’t act with that man. He’s too gorgeous!’ ” one of his “Zhivago” co-stars, Geraldine Chaplin, told The New York Times in 1965.

In the ’90s, he had both a perfume and a brand of cigarettes named after him.

But he could also be a formidable actor, earning an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in “Lawrence of Arabia” and winning Golden Globes for it and “Zhivago.”

Sharif was already an established star in the Middle East when he was cast in the role as Sherif Ali Ibn El Karish in director David Lean’s epic 1962 production of “Arabia.” The film, which was also the movie debut of Peter O’Toole, won seven Oscars, including best picture, and is still considered one of the greatest of all time.

It made Sharif a worldwide name, about which he had mixed feelings, he said in 1995.

“I don’t know if I wouldn’t have been a happier person if I had never even made ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ or become internationally famous,” he said. “I was in Egypt. I had a home. I had a wife. I had a kid. I might have had more. It might have been good. But then again, it might have been terrible, I don’t know.”

In ‘the Hollywood of the Middle East’
Sharif was born Michael Demitri Shalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, on April 10, 1932. He grew up in Cairo, the son of a lumber merchant.

He wanted to be an actor from a young age and performed in theatrical productions as a teenager. In his early 20s, he was cast in an Egyptian film opposite actress Faten Hamama. The 1954 film, whose Arabic title translates to “Struggle in the Valley,” made him a star; the next year, Hamama became his wife. The two were married until 1974.

In a 2007 interview with CNN, he remembered a thriving industry.

“When I started in the Egyptian film industry, we used to produce about 120 films a year,” he recalled. “All the Arab(ic)-speaking films came from Egypt. We were the Hollywood of the Middle East.”

In the early ’60s, Lean cast him in “Lawrence.” Originally, Sharif had a different role, but when Lean was unable to get his other choices — including Horst Buchholz and Alain Delon — Sharif won the part of Sherif Ali. His slow-building entrance, from a far-off dot in the desert distance in Lean’s widescreen masterpiece, is one of the most arresting in cinema.

Lean could be difficult, Sharif said, but the pair got along fine.

“He hated actors, but he loved me. I don’t know why, because I didn’t know myself what I was going to do, and the first shot I had to make, I spent the whole night to practice it for the next day — my first shot in the film. And he knew about this, and he loved me for it,” he told NPR in 2012.

Lean cast Sharif again in his next epic, 1965’s “Doctor Zhivago.” This time he had the lead, as an altruistic Russian physician who romances a wife (Chaplin) and a lover (Julie Christie) before and after the Russian Revolution.

“Sharif, largely through expressions of indignation, compassion and tenderness, makes the character very believable,” wrote Variety’s A.D. Murphy.

The film was an even bigger hit than “Arabia,” making more than $100 million at the box office — at a time when that was an almost unbelievable sum — and finishing second to “The Sound of Music” for the year. Though nominated for 10 Academy Awards, it was also an also-ran to “Music” for best picture.

Moving to bridge
However, Sharif, now one of the biggest stars in the world, had just one more notable hit: 1968’s “Funny Girl,” opposite Barbra Streisand. The film brought him some woe; his films were banned in Egypt because of his onscreen relationship with Streisand, a Jewish woman.

As the ’60s turned into the ’70s, he had started growing indifferent to acting. Though there were some good turns — 1974’s “The Tamarind Seed” and 1975’s “Funny Lady” both did respectably — others were outright bombs.

One film, 1969’s “Che!” in which he played Che Guevara, was named as one of the “50 Worst Films of All Time” in a 1977 book. He also appeared in 1980’s “Oh Heavenly Dog” and 1981’s “Inchon.”

“Only bad films since 1972, (197)3. I’m thinking of really bad,” he told the UK’s Guardian. “To learn bad dialogue is so difficult and so boring, and to work with a stupid director who tells you to do the wrong thing, et cetera, it’s just unbearable.”

He admitted that, by then, he was putting more interest into his other passion: the card game bridge, at which he was an expert player. He wrote a regular column, wrote books and hosted a computer video about the game.

“I refused in my life many films because they happened at the same time as an important tournament,” he told the Guardian. Not that he was always happy with that choice, calling it “stupid.”

He still popped up in occasional productions. He was in the parody “Top Secret!” created by the “Airplane!” team and appeared as the Sorcerer in a production of “Gulliver’s Travels.”

He won a Cesar — the French Oscar — for 2003’s “Monsieur Ibrahim,” a French film about a Muslim who becomes friends with a young Jew.

“I thought it was the right moment to make it, to make a little statement about loving each other and being able to live with each other,” he told the Guardian.

His life wasn’t the romantic lark his image suggested. He acknowledged some issues with gambling — the Guardian noted that he lost £200,000 in one 2003 experience that concluded with Sharif head-butting a police officer — and told Guernica magazine in 1996 that he lived a “sedate” life.

“I don’t go out a lot,” he said. “I’ve always done it. I’ve never had a riotous-living sort of life.”

Romantic? That’s what he aspired to, he said.

“It’s a beautiful word,” he said. “I like it. I think probably I’m sentimental, which is not a beautiful word, but I want to graduate to being romantic.”

Sharif is survived by a son, Tarek, and two grandchildren. He acknowledged a second son out of wedlock in various interviews.

read more

(value walk) – Soros Hedge Fund Charged With Bringing Down National Bank of Greece

George Soros

George Soros, the hedge fund manager credited with “bringing down the Bank of England,” is at it again, this time in Greece; although it does not seem the scale of the bet was anywhere near as large as Soros’ GBP bet.

Soros and his Quantum Fund are among 20 Hedge Funds who have waged a short war against Greek banks and Hellenic regulators are now fighting back. Quantum Fund, along with other major names such as Toscafund, Everest Capital and Abbeville Partners, have all received fines in the past three months from the Hellenic Republic Capital Market Commission, the Greek version of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Greek tragedy: 1 million euro short selling fine remains unpaid by Soros, hedge funds
The fines, totaling nearly 1 million euros, are related to “naked” short selling of stock in various Greek banks, the Financial Times is reporting. The fines have not been paid by the hedge funds, the FT reports, citing sources close to the funds.

The trades in question must have been profitable. Over the past year, for instance, the Piraeus Bank stock price lost nearly 75 percent of its value as has the National National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG), which is currently trading near all-time lows.

The issue of Greek fines for short selling will be heard before the European Securities Markets Authority, as the Alternative Investment Management Association, a London-based lobby group that is representing the hedge funds, the FT report noted. A spokesperson for the ESMA, however, said a complaint has yet to be formally launched.

According to an April 2015 filing on the Greek regulatory website.

A fine of 65,000 euros to the company Quantum Partners LP because short selling of shares of National Bank of Greece AE without to cover the delivery obligation of openly sold shares clearing system (failed trade), in breach of Article 12 of Regulation 236/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe.
Soros, hedge funds say Greek regulator overly strict, regulations not consistent with other EU market regs
The hedge funds are arguing that the Greek regulator has been unduly strict regarding short selling restriction and inconsistent for other market regulation in the EU region.

The moves come as Greece continues to play a game of chicken with European financial leaders as the nation teeters on the brink of exiting the Euro. In this environment the hedge funds have been engaged in the politically controversial method of selling stock the hedge funds don’t own.

The issue has reached a head of late. The Bank of Greek has requested 3 billion euros from the ECB to shore up their balance sheets, and the ECB is currently considering injecting $2 billion as Greek deposits flee in anticipation of capital controls being placed on the Greek population as emergency economic measures could be required if Greece walks away from the EU.

Many hedge funds have been on the long side of the Greek stock trade, as we have noted many times in the past.

read more

(reuters) – As deadline looms, Kerry says U.S. in no rush to get Iran deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond (not seen), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, German Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, EU Deputy…

The United States and other major powers are not in a rush to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, suggesting an accord was unlikely hours ahead of a deadline set by the U.S. Congress for a quick review.

Adding to signs that a deal was not close at hand, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader was quoted by Iranian news agency Tasnim as saying Tehran’s “redlines” should be respected in talks aimed at a deal under which Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“A deal can be reached only if our redlines are respected,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, the adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He also accused Kerry of making comments that were “part of America’s psychological warfare against Iran.”

Velayati’s reported remarks came after a senior Iranian official in Vienna accused the United States and others nations of shifting their positions and backtracking on an April 2 interim agreement that was meant to lay the ground for a final deal.

“We’re here because we believe we are making real progress,” Kerry told reporters in the Austrian capital. “We will not rush and we will not be rushed.”

However, Kerry said Washington’s patience was not unlimited. We can’t wait forever,” he said. “If the tough decisions don’t get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this.”

He did not say how much longer the talks could continue. Shortly after Kerry spoke, the White House said the talks would not likely drag on for “many more weeks.”

Briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, the senior Iranian official sought to put the onus on the West for any failure to reach an agreement.

“There have been changes of position … particularly since last night,” said the official, “Suddenly everyone has their own red lines. Britain has its red line, the U.S. has its red line, France, Germany …”

Negotiators have given themselves until the end of the day on Friday. But if a deal is not reached by 6:00 a.m. in Vienna (0400 GMT), the skeptical Republican-led U.S. Congress will have 60 days rather than 30 days to review it, extra time U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration worries could derail it.


The central bargain of an interim deal struck on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland as well as of the final deal that the two sides are now trying to work out is to limit Iran’s nuclear work in return for easing economic sanctions crippling its economy.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has said the main text of a final agreement, as well as five technical annexes, were “around 96 percent complete.”

While the lifting of sanctions was largely agreed, Araqchi said Tehran’s demand for an end to a U.N. Security Council arms embargo was among the most contentious unresolved points.

Other sticking points in the negotiations have included Iran’s research and development on advanced centrifuges and access to Iranian military sites and nuclear sites.

Tehran says a U.N. embargo on conventional arms has nothing to do with the nuclear issues and must be lifted in any deal. Western countries do not want allow Iran to begin importing arms because of its role supporting sides in Middle East conflicts.

Iran has powerful support on this issue from Russia. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a summit of BRICS countries – Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa – that the U.N. arms embargo should be among the first sanctions lifted.

Over the past two weeks, Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have twice extended deadlines for completing the long-term nuclear agreement.

In a sign that the Friday morning U.S. congressional deadline was likely to be missed, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a key member of the U.S. negotiating team, was due to fly to Portugal on Friday to accept an honor and make a speech, returning on Friday evening.

Western countries accuse Iran of seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons, while Tehran says its program is peaceful. A deal would depend on Iran accepting curbs on its nuclear program in return for the easing of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, United States and European Union.

A successful deal could be the biggest milestone in decades towards easing hostility between Iran and the United States, enemies since Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.

It would also be a political success for both Obama and Iran’s pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani, who both face resistance from powerful hardliners at home.

(Additional reporting by John Irish and Arshad Mohammed and Shadia Nasralla in Vienna and Katya Golubkova and Denis Pinchuk in Russia, writing by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Anna Willard, Peter Graff, Giles Elgood and Bernard Orr)

read more