Thursday, 29 June 2017

Hong Kong Plus 20. Comrade Corbyn’s UK.

Baltic Dry Index. 929 +26     Brent Crude 47.54

The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.

Mikhail Gorbachev.

Today, Hong Kong twenty years on from the handover. Communists, like leopards, can’t change their spots. Creeping repression, and a lack of respect of the transfer agreement, has many young Hong Kong-ers getting ready to head for the exits.

But first Asian markets getting all dressed up for the end of the half year.

"Countries have the right to development, but they should view their own interests in the broader context. And refrain from pursuing their own interests at the expense of others."

President Xi Jinping.

Financial stocks lead Asian market gains

Published: June 28, 2017 11:56 p.m. ET

Banks get boost after results of Fed stress test

Equity markets in Asia were higher early Thursday, with finance stocks broadly leading gains after all major U.S. financial institutions received approval from the Federal Reserve to ramp up dividend payouts and share buybacks.

The approvals — the first time since the annual tests began in 2011 that all firms got passing grades — reflect a turning point for big financial institutions that have been shackled by tighter regulation since the crisis.

That move paves the way for U.S. banks to increase dividend payouts and share buybacks to their highest levels in years, providing investors with confidence to invest in high-growth assets like technology stocks.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +1.06%   advanced 0.9% on Thursday, building on its largest one-day gain in two weeks on Wednesday. Stocks of large banks were among the big gainers, with Macquarie Group MQG, +2.25%  rising 2.1%, National Australia Bank NAB, +2.25%   rising 1.8% and WesPac WBC, +2.17%   gaining 2%.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.82%   was up 0.8%, led by strength in banking giant HSBC 0005, +4.01%  , which surged 3.7%. Standard Chartered 2888, +3.12%   gained 3.2%.

An indication of improved investor sentiment was rising crude-oil prices despite inventory data showing an increase in U.S. stockpiles. The front-month futures for Brent crude LCOQ7, +0.42%  , the international benchmark, gained 0.3% in Asia.

“You know you are back in a market with a bullish bent when [U.S. oil-inventory data] is ignored,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

Thu Jun 29, 2017 | 5:29am BST

Celebration and protest as China president visits Hong Kong

President Xi Jinping arrives in Hong Kong on Thursday to celebrate its 20th anniversary of Chinese rule, but he faces a city divided, mass protests and aggrieved crowds resentful of Beijing's growing meddling in local affairs.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a "one country, two systems" formula which guarantees wide-ranging autonomy and judicial independence not seen in mainland China.

The central government in Beijing has promised Hong Kong's capitalist system will remain unchanged for "at least" 50 years, but it has not clarified what happens after that.

Fears of the creeping influence of Communist Party leaders in Beijing are highlighted by the abduction by mainland agents of some Hong Kong booksellers who specialised in politically sensitive material and Beijing's efforts in disqualifying two pro-independence lawmakers elected to the city legislature.

An annual protest to press for full democracy in the city is expected to take place after Xi's departure on the afternoon of July 1. The city is already on tenterhooks. On the eve of Xi's visit, police arrested pro-democracy protesters, some of whom scrambled up a monument symbolising the city's handover from British to Chinese rule.

Part of the major rift under Chinese rule in Hong Kong has been a tenacious push by activists to get China to live up to a constitutional promise under Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, to allow universal suffrage as an "ultimate aim."

Wed Jun 28, 2017 | 2:33pm BST

Hong Kong protesters arrested for democracy protest ahead of Xi's visit

Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested pro-democracy protesters, some of whom scrambled up a monument symbolising the city's handover from British to Chinese rule, a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive for the celebrations.

Hong Kong marks the July 1, 1997, handover on Saturday, amid calls for democracy and fears of creeping influence of Communist Party leaders in Beijing undermining the "one country, two systems" formula under which it operates.

The city is under lockdown, with a massive security presence expected for Xi's arrival on Friday.

About 30 protesters, including student protest leader Joshua Wong, gathered at the six-metre "Forever Blooming Golden Bauhinia" statue on the Wanchai waterside, a gift to Hong Kong from China, in front of the Chinese national flag and hundreds of perplexed Chinese tourists.

The sweet-smelling bauhinia is the official Hong Kong emblem.

They unfurled a black banner demanding full democracy for the city and the unconditional release of Nobel Peace Prize winning activist Liu Xiaobo, who was recently diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
"Democracy now. Free Liu Xiaobo," the protesters shouted. "We do not want Xi Jinping. We want Liu Xiaobo."

Xi is due to arrive on Thursday afternoon and make a speech before joining celebrations to mark the handover on Saturday, when he will also swear in the city’s next leader, Carrie Lam. Police said the demonstrators, including Wong who helped lead the 2014 "Occupy" street protests that blocked key streets for 79 days, were arrested for causing a public nuisance.

Wed Jun 28, 2017 | 2:33pm BST

Hong Kong residents seek British passports amid fears for future

Many Hong Kong residents, worried about growing encroachment by Beijing as the financial hub marks 20 years since its return to China, are rushing to secure British passports as a safety net in the case of social unrest or the erosion of civil liberties.

British government data, diplomatic sources and testimonials from six Hong Kong residents paint a picture of rising anxiety over the future and growing mistrust of Communist Party leaders in Beijing, especially among the younger generation.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a "one country, two systems" formula which guarantees wide-ranging autonomy and judicial independence. China has promised Hong Kong's capitalist system will remain unchanged for "at least" 50 years, but it has not clarified what happens after that.

Hong Kong foreign passport holders and diplomats interviewed by Reuters say the rush for overseas protection has been fuelled by the territory's divisive battle for democracy, especially the "Occupy" street protests of 2014, and increasing calls for independence, a red line for Beijing.

We close for the day with EUSSR news. Nothing much ever changes in the wealth and jobs destroying Brussels asylum, where everything is an exception to the rules.

The EU is the old Soviet Union dressed in Western clothes

Mikhail Gorbachev.

Wed Jun 28, 2017 | 7:44pm BST

Germany's Schaeuble bemoans EU 'loophole' after Italy banks' rescue

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Wednesday underscored Germany's concerns about what he called a regulatory loophole after the EU cleared Italy to wind up two failed banks at a hefty cost to local taxpayers.

Schaeuble told reporters that Europe should abide by rules enacted after the 2008 collapse of U.S. financial services firm Lehman Brothers that were meant to protect taxpayers.

Existing European Union guidelines for restructuring banks aimed to ensure "what all political groups wanted: that taxpayers will never again carry the risks of banks," he said.

Italy is transferring the good assets of the two Veneto lenders to the nation's biggest retail bank, Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP.MI), as part of a transaction that could cost the state up to 17 billion euros ($19 billion).

The deal, approved by the European Commission, allows Rome to solve a banking crisis on its own terms rather than under potentially tougher European rules.

Noting that closure under national insolvency laws benefited owners and investors, Schaeuble said: "We in Europe need to think about this regulatory loophole."

Schaeuble's spokeswoman, Friederike von Tiesenhausen, on Monday urged the European Commission to enforce rules requiring state aid to be limited to a minimum in bankruptcy cases.

We had 10 years after the Cold War to build a new world order and yet we squandered them. The United States cannot tolerate anyone acting independently. Every US president has to have a war.

Mikhail Gorbachev.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, future life under Comrade Corbyn’s New Communist Labour Party. Hacking a wind farm. The London Fire Brigade’s fatal error.

I am a Communist, a convinced Communist! For some that may be a fantasy. But to me it is my main goal.

Comrade Corbyn, with apologies to Mikhail Gorbachev.

This story concerns 10 drinkers in a bar who decide to settle their £100 weekly beer bill roughly the same way we pay our taxes.

So, the first four men (the poorest) paid nothing; the fifth paid £1; the sixth £3; the seventh £7; the eighth £12; the ninth £18; and the 10th man, the richest, paid £59.

Then the barman decided to give them a £20 discount for being good customers. The group wanted to continue to pay the new £80 bill the same way as before. While the first four men still drank for free, the other six divided up the £20 windfall by following the progressive principle of the tax system. So the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing, making a 100 per cent saving; the sixth man paid £2 instead of £3 (a 33 per cent saving); the seventh man paid £5 instead of £7 (a 28 per cent saving); the eighth £9 instead of £12 (a 25 per cent saving); and the ninth £14 instead of £18 (a 22 per cent saving). The 10th man paid £49 instead of £59 (a 16 per cent saving).

The men then began to compare their savings. “I only got £1 out of the £20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the 10th man, “but he got £10 – the wealthy get all the breaks!” “Wait a minute,” said the first four men, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new system exploits the poor.” So the other nine men surrounded the 10th and beat him up. The next week he didn’t show for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when they came to pay, they discovered they didn’t have enough money between them to pay even half the bill.

Lakesman. From the Guido Fawkes blog.

Researchers Found They Could Hack Entire Wind Farms

On a sunny day last summer, in the middle of a vast cornfield somewhere in the large, windy middle of America, two researchers from the University of Tulsa stepped into an oven-hot, elevator-sized chamber within the base of a 300-foot-tall wind turbine. They’d picked the simple pin-and-tumbler lock on the turbine’s metal door in less than a minute and opened the unsecured server closet inside.

Jason Staggs, a tall 28-year-old Oklahoman, quickly unplugged a network cable and inserted it into a Raspberry Pi minicomputer, the size of a deck of cards, that had been fitted with a Wi-Fi antenna. He switched on the Pi and attached another Ethernet cable from the minicomputer into an open port on a programmable automation controller, a microwave-sized computer that controlled the turbine. The two men then closed the door behind them and walked back to the white van they’d driven down a gravel path that ran through the field.

Staggs sat in the front seat and opened a MacBook Pro while the researchers looked up at the towering machine. Like the dozens of other turbines in the field, its white blades—each longer than a wing of a Boeing 747—turned hypnotically. Staggs typed into his laptop's command line and soon saw a list of IP addresses representing every networked turbine in the field. A few minutes later he typed another command, and the hackers watched as the single turbine above them emitted a muted screech like the brakes of an aging 18-wheel truck, slowed, and came to a stop.

For the past two years, Staggs and his fellow researchers at the University of Tulsa have been systematically hacking wind farms around the United States to demonstrate the little-known digital vulnerabilities of an increasingly popular form of American energy production. With the permission of wind energy companies, they’ve performed penetration tests on five different wind farms across the central US and West Coast that use the hardware of five wind power equipment manufacturers.

As part of the agreement that legally allowed them to access those facilities, the researchers say they can't name the wind farms’ owners, the locations they tested, or the companies that built the turbines and other hardware they attacked. But in interviews with WIRED and a presentation they plan to give at the Black Hat security conference next month, they're detailing the security vulnerabilities they uncovered. By physically accessing the internals of the turbines themselves—which often stood virtually unprotected in the middle of open fields—and planting $45 in commodity computing equipment, the researchers carried out an extended menu of attacks on not only the individual wind turbine they'd broken into but all of the others connected to it on the same wind farm's network. The results included paralyzing turbines, suddenly triggering their brakes to potentially damage them, and even relaying false feedback to their operators to prevent the sabotage from being detected.

Below London Fire Brigade film of European plastic backed fridges v USA metal backed, on fire. And despite knowing this, and not knowing the safety state of the Grenfell Tower, the LFB still  told victims to remain in place, we will rescue you. The Metropolitan Police need to investigate the LFB, and the Fire Brigade Union, for their fatally flawed advice and contributory negligence and wrongful death.

Technology Update.
With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards? DC? A quantum computer next?

Accelerating the quest for quicker, longer-lasting electronics

Research makes topological insulators magnetic well above room temperatures

Date: June 23, 2017

Source: University of California - Riverside

Summary: In the world of electronics, where the quest is always for smaller and faster units with infinite battery life, topological insulators (TI) have tantalizing potential. Scientists report they have created a TI film just 25 atoms thick that adheres to an insulating magnetic film, creating a 'heterostructure.'

In the world of electronics, where the quest is always for smaller and faster units with infinite battery life, topological insulators (TI) have tantalizing potential.

In a paper published today in Science Advances, Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Arizona State University report they have created a TI film just 25 atoms thick that adheres to an insulating magnetic film, creating a "heterostructure." This heterostructure makes TI surfaces magnetic at room temperatures and higher, to above 400 Kelvin or more than 720 degrees Fahrenheit.

The surfaces of TI are only a few atoms thick and need little power to conduct electricity. If TI surfaces are made magnetic, current only flows along the edges of the devices, requiring even less energy. Thanks to this so-called quantum anomalous Hall effect, or QAHE, a TI device could be tiny and its batteries long lasting, Shi said.

Engineers love QAHE because it makes devices very robust, that is, hearty enough to stand up against defects or errors, so that a faulty application, for instance, doesn't crash an entire operating system.

Topological insulators are the only materials right now that can achieve the coveted QAHE, but only after they are magnetized, and therein lies the problem: TI surfaces aren't naturally magnetic.

Scientists have been able to achieve magnetism in TI by doping, i.e. introducing magnetic impurities to the material, which also made it less stable, Shi said. The doping allowed TI surfaces to demonstrate QAHE, but only at extremely low temperatures -- a few hundredths of a degree in Kelvin above absolute zero, or about 459 degrees below zero Fahrenheit -- not exactly conducive to wide popular use.

Many scientists blamed the doping for making QAHE occur only at very low temperatures, Shi said, which prompted researchers to start looking for another technique to make TI surfaces magnetic.

Enter UCR's SHINES (Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems) lab, a Department of Energy-funded energy frontier research center at UCR that Shi leads and is focused on developing films, composites and other ways to harvest or use energy more efficiently from nano (think really small, as in molecular or atom-sized) technology.


The monthly Coppock Indicators finished May

DJIA: 21,009 +157 Up. NASDAQ:  6,199 +219 Up. SP500: 2,412 +161 Up.

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  1. India’s July-September current account deficit more than doubled from a year earlier after imports accelerated while crude prices surged, as per Reserve Bank of India report.
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