Mar 19, 2018

Colombia Proposes IMF Assistance for Venezuelan Refugees

Colombia proposed on Monday that the International Monetary Fund provide assistance to help several hundred thousand Venezuelan refugees who have fled an economic and political crisis to  neighboring countries, officials at the G20 summit said. The proposal was discussed at a meeting on Venezuela by leading finance ministers from the Western Hemisphere, the European Union and Japan, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "The consensus is that the situation is extremely negative and we must by any means possible try to influence a solution to the problem and a change in Venezuela's situation, mainly from the humanitarian point of view," Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles told reporters. The fund, to be decided by the IMF next month, would only be used outside Venezuela and not by socialist President Nicolas Maduro's "regime," he said. More than 500,000 Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia and 40,000 have left for Brazil as an economic meltdown worsened and opposition hopes of fair elections faded. There were an estimated 886,000 Venezuelan migrants in South America in 2017, up from around 89,000 in 2015, the International Organization for Migration said in February. An IMF spokesperson said of the proposal: "We look forward to subsequent discussions in which we would be involved." Mnuchin offered to host a follow-up meeting of the finance ministers on the margins of the World Bank/IMF Spring meeting in Washington, in April, a Treasury spokesperson said. "The focus was on coordinating economic measures to achieve democratic political objectives in Venezuela, addressing the economic and humanitarian tragedy, and constructive responses once Venezuela allows free, fair and regular elections," he said. Colombia's government was preparing a statement on the proposal, a finance ministry official said in Bogota. The countries concerned with the Venezuelan situation also discussed sanctions and debt repayment as ways to encourage a solution to the crisis, Meirelles said. "Some countries are already applying sanctions, like the United States. In the case of Brazil, we are owed $1.3 billion in trade financing and want that repaid," he said. Venezuela recently paid arrears and is up to date, he added. Other countries, led by Russia and China, favor a moratorium that would suspend Venezuela's payments, he said. Russia and China did not attend the meeting. Venezuela is undergoing a major economic crisis, with millions suffering food and medicine shortages, and Maduro's government is late in paying about $1.9 billion in interest on its debt.
by [email protected] (Reuters) via Economy - Voice of America

TSX ends down along with US markets, Canadian dollar makes slight gains

TSX ends down along with US markets, Canadian dollar makes slight gains - 2 hours ago
The Canadian dollar made slight gains, closing up 0.05 of a US cent at 76.46 cents US, but could be tested later this week when the U.S.

by via News for Canadian Dollar - Google Finance
TSX ends down along with US markets, Canadian dollar makes slight gains

Trump Bans US Use of Venezuelan Cryptocurrency

The Trump administration on Monday banned all use by Americans of Venezuelan cryptocurrency, saying that its introduction is intended to skirt U.S. sanctions. In a separate move, the administration also slapped sanctions on four current and former senior Venezuelan officials accused of corruption and mismanagement.   In an executive order that took effect immediately upon its issuance, President Donald Trump declared illegal all U.S. transactions related to Venezuelan digital currencies, coins or tokens. The prohibition applies to all people and companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The move follows the introduction last month of a Venezuelan cryptocurrency known as the "petro," for which the government says it has received investment commitments of $5 billion.   In the executive order, Trump said it was an "attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions" imposed for democratic backsliding.   The Treasury had said in January that the petro appeared to be an extension of credit to Venezuela and warned that transactions in it may violate U.S. sanctions.   In February, cash-strapped Venezuela became the first country to launch its own version of bitcoin, the petro, in a move that President Nicolas Maduro celebrated as putting his country on the world's technological forefront.   The petro is backed by Venezuela's crude oil reserves, the largest in the world, yet it has arrived on the market as the socialist country sinks deeper into an economic crisis marked by soaring inflation and food shortages that put residents in lines for hours to buy common products. Maduro had announced late last year that he was creating the digital currency to outmaneuver U.S. sanctions preventing Venezuela from issuing new debt.   Bitcoin and other digital tokens are already widely used in Venezuela as a hedge against hyperinflation and an easy-to-use mechanism for paying for everything from doctor visits to honeymoons in a country where obtaining hard currency requires transactions in the illegal black market.   The government has promised that Venezuelans will be able to use the $60 coins to pay taxes and for public services. But with the Venezuelan minimum wage hovering around $3 a month, it's unlikely citizens will buy in large amounts.   In its own statement on Monday, Treasury said it was hitting the four current and former Venezuelan officials with sanctions that freeze any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.   The four include Americo Alex Mata, a director of Venezuela's National Bank of Housing and Habitat and coordinator of Maduro's 2013 campaign, Willian Antonio Contreras, the head of the body that oversees price controls in the country, Nelson Reinaldo Lepaje, the head of the Office of the National Treasury, and Carlos Alberto Rotondaro, the former president of the Board of Directors of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security.
by [email protected] (Associated Press) via Economy - Voice of America

Maria Horton Joins @ExpoDX Faculty | #IoT #IIoT #SmartCities #ArtificialIntelligence #DigitalTransformation

Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by FTC, CUI/DFARS, EU-GDPR and the underlying National Cybersecurity Framework suggest the need for a ground-up re-thinking of security strategies and compliance actions. This session offers actionable advice based on case studies to demonstrate the impact of security and privacy attributes for the cloud-backed IoT and AI ecosystem.

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Self-Driving Car Hits and Kills Pedestrian Outside of Phoenix

A self-driving car has hit and killed a woman in the southwestern United States in what is believed to be the first fatal pedestrian crash involving the new technology. Police said Monday a self-driving sport utility vehicle owned by the ride sharing company, Uber, struck a woman walking outside of a crosswalk in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe. They say the episode happened overnight Sunday to Monday and say the woman later died from her injuries in a hospital. Uber said it had suspended its autonomous vehicle program across the United States and Canada following the accident.   Police say the vehicle was in autonomous mode, but had an operator behind the wheel, when the accident took place.   Testing of self-driving cars by various companies has been going on for months in the Phoenix area, as well as Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto as automakers and technology companies compete to be the first to introduce the new technology.   The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board said they are sending a team to gather information about the crash.   Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on Twitter and said the company is working with local law enforcement on the investigation. The fatal crash will most likely raise questions about regulations for self-driving cars. Arizona has offered little regulations for the new technology, which has led to many technology companies flocking to the state to test their autonomous vehicles.   Proponents of the new technology argue that self-driving cars will prove to be safer than human drivers, because the cars will not get distracted and will obey all traffic laws. However, critics have expressed concerns about the safety of the technology, including the ability of the autonomous technology to deal with unpredictable events.
by [email protected] (VOA News) via Silicon Valley & Technology - Voice of America

Deprecating Service Management API support for Azure App Service

Azure Service Management support will be retired on June 30, 2018. Azure App Service resource management will be supported only through Azure Resource Manager.
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Bundesbank's Buch Adds to Calls for Cryptocurrency Regulation

Regulation of cryptocurrencies must be considered, Bundesbank vice president Claudia Buch told Reuters, even though she does not believe they pose a threat to financial stability. Buch said that speculation on volatile virtual tokens does not pose a systemic threat because it is not financed through credit, but she said that regulators should look at introducing rules to protect consumers, given that such speculation could prove costly for investors. "The role of crypto tokens in money laundering and criminal activity must also be closely examined," Buch said. "I don't see a threat for financial stability at the moment as the speculations are generally not financed with loans and the relevant markets are rather small." The issue of how to regulate cryptocurrencies is likely to be high on the agenda at a March 19-20 meeting of Group of 20 finance leaders in Argentina. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christi ne Lagarde has urged governments and central banks to develop regulations for such assets to prevent them from becoming a newvehicle for money laundering and terrorist financing. Japan has also urged its G20 partners to act on preventing cryptocurrencies from becoming a vehicle to finance criminal activities.
by [email protected] (Reuters) via Economy - Voice of America

Colombia Proposes IMF Assistance for Venezuelan Refugees

Colombia proposed on Monday that the International Monetary Fund provide assistance to help several hundred thousand Venezuelan refugees who...