Visa, MasterCard to pay $3bn to stay in Russia – Morgan Stanley

Visa, MasterCard to pay $3bn to stay in Russia - Morgan Stanley

Visa, MasterCard to pay $3bn to stay in Russia – Morgan Stanley
Published time: May 15, 2014 15:30
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Reuters / Jonathan Ernst

Under Russia’s new legislation, Visa and MasterCard will have to pay $3 billion in ‘security fees’ to continue operating in Russia, more than five times higher than the companies combined revenues, a new Morgan Stanley report says.

Under the new plan, Visa will be required to pay Russia’s Central bank $1.9 billion, and MasterCard will have to fork out $1 billion, according to an estimate by Morgan Stanley, Kommersant reported on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on foreign payment systems on May 5 that requires foreign payment systems to be levied at 25 percent of an average amount of transfers profit during one calendar day in Russia, to be paid each quarter to the Central Bank. The law will be enacted on July 1.

Morgan Stanley has calculated that it is unprofitable for both Visa and MasterCard to continue to work in Russia.
The Morgan Stanley Report titled “The Russian Bear: Impacts of V and MA” said the fees will be more than five times the two companies’ combined annual revenue in Russia. Analysts at Morgan Stanley report net sales for Visa to be between $350-470 million, and $160 million for MasterCard.

A possible loophole would be to create a separate, non US-owned entity to run the Russian Visa and MasterCard divisions. Visa already has such an operation in Europe.

“MasterCard has worked in Russia for more than 20 years. We are continuing to study all components of the new law, and are sure that some of the provisions will not only create serious difficulties for our operations in Russia, but will damage the Russian market of electronic payments in the long-term,” the company told Kommersant in a statement, adding they “continue to work closely with government agencies, financial institutions, and commercial enterprises in Russia.”

Visa has declined comment on the report.

The first wave of US sanctions prompted a mix-up with Visa and MasterCard, which led to unlawful payment freezes at three Russian banks in March and demands from the Russian government to compensate for the mix-up.

The $3 billion (100 billion ruble) estimate is much higher than the original 80 billion ruble lawmakers previously discussed slapping the companies with.

Visa and MasterCard control 90 percent of the Russian payment systems market, but Putin said that both companies will lose market share if there are any future payment disruptions.

The creation of a National Payment System (NPS) for Russia is being worked out by the country’s central bank, with the government hoping to complete work on the project within the next six months.

Leaked New York Times Memo Admits MSM Being Made Redundant by New Media

Leaked New York Times Memo Admits MSM Being Made Redundant by New Media

But report ignores the elephant in the living room

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
May 15, 2014

A leaked New York Times memo admits that the newspaper, a bastion of the mainstream press, is being made redundant by new media, but the report ignores the elephant in the living room – that trust in the establishment media is collapsing because of its refusal to act in an adversarial role against the state.

The 96-page internal New York Times report, obtained by Buzzfeed, bemoans the fact that the newspaper “is hampered primarily by its own storied culture” because it is staffed by “a cadre of editors who remain unfamiliar with the web” and social media.

Although the report lists a number of organizational failures at the Times which have left it trailing new media startups, the memo completely fails to mention the primary factor why establishment outlets like the NYT are losing their audience – because of a complete collapse in trust on behalf of the public.

From infamous lies about weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq to more recent embarrassments regarding fabricated anti-Russian propaganda, the newspaper is emblematic of a widespread perception that the mainstream press has become de facto state media.

As former New York Times correspondent Daniel Simpson revealed after he resigned in 2012, the newspaper is a “propaganda megaphone” for the ruling elite.

“It seemed pretty glaringly obvious to me that the ‘news fit to print’ was pretty much the news that’s fit to serve the powerful,” Simpson remarked, adding, “The way that the paper’s senior staff think is exactly like those in power — in fact, it’s their job to become their friends.”

The new memo isn’t the only indication that the New York Times, and by extension the dinosaur media as a whole, is on the ropes.

Back in February the New York Observer interviewed more than two dozen current and former NY Times writers, virtually all of whom were unanimous in acknowledging that the Old Gray Lady is becoming increasingly insignificant.

“I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page,” one source told the newspaper. “The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin.”

The NY Times’ editorial content is increasingly seen as “utterly predictable, usually poorly written and totally ineffectual,” according to another source.

On the whole, faith in the accuracy of mainstream media is rapidly on the decline, with a recent Gallup poll finding that just 23 per cent of Americans trust the institution of television news.

From November 2012 to November 2013, MSNBC lost almost half its viewers over the course of just 12 months, shedding 45 per cent of its audience. CNN also lost 48 per cent of its viewers over the same time period.

The figures make bad reading not just for the networks and newspapers, but also for the White House given that large portions of the establishment media now serve as little more than regurgitators of the official narrative, routinely failing to challenge the Washington consensus.

As Glenn Greenwald outlined in a recent interview, the mass media is increasingly becoming “neutered,” “impotent” and “obsolete” because most reporters only seek to “amplify mindlessly claims of the government,” which is why the corporate press is losing its audience to new media outlets that are more dynamic and at least attempt to get to the truth of an issue while taking an adversarial stance against authority in the public interest.

Department of Agriculture buying unknown amount of submachine guns and high-capacity magazines

Department of Agriculture buying unknown amount of submachine guns and high-capacity magazines

The United States Department of Agriculture is probably one of the last federal agencies you’d expect to request a substantial amount, if any, of firearms, but that’s precisely what it did last week.

In a solicitation posted on the government’s Federal Business Opportunities website on May 7, the Agriculture Department requested an unknown number of submachine guns. The department also states it wants to get its hands on weapons with night sights in the front and the rear and magazines with a 30-round capacity.

The solicitation, which also calls for the submachine guns to be lightweight and feature slings, says:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical [sic] acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts [sic] trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe [sic] or folding, magazine – 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.”

Exactly why the USDA wants or needs to acquire multiple submachine guns is unclear, as the solicitation does not go into much detail regarding the purpose. RT attempted to reach both of the individuals listed as contacts on the USDA solicitation to learn more about the request, but was unable to immediately obtain a response from either.

The request has captured the attention of many conservative, pro-gun websites, though, which have raised questions about it.

One possible explanation for the request could be that the weapons would be used by the law enforcement division of the United States Forest Service, which falls under the jurisdiction of the USDA. The Forest Service is not listed specifically in the text of the solicitation – again, nothing is mentioned that could be related to the ultimate purpose of the acquisition – causing some to fret over the possibility that the guns would be used elsewhere.

“[The USDA] will no doubt attempt to justify their purchase of military hardware by explaining that they conduct criminal investigations and may need to do armed raids,” wrote Bob Owens at the website Bearing Arms. “This is part of a trend to arm every branch of federal government, whether the individual agency has a legitimate need for a paramilitary force or not.”

There has been concern recently over the purchasing decisions of government agencies, particularly the Department for Homeland Security, which critics have claimed buys excessive amounts of ammunition. A report by the Government Accountability Office in January, however, dismissed such concern, saying ammunition purchases by DHS have actually gone down since 2009.

Meanwhile, earlier this week a journalist at WND made headlines for suggesting the State Department is shopping for large amounts of explosives and detonator devices. Solicitations for explosives were also posted on the FBO website, but when asked to comment on the requests an agency official laughed off the question, saying “I’m not sure what you’re looking for.”

Panera Bread CEO: If The Minimum Wage Is Increased, I’ll Just Pass The Increase On To My Customers

Welcome to the undeniable reality of Economics 101.

Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. That would be awesome because poor people would be getting more money, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Liberalism at the grass roots level represents the road to hell paved with good intentions. We are convinced that many voting Democrats really want to help poor people, the elderly, and those who are disenfranchised.

However, there are often consequences associated with their attempts to help people. Raising the minimum wage is no exception.

If the minimum wage is increased, that represents an inflation in the cost of labor. How will businesses handle that? The same way that they handle any other aspect of inflation: They’ll pass that cost on to their customers.

That, of course, will result in higher prices for consumers. Do you see how this works?

There seem to be a number of liberals out there who simply don’t understand how this works. Government cannot simply regulate away certain inequalities and even certain injustices. When the government does try to fix these types of problems, it just creates more problems, often making things worse.

Hey, don’t take our word for it. Listen to Ron Shaich, the founder and CEO of Panera Bread. He explained to Stuart Varney that a higher minimum wage would increase prices for his customers.

Watch these Teachers Explain White Privilege to Young Students

It looks like these teachers haven’t read this Princeton student’s account of his own “privilege.” That, or they didn’t want to become confused with the facts.

Teachers Diana Reeves and Rosemary Colt held a session titled “Examining White Privilege and Building Foundations for Social Justice Thinking in the Elementary Classroom” at the 2014 White Privilege Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. It seems they wanted attendees to find “opportunities to begin to insert social justice, anti-racist information for even little kids to understand.”

One of the lessons they offered for attendees to consider focused on the United States Constitution. A worksheet asked if it works well for everyone, to which one student wrote “No because some people have different beliefs.” It’s not clear what that is supposed to mean other than perhaps that multiculturalism somehow makes the Constitution irrelevant.

Another question asked what it means to be privileged.

“If you are privileged you are white,” another child responded.

And the teachers played a video they made with their students.

“Do you remember that word that I used when we were talking about our previous role play, where it’s sometimes hard, if you are this, to think about people who may not be so. It started with a P –pri…” one said.

A student answered “pretending” and the teacher replied that pretending was what they were doing, not what she was talking about.

“Sometimes you have a lot, and you’re not even aware of how much you have. And it’s sometimes called privilege”, she said.

In the video, eight-year-old students spoke about what they learned.

“White privilege is when people that are white get an advantage to the people who are people of color,” one student explained. “So if there was like a job, and a person of color was applying, and a white person was applying, and the owner was a white person, they might pick the white person just because of the person’s color, even if the black person was better.”

Any NBA fan might question this since 78 percent of players are black, even though the league has just one black team owner.

“White privilege is something that white people have, meaning they have an advantage in a lot of things and they can get a job more easily,” another student said.

Meanwhile, one student realized what a “racist” he was at the end of the conference.

“I can talk about how the racism inside me, I feel like I’m going to go home and tell my parents that I’m a racist and I’m not proud of that but I’m proud that I can say that,” he said.

What do you think? How would you react if your child was exposed to something like this?

DC Schools: $29,349 Per Pupil, 83% Not Proficient in Reading

DC Schools: $29,349 Per Pupil, 83% Not Proficient in Reading

The public schools in Washington, D.C., spent $29,349 per pupil in the 2010-2011 school year, according to the latest data from National Center for Education Statistics, but in 2013 fully 83 percent of the eighth graders in these schools were not “proficient” in reading and 81 percent were not “proficient” in math.

These are the government schools in our nation’s capital city — where for decades politicians of both parties have obstreperously pushed for more federal involvement in education and more federal spending on education.

Government has manifestly failed the families who must send their children to these schools, and the children who must attend them.

Under the auspices of the National Center for Education Statistics, the federal government periodically tests elementary and high school students in various subjects, including reading and math. These National Assessment of Educational Progress tests are scored on a scale of 500, and student achievement levels are rated as “basic,” “proficient” and “advanced.”

D.C. Public Schools Spent $29,349 Per Pupil

In 2013, students nationwide took NAEP reading and math tests. When the NCES listed the scores of public-school eighth graders in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, D.C. came in last in both subjects.

D.C. eighth graders scored an average of 248 out of 500 in reading, and Mississippi finished next to last with an average of 253.

Only 17 percent of D.C. 8th graders rated “proficient” or better in reading. In Mississippi, it was 20 percent.

In math, D.C. public-school eighth graders scored an average of 265 out of 500, and only 19 percent were rated “proficient” or better. Alabama placed next to last with an average math score of 269, with 20 percent rated “proficient” or better.

Some might argue it is unfair to compare, Washington, D.C., a single city, with an entire state. However, D.C. also does not compete well against other big cities.

The Department of Education’s Trial Urban District Assessments program compares the test results in 21 large-city school districts, including Washington, D.C.

In these assessments, the scores of students from charter schools were removed and the average reading score for D.C. public school eighth-graders dropped to 245. That was below the national large-city average of 258, and tied D.C. with Fresno for seventeenth place among the 21 big cities in the TUDA.

In math, minus the charter school students, D.C. public-school eighth graders earned an average score of 260. That was below the national large-city average of 276, and put D.C. in a tie for sixteenth place, this time with Fresno and Baltimore.

The NCES database indicates that in the 2010-2011 school year, Washington, D.C. public schools spent a total of $29,349 per pupil, ranking No. 1 in spending per pupil among the 21 large cities in the TUDA.

New York City Public Schools ranked second among these large cities, spending $23,996 per pupil. That was $5,353 — or about 18 percent — less than the $29,349 the D.C. public schools spent.

Table 236.75 from the NCES’s Digest of Education Statistics compares per pupil spending among the states and the District of Columbia. It indicates that D.C. spent a little bit less per pupil — $28,403 — who enrolled in the fall in 2010-2011 school year. But that still ranks D.C. as No. 1, out-spending all the states.

How did the D.C. public schools spend $28,403 per student?

Among other things, they spent $10,584 per pupil on “instruction,” which “encompasses all activities dealing directly with the interaction between teachers and students.”

Then they spent $5,487 on “capital outlays,” which includes “the acquisition of land and buildings; building construction, remodeling,” etc.

Then they spent $2,321 on “operation and maintenance,” which includes “salary, benefits, supplies, and contractual fees for supervision of operations and maintenance,” etc.

Then they spent $2,124 on “interest on school debt.”

Then they spent $1,613 on “instructional staff,” $1,546 on “school administration,” $1,404 on “student transportation,” $1,208 on “student support,” $866 on “general administration,” $761 on “food services,” $450 on “other support services.”

Congress ought to give every family in Washington, D.C., a choice of whether or not they want a government school to spend this money on behalf of their children. The D.C. public school system should be required to provide every family in the district with school-age children with a voucher for each child that is worth every penny the district now spends per pupil in its public schools. Families should be able to use that voucher at any school they want, anywhere they want.