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585,000 Without Power As “Catastrophic” Winter Storm Pax Pounds Northeast | Zero Hedge

585,000 Without Power As “Catastrophic” Winter Storm Pax Pounds Northeast | Zero Hedge.

Winter Storm ‘Pax’ has already crippled much of the South, snarling traffic and dumping more snow than most can remember on places that are unarguably ill-prepared to cope. But, as The Weather Channel warns, up to 18 more inches of snow is forecast for the Northeast as Pax pushes up the East Coast. With no thaw expected in the South until at least the weekend (and freezing winds causing havoc), forecasters expect more power outages. Trouble has already started though further North with DC over 13 inches of snow and NYC having over 7 inches this morning alone. It’s not everyday that snow is falling in Atlanta and Boston at the same time! 585,000 households are without power in 7 states this morning. Flight cancellations have begun from DC to NYC building on the4,000 that were cancelled yesterday.

 

Snowing from Atlanta to Boston

 

Near Blizzard conditions in Manhattan/NYC:

 

Chaos on the roads…

 

Total Freeway gridlock…

 

And now it is heading North… with up to 18 inches of snow forecast for the NorthEast

 

In the last few hours, NYC alone has received 7 inches of snow and over 13 inches of snow in DC…

 

Though further west is getting more…

 

New York City’s Central Park has record 5 inches of snow in the last 2 hours…

As a reminder, here is how Weather.com described Pax yesterday:

“Sometimes we want to tell them, ‘Hey, listen, this warning is different. This is really extremely dangerous, and it doesn’t happen very often,'” Jacks said.

 

The service’s memo early Wednesday called the storm “an event of historical proportions.”

 

It continues: “Catastrophic … crippling … paralyzing … choose your adjective.”

And power outages in the south are likely to surge…

Heads up.. winds will be picking up next few hrs before the ice melts…potential surge in pwr outages http://t.co/nptlDkbDAY #gawx

— NWS Atlanta (@NWSAtlanta) February 13, 2014

We suspect the image of weathermen with hands on their faces will be more prevalent today…

 

As this is coming…

Turkey urged to drop Internet controls bill – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Turkey urged to drop Internet controls bill – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

An international journalism watchdog has warned that a draft Internet controls bill moving through parliament would worsen Turkey’s “dismal” record on press freedoms.

The government-proposed legislation would allow Turkey’s telecommunications authority to block websites deemed to violate privacy without a prior court decision. It would also force Internet providers to keep users’ data stored for two years and make it available if requested by authorities.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday that Internet freedom has been deteriorating steadily in Turkey and that the bill would “compound” the problem.

The government has rejected accusations that the bill amounts to censorship, insisting it would protect privacy. Internet freedom activists, however, believe that their government designed the bill to silence its critics instantaneously.

“There is no transparency. A group in TIP (Ankara’s Telecommunication Directorate) just makes the decisions,” Mustafa Akgul, Professor at Internet Technology Association, told Al Jazeera.

“We don’t know how they make the decisions, how many bans they have, why they do it… They don’t have any checks and balances,” he said.

The proposed bill will also heavily attack alternative media such as Internet-based TV news services.

Alternative sources

Vagus TV had more than one and half million monthly visitors before it was shut down without any warning and explanation.

“What is awful about the decision is, it’s pre-emptive,” Serdar Akinan, Editor in chief of Vagus TV, told Al Jazeera.

“The bureaucrats, who claim they can enforce this decision, now behave as if they were a court. But when I go to court, the judges and prosecutors say they don’t know about the decision,” Akinan said. “It’s just a mess, a legal disaster.”

In the past, Internet regulators were able to shut down websites that it did not approve of in a matter of two days but under the proposed bill, it can take up to four hours.

Turkish voters are looking for alternative sources of information that the State televisions and newspapers at a time when the country will be seeing nation-wide elections in the coming months.

The proposed measure comes as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is fighting a corruption probe targeting people close to him.

The FT Goes There: “Demand Physical Gold” As One Day Paper Price Manipulation Will End “Catastrophically” | Zero Hedge

The FT Goes There: “Demand Physical Gold” As One Day Paper Price Manipulation Will End “Catastrophically” | Zero Hedge.

What have we done: after a series of reports in late 2012 in which we showed, with no ambiguity, that not only might the Bundesbank’s offshore held gold be severely “diluted” (follow our 2012 exposes on German gold hereherehere, and here), but that on at least one occassion, the Fed and the Bank of England conspired against the Buba in returning subpar quality gold, the Bundesbank shocked everyone in early January 2013 when it announced it would repatriate 300 tons of gold helt in New York and all of its 374 tons of gold held in Paris. But convincing the Bundebsbank to demand delivery was peanuts compared to changing the tune of the Financial Times – that bastion of fiat “money”, and where the word gold is mocked and ridiculed, and those who see the daily improprieties in the gold market as nothing but “conspiracy theorists” – to say the magic words: “Learn from Buba and demand delivery for true price of gold”, adding that “one day the ties that bind this pixelated gold may break, with potentially catastrophic results.

In other words, precisely what we have been saying since the beginning.

Welcome to the ‘conspiracy theorist’ club, boys.

From the FT’s Neil Collins: “Learn from Buba and demand delivery for true price of gold: One day the ties that bind the actual and the traded commodity will snap:

A year ago the Bundesbank announced that it intended to repatriate 700 tons of Germany’s gold from Paris and New York. Although a couple of jumbo jets could have managed the transatlantic removal, it made security sense to ship the load in smaller consignments. Just how small, and over how long, has only just become apparent.

Last month Jens Weidmann, Bundesbank president, admitted that just 37 tons had arrived in Frankfurt. The original timescale, to complete the transfer by 2020, was leisurely enough, but at this rate it would take 20 years for a simple operation. Well, perhaps not so simple. While he awaits delivery, Herr Weidmann is welcome to come and look through the bars in the Federal Reserve’s vaults, but the question is: whose bars are they?

In the “armchair farmer” fraud you are told: “Look, this is your pig, in the sty.” It works until everyone wants physical delivery of their pig, which is why Buba’s move last year caused such a stir. After all nobody knows whether there are really 260m ounces of gold in Fort Knox, because the US government won’t let auditors inside.

The delivery problem for the Fed is a different breed of pig. The gold market is far more than exchanging paper money for precious metal. Indeed the metal seems something of a sideshow. In June last year the average volume of gold cleared in London hit 29m ounces per day. The world’s mines are producing 90m ounces per year. The traded volume was many times the cleared volume.

The paper gold in the London Bullion Market takes the familiar forms that bankers have turned into profit machines: futures, options, leveraged trades, collateralised obligations, ETFs . . . a storm of exotic instruments, each of which is carefully logged, cross-checked and audited.

Or perhaps not. High-flying traders find such backroom work tedious, and prefer to let some drone do it, just as they did with those money-market instruments that fuelled the banking crisis. Thedrones will have full control of the paper trail, won’t they? There’s surely no chance that the Fed’s little delivery difficulty has anything to do with the cat’s-cradle of pledges based on the gold in its vaults?

John Hathaway suspects there is. He worries about all the paper (and pixels) linked to gold. He runs the Tocqueville gold fund (the clue is in the name) and doesn’t share the near-universal gloom of London’s gold analysts, who a year ago forecast an average $1700 for 2013. It is currently $1,260.

As has been remarked here before, forecasting the price is for mugs and bugs. But one day the ties that bind this pixelated gold may break, with potentially catastrophic results. So if you fancy gold at today’s depressed price, learn from Buba and demand delivery.

Emerging market sell-off spills over to Europe, U.S. | Reuters

Emerging market sell-off spills over to Europe, U.S. | Reuters.

(Reuters) – A full-scale flight from emerging market assets accelerated on Friday, setting global shares on course for their worst week this year and driving investors to safe-haven assets including U.S. Treasuries, the yen and gold.

U.S. stocks slumped, putting the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its worst drop since November 7 and pushing the index down 1.8 percent for the week. Concerns about slower growth in China, reduced support from U.S. monetary policy and political problems in Turkey, Argentina and Ukraine drove the selling.

The Turkish lira hit a record low. Argentina’s peso fell again after the country’s central bank abandoned its support of the currency.

The declines mirror moves from last June when developing country stocks fell almost 18 percent over about two months and hit global shares.

The broad nature of the selloff combines country-specific problems with the reality that reduced U.S. Federal Reserve bond buying reduces the liquidity that has in the past boosted higher-yielding emerging markets assets.

The Fed last month pared its monthly purchases of bonds by $10 billion to $75 billion. The U.S. central bank will hold a policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday and is widely expected to again pare its stimulus program.

“We expect the emerging market selloff to get worse before it starts getting better,” said Lorne Baring, managing director of B Capital Wealth Management in Geneva. “There’s definitely contagion spreading and it’s crossing over from emerging to developed in terms of sentiment.”

Activity was heavy in exchange-traded funds focused on emerging markets. The iShares Morgan Stanley EM ETF was the second-most active issue in New York trading, trailing only the S&P 500’s tracking ETF.

An MSCI index of emerging market shares fell as much as 1.6 percent. Since mid-October, the index has lost more than 9 percent. The MSCI all-country world equity index was down 1.6 percent.

Funds have continued to flee emerging market equities. In the week ended January 22, data from Thomson Reuters Lipper service showed outflows from U.S.-domiciled emerging market equity funds of $422.41 million, the sixth week of outflows out of the last seven.

Emerging market debt funds saw a 32nd week of outflows out of the last 35, with $200 million in net redemptions from the 250 funds tracked by Lipper.

“It’s just the final realization that they can’t continue to grow as an economy the same way they did before,” said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York. “It’s a combination of less liquidity for these countries that depended on foreign money and China kind of throwing some curve balls as well.”

The Turkish lira hit a record low of 2.33 to the dollar, even after the central bank spent at least $2 billion trying to prop it up on Thursday.

Turkey’s new dollar bond, first sold on Wednesday, fell below its launch price. The cost of insuring against a Turkish default rose to an 18-month high and Ukraine’s debt insurance costs hit their highest level since Kiev agreed a rescue deal with Russia in December.

Argentina decided to loosen strict foreign exchange controls a day after the peso suffered its steepest daily decline since the country’s 2002 financial crisis [ID:nL2N0KY0FC]. On Friday, it was down 2.8 percent.

On Wall Street shares sank.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 205.12 points, or 1.27 percent, at 15,992.23. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 24.93 points, or 1.36 percent, at 1,803.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 66.82 points, or 1.58 percent, at 4,152.05.

But in a signal that the selling may be overextended, investors were willing to pay more for protection against a drop in the S&P 500 on Friday than for three months down the road. The last time the spread between the CBOE volatility index and three-month VIX futuresturned negative was in mid- October, shortly after a 4.8 percent pullback in the S&P 500 opened the door to the last leg of the 2013 market rally.

European shares suffered their biggest fall in seven months. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed down 2.4 percent at 1,301.34 points. The index has now erased all its gains for 2014, and is down 1.1 percent on the year.

Spain’s IBEX index, highly exposed to Latin America, was the worst-hit in Europe, falling 3.69 percent.

The dollar index was flat, a day after falling 0.9 percent against a basket of majorcurrencies, including the euro, yen, Swiss franc and sterling. That was its worst one-day performance in three months.

A flight to safety lifted currencies backed by a current account surplus, such as the Japanese yen and Swiss franc, and highly rated government bonds. German Bund futures rose and 10-year U.S. Treasury yields hit an eight-week low below 2.75 percent.

Gold traded close to its highest level in nine weeks and was poised for a fifth straight weekly climb as weaker equities burnished its safe-haven appeal. Spot gold rose to $1265.10, up from $1263.95.

(Reporting by Barani Krishnan; Additional reporting by Dan Bases and Toni Vorobyova; Editing by Nigel Stephenson, Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)

The Fate of a City | KUNSTLER

The Fate of a City | KUNSTLER.

I was born and raised in New York City, on the east side of Manhattan (with a brief intermezzo in the long Island Suburbs (1954 – 1957) though I have lived upstate, two hundred miles north of the city, for decades since. I go back from time to time to see publishers and get some cosmopolitan thrills. One spring morning a couple of years back, toward the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s reign, I was walking across Central Park from my hotel on West 75th Street to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I had an epiphany.

Which was that Central Park, and indeed much of the city, had never been in such good condition in my lifetime. The heart of New York had gone through a phenomenal restoration. When I was a child in the 1960s, districts like Tribeca, Soho, and the Bowery were the realms of winos and cockroaches. The brutes who worked in the meatpacking district had never seen a supermodel. Brooklyn was as remote and benighted as Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania. The Central Park Zoo was like a set from Riot in Cellblock D, and the park itself was desecrated with the aging detritus of Robert Moses’s awful experiments in chain-link fencing as a decorative motif. Then, of course, came the grafitti-plagued 1970s summed up by the infamous newspaper headline [President] Ford to City: Drop Dead.

Now, the park was sparkling. The sheep’s meadow was lovingly re-sodded, many of Frederick Law Olmsted’s original structures, the dairy, the bow bridge, the Bethesda Fountain, were restored. Million dollar condos were selling on the Bowery. Where trucks once unloaded flyblown cattle carcasses was now the hangout of movie and fashion celebrities. Brooklyn was a New Jerusalem of the lively arts. And my parents could never have afforded the 2BR/2bath apartment (with working fireplace) that I grew up in on East 68th Street.

The catch to all this was that the glorious rebirth of New York City was entirely due to the financialization of the economy. Untold billions had streamed into this special little corner of the USA since the 1980s, into the bank accounts of countless vampire squidlets engaged in the asset-stripping of the rest of the nation. So, in case you were wondering, all the wealth of places like Detroit, Akron, Peoria, Waukegan, Chattanooga, Omaha, Hartford, and scores of other towns that had been gutted and retrofitted for suburban chain-store imperialism, or served up to the racketeers of “Eds and Meds,” or just left for dead — all that action had been converted, abracadabra, into the renovation of a few square miles near the Atlantic Ocean.

Nobody in the lamebrain New York based media really understands this dynamic, nor do they have a clue what will happen next, which is that the wealth-extraction process is now complete and that New York City has moved over the top of the arc of rebirth and is now headed down a steep, nauseating slope of breakdown and deterioration, starting with the reign of soon-to-be hapless Bill de Blasio.

Mayor Bloomberg was celebrated for, among other things, stimulating a new generation of skyscraper building. There is theory which states that an empire puts up its greatest monumental buildings just before it collapses. I think it is truthful. This is what you are now going to see in New York, especially as regards the empire of Wall Street finance, which is all set to blow up. The many new skyscrapers recently constructed for the fabled “one percent”— the Frank Gehry condos and the Robert A.M. Stern hedge fund aeries — are already obsolete. The buyers don’t know it. In the new era of capital scarcity that we are entering, these giant buildings cannot be maintained (and, believe me, such structures require incessant, meticulous, and expensive upkeep). Splitting up the ownership of mega-structures into condominiums under a homeowners’ association (HOA) is an experiment that has never been tried before and now we are going to watch it fail spectacularly. All those towering monuments to the beneficent genius of Michael Bloomberg will very quickly transform from assets to liabilities.

This is only one feature of a breakdown in mega-cities that will astonish those who think the trend of hypergrowth is bound to just continue indefinitely. It will probably be unfair to blame poor Mr. de Blasio (though he surely can make the process worse), even as it would be erroneous to credit Michael Bloomberg for what financialization of the economy accomplished in one small part of America.

Cold U.S. Temperatures Expected To Break Records As ‘Polar Vortex’ Blasts Midwest

Cold U.S. Temperatures Expected To Break Records As ‘Polar Vortex’ Blasts Midwest.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The weather warnings are dire: Life threatening wind chills. Historic cold outbreak. Bitter cold temperatures.

Winter is normally cold, but starting Sunday tundra-like temperatures are poised to deliver a rare and potentially dangerous sledgehammer blow to much of the Midwest, driving temperatures so far below zero that records will shatter.

One reason? A “polar vortex,” as one meteorologist calls it, which will send cold air piled up at the North Pole down to the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast.

The temperature predictions are startling: 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls, Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago. At those temperatures, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in because wind chills could hit 50, 60 or even 70 below zero.

Temperature records will likely be broken during the short, yet forceful deep freeze that will begin in many places on Sunday and extend into early next week. That’s thanks to a perfect combination of the jet stream, cold surface temperatures and the polar vortex — a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold, dense air, said Ryan Maue, of Tallahassee, Fla., a meteorologist for Weather Bell.

“All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak,” he said. “If you’re under 40 (years old), you’ve not seen this stuff before.”

Snow already on the ground and fresh powder expected in some places ahead of the cold air will reduce the sun’s heating effect, so nighttime lows will plummet thanks to strong northwest winds that will deliver the Arctic blast, Maue said. And there’s no warming effect from the Gulf to counteract the cold air, he said.

The cold blast will sweep through parts of New England, where residents will have just dug out from a snowstorm and the frigid temperatures that followed. Parts of the central Midwest could also see up to a foot of snow just as the cold sweeps in pulling temperatures to 10 below zero in the St. Louis area.

Even places accustomed to normally mild to warmer winters will see a plunge in temperatures early next week, including Atlanta where the high is expected to hover in the mid-20s on Tuesday.

“This one happens to be really big and it’s going to dive deep into the continental U.S. And all that cold air is going to come with it,” said Sally Johnson, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.

It’s relatively uncommon to have such frigid air blanket so much of the U.S., maybe once a decade or every couple of decades, Maue said. But in the long-run the deep temperature dives are less meaningful for comparison to other storms than daytime highs that are below-zero and long cold spells, he said.

And so far, this winter is proving to be a cold one.

“Right now for the winter we will have had two significant shots of major Arctic air and we’re only through the first week of January. And we had a pretty cold December,” Maue said.

Cities and states are already taking precautions. Minnesota called off school for Monday statewide, the first such closing in 17 years, because of projected highs in the minus teens and lows as cold as 30 below. Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., students also won’t be in class Monday. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged superintendents to keep children’s safety in making the decision after the state forecast called for “life threatening wind chills” through Tuesday morning.

Sunday’s playoff game in Green Bay could be among one of the coldest NFL games ever played. Temperatures at Lambeau Field are expected to be a frigid minus 2 degrees when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kick off, and by the fourth quarter it’ll be a bone-chilling minus 7, with wind chills approaching minus 30, according to the National Weather Service. Officials are warning fans to take extra safety measures to stay warm including dressing in layers and sipping warm drinks.

And though this cold spell will last just a few days as warmer air comes behind, it likely will freeze over the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, meaning frigid temperatures will likely last the rest of winter, Maue said.

“It raises the chances for future cold,” he said, adding it could include next month’s Super Bowl in New York.

Fed Seen Tapering QE in $10B Steps in Next Seven Meetings – Bloomberg

Fed Seen Tapering QE in $10B Steps in Next Seven Meetings – Bloomberg.

The Federal Reserve will probably reduce its bond purchases in $10 billion increments over the next seven meetings before ending the program in December 2014, economists said.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 41 economists matches the $10 billion reduction announced two days ago as the Fed began to unwind the unprecedented stimulus that has defined Ben S. Bernanke’s chairmanship.

The Federal Open Market Committeesaid in a statement it will slow buying “in further measured steps at future meetings” if the economy improves as forecast. The Fed may taper its buying by about $10 billion per gathering, Bernanke said at a press conference in Washington on Dec. 18.

“If we’re making progress in terms of inflation and continued job gains, then I imagine we’ll continue to do, probably at each meeting, a measured reduction” in purchases, Bernanke said, calling $10 billion in the “general range” for a “modest” reduction. If the economy slows, the Fed may “skip a meeting or two,” and if the economy accelerates it may taper a “bit faster.”

Such predictable increments would extend Bernanke’s push toward greater transparency and openness at the Fed, said Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York.

The Fed Tiptoes Into a Taper

“Doing this would avoid the drama of having to come to a consensus at each meeting,” Saporta said. “It may have been difficult enough to agree on the timing, size and composition of the first taper, so maybe no one has the appetite to do that on an ongoing basis.”

Exceeded Expectations

A report today showed third-quarter growth exceeded expectations. Gross domestic product climbed at a 4.1 percent annualized rate, the strongest since the final three months of 2011 and up from a previous estimate of 3.6 percent, Commerce Department figures showed in Washington.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.4 percent to 1,816.33 at 10:17 a.m. in New York, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell 0.02 percentage point to 2.91 percent.

Bernanke’s second four-year term ends Jan. 31, and Vice Chairman Janet Yellen is awaiting Senate confirmation to succeed him.

The Fed coupled its decision to taper bond purchases with a stronger commitment to keep its benchmark interest rate low. Bernanke said the decision was intended to “keep the level of accommodation the same overall.”

Jobless Rate

Unemployment fell to a five-year low of 7 percent in November as employers added 203,000 workers to payrolls. Inflation measured by the personal consumption expenditures index was 0.7 percent in October and has remained below the Fed’s 2 percent objective for almost a year and a half.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose to a record $4.01 trillion as of Dec. 18, up from $2.82 trillion when it began the third round of purchases. The FOMC began QE3, as the program is known, in September 2012 with monthly purchases of $40 billion in mortgage bonds and added $45 billion in Treasury purchases starting in December 2012.

The balance sheet will expand to about $4.4 trillion by the time the program ends, according to median estimates in the survey. Economists forecast purchases in the third round eventually will reach $800 billion in mortgage bonds and $789 billion in Treasuries.

 

India-US row escalates over diplomat’s arrest – News – Al Jazeera English

India-US row escalates over diplomat’s arrest – News – Al Jazeera English.

Devyani Khobragade was arrested and handcuffed over an alleged visa fraud [Facebook]
The simmering tension between New Delhi and Washington over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York has escalated into a major row with the boycott of a visiting US Congressional delegation by India’s political leaders.India has also asked all US diplomats stationed in India to turn in their identity cards. Police barricades outside the US embassy in New Delhi have been removed and access for US diplomatic staff to airports curtailed. More retaliatory measures are expected, reports said.

Spotlight

Follow our special India coverage

On Tuesday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and federal home minister Sushilkumar Shinde refused to meet the visiting delegation in protest against the “despicable and barbaric” treatment meted to the arrested diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.

The five-member delegation to New Delhi, facing a general boycott, is led by Congressman George Holding, representative for North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, who serves on the foreign affairs committee and judiciary committee. The four other Congressmen are Pete Olson, David Schweikert, Robert Woodall and Madeliene Bordallo.

News of Khobragade being lodged in a prison cell in the company of drug addicts and being subject to a strip search have angered India’s mandarins and political bosses. The diplomat was also subject to a DNA swab.

The spat between the United States and India strikes a discordant note at a time when relationship between the two countries is otherwise on a high, especially in the last one decade which has seen unprecedented cooperation in various areas of civilian and defence sectors.

Reacting to the Khobragade’s incarceration, India’s national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon described the treatment as “despicable and barbaric.”

Media reports quoting Indian government sources said New Delhi is considering “reciprocal steps” later on Tuesday so as to “convey a clear message that this treatment of the diplomat is unacceptable.”

On Monday, speaker of the lower house (Lok Sabha) of India’s parliament Meira Kumar declined to meet the visiting US congressional delegation.

Handcuffed in public

The Indian diplomat, aged 39, was arrested on Thursday as she was dropping her daughter to school. She was handcuffed in public and later freed on bail worth $250,000.

US police accuse Khobragade of lying in her visa application for the purposes of recruiting an Indian national who was employed as housekeeper at her home and was paid less than $ 4 an hour, which is lower than US minimum wages.

Her father Uttam Khobragade, a former IAS officer, was quoted by the NDTV news channel as saying, “My daughter is brave, but I’m worried. There’s more than what meets the eye.”

After her arrest, India’s foreign secretary Sujatha Singh summoned the US envoy in New Delhi, Nancy Powell, and protested over the “unacceptable treatment” meted out to Khobragade, a senior consular officer.

The US has defended its actions saying its Marshals followed standard procedures. Countering India’s stand that the arrest flouted the Vienna convention governing diplomatic immunity, the US said diplomats enjoyed immunity from their courts only in the exercise of their consular functions.

“We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India,” said Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman. “Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended.”

India has said even if a diplomat is arrested for a purported serious crime, all courtesies must be extended to the diplomat and not be treated like a common criminal.

 

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control – NYTimes.com

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control – NYTimes.com

GREELEY, Colo. — When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state’s new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he “maybe” obtained afterward.

He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference.

“How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?” he asks.

Colorado’s package of gun laws, enacted this year after mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., has been hailed as a victory by advocates of gun control. But if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws — which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds — may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state’s rural regions.

Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.

The resistance of sheriffs in Colorado is playing out in other states, raising questions about whether tougher rules passed since Newtown will have a muted effect in parts of the American heartland, where gun ownership is common and grass-roots opposition to tighter restrictions is high.

In New York State, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed one of the toughest gun law packages in the nation last January, two sheriffs have said publicly they would not enforce the laws — inaction that Mr. Cuomo said would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” The sheriffs’ refusal is unlikely to have much effect in the state: According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, since 2010 sheriffs have filed less than 2 percent of the two most common felony gun charges. The vast majority of charges are filed by the state or local police.

In Liberty County, Fla., a jury in October acquitted a sheriff who had been suspended and charged with misconduct after he released a man arrested by a deputy on charges of carrying a concealed firearm. The sheriff, who was immediately reinstated by the governor, said he was protecting the man’s Second Amendment rights.

And in California, a delegation of sheriffs met with Gov. Jerry Brown this fall to try to persuade him to veto gun bills passed by the Legislature, including measures banning semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and lead ammunition for hunting (Mr. Brown signed the ammunition bill but vetoed the bill outlawing the rifles).

“Our way of life means nothing to these politicians, and our interests are not being promoted in the legislative halls of Sacramento or Washington, D.C.,” said Jon E. Lopey, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, Calif., one of those who met with Governor Brown. He said enforcing gun laws was not a priority for him, and he added that residents of his rural region near the Oregon border are equally frustrated by regulations imposed by the federal Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

This year, the new gun laws in Colorado have become political flash points. Two state senators who supported the legislation were recalled in elections in September; a third resigned last month rather than face a recall. Efforts to repeal the statutes are already in the works.

Countering the elected sheriffs are some police chiefs, especially in urban areas, and state officials who say that the laws are not only enforceable but that they are already having an effect. Most gun stores have stopped selling the high-capacity magazines for personal use, although one sheriff acknowledged that some stores continued to sell them illegally. Some people who are selling or otherwise transferring guns privately are seeking background checks.

Eric Brown, a spokesman for Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado, said, “Particularly on background checks, the numbers show the law is working.” The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has run 3,445 checks on private sales since the law went into effect, he said, and has denied gun sales to 70 people.

 

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