IMF becomes latest victim of hacking
The International Monetary Fund has succumbed to a cyber-attack, joining a growing list profile targets to fall victim to hacking.
IMF spokesman David Hawley said the organization is fully functional, but declined to provide further details on what he termed an IT incident. Hawley also declined to say if data was taken.
The IMF told staffers about it on Wednesday but hasn't made a public announcement.
The hacking comes on the heels of a string of attacks on a number of multi-national companies.
Just this week banking giant Citibank confirmed that credit card data of about 200,000 of its North American customers have been hacked. The event marked the largest attack on a bank in the US to date.
The week before US military contractor Lockheed Martin was compromised as hackers used Lockheed's own secure id technology to access its networks.
Google has accused Chinese hackers of targeting the Gmail accounts of U.S. government officials.
Moreover, the IMF is already facing a public-relations headache after the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as IMF managing director last month after being accused of sexually assaulting a maid in a New York hotel.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens and others are vying for the top job. Stanley Fischer, Israel's central bank chief, emerged as a candidate Saturday.
Stocks Treading In Negative Territory In Mid-Morning Trading - U.S. Commentary
RTTNews - Following a disappointing open, stocks continue to post losses in mid-morning trading on Monday, with some promising economic data having little impact on the broader markets. The major averages are all in negative territory, looking to post losses for the second straight session.
While the Institute for Supply Management released a report showing that activity in the service sector contracted for the ninth consecutive month in June, the pace of contraction slowed by even more than economists had been expecting.
The ISM said its index of activity in the service sector rose to 47.0 in June from 44.0 in May, although a reading below 50 indicates a contraction. Economists had been expecting the index to come in at 46.0.
On the corporate front, beleaguered automaker General Motors has been granted permission by a U.S. bankruptcy judge to sell most of its assets to a U.S Treasury-funded buyer.
Food and beverage giant PepsiCo Inc. (PEP), together with its bottling partner Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. (PBG), announced its plans to invest $1 billion in Russia over three years.
Meanwhile Bemis Company (BMS), a supplier of flexible packaging and pressure sensitive materials, said it would take over the Food Americas division of Alcan Packaging for $1.2 billion. Alcan is a business unit of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto (RTP).
Regis (RGS) said its fourth-quarter revenues decreased 2.5 percent to $625 million from $641 million in the year-ago period. Total same-store sales for the quarter were down 4.0 percent. Wall Street analysts estimated revenues of $617.95 million for the quarter.
In other news, EMC (EMC) raised its all-cash offer to acquire Data Domain (DDUP) to $33.50 per share for a total enterprise value of about $2.1 billion. EMC is competing with NetApp (NTAP) to acquire Data Domain.
After a failed recovery attempt, the major averages have moved back to the downside in recent trading, falling to new lows for the session. The Dow is currently down 63.11 at 8,217.63, the Nasdaq is down 24.64 at 1,771.88 and the S&P 500 is down 9.23 at 887.19.
Notable weakness has emerged among resource stocks, with gold, steel, and oil stocks seeing disappointing outings. The NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index and the NYSE Arca Steel index have fallen by 4.7 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
Further, the NYSE Arca Oil Index has slipped by 3.6 percent on the day, falling to its worst intraday level in over two months. The move comes as commodity prices have taken a hit in early trading, with the price of oil plunging by $2.41 to $64.32 a barrel.
Housing, healthcare provider, software and semiconductor stocks are also sliding by notable margins, reflecting the day's broad weakness in the equity markets.
While the majority of sectors are in the red, tobacco stocks are bucking the downtrend. The NYSE Arca Tobacco Index has risen 1.1 percent, although it remains stuck in a recent range.
Stocks Driven By Analyst Comments
Opnext (OPXT) is moving to the downside in mid-morning trading after JP Morgan Chase downgraded the stock from Neutral to Underweight. The stock is down by 11.3 percent, falling to its worst intraday price in well over two months.
Shares of Citrix (CTXS) are also sliding following a downgrade at Oppenheimer, which lowered its rating on the stock to Perform from Outperform. The broker cited the stock's recent run-up as a reason for the downgrade. The stock is down by 2.9 percent, slipping to its worst intraday level in just over one month.
On the other hand, FormFactor (FORM) is on the rise after shares of the semiconductor specialist were upgraded at Oppenheimer to Outperform from Perform. The stock is up by 3.6 percent, extending its gains for a third straight session and moving further off of the one month closing low set in late June.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Monday's session mostly lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down by 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped by 1.2 percent.
The major European markets also continue to linger in the red, with the German DAX Index and French CAC 40 Index down by 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is also retreating, showing a decline of 0.8 percent.
In the bond markets, treasuries are seeing notable weakness despite the sell-off on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.537 percent, a climb of 4.2 basis points on the day.
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Apple to start production of upgraded, ultra thin Sandy Bridge MacBook Air notebooks
Following up its WWDC musings about a post-PC world, Apple is getting ready with its next generation ultra thin 11.6 and 13.3-inch MacBook Air notebooks that are scheduled to begin production and hit market soon.
AppleInsider has exclusively reported that Apple has placed orders for the manufacturing of 380,000 Sandy Bridge-based MacBook Airs this month, in addition to a 80,000 thousand units of the existing MacBook Airs.
The tech site said an analyst who made this finding has made accurate insight into Apple's hardware plans in the past.
Apple unveiled Mac OS X Lion at the WWDC, the eighth major release of which is the technology giant's desktop and server operating system for Macintosh computers.
The Mac OS X Lion has over 250 new features in the software, including those adopted from innovations in the iPhone and iPad. Apple had said OS X Lion upgrade will be available in July 2011.
Rumors of an upgraded MacBook Air model featuring Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors had been doing rounds for quite some months. For some time the rumor mill had it that Apple would move its new line of laptops and possibly desktops to ARM-based chips.
However, in early May Apple said it would present an upgraded iMac line-up of desktops. The upgrade included Sandy Bridge chips, Thunderbolt I/O, new Radeon HD graphics processor and in-built FaceTime HD camera.
The Light Peak/Thunderbolt allows users to connect multiple devices with a single cable and transmits data at a speed of up to 10Gbps data from various devices. Apple states that the Thunderbolt I/O technology allows a user to daisy-chain up to six new peripherals - such as the Promise Pegasus RAID or LaCie Little Big Disk1 - plus an Apple LED Cinema Display.
Apple had unveiled its ultra-thin range of MacBook Air's in Oct. 2010. Available in 11-inch and 13-inch models, the laptops weigh 2.3 pounds and 2.9 pounds respectively. AppleInsider report says the consumer electronics giant will wind down production of existing MacBook Airs this month with a final run of 80,000 units.
China Begins Trial Scheme For Yuan Trade Settlement
RTTNews - Monday, China has commenced a pilot scheme for companies to settle cross-border trade transactions in the yuan or the renminbi, reports said.
Currently, some Shanghai companies have already agreed to settle deals with their Hong Kong and Indonesian trading partners.
The move is widely seen as China's attempt to globalize the use of the yuan in trade transactions, thereby lessening the use of the U. S. dollar.
On June 29, the Chinese central bank and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority had signed a supplementary Memorandum of Co-operation to prepare for the implementation of the pilot scheme for the use of renminbi in settling cross-border trade transactions between the Mainland and Hong Kong. Once the administrative rules are promulgated, banks in Hong Kong would be able to offer related services to firms using renminbi to settle trade transactions with their counterparts on the Mainland.
On July 2, China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said that his country hopes for the diversification of the international currency system in the future.
In June, China reiterated its call for a new global reserve currency to replace the U.S. dollar. The People's Bank of China said there is a need to create an international reserve currency with a stable value in the long term to avoid the shortcomings of sovereign currencies for maintaining reserves.
In an essay published late March just ahead of the G20 summit in London, the PBoC chief Zhou Xiaochuan had repeated his call for a new global reserve currency managed by the International Monetary Fund.
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Apple's Smart Cover for iPad was an incredible invention when it debuted alongside the iPad 2 in early 2011, but multi-functional tablet stands have evolved significantly in a little over a year. Microsoft's solution was to invent a tablet with a built-in kickstand and an ultra-thin keyboard built directly into the cover. Logitech debuted an iPad keyboard companion that Apple could be proud of. But making your tablet stand the way you want it to stand seemed like it would require an expensive solution.
Los Angeles app maker Dotan Saguy gave this iPad problem a lot of thought, and he dreamt up a solution that could be easily manufacturable, easy-to-use, and best of all, cheap for the consumer. With a few simple adjustments, Saguy was able to transform Apple's Smart Cover for iPad -- which is a fantastic cover but an extremely limited stand -- into a fully functional cover that could let the iPad stand at many different angles to maximize either typing, web surfing, game playing or viewing. All it took was a couple of plastic clips.
Like many ideas, this kind of came out of nowhere, Saguy said in his Kickstarter video. I was just having breakfast while trying to prop up my iPad against a jar of jelly. And it just kept sliding like that. That's when I came up with the idea that if I could just isolate some of these folds in the [Smart] Cover, that would do the trick. That's why I created the Smarter Stand.
Kickstarter definitely believed in Saguy's invention. With less than 20 days to go until funding ends, the first-time Kickstarter has about 6,760 funders pledging nearly $120,000 toward manufacturing these tiny transformative plastic straps.
So, what the world wants to know is, how well does this invention perform?
Review: Why Cheap Materials Can Be Costly
I was thrilled to be among the first to receive Saguy's first shipment of Smarter Stands for iPad. Before I get into what this solution lacks, I'd like to praise what it does right.
One of the best features of Apple's Smart Cover is that it's a lightweight way to keep your iPad protected. The Cover is about one-fourth of a pound, and the whole shebang -- a New iPad with the Smart Cover on -- only weighs 1.73 pounds. Saguy didn't want to eliminate the light form factor of the tablet with his design, and his clips succeed in doing this.
Saguy's Smarter Stands looked to eliminate one of the few limitations of the Smart Cover, which was the viewing angles.
The original positions of the Smart Cover is the typing position, which is great to type with, but for anything else, it's too low and I have to peer over it, Saguy said in his video. There's an 80 degree position, but it's too high.
As advertised, Saguy's Smarter Stands can hold the iPad at many other angles, including 33 degrees for Web browsing, 45 degrees for watching videos, and a 20 degree angle to use the iPad as a private typing stand, which essentially blocks anyone in front of you -- not behind you -- from seeing what you're typing.
Unfortunately, the Smarter Stand does not work well with just these clips alone. Saguy also throws in three non-slip pads which hold the front of the iPad in place as you adjust the clips on the rear. Without putting these non-stick, non-slip pads, the Smarter Stand is not very stable.
We tried a few different materials and colors for the non-slip pads, Saguy said in his ninth Kickstarter update. The goal there was to make the non-slip pad... well non-slip, as unnoticeable as possible, easy to apply, and make sure it didn't leave any marks on the iPad if it had to be removed. I'm happy to report that we found what seems to be the perfect solution: a silicone pad that matches the aluminum back of the iPad. The adhesive is made by 3M and it's specially designed to stick well yet not leave any marks when removed. Very cool stuff.
The non-slip pads are easy to take on and off, but that's also an issue. I personally had a difficult time getting mine to stay in one spot, as the non-slip pads would, over a short amount of time, be pushed off the iPad due to the sheer friction of typing on the tablet's surface. This issue only arose because the Smarter Stand has another issue: The clips are not very smooth.
The clips needed to be sturdy enough to grip the sides of the iPad and hold it in place while gravity and the user's fingers applied pressure to the surface. Saguy must have thought about this issue for a long time, but the solution he settled on solves one problem while causing another. The clips are sturdy, yes, but when if the user applies any pressure to the iPad while typing, browsing or drawing, for example, the iPad wants to slip. The pads work as good buffers, but they are simply far too easy to wear down and wear off.
And that's the issue with this material. The non-slip pads are an integral part of the success of the Smarter Stand, and yet it's nearly impossible to keep the iPad in place while changing the Smarter Stand's viewing angle: Too much pressure is being applied on the bottom of the iPad to make the non-slip pads work. So not only is it annoying that consumers have to keep track of these tiny little non-slip pads, but they only work for a limited time.
The fact is, Saguy's plastic clips are good enough to turn your Smart Cover into a Smart Stand, but it's not very good if you plan on touching the device a lot, which is the whole point of owning an iPad. The clips make the Smart Cover a very unstable stand, and unfortunately, moving the clips around to change viewing angles is not a quick and fluid movement. You must take down your iPad and work each of the clips individually. It's overly arduous.
Where Saguy Goes From Here
There's a reason why so many people backed this project. Saguy had a great idea -- to build a cheap and affordable accessory that could make a Smart Cover into a Smarter Stand/Cover hybrid -- but he just didn't execute it to its full potential on the first go-around.
I personally give this guy a lot of credit. Saguy is a software guy at heart, and he makes apps; for his first hardware endeavor, Saguy was very successful. He had an idea to make a great product greater and he did what he could to make it happen.
I still believe Saguy's design can work. I just think he didn't have the right materials.
Saguy needs to remove the non-slip pads from the equation and figure out a way to make the two clips not only latch onto the iPad, but to make it sturdy enough so the iPad can be typed on or browsed with relative vigor. The clips need to be strong, but they also need to be easily detached from the side and slideable along the Smart Cover.
At the moment, Saguy's Smarter Stand is none of these things, and it doesn't even touch the best stand/cover/keyboard solution for iPad, which is $99. But Saguy's solution, for 1/10th the price of the best iPad accessory, is way more than 1/10th of the quality of the best accessory.
Saguy should feel good about what he's built, but he should be encouraged by the issues with his first batch to create an even better Smarter Stand sequel that's cheap, sturdy, functional, and highly reusable. It's not there yet, but it could be.