Vatican bank reports $40 million profit in 2016

Vatican bank reports $40 million profit in 2016

Faithful gather as Pope Francis presides over Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, June 4, 2017. (Credit: Gregorio Borgia/AP.)

By Cindy Wooden

In its annual report the Institute for the Works of Religion, often referred to as the Vatican bank, made a profit of about $40 million. The institute held assets worth 5.7 billion euros at year’s end, and all of the profits will be turned over to the Holy See, with none being placed in the institute’s reserve account.
ROME – The Institute for the Works of Religion, often referred to as the Vatican bank, made a profit of about $40 million (36 million euros) in 2016, according to its annual report.
The institute held assets worth 5.7 billion euros at year’s end, which included deposits and investments from close to 15,000 clients – mostly Catholic religious orders around the world, Vatican offices and employees, and Catholic clergy.
Before the report’s release, the 2016 financial statements were audited by the firm Deloitte & Touche and were reviewed by the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the institute’s work.
According to a statement from the bank June 12, all of the profits will be turned over to the Holy See, with none being placed in the institute’s reserve account.
According to the report, most of the institute’s clients “are active in missions or perform charitable works at institutions such as schools, hospitals or refugee camps.” That work is conducted all over the world, including “in countries with very basic infrastructure and underdeveloped banking and payment systems,” which means they rely on the institute, particularly in transferring donations from wealthier nations to poorer ones.
“Measured by assets entrusted, the most important group of clients was religious orders. They accounted for more than half of our client base in 2016 (54 percent), followed by Roman Curia departments, Holy See Offices and nunciatures (11 percent),” the report said.
Cardinals, bishops and other clergy make up about 8 percent of the client base, and another 8 percent is comprised of bishops’ conferences, dioceses and parishes.
In addition to deposits in money, the institute also holds “gold, silver, medals and precious coins” valued at close to 33 million euros. “Gold is mainly deposited with the U.S. Federal Reserve, while medals and precious coins are kept in the IOR vaults,” it said.
IOR is the Italian acronym for the Institute for the Works of Religion.


EU launches legal cases against Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic for not taking in refugees

EU launches legal cases against Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic for not taking in refugees

FILE PHOTO. Migrants from Syria sit in front of riot police on a field after crossing into Hungary from the border with Serbia near the village of Roszke. © Marko Djurica / Reuters
The European Commission has launched legal action against three EU member states, claiming Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic have not “taken the necessary action” in dealing with migrants and refugees.
Infringement proceedings were launched by Brussels on Tuesday.
Warsaw, Budapest, and Prague have been accused of not fulfilling their obligations in dealing with migrants and refugees according to a 2015 plan.
The three EU states have acted “in breach of their legal obligations,” the commission said in a statement, adding that it had previously warned the countries to observe “their commitments to Greece, Italy and other member states.”
The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland “have not yet taken the necessary action,” the statement says, claiming that the three EU members “have not yet relocated a single person.”
“Against this background… the Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three Member States.”
Since January, other countries within the bloc have relocated almost 10,300 people from Italy and Greece, according to the commission. “The pace of relocation has significantly increased,” it added, saying it has witnessed “a fivefold increase” compared to the same period last year.
In total, nearly 21,000 asylum-seekers have been distributed throughout Europe, some 14,000 from Greece and the rest from Italy.


Africa’s got talent [Culture on The Morning Call]

Africa's got talent [Culture on The Morning Call]

(For the embedded video go to Source)

In this week This is Culture segment, Linnete Bahati focuses on the recent 2017 edition of Britain’s got talent. A number of African names featured during the event including Daliso Chaponda, the son of former Malawian Agricultural minister George Chaponda.
In the preliminary stages of the competition in early May, the celebrity judges gave the 37-year-old comedian and comic writer a standing ovation, and the highest nod – the Golden Buzzer – to proceed to the live semi-finals after his five-minute skit. He was among the finalists who were eyeing the £250,000 cash prize. Unfortunately, he missed the prize but he managed to charm the world despite the stiff competition. He managed to get third place act in the competition.
Sarah Ikumu is yet another participant in the competition. She is a 15-year-old girl with a very powerful voice. Her powerful voice shocked the judges on Britain’s Got Talent and prompted Simon Cowell to press his first golden buzzer of 2017. She lives with her parents who are Kenyan immigrants in the UK.
Destiny Chukunyere is the daughter of Ndubisi Chukunyere, former Nigerian footballer who last played for Maltese Premier League, in the capacity of striker. He was named one of the most prolific African scorers in the European season by the BBC. Destiny has got great talent that even enabled her to win the Junior Eurovision 2015.


Syrian Opposition Getting Democracy Training in Germany in Case Assad Falls

By DPA, 28 July, 2012

Some 40 Syrians have undergone training in Berlin, including generals who have deserted Assad, economists and lawyers living in exile.
High-ranking members of the Syrian opposition movement have recently been trained in Berlin on how to establish a democratic system in the event that President Bashar Assad falls from power, German diplomatic sources have confirmed.
Some 40 Syrians underwent training, including generals who have deserted Assad, economists and lawyers living in exile. The group includes members of various ethnic groups and religions, as well as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Syria.
The diplomatic sources stressed that the German government was not directly involved in the meetings, which were held under conditions of secrecy, but said it was being kept informed and was providing logistical support.
“It is the declared policy of (Foreign Minister Guido) Westerwelle to boost cohesion within the Syrian opposition and to contribute to making the Syrian opposition forces more professional,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Berlin.
The meetings included a visit to the authority that administers the files of the notorious Stasi, the defunct East German security organization.
The driving force behind the project, entitled “The Day Thereafter: support for a democratic transition in Syria,” is the U.S. Institute for Peace. Funders included the U.S. State Department, the Swiss Foreign Ministry and Dutch and Norwegian non-governmental organizations.
According to USIP project leader Steven Heydemann, opposition leaders were being prepared for the immediate aftermath of a regime collapse in Syria, with the aim of averting economic chaos and ensuring public order.
The organizers stressed that the plans being laid in Berlin were not aimed at changing the government in Damascus. As Heydemann wrote in his blog for the U.S. journal Foreign Policy, the project was about “the day after,” while others were working on “the day before.”
Regime collapse was one issue, while talks about transitional arrangements were another, Heydemann said, adding that it would be “irresponsible” not to prepare for a transition.
Heydemann said that the discussions to date had been about reforms to the justice system, among other things, along with the role of the armed opposition in the post- Assad era.
The next stage would be establishing a network of officials for the transitional period, with consideration being given to members of the old regime who could play a role in a new Syria.
Over the weeks ahead, the group intends to present recommendations for a transformation concept that would be available for a possible transitional government.
Despite the military successes of the Free Syrian Army, the political opposition is widely regarded as divided and disorganized. The Istanbul-based Syrian National Council, set up last October as an opposition umbrella organization, claims to represent 60 percent of the regime’s opponents.
They include the Muslim Brotherhood, along with Christian and Kurdish minorities. Most SNC members are exiles, like the chairman, Abdelbasit Seida, a Kurd who lives in Sweden. His predecessor, Paris-based Burhan Ghaliun, stood down following internal controversy.
Many experts see the SNC as largely irrelevant, even though it was recently recognized by the Friends of Syria group of nations.
The National Coordination Committee for democratic change has a stronger base within the country. And Nofal Dawalibi, son of a former Syrian prime minister, has indicated that he intends to set up a transitional government in exile.


Tanzania: Mining Giant Acacia Accused of Operating in Tanzania Illegally

Photo: The Citizen, Acacia Mining
Dar es Salaam — Acacia mining company has been accused of operating in Tanzania illegally.
A special committee appointed by President John Magufuli to look into mining contracts and their economic impact reported that Acacia Gold Mining PLC who owns Bulyanhulu, North Mara, Buzwagi and Pangea gold mines was not licensed to operate in Tanzania.
Prof Nehemia Osoro who led the team in the investigation revealed the mining giant was not in the records of the Business Registration and Licensing Agency (Brela). The team presented its report yesterday before the President at the State House in Dar es Salaam.
The report is the second in the probe ordered by the President in mining activities and the export of copper concentrates for processing outside Tanzania. The first committee already presented its report which proposed a ban on the export of the concentrate.
The team also faulted some government officials, mining companies and Tanzania Mineral Audit Agency (TMAA) of causing loss to the government through tax evasion running into billions of Shillings.
The team, which is comprised by economists and lawyers, was formed to investigate investment contracts in the mining industry.
The President is receiving the report just less than a month after he received the first one which looked into the content of gold and other minerals in the copper concentrate.


Gotcha! How Computer Mouse Movements Betray Liars With 90% Accuracy


CC0 / Pixabay /
Online identity theft is a serious and ever-escalating issue, with millions the world over losing billions annually. For as long as the problem has existed, it has been thought to be insurmountable. However, Italian researchers have found a means of using mouse movement dynamics to determine whether someone is lying on online forms.
The team came up with their innovative way of discerning fact from fiction online via a unique experiment — 20 volunteers were asked to memorize the details of a fake identity, and assume it as their own. The subjects then answered a set of yes-or-no questions via a computerized form, as did 20 truth-telling volunteers.
Questions included “is xxxx your name?” and “were you born in 19xx?” — each answer was recorded, as was how the subjects’ mouse cursors moved, from the bottom of the screen to “yes” and “no” buttons in the top two corners.
News from Science
You don’t move your mouse in quite the same way as everyone else — and it could help prevent identity theft:  

10:08 PM – 9 Jun 2017 Photo published for Are you lying about your identity? Artificial intelligence can tell by how you use your mouse

Are you lying about your identity? Artificial intelligence can tell by how you use your mouse
New algorithm can catch frauds with up to 95% accuracy 
​To weed out the truly exemplary liars in their test group, in addition to 12 questions about their identity, subjects were also asked 12 unexpected questions based on the volunteers’ new identities. If people rehearse lies, lying can be as easy as telling the truth — by definition, asking unexpected questions throws a wrench in the works.
These wildcard questions included zodiac signs — while a subject may have memorized a fake birthday, they may not have known the corresponding zodiac sign, or been able to calculate it quickly enough. The researchers trained computers to sort liars from truth tellers based on the number of incorrect answers given by subjects — while their machine-learning algorithms ranged in accuracy from 77.5 to 85 percent in rooting out liars, when the researchers included features of the mouse paths-such as deviation from a straight line-in their tests, computers were able to successfully pick out the liars 90 to 95 percent of the time.
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The detection of faked identity using unexpected questions and mouse dynamics  @PLOSONE
The team also trained and tested the algorithms using only questions liars answered truthfully, such as whether they were Italian — fibbers were identified with 80 percent accuracy. Jumping back and forth between telling the truth and lying, the researchers observe, appears to have a broad effect on people’s behavior — being compelled to tell lies changes the way those people tell the truth.
The researchers believe their technique could have real world applications — for instance by law enforcement, to check suspects’ alibis in criminal investigations, verify identities online, or even identify terrorists from refugees at border checkpoints. Traditional methods of lie detection used by authorities include face-to-face interviews and polygraphs that measure heart rate and skin conductance — such tests can’t be done remotely, or with large numbers of people.