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Fitch downgrades Greece’s rating to 'CCC'

RT -

Fitch also downgraded Greece's short-term foreign currency issuer default rating (IDR) from B to C, the agency said in a press release on Friday. The ratings agency revised the country's ceiling as well, lowering it from BB to B-.

The downgrades came earlier than the scheduled review on Greece which was scheduled for May 15. The agency explained that “developments in Greece warrant such a deviation from the calendar.”

Fitch cited several key ratings drivers, stating that a "lack of market access, uncertain prospects of timely disbursement from official institutions and tight liquidity conditions in the domestic banking sector have put extreme pressure on Greek government funding."

“We expect that the government will survive the current liquidity squeeze without running arrears on debt obligations, but the heightened risks have led us to downgrade the ratings. The damage to investor, consumer, and depositor confidence has almost certainly derailed Greece's incipient economic recovery,” the agency said.

READ MORE: Germany wants Greece in eurozone, but demands more reforms

Fitch also revised the country’s growth forecast to 0.5 percent – down from 1.5 percent in January 2015 and 2.5 percent in December 2014. It added that the liquidity conditions faced by firms have worsened substantially due to “increased government arrears to suppliers and bank funding strains.”

Greece received two bailouts from the EU in 2010 and 2014, totaling €240 billion (US$261 billion). Following austerity measures, Greece saw its economy lose a quarter of its value.

In February, Athens and eurozone finance ministers struck a deal to extend the Greek bailout by another four months, with the newly-formed Greek government agreeing to present a list of structural reforms and to fulfill its obligations to repay the existing debt.

In March, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European leaders held talks on the EU-IMF bailout. Following the meeting, the European Commission made $2 billion in unused funds available to Greece to help the country avert bankruptcy.

Spartak to the rescue: 102yo fan loses $12,600 in life savings to robbers, club steps in

RT -

Otto Fischer was presented the money by Spartak Moscow player Vyacheslav Krotov on a television show, after the club had a whip round to try and compensate the 102-year-old. He had 730,000 rubles ($12,600) stolen from his home in Kopeisk – a town some 1,500 km away from Moscow.

С Отто Константиновичем, очень крутой мужик,пожелал больших побед ! Сказал по возможности будет приезжать на матчи ! pic.twitter.com/0LCRgwkjav

— Slava Krotov (@SlavaKrotov) March 26, 2015

With Otto Konstantinovich, a really cool guy, who wished us more victory's! He says he will try to come and see our matches.

At the end of March, Fischer went to open his front door after a man – who claimed to be a social worker – asked if he could come in. While going to fetch the man a glass of water, the thief made off with the cash, which Fisher had wanted to send his great-granddaughter who lives in Kiev.

Upon hearing the news, the club first launched an appeal among its ranks. Aside from the money given by the players, he will also be given a percentage of the ticket sales from Spartak’s upcoming Russian Premier League match against Kuban Krasnodar on April 4. The club has also set up an account where fans or members of the public can send money to help the 102-year-old football fan.

“I am very glad to get this help. I bow my head to everyone who helped me in this situation. If I get another opportunity to see another game, I certainly will with great pleasure. We have a saying: 'It is better to see something once than to hear about it one hundred times,'” Fischer said.

102-year-old #Spartak fan Otto Fisher is present at the stadium for the Moscow derby vs #Dinamo. pic.twitter.com/6PBjhW7UUq

— Artur Petrosyan (@arturpetrosyan) March 15, 2015

Meanwhile, Oleg Semyonov, head of Spartak’s fan club, said the gesture was the least the club could do.

“We immediately called the person looking after Otto Fischer and asked him for his bank account number. Then we published it on various football fan sites, and supporters – not just of Spartak – were invited to take part,” Semyonov said.

Fisher first came to the attention of the football club after he attended a local Moscow derby between Spartak and Dynamo Moscow, which Spartak won 1-0. His trip was organized by Spartak’s fan club ‘The Red and Whites.’ The pensioner was a guest of honor at the game and even took part in a symbolic kick-off to get the match underway.

102-летний болельщик московского *Спартака* Отто Фишер. pic.twitter.com/BZeBsqDtDF

— Григорий Дроздов (@DrozdovGrigoriy) March 22, 2015

102 year-old Spartak Moscow supporter Otto Fisher

The veteran supporter has been a Spartak fan since he was in his 20s, and said he would try to find the words to tell his neighbors about his experience of attending a match at Spartak’s new 45,000 seat arena, which will host matches at the 2018 World Cup.

“Those people who have the opportunity to play here must be so happy!” Fisher told Spartak’s website.

Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: A new patent pool, dubbed HEVC Advance, has formed for the HEVC video codec. This pool offers separate licensing from the existing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. In an article for CNET, Stephen Shankland writes, "HEVC Advance promises a 'transparent' licensing process, but so far it isn't sharing details except to say it's got 500 patents it describes as essential for using HEVC, that it plans to unveil its license in the third quarter, and that expected licensors include General Electric, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips and Mitsubishi Electric. The group's statement suggested that some patent holders weren't satisfied with the money they'd make through MPEG LA's license. One of HEVC Advance's goals is 'delivering a balanced business model that supports HEVC commercialization.' ... HEVC Advance and MPEG LA aren't detailing what led to two patent pools, an outcome that undermines MPEG LA's attempt to offer a convenient 'one-stop shop' for companies needing a license." Perhaps this will lead to increased adoption of royalty-free video codecs such as VP9. Monty Montgomery of Xiph has some further commentary.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Head 2 Head: Android OS vs. Chrome OS

LXer -

Windows is dead. Haven’t you heard? Yeah, right, we don’t believe that for a parsec (although we wouldn’t mind if Modern got swallowed alive by a Sarlacc to be slowly digested alive for a thousand years.) Still, for those who are living in their post-PC fantasy, the OS of choice for computing won’t be based on Windows.

Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production

Slashdot -

jones_supa writes: Ikea's line of flatpack refugee shelters are going into production, the Swedish furniture maker announced this week. The lightweight Better Shelter was developed under a partnership between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and beta tested among refugee families in Ethiopia, Iraq, and Lebanon. Each unit takes about four hours to assemble and is designed to last for three years — far longer than conventional refugee shelters, which typically last about six months. The product is an important tool in the prolonged refugee crisis that has unfolded across the Middle East. The war in Syria has spurred nearly 4 million people to leave their homes. The UNHCR has agreed to buy 10,000 of the shelters, and will begin providing them to refugee families this summer.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Germany needs 500,000 migrants a year until 2050 - study

RT -

READ MORE: Thousands of PEGIDA supporters march in Leipzig (PHOTOS)

Within the next 15 years, half of all German workers will become pensioners, the Bertelsmann Institute warns in a study published Friday. Without immigrants, Germany’s labor pool is likely to shrink from current its 45 million to 29 million people (or 36 percent) by 2050.

Even if the number of employed women would somehow equal to that of men and the retirement age is prolonged to 70 years, this would only give additional 4.4 million workers. Further digitalization and robotization of production processes could decrease this shortage, however.

#Germany needs more #immigrants, study says http://t.co/cmbGKQLyso pic.twitter.com/kVT7eipDvC

— DW (English) (@dw_english) March 27, 2015

Germany’s Destatis (Federal Statistics Office) estimates that in 2013 as many as 429,000 immigrants came to the country. In 2014 up to 470,000 people arrived.

Only about 25,000 out of a total of 140,000 non-EU immigrants who arrived in Germany in 2013 came specifically to find a job, with the majority coming either to study or to join their family, the study says. Others came as refugees.

2025: Germany has more retirees than children. Even with +100.000 #immigrants per year. Rich country without #hope. pic.twitter.com/mVEG12LPek

— Chris Pyak (@chris_pyak) February 18, 2015

The study claims that the economies of Southern Europe are beginning to exit the crisis, which means that they will need more workers at home while their unemployed are happy to find jobs in Germany.

“Germany can't rely on further high immigration from the EU. We must take the measures now that make Germany an attractive destination for non-EU citizens,” said Bertelsmann Institute board member Jörg Dräger, as quoted by the Local.

#Germany met 20% more #immigrants in the first 6 months of 2014 than the same period in 2013 http://t.co/aLJxXdQ5RCpic.twitter.com/ZVHnlAkkLj

— DW (English) (@dw_english) February 19, 2015

The future EU internal migration to Germany is likely to be about 70,000 annually, so most of the workers will have to be imported from outside of the EU, the study suggests.

The instability in the Middle East, for instance, could facilitate the inflow of immigrants to Europe with Germany in the first place as the EU’s strongest economy.

Dräger believes that Germany needs a new immigration policy, a comprehensible immigration system that would make it clear to the qualified foreigners from outside the EU that they are needed in the country. In the first place, this would mean changing the immigration law to facilitate access to citizenship, and make naturalization programs attractive, such as offering programs to learn the local language, give access to the social security system and offer protection from discrimination.

READ MORE: ‘Anti-Islamization’ & ‘pro-tolerance’ activists march in Berlin (VIDEO)

At the same time, thousands of supporters of the PEGIDA movement in Germany are conducting mass rallies against ‘Islamization’ of the country.

PEGIDA is a German acronym, which translates as Patriot Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. Its core principle is that it sees the rise of the influence of Islam on European countries as dangerous, while its manifesto opposes extremism and calls for Germany’s Judeo-Christian religious culture to be protected.

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