Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks

New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks

Mr. Bloomberg on Wednesday with Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor for health.
By each soda is the amount of sugar in it.

Connect with NYTMetro

Metro Twitter Logo.
Follow us on Twitterand like us onFacebook for news and conversation.

Readers’ Comments

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.
The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.
“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in the Governor’s Room at City Hall.
“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”
A spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association, an arm of the soda industry’s national trade group, criticized the city’s proposal on Wednesday. The industry has clashed repeatedly with the city’s health department, saying it has unfairly singled out soda; industry groups have bought subway advertisements promoting their cause.
“The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top,” the industry spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said. “It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal requires the approval of the Board of Health, a step that is considered likely because the members are all appointed by him, and the board’s chairman is the city’s health commissioner, who joined the mayor in supporting the measure on Wednesday.
Mr. Bloomberg has made public health one of the top priorities of his lengthy tenure, and has championed a series of aggressive regulations, including bans on smoking in restaurants and parks, a prohibition against artificial trans fat in restaurant food and a requirement for health inspection grades to be posted in restaurant windows.
The measures have led to occasional derision of the mayor as Nanny Bloomberg, by those who view the restrictions as infringements on personal freedom. But many of the measures adopted in New York have become models for other cities, including restrictions on smoking and trans fats, as well as the use of graphic advertising to combat smoking and soda consumption, and the demand that chain restaurants post calorie contents next to prices.
In recent years, soda has emerged as a battleground in efforts to counter obesity. Across the nation, some school districts have banned the sale of soda in schools, and some cities have banned the sale of soda in public buildings.
In New York City, where more than half of adults are obese or overweight, Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner, blames sweetened drinks for up to half of the increase in city obesity rates over the last 30 years. About a third of New Yorkers drink one or more sugary drinks a day, according to the city. Dr. Farley said the city had seen higher obesity rates in neighborhoods where soda consumption was more common.
The ban would not apply to drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving, like zero-calorie Vitamin Waters and unsweetened iced teas, as well as diet sodas.
Restaurants, delis, movie theater and ballpark concessions would be affected, because they are regulated by the health department. Carts on sidewalks and in Central Park would also be included, but not vending machines or newsstands that serve only a smattering of fresh food items.
At fast-food chains, where sodas are often dispersed at self-serve fountains, restaurants would be required to hand out cup sizes of 16 ounces or less, regardless of whether a customer opts for a diet drink. But free refills — and additional drink purchases — would be allowed.
Corner stores and bodegas would be affected if they are defined by the city as “food service establishments.” Those stores can most easily be identified by the health department letter grades they are required to display in their windows.
The mayor, who said he occasionally drank a diet soda “on a hot day,” contested the idea that the plan would limit consumers’ choices, saying the option to buy more soda would always be available.
“Your argument, I guess, could be that it’s a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a sarcastic tone. “I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”
He also said he foresaw no adverse effect on local businesses, and he suggested that restaurants could simply charge more for smaller drinks if their sales were to drop.
The Bloomberg administration had made previous, unsuccessful efforts to make soda consumption less appealing. The mayor supported a state tax on sodas, but the measure died in Albany, and he tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy sodas, but the idea was rejected by federal regulators.
With the new proposal, City Hall is now trying to see how much it can accomplish without requiring outside approval. Mayoral aides say they are confident that they have the legal authority to restrict soda sales, based on the city’s jurisdiction over local eating establishments, the same oversight that allows for the health department’s letter-grade cleanliness rating system for restaurants.
In interviews at the AMC Loews Village, in the East Village in Manhattan, some filmgoers said restricting large soda sales made sense to them.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Sara Gochenauer, 21, a personal assistant from the Upper West Side. Soda, she said, “rots your teeth.”
But others said consumers should be free to choose.
“If people want to drink 24 ounces, it’s their decision,” said Zara Atal, 20, a college student from the Upper East Side.
Lawrence Goins, 50, a postal worker who lives in Newark, took a more pragmatic approach.
“Some of those movies are three, three and a half hours long,” Mr. Goins said. “You got to quench your thirst.”
Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

Student Sex Tape Plays During Graduation Ceremony

I don't care if it's 5 minutes or a whole night, I just want to see you.

Student Sex Tape Plays During Graduation Ceremony

A crowd of 500 people were left stunned after a video of a student having sex was played during his school's graduation festivities.

The shocking incident happened during a video presentation at the Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium in Denmark where graduates were being honored.

What started out as a montage of student photos set to music quickly turned into a X-rated shock and awe. The 30-second clip, which witnesses said lasted more like a lifetime, showed the unidentified student having sex with an unknown woman.

"Everyone was shocked – but no-one turned it off. It was clearly too much and the 30 seconds the film lasted, felt a very long time," a student told Politiken, a Danish website.

The video reportedly appeared to be a hidden camera video which may suggest neither the student or the woman knew they were being recorded.

The school's Headmaster Jorgen Rasmussen told The Copenhagen Post that it appears the video was intentionally inserted into the presentation. The students behind the prank have since been identified and punished, Rasmussen said.

As far as the two subjects in the video are involved, school officials are encouraging them to press charges as the pair's privacy was violated.

Porn Video Shot on Coliseum Grounds

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum field is the place where the USC Trojans play football, two Summer Olympics were staged, John F. Kennedy accepted the Democratic presidential nomination and Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass.

It was also a location for "The Gangbang Girl #32," a hard-core pornographic movie that featured 40 minutes of group sex on the gridiron turf, The Times has learned.

The filming at the taxpayer-owned stadium was done at night, withthe Coliseum's towering lights blazing and its rows of distinctive red and white seats framing many of the scenes.

The video also shows the stadium's signature tunnel, which the Trojan team charges through at the start of games, as well as a sliver of the iconic peristyle, the arched entrance to the Coliseum.

"I was just in awe that we were at the Coliseum," said a star of the film, who goes by the name Mr. Marcus.

"I've made movies for about 20 years and I've done a lot of things, but that one really stands out.... I mean, who gets to have sex on the Coliseum floor?"

Marcus said the football-themed footage was shot on a single night, including some non-explicit scenes filmed in a Coliseum locker room that did not make the final cut.

The Coliseum is not identified by name in the video, which was made in 2001 and released in 2002. About half of the 90-minute movie was filmed elsewhere.

How the crew got permission to use the national historic landmark --which was built as a memorial to World War I veterans -- is unclear.

Attempts to reach a representative of the production company, Anabolic Video, were unsuccessful.

The Coliseum is jointly run by the city, county and state, which owns the land.

A spokesman for the California attorney general's office said Tuesday that he did not know if it is illegal to film pornography on state property.

Agencies such as the California Department of Parks and Recreation prohibit porn shoots on properties they control.

Gaining access to the locked stadium and firing up the field lights typically requires the approval of a high-ranking manager, according to people familiar with Coliseum operations, who requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak publicly on the matter.

An attorney for the top Coliseum executive at the time the video was made said his client knew nothing about the production.

Former General Manager Patrick Lynch resigned in early 2011 and was indicted in March of this year in a sweeping corruption case.

"That's disgusting," Lynch's attorney, Tony Capozzola, said of the porn shoot. "He would never allow that."

Lynch has pleaded guilty to conflict of interest in a deal that required him to return $385,000 in alleged kickbacks he received from a Coliseum contractor.

Ex-events manager Todd DeStefano has pleaded not guilty to charges that include bribery, embezzlement and conspiracy.

Four other men also have been indicted in the case.

The indictments followed more than a year of Times reports on Coliseum financial irregularities and lax oversight by its nine-member governing commission, which includes four elected officials.

Managers were engaged in side deals with concert promoters and others who did business at the Coliseum.

Executives spent tens of thousands of dollars in public funds on massages, golf tournaments, luxury cars and other perks.

The commission is now at the brink of insolvency and voted May 14 to surrender control of the stadium and companion Sports Arena to USC.

Some current commissioners, including county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mark Ridley-Thomas, were on the panel when the film was shot.

Yaroslavsky and Ridley-Thomas declined requests for an interview late Tuesday.

The plot of the movie, to the extent that it has one, revolves around a football team and a cheerleader.

The Anabolic logo is emblazoned on the jerseys the dozen or so performers wear -- Marcus kept his as a souvenir -- and on banners draped like bunting along the stands.

Marcus is a repeat winner of the annual Adult Video News Award, has been inducted into the X-Rated Critics Organization's Adult Movie Hall of Fame and wrote the 2010 book "The Porn Star Guide to Great Sex" (St. Martin's Press), which earns a three-star review on the Barnes & Noble website.

Before he joins in the film's raunchier scenes, Marcus is depicted as a quarterback tossing warmup passes near the western end zone.

He told The Times he remembered the movie was shot on a cool night starting about 7.

"We were probably there until 11 p.m.," he said.

The movie's credits say it was produced on Sept. 16, 2001, a Sunday, during USC's football season.

The Trojans played at the Coliseum the weekend before and two weeks later.

Sitting in the warehouse-like office of his Van Nuys-based apparel company, Daddy Inc., Marcus recalled that a clearly marked Sheriff's Department helicopter startled the cast when it appeared overhead in mid-shoot. The whop-whop of a chopper's blades is heard in the movie.

Marcus said he remembered looking up and thinking: "There's going to be, like, this intercom saying, 'Hey, this is the ... Sheriff's Department, you guys must cease.'

"But none of that came. They just circled, like they were trying to see what was going on."

Spokesmen for the Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department, which has jurisdiction over the Coliseum, said they had no information about any 2001 pornography shoot there.

Marcus said the fact that the filming continued after the helicopter left convinced him that Anabolic must have had an official go-ahead to use the stadium.

"Honestly, when I started to shoot there, I thought, 'How the hell did we pull this off? And does everyone know about it?'"

The performer had no apologies for people who might be angry that the movie may have tarnished the Coliseum.

"You can be mad all you want, but it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime types of opportunities," he said.

Florida GOP Chair Compares Disenfranchising Voters to Stopping Drunk Drivers

Florida GOP Chair Compares Disenfranchising Voters to Stopping Drunk Drivers

By Guest Blogger on May 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Yesterday, Florida GOP Chair Lenny Curryreleased a statement defending Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) plan to purge tens of thousands of voters from Florida’s voter roles. The purge is based on an error riddled list of purportedly ineligible voters which includes hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens in just one county. According to Curry, purging voters is just like a DUI checkpoint:

This past Memorial Day weekend, law enforcement put up checkpoints to ensure drunk drivers did not threaten the safety of fellow motorists.Undoubtedly, many of the drivers who were met by police were, in fact, not driving drunk. However, we accept the notion that on such a heavily traveled holiday, a few moments of inconvenience to law-abiding drivers is worth it if we can ensure safe highways.

Similarly, officials in Florida are undertaking a methodical and reasonable effort to maintain the security of Florida’s voter rolls. While some who are citizens, and others who are not deceased, may be asked to simply participate in the verification process, thousands of these records do accurately reflect non-citizens and people who have died.

But, of course, police do not throw sober drivers in jail or take away their license. Curry’s metaphor would only make sense if Florida police randomly pulled over and jailed thousands of citizens, with little evidence they had been drinking, and then required them to show proof of their soberness before letting them out of jail. Officials in Florida are carrying out the purge by sending an ominous and legalistic letter to voters targeted as non-citizens that requires them to request “an administrative hearing to present evidence” in order to dispute the State of Florida’s determination or be removed from the voter rolls.

Moreover, the Florida voter purge disproportionately affects Hispanics and Democrats. Fifty-eight percent of the list of more than 2,600 potential non-citizens are Hispanic while Hispanics make up only 13% of Florida’s population, a fact that places Florida in likely violation of federal law. The Voting Rights Act not only forbids laws that are passed specifically to target minority voters, it also strikes down state voter procedures that have a greater impact on minority voters than on others.

–Alex Brown

Porn actor named as suspect in body parts case

Porn actor named as suspect in body parts case

Rocco Luka Magnotta, 29, is seen is this photograph provided by police in Montreal.
Rocco Luka Magnotta, 29, is seen is this photograph provided by police in Montreal.
Police investigate after a severed human torso was found in Montreal on Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
Police investigate after a severed human torso was found in Montreal on Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
MONTREAL — A low-budget porn actor with a controversial past is wanted in the shocking case of a dismembered body whose parts were mailed to different places including the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Montreal police say they are looking for 29-year-old Rocco Luka Magnotta, believed to originally be from Toronto, in connection with a suspected homicide.
A man with that same name has a huge presence on the Internet, as a low-level adult film actor and as a contentious figure alleged to have posted videos of cats being tortured and killed.
There is considerable online chatter that the recent killing -- along with multiple gruesome acts committed on the male victim's body -- was videotaped and posted on the Internet.
The huge web presence includes an article, written under Magnotta's name in 2009, titled, "How to Completely Disappear and Never Be Found," which shares a six-step process for escaping and shedding one's identity.
Another online article offers tips on how to get into the porn business.
One mainstream news article cites Magnotta complaining that his life had been ruined by unfounded rumours he was dating sex-killer Karla Homolka; the article suggests, however, that Magnotta may have helped spread those rumours himself.
Magnotta was renting an apartment in a Montreal building that is now at the epicentre of the body-parts investigation.
It was behind that blue-collar mid-rise apartment that a man's torso was found in a locked suitcase Tuesday. On the same day, a foot was found in a package opened at Conservative headquarters and a hand was found at an Ottawa postal warehouse.
The building manager told The Canadian Press that Magnotta had been living there for about four months. In the manager's words, Magnotta seemed like a nice guy.
Police in masks have been combing through Apartment 208 in the brick building, zeroing in on that particular unit from which a rotten stench was drifting out, says a building resident.
The neighbour says police were showing people pictures of two men -- the suspected victim and the homicide suspect.
It was one male victim tied to all the body parts found Tuesday, Montreal police confirmed Wednesday. The packages in Ottawa were mailed from Montreal.
Police shared other new details about the case Wednesday.
"The suspect and victim knew each other," Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere told reporters.
"It isn't linked to organized crime."
A man in the west-end Montreal building described the scene.
"I saw the suitcase and I was tempted to go get it," said Richard Payette, 60.
"It didn't look too damaged. I said, 'Maybe I'll go down and get it.' But I changed my mind."
The grisly discovery was made later, by someone else living nearby.
Police wearing masks were milling about Magnotta's second-floor apartment. Payette said the door of that particular apartment was left open for part of the day, and the smell of rotten meat was drifting out into the hallway.
The building manager said Magnotta had lived there for four months but hadn't been seen around in a while. He said there were never any complaints about noise in the unit, and that Magnotta passed a credit test to rent there.
"He seemed like a nice guy," said the manager, Eric Schorer.
Police said Magnotta has no criminal record.
He was once featured in a mainstream news report that described false rumours of romantic ties to Homolka. While he is quoted complaining that the rumours destroyed his life, the report suggests he may have spread them himself and concludes the young man should get some help.

Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp: Government Should Kill Gays, But 'They Won't'

Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp: Government Should Kill Gays, But 'They Won't'



Minister's daughter among five held over Qatar fire

Minister's daughter among five held over Qatar fire

Wed May 30, 2012 2:46pm GMT

 (Reuters) - Police in Qatar have arrested five people including a government minister's daughter in connection with a shopping mall fire this week that killed 19 people, including 13 children, the state news agency QNA said on Wednesday.
The Gulf Arab state's attorney-general ordered the detention of the upscale Villagio Mall's owner as well as Imran al-Kuwari, daughter of the culture minister and owner of a nursery where the children and four teachers perished on Monday.
The others arrested were mall officials, including the shopping centre's chief manager and the head of security, QNA said. It was not immediately clear what charges would be filed.
At a public vigil held on Tuesday, Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari told reporters that his daughter was "the saddest person on earth."
Qatar has been investigating the blaze because of reports that security staff at the mall reacted slowly and in a chaotic fashion. Several people at the complex told Reuters that fire alarms did not go off or rang only faintly.
The blaze erupted in the nursery on the first floor of the mall in a hallway accessible only via a small passage with no emergency fire exit. Dense smoke and extreme heat created a "death trap" in the corridor as the staircase collapsed, according to the interior minister.
Among the dead were two-year-old triplets from New Zealand.

The GOP is Threatening Your Job

The GOP is Threatening Your Job

If you have to sabotage the economy to win, your ideas suck
Of all the terrible lessons the Republicans have learned since 2009, the worst is: Economic sabotage works.
In 2009, the President’s immediate efforts to stimulate the economy and rescue the auto industry took us from losing 800,000 jobs a month to creating thousands. But, before the policies were even in place, the GOP called it a failure.
KNOW THIS: The Stimulus was the most successful economic effort since World War II. Yet the GOP was able to make it a bad word by employing Karl Rove tactics with Koch brothers money–carefully crafted talking points repeated endlessly.
The way the Stimulus reversed the layoff crisis was obvious. But it couldn’t move fast enough to undo eight years of Bush/Cheney so the public bought into this baldfaced lie and gave the GOP the House of Representatives in 2010. Sabotage worked.
Then, last summer, the House GOP did something unprecedented in American history. During a jobs crisis they helped create and did nothing to end, the GOP decided that they would not approve an increase in the debt limit without trillions in deficit cuts. They added to the insanity by saying that they would not approve one dollar in tax increases, even on the richest Americans.
The result? The President and Congress’ approval ratings plummeted, as did consumer confidence—effectively sabotaging any recovery.
The GOP eventually backed away actual default with a complex debt deal that they now refuse to honor.
WHAT? They held the economy hostage for a deal they won’t keep? Why aren’t people in the streets?
The point was never the deal. Hurting the economy was. And the GOP has enough message discipline and sympathetic media to help them avoid the blame. They managed to act serious about the economy even as our credit rating was lowered entirely because they had created a question in the world’s mind about our willingness to pay debts.
As we moved on from this faked crisis, America began creating jobs. Layoffs hit four-year lows. The recovery was so evident, even Mitt Romney had to admit that it was happening. Suddenly, the idea of defeating President Obama seemed like a pipe dream until… May.
Jobs growth, while impressive, slowed a bit. Then an election in Greece sparked a financial crisis in Europe facing a Euro that could collapse.
Markets faltered and our recovery, which so promising weeks before, seemed lost.
Bad news for your economy is apparently good news for the GOP. How did they seek to calm the markets and offer the “certainty” they claim to worship?
Speaker Boehner decided that on May 15 he had to go public and promise another manufactured debt ceiling crisis. BAM.
That right there put Americans out of work. Maybe it cost people their actual jobs, or it just slowed a company from hiring. But homes will be lost, debt accrued, well-being shaken. The Speaker—to force another debt deal he likely can’t stick to—has increased the chances that thousands of Americans could be shaken out of work, into the streets, facing hunger, heartbreak and misery.
Remember this: We have a deficit that is almost entirely made up of policies the GOP passed and would hold the economy hostage again to keep. Simply: GOP policies—the Bush tax cuts, the wars, Medicare D—created the deficit. But the only things the GOP will cut are the social safety net that they’ve always opposed. And they won’t compromise, ever.
A small group of conservative extremists are using their representatives in Congress to threaten your livelihood. Unless America says, “The GOP’s irresponsible economic sabotage must stop,” the next job that it costs us may be yours.

Jay Leno Rips YouTube Video Then NBC Claims Rights to It

Jay Leno Rips YouTube Video Then NBC Claims Rights to It

by NALTS on MAY 30, 2012
NBC/Universal used, without permission, a YouTube video by an indie comedy duo Brian Kamerer and Travis Irvine. The Jay Leno Show – then had the video taken down with a copyright claim. Despite growing internet outcry, both media giant and talk show host have not said or done anything to address the injustice.
Almost every major network has used my YouTube videos, and only twice with permission and consent (MTV even paid me a paltry amount). Usually I’m not aware the clip was used unless a viewer happens to see it.
Is that fair? Who cares. I’m happy to have my videos on TV. But if they tried to make a claim on my content I’d complain profusely.

Dollar Scarce As Top-Quality Assets Shrink 42%

Dollar Scarce As Top-Quality Assets Shrink 42%

From last year’s low on July 27, the greenback has risen against all 16 of its major peers. Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s Dollar Index surged 12 percent, higher now than when the Fed began creating dollars to buy bonds under its extraordinary stimulus measures at the end of 2008.
The dollar is proving scarce, even after the Federal Reserve flooded the financial system with an extra $2.3 trillion, as the amount of the highest-quality assets available worldwide shrinks. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg
May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Simon Grose-Hodge, head of investment advisory at LGT Bank in Singapore, talks about the outlook for the U.S. and European economies and currencies. Grose-Hodge also discusses the European Central Bank monetary policy. He speaks in Hong Kong with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move Asia." (Source: Bloomberg)
International investors and financial institutions that are required to own only the highest quality assets to meet investment guidelines or new regulations are finding fewer options beyond dollar-denominated assets. The U.S. is one of only five major economies with credit-default swaps on their debt trading at less than 100 basis points, meaning they are viewed as almost risk free. A year ago, eight Group-of-10 nations fit that category, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“The pool of high-rated assets has been shrinking, not just in the euro zone but elsewhere as well,” Ian Stannard, Morgan Stanley’s head of Europe currency strategy, said in a May 22 telephone interview. “With the core of Europe shrinking, and the available assets for reserve purposes shrinking, it makes the euro zone less attractive.”

Euro Depreciation

The dollar is gaining mainly at the expense of the euro, which has depreciated almost 5 percent in the past six months against a basket of nine major currencies tracked by Bloomberg as nations from Spain to Italy see their credit ratings downgraded amid the region’s sovereign crisis.
Spain, which has about $917.5 billion of debt, has been cut six levels by Moody’s Investors Service to A3 from Aaa in September 2010. Italy, with more than $2 trillion of debt, has been reduced four levels to A3 from Aa2 in October.
“We’re seeing many more periods of dollar buying during these uncertain times,” Ken Dickson, an investment director of currencies at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh, which manages $257 billion, said May 24 in a telephone interview.
The U.S. currency appreciated 2.06 percent last week to $1.2517 per euro in New York after touching $1.2496, the strongest since July 2010. It gained 0.84 percent to 79.68 yen. The Dollar Index jumped 1.37 percent to 82.402, its fourth- straight weekly rally.
The dollar rose 0.5 percent to $1.2482 per euro as of 1:20 p.m. in New York. The greenback was little changed against the yen at 79.42.

Bigger Share

The five economies with default swaps trading at less than 100 basis points have a combined $14 trillion in debt, with the U.S. accounting for 75 percent, according to CMA data compiled by Bloomberg as of May 25. A year ago, when there were eight nations, the total was $24 trillion, with America making up 38 percent. German credit-swaps rose to 100 basis points today from 99 basis points last week.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s AAA Rated Global Fixed Income Index contained 3,597 securities with the highest ratings as of April 30, down from a high of 5,331 in December 2007, the fewest since November 2005. Dollar assets make up 65 percent of the index, up from 56 percent in 2008.
Hungary’s central bank is among reserve managers diversifying foreign-exchange holdings as the credit quality of European assets declines. The central bank said it will include dollars, yen and British pounds in its reserves, currently invested exclusively in euro-denominated securities.

No ‘Master Plan’

“The number of euro-denominated assets that meet our quality standards has dropped radically,” Magyar Nemzeti Bank President Andras Simor told reporters on May 14 in Budapest. “More and more securities were dropped from our portfolio as the credit grade of more and more countries fell below the single A category and as more and more securities don’t meet our market quality requirements.”
China Investment Corp. President Gao Xiqing said May 10 the nation’s sovereign wealth fund stopped buying government debt in Europe as the region’s turmoil intensifies. With an estimated $440 billion in assets, CIC is the world’s fifth-largest country fund, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
“Ever since the debt crisis broke out, there has never been a master plan for a resolution,” Jin Liqun, chairman of CIC’s supervisory board, said at an event hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies in London on May 22.
Such comments are bolstering the dollar’s status as the world’s primary reserve currency after a decade-long decline.

Official Holdings

The greenback’s share of global foreign-exchange reserves climbed in the last three-months of 2011 to 62.1 percent, the highest since June 2010, while holdings of euros fell to the lowest since September 2006 at 25 percent, according to the latest quarterly data from the International Monetary Fund.
Foreign official holdings of U.S. government debt increased in each of the first three months of 2012, climbing by 3.24 percent to $3.73 trillion in the best start to a year since 2009, according to data from the Treasury Department.
Demand from outside the U.S. helps the administration of President Barack Obama finance abudget deficit forecast to exceed $1 trillion for a fourth year.
A relatively strong dollar may also damp criticism of the Fed if it decides to expand its balance sheet to boost the economy. The Dollar Index tumbled 14 percent during the Fed’s two rounds of asset purchases, known as quantitative easing, or QE, between December 2008 and June 2011.

‘Way Oversold’

While the dollar is “somewhere safe to hide,” the euro is poised to rebound before Greek elections next month before resuming its decline against the U.S. currency, said John Taylor, founder of New York-based currency-hedge fund FX Concepts LLC, which oversees $3.9 billion.
“We are way oversold in the euro,” Taylor said on May 24 in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track” with Erik Schatzker and Sara Eisen.
The dollar’s appeal is also getting a boost as nations generally perceived as havens become less welcoming.
The Swiss National Bank introduced a 1.20 franc-per-euro limit in September after its currency rose to a record, hurting exporters and increasing the risk of deflation.
Japan spent 16.4 trillion yen ($206.6 billion) in intervention in 2010 and 2011, according to theFinance Ministry. The franc has lost 1.9 percent against the dollar this year and the yen has depreciated 3.1 percent.
“The other countries that often have some kind of a safe- haven attraction to them are slowly but surely saying that we’re not so sure we want our currencies to be stronger,” Standard Life’s Dickson said.

Bank Demand

Demand for dollars is also showing up in financial institutions needing to meet Basel III regulations set by the Bank for International Settlements. The new rules on capital reserves will “increase the price of safety” embedded in assets deemed a reliable store of value, the IMF wrote in an April 18 report.
The cost for banks to convert euro interest payments into dollars through the swaps market for three years has increased to 67.8 basis points below the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, from 34.8 basis points below in March 29, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Negative spreads show a premium for dollar funding.
Dollar assets are also looking attractive on a relative basis, with yields on Treasuries due in 10 years averaging 0.37 percentage point more than German bunds of similar maturity. As recently as November, Treasuries yielded about 0.33 percentage point less than bunds.
“With the chronic problems and challenges in Europe, it’s hard to see how that’s going to overtake the dollar anytime in our lifetime, if the euro even still exists in our lifetime,” Tim Adams, a managing director at the Lindsey Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based investment consultant and former Treasury undersecretary, said May 1 at the Bloomberg Washington Summit hosted by Bloomberg Link.