Paw Print Rewind #039

Editor’s Note: This is the Paw Print Rewind, a daily recap of the top news headlines.

U.S. pending home sales fall in November

Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes fell in November for the third time in four months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The organization’s pending home sales index slipped 0.9 percent to 106.9. According to the NAR, the index rose slightly more in October than initially estimated.

Pending home sales are still up 2.7 percent from a year ago.

However, contracts fell three percent in November in the Northeast from a month ago and were down 5.5 percent in the West. They rose 1.3 percent in the South and one percent in the Midwest.

Puerto Rico will default on some debts, pay GO debt

Puerto Rico will default for the second time in five months, but will pay the bulk of the $1 billion due on Jan. 4, including its most senior debt, according to Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

According to the governor, he will meet with creditors in early January.

“We have to do all we can to avoid [a shutdown of key government services].”

-Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Puerto Rico governor

“Citizens need to know that necessary infrastructure and services are there and there is not going to be a government shutdown.”

-David Tawil, Maglan Capital co-founder

The island will default on a $35.9 million payment due to its Infrastructure Finance Authority, and a $1.4 million payment due to its Public Finance Corp.

“The use of over $100 million in reserved funds to make debt service payments for several of the Commonwealth’s issuers should underscore that the Commonwealth is running out of options to pay its debt.”

-Melba Acosta Febo, Government Development Bank president

Julius Baer reaches preliminary deal in U.S. tax case

julius_baer

Julius Baer has reached an agreement with U.S. authorities to settle an investigation into allegations that it helped wealthy Americans evade taxes.

According to the Zurich-based bank, it set aside nearly $200 million in provisions for the settlement to ring the total amount earmarked for potential penalties to $547.25 million, which the bank will charge to its 2015 full-year results.

According to a company statement, Julius Baer’s deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Southern District, which constructed the investigation, remains subject44 to approval by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to Baer, it hoped to settle the Justice Department investigation that began in 2011 in the first three months of the year.

The bank still expects to report a net profit for this financial year and would remain adequately capitalized.

Fidelity boosted Twilio’s pre-IPO value by 31 percent in November

halloween

Fidelity Investments boosted the value of Twilio by 31 percent in November.

According to disclosures made public on Wednesday, Fidelity’s $100 billion+ Contrafund valued its Series E stake in Twilio at $43.5 million in November, compared with $33.2 million a month ago.

Content marketing firm Taboola also got a valuation boost from Fidelity, according to disclosures released Wednesday. Fidelity’s OTC Portfolio valued its Taboola stake at $13.6 million at the end of November, a 27 percent boost from a month ago.

Fidelity portfolio managers do not set the pre-IPO values, with a separate Fidelity committee doing it instead.

Nutanix, which filed for an IPO earlier this month, saw its valuation fall 11 percent in Fidelity funds, according to Wednesday disclosures for end-of-November holdings.

GenSight Biologics, which is developing therapies to fight eye disease, also had its valuation cut by 44 percent at Fidelity in November after pulling plans for an IPO last month.

Twitter clarifies banned content, abusive behavior rules

Twitter HQ

Twitter has clarified its definition of abusive behavior that prompts it to delete accounts, banning “hateful conduct” that promotes violence against specific groups.

The San Francisco-based social networking company announced the changes in a blog post Tuesday, after rising criticism for not doing enough to thwart the Islamic State’s use of Twitter for propaganda and recruitment.

“As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs, but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse.”

-Megan Cristina, Twitter director of trust and safety

According to the new rules, users can’t “promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.”

“The new definition is much clearer and takes some of the guesswork out of determining if a Tweet violates the rules.”

-J.M. Berger, March 2015 Brookings Institute “census” of ISIS Twitter use co-author

According to Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center Digital Terrorism and Hate Project head Rabbi Abraham Cooper, “terrorists and hate groups will leave” if Twitter enforces the revised rules.

According to Cooper, that would require blocking repeat offenders from setting up new accounts with altered handles and remove existing accounts violating the policy.

According to the new rules, Twitter might respond to reports of someone considering “self-harm” by contacting the person expressing concern and providing contact information to mental health practitioners.

India test-fires long range surface-to-air missile developed with Israel

India successfully test-fired a new long range surface-to-air missile capable of countering aerial threats at extended ranges on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes to enhance the country’s military capabilities.

According to a Ministry of Defense statement, the test-firing of the missile system jointly developed by India and Israel was carried out by the INS Kolkata.

The aerial defense system includes a radar for detection, tracking, and missile guidance.

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