Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Breaking News

Breaking News

Rakhi Sawant-Bhatt signing Sunny for nudity: Rakhi

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:53 AM PST

Sunny Leone's ouster from the Bigg Boss' house has come as a surprise to many because the porn star has been getting a lot of publicity ever since she arrived in the celebrity house and getting rave 

Gross Backs Away From Outlook After Missing Rally

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:50 AM PST

Bill Gross is backing away from Pacific Investment Management Co.'s outlook for a "new normal" after lagging behind the majority of his peers during the biggest bond-market rally in nine years.

The period of muted growth in developed economies, high unemployment and "relatively orderly'' deleveraging that Mohamed El-Erian, who shares the title of chief investment officer with Gross, coined in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis appears to be morphing into a world of credit and zero-bound interest-rate risk, said Gross, the founder of Pimco and manager of the world's biggest bond fund.

"It's as if the earth now has two moons instead of one and both are growing in size like a cancerous tumor that may threaten the financial tides, oceans and economic life as we have known it for the past half century," Gross wrote in a monthly investment outlook posted on the Newport Beach, California-based company's website today. "Welcome to 2012."

Most developed economies have not, in fact, deleveraging since 2008 and credit remains resilient because of the multitude of monetary stimulus packages being made available through central banks in the U.S. and Europe, Gross wrote. This risks leading to unraveling of financial markets if policy makers are unable to foster growth and inflation accelerates, he said.
Hedging Bets

Until the outcome is clear, Pimco is advising investors to consider ways to hedge their bets, including U.S. Treasuries, long-term inflation-indexed U.S. debt, high-quality corporates, senior bank debt and municipal securities.

The recommendations mark a departure from Gross's call last year, when he advised buying higher-yielding emerging market debt as part of the "new normal" and cautioned investors to stay away from the U.S., noting that growth would be higher in developing economies, while excessive borrowing here, the U.K. and Japan would lead to inflation. To that end, Gross eliminated his holdings of Treasuries in February and had a net bet against the securities in the $244 billion Total Return Fund, missing the biggest rally in Treasuries since 2008. Gross issued a "Mea Culpa" to investors in October and boosted the debt to 23 percent of the portfolio by the end of November.

Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTRX) had $5 billion in client redemptions last year, its first year of withdrawals in records going back to 1993, according to Morningstar Inc. (MORN) Clients pulled $1.35 billion from the fund in December, according to the Chicago-based research firm.
Treasury Bull

Pimco Total Return in December 2009 became the biggest mutual fund in the history of the industry after beating most rivals and attracting a record $50 billion in deposits that year. In the five years through Dec. 30, the fund advanced at an annual rate of 8.1 percent, outperforming 97 percent of competitors.

"The bulk of sovereign bond holdings should be in the U.S.," Gross wrote in today's investment outlook. "As long as Euroland credit implosion is possible investors should gravitate to the 'cleanest dirty shirt' sovereigns with the least encumbered balance sheets. Focus on five- to nine-year Treasury maturities to guard against inflation which create opportunities to take advantage of roll-down capital gains."

Treasuries returned 9.8 percent in 2011, while Gross's Total Return Fund gained 4.2 percent, underperforming about 70 percent of its rivals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bonds worldwide returned 5.9 percent last year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Global Broad Market Index. That was the biggest increase since the index gained 8.9 percent in 2002.
'Great Risk'

"Investors must lower return expectations," Gross wrote. "The financial markets and global economies are at great risk. Two to five percent for stocks, bonds and commodities are expected long-term returns for global financial markets that have been pushed to the zero bound, a world where substantial real price appreciation is getting close to mathematically improbable."

Minutes released yesterday of the Federal Reserve's Dec. 13 policy meeting said policy makers for the first time will make public their own forecasts for the federal funds rate beginning at the Jan. 24-25 meeting. Fed officials will show investors their forecast for the benchmark interest rate in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the next few calendar years, the minutes said.
'Cost of Money'

"I expect the January Fed meeting to mirror in some ways what we have first witnessed from the ECB," Gross wrote. "It won't take the form of three-year financing by a central bank, but will give assurances via language that the cost of money (FDTR) will remain constant at 25 basis points for three years or more -- until inflation or unemployment reach specific target levels. If and when that doesn't work, then a specific QE3 may be announced, probably by mid-year."

"The financial markets are slowly imploding -- delevering -- because there's too much paper and too little trust," Gross wrote. "Goodbye 'old normal,' standby to redefine 'new normal' and welcome to 2012's 'paranormal.'"

Indian traders released, China takes action, Krishna 'happy

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:15 AM PST

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday secured the release of two Indian traders tortured and taken captive by locals in a trading hub in China. The two were escorted safely to the consulate in Shanghai, external affairs minister SM Krishna said after talks with the Chinese envoy here.

Krishna met Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan here on Wednesday afternoon and was assured that Beijing was paying "serious attention" to the safety of Indian traders, Deepak Raheja and Shyam Sunder Agarwal.

Following the meeting, Krishna said the incident should not be blown out of proportion.

The two Indians were trapped in a hotel in Yiwu city, a trading hub near Shanghai, after some locals alleged that the firm they worked with and whose owner is absconding owed them millions of dollars.

Zhang met Krishna at his residence here and assured the minister that the safety of Indians in China was a "priority".

"I am immensely pleased and satisfied with the quick response I got from the Chinese ambassador and also pleased and satisfied with the local authorities in China, who have been cooperative," SM Krishna said after the meeting.

"The traders have been released and they are on their way to Shanghai under consular officers security. Raheja and Agarwal are out of Yiwu. Let's not blow this incident out of proportion," he said.

The minister said the two countries agreed that the safety of the two Indians "involved in a civil litigation in Yiwu is of utmost importance".

Asked about the return of the traders to India, Krishna said: "Our consular officers have met them. They will perhaps work out the details, but let us not forget that there is a civil litigation against them and we will have to take that into consideration."

Ambassador Zhang said the Chinese authorities were "working hard to resolve the issue".

"I think it will be settled according to legal procedure and according to the rule of law," the envoy told reporters.

In telephonic interviews to Indian TV channels earlier when they were held captive in a hotel, the Indian traders alleged that their lives were at risk because an angry crowd was waiting for them.

Pleading for help from the Indian government, the Indian traders also alleged in TV interviews that they were beaten up and tortured by some people.

Chinese officials in Beijing have said they would initiate criminal proceedings against five locals who held the traders hostage.

In a press statement, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry Hong Lei said the Chinese judicial authority was "dealing with this case according to law".

"This is an individual case triggered by economic disputes. China hopes India can treat this case with objectivity and fairness, and actively educate Indian merchants in China to behave according to the Chinese law, behave honestly and operate legitimately," Hong said.

In Delhi, Zhang also met joint secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale.

Indian diplomat S Balachandran, a diabetic, posted in China was allegedly ill-treated when he accompanied the two in a court proceedings Dec 31. This triggered a strong protest from New Delhi.

The court did not allow Balachandran to have food or medicine and prevented him from leaving the courtroom despite repeated requests that he suspected rapid fluctuation in his blood sugar levels.

The 46-year-old diplomat had to be admitted to hospital after his condition deteriorated.

The Chinese authorities have denied Balachandran was ill-treated.

Asked about this, Krishna said: "Balachandran is not in the picture now. He is relaxing in Shanghai. Our concern now is the safety of these two Indians."

Bachmann Ends Presidential Campaign

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:10 AM PST

Michele Bachmann has suspended her 2012 presidential campaign Wednesday after finishing at the bottom of competitors in the Republican caucuses in Iowa.

"Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice. And so I have decided to stand aside," the Minnesota congresswoman said.. "I believe that if we are going to repeal Obamacare, turn our country around and take back our country, we must do so united. And I believe that we must rally around the person that our country and our party and our people select to be that standard-bearer."

The news was not unexpected. Bachmann had canceled a campaign trip to South Carolina despite telling supporters on Tuesday night that she would soldier on.

Bachmann grew up in Iowa and came in first in the Iowa GOP's summer straw poll, but her poll numbers had dropped to single digits by mid- to late September and her campaign was low on money.

Fox News contributor and former Bachmann campaign manager Ed Rollins said Bachmann's loss was pretty devastating after coming in first in last summer's Ames poll. Rollins, who had predicted before the election that she'd finish last, said she would need to drop her campaign since she also has to worry about a redistricting fight at home.

"I don't think she has the resources to go beyond. She doesn't want to end up $1 million in debt," Rollins said, adding, "I think she has nothing to be ashamed of."

Bachmann came in a distant sixth in the caucuses, but told supporters Tuesday night that she was staying in the race as "the best conservative who can and will beat Barack Obama in 2012."

The only Republican candidate who garnered fewer votes was Jon Huntsman -- who did not compete in Iowa, instead focusing his time and money on New Hampshire.  Rick Perry had more than double Bachmann's raw votes but still came in fourth with 11 percent overall.

The Texas governor said Tuesday night that he would reassess his options and returned home rather than traveling to South Carolina, suggesting he was quitting the race. But Wednesday morning, he called the Palmetto State the "next leg of the marathon" in a tweet.

Swiss bank says currency trading claims 'partly incorrect

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:06 AM PST

The Swiss central bank has said recent claims about the currency exchanges of its chairman, Philipp Hildebrand, and his wife are "partly incorrect".

The bank said the family broke no rules and published a report into the claims.

Kashya Hildebrand bought $504,000 (£323,024) in August, three weeks before the bank intervened to reduce the value of the Swiss franc. She later sold the dollars to buy a property.

Mr Hildebrand is due to give a press conference on Thursday.

The investigation ordered by Swiss National Bank (SNB) was carried out by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The central bank announced before Christmas that the couple had been cleared, but it did not publish the report, or full details of its own rules, at the time.

In an effort to counter what the bank called "inaccurate" media speculation, it published a redacted version of the PwC report, alongside the bank's regulations, on Wednesday.

The report laid out a timeline for the family's currency transactions.

On 10 March 2011, the family sold a property in Switzerland and converted the 1.1m Swiss francs from that sale into US dollar ($1.173m).

On 15 August, Mrs Hildebrand bought $504,000 because she wanted to have half of the family's assets in US dollars. Some $20,000 was also transferred into the bank account of Mrs Hildebrand's daughter.

"My interest in dollar trade was motivated by the fact that it was at a record low and was almost ridiculously cheap. Since I worked in the banking sector for over 15 years and always observe the markets, I felt comfortable making the trade," said Kashya Hildebrand in a statement given to Swiss television.

On 6 September, following the transaction, the SNB intervened to reduce the value of the Swiss franc, making the dollar stronger.

On 4 October, the family sold $516,000, converting it back into francs in order to buy a new property in Switzerland.

Because the franc had fallen against the dollar the family made a profit.

The PwC statement says that because the money was converted to buy a property, and not to invest in financial products, it is within the bank's rules on currency exchanges.

The larger transfer, made in March, also falls within the rules as it was not used for six months and is considered a passive investment.

The claims have led to the dismissal of an IT worker at private Swiss bank Sarasin for leaking confidential information on the family.

In a statement the bank alleged the information was then passed on by a lawyer to a politician previously critical of the bank chairman.

The claims have raised concerns about privacy within Swiss banks.

"The more important topic is that someone stole our financial documents from our private bank and is trying to destabilise the Swiss central bank," said Mrs Hildebrand in a phone interview with the 10 vor 10 .

The Swiss banking regulator, Finma, has told the BBC it is in contact with Bank Sarasin about the claims - but it has not launched an investigation.

'Citizens United' Backlash: Montana Supreme Court Upholds State's Corporate Campaign Spending Ban

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:04 AM PST

WASHINGTON -- The Montana Supreme Court has put itself on a collision course with the U.S. Supreme Court by upholding a century-old state law that bans corporate spending in state and local political campaigns.

The law, which was passed by Montana voters in 1912 to combat Gilded Age corporate control over much of Montana's government, states that a "corporation may not make ... an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political party that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party." In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, struck down a similar federal statute, holding that independent electoral spending by corporations "do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption" that such laws were enacted to combat.

That reasoning -- described by the Citizens United dissenters as a "crabbed view of corruption" -- compelled 23 of the 24 states with independent spending bans to stop enforcing their restrictions, according to Edwin Bender, executive director of the Helena, Mont.-based National Institute on Money in State Politics. Montana, however, stood by its 1912 law, which led several corporations to challenge it as unconstitutional.

By a 5-2 vote this past Friday, the Montana Supreme Court declined to recognize the common understanding that Citizens United bars all laws limiting independent electoral spending. Instead, Chief Justice Mike McGrath, writing on behalf of the majority, called on the history surrounding the state law to show that corporate money, even if not directly contributed to a campaign, can give rise to corruption.

McGrath's opinion in Western Tradition Partnership v. Attorney General harkens back to the turn of the 20th century, when Montana's "Copper Kings" -- the natural resource-rich state's version of the robber barons -- competed "for political and economic domination" so effectively that by the time the Montana voters banned corporate spending in a voter initiative, "the State of Montana and its government were operating under a mere shell of legal authority." One such Copper King, wrote Mark Twain in a quotation cited by McGrath, was "said to have bought legislatures and judges as other men buy food and raiment."

Paul S. Ryan, associate legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, characterized the Montana Supreme Court's reliance on factual findings culled from a century of state history, plus the trial testimony from contemporary politicians of both parties, as "an antidote to the crabbed view of corruption" adopted in Citizens United. Nevertheless, most observers, including Ryan, do not anticipate the U.S. Supreme Court accepting that antidote. The ruling in Citizens United that independent spending does not give rise to corruption introduced a categorical rule that no factual reality can overcome as long as the decision's five-justice majority remains on the Court.

To make this point, dissenting state Justice Beth Baker wrote that Montana "made no more compelling a case than that painstakingly presented in the 90-page dissenting opinion of Justice [John Paul] Stevens and emphatically rejected by the majority in Citizens United."

And state Justice James Nelson, also dissenting, put the point more bluntly. Even while lambasting Citizens United's reasoning as "utter nonsense" and "smoke and mirrors," among other insults, he found himself duty-bound to defer to the decision of the highest court in the land. "The Supreme Court in Citizens United rejected several asserted governmental interests," wrote Nelson, "and this Court has now come along, retrieved those interests from the garbage can, dusted them off, slapped a 'Made in Montana' sticker on them, and held them up as grounds for sustaining a patently unconstitutional state statute."

Nelson wrote that it "would not surprise me in the least" if the U.S. Supreme Court reversed his court's decision without even asking for briefs or oral argument from the opposing parties.

To reverse the Montana Supreme Court, however, the justices would have to extract themselves from a quandary of their own making, noted professor Rick Hasen of the University of California-Irvine Law School on his popular Election Law Blog. "If the Court were being honest in Citizens United," Hasen wrote, "it would have said something like: We don't care whether or not independent spending can or cannot corrupt; the First Amendment trumps this risk of corruption."

But by "dress[ing] up its value judgment ... as a factual statement," continued Hasen, the U.S. Supreme Court must now explain why the Montana Supreme Court was not correct to consider the factual record when it came to justifying corporate spending limits in campaign finance laws.

How the Citizens United majority will deny the force of Montana's factual record or, for that matter, Mark Twain's observations -- and whether the Citizens United dissenters will express their schadenfreude at their colleagues' efforts -- remains hypothetical for now. Donald Ferguson, executive director of lead plaintiff American Tradition Partnership (formerly known as Western Tradition Partnership), wrote in an email to HuffPost that his organization has "not yet made a decision on future actions regarding the suit.

Obama defies Republicans with consumer agency pick

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:00 AM PST

President Barack Obama plans to bypass Congress and install Richard Cordray as head of the country's new consumer financial watchdog, picking an election-year fight with Republicans who have blocked the nominee.

The move to use a recess appointment, announced by the White House on Wednesday, is being cheered by Democrats and liberal advocacy groups, but it will inflame already bad relations between the White House and Republicans in Congress.

"President Obama, in an unprecedented move, has arrogantly circumvented the American people," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

Republicans, who say the agency itself is a bureaucratic overreach that will hurt the economy, last month blocked a Senate vote on whether to confirm Cordray.

In advance of the 2012 election, the White House has been seeking ways to portray Republicans as obstructionists, and this marks another step Obama is taking to confront objections to his agenda.

The move will likely come with a price, however, as Republicans may now block Obama's picks for other high-profile financial regulators, with vacancies at the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

This would leave the White House to decide whether to simply appoint them as well or leave key agencies without confirmed leaders for at least another year.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law to police the market for consumer products such as credit cards and mortgages.

Democrats have heralded the bureau, which opened its doors in July, as a way to protect consumers from abusive lending practices like the type of home loans that were made in the years leading into the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Republicans have charged the agency is a virtually unchecked government body that will hurt lending and put small banks out of business.

Republicans have made clear they do not oppose Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general who was nominated in August, but want changes made to the bureau's structure before they allow the Senate to confirm anyone to lead the CFPB.

The decision to bypass the Senate and appoint Cordray to the job was well received by Senate Democrats.

"With Richard Cordray leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans will finally get the consumer protections they deserve," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said in a statement.

Republicans are portraying the move as a break with tradition and possibly illegal, which has led to speculation that some group will challenge Cordray's appointment in court.

"I expect the courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate," House Speaker John Boehner said in statement.

At issue is what authority Obama has to put Cordray in the job as a recess appointment.

The president has the authority to make such a move when the Senate goes on a recess. Republicans, however, have forced the Senate to technically stay in session to try to prevent Obama from making such a move.

Republicans contend that because of these pro-forma sessions, no recess appointments can be made, a view the White House is now challenging by installing Cordray as director of the CFPB.

Under the Dodd-Frank law, the CFPB is limited in what authorities it can exercise without a director in place.

For instance, while it can supervise banks it cannot regulate non-banks, such as payday lenders, without a director.

Democrats and consumer groups have pointed to this lack of federal oversight over the "shadow banking" industry as a reason for Obama to make a recess appointment.

Bachmann says ending presidential campaign

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 08:57 AM PST

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on Wednesday ended her campaign to become the 2012 Republican presidential candidate and called on supporters to rally behind the party's eventual nominee.

Bachmann did not say whether she would make an endorsement.

"I have decided to stand aside. I will not be continuing in the race for the presidency," Bachmann told a news conference in Des Moine, Iowa.

The announcement came a day after she received only 5 percent of the vote in the Iowa nominating caucuses, dealing what many saw as a fatal blow to her presidential ambitions.

Two Britons arrested with 30 guns in Afghanistan

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 08:54 AM PST

Two British nationals have been arrested in Afghanistan for carrying 30 unlicensed guns, police say.

The men were travelling with a local interpreter and driver on the Jalalabad road, east of Kabul.

They work for a private security company and were carrying AK-47 assault rifles - one of the most commonly used weapons in Afghanistan.

Thousands of private security guards operate in Afghanistan, including many foreigners.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has in the past accused them of undermining the security services and taking work from Afghan nationals.

The men were were arrested along with their driver and interpreter. Kabul police have called on their employers to explain why they were transporting the guns without proper documentation.

Kabul police chief Ayub Salangi told the BBC at least 15 of the AK-47s did not have serial numbers.

Local police and intelligence officials said that the weapons were purchased on the black market.

They say that all private security companies must buy their serial-numbered weapons through the interior ministry.

Consular officials from the British Embassy in Kabul are assisting the pair.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says that such cases, while hardly routine, have occurred in the past.

A British man was briefly detained in 2007 for having more 100 pistols.

In the same year an American bounty hunter, Jack Idema, was pardoned by President Hamid Karzai after a period in jail for running a private prison in Kabul and torturing Afghans.

Indiana politician to stay in office during court appeal

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 08:50 AM PST

Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White can stay in office while he asks a higher court to overturn a judge's ruling that the embattled Republican was not eligible to run for the position, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg, who ruled in December that White's opponent should be declared the winner of the 2010 election, found that turmoil could be unavoidable whether or not he allowed White to stay in office during the appeal.

If he required White to leave office and his decision were reversed by a higher court, "the negative consequences would be great and irreparable," Rosenberg said in a two-page written ruling.

The Republican secretary of state, who faces seven felony charges including vote fraud, defeated Democrat Vop Osili by more than 340,000 votes in the election. Opponents contended White was not properly registered as a candidate.

White's trial in Hamilton County on those charges is scheduled to start on January 30.

White was registered at his ex-wife's address when he voted in the May 2010 primary and was not registered at his address until after the deadline for filing a declaration of candidacy or certificate of nomination, Rosenberg ruled in December.

Rosenberg reversed a 3-0 Indiana Recount Commission decision that found White eligible and ordered the commission to certify Osili as secretary of state.

Democrats have alleged that the reason White did not change his address was so he could retain a town council position. White has denied the allegations of voter fraud.

Politics and timing are issues in the battle over White's election.

If White's election is upheld and he resigns, or is removed from office after being convicted of a felony, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels would appoint his replacement.

Official: Los Angeles arson suspect under investigation in Germany

Posted: 04 Jan 2012 08:31 AM PST

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A German man due to appear in a Los Angeles court Wednesday in connection with one of the worst arson sprees in the city's history is also under investigation for arson and fraud in his home country, a prosecution official in Germany said.

Harry Burkhart, 24, was arrested in Los Angeles early Monday after a string of 52 fires -- mostly in parked cars -- since Friday. He faces an arraignment hearing Wednesday morning.

No one was hurt in the fires, but property damage costs are likely to reach $3 million, authorities said.

On Wednesday, a German official said Burkhart was also under investigation in relation to a fire in Neukirchen, near Frankfurt.

A house owned by his family burned down in October 2011, said Annemarie Wied, the spokeswoman for the state prosecutor's office in Marburg.

"The evidence points to arson," Wied said, "because the complete inside of the house was devastated by the fire and two sources for the fire were discovered inside the building."

"No one was inside the house when the fire department was called and a claim was made with the insurance company only a day later," she added.

Wied said the investigation for arson and attempted insurance fraud was still in the early stages.
L.A. mayor: Arson suspect held, no bail

In Los Angeles, Burkhart faces one count of arson of an inhabited dwelling -- but is likely to face additional charges, said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Authorities believe Burkhart may have been motivated to set the fires because of his mother's arrest.

Police arrested his mother, 53-year-old Dorothee Burkhart, during a traffic stop December 28.

She was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by a district court in Frankfurt, Germany, said court spokesman Gunther Meilinger, and is wanted on 16 counts of fraud and three counts of embezzlement.

The charges include an allegation that Dorothee Burkhart failed to pay for a breast enhancement operation performed on her, Meilinger said. U.S. court documents show she allegedly told the Frankfurt clinic in June 2004 that an advance payment of 7,680 euros was made by her husband through a bank transfer. As a result, the breast augmentation surgery was performed the following day.

However, the court documents said, no money had been transferred and the clinic was not paid for the surgery.

Most of the German charges, however, stem from phony real estate deals which Dorothee Burkhart allegedly conducted between 2000 and 2006.

In many cases, Meilinger alleged, she pretended to rent out an apartment she did not own, collected a deposit and then broke off contact with the prospective renters. In other cases, he said, she allegedly lived in apartments without paying rent. The embezzlement charges refer to instances where she allegedly collected deposits for apartments and could not pay them back when they were due.

Under German law, the alleged crimes constitute "severe fraud," Meilinger said. They typically carry a minimum sentence of six months in prison upon conviction, although some defendants can receive suspended sentences.

The international arrest warrant is valid for the European Union and also in countries with bilateral agreements with Germany, including the United States, he said.

The Frankfurt court is readying paperwork for an extradition request, which should be filed in the next few days, he said.

The day after her arrest in California, the first of the fires began in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, Dorothee Burkhart appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge and did not appear to know that her son had been arrested.

"What did you do to my son?" she yelled at the judge during the hearing. "My son is disappeared since yesterday. Perhaps the German Nazis know of our address."

The mother left Germany in October for California, where she lived with Burkhart in a Hollywood apartment, according to court documents and authorities.

Wied said authorities have not determined whether Dorothee Burkhart could be involved in the German fire.

Investigators seized press clippings about arson attacks in Germany from the Burkhart's apartment in California, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.