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August 22, 2014

Obama offers new accommodations on birth control

Filed under: finance, management — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:00 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will offer a new accommodation to religious nonprofits that object to covering birth control for their employees. The measure allows those groups to notify the government, rather than their insurance company, that birth control violates their religious beliefs.

The government is also extending an existing accommodation to some for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby that’s currently available only to nonprofits. That accommodation requires groups to sign a form transferring responsibility for paying for birth control to their insurers or third-party administrators.

The dual decisions embrace suggestions included in recent Supreme Court rulings. But they’re unlikely to go far enough to satisfy religious groups. That’s because they would still make the groups complicit in a system that provides birth control through their organizations’ health plans.

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August 21, 2014

To us, Tina Fontaine just another missing native kid: Mallick

Filed under: legal, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:52 am

The call for a federal inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous girls and women isn’t the result of nearly 1,200 females crying out from wherever their graves may be. It isn’t history leaking blood, it is a continuing serial tragedy, and pretty little Tina Fontaine, her corpse hauled out of the Red River on the weekend in the bag her killer had stuffed her into, is just the latest instalment.

What makes Tina’s death worse is that at age 15, she was only 5’3” and weighed a feather-light 100 pounds. It was so easy for the killer to murder Tina, bag her up and dump her in the river. Even though her family and the police were looking for her, he calculated that she would be just another missing native kid, fun to torment, easy to slaughter and really easy to dispose of.

He was right. She was only found by chance while police divers searched for the corpse of a man, Faron Hall, also native, who had been seen struggling in the water. Hall’s body was also brought in. Behind the big blue tarps screening Tina’s corpse from view, Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights gleamed in the distance.

Tina’s story is harrowing, starting with the ID photos sent out as she went repeatedly missing after her life turned bad. There she is smiling with a cool ‘do, short on one side and long on the other, with big hoop earrings that must have made her very proud. On her slender neck just north of her throat, there is a worrying bruise or abrasion.

After Tina’s father got cancer when she was 4, her grandmother took her in, CTV reported. “She was a happy baby. She was a happy girl,” Thelma Fontaine said. But after her father was beaten to death in 2011, Tina fell apart. She was put into foster care in Powerview, Man., and then in Winnipeg, the latter a poor choice because she was both attracted to city life and unable to cope with it. Police say she may have been working the streets, and in the past year, she had run away three times. In one November 2013 notice of her disappearance, the RCMP in Powerview said she “is noted to have a history of attending Winnipeg.” That time she was found two days later but you can’t make a miserable, desperate teenager stay when she wants to flee.

“She had barely been in the city for a little over a month and she’s definitely been exploited, taken advantage of, murdered and put into the river in this condition,” Winnipeg homicide unit officer Sgt. John O’Donovan told reporters. And then he said what police are generally too brisk to say: “She’s a child. Society would be horrified if we found a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition. This is a child. Society should be horrified.”

O’Donovan has nailed us. We do treat aboriginal people like animals. Think of the children of Attawapiskat, a James Bay reserve which floods regularly and where children have basically been camping out in school shacks for years, begging the federal government for help. Those children are appallingly neglected.

“Yet the ones we see come down here and that we have as . . . patients, they are wonderful kids,” said a Toronto doctor who headed up north to help them. “They have got a great temperament, they’re very kind, they’re very intellectual, they are fun to be with high risk personal loans.” One Toronto rescuer was particularly upset by conditions in Moosonee. “It horrified me. There was neglect and abandonment and a very hard life.” Another said happily, “They are just lovely lovely children.”

Oh, I’m sorry, I mis-wrote myself. My mistake.

Replace “kids” and “children” with “dogs” and “doctor” with “vet” and I will be correctly quoting from a July story in the Toronto Star about white people going to Attawapiskat to treat stray dogs, “adopt” them and bring them back to Toronto. There is not a word about aboriginal children being neglected or abandoned or having a “hard life” after 150 years of colonialism, family patterns disrupted by residential school, sexual abuse, extreme poverty and hearty never-ending racism.

Dogs do as they’re told, for food. They attend obedience classes, don’t run away, don’t judge their pathetic unkempt owners, and fill a hole in the lives of inadequate people who don’t like children, much less aboriginal ones.

You may disagree. If ignoring Attawapiskat children in favour of dogs doesn’t seem harsh to you, read a 2010 Facebook post by Lorrie Steeves, a Winnipeg woman whose husband Gord is running for mayor of Winnipeg. “Lorrie Steeves is really tired of getting harrassed (sic) by the drunken native guys in the skywalks. we need to get these people educated so they can go make their own damn money instead of hanging out and harrassing (sic) the honest people who are grinding away working hard for their money. We all donate enough money to the government to keep thier (sic) sorry assess (sic) on welfare, so shut the f— up and don’t ask me for another handout!”

After the CBC reported the Steeves story on Aug. 8 — this was the last day Tina was seen alive in downtown Winnipeg — accompanied by a photo of Steeves at a gala with a big glass of white wine in front of her, Steeves apologized. I’m glad she did and I’m glad she enjoys a drink, but if this is how white Canadians think — that they are themselves exquisite while aboriginal Canadians are flawed beyond redemption and their sufferings of less interest than those of dogs — we have a long way to go. Well obviously we have a long way to go.

An inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered women might lay this all open under a bright light, but Stephen Harper’s Conservatives call it unnecessary. In the meantime, think of Tina Fontaine of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. When she went missing last year, a heartfelt flyer with her picture described her, with an addendum: “Scars on both arms.”

People cut themselves when they’re hurting. Tina was hurting badly. The flyer also warned passersby, “Tina went missing before. Do NOT approach her harshly please.” She was approached harshly, one final time.

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August 19, 2014

EPA launches probe of Tyson’s role in polluting a Missouri creek

Filed under: management, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 3:52 pm

MONETT, Mo. • The Environmental Protection Agency has begun an investigation of Tyson Foods’ role in a discharge of a food supplement that allegedly led to pure ammonia flowing into a southwest Missouri creek, killing more than 100,000 fish.

The discharge on May 16 allegedly caused the wastewater plant in Monett to fail and allowed a chemical to flow into nearby Clear Creek, The Joplin Globe reported.

The EPA did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press Tuesday.

The company revealed the investigation earlier this month in its quarterly notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We’re cooperating with the Environmental Protection Agency in its investigation, as we have with state and local agencies regarding this incident,” company spokesman Worth Sparkman said Monday.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources found that Tyson’s pre-treatment plant in Monett treated wastewater containing Alimet, a liquid animal feed supplement, that it had received another Tyson operation in Aurora. After the water was pre-treated, it was discharged to Monett’s sewage system. The compound killed the bacteria that process the wastewater effluent in Monett’s plant, causing virtually undiluted ammonia to flow into Clear Creek. It is unclear how much Alimet was discharged.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a six-count civil lawsuit against Tyson after the spill, seeking fines, compensation for damage to the stream and reimbursement for the costs of the state’s investigation.

Koster said at the time his lawsuit was filed that he did not pursue criminal charges because he had no evidence that Tyson knowingly dumped the chemical into the water. But he said, “there was negligence involved, and people will be held responsible.”

The DNR issued notices of violation against Tyson Foods and the city of Monett after the spill but the department said it believed Tyson was responsible for the discharge.

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August 17, 2014

Second autopsy ordered on body of Missouri teen Michael Brown

Filed under: mortgage, online — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:08 pm

FERGUSON, MO.—U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on the body of a black Missouri teenager whose fatal shooting by a white police officer has spurred a week of rancorous and sometimes violent protests in suburban St. Louis.

Department of Justice spokesman Brian Fallon cited a request by family members and the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in explaining decision.

“This independent examination will take place as soon as possible,” Fallon said in a statement. “Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.”

The Justice Department already had deepened its civil rights investigation of the shooting. Officials said a day earlier that 40 FBI agents were going door-to-door gathering information in the Ferguson, Missouri, neighbourhood where an unarmed Brown was shot to death in the middle of the street on Aug. 9.

David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the criminal civil rights section of Miami’s U.S. Attorney’s office, said a federally conducted autopsy “more closely focused on entry point of projectiles, defensive wounds and bruises” might help that investigation, and that the move is “not that unusual.”

He also said federal authorities want to calm any public fears that no action will be taken on the case.

Holder’s latest announcement followed the first night of a state-imposed curfew in Ferguson, which ended with tear gas and seven arrests after police dressed in riot gear used armoured vehicles to disperse defiant protesters.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson said protesters weren’t the reason for the escalated police reaction early Sunday morning after the midnight curfew took effect, but a report of people who had broken into a barbecue restaurant and taken to the roof, and a man who flashed a handgun in the street as armoured vehicles approached the crowd of protesters.

Also overnight, a man was shot and critically wounded in the same area, but not by police; authorities were searching for the shooter. Someone also shot at a police car, officials said.

The protests have been going on since Brown’s death heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and mostly white Ferguson Police Department, leading to several run-ins between police and protesters and prompting Missouri’s governor to put the Highway Patrol in charge of security.

Ferguson Police waited six days to publicly reveal the name of the officer and documents alleging Brown robbed a convenience store before he was killed, though Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer did not know Brown was a suspect when he encountered him walking in the street with a friend.

Scott Olson / GETTY IMAGES

People wait for reaction from police after they refused to honour the midnight curfew on Aug. 17.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who imposed the curfew after declaring a state of emergency as protests turned violent to start the weekend, said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” that he was not aware the police were going to release surveillance video from the store where Brown is alleged to have stolen a $49 box of cigars.

“It’s appeared to cast aspersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street. It made emotions raw,” Nixon said.

In announcing the curfew, Nixon said many protesters were making themselves heard peacefully but the state would not allow looters to endanger the community. Johnson, the Highway Patrol captain, had said police would not enforce the curfew with armoured trucks and tear gas and would communicate with protesters and give them ample opportunity to leave. Local officers faced strong criticism earlier in the week for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters.

As the curfew deadline arrived early Sunday, most protesters left the streets, but those who remained protesters refused to leave the area as officers spoke through a loudspeaker: “You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately.”

As officers put on gas masks, a chant from the distant crowd emerged: “We have the right to assemble peacefully.”

A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd. Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later told The Associated Press they also used tear gas canisters.

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August 16, 2014

Skateboarding legend Jay Adams dies of heart attack at age 53

Filed under: canada, news — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:12 am

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Jay Adams, the colorful rebel who helped transform skateboarding from a simple street pastime into one of the world’s most spectacular sports — with hair-raising stunts and an outsized personality to match — has died at age 53.

Adams died of a heart attack Thursday during a surfing vacation in Mexico with his wife and friends, his manager, Susan Ferris, said Friday.

With his flowing, sun-bleached hair, explosive skating style and ebullient personality, Adams became one of the sport’s most iconic figures during the years it moved from empty backyard swimming pools to international competition.

“He was like the original viral spore that created skateboarding,” fellow skateboarder and documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta told The Associated Press on Friday. “He was it.”

But at the height of his fame in the early 1980s, Adams was convicted of felony assault, launching a string of prison stints over the next 24 years.

The member of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, who had proudly been clean and sober for the past several years, blamed his troubles in part on the sport’s early years, when seemingly any outrageous behaviour was tolerated.

“We were wild and acting crazy and not being very positive role models,” he told The New York Times shortly after being released from prison for the last time in 2008.

He had rocketed to fame while still a teenager as a founding member of the Zephyr Skate Team, a group of surfers turned skateboarders who came together in a rundown, dicey neighbourhood known as Dogtown that straddles Los Angeles’ Venice Beach and the city of Santa Monica payday loan.

Peralta, another member, would memorialize the group in his 2001 documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys.”

“Watching him when he was 14, 15, 16 was pure entertainment,” the filmmaker recalled Friday. “It was like watching energy itself evolve. You never knew what he was going to do, and no matter how great he was at something, he never repeated it.”

Although he wasn’t technically the best skater out there, Peralta said, Adams’ influence on the sport was as great as that of X Games gold medallist Tony Hawk.

Adams never became quite the household name Hawk is, perhaps in part because of his repeated brushes with the law.

When “Dogtown and Z Boys” premiered in 2001, he was in jail again, this time doing time on a drug charge.

About the time the 2005 feature film “Lords of Dogtown” would hit theatres, Adams, who was played by actor Emile Hirsch, was being busted for drugs again.

Upon his release, he vowed to stay out of trouble — and he did.

Peralta said he last saw Adams at a dinner gathering about six weeks ago.

“He was the first person to show up at the dinner table, which was remarkable, and he was drinking hot tea, which was even more remarkable,” he said. “He had really turned a corner.”

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August 14, 2014

Sagging European economies crimp stock markets

Filed under: business, economics — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:48 pm

HONG KONG (AP) — A contraction in Germany’s economy and stagnation in France dragged on European stocks Thursday while Asian markets ended mixed.

KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 lost 0.4 percent to 4,176.03 and Germany’s DAX shed 0.4 percent to 9,164.92. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.1 percent to 6,661.95. U.S. shares were set to drift lower, with Dow futures slipping 0.1 percent to 16,606. S&P 500 futures dipped 0.1 percent to 1,943.60.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent to close at 15,314.57 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ended 0.6 percent higher at 5,548.50. South Korea’s Kospi was practically unchanged at 2,063.22. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.4 percent to 24,801.36, after swinging between gains and losses for most of the day. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China followed the same pattern, down 0.7 percent to 2,206.47.

EUROPE SAGS: The latest growth figures from two major economies cast doubt over Europe’s recovery. The Germany economy lost momentum, shrinking by 0.2 percent in the April-June period, while the French economy stagnated for second straight quarter, official reports showed.

CHINA ECONOMY: Benchmarks in Hong Kong and Shanghai declined a day after disappointing data on the Chinese economy left investors fretting that authorities in Beijing were comfortable with slowing growth and would refrain from further stimulus. Fixed investment and industrial production for July slowed, though the big surprise was the sharp drop in loan growth, which Rabobank analyst Michael Every called “shockingly low bad credit payday advance.”

PC PROFITS: No. 1 personal computer maker Lenovo Group failed to hold on to gains after reporting quarterly profit rose 23 percent on stronger sales of smartphones and other mobile devices, with shares down 1.6 percent. China Mobile, the world’s biggest wireless carrier by subscribers, rose 0.7 percent even as the state-owned company reported first half profit fell 8.5 percent as it continued to roll out fourth-generation phone service.

US CUES: Investors are looking ahead to more hints on the health of the global economy with the release of U.S. unemployment benefit applications later Thursday. They come a day after U.S. retail sales edged up a tiny amount compared with the month before, fueling hopes that the Fed will maintain stimulus.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil for September delivery was down 27 cents to $97.31 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 60 cents to $104.46 in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.3380 from $1.3365 in late trading Thursday. The dollar was little changed at 102.41 yen from 102.42 yen.

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August 13, 2014

Manila Port Truck Logjam Fans Inflation as Output Wanes - Bloomberg

Filed under: economics, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:36 am

Containers with goods from garlic to microchips are piling up at the main ports in the Philippines six months after a truck ban took effect, causing a supply logjam that

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August 11, 2014

U.S. Bank closes on financing for Arcade building rehab

Filed under: management, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 10:40 am

U.S. Bank has closed on more than $77 million in several tax credit financing packages for the redevelopment of the Arcade building downtown.   

The Minneapolis-based bank, which announced the closure of financing Monday, invested $77 million in the century-old building at 800 Olive Street, through federal New Markets Tax Credits, federal and state historic tax credits and federal low-income housing tax credits. The bank’s U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation subsidiary is based in downtown St. Louis. 

Dominium Development, the Minneapolis-based developer on the $116 million project, is converting two lower floors of the 18-story, 500,000 square foot building to classroom space for Webster University and upper floors into 282 market rate and affordable-housing apartments for artists no credit check payday loans. The project also includes more than 13,000 square feet of artist studio space.

“Tremendous persistence, commitment and a deep desire to support the emergence of downtown St. Louis as an arts and innovation community kept our team motivated to make this development come to fruition,” Zack Boyers, chairman and chief executive officer of USBCDC said in a statement.

Webster University will move in as early as December 2015 and construction on the remaining space will finish in January 2016, U.S. Bank said.

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August 9, 2014

Financial health can be a matter of time, not smarts

Filed under: Uncategorized, management — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:28 pm

Conventional wisdom says the more you know about personal finance, the better off you’ll be at managing your money.

But a new survey suggests that knowledge alone is not enough. For your finances to be in good shape, you also need to be aware of something else: your attitude toward time.

Dwell too much on the past, present or future, and you could make decisions that are bad for your financial health, even if you know to do otherwise.

“Ideally, we’d all have happy memories, take time out in the present and plan for the future. But if you get out of whack in any one of those, bad things can happen,” said Nick Clements, co-author of the study and co-founder of MagnifyMoney, which reviews credit cards and other bank products.

Survey participants had to complete a “time personality” quiz developed by Philip Zimbardo, a professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University and co-author of the study.

Participants were also scored on their financial smarts (say, whether they could calculate compound interest) and the state of their finances (for example, had they ever filed for bankruptcy). In all, 3,000 people in six countries, including Brazil, Germany and the U.S., participated.

The results showed that, despite your financial know-how, your time personality has a lot to do with how well you manage your money. Someone, for example, whose personality skews toward living it up today is often financially sick. You may understand how compound interest works, but the knowledge doesn’t help if you habitually overspend your paycheck.

On the flip side, you may think primarily about the future. But people who are too goal-oriented are often so harried by career and other obligations that they have little time to think through their financial options.

“It may be on your to-do list to buy insurance or invest in your 401(k),” Clements said. “But because you don’t have enough time, you rush through and make bad decisions.”

You might assume that young adults would fall into the camp of people who think too much about the present, the so-called hedonists, according to the survey. But that was not the case.

In fact, 25.3 percent of millennials have a past-negative personality: This group came of age about the time of the 2007-09 financial crisis, and the experience, colored by home foreclosures, big stock market losses and high rates of unemployment, dominates their financial decision-making.

In comparison, only 16.5 percent of baby boomers (people born from 1946 to 1964) were past negative in the study.

To get a sense of what your time personality is, take the quiz at magnifymoney.com/timeperspective. After answering the questions, you’ll see where you fall on the time personality spectrum.

What if the results show you’re past negative? According to the survey, most millennials don’t rate themselves as being money-savvy. But those who land in this group tend to be financially healthy because they’re not taking the kinds of risks that can lead to bankruptcy or other money catastrophes.

Just keep in mind that too much caution can be a bad thing.

Without some risk, you may never be hired for that dream job or grow your savings into a comfortable nest egg. (A fact that young adults might appreciate more if they had more financial knowledge.)

Similarly, you don’t want to be so financially conservative that you forgo having any fun today.

Said Clements: “Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, sitting on a pile of gold coins. He is financially healthy, but you probably don’t want to be him.”

Carolyn Bigda is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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August 8, 2014

Milos Raonic survives Rogers Cup thriller

Filed under: online, online ads — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 4:48 am

Milos Raonic wasn’t perfect, but he’s still alive at the Rogers Cup.

Raonic had his serve going amid some erratic shots as he came back to beat American Jack Sock 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) on centre court Wednesday night at Rexall Centre.

Fans chanted “Let’s go Milos” between points, cheering on the last Canadian left in the field. On Tuesday, all four men who played singles were eliminated, and Eugenie Bouchard bowed out in Montreal.

Raonic stunted that momentum with 15 aces that helped offset some struggles to return Sock’s serve. He won 79 per cent of his first-serve points but was broken in the first set to cause the 23-year-old to fall behind.

In the second set, Raonic held serve before blowing Sock out in the tiebreak. He needed another tiebreak to finish off the match.

Raonic will face Julien Benneteau of France on Thursday night. Benneteau upset 11th-seeded Ernests Gulbis Wednesday after beating former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the first round.

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