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September 16, 2014

Stocks open lower ahead of Fed meeting

Filed under: business, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:44 am

NEW YORK • U.S. stocks dropped in early trading Monday ahead of this week’s potential pivotal Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed is nearing the end of its bond-buying stimulus program, and investors will be looking for indications of when policy makers will start raising interest rates.

In Europe, investors looked ahead to Scotland’s independence referendum.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,980 as of 9:53 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 16 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,969. The Nasdaq composite fell 16 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,534.

FED MEETING: The main market event this week is likely to be the Fed’s two-day policy meeting, which concludes on Wednesday. Investors will be watching for any change in their guidance about the future direction for interest rates. Analysts have warned over the past week that the Fed might raise interest rates sooner than expected as the economy improves.

M&A ON TAP: Molson Coors rose $4.75, or 6.6 percent, to $73.87. The brewer’s stock jumped amid merger news in the beer brewing industry. Family-controlled brewer Heineken said late Sunday that it has rejected a takeover bid by rival SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer. Reports said that SABMiller had sought to buy Heineken as a defense against an acquisition bid from Anheuser-Busch InBev, the industry leader absolutely free credit score.

SCOTLAND’S CHOICE: Another big event this week is Thursday’s independence referendum in Scotland. With opinion polls showing the vote too close to call, there’s potential for some sizeable move in U.K. markets. The pound has been extremely volatile in the last couple of weeks as the opinion polls have narrowed. On Monday the pound was 0.2 percent lower at $1.6248.

EUROPEAN STOCKS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent at 9,663, while France’s CAC-40 declined 0.3 percent to 4,430. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.1 percent to 6,801.

CURRENCIES: The dollar gained against the euro, but fell back against the Japanese yen. Against Europe’s common currency, the dollar gained 0.2 percent to $1.29 per euro. It fell 0.2 percent to 107.2 against the yen.

BONDS: In government bond trading, prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which falls when prices rise, dropped to 2.58 percent from 2.61 percent on Friday.

ENERGY: A report that showed Chinese industrial production slowed dramatically in August weighed on oil markets. Benchmark U.S. oil fell 28 cents, or 0.3 percent, a barrel at $92 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 54 cents to $96.59 a barrel.

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September 14, 2014

Anti-euro party polls well in German state votes

Filed under: Uncategorized, canada — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 2:52 pm

Updated at 11:44 a.m.

BERLIN • An exit poll indicates that an upstart anti-euro group has won seats in two more German state legislatures in regional elections.

The ARD television exit poll put support for the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party at 10 percent or more in Sunday’s elections in the eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg. It won its first seats in a state legislature two weeks ago.

AfD advocates ending the euro in its current form but also has appealed to protest voters with tough talk on crime and immigration.

Other parties say they won’t govern with AfD.

It wasn’t clear whether a three-party alliance led by the Left Party, which has ex-communist roots, would have enough support to oust Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives from the governor’s office in Thuringia.

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September 12, 2014

Chris Davis drug suspension levels playing field: Griffin

Filed under: loans, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:20 pm

The Orioles were stunned on Friday when Major League Baseball suspended infielder Chris Davis a total of 25 games for use of a banned stimulant, confirmed by the players’ association in a statement from Davis as the ADD/ADHD treatment drug Adderall. He will miss the final 17 games of the regular season and then eight more, either in the post-season or at the start of 2015.

Baltimore entered Friday’s games with a 10-game lead in the AL East, with a magic number of eight over both the Jays and the Yankees. The loss of Davis will begin to show in the playoffs.

“I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans,” Davis said in the statement. “I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”

Adderall has been on MLB’s list of banned stimulants since the 2006 season. The therapeutic use exemption to which Davis referred is for players who have a doctor’s prescription. Adderall is a treatment for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is no doubt a performance enhancer in terms of energy and recovery if used without the presence of ADHD.

There was immediate (and justifiable) skepticism back in 2005 when the medical exemption was announced in the new drug agreement. Major league players applied for the exception like teenaged girls rushing to line up for tickets to a One Direction concert. Both made no sense. The number of players claiming they had the disorder was far greater than the norm in the general population.

As such, baseball set up a three-person panel to consider all applications. One of the reasons was that they wanted to weed out the frauds. With Davis losing his exemption, does that mean the panel did not believe he needed Adderall for ADHD? That is a possibility.

In 2013, MLB revealed that 119 players had been granted the exemption, which worked out to 9.9 per cent of all 40-man rosters. The percentage of adults in the general population with the disorder was just 4.4. If Davis had the exemption for the previous two seasons but then not in 2014, he was cheating.

“It comes down to breaking the rule,” the Rays’ ever-sage manager, Joe Maddon, said prior to Friday’s game against the Jays. “That’s what it’s there for. That’s part of the level playing field of our game. It’ll just be a big loss to Baltimore. The rule’s there for a reason. The system works.”

While the impact on the sport from the negative implications and fan reaction will not be as dramatic as it would have been for steroids, Maddon is correct. The fact is that decades ago in baseball, veteran players who were suffering normal fatigue or liked to live nightlife to the fullest would take advantage of amphetamines, and a variety of stimulants since banned under the Basic Agreement, to continue producing through the dog days of August and September. It was an accepted part of the clubhouse day-to-day existence.

Does it now seem fair? Davis has been suspended for using a drug that more than 100 other major-league players are taking legally. Yes, it’s fair. The answer comes from his own statement, that he is no longer exempt yet continued to use. As Maddon suggests, there must be a level playing field.

“I don’t know why that doesn’t just carry over, unless you can be cured of it,” Jays manager John Gibbons said, reflecting the opinion of many. “I don’t know. That’s kind of surprising. If you had it one year, it ought to kick in automatically I would think, but it’s not my department.”

The O’s have been resilient. They survived the loss of all-star catcher Matt Wieters. They continued to win after losing third baseman Manny Machado — now out for the year — for the second time. Now they must stay strong without Davis, who leads all major leaguers in homers since 2012.

The Blue Jays are the team that would seem to benefit the most by his absence from the lineup. Davis is a Jays killer. In the past three seasons he has 21 homers against Toronto, and with six games left between the teams he would likely have been good for a couple more.

Meanwhile, this has been Davis’s worst year of the last three in Baltimore, batting .196 with a .300 on-base, just 16 doubles and 26 homers. Do the O’s need his bat to win? In 40 games since July 27, he hit .182 with nine homers and 21 RBIs. In those games the O’s were 27-13.

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September 11, 2014

Ameren overearnings complaint fails to sway Missouri regulators

Filed under: online ads, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:24 am

Ameren Missouri customers won’t be seeing lower bills anytime soon after an overearnings complaint from its largest customer failed to sway state utility regulators.

In a Wednesday hearing, Missouri Public Service Commissioners said they did not agree with an overearnings complaint filed by Noranda Aluminum, which had accused the utility of making $50 million in excess profits. That could have led to lower bills for Ameren customers, who have seen electric bills rise by about 40 percent since 2006.

While the PSC still must issue a final ruling, the commissioners said Noranda did not convince them that Ameren was consistently earning above the profit level they set.

“Noranda had to meet the burden of proof,” Commissioner Stephen Stoll said. “I don’t believe they did prove that Ameren’s rates were unjust and unreasonable.”

Noranda had contended that Ameren overearned by $50 million last year, half of which it attributed to an allowed rate of return that was too high. While the PSC staff agreed that Ameren appeared to have earned about $25 million above its rate of return last year, it maintained that earnings flatten out over time and a more comprehensive study was needed first no fax payday loan. PSC commissioners agreed.

“This system envisions that revenues, expenses and profits will fluctuate, sometimes significantly … but will even out over time,” Commissioner Daniel Hall said.

The PSC ruling against Noranda is the second loss at the commission this year for the Missouri aluminum smelter, which also sought to lower its rates with a concurrent PSC action filed in February. That request would have lowered its rates at the expense of other Ameren customers, who would have likely seen rate increases.

Noranda filed the overearnings complaint at the same time, which won the support of consumer groups that regularly fight against higher utility rates. The commission denied Noranda’s rate request last month, and Noranda said last week it would lay off 125 to 200 people as a result of the decision.

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September 9, 2014

Stormy fall weather in southern Ontario forecast

Filed under: Uncategorized, news — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:16 pm

As a lukewarm summer draws to a close in the GTA, The Weather Network is warning people to brace for the “rollercoaster” of fall temperatures ahead.

The Canadian forecaster’s fall outlook said southern Ontario can expect a typical “transitional” fall weather pattern characterized by stretches of warm weather and sudden bouts of cold temperatures.

But Chris Scott, The Weather Network’s chief meteorologist, said the turning point in autumn weather patterns, around mid-October, could mark the start of a stormy couple of months for the GTA.

“Watch for more blasts of chilly air and potential for big fall storms,” Scott said. “We do think it’s going to be an active fall.”

The fall outlook cites a developing El Nino in the tropical Pacific Ocean combined with a cooler summer as cause for the potential for dips in the average temperature over the next couple of months.

Scott said southern Ontario residents can still expect to enjoy stretches of warm weather through Thanksgiving weekend, and are not in danger of seeing winter storms until the tail end of the season.

“We’re not in any danger of heading into mixing with snow or anything like Alberta’s getting anytime soon,” he said.

According to The Weather Network, Calgary was hit with between 5 and 15 cm of snow on Monday. Scott called Toronto’s fall forecast “tame” in comparison.

Unlike Sudbury, Barrie or areas north of the Oak Ridges Moraine, southern Ontarians can expect to be protected from early winter storms because of the “insulation factor” the Great Lakes provide. But if enough cold air sweeps through, it could mean snow is in the mix for storms in late November.

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September 8, 2014

Schumer Anti-Inversion Tax Plan Could Reach Back to 1994 - Bloomberg

Filed under: business, canada — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 12:36 am

A proposal from a top Senate Democrat could limit deductions for companies that moved their tax addresses out of the U.S. as long ago as 1994, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News.

The legislative proposal, which faces high hurdles in a deadlocked Congress, may become part of Democrats

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September 6, 2014

New Town residents fight plan for conventional subdivision

Filed under: legal, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:24 pm

ST. CHARLES • Bob and Cindy Messmer moved to the New Town area three years ago, drawn by modern homes of various sizes and price tags on an old-style street grid with easy walking to shops, restaurants and recreation.

Now the Messmers and many of their neighbors are fighting a suburban-style subdivision proposed for New Town’s southeast edge along Boschertown Road.

The City Council would have to remove the 93-acre tract from the “new urbanist” district it authorized in 2003.

“To diminish that vision at this point … would be a big step backward,” Bob Messmer, an architect, told the council Tuesday night.

Another resident, Lindsay Sutton, was more blunt. “Please don’t let our land be sold off to make another everyday ordinary subdivision,” she said.

The proposed builder, Tom Hughes, says New Town is a wonderful place but not for everyone. He says there’s also consumer demand for a more conventional, lower-density development in the immediate vicinity.

“We believe folks need to have a choice of a different type of lifestyle” in the area served by Orchard Farm public schools, he said. A current suburban-type subdivision nearby, Charlestowne, will be sold out in a few months, he added.

He pointed out that several hundred other lots in other parts of New Town will still be available through two other builders.

The Hughes project, Charlestowne Crossing, would have 234 single-family homes plus a new elementary school planned by the Orchard Farm district.

New Town has about 1,300 dwellings with approximately 3,000 residents. The original New Town developer, Greg Whittaker of Whittaker Builders, had envisioned as many as 5,700 homes going up there over 15 to 20 years.

Home building has continued although the pace slowed with the recession that took hold in 2008.

After Whittaker Builders encountered financial difficulties in the recession, a consortium of banks — WBI Resolution LLC — took over ownership of much of New Town as well as the Whittaker firm’s role as overseer of the New Town plan.

Greg Whittaker is still involved in the project through NT Home Builders, a company he manages and that bought some New Town land from WBI Resolution, said NT attorney Brad Goss.

Goss also represents Hughes’ group, which last year purchased 305 acres from WBI Resolution, including the 97 it now wants removed from the city’s New Town zoning rules.

Last month WBI removed the tract from its internal New Town regulations and said it no longer considered the area to be part of the development.

Opponents worry that allowing the conventional subdivision could set a precedent.

“In the next few years, you’re going to find more young families that want to build and there’s not going to be any more room in New Town,” said resident Ariane Cameron.

Goss said, however, that Hughes had made no decision on what to do with the rest of the New Town land his group bought.

“He’s willing to sit down and talk to people” about it, Goss said.

Hughes said the 234 lots he wanted to remove from New Town were offset by the addition last year of 236 residential lots on land originally slated for warehouse-type uses.

Critics also say that removing the tract would reduce the potential pool of homeowner fees that fund some New Town amenities and hurt current and future residents. Fewer areas for businesses in the mixed-use development also will be available, they warn.

More than 100 people, most of them opponents of the plan, packed into the council hearing on the issue. A vote is expected on Sept. 23.

Kim Higgins, who lives in the conventional Stable Ridge area nearby, was among a handful attending who supported Hughes’ request.

“I hate to see it sit empty year after year and no progress,” she said, referring to the vacant tract. She added that people in her area have a strong sense of community just as New Town residents do.

“We walk our dogs, too; we talk to our neighbors,” Higgins said. “We watch out for our children just the same.”

Supporters of Hughes’ request may have the upper hand politically, because six of the 10 council members are listed as co-sponsors. Seven votes are needed for passage.

A two-thirds majority is required because the city’s planning and zoning commission voted 6-2 last month to recommend against council approval.

A commission report said some members believed removing the tract would have a negative impact on New Town. The report also cited “incompatibility” of the Charlestowne Crossing home design with those in New Town.

Mayor Sally Faith, a planning commission member, was among those voting against Hughes’ proposal. However, she hasn’t said if she would veto or sign the bill if the council passes it. Veto overrides require seven votes.

Council President Dave Beckering, the bill’s sponsor, told the crowd Tuesday night that the vote was about the best use of the land.

“Nobody else wanted to buy it to build anything on it, let alone New Town-style homes,” he said.

Moreover, he said, it’s St. Charles’ only viable option for large-scale residential development inside the city limits. He said there was also little land available for annexation.

Councilman Rod

Herrmann, whose ward includes New Town, sides with opponents. He said the original developer “had a dream and a vision, and these folks here believed in it.”

“They know it could take 15 or 20 years, and they’re willing to wait,” he said.

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September 4, 2014

Q&A: Paul Benoit, man attacked in Rob Ford mask, speaks out

Filed under: mortgage, online ads — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:28 pm

When Oakville’s Paul Benoit, a stay-at-home dad formerly of Toronto, donned a Mayor Rob Ford mask he bought at Malabar’s costume store for $26, he dived straight into the deep end: the mayor’s re-election campaign office in Scarborough.

Toronto Police say an altercation ensued, with the accused allegedly kicking a camera out of Benoit’s hand, and escalated outside the office.

Some of this is shown in shaky YouTube footage.

The altercation continued beyond what the video shows, with police alleging Benoit was punched in the face.

The men continued to fight, “until they were stopped by people in the area,” police said, adding Benoit’s microphone was allegedly taken from him. Benoit was initially arrested in the incident, then released.

Ford campaign worker William Byers, 60, has been charged with assault, mischief and theft, police said. He is set to appear in court Oct. 7.

Wednesday night, before Byers was charged, Ford communications director, Jeff Silverstein, relayed his sense of the event.

“My understanding is that (Benoit) did get into the office on three occasions. He returned a third time, and at that point he was escorted out,” Silverstein said. “On being escorted out, just outside of the office he assaulted a volunteer.

“He was punched, I believe, in the stomach. He fell to the ground and bumped his head. My understanding is he’s OK.”

The Star is continuing to seek comment from the campaign Thursday.

The Star spoke to Benoit, 43, about what followed his dramatic entrance and the resulting YouTube video that he says aided in his release from police custody. The following is his edited and condensed account of events, which have not been proved in court.

What were your intentions?

It was for humour. Jimmy Kimmel would probably think it’s pretty funny.

What kind of response have you received from posting the video?

A lot of comments stating “Way to go, you did the right thing.” And then a whole bunch of negative comments, almost menacing comments.

The video stops suddenly at 40 seconds. Can you explain what happened after the video cuts out?

Basically, the gentleman, the Ford campaigner, kicked my hands and kicked the camera out of my hands. The camera went flying 15 feet in the air and then it landed on the sidewalk behind four Rob Ford staffers. At which point, when I got hit, I was like, “OK I need to defend myself and I need to protect myself and I need to get my property.” So that’s when fists started flying.

What did you want to happen when you entered the office?

I was just looking for a funny reaction short term personal loan. I was not expecting any kind of violence. I was expecting somebody to come up to me and say, “Hey you can’t be filming in here, you gotta go,” at which point I would have been like, “OK, no problem, sorry about that.”

I like to call the style of journalism that I do “Hunter S. Thompson style journalism.” I want to tell a story in a funny way, in a clever way, and in an intelligent way. I don’t want to be stupid, I don’t want to be violent … I want to let the story tell itself, which it clearly did yesterday.

What kind of damage was there to your equipment?

My camera was smashed and damaged. My microphone was stolen, which is why he’s being charged with theft as well. I have a 1200 HD camera which has been kicked and smashed into the cement.

Were you surprised by the response?

Oh yeah, I was not expecting any kind of violence. When I was hit, I went into defensive mode. I needed to get that camera back. The story would be totally different if my footage had not been released, and if the police had not seen my footage. If my camera was destroyed, I would be sitting in jail right now and I would be looking for a lawyer to defend myself against being assaulted.

You’ve been to Ford events before, stood outside his office with reporters — have you had confrontations before?

No, but I would like an apology from Rob and Doug Ford for their campaign workers’ activities yesterday. I would like an apology in person and in writing. If Rob and Doug Ford want to sit down and have a conversation about this, I’d be more than happy to do that.

Some people might say you were irresponsible or “asking for it” — how would you respond to that?

A lot of people have said that online today, that “You got what you deserved.” You know what, nobody deserves to be assaulted. Nobody deserves to be hit. I didn’t want anything to escalate like it did, but it did, and now there are consequences. I think I’ve done more damage to Rob Ford’s campaign than any single person. I think every single person in Toronto that wants Rob Ford to resign owes me a Heineken right now. So that’s like 5 million beers.

How long have you been in Oakville?

I moved to Oakville one crack video ago, after the first crack video was released.

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September 3, 2014

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Filed under: finance, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:16 am

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September 1, 2014

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

Filed under: Uncategorized, legal — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 2:04 pm

LONDON (AP) — Ahead of a raft of economic developments this week, financial markets started the week on a lackluster note Monday as Wall Street was closed for the Labor Day holiday.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.1 percent at 6,825.31 while Germany’s DAX rose the same rate to 9,479.03. The CAC-40 in France ended a tad lower at 4,379.73. Earlier in Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.8 percent to 2,235.51 points and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.3 percent to 15,476.60. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was marginally higher, adding 0.04 percent to 24,752.09.

UKRAINE: In Europe, the crisis in Ukraine remains a key source of interest for traders. On Monday, there were signs that a breakthrough may be in the offing as pro-Russian rebels appeared to soften their demand for full independence, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy. The insurgents’ platform, released at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine’s eastern, mainly Russian-speaking region.

GLOBAL MANUFACTURING: There were some worrying signs however that the global manufacturing sector is waning. Two surveys showed China’s manufacturing growth slowed in August as export demand and investment weakened, raising expectations Beijing might launch more stimulus. HSBC Corp. said its purchasing manufacturers index fell to 50.2 from July’s 18-month high of 51.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show an expansion. An official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, said its separate PMI declined to 51 no fax pay day loan.1 from 51.7. A similar picture emerged for the 18-country eurozone, with the August PMI from financial information company Markit down at a 13-month low of 50.7. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management publishes its estimate for the U.S. economy.

EUROPE: Whether the weak economic indicators coming out of the eurozone will prompt the European Central Bank to enact further stimulus measures at its monthly policy meeting on Thursday remains open to question. Bank chief Mario Draghi called in a speech last month for fiscal policies to support growth, a departure from the ECB’s implicit support for austerity. No immediate steps are expected but the bank has begun work on a program to buy asset-backed securities.

EURO IN RETREAT: The crisis in Ukraine and weak eurozone economic data have combined to hurt the euro currency over the past few months. On Monday, it fell to a near year-low of $1.3119.

U.S. ECONOMY: After Thursday’s ECB meeting, traders will be fully focusing on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for August. The release often setts the market tone for a week or two after its release as traders try and work out when the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates. Investor confidence over the U.S. economy has risen following several months of strong growth in hiring and corporate profits and a series of major corporate acquisitions.

ENERGY MARKETS: U.S. benchmark crude for October was down 25 cents at $95.71 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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