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November 23, 2014

Decision day in Ferguson will be Monday at the earliest

Filed under: Uncategorized, canada — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:08 am

FERGUSON, MO.—The top-secret grand jury probing into the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen, already unusual by Missouri standards, has thrown a wrench into expectations of a weekend ruling, pushing any announcement to Monday at the earliest.

The added delay only deepened frustrations in the predominantly African-American St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, where protesters demanding justice for Michael Brown amid an intensifying security buildup vowed to stay the course.

Officials with the St. Louis County Prosecutors office have refused comment since Friday, when they signalled an announcement was imminent. But on Saturday, a St. Louis downtown business association circulated an email telling its membership that the grand jury had not yet reached a decision and would reconvene Monday to continue deliberations. Multiple major U.S. news agencies later confirmed the news, or lack thereof, citing unnamed officials.

The 12-member panel weighing the fate of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has spent more than three months on what typically takes little more than a day. And with no recommendation from prosecutor Bob McCulloch, they have been left to sift through the full heft of evidence to determine whether or not Wilson will be indicted on charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to second-degree murder.

Though grand jury testimony is seldom made public, McCulloch has pledged to win court approval to release full transcripts of the proceedings after a decision is announced.

The latest twist met with groans of frustrations in Ferguson, where the dozens of stores along the main shopping thoroughfare of West Florrisant Ave. are wrapped in plywood, braced for the worst.

“It’s sickening. This is tearing up my family,” said Marvin Skull, 55, an electrician who has visited the protest site opposite Ferguson Police Headquarters “nearly every day” since the Aug. 9 shooting.

“We’re living under a governor’s declared State of Emergency, we’re facing school closures, and we’ve got enough extra law enforcement here to make us all feel like enemies in our own country. And all over a process that should have been decided months ago.”

Michael Brown Sr., who has publicly pleaded for calm regardless of what the grand jury decides, spent Saturday as a volunteer, helping distribute Thanksgiving turkeys on the street where his son died.

Source

November 10, 2014

Central bankers seek rule to raise capital cushion

Filed under: Uncategorized, economics — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:28 am

GENEVA (AP) — Thirty of the world’s biggest banks would be required to hold vastly greater capital as a cushion for losses under new rules proposed Monday by a panel of central bankers, regulators and officials.

The new rules put forward by the Basel, Switzerland-based Financial Stability Board were crafted in response to a call from leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Russia in 2013; they would not take effect until 2019 at the earliest. They are meant to prevent a repeat of the 2008 global financial crisis by creating a common international standard for the “total loss-absorbing capacity” of global systemic banks.

The FSB is based at the Bank for International Settlements, a central bank for central banks, and its new rules would apply to the list of 30 “global systemically important banks” that BIS considers too big to fail fast cash now.

The proposal calls on big banks to hold 16 to 20 percent of their risk-weighted assets in equity and cancelable debt and “at least twice” the current leverage ratio under the so-called Basel 3 requirement.

That does not include equity for other buffers that some of the banks must hold, which could result in large lenders holding what the proposal calls “combined capital buffers” of about 21 to 25 percent of the risk-weighted assets.

The next step, the FSB said, is for more study and public input before submitting final rules to G-20 leaders next year.

Source

November 6, 2014

A-B adding ‘Oculto’ tequila flavored beer

Filed under: Uncategorized, legal — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 11:56 pm

In a bid to attract Millennials, Anheuser-Busch will launch a tequila flavored beer next year called Oculto that’s aged on Mexican tequila barrel staves. 

St. Louis-based A-B, the U.S. subsidiary of A-B InBev, said Oculto will make its U.S. debut in Spring 2015. More information about a launch date, marketing campaign and packaging will be announced early next year, a spokesperson said.

Oculto, which means “hidden” or “waiting to be found” in Spanish has 6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The lager infuses beer aged on Mexican tequila barrels with blue agave. 

Source

November 3, 2014

Python missing in southern Ontario town

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

LAKESHORE, ONT.—A one-metre-long python is missing in the southwestern Ontario town of Lakeshore but police say the snake is not dangerous.

Provincial police say the python’s owner was in the process of moving it Sunday afternoon in the town southeast of Windsor when it slithered away.

Despite an extensive search, the owner was unable to find the missing snake payday loan.

Police say people should known that the python is non-venomous and is not known to be aggressive towards humans.

Source

October 30, 2014

WhatsApp founders own nearly $9B in Facebook stock

Filed under: Uncategorized, term — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:24 am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton received 116 million shares of Facebook stock currently worth nearly $9 billion when they sold their mobile messaging service to the social networking leader earlier this month.

The breakdown of the big winners in Facebook Inc.’s $22 billion acquisition emerged Wednesday in a regulatory filing.

Koum, a Ukraine immigrant who was once living on welfare, reaped the biggest jackpot with 76.4 million Facebook shares now worth $5.8 billion. That makes him Facebook’s fourth largest stockholder behind company CEO Mark Zuckerberg and two mutual funds, Fidelity Management and Vanguard.

Acton, who worked with Koum when they were both Yahoo Inc. engineers, owns 39.7 million Facebook shares worth $3 billion.

More than 45 other WhatsApp current and former employees also received Facebook stock.

Source

October 25, 2014

Man killed after attacking rookie cops with hatchet

Filed under: Uncategorized, online ads — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:36 am

NEW YORK—A hatchet-wielding man who charged at four rookie New York City police officers Thursday as they posed for a photograph on a Queens street was shot and killed after he struck one of the officers in the head and another in the arm, William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, said.

Stray police bullets also struck a 29-year-old woman in the lower back as she walked in the rain about half a block away along a normally crowded commercial stretch of Jamaica Avenue just after 2 p.m.

The man, who was not immediately identified by the police and whose motive for the attack remained unclear, died at the scene. The police recovered a blue-handled, 18-inch hatchet, and Bratton displayed a photograph of the weapon at a news conference at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on Thursday evening.

“At this point, no known motive for this attack has been established,” Bratton said.

Kenneth Healey, a 25-year-old recent graduate of the Police Academy, was in critical but stable condition after suffering a “very serious injury to the back side of his head,” Bratton said. The officer struck in the arm, Joseph Meeker, 24, was expected to be released.

The bystander who was struck during the chaotic scene was in stable condition after surgery, also at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, he said.

The burst of violence occurred on the sidewalk in front of a department store where the four uniformed officers were standing on a regularly assigned foot patrol Payday Loan for Bad Credit. A passer-by asked to photograph the officers, Bratton said, and they obliged.

As they did so, standing together, a man in a hooded green rain jacket approached quickly from down the block, pulled a hatchet from his clothes, raised it over his head and, appearing to say nothing, brought it down on the officers with two hands, video released by the police showed.

The man first hit one officer in the arm and, continuing to swing, hit another in the head, Bratton said. A witness to the attack said that blow appeared to be particularly severe. “His head was split open from here to here,” said the witness, Mick Jones, 52, tracing a finger from his forehead to the back of his head. “His hat probably saved his life.”

The two other officers drew their weapons and fired multiple times at the man, killing him, Bratton said.

Standing beside the police commissioner, Mayor Bill de Blasio described the actions of the young officers as “bravery in the face of something absolutely unexpected.” He added, “They responded exactly as their training dictated.”

Bratton said the photographer and the attacker appeared to have no connection. The photographer, he added, has been cooperating with detectives to piece together what occurred, including providing the police with the photos he had taken.

Source

October 18, 2014

As Toronto dithers, Guelph sets sights on 21st century

Filed under: Uncategorized, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 12:40 pm

There is a city in Ontario that is well on its way to reimagining the role of local government. And it’s not Toronto.

Earlier this year I wrote in this space that the Toronto mayoral candidates were missing the point. I argued that the city is on the cusp of profound changes and needed a mayor with vision and an ability to lead.

The networked age provides new opportunities to reinvent our local infrastructure and institutions.

All the Toronto mayoral candidates ignored the advice. So imagine my surprise when an email from Mayor Karen Farbridge of Guelph arrived, saying that her community is actually working hard to implement the transformations I outlined in the article.

I’ve looked into her claims and have concluded that the city’s elected officials, public servants and 120,000 citizens are well on their way to reimagining the role of local government.

So Toronto mayoral candidates please take note. My vision is achievable. Here is what Guelph is doing in seven key areas I outlined in my original article.

1. Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity

I argued that when it comes to jobs, entrepreneurship is key, as close to 80 per cent of new jobs come from companies five years old or less, and technology enables little companies to have the capabilities of big companies.

Innovation Guelph is the Guelph region’s central institution for the support of entrepreneurship. Since launching in 2010, it has coached more that 500 companies and helped channel more than $12 million into client companies.

Guelph’s urban planning includes the development of mixed-use residential and business districts, including the Guelph Innovation District. This envisions a large tract of land close to the city’s core being transformed into a vibrant community that will mix residential and business development.

Guelph is collaborating with entrepreneurs and neighbouring communities to create a unique innovation super-cluster corridor, stretching from Toronto through Guelph to Kitchener-Waterloo. The cities of Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo partnered with financial and technology sectors to create a business case for provincial and federal investment in all-day, two-way GO commuter rail service. Working together, these communities landed a commitment to increased service and two-way GO train service in the 2014 provincial budget.

2. Open Government

Guelph City Council unanimously approved an ambitious open government plan that had been co-produced from the outset with engaged citizens, local business and community stakeholders. Guelph’s vision for open government is a public service that grows into an “open by default” culture matched by citizens who regularly participate in government decision making.

The city is releasing data sets as public assets and has a vision for including data from community partners, such as businesses, educational institutions and agencies.

Here’s fresh thinking: the orientation manual built traditionally for councillors’ orientation has been turned inside out into an online user guide to local government, so that the public has the same information as new councillors.

The city and University of Guelph are in the early stages of launching a Civic Lab to bring design thinking approaches to address difficult issues affecting local communities.

3.Turning Public Safety Inside Out

Policing is moving into a new paradigm, where police focus on engaging citizens rather than delivering services to them. Already one of the safest cities in Canada, Guelph has launched Guelph Enterprise — a model for innovation in human services. The model asserts that cities do not have a policing problem but a marginalized people problem. To maintain safe communities we need more than just great policing — we need strong health care, education and social services working together.

In a few short months since its inception in May 2014, the group has shown this collaborative approach has tremendous opportunity to free up resources and capacity for stretched service providers.

4.Rethinking Transportation

I saw no evidence that Guelph is preparing for intelligent transportation systems and autonomous vehicle systems that are just around the corner.

However, the city council has made affordable, alternative transportation a priority for Guelph’s growth. Guelph’s cycling master plan has nearly doubled the city’s bike lanes over the past six years and is adding bike lanes as part of all road reconstruction. Guelph now has more than 100 lane-kilometres of bike lanes with another 110 kilometres in varying stages of approval. Guelph residents enjoy an additional 110 kilometres of off-road trails for pedestrians and cyclists.

Transit use is growing. Guelph Central Station was built in downtown Guelph to bring together Guelph Transit, GO trains and buses, VIA Rail and Greyhound buses. Guelph also introduced an affordable bus pass program.

5. Creating a Sustainable City

Amazingly, Guelph is building North America’s first city-wide district energy network.

The Community Energy Initiative is a kind of central heating and cooling system to serve industrial, commercial and residential buildings across the city. The system is designed to draw energy from multiple sources: solar, geothermal, biogas, waste heat and traditional fuels.

Since 2006, Guelph’s population has increased by 10 per cent while greenhouse gas emissions per capita have declined 10 to 15 per cent.

Since 2006, water conservation efforts have reduced average daily water production by 6.1 million litres per day. The average Guelph resident uses 20 per cent less water than the average Ontario resident.

According to Waste Diversion Ontario,Guelph’s innovative organic waste processing plant has led to the highest residential diversion rate of any municipality in Ontario.

The Guelph processing plant was built with additional capacity to be able to receive organic waste from neighbouring municipalities to subsidize the cost paid by Guelph taxpayers for the service.

6. Transforming Social Services

The digital revolution enables cities to better integrate social services, reducing cost and improving value.

Over the years, Guelph social services have decried the “business as usual” siloed approach to delivering public services. Recently, the city formalized this community philosophy with the creation of Guelph Wellbeing. Guelph used the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, developed at the University of Waterloo and rarely used at the city level, to survey residents to assess overall well-being.

The Guelph Wellbeing Leadership Group was formed to champion the initiative and includes 22 community leaders from different sectors, agencies and stakeholders within the city. They agreed to work together using shared performance indicators to tackle tough issues such as of affordable housing, social and physical connectivity, and food security. Instead of duplicating efforts and wasting tax dollars, they are pooling resources inside and outside government to find solutions.

7. Reinventing Local Democracy

Leaders in Guelph, whether at the city or university or in business, social services and community groups, have big ambitions. Events like Hackathons, Health Jams and Change Camps demonstrate a community approach to redefining the relationship between citizens and their local government. If successfully implemented, the open government and Guelph Wellbeing initiatives can go a long way to building trust among community stakeholders, to redefining the role of citizen and government.

Through its work in environmental sustainability, Guelph has demonstrated that cities can innovate. Through its fresh approach to problem-solving and open-government principles, Guelph is challenging the traditional industrial-age approach to local government and democracy. Shared ownership, decentralized decision-making, community engagement have the potential to shift the relationship from “us vs. them” to “we’re in this together.”

I travel the world speaking with and advising government and business leaders. Few communities demonstrate the ambition and discipline of Guelph. And I see no reason why the initiatives in a community of 120,000 can’t be replicated in a city the size of Toronto.

Oh: and to reiterate a final note to Toronto candidates. “Please stop calling me a taxpayer, dammit! I’m a citizen. And I want to live in a 21st century city! Which of you has a vision and plan to get us there?”

Source

October 3, 2014

Surge of hiring cuts US jobless rate to 5.9 pct.

Filed under: Uncategorized, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 10:16 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a burst of hiring, U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September and helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008.

The Labor Department’s report Friday also showed that employers added a combined 69,000 more jobs in July and August than the government had previously estimated.

The unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent in August and is now close to 5.5 percent, which many economists consider a healthy level for the United States. The lower rate, combined with the surge in hiring, will intensify debate within the Federal Reserve on whether to raise its benchmark interest rate earlier than expected. Most economists have predicted that the Fed would start raising rates in mid-2015.

The Fed might now feel heightened pressure to raise rates to prevent a strengthening economy from igniting inflation. On the other hand, inflation remains so low — even lower than the Fed’s 2 percent target rate — that it might decide to maintain ultra-low rates well into next year to try to further strengthen the economy. The Fed’s low-rate polices have helped keep borrowing rates low for consumers and businesses.

Average hourly wages didn’t budge last month, a surprising trend in light of the healthy job growth. Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for the consulting firm McGladrey LLP, suggested that more jobs in better-paying industries haven’t yet translated into higher pay because employers still have so many applicants to choose from.

“Policymakers will certainly be worried by the lack of wage growth,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit. “Without substantially higher wage growth, the fear is that households will pull back on consumption if interest rates and borrowing costs start rising, snuffling out the wider economic recovery.”

September’s robust hiring eased fears that a tepid job gain in August might have signaled the start of a slowdown. But the 142,000 gain that was initially reported for August was revised up Friday to 180,000. In addition, July’s job gain was upgraded from 212,000 to 243,000.

Stock prices jumped after the release of the jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 119 points in late-morning trading.

The job gains for September were broad-based and included many higher-paying industries. Professional and business services, which includes engineers, accountants and architects, added 81,000 jobs, the most in seven months. Construction companies added 16,000 jobs, manufacturing 4,000.

Government jobs, which usually pay solid wages, rose 12,000, the most in five months. Retailers added 35,000 jobs and hotels and restaurants 23,000.

The average work week rose for the first time in six months, to 34.6 hours from 34.5 in August. Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS, predicted that employers won’t be able to increase that figure much and will likely instead have to step up hiring no teletrack payday loan.

The average hourly wage, though, dipped a penny to $24.53. In the past year, the average has increased just 2 percent. That’s scarcely higher than inflation, which rose 1.7 percent in the past year. In a healthy economy, wages usually rise 3.5 percent to 4 percent a year.

Typically, a falling unemployment rate signals a likely increase in wages. The main reason is that employers have to pay more to attract the workers they need. Some Fed members have already warned that the unemployment rate is low enough to spur higher inflation.

But Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said she is tracking many other gauges besides the unemployment rate, most of which still show scars from the Great Recession. For example, there were 7.1 million people working part-time jobs last month even though they want full-time work. That figure is up from just 4.6 million before the recession.

From the Fed’s perspective, Coffin said the sluggish wage growth and tame inflation may offset solid job growth and low unemployment rate. That could keep the Fed on schedule to wait until the middle of next year to increase rates.

There are still signs of job market weakness in the other measures Yellen tracks: Among the 9.3 million unemployed, 3 million have been out of work for more than six months. That figure has declined in the past three years but is still more than twice its precession proportion.

And a broader measure of unemployment that includes part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs, as well as those who have stopped searching, is 11.8 percent. Still, that’s down from 12 percent in August and 13.6 percent a year ago.

The improved job growth comes after President Barack Obama touted his administration’s economic achievements in a speech Thursday. The economy is the top issue in voters’ minds as the November elections near.

The number of unemployed fell in September by 329,000. Most of them found jobs. But nearly 100,000 stopped looking for work. Their exodus lowered the percentage of Americans working or looking for work to 62.7 percent, the lowest proportion since February 1978.

September’s job gain means more Americans are earning paychecks and can spend more. The annual pace of economic growth is expected to remain above 3 percent for the rest of the year. Business investment is picking up, and consumer spending is growing at a steady if modest pace.

___

AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman contributed to this report.

Source

September 29, 2014

New Zealand dollar sinks after central bank sells

Filed under: Uncategorized, business — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:16 am

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The New Zealand dollar sank Monday after the central bank disclosed it conducted its biggest sell-off of the currency in seven years to lower an exchange rate that is squeezing exporters.

Data released by the Reserve Bank showed it sold 521 million New Zealand dollars ($410 million) during August. That came after the central bank governor, Graeme Wheeler, said the currency was too strong.

The disclosure pushed the currency known as the Kiwi down nearly 2 percent against the U.S. dollar to its lowest level in over a year before it recovered slightly to trade at $0.78. The currency has dropped 12 percent since July, when the central bank announced it was suspending its program of interest rate hikes.

The bank had earlier been the first among developed nations this year to begin hiking interest rates. It raised the benchmark rate four times to 3.5 percent as it tried to cool the economy, which had been growing at a relatively fast clip of 4 percent.

Even as rates were rising, farmers who play a key role in the economy were facing tougher times personal loans for people with bad credit. Wholesale dairy prices have fallen by more than 40 percent since February, prompting dairy giant Fonterra to last week announce a big cut in projected payouts to farmers over coming months.

Those farmers will be hoping for a boost from the central bank’s actions as a weaker dollar makes New Zealand exports more attractive abroad.

Wheeler has repeatedly said he believes the Kiwi is too high. He went further last week by releasing a statement saying conditions would justify intervention.

“The exchange rate has yet to adjust materially to the lower commodity prices,” he said. “Its current level remains unjustified and unsustainable. We expect a further significant depreciation, which should be reinforced as monetary policy in the U.S. begins to normalize.”

Source

September 27, 2014

The Syrian Civil War has destroyed a family’s past

Filed under: Uncategorized, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 10:28 am

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