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October 23, 2014

Gauge of US economy posts solid 0.8 percent gain

Filed under: loans, management — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 10:44 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — A gauge designed to predict the economy’s future health posted a solid increase in September after no gain in the previous month.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.8 percent last month following a flat reading in August which originally had been reported as a small 0.2 percent gain.

Economists expect that continuing strong gains in employment should boost incomes and help support solid economic growth in the United States in coming quarters despite a weaker outlook overseas payday lenders.

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October 21, 2014

LMI to supply parts for new Gulfstream business jets

Filed under: canada, legal — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:48 pm

LMI Aerospace has received contracts to supply bonded fuselage panels and other parts for the Gulfstream’s new business jets, the G500 and the G600.

The multiyear contracts “are expected to yield significant revenue,” the the St. Charles-based maker of aircraft parts announced Monday.

“LMI has a long and productive history with Gulfstream. We are excited to have another opportunity to work with such a valued customer on this new and innovative program,” said LMI Chief Executive Officer Dan Korte. “This program is a unique fit with our capabilities and level of expertise in the aerostructures market.”

Savannah, Ga.-based Gulfstream Aerospace Corp easy pay day loans., a unit of General Dynamics, formally announced last week these two jets, which can carry up to 19 passengers. The first flight of the G500 is scheduled for 2015, with deliveries in 2018, while the G600’s first flight could come as early as 2017, with expected deliveries in 2019, according to Gulfstream.

To accommodate the new work, LMI will add 60,000 square feet to its Tulsa, Okla., plant, and make capital improvements at Visa, Calif., facility.

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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?”

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October 13, 2014

$20 Billion Property Trusts in India Delayed by Tax Rules - Bloomberg

Filed under: business, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 8:52 pm

The Indian government has announced rules for setting up real estate investment trusts, vehicles that may spur $20 billion of property development. None of the money will be spent unless the country

October 10, 2014

German downturn casts shadow over world economy

Filed under: canada, term — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:44 pm

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — As if the global economy didn’t have enough troubles, it looks like Germany, Europe’s traditional growth engine, risks falling into recession — or growth so weak it holds back the entire euro currency union’s weak recovery.

Europe’s largest economy has seen a run of lousy numbers for factory orders, industrial production, exports and business confidence. All that’s bad news because exporting industrial goods such as machines and cars is the heart of Germany’s globally linked economy.

And if Germany isn’t selling goods, it suggests other parts of the world’s economy are not strong enough to keep buying them.

Global stock markets tumbled this week, in part due to the German figures, with the U.S. logging its worst day of the year on Thursday. Germany’s DAX blue chip index was down a painful 2 percent on Friday.

But are things in Germany all that bad? Economists are debating whether it’s really time to use the R-word and predict a shallow recession. That would be another quarter of negative output in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, following shrinkage of 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

Here are the key issues.

AS GERMANY GOES: So does Europe, in many ways. Strong business activity in Germany has made the overall growth figure for the 18 countries that use the euro look a lot better in the past few years. And Europe showed zero growth in the second quarter. Germany is 28 percent of European GDP. And the value chain for companies in other countries often runs through Germany. Suppliers in Italy or France, for example, sell chemicals, coatings or parts to a Germany company that assembles the final factory machine or car.

GLOBALLY SPEAKING: A renewed slump, or long-term stagnation in Europe is a risk for the global economy as a whole. That’s one reason why International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde keeps urging more stimulus for the region. The European Union, of which Germany is the biggest economy, is the world’s largest economy and trading bloc. It’s a key export market for many firms in the U.S., and a source of investment capital, big-ticket goods and technology for China. In particular, U.S. auto firms such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, through its Opel subsidiary, have struggled through a long slump in consumer demand for cars in Europe.

STIMULUS NEEDED: Things in Europe are so worrisome that the European Central Bank is launching more stimulus measures. It cut its interest rate to near zero and is preparing to purchase bundles of bank loans to encourage more lending. Yet even bank President Mario Draghi has warned that the stimulus will not be effective unless several eurozone governments act to make their economies more business-friendly fast payday loan no faxing. France and Italy are often mentioned as countries that could make labor rules more flexible to encourage hiring and investment. But progress is slow.

THE PUTIN EFFECT: Germany makes what economists call investment goods — big-ticket items like printing presses, heavy trucks, or industrial lasers that companies use to make other goods. Uncertainty makes businesses and consumers hesitate, because they can always put off such purchases until things look a little clearer. That’s the effect of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has resulted in the EU and the U.S. imposing economic sanctions on Moscow. Business in the Middle East has also been dented by military conflict in Syria and Iraq.

IN THE BLACK: Some say Germany can help right its economy by spending more. It has good public finances, after all. But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has focused on balancing the budget, even as her governing partners, the Social Democrats, have called for more investment spending to fix roads and bridges. Germany can borrow money for essentially zero interest on bond markets; even its longer 10-year bonds yield an astonishingly low 0.91 percent annually, compared with 2.31 percent for U.S. 10-year Treasuries.

But Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has made it clear the government’s in no mood to increase borrowing.

DON’T PANIC: Andreas Rees, chief Germany economist at Unicredit, says he’s “not in the doomsday camp” predicting a recession. He points out that the German economy has several “airbags” to cushion the bumps and help growth resume. Those include low unemployment of only 4.9 percent, which supports consumer demand from Germany’s large domestic market. A weaker euro — which has dropped to $1.26 from $1.39 in May — should help exporters in coming months. And growth in the U.S. economy should provide more demand for German exports.

In particular, Rees points to a calendar effect that made the latest figures industrial production and exports look particularly bad. Summer vacations were bunched up in August, shutting auto plants at the same time.

LOOKING FORWARD: Rees says the next reading of the Ifo institute’s business confidence survey — a closely watched indicator of where the economy may be going in the months ahead — will be a key indicator of how things are developing. It’s out Oct. 27.

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October 9, 2014

Canada braces for EU free trade deal dispute with Germany

Filed under: mortgage, online ads — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 12:04 am

Canada is bracing for a dispute with Germany over whether its newly agreed free trade pact with the European Union should be reopened to erase arbitration clauses.

The final text of the accord, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, was sealed Sept. 30, after five years of negotiations. Germany’s late call to question dispute settlement clauses has left Canadians puzzled, Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, said Wednesday in Berlin.

Canada wants the rules embedded in the free trade accord “to stay in,” before the pact’s ratification, said Verheul in an interview in Germany’s lower house of parliament, where he was due to “explain Canada’s position.” Legal regress clauses that are outlined in the CETA agreement mark “considerable improvements on flawed arrangements of the past,” he said.

Related:

New German objections threaten Canada-EU trade deal

Stephen Harper plays down German concerns about Canada-EU trade deal

CETA a much-announced trade pact of dubious value: Walkom

The incoming EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstroem, is lining up with Canada to defend investment protection in CETA, while German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, is adamant he’ll seek support for removal of the clauses before planned ratification of the accord next year.

Reopening the agreement means it “risks falling apart,” Malmstroem has said.

Wrangling over arbitration rules belies a surge in popular misgivings in Germany over the outcome of efforts to clinch an EU-U.S. trade accord, for which CETA has been perceived as a model.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who champions free trade with Group of Eight partners, is faced with divisions in her own coalition over arbitration rules as well as wider concerns among the general public.

Gabriel, in comments made on Sept. 25, blamed the European Commission for agreeing to the CETA clauses in 2011, and said Germany must “urgently” work with its EU partners to have the legal facility removed as domestic laws are adequate to address investor disputes.

Merkel has touted free trade deals with North America as a “mini-stimulus program” that would create thousands of jobs. That tallies with the hopes of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who hopes CETA will create 80,000 jobs.

CETA promises to abolish as much as 98 per cent of customs duties between Canada and the 28-nation EU trade bloc.

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October 5, 2014

Man rushed to hospital being shot twice near Weston Rd. and St. Clair Ave. W.

Filed under: business, loans — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 4:56 pm

A shooting near Weston Rd. and Rogers Rd., has left one man with life-threatening injuries.

Toronto Paramedics said they received a call at 5:48 a.m. about a possible shooting.

A man in his 40s was rushed to hospital with several gunshot wounds, including one to his torso that paramedics called “very serious.”

Toronto Police are investigating.

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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 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.

Source

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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