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BERLIN • Workers at Amazon.com in Germany have extended a strike in a long-running wage dispute into a third day and targeted a fifth distribution center.
The ver.di union called workers at facilities in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld, Graben and Rheinberg out on a two-day strike Monday. It then extended that by a day and on Wednesday added a center in the western town of Werne to the walkouts.
Amazon employs some 9,000 people in total at nine sites in Germany.
For more than a year, the union has been pushing for higher pay, arguing that Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs.
Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and employees already earn relatively high wages for that industry.
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The gravest threat facing Canada and the world today is not terrorism.
Nor is it Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The gravest threat is a deadly virus known as Ebola. It is leapfrogging across West Africa at an accelerating rate.
It has killed almost 2,500 and is expected to kill thousands more.
Left unchecked, it is only a matter of time until the virus reaches North America. Given the incubation period of the disease, a traveller suffering from Ebola could pass through Canadian airport border controls without being aware he was infected and without showing any symptoms.
The World Health Organization says that up to 90 per cent of those who contract the disease will die.
The Americans have belatedly come to understand the seriousness of this epidemic. They have beefed up aid to West African nations such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Even cash-strapped Cuba is sending 165 medical workers to West Africa to help stop the epidemic before it crosses the Atlantic.
Yet Canada’s government treats this outbreak as a problem that has little to do with us.
“This is a major epidemic in that part of the world and we are concerned about it,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in July, in one of his rare comments on Ebola.
The United Nations says that $1 billion is required to bring the disease to heel in West Africa.
U.S. President Barack Obama has come up with $175 million and wants his country’s Congress to provide $88 million more.
On top of this, he is dispatching 3,000 troops to build treatment centres in West Africa. The Pentagon estimates that its role in the fight against Ebola will cost $500 million.
Canada, by comparison, is taking the cheapskate’s route.
Some research on an Ebola vaccine has been done by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The agency is also operating a small diagnostic lab in Sierra Leone.
But in total, Ottawa has so far committed only $7.5 million to fight Ebola on the ground.
That figure includes $2.5 million worth of supplies, such as rubber gloves, that the federal government already had in stock.
In the Commons Monday, opposition MPs asked why the government has not mobilized its military Disaster Assistance Response Team to West Africa.
They received no answer.
If the government were equally stingy in other areas of foreign affairs, its tepid response to Ebola might make sense.
But it is not. Ottawa has pledged $15 million to Iraq to help that country fight Islamic State militants. That alone is double what the federal government is spending on Ebola.
The federal government has also dispatched two Royal Canadian Air Force cargo planes to Iraq to shuttle weapons as well as “dozens” of military advisers.
The cost of this military component has not been made public.
Iraq is not the only conflict zone that attracts Canadian government money.
As part of its effort to contain Putin’s Russia, Ottawa is providing next-door Ukraine with non-lethal military aid (cost unknown).
Harper’s government has also promised Ukraine $220 million in economic aid to help it reduce its dependence on Russia.
On Wednesday, the prime minister vowed that Canada would support Ukraine in its efforts against Russia even if the struggle took 50 years.
But then funding conflict never seems to be a problem for politicians. As long as they are seen to be countering a recognizable human villain, money is always available.
In 2011, the federal government spent $104 million to take part in NATO’s air war against Libya’s eccentric but brutal dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.
Hotel bills alone cost Canada $11.5 million in that war, which left Libya in chaos.
The 12-year-long Afghan War against Taliban “scumbags” is estimated to have cost Canada somewhere between $14 billion and $18 billion.
To put that figure in context, the amount that Canada spent in just one year of that pointless war would be more than enough, by UN reckoning, to solve the entire Ebola crisis.
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.
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.
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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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.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills were unchanged in Monday’s auction with both the three-month and six-month bills going for the same rates as the previous week.
The Treasury Department auctioned $29 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.030 percent, matching last week’s rate. Another $24 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.050 percent, also unchanged from last week.
The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,999.23 while a six-month bill sold for $9,997.47. That would equal an annualized rate of 0.030 percent for the three-month bills and 0.051 percent for the six-month bills.
Separately, the Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, edged up to 0.11 percent last week from 0.10 percent the previous week.
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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