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September 17, 2014

Ebola, not Putin or terrorism, is the real threat: Walkom

Filed under: online ads, term — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:24 pm

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.

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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 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

September 3, 2014

Millennials

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

Success stories like Trevor Lynn

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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August 26, 2014

US Treasury bill rates unchanged at weekly auction

Filed under: legal, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:04 am

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.

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August 22, 2014

Obama offers new accommodations on birth control

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

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

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

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

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August 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 14, 2014

Sagging European economies crimp stock markets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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