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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.

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November 20, 2014

Minivans do poorly in new crash tests

Filed under: business, marketing — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 3:04 am

DETROIT (AP) — The Honda Odyssey was the only minivan to earn the highest safety rating in new crash tests by the insurance industry.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Caravan all garnered the lowest rating on the small overlap front crash test. In each of those tests, the crash caused the minivan’s structure to collapse.

The small overlap test is a severe test that replicates what happens when a vehicle’s front corner collides with another object at 40 miles per hour.

The Toyota Sienna earned an “acceptable” rating. The group said its structure was weak but the dummy was protected by its side air bags.

IIHS plans to test one other minivan — the Kia Sedona — in the coming weeks.

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November 18, 2014

TransCanada pressuring opponents of Energy East pipeline, documents show

Filed under: business, economics — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 8:20 am

TransCanada Corp. plans to browbeat detractors of its ambitious Energy East pipeline with intense pressure so that they are distracted and forced to redirect their resources, according to documents obtained and released by Greenpeace on Tuesday.

These documents — dozens of pages — also describe the company’s public relations strategy, which includes detailed background research into environmental agencies that are opposing the pipeline and hiring “third parties” who will be able to do things when TransCanada cannot.

The documents also mention a meticulous “grassroots advocacy” campaign — TransCanada has already launched one.

Environmental agencies such as the David Suzuki Foundation, Equiterre, Avaaz, Ecology Ottawa and the Council for Canadians are specifically named in these documents.

TransCanada filed its Energy East application with the National Energy Board two weeks ago. These documents were prepared by Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, between May and August.

But Shawn Howard, a spokesperson for TransCanada, said the documents provided by Greenpeace contain recommendations and not all have been implemented.

The company has focused on ensuring that communities, landowners, First Nations and all Canadians “have the facts to make an informed decision about Energy East. Part of that includes ensuring that we understand what organized opponents are saying about our project.”

On its advocacy program, Howard said over 2,500 people joined it in two weeks and “nearly 100 have shared their personal stories … We’ve been open and transparent about all of these programs since they launched and will continue to do so.”

TransCanada is clearly worried about the growing opposition to the Energy East pipeline, said Stewart, the climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “These documents show that TransCanada is planning a secret dirty tricks campaign, using third parties to attack and smear their critics.”

TransCanada’s plan to hire “third parties” smacks of smear campaigns, he said. “That is what we are reading it as. That is what the experience has been in the U.S. … people who run smear campaigns are co-ordinated (by a company) but can disavow them if caught.”

Energy East, longer and larger than Keystone XL, has already seen opposition in parts of Quebec, including in Cacouna, a port town pegged as one of two export terminal sites for the pipeline project personal loan for poor credit.

In Ontario, the city of North Bay has been most vocal in its opposition.

TransCanada wants to convert its 40-year-old natural gas pipeline from Saskatchewan to Ontario to carry crude oil and to connect it with a new pipeline it plans to construct through Quebec and on to export terminals and refineries in New Brunswick. The 4,600-kilometre pipeline would run through six provinces and four time zones, carrying up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil every day. Tankers would carry the oil to Europe, India, China and the U.S.

The project will include construction of oil terminals in Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick.

TransCanada is still waiting for a final decision on Keystone XL, its better-known pipeline project, but Energy East is just as important to the company.

The company “is bringing in tea party tactics, the advertising has been crazy and yet opposition is growing,” said Andrea Harden-Donahue of Council of Canadians.

On being specifically named in the internal documents, she said everything about the Council of Canadians is on the website. “We could save them millions of dollars … we have nothing to hide.”

Quebec, expected to pose the most serious challenge to the pipeline, figures prominently in the leaked documents. A 46-page document titled “Strategic Plan: Quebec” highlights specific communities, organizations and community leaders that TransCanada says pose challenges for the pipeline project.

It also includes a “tactics to pressure” component.

One paragraph says: “In order to add layers of difficulty for opponents, we will work with third parties and arm them with information they need to pressure opponents and distract them from their mission.”

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November 16, 2014

Australia-China Trade Deal to Drive Exports Beyond Mining - Bloomberg

Filed under: mortgage, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:40 pm

Australia will reach a free trade deal with China today, cementing ties with its biggest economic partner and reducing the nation

November 11, 2014

Yuan Strength Seen as Message to Obama as Talks Loom: Currencies - Bloomberg

Filed under: legal, term — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:52 pm

China is using the yuan to make the case that it

November 5, 2014

What the U.S. election results mean for Canada

Filed under: loans, online ads — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 11:24 am

WASHINGTON—It didn’t take the Canadian government long to note the far-reaching policy implications of the Republican wave in Tuesday’s midterm U.S. elections.

More on thestar.com

Republicans seize balance of power in U.S. midterms

It swept the party to power in both chambers of Congress. And it carried into state races, where Republicans were flirting with an 82-year-old party record for most governorships. And it left President Barack Obama wobbling with the unwanted distinction of most seats lost throughout a presidency since the Second World War.

But, as Jason Kenney noted, it also held potential implications for the Canadian economy — having, just maybe, created the winning conditions for a certain long-delayed oil pipeline.

“Good news for Canadian jobs & economy,” the employment minister tweeted. “It looks like the new US Senate will have the 60+ votes needed to ensure that Keystone XL is approved.”

He could be right.

The impact on Keystone XL is just one of countless results after Americans voted in thousands of races — for one-third of the 100-seat federal Senate; for all 435 House members; 36 state governors; 6,000 state legislators; in 147 referendums; and in municipal contests across the country.

Here are some of those implications:

•Before the vote: Republicans controlled one chamber in Congress, Democrats the other. Bills got stuck, because one chamber would block the other, and the U.S. Congress experienced its least productive period in generations as even routine items became swamped in partisan spite.

•And now: Republicans control both chambers for the first time in eight years. They have enough votes to pass bills — as long as Obama approves. They didn’t get the two-thirds congressional majority they’d need to override a presidential veto.

•What the Senate does: It does more than pass laws, like the House of Representatives. It also holds great power to approve or reject the judges, cabinet members, political staff, and diplomats that the White House appoints.

•How will Republicans use this new power? That’s the big question. The party is torn. Its more conservative faction will want to beat up on the president, attack his cherished health-care bill, gut the Environmental Protection Agency, and launch congressional investigations into every scandal of the last six years. If so, these may be ugly and unproductive times.

•What about Obama? He also sets the tone. He’s expected to make public remarks Wednesday, and has apparently invited the new Senate leaders for a meeting Friday. Obama will need Republican support to make political appointments — let alone to pass legislation. The president can still issue executive orders to federal agencies. Anonymous White House officials have been quoted in news reports sounding defiant, suggesting they plan to fight the new Congress.

•Could things get done? Absolutely. And Canadian interests, ironically, are linked to the most often-cited areas of potential compromise between the Republicans and the president for his remaining time in office: the oil pipeline, a free-trade deal, tax reform, and perhaps even an immigration package.

•What’s this about Canada?

Keystone XL: Republicans have signalled, loudly, that a top priority will be pushing Obama to approve the pipeline Payday advance.

Free trade: They’ll probably even give him fast-track authority to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with 12 countries, including Canada — something the Democrats did not do, divided as they were on free trade; Canada has been waiting, reluctant to conclude trade negotiations until Obama gets fast-track from Congress. Tax reform, inspired in part by Timmies: Calls for reform spread like wildfire this summer after news of Burger King moving to Canada in a merger with Tim Hortons, and there’s support for it within both parties.

Immigration: There’s a provision in an omnibus bill that passed the Senate that would have extended the maximum annual U.S. stay for snowbirds. If Republican leaders are willing to withstand the backlash from their base — and that, in itself, may be the biggest “If” in American politics these next two years — that bill could potentially clear both chambers.

•The big battle, bubbling below the surface: A struggle could erupt at any moment over the Supreme Court. Half its judges are older than 75. Their successors could settle some of the biggest issues in American democratic life, with liberals and conservatives eager to revisit lost fights over abortion, gun control, corporate political financing and voter ID laws. If any vacancies open up these next two years, look out. There’s already speculation Obama might rather leave a seat empty until the 2016 election, in hope that a president Hillary Clinton gets to present her nominee to a Democratic-controlled Senate.

•History: Presidents almost always lose seats in midterm elections. But Obama has lost more congressional seats in midterms than any since the Second World War. Here’s how bad things got: A Republican from New York who faces 20 criminal charges, and was heard on camera threatening to throw a guy off a balcony, and was shunned by his own party during the campaign, won his House seat.

•Why such a big wave? Partly, because this year’s electoral map stunk for Democrats. Obama’s approval levels are mediocre nationally, at just over 40 per cent; but they’re especially low in the swing states that were up for re-election in the 2014 cycle, in more rural states like Kentucky, Arkansas and North Dakota. To complete the perfect storm for Democrats, those seats were up for grabs in a non-presidential election year — when the electorate is older, whiter, and more conservative. The roles could be reversed in 2016 — when Republicans will be defending seats in more liberal states, and the presidential-year election demographics will likely be younger, more multicultural and more Democratic.

•Referendums: Liberal ideas actually made some gains. Oregon and Washington, D.C., voted to follow Colorado and Washington State with marijuana-legalization measures. Ballot measures to increase the minimum wage passed in different states. Background checks for gun purchases passed easily in Washington State. Anti-abortion measures failed in two of three states, although voters in Tennessee gave their state legislature approval to pass measures stifling abortion access.

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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.

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October 31, 2014

Gas falling under $3 nationwide: What to know

Filed under: management, online — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:20 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The sight is so surprising that Americans are sharing photos of it, along with all those cute Halloween costumes, sweeping vistas and special meals: The gas station sign, with a price under $3 a gallon.

“It’s stunning what’s happening here,” says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. “I’m a little bit shocked.”

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 33 cents in October, landing Friday at $3.00, according to AAA. Kloza said the average will fall under $3 by early Saturday morning for the first time in four years.

When the national average crossed above $3 a gallon in December of 2010, drivers weren’t sure they’d ever see $2.99 again. Global demand for oil and gasoline was rising as people in developing countries bought cars by the tens of millions and turmoil was brewing in the oil-rich Middle East.

Now demand isn’t rising as fast as expected, drillers have learned to tap vast new sources of oil, particularly in the U.S., and crude continues to flow out of the Middle East.

Seasonal swings and other factors will likely send gas back over $3 sooner than drivers would like, but the U.S. is on track for the lowest annual average since 2010 — and the 2015 average is expected to be lower even still.

Trisha Pena of Hermitage, Tennessee, recently paid $2.57 a gallon to fill up her Honda CRV. Like many around the country these days, she was so surprised and delighted by the price she took a photo and posted it on social media for her friends to see. “I can’t remember the last time it cost under $30 to put 10 or 11 gallons in my tank,” she said in an interview. “A month ago it was in the $3.50 range, and that’s where it had been for a very long time.”

Here are a few things to know about cheap gas:

— Crude prices came off the boil. Oil fell from $107 a barrel in June to near $81 because there’s a lot of supply and weak demand. U.S. output has increased 70 percent since 2008, and supplies from Iraq and Canada have also increased. At the same time, demand is weaker than expected because of a sluggish global economy fast cash advance loan.

— In the past, a stronger economy in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of oil and gasoline, typically meant rising fuel demand. No longer. Americans are driving more efficient vehicles and our driving habits are changing. Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute calculates that the number of miles travelled per household and gallons of fuel consumed per household peaked in 2004.

— The drop from last year’s average of $3.51 per gallon will save the typical U.S. household about $50 a month.

— The drop will save the U.S. economy $187 million a day, and also boost the profits of shippers, airlines, and any company that sends employees out on sales calls or for deliveries.

— It will take an extra 1.5 years to make purchasing a higher-priced, better-mileage Toyota Prius instead of a Toyota Corolla pay off.

— New York’s average of $3.37 is the highest in the continental U.S. South Carolina and Tennessee are the lowest, with an average of $2.75.

— Politicians are either going to take the credit for lower gasoline prices or blame the other party for not helping them fall further. Don’t listen. There are small things politicians can do over long time horizons, like implement fuel economy standards or ease drilling regulations, but the decline in prices is mainly due to market forces.

— Gasoline is cheaper than milk again. In September the national average price of milk was $3.73 per gallon. The annual average for milk is on track to be more expensive than the annual average for gasoline for the first time since 2011. The gap is even bigger for some bottled water lovers. A case of a dozen 1.5 liter bottles of Evian on Amazon.com costs $38.99, which makes for a price per gallon of $8.20.

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October 26, 2014

Indonesia

Filed under: finance, marketing — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 8:16 pm

Indonesian President Joko Widodo turned to members of previous governments and executives from state-owned companies as he named his new cabinet, promoting Bambang Brodjonegoro to finance minister.

Brodjonegoro, who was the deputy finance minister for the last government, joins Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs Sofyan Djalil, a former state-owned enterprises minister, in the top posts to run Southeast Asia

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.

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