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October 28, 2014

John Tory’s first big challenge: uniting Toronto council

Filed under: finance, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:39 pm

“Torontonians want to see an end to the division that has paralyzed city hall the last few years,” mayor-elect John Tory declared Monday night. “And to all of that, I say: Toronto, I hear you — I hear you loud and clear.”

Heeding the Rob Ford lesson — that a healthy mandate can turn to dust if you lose support of the 44-member council — Toronto’s new leader continued: “You want results, and together with the city council we will deliver.”

Tory has a list of councillors’ phone numbers and, on Tuesday morning, will start dialing, with a goal of talking to all of them by the end of the week, Tory campaign adviser Nick Kouvalis said after the results were announced.

“John has a strong mandate — he’s going to have a working (council) majority much bigger than (Rob) Ford did,” because he will work to build consensus across council’s left, centre and right, Kouvalis added.

There are battles ahead. Many councillors oppose the SmartTrack transit expansion plan — the centrepiece of Tory’s campaign — and think it foolhardy to even consider expanding private garbage collection east of Yonge St. The proposed expansion of the island airport, on which Tory has yet to weigh in, will pit factions against each other.

Tory will need to be seen as having strong council support to get the financial help from Ottawa and Queen’s Park he promised he can deliver.

And there are geographical wounds to heal, as the past four years saw downtown and suburban citizens bang heads on a host of issues.

But several councillors canvassed Monday said they hope that this term ideas will be debated on their merits, without the personal attacks, threats and trench warfare that characterized Rob Ford’s term in office.

Josh Matlow, a prominent centrist re-elected in Ward 22, St. Paul’s, is eager to give Tory a chance at gathering all sides together under a big tent.

“I’ve spoken with a number of colleagues in the last week or two, and we all want a more productive, thoughtful and civil relationship, to make Torontonians proud and focus on our residents’ priorities,” he said.

“John Tory strikes me as a person that, whether we agree or disagree, will focus on the things we agree on and move forward to get things done.”

Joe Mihevc, a leader of council’s left who was re-elected in Ward 21, St. Paul’s, said he is “open to dialogue and discussion” with Tory, the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.

But it will be up to the mayor-elect to quickly signal a new direction.

“I can imagine, within a couple of weeks, work being done on who fills major chairs and major positions” at city hall, Mihevc said Low fee payday loans. “I imagine (Tory’s team) wants to send signals there is real inclusion, and not tokenism.”

The new council faced by Tory, a centre-left conservative, looks like a somewhat more Tory-friendly version of the old council, where centrists held the balance of power.

Of the eight new faces, six ran centre or centre-right campaigns — Stephen Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre), John Campbell (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), Justin Di Ciano (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Christin Carmichael Greb (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence), Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West), and Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough Agincourt).

Tory endorsed Carmichael Creb and Burnside for council, while several of the others endorsed Tory for mayor.

Flanking them on the right are Rob Ford, returning to his pre-mayor position as councillor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North, while he fights cancer, and on the left Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), who last spring ran unsuccessfully for the federal NDP.

Ford, speaking after his brother Doug Ford lost the mayor’s race to Tory, sounded ready to poke holes in the big tent before it’s even erected.

“I’ll continue taking care of every taxpayer in this city. like I always have,” said Ford, who from 2000 to 2010 was a lone wolf on council, howling at what he called wasteful spending.

“I’ll continue to fight. Tory said he’s going to do some things — folks, the first thing I want to see him do is contract-out garbage on the other side of Yonge St., that’s the first thing.” Ford also seemed to commit the family to fighting to regain the mayor’s chair in 2018.

Ryerson University politics professor Myer Siemiatycki thinks Tory might have a tough time delivering on his vow to end the divisions.

The fact that Doug Ford did surprisingly well against him, and that Rob Ford will be on council, means their “Ford Nation” supporters will be emboldened.

Council’s left will look at the solid third-place showing of their standard-bearer, Olivia Chow, as proof that her progressive ideas have support.

“I think it’s going to be a real challenge for Tory,” Siemiatycki said. “Rob Ford had a big plurality (of votes) and John Tory does not.

“Tory doesn’t go into it with as many cards and a mandate as he may have wished. It will be a test of his ability to bring those groups together.

“I think he probably wishes he had more of a commanding win.”


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October 25, 2014

Shooter dead after attack at high school near Seattle, police say

Filed under: finance, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 6:47 am

MARYSVILLE, WASH.—Police in Washington state say a shooter is dead after an attack at a high school north of Seattle.

Marysville Police commander Robb Lamoureux said Friday the shooter was a student and could not say if anyone else was wounded.

Live video showed students being evacuated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, about 50 kilometres north of Seattle.

Arthur White, who lives across from the school, told The Daily Herald that a large number of police vehicles converged on the scene quickly late Friday morning low rates payday advance.

Ayn Dietrich, an FBI spokesperson in Seattle, said the agency had personnel on their way to the scene to help authorities with the investigation.


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October 13, 2014

McDonald’s invites food questions, including why its burgers don’t rot

Filed under: finance, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 10:07 pm

NEW YORK • McDonald’s wants to explain why its burgers may not rot and that there are no worms in its beef.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain is confronting unappetizing questions as part of a U.S. campaign to beat back perceptions that it serves Frankenfood. The company has run similar campaigns in Canada and Australia and said Monday it’s bringing the effort to its flagship market.

The push comes as McDonald’s fights to boost its performance in the U.S., where sales slid 1.5 percent at established locations in the most recent quarter, following a 0.2 percent dip for last year. In addition to increased competition, McDonald’s is trying to keep up with changing tastes, with places such as Chipotle marketing their food as more wholesome alternatives.

To improve the image of its food, McDonald’s recently rolled out chicken wraps with sliced cucumbers and the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches. It also plans to eventually let people swap out the french fries in value meals with options like salad or vegetables.

For its latest campaign, among the first issues McDonald’s addresses are widely circulated online images and videos that show its burgers staying in tact after several weeks or even years. On its webpage, McDonald’s says that’s likely because the food has dehydrated, and that food needs moisture to form mold.

The company’s responses to other questions such as “Does McDonald’s beef contain worms?” are more direct: “No. Gross! End of story.”

A video posted on the company’s home page also showed Grant Imahara, a former host of the TV show “Mythbusters,” touring a Cargill beef plant where McDonald’s patties are made.

“Are there lips and eyeballs in there, Jimmy?” Imhara asks a plant supervisor, who explains that the patties only have beef trimmings. Another guide says the patties do not contain lean finely textured beef, an ingredient widely referred to as “pink slime” that became the subject of controversy a few years ago. McDonald’s stopped using the ingredient about three years ago.

Ben Stringfellow, vice president of communications for McDonald’s USA, said in a phone interview that the campaign is a new way of engaging with customers more directly. He noted people are demanding for more information about products across the board, not just from McDonald’s.

“In many ways, it’s the way the world is going,” he said.

National TV ads will begin airing Monday letting people know about the push. McDonald’s says people can submit questions via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The company plans to respond to the most common questions with videos or other posts, as well as responding one-on-one to questions, Stringfellow said.

Laura Ries, a marketing consultant based in Atlanta, noted McDonald’s risks bringing up unappetizing thoughts some people may never have heard about.

“I didn’t know people thought there were worms in its beef, or that they didn’t use real chicken,” Ries said.

Still, she agreed that companies have to be more responsive to questions from customers, especially at a time when people can amplify their concerns and criticisms to bigger audiences on social media.


September 29, 2014


Filed under: finance, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:07 am

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August 24, 2014

Rail safety better since Lac-M

Filed under: finance, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:35 pm

MONTREAL—No one who witnessed the devastation of July 6, 2013, in the Quebec town of Lac-M

August 11, 2014

Mayors’ report tracks growing wage gap, but sees St. Louis as ‘balanced’

Filed under: finance, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:43 pm

The income gap between the rich Americans and middle and low-income households continues to widen, according to a new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, released this morning.

From 1975 to 2012, the highest-earning 20 percent of households saw their share of income rise from 43.6 percent to 51 percent, the report finds. Most of this gains was seen among those in the highest 5 percent of income.

In 2012, low-income households saw their share drop to 3.2 percent while the high earners saw their share jump to 51 percent. 

The findings, which echo those by other groups, point to a need for public policy action, the report says.

The report looks at the distribution of income in metropolitan areas. St. Louis emerged as one of the most-balanced of large metros — with a nearly equal number of households earning less than $35,000 a year as households earning more than $75,000.

Median income in the St. Louis area was about $53,000 a year in 2013 — 96th in the nation. It’s projected to grow to $60,000 in 2017, an annual rate of 3.1 percent.

Other large metros with “a very equal distribution,” according to the report: Phoenix, Riverside, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Providence.

The Washington, D.C. area had the highest percentage of households earnings more than $75,000 (57.5 percent) and the lowest percentage of those making less than $35,000 (17 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas had the highest percentage of low-income households (55.1 percent) and the second-lowest percentage of those making more than $75,000 (16.5 percent)


July 21, 2014

World stocks weak as pressure on Russia grows

Filed under: finance, loans — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 2:08 pm

BEIJING (AP) — World stock markets remained on the back foot Monday as tensions grew between Russia and the West over the downing of an airliner in eastern Ukraine.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was off 0.7 percent at 9,654.54 and France’s CAC-40 shed 0.4 percent to 4,315.92. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.3 percent to 6,732.16.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow futures were down 0.1 percent at 17,009 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.1 percent to 1,969.

The shooting down last week of the Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people aboard has rattled markets, which worried about how Western governments, already alarmed by Russia’s support for rebels in Ukraine’s east, would react.

The disaster, in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists, has sparked international condemnation and increased pressure on Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine. Russian officials have blamed Ukraine’s government for creating the situation and atmosphere in which the plane was downed.

“The more pressure that builds on Russia the more volatile European indices will be,” said strategist Evan Lucas at IG Markets in a report. “With the strong trade links between the continent and Russia, any disruptions to this through sanctions will cause profit taking on European indices payday loan.”

China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.2 percent to 2,054.48 points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent at 23,387.14. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 5,539.90.

Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 2,018.50 ahead of this week’s release of quarterly economic growth data. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. Jakarta rose 0.8 percent despite tensions over presidential election results due out Tuesday, with both candidates claiming victory.

Investors were looking ahead to U.S. earnings reports amid hopes American economic growth is recovering. Results from Apple, Microsoft and Coca Cola were due out Tuesday and Caterpillar on Thursday.

In energy markets, U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery was down 1 cent to $103.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 6 cents on Friday to close at $103.13.

The euro rose to $1.3537 from $1.3525 late Friday. The dollar fell to 101.31 yen from 101.36 yen.


April 14, 2014

U.S. businesses increased stockpiles 0.4 percent

Filed under: finance, technology — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:36 pm

WASHINGTON • U.S. businesses boosted their stockpiles in February as sales rebounded by the largest amount in nine months.

Stockpiles increased 0.4 percent in February following a similar 0.4 percent increase in January, the Commerce Department reported Monday. Sales rose 0.8 percent in February, bouncing back after a 1.1 percent sales decline in January that was blamed on the harsh weather that month. It was the biggest one-month sales gain since last May.

A separate report showed a surge in sales at the retail level in March, providing support to the view that stronger consumer spending in coming months will encourage businesses to restock their shelves and provide a boost to the economy.

While the economy slowed in the January-March quarter, many economists are looking for a strong rebound in the current quarter.

The report on business inventories covers all kinds of stockpiles, including manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing.

Inventories held by manufacturers rose the most in February, a gain of 0.7 percent, while inventories at the wholesale level were up 0.5 percent. Stockpiles held by retailers were unchanged in February.

Many analysts believe that the economy, which grew at a 2.6 percent rate in the October-December quarter, slowed in the January-March period, to somewhere between 1 percent and 2 percent growth.

That forecast is based on a view that the harsh winter weather cut into various types of economic activity, from shopping at the mall to factory production. Some believe that adverse weather cut growth by about 1 percentage point in the first quarter, but will add 1 percentage point to activity in the April-June quarter as the economy is spurred by pent-up demand in such areas as auto sales.

Another factor that affected first-quarter growth is a slowdown in the pace of restocking following a huge surge last summer.

Inventory building contributed 1.6 percentage points to economic growth in the third quarter when the economy had grown at a 4.1 percent rate. By the fourth quarter, that contribution had dwindled to just 0.03 percentage points. Analysts are not looking for inventories to add much to first quarter growth.

But for the rest of the year, there is optimism that growth will rebound to a solid rate of around 3 percent. That could make 2014 the country’s strongest year of growth since 2005.

Labor markets are improving. Employers added a solid 192,000 jobs in March, just below a revised 197,000 increase in February. Those gains suggest that the economy has recovered from the hiring slowdown caused by severe winter storms in December and January.


April 11, 2014

Sweetie Pie’s restaurant to open location on Beale Street in Memphis

Filed under: finance, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 1:16 pm

ST. LOUIS • Sweetie Pie’s, the soul food restaurant with two locations in St. Louis, will be opening a restaurant on Beale Street in Memphis.

Sweetie Pie’s signed a lease on March 28 for a location at 349 Beale, in the eastern border of the city’s entertainment district, according to a Tweet from Paul Morris, the president of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

“I recommend the soul food and the hug from Ikette and TV Star Miss Robbie,” he Tweeted, referring to the owner, Robbie Montgomery, who is featured with her family in the reality show “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network poor credit personal loans.

Officials with the restaurant itself and the network would not confirm the news. OWN released this statement from Tim Norman, co-manager of Sweetie Pie’s: “We’re excited to be here in Memphis and are exploring options for a new restaurant and will have news to share soon.”

The restaurant is at 4270 Manchester Road in The Grove and 3643 Delmar Boulevard in Grand Center in St. Louis.


February 28, 2014

Court of Appeal denies Melissa Todorovic new trial for Stefanie Rengel murder

Filed under: finance, online — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 9:16 am

The Ontario Court of Appeal has denied Melissa Todorovic a new trial for the murder of 14-year-old Stefanie Rengel and upheld her adult sentence of life in prison.

Todorovic was 15 when she taunted and sexually blackmailed her 17-year-old boyfriend into stabbing Rengel to death on New Year’s Day 2008, a jury found in convicting her of first-degree murder.

Though she was tried as a young offender, trial judge Ian Nordheimer sentenced her as an adult to life in prison, with no parole for seven years, and allowed authorities to monitor her for life.

Her boyfriend, David Bagshaw, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was also sentenced as an adult to life in prison.

The ruling is disappointing, Todorovic’s lawyer, Brian Snell, said Thursday afternoon, adding that Todorovic should not have been convicted.

“Primarily we are disappointed because Melissa never intended David Bagshaw to commit this terrible murder.”

Snell had argued that two video statements made to police by the 15-year-old, in which she admitted a role in the murder, were inadmissible at trial under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because the police did not properly explain her rights.

In the interviews, Todorovic told police she knew Bagshaw was going to Rengel’s house that night to kill her and that she called him 15 minutes after the murder asking, “Is she dead?”

She then said she called Bagshaw back, asking where he’d stabbed Rengel.

The panel of three Court of Appeal judges agreed with the trial judge that the two video statements at issue were admissible.

Todorovic and her mother freely went to the police station when asked and were not detained, they found.

And after Todorovic began incriminating herself, the Court of Appeal found she was properly advised of her right to speak to a lawyer and have one present.

As the trial judge said in his reasons, Todorovic “clearly understood her rights to have a lawyer present and willingly chose to waive those rights and participate in the second interview,” wrote Justice Marc Rosenberg on behalf of the panel.

Snell also argued that Todorovic should have been sentenced as a young offender, not as an adult.

The appeal judges rejected Snell’s argument that the trial judge erred by speculating that the “appellant would represent a risk to reoffend in a violent way.”

The trial judge found the psychiatric evidence unhelpful in assessing the future risk, but he also had the evidence of the murder, wrote Rosenberg.

“(The murder) was conceived out of the appellant’s distorted view of her relationship with Bagshaw and of his relationship with the victim. She also continued to show no empathy for the victim and harboured ongoing thoughts of hurting other persons. Those circumstances strongly suggested that the appellant was at risk to reoffend,” wrote Rosenberg.

“The psychological testing showed that a disordered personality was well-established despite the appellant’s young age and the appellant would be difficult to successfully treat.”


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