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April 13, 2014

Van sales rebound following recession-sparked decline

Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 4:24 am

One of the most critical decisions Chris Ott has to make is when to replace commercial vans that are the lifeblood of his business. Ott owns Area Wide Refrigeration, a St. Louis-based company that repairs ice machines, coolers and other equipment for restaurants and bars.

Area Wide, which has a fleet of six vans that typically get replaced after 35,000 miles, is among General Motors’ customers that scaled back its van purchases during the recession.

“I held off buying for a year or so, as bars and restaurants were hit the hardest during the recession,” Ott said. Area Wide resumed changing out its fleet in 2012, when it acquired two new vans.

This year, Area Wide is in the market for two more.

“I have to have them for my business,” Ott said.

Businesses, ranging from big corporations to small contractors, are again buying full-size commercial vans, which is a big business in the St. Louis region.

The recession, followed by a sluggish recovery, led many businesses to halt or slow down purchases of vans such as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans that are built in General Motors’ assembly plant in Wentzville.

“Now we’re in a very nice recovery,” GM’s van product manager Joseph Langhauser said. “Businesses are opening their purse strings, and we’re starting to see the numbers trend back up.”

Wentzville has long been a major source of the country’s commercial vans. More than 2 million full-size vans have rolled off the GM assembly line since December 1995, when the plant switched from making passenger cars. No other GM plant builds them.

IHS Automotive forecasts that annual commercial van sales in the U.S. will grow to 400,000 by 2015, a 27 percent increase from 2013, and GM is positioning itself to take advantage of this growth despite new competition and recent troubles related to recalls.


GM commercial vans surpassed 150,000 in sales annually in the mid-2000s, according to automotive consumer research website But sales began to decline sharply in 2008 and 2009 as the financial crisis took hold and many companies began scaling back on expenses and buying fewer vehicles.

“A decade ago, vans were at an all-time high, and 2009 was a watershed year where it was half the number sold,” Langhauser said.

GM sold 153,168 Express and Savana vans in 2006, but sales fell the following three years, dropping to 66,466 in 2009, according That led GM to pare its workforce to a single shift.

“It was the whole truck segment, everything fell, not just vans,” said Gary Meteer, director of commercial solutions for IHS Automotive, an analytics firm based in Northville, Mich. “With the recession, there were no goods to be moved. People extended their buying cycles because they weren’t putting the mileage on the vehicles.”

Over the past three years, sales have rebounded, inching closer to the 100,000 mark once again. With sales flowing to sizable buyers, including U-Haul, AT&T, Comcast and DIRECTV, GM’s commercial van sales totaled 95,792 in 2013, down slightly from the 97,458 vans sold in 2012.

The Wentzville plant has been operating two shifts since January 2012, with a third shift for stamping operations. In addition to the vans, this year the Wentzville plant will begin producing the redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups.

About 60 percent of GM’s vans made in Wentzville are cargo, 25 percent are cutaways — which come with the front of the van built but the rear open so it can be customized — and 15 percent are passenger vans. Eighty-five percent of the vans that come off the line in Wentzville are white, and the next biggest seller is bright yellow, typically used for school buses business

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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.


April 9, 2014

Durham police officers face discipline over YouTube video

Filed under: news, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 10:40 pm

Two Durham Regional Police officers have been charged under the Police Services Act for their alleged involvement in a satirical video posted to YouTube in January.

The sworn police officers depicted in the video are both facing a charge of discreditable conduct.

Sgt. Mike Glennie’s disciplinary hearing has already started, according to a statement from the police service released Wednesday.

A second officer — referred to only as a Detective Constable in the news release — will face a hearing on April 15.

“At the commencement of the public hearing, his name can legally be released,” the statement said.

The police force’s longstanding policy has been to keep secret the names of officers charged under the act until they appear at a public hearing. In the event that the charged officer resigns, the defence is granted a publication ban, or an informal settlement is reached, the officer’s name would never be released.

The third is a civilian special constable, to whom the Police Services Act does not apply. “His discipline is being managed by internal policy and his name will not be released as he is not subject to the PSA,” the statement said.

Police officer Paul Grigoriou and special constable Harold Tasson appeared in the video alongside Glennie. The Durham force said at the time that the three officers in the video were the only members under investigation.

Durham Police Chief Mike Ewles triggered an internal investigation into the video after it showed up on YouTube, calling it “disrespectful” and “embarrassing.”

But Glennie, in an interview with Oshawa Express, said the video was meant to stay “in house.”

“It was designed to uplift and create humour to the employees of that unit,” Glennie told the Oshawa paper cash advance loans.

The goofy 64-second video, fashioned after a high-drama Hollywood trailer, depicted three officers stopping at nothing to get out of cellblock duty. They apply for transfers, only to have them denied, after which words flash across the screen: “3 officers on a quest for freedom/ Will discover there is no escape/ From cellblock.”

Toilet paper is meted out at a jail cell; a mask-wearing constable mops up what appears to be a blood-smeared bathroom.

“Forced to serve prisoners/ This summer/ How far will they go for freedom?” the text reads.

One officer runs down a hallway with what appears to be a Taser pointed at the camera. Another does snow angels on the hood of a car. They mimic Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s now-infamous imitation of a drunk driver. They appear to wave happily to a departing U.S. President Barack Obama.

The end credits list more than half a dozen Durham police officers as well as the force’s chief administrative officer and Ford in the “Rob Ford film” dubbed “Central Cells.” It also notes: “Not made on company time.”

It’s another in a series of high-profile public embarrassments for the Durham Regional Police Service, which Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin likened to National Lampoon’s Animal House last year after receiving obnoxious, anonymous tweets in the wake of the deadly police shooting of Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar in July 2013.

It turned out those tweets were sent by a veteran Durham fraud investigator, then-detective Jeff Caplan, who used a parody account created for practical jokes within his unit.


March 18, 2014

RBA Saw More Signs Low Interest Rates Helping Spur Economy - Bloomberg

Filed under: debt, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:28 am


February 12, 2014

Omar Khadr moved to less restrictive Canadian prison

Filed under: lenders, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:28 am

Former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr has been moved from a maximum security penitentiary in Alberta to a less restrictive medium security facility after more than 15 months in Canadian custody, the Toronto Star has learned.

Corrections Canada had reassessed Khadr’s risk level last year and recommended the move.

Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, could not be reached Tuesday for comment but had previously stated that he expected Khadr to be moved to Bowden Institution, near the town of Innisfail.

Corrections Canada spokesperson Christa McGregor said Tuesday she could not speak about Khadr’s case. “As per the Privacy Act, the Correctional Service of Canada cannot discuss the specifics of an offender’s case, including his location,” she wrote in an email to the Star.

The transfer this week follows criticism from Canada’s prison ombudsman, who accused Corrections Canada of unfairly branding Khadr a maximum security prisoner upon his transfer to Canada in September 2012.

“The OCI has not found any evidence that Mr. Khadr’s behaviour while incarcerated has been problematic and that he could not be safely managed at a lower security level,” Ivan Zinger, the executive director of the Office of the Correctional Investigator wrote in a letter first obtained by The Canadian Press.

“I recommend that Mr. Khadr’s security classification be reassessed taking into account all available information and the actual level of risk posed by the offender, bearing in mind his sole offence was committed when he was a minor payday loan lenders.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has often spoken publicly about Khadr, refuting any criticism of Canada’s handling of the case and most recently stating that his government would “continue to vigorously defend against any attempts in court to lessen his punishment for these heinous acts.”

Khadr’s legal odyssey has been ongoing since July 2002, when he was shot and captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan following a firefight with U.S. and Afghan special forces. He was charged with five offences in Guantanamo, including “murder in violation of the laws of war,” for the death of U.S. Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.

The casemade history as Khadr was the only detainee to be charged for the murder of a service member in Iraq and Afghanistan and the first juvenile since the Second World War to be prosecuted for war crimes.

In October 2010, he was sentenced to eight years in a plea deal that allowed him to return to Canada. The 27-year-old stated in an affidavit last year that he has no memory of the firefight in Afghanistan and, given a “hopeless choice,” agreed to plead guilty, believing he would otherwise be held indefinitely in Guantanamo.


February 8, 2014

Stubborn Mississauga fire complicated by cold

Filed under: news, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 9:52 pm

Firefighters battled both cold and fire at a Mississauga home near Burnhamthorpe Rd. W and Ridgeway Dr., Peel police said.

Fire crews were called to the Ingram Rd. residence at 11:30 p.m., and were still on scene after sunrise Saturday.

Peel police said the cold was “causing chaos.”

Freezing water forced officials to close nearby roads, while firefighters struggled with their iced-over masks.

Ridgeway Dr. south of Burnhamthorpe Rd. W remained closed into Saturday morning.

Seven trucks attended the blaze, and two aerial towers were put to use, Peel police said.


February 4, 2014

Records of Jean Chr

Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:48 am


July 8, 2013

Pilgrims flock to the grave of Rose Prince in British Columbia

Filed under: news, technology — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:36 am

LEJAC, B.C.—Hundreds of pilgrims, some from as far away as Ontario, gathered in the British Columbian community of Lejac on the weekend for the annual Rose Prince pilgrimage.

The young native woman, who died in 1949, is credited with numerous miraculous healings. Some believe the dirt of her grave holds healing proprieties.

Some pilgrims scooped small quantities into plastic bags and pouches at Saturday’s pilgrimage, while others rubbed the dirt over parts of their bodies afflicted with injuries or sickness.

Jean Felix took part because of her daughter’s arthritis, which was diagnosed when she was 16 months old.

Felix said doctors told her it could not be cured.

“She has not had a flare-up since we have been coming,” Felix said low rates payday advance. “It’s our fourth year. Her doctors are amazed.”

Although many refer to her as a saint, Father Vincent James of St-Andrews Parish in Fraser Lake said canonization takes time and is subject to many scientific examinations.

That did not deter the crowds of people who gathered for this year’s event.

Originally from Fort St-James, about 100 kilometres north of Lejac, Prince came from a devout Roman Catholic family.

As a young native girl she was sent to Lejac Residential School in 1922 at the age of seven.


June 30, 2013

Tour de France: Bus sparks chaos at finish

Filed under: news, online — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 1:12 am

BASTIA, CORSICA—Riders at the Tour de France know to expect the unexpected. But nothing could have prepared them for the mayhem that turned Saturday’s first stage of the 100th Tour into a demolition derby on two wheels.

Seemingly for the first time at the 110-year-old race, one of the big buses that carry the teams around France when they’re not on their bikes got stuck at the finish line, literally wedged under scaffolding, unable to move. The timing couldn’t have been worse: The blockage happened as the speeding peloton was racing for home, less than 19 kilometres out.

Fearing the worst — a possible collision between 198 riders and the bus — race organizers took the split-second decision to shorten the race. Word went out to riders over their radios and they adapted tactics accordingly, cranking up their speed another notch to be first to the new line, now three kilometres closer than originally planned.

Then, somewhat miraculously, the bus for the Orica Greenedge team wriggled free. So organizers reverted to Plan A. Again over the radios, word went out to by-now confused riders and teams that the race would finish as first intended — on a long straightaway alongside the shimmering turquoise Mediterranean, where an expectant crowd waited to cheer the first stage winner of the 100th Tour.

Then, bam! Two riders collided and one of them went down, setting off a chain of spills that scythed through the pack like a bowling ball.

And this was just day one. The bad news for riders: They’ve still got another 20 stages and 3,200 more kilometres to survive to the finish in Paris.

Keeping his head and riding his luck amid the chaos, Marcel Kittel sprinted for the win, claiming the first yellow jersey payday loans in 1 hour.

“It feels like I have gold on my shoulders,” said the German rider for the Argos-Shimano team.

The 22 teams know from experience that the first days of any Tour are always tough. Everyone is nervous, full of energy and jostling for position. Adding to the stress this year is the race start in Corsica. The island’s winding and often narrow roads that snake along idyllic coastlines and over jagged mountains are superbly telegenic but a worry for race favorites — the likes of Team Sky’s Chris Froome and two-time former champion Alberto Contador — because a fall or big loss of time here could ruin their Tour before it really begins.

Froome survived day one more or less unscathed. Contador didn’t. The Spaniard, back at the Tour after a doping ban which also cost him his 2010 victory, crossed the line grimacing in pain, his left shoulder cut and bruised. He was tangled in the crash that threw about 20 riders to the tarmac. Contador said he’ll be sore for a few days, “but I still have enough time to recover.”

Even for the Tour, which has seen more than its fair share of dramas in 99 previous editions, Saturday’s calamitous chain of events was exceptional.

“We’ve never had to change the finish line before,” said Jean-Francois Pescheux, the event director who helps pick the route each year. “There’s never been a bus stuck before.”

The blockage at the line presented organizers with two solutions: cancel the stage entirely or shorten it, he said. They took the second option.


April 21, 2013


Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:05 am


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