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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.

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April 8, 2014

Australian Beef, Cheese Favored in Trade Deals With Japan, Korea - Bloomberg

Filed under: debt, technology — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:44 am

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott sealed trade deals with Japan and South Korea as he seeks to boost exports of everything from beef to canned tomatoes and lower prices on cars and appliances for consumers.

Abbott was in Seoul today to complete the Korean pact, after almost five years of talks. Under the agreement, tariffs on Australian beef will be eliminated over 15 years, while levies on all Korean cars will be lifted within three years with those on some gasoline models dropped immediately, the South Korean Trade Ministry said in a statement.

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March 26, 2014

Walgreen Co. to close 76 unprofitable stores

Filed under: management, online — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:00 am

Walgreen Co. on Tuesday said it plans to close 76 unprofitable drugstores by August as part of a plan to save $40 million to $50 million per year beginning in its fiscal 2015.

The Deerfield-based drugstore chain, the nation’s largest, declined to specify the locations of the stores slated to close aside from saying they’re “spread across the country.” Walgreen said it will confirm the closures in the coming months after it notifies employees.

Most stores that will close either have had other Walgreens locations open in the same area or have seen real estate values decline since they’ve opened, the company said.

In a morning conference call with investors, Walgreen Chief Executive Greg Wasson said the move, which effects less than 1 percent of its locations nationwide, is part of an effort to “optimize our footprint and ensure our stores remain at the best corners of America.”

The majority of the stores that will shutter are located near other Walgreens locations, and most of their employees will be reassigned, Wasson said.

Including the closures, the company still plans to have a net increase in store count in 2014 of between 55 and 75 locations. It operates 8,210 drugstores nationwide, 138 more than a year ago.

Walgreen will take charges of between $240 million to $280 million in its third and fourth quarters related to the closures.

The company also on Tuesday said second quarter net income fell slightly to $754 million, or 78 cents a share, down from $756 million, or 79 cents a share, in the same period a year ago, as a slower cold and flu season and severe weather throughout much of the United States dragged on profits payday loans.

Profits also were hurt by the introduction of fewer new generic drugs, which are generally more profitable for pharmacies.

The Deerfield-based drugstore chain said sales rose 5.1 percent to $19.6 billion, with sales in stores open at least a year up 4.3 percent.

Adjusted for certain items, net income was 91 cents a share, down from 96 cents a year earlier, missing Wall Street estimates by a penny.

Despite a 1.4 percent dip in customer traffic, the average purchase size rose 3.4 percent.

Shares opened higher, rising nearly 5 percent to $67.48, in morning trading.

Wasson also said the company has no plans to stop selling tobacco products, despite the February decision by its primary competitor CVS Caremark to halt sales by Oct. 1.

“What we’re focused on is to help encourage our customers to make healthy choices, not just with cigarettes, but with their daily habits,” Wasson said. “We think we’re well-positioned to help folks change their behavior who want to quit … and I don’t think there’s anyone better positioned with our retail pharmacists” and smoking cessation programs and products to help people kick the habit.

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March 24, 2014

US stock futures poised to start the week higher

Filed under: Uncategorized, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:28 pm

Wall Street looked ready to start the week with a slight gain as U.S. stock futures edged up Monday in pre-market trading.

KEEPING SCORE: Dow Jones industrial average futures were up 35 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,256 as of 8:50 a.m. Eastern time. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures were up five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,862 and Nasdaq futures were up 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,652.

CHINA WATCH: Asian stock markets got a boost on expectations of economic stimulus in China. A report showed that China’s manufacturing fell to an eight-month low in March in another sign of slowing growth in the world’s No. 2 economy.

TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year U fast cash advance.S. Treasury note climbed to 2.76 percent from 2.74 percent late Friday. The price of crude oil rose 59 cents to $100.05 a barrel. Gold sank $18.70 to $1,317.40 an ounce.

EUROPE: Major indexes were mostly lower in Europe. Both Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 dropped 0.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent.

ASIA: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 2.8 percent. Japan’s Nikkei gained 1.8 percent.

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March 19, 2014

U.S. files charge against Toyota, $1.2B penalty

Filed under: loans, money — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:16 pm

Updated at 9:32 a.m.

WASHINGTON • The government announced a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday and filed a criminal charge alleging the company defrauded consumers by issuing misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Attorney General Eric Holder said it is the largest financial penalty of its kind ever imposed on an auto company. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, an independent monitor will review policies, practices and procedures at the company.

The action concludes a four-year criminal investigation into the Japanese automaker’s disclosure of safety problems, which focused on whether Toyota was forthright in reporting problems related to unintended acceleration troubles.

“Rather than promptly disclosing and correcting safety issues … Toyota made misleading public statements to consumers and gave inaccurate facts to members of Congress,” Holder told a news conference.

Toyota said that at the time of the recalls, “we took full responsibility for any concerns our actions may have caused customers, and we rededicated ourselves to earning their trust,” said Christopher P. Reynolds, chief legal officer of Toyota Motor North America. “In the more than four years since these recalls, we have gone back to basics at Toyota to put our customers first.”

Toyota said it had “made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements.”

Starting in 2009, Toyota issued massive recalls, mostly in the U.S., totaling more than 10 million vehicles for various problems including faulty brakes, gas pedals and floor mats. From 2010 through 2012, Toyota Motor Corp. paid fines totaling more than $66 million for delays in reporting unintended acceleration problems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration never found defects in electronics or software in Toyota cars, which had been targeted as a possible cause.

Starting in 2009, Toyota issued massive recalls, mostly in the U.S., totaling more than 10 million vehicles for various problems including faulty brakes, gas pedals and floor mats. From 2010 through 2012, Toyota Motor Corp. paid fines totaling more than $66 million for delays in reporting unintended acceleration problems.

The settlement continues a string of bad publicity for Toyota, which before the unintended acceleration cases had a bulletproof image of reliability. Since the cases surfaced, the company’s brand image has been damaged and it has lost U.S. market share as competition has intensified.

Last year, Toyota agreed to pay more than $1 billion to resolve hundreds of lawsuits claiming that owners of its cars suffered economic losses because of the recalls. But that settlement did not include wrongful death and injury lawsuits that have been consolidated in California state and federal courts.

In December, Toyota filed court papers after a four-year legal battle saying that it’s in settlement talks on nearly 400 U.S. lawsuits, but other cases aren’t included in the talks.

The negotiations come less than two months after an Oklahoma jury awarded $3 million in damages to the injured driver of a 2005 Camry and to the family of a passenger who was killed.

The ruling was significant because Toyota had won all previous unintended acceleration cases that went to trial. It was also the first case where attorneys for plaintiffs argued that the car’s electronics — in this case the software connected to a midsize Camry’s electronic throttle-control system — were the cause of the unintended acceleration.

At the time, legal experts said the Oklahoma verdict might cause Toyota to consider a broad settlement of the remaining cases. Until then, Toyota had been riding momentum from several trials where juries found it was not liable.

Toyota has blamed drivers, stuck accelerators or floor mats that trapped the gas pedal for the acceleration claims that led to the big recalls of Camrys and other vehicles. The company has repeatedly denied its vehicles are flawed.

No recalls have been issued related to problems with onboard electronics. In the Oklahoma case, Toyota attorneys theorized that the driver mistakenly pumped the gas pedal instead of the brake when her Camry ran through an intersection and slammed into an embankment.

But after the verdict, jurors told AP they believed the testimony of an expert who said he found flaws in the car’s electronics.

Toyota also had to pay millions for recalls, as well as a series of fines totaling $68 million to the NHTSA, the U.S. government’s road safety watchdog, for being slow to report acceleration problems.

Still, the payments won’t hurt Toyota’s finances very much. In its last fiscal quarter alone, Toyota posted a $5.2 billion profit, crediting a weak yen and strong global sales.

Toyota’s U.S. market share, however, has fallen more than 4 percentage points since unintended acceleration came to the forefront in August of 2009, when a California Highway Patrol officer and three others were killed in a fiery crash. The officer’s runaway car was traveling more than 120 mph when it crashed and burst into flames. One of his family members called police about a minute before the crash to report the vehicle had no brakes and the accelerator was stuck.

At the time, Toyota controlled 17.8 percent of the U.S. market. Gas prices were high, playing to Toyota’s fuel-efficient small cars and hybrids. Detroit automakers were in serious financial trouble and had few fuel-efficient cars for sale.

By last month, though, Toyota’s share fell to 13.3 percent, according to Autodata Corp., as the company faced intense competition in small and midsize cars from resurgent Detroit automakers and Korean brands Hyundai and Kia.

The Toyota criminal charge and settlement could foreshadow what’s in store for General Motors. The same U.S. attorney’s office is investigating the Detroit auto giant for its slow response to a faulty ignition switch problem in older compact cars that has been linked to at least 31 crashes and 12 deaths. NHTSA also is investigating whether GM withheld information about the problem and could fine the automaker $35 million.

Tom Krisher contributed from Detroit

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March 11, 2014

US wholesalers boost stockpiles 0.6 pct in Jan., despite biggest sales drop since March 2009

Filed under: lenders, online — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:44 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — US wholesalers boost stockpiles 0.6 pct in Jan., despite biggest sales drop since March 2009.

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February 23, 2014

Draghi Says ECB Ready to Act If Inflation Outlook Deteriorates - Bloomberg

Filed under: loans, technology — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:28 pm

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers are ready to add to stimulus if the outlook for prices deteriorates, though there are currently no signs of deflation in the euro area.

February 18, 2014

Work Boots to Fruit Squeezed as Australian Manufacturing Wanes - Bloomberg

Filed under: finance, legal — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:32 pm

From tinned fruit to work boots, high labor costs and an elevated currency are squeezing Australian manufacturing, threatening to increase a jobless rate already at the highest level in more than 10 years.

Alcoa Inc. (AA) announced the closure of an aluminum smelter and two mills with the loss of 980 jobs, while Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. (CCL), the nation

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