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August 23, 2014

Mexico creates special economic-crime force

Filed under: Uncategorized, online — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:15 am

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico launched a special 5,000-strong police force Friday to combat industrial, farm and business crime that has extended far throughout the country’s economy, strangling commerce in some regions.

Drug gangs have long penetrated some Mexican mining and agricultural sectors, but officials now reveal that everyone from fishermen to tourist resorts to banana growers have been hit by the wave of extortion, kidnapping and thefts by the gangs.

In some cases, like the western state of Michoacan, the cartels and gangs cut down trade so much that “even the barbershops weren’t serving customers. The whole social fabric broke down,” said National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido.

The new force known as the gendarmerie is made up of fresh recruits — average age 28 — who have never served on another police force. Trained by the Mexican army, the forces’ commanding officers got training from police forces from Colombia, Chile, Spain, France and the U.S.

It will act as a division of the federal police and will be sent to areas where there is an organized crime presence and there is no economic activity because production is being restricted by the criminals.

Most Mexicans had long been aware that parts of the country had such problems: Michoacan, where the Knights Templar cartel told farmers when to plant and took a cut on every product, and even ran the iron ore industry. Or the northern border state of Tamaulipas, where demands for businesses to pay protection money was common.

Mexico’s national statistics institute estimated that in 2012, the latest figures available, that crime cost the country about $16.5 billion, or 1.34 percent of GDP.

But the breadth of problems authorities have now acknowledged is staggering.

Luis Montoya Morelia, the head of federal police in Tamaulipas, said the hyper-violent Zetas cartel had threatened fishermen on the Gulf coast, forcing them to sell their catch to the cartel for just 7 cents per kilograms (3 cents per pound). The gang would then apparently take the fish to market and sell it for full price.

Rubido said cattle ranchers in southern Mexico were buying sorghum abroad because nobody would rent harvesting machines to sorghum growers in Tamaulipas, apparently fearing the cartels would burn or steal the equipment free credit report and score. This year, under police and military protection for every stage from harvest and packing to distribution, Tamaulipas was able to bring in a bumper crop.

Banana growers in the steamy southern Gulf state of Tabasco also have come under gang pressure. When the banana harvesting season comes around, extortion and kidnappings rise to some of the highest rates in Mexico, Rubido said.

And on the southern Pacific coast, gangs threaten the resorts of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, though Rubido did not offer specifics on the threat there.

Michoacan offers the most extreme example of the Mexican cartels’ Mafia-style control, especially with the region’s main crop, limes. “The planters, pickers, packing houses and distributors all had to pay a cut for the right to operate or ship to the criminals,” Rubido said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how such a small force would be used to attack such widespread problems. The task to date has largely fallen to soldiers and marines, whose tactics have spawned continuing complaints. But it doesn’t appear the new gendarme force would have enough officers to replace military units in a broad range of law enforcement roles.

“It is naive to think that just by creating a new force with people who haven’t been in the police before … things are going to change,” said Miguel Moguel, a researcher at Mexico’s Fundar think tank.

“We have been creating new police forces for decades, armored police, ‘incorruptible, super-trained police,’” with disappointing results, he noted.

This year, the government even took the unprecedented step of providing guns, uniforms and salaries for former vigilantes in Michoacan, recruiting about 2,000 of them into the newly created “Rural Force.” But critics say the force has little oversight and training.

Mexico hopes the gendarmerie will help break the cartels’ economic stranglehold, but Rubido said it won’t be easy. “Many times they have attacked with grenades,” he said of the cartels.

Source

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August 14, 2014

Filed under: house, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 9:59 pm

In his first public comments since the Toronto Police Services Board’s swift denial of his contract extension, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair admitted disappointment at not being granted a two-year extension of his current contract but offered no hints at his plans beyond its end next April.

“I had hoped to be renewed and I wasn’t,” Blair said at a news conference held Thursday to announce he was accepting an apology from Doug Ford and dropping the threat of a defamation lawsuit against the councillor.

“I accept the decision and I thank them for their consideration,” he said.

In late July, the seven-member board rejected a request from Blair to have his contract extended. Board chair Alok Mukherjee said at the time that “it was not an easy decision.”

The police board is meeting Thursday afternoon for the first time since the contract extension was denied. Sources have said Michael Thompson, Councillor Mike Del Grande, Councillor Frances Nunziata and Mukherjee did not support his contract extension.

Blair said Thursday that he would not comment on suggestions by Mayor Rob Ford last week that Blair’s severance – reported to be over $367,000 plus benefits — was “a little bit too rich personal loans for bad credit.”

Those comments, Blair said, were “political rhetoric” said in the middle of a campaign.

“I’ll leave the politics to politicians,” he said, adding that the terms of his employment were confidential matter between him and the board.

Blair also declined to offer his thoughts on who should be his successor, but said there were “extraordinary police leaders within the Toronto police service,” as well as across the province and the country.

“I hope that appropriate consideration will be given to their skills, their abilities and what they can bring to this job,” he said.

Blair became chief of police on April 26, 2005, and has held the position much longer than many Toronto police chiefs. In 2009, the board unanimously approved a contract extension for a second term.

Asked whether he would consider entering politics at the end of his contract next year, Blair said, “I’m a cop.”

Source

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August 13, 2014

Singapore

Filed under: marketing, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:03 am

Singapore

August 10, 2014

Pride Parade held on Ugandan beach after court nullifies anti-gay law

Filed under: business, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 12:47 am

ENTEBBE, Uganda—Scores of Ugandan homosexuals marched through sprawling botanical gardens in the lakeside town of Entebbe on Saturday, their first pride parade since a Ugandan court invalidated a controversial anti-gay law.

Many marchers wore masks, signalling they did not want to be publicly identified in a country where homosexuals and their supporters face severe discrimination.

Although organizers had expected more than 500 people to attend the event, fewer than 200 turned up, said gay activist Moses Kimbugwe, who noted that many were afraid of possible violence following a court’s decision earlier this month to jettison an anti-gay law that had wide support among Ugandans.

“We are here to walk for those who can’t walk, who are afraid to walk,” said Kimbugwe. “We are here to celebrate our rights.”

Uganda’s constitutional court ruled last week that the anti-gay law enacted only five months ago was illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. Some lawmakers have pledged to try to reintroduce the same legislation when parliament emerges from a recess later this month. They said they would try to pass the same law in parliament since it had been invalidated on technical grounds and not its substance.

On Saturday, activists held up placards saying they would not give up the fight for gay rights in this conservative East African country of 36 million people payday loans. Some waved rainbow flags as they danced and frolicked on a sandy beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 40 kilometres from the capital, Kampala.

This was the third annual gay pride event, organizers said. The first one, in 2012, turned violent after local police tried to break it up, said Ugandan lesbian activist Jacqueline Kasha. This time they had been given assurances by the police that they could go ahead with the march, she said.

“We are a group of people who have suffered enough,” she said. “We are Ugandans who have the right to gather in a public place … and we are going to have fun.”

Some among the marchers said they had initially planned to hold the event in Kampala but were warned by police that such a move would be provocative and possibly dangerous.

Homosexuals face threats including evictions by landlords and many have fled to neighbouring countries such as Kenya, where the anti-gay sentiment is less pervasive, according to Ugandan rights activists. Many homosexuals are victims of extortionist campaigns by people who threaten to reveal their homosexuality to the police, said Kasha, the lesbian leader.

Source

August 5, 2014

Bobby Tufts, 5-year-old mayor, loses re-election in Minnesota

Filed under: money, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 4:07 am

DORSET, MINN.—A 5-year-old boy’s run as mayor is over in a tiny tourist town in northern Minnesota.

Robert “Bobby” Tufts lost his bid for a third consecutive term as mayor of Dorset on Sunday. Sixteen-year-old Eric Mueller of Mendota Heights, Minn., won when his name was drawn from the ballot box during the annual Taste of Dorset festival.

Every year the town draws a name during its Taste of Dorset Festival, and the winner gets to be mayor. Anyone can vote as many times as they like — for $1 a vote — at any of the ballot boxes in stores around town.

Bobby was running for a second term, and as mayor he got to draw the winning name on Monday, so there was a good chance he could draw his own name payday loan lenders.

Instead, Eric Mueller’s name was drawn. Eric was prompted to run after eating five fried ice creams at one sitting. He’ll be a high school junior this fall.

Bobby was only 3 when he was first elected mayor in 2013. Dorset, about 150 miles northwest of Minneapolis, has no formal city government and a population ranging from nine to 28.

Source

July 31, 2014

Ratings agency: Argentina in ’selective default’

Filed under: loans, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:27 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Standard & Poor’s says some Argentine bonds are in ’selective default’ in what could be the start of a wave of downgrades amid a standoff between the South American country and some creditors.

The ratings agency says it lowered its rating on some Argentine bonds because the country did not make a $539 million interest payment due on June 30.

Argentina tried to make the payment but was prevented by a New York judge as part of an effort to force the country to settle a dispute with U cash advance to savings account.S. creditors.

S&P said Wednesday it could revise the rating if Argentina were to make the interest payments.

The downgrade came as the economy minister led a last-gasp effort to strike a deal with hedge funds demanding payments of about $1.5 billion.

Source

July 29, 2014

UPS 2Q profit drops 58 percent

Filed under: loans, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 4:31 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) on Tuesday reported net income that declined by 58 percent in its second quarter, and missed analysts’ expectations.

The Atlanta-based company said profit declined to $454 million, or 49 cents per share, from $1.07 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $1.21 per share. The average per-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for profit of $1.24.

The company said revenue climbed 5.6 percent to $14.27 billion from $13.51 billion in the same quarter a year ago, and beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected $14.07 billion, according to Zacks.

United Parcel Service shares have fallen $2.42, or 2.3 percent, to $102.66 since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed 7.1 percent. However, the stock has risen $15.85, or 18 percent, in the last 12 months.

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This story was generated automatically by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Full UPS report: http://www.zacks.com/ap/UPS

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Keywords:UPS,Earnings Report

Source

July 28, 2014

China

Filed under: lenders, management — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 1:35 am

On a Chinese hospital ship off Hawaii, crew members demonstrate traditional massage techniques to U.S. sailors. The mood is one of collegiality, even after China opted out of Japan-led humanitarian drills at the world

July 24, 2014

Breitburn buying QR Energy in $1.46 billion deal

Filed under: house, prices — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 7:36 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — Breitburn Energy is buying QR Energy LP in a deal worth about $1.46 billion.

QR unitholders will receive approximately 72 million common units of Breitburn Energy Partners LP, or 0.9856 of a Breitburn unit, for each unit of QR Energy that they own. The consideration to be received by QR unitholders is valued at $22.48 per unit, a 19 percent premium to Wednesday’s closing price of $18.87.

Shares of Houston’s QR Energy rose more than 8 percent before the opening bell Thursday.

The companies put the transaction’s value at approximately $3 billion, including QR’s existing debt and outstanding convertible preferred units.

The senior management team at Breitburn Energy Partners LP will lead the combined business. Once the transaction, closes Breitburn will add a new director to its board that is mutually agreed upon by both companies.

The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which is targeted to close later this year or in early 2015. It still needs approval from QR unitholders.

Source

July 23, 2014

Canada Border Services review finds 19,000 outdated lookout warnings

Filed under: Uncategorized, debt — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:04 am

OTTAWA—An internal review has revealed that Canada’s border agency had more than 19,000 outdated electronic notices warning officers to be on the lookout for suspicious travellers.

The Canada Border Services Agency discovered the old notices earlier this year following the review of about 117,000 active lookouts to ensure each contained up-to-date information, says a new federal report.

Accuracy and timeliness are vital because the border agency is supposed to use lookouts to intercept suspected terrorists, organized criminals and others of concern attempting to enter Canada.

An outdated or inaccurate lookout could also mean a traveller is stopped at the border and subjected to unnecessary scrutiny.

The notices are based on intelligence information, past customs seizures, immigration violations and known national security risks.

Last fall, federal auditor general Michael Ferguson found the border agency was not consistently monitoring the results of lookouts and lacked a consistent process for recording the results when someone was intercepted. Ferguson noted the agency had made little progress on its monitoring of immigration lookouts since a 2007 study.

“Given the seriousness of the threats that lookouts are designed to address, even one missed lookout is cause for concern,” the auditor general said. “Without relevant performance data, the agency does not have information on whether lookouts are working as intended or how it can improve on results.”

The border agency’s own study confirmed problems with the lookout system.

In response to a request from the House of Commons standing committee on public accounts, the government recently issued an update on the border agency’s efforts to improve the management and effectiveness of the lookouts program.

The agency also made a number of changes to its computer systems to make it easier to find possible matches associated with a lookout and to provide partners with more timely information.

In his fall report, Ferguson also expressed concerns about information the border agency receives from airlines with the aim of zeroing in on suspected security threats.

Air carriers are required to provide the border agency with advance information about passengers entering Canada to allow for screening of travellers before they arrive. Complete and accurate information helps the agency identify people who might need closer examination once their plane lands.

Ferguson found the border agency did not receive all of the necessary information about passengers, and recommended it take steps already developed to fix the problems.

Source

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