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September 16, 2014

Social Security resumes mailing benefit statements

Filed under: Uncategorized, management — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 6:52 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Social Security Administration has resumed mailing statements to workers letting them know the estimated benefits they will get when they retire.

The agency stopped mailing the statements to most workers two years ago to save money. Instead, Social Security directed workers to track their future benefits online using a secure website.

Congress, however, passed a bill last year requiring Social Security to resume mailing the statements.

The agency said Tuesday that many workers will now start receiving the paper statements every five years. Once workers reach 60 they will get them every year.

The statements include a history of taxable earnings for each year so people can check for mistakes. They also provide estimates of monthly benefits, based on current earnings and when a worker plans to retire.


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September 15, 2014

Exit poll: Sweden opposition wins without majority

Filed under: loans, small business — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:44 am

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The left-leaning opposition looked like the clear winner of Sweden’s election Sunday but without a parliamentary majority, an exit poll showed.

The poll by public broadcaster SVT gave the Social Democratic-led Red-Green bloc 44.8 percent of the votes, compared to 39.7 percent for the center-right Alliance that’s been in power for the past eight years.

If the result stands, eight years of tax cuts and pro-market policies under Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt are likely over in Sweden.

But it would also mean that a complicated situation looms, with Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven likely to form a new government, but with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats holding the balance of power in Parliament. The once radical far-right party almost doubled its support to 10.5 percent in the exit poll.

That could make it difficult for Lofven to govern. If he wins the election, he’s expected to enter coalition talks with the environmentalist Green Party and the ex-communist Left Party.

But even with the added support of a small feminist party, which the exit poll showed balancing on the 4 percent threshold to enter Parliament, he would be unlikely to get a majority.

Political analyst Mikael Sundstrom of Lund University said Lofven may try to win over one of the four center-right parties in Reinfeldt’s Alliance to build a stronger coalition, though none of them have expressed a desire to work with the Social Democrats.

Reinfeldt, who took office in 2006, is the longest-serving conservative leader in Swedish history no fax payday loans. Though he’s won praise internationally for steering Sweden’s economy through Europe’s debt crisis in relatively good shape, many Swedes worry his pro-market policies have undermined the welfare system.

Reinfeldt’s Alliance has cut income and corporate taxes, abolished a tax on wealth and trimmed welfare benefits. It has also eased labor laws and privatized state-owned companies, including the maker of Absolut vodka.

Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor has grown faster in Sweden than in most developed countries, though it remains among the world’s most egalitarian, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“I hope that there will be a change,” said Jonathan Andersson, a 25-year-old chef in Stockholm who blamed the government for his problems finding a “proper” job. “They changed the employment law and now I just get temporary work.”

Martin Holmen, a volunteer campaign worker for Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party, said many voters didn’t give the government enough credit for making Sweden’s economy one of the strongest in Europe.

“We have had the deepest economic crisis since the 1930s. But people in Sweden have hardly noticed it,” Holmen said. “That’s a very good grade for the Alliance.”


AP video journalist Jona Kallgren contributed to this report.


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September 13, 2014

Scottish referendum alive and well in Toronto pub

Filed under: finance, legal — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:48 pm

Scots in Canada don’t have a vote in next week’s historic referendum on Scottish independence, but many are cheering on their side from afar as the race between Yes and No gets tighter.

At The Caledonian pub in Toronto, Donna Wolff, the Scottish-born owner and ardent Yes supporter, is gearing up to hold a big celebration party next Thursday night, complete with whisky-tasting and live-streaming of the referendum results.

“It’s going to happen,” says Wolff, who is just back from a trip to the homeland. “You feel it. You feel the change in the air. Scottish people are actually standing up and it’s going to happen, for sure.”

Wolff says that among The Caledonian’s loyal patrons, Yes is the overwhelming sentiment.

“They’re all Yes, pretty much, people who live abroad because you’ve got this romantic notion of Scotland, you know, winning and coming back,” Wolff says.

But Rory Sinclair, first vice-president of the St. Andrew’s Society of Toronto, is on the No side, even if the society is officially neutral.

“Scotland is a country that has survived very well in the union (with Great Britain,)” says Sinclair payday loan lenders.

For Sinclair, much of what’s going on in Scotland right now feels a lot like the 1995 Quebec referendum, in which he was staunchly on the federalist side.

“If I believe that Quebec is better off within Canada, and I do, who the heck am I to say that Scotland should separate?” Sinclair says.

At The Caledonian on Thursday night, the pub was getting a seven-day start on next week’s expected festivities.

James McEwan, a noted Scottish Highlands distiller, was in Toronto to do a tasting of his whiskies and his “Botanist” brand of gin, and Wolff was expecting the looming referendum to be a hot topic at the event.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has been speaking out increasingly in favour of a united Scotland and Britain in recent days — a not-entirely-welcome intervention, in Wolff’s view.

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I think unless you’re Scottish, I don’t think it’s your say.”


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September 11, 2014

Homicide officers probe death of man, 22

Filed under: Canada, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:04 pm

Toronto police are investigating the death of a 22-year-old man after they were called to a North York scene around 8 a.m. Thursday.

Police found the man suffering from unspecified injuries in the area of Upper Canada Dr. and Montressor Dr., near Sheppard Ave. E. and Bayview Ave.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim’s identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin.

The death is being investigated as a homicide, the city’s 33rd of the year.


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September 10, 2014

Fed ramps pressure for biggest US banks to shrink

Filed under: investors, mortgage — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 7:20 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is pushing the biggest U.S. banks to shrink so that they’re less of a risk to the financial system.

In testimony at a Senate hearing Tuesday, Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo highlighted several proposals that regulators are working on. They include imposing additional capital requirements for the eight largest banks — including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America — that exceed the levels mandated by international regulators. That means the banks would have to set more cash aside and raise more money to increase their cushions against unexpected losses.

The amount of these “capital surcharges” would increase in proportion to how risky the regulators deem a bank to be, Tarullo told the Senate Banking Committee. That could push them to cut their risk and become less risky to the system. They would have an incentive to shed businesses and get smaller because otherwise they’d have to set aside more capital. Some of the banks have grown bigger since the crisis.

The proposals aren’t new. But combined with recent actions by the Fed and other federal regulators, experts say they carve out a tough stance.

Joseph Lynyak, a regulatory attorney at the firm Dorsey & Whitney, said the regulators are signaling that they “want these companies to shrink.” Big banks may reshape themselves and shed some businesses as a result of the changes, Lynyak suggested.

But banking industry groups say the requirements could limit access to loans for businesses and consumers, by reducing the amounts that banks would have available to lend.

Some of the banks already meet the stricter capital requirements being proposed, experts say.

Stricter capital requirements were mandated by Congress after the financial crisis, which struck in 2008 and ignited the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression credit report. Hundreds of U.S. banks received taxpayer bailouts during the crisis, including the eight mega-banks that would be subject to the additional layer of capital requirements that Tarullo discussed. The eight, considered so big and interconnected that each could threaten the financial system if it collapsed, are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street Bank.

Tarullo said the Fed also is looking at possible changes to requirements for banks when they use the short-term funding markets to borrow from other banks. The idea is to reduce their reliance on those markets, which seized up during the financial crisis.

Last month, in an action viewed as signaling toughness, the Fed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. told the 11 biggest U.S. banks that their plans for unwinding their operations in case of failure are inadequate to prevent the sort of financial disaster that struck in 2008. And last week, the regulators required all large U.S. banks to keep enough high-quality assets on hand to survive during a severe downturn. The rules subject the banks for the first time to so-called “liquidity” requirements, replacing voluntary standards. Liquidity is the ability to access cash quickly.

“The Fed is signaling to Wall Street … that it is dead serious about making these banks assume the cost of their high-risk activities” rather than taxpayers, Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, said in a telephone interview. The group advocates strict regulation.


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September 8, 2014

Dubai to spend $32 billion on airport expansion

Filed under: legal, management — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai’s airport operator says the emirate’s ruler has endorsed a $32 billion expansion plan for the city’s second airport that officials envision will eventually become the world’s biggest.

The announcement Monday sets in motion a vast building project that aims to give the airport known as Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central the capacity to handle more than 200 million passengers per year.

The airport opened for cargo flights in 2010 in the desert south of central Dubai. It received its first passengers in October at a single terminal that is mainly used by smaller airlines and low-cost carriers.

The currently larger Dubai International Airport is by far the Mideast’s busiest airport and is home to Dubai-based Emirates, the region’s largest carrier.


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September 7, 2014

9-year-old from Saskatoon steals city bus, goes on joyride

Filed under: investors, marketing — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 1:04 am

SASKATOON—A 9-year-old boy has a lot of explaining to do after taking a city bus for a joyride in Saskatoon.

Police say the boy hopped into the empty bus while it was parked with the engine running outside the transit yard on Saturday morning.

He hit the gas and got two blocks before hitting a curb and getting stuck, but during that time smashed another city bus and a parked vehicle.

No one was injured and police say that due to the boy’s age there won’t be any charges.

He has since been taken home by police.

Eyewitness Michael Pritchard says the bus was left running with the door open, and he had seen the boy ride past on a bicycle just moments before.

Pritchard was sitting in his truck in an alley waiting for his son at the time. But as his son approached, he noticed something that caused him to do a double-take.

“I looked in my mirror and I saw a little head in the driver’s seat of the bus,” said Pritchard in an interview.

The bus rolled out of view and the two men heard a crash as the vehicle hit another bus.

They raced out to the street and saw the bus continuing on so they jumped into the truck and took off after it.

Pritchard said they tried not to make it look like they were following.

The bus hit a parked car but kept going towards Idylwyld Dr., a busy thoroughfare. As it attempted to turn onto Idylwyld, it clipped stop sign and became lodged against the curb.

Pritchard jumped out of his truck and ran up to the bus.

“He was looking at me. With his foot — like you could hear the bus wanting to go but he couldn’t go anywhere because I’m guessing the back tire was locked into the curb somewhere,” Pritchard said.

“I had to pry open the bus doors. I told him to get out of the bus. He got out of the bus and I grabbed him because I didn’t want him to take off. That’s when the transit guy came.”

Pritchard said the boy wouldn’t answer any questions.

“He just kept saying, ‘No. No.’ ”

Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith said the boy was alone and hadn’t been with any other children at the time.

Pritchard said the boy did a lot of damage and it’s lucky no was injured.


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September 5, 2014

Outgunned Philippine General Seeks Upgrade as China Expands - Bloomberg

Filed under: finance, management — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:08 am

Philippine military chief Gregorio Pio Catapang likens his task to a boxing match. Dwarfed by neighbors like China, with whom ties are strained, he

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September 3, 2014

Gay group to march in NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Filed under: Canada, legal — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 7:48 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A gay group will march under its own banner for the first time in the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, organizers said Wednesday.

The prohibition on identified gay groups in the centuries-old New York parade had made participation a political issue. Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to march this year, and Guinness beer dropped its sponsorship.

The parade committee, in a statement made available to The Associated Press, said Wednesday that OUT@NBCUniversal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource group at the company that broadcasts the parade, would be marching up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on March 17 under an identifying banner.

Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal, said the group had applied to march, but there was no immediate word on why the group was chosen.

“We welcome the parade committee’s decision to accept OUT@NBCUniversal’s application to march and enthusiastically embrace the gesture of inclusion,” Robinson said. “Our employees, families and friends look forward to joining in this time-honored celebration of Irish culture and heritage.”

OUT@NBCUniversal is described on its website as “the affinity group for LGBT & Straight Ally employees at NBCUniversal.” Parade directors voted unanimously to include the group, the statement said.

Other gay groups can apply to march in future years, spokesman Bill O’Reilly said.

“It’s about time,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the gay-rights group GLAAD. “Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue. As an Irish-Catholic American, I look forward to a fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that I can share with my wife and children, just as my own parents shared with me.” She said parade organizers “must be held accountable” on their pledge to open the parade to all.

In the past, organizers said gays were free to march but only with other groups and not with banners identifying them as gay. Most marching units in the parade carry identifying banners. There are about 320 units in next year’s parade, the committee said.

The committee said its “change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics.”

The statement said the parade was “remaining loyal to church teachings,” and O’Reilly said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is to be the parade’s grand marshal next year, was “very supportive” of the change.

Dolan said last year he supported the participation of gay people.

“I know that there are thousands and thousands of gay people marching in this parade,” he said. “And I’m glad they are.”

Dolan was expected to appear at a scheduled news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Police Commissioner William Bratton marched last year with a contingent of uniformed officers. Gay activists held a news conference before the march to say officers should not participate in uniform.

Uniformed city workers, marching bands with bagpipes, traditional Irish dancers and politicians are traditional participants at the parade, which began in 1762 and can draw hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators.

The committee’s statement welcoming OUT@NBCUniversal said, “Organizers have diligently worked to keep politics — of any kind — out of the parade in order to preserve it as a single and unified cultural event. Paradoxically, that ended up politicizing the parade.”


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September 2, 2014

Bond Market Tilts Toward Frankfurt as Draghi Negates Fed

Filed under: news, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:16 am

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