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April 7, 2014

Pope Francis gives faithful pocket-sized copies of the Gospels

Filed under: management, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:12 am

VATICAN CITY—Tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square have been treated to gifts from Pope Francis: pocket-sized copies of the Gospels which he hopes they’ll keep handy and read daily.

The scriptures were handed out by volunteers after the Pope’s traditional Sunday appearance to pilgrims and tourists in the square payday loan companies.

The Pope did ask for something in return, telling them: “In exchange for this gift, perform an act of charity.” He said such an act might be praying for an enemy, for example.


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February 2, 2014

Kensington Market Loblaws: beyond a debate over gentrification

Filed under: finance, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 8:52 pm

There’s no more patently ludicrous marker of Toronto’s gentrification, and of gentrification as a whole model of civic transformation, than the mock graffiti dressing up the Loblaws on Queen St. West, near Bathurst.

It just says “LOBLAWS.” Over and over. In different ripped-off street art fonts. And it’s indoors!

It’s like a cartoon of an out-of-touch corporation pitiably trying to connect with the roots of a neighbourhood it’s papering over. It’s Homer Simpson strutting through Lollapalooza in an oversized Rastafarian hat: desperate, embarrassing, totally oblivious. It’s an easy target.

Last week, Tribute Communities announced it has sealed a deal with Loblaws to develop a 20,000 square foot supermarket in another of Toronto’s most contested neighbourhoods: Kensington Market.

Slated to take over 297 College St. — in a space formerly housing, no joke, a Zen Buddhist temple — the new Loblaws is being regarded in some quarters as both a material and existential threat to the vibrancy and uniqueness of Kensington.

It remains to be seen how exactly Loblaws and Tribute will pay phony homage to the neighbourhood they’re encroaching upon — a graffiti-scrawled Jane Jacobs quote or a 40-foot hollow Buddha filled with cheese? — but the people behind the new deal are already adopting the language of Kensington’s culture.

Speaking to Toronto Life, Tribute VP of land development Steve Deveaux stressed that the Loblaws will be “more of a community grocery store,” insisting that the Kensington we know will still be “relevant.”

“Relevant,” even!

Over the past year, Kensington has become a battleground, a site of contestation. As Loblawsian corporate interests further come to define Toronto, many have taken up the cause of protecting heritage communities against the corporatized steamrolling that defines, oh, pretty much everything.

Per a petition endorsed by 7,300-plus “Friends of Kensington Market” that has circulated online since Loblaws first began eyeing the Kensington-adjacent space, the clash is between Big Corporations and “the small independent stores, especially purveyors of raw food — fruit stands, dry goods, fishmongers, butcher and groceries,” those that “may not withstand the impact of a Loblaws moving into the community.”

In a way this battle has already been lost. Friends of Kensington Market are determined to preserve a spirit that’s already receded.

Kensington’s uniqueness has already been co-opted in less obvious ways. It was 2009 when Max and Son Meat Market, a tiny family-owned butcher on Baldwin St., was bought out by Peter Sanagan, laying the tracks for a much bigger, 5,000 square foot space hawking organic heirloom pheasants and artisanal pepperettes.

And if that didn’t seal Kensington’s fate as a sort of d

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January 22, 2014

Thailand Unexpectedly Holds Key Rate After Emergency Declared - Bloomberg

Filed under: legal, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:08 pm

Thailand unexpectedly held its key interest rate, even as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday declared a state of emergency in Bangkok to control anti-government protests that have crimped economic growth.

The Bank of Thailand kept its one-day bond repurchase rate unchanged at 2.25 percent, with monetary policy committee members voting four-to-three in favor of the decision, it said in Nakhon Pathom province today. Seven out of 21 economists in a Bloomberg survey predicted the outcome, while the remainder expected the rate to be cut by a quarter of a percentage point.

The emergency decree will be in place for 60 days starting today, as an escalation of attacks on anti-government protesters threatens to derail elections scheduled for Feb. 2. The turmoil has hurt the economy and the currency, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said last week, with Moody

January 14, 2014

Deal Reached on Spending Bill to Fund U.S. Government - Bloomberg

Filed under: investors, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:28 am

House and Senate appropriators agreed to a bipartisan bill to fund the U.S. government through Sept. 30, and it will be introduced tonight, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said.

The measure will reach the House floor tomorrow or Jan. 15, Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, said in Washington.

November 25, 2013

Mick Jagger

Filed under: business, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 2:32 am

LONDON—Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is set to become a great-grandfather early next year.

His daughter Jade told The Sunday Times that her 21-year-old daughter, Assisi, expects to give birth in several months.

She tells the newspaper she does not expect Jagger to slow down now that he’s set to become a great-grandfather. The ever-popular Stones plan to tour Australia next year.

Assisi tells Hello! magazine that Jagger was pleased when she told him the news.

She tells the magazine, “He said, ‘Well done.’”


November 18, 2013

Americans may keep their insurance plan for a year even if they don’t comply with Obamacare

Filed under: money, term — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 2:24 pm

The deal is meant to mollify millions of people enraged after their insurers canceled policies that do not meet Obamacare requirements. But how many it will ultimately help remains to be seen.

The uproar over the cancellations has ensnared the White House for weeks, shining a spotlight on Obama’s previous promise that people who liked their insurance plans can keep them.

“This fix won’t solve every problem for every person. But it’s going to help a lot of people,” the president said at the White House.

But the fix, as reported earlier by CNN’s Dana Bash, puts the onus of the renewals outside the president’s control: The administration is not requiring insurers or state insurance commissioners to extend the existing plans, but instead is letting them offer an additional year of coverage.

Also, insurers must notify policyholders of the difference in benefits between their policies and the Obamacare plans available on the insurance exchanges. And the companies must inform people that additional policies are available on the exchanges and that subsidies may be available to those who qualify.

Not everyone who has received a cancellation notice, however, may be able to extend.

Since insurance is regulated at the state level, it remains up to the commissioners to permit the extensions and the companies to do so. The president noted that not all commissioners may agree to extensions. At least four states — California, Idaho, Virginia and Kentucky — are requiring all individual plans adhere to Obamacare rules.

The insurance industry said the reversal could cause major problems, including a hike in premiums if fewer younger and healthier people opt to buy in the exchanges.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” said Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group. ” Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers.”

In his remarks, Obama said he didn’t want his signature policy to be the reason people are losing their insurance.

“The key point is that it allows us to be able to say to the folks who receive these notices, look, you know, I, the president of the United States, and the insurance — the insurance model of the Affordable Care Act — is not going to be getting in the way of you shopping in the individual market that you used to have,” he said quick payday loans.

Freelancer health care off Obamacare grid

But he also stressed that the reason for health reform is that the current system did not work well, and that Americans will be able to find better quality insurance on the exchanges.

“It’s important that we don’t pretend that somehow that’s a place worth going back to,” he said, of the existing individual market. “Too often, it works fine, as long as you stay healthy. It doesn’t work well when you’re sick.”

Also, in announcing the changes Thursday, Obama apologized for the rough start to enrollment in the federal and state exchanges. The websites have been marred by major technological problems that have stymied many visitors from registering accounts, determining whether they are eligible for subsidies and picking insurance plans. Only 106,185 people signed up for insurance in the first month, with fewer than 27,000 of them going through the federal site, which is handling enrollment for 36 states.

“We fumbled the roll out on this health care law,” he said.

Only 106,185 people signed up for insurance in the first month, with fewer than 27,000 of them going through the federal site, which is handling enrollment for 36 states. And the site is still far from fully operational, leaving tech experts racing to get it working by month’s end, as the administration promised.

Obama said the website will see “marked and noticeable” improvement.

Americans have until March 31 for sign up for a plan, but people must select and pay for a plan by Dec. 15 for coverage to start Jan. 1.

— CNN’s Jim Acosta, Gloria Borger and Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed to this story.


November 15, 2013

Argentina Said to Win Lagarde Reprieve on Data Sanctions - Bloomberg

Filed under: business, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 8:44 am

Argentina, the first International Monetary Fund member to be censured for misreporting economic data, would escape sanctions by the lender under a recommendation by Managing Director Christine Lagarde, according to two IMF board officials.

Lagarde included the guidance in a report submitted yesterday to the executive board

October 26, 2013

Mayor Rob Ford says he rescued Toronto from

Filed under: investors, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:16 pm

On the third anniversary of his election as mayor, Rob Ford touted his “endless and endless amounts of achievements” and said he thinks his second term will be much like his first.

“We’re on the right track. I’ve taken the city, which was literally on the cliff, and brought it back, and people are very happy,” Ford told Newstalk 1010 host Jerry Agar on Friday. “The people I talk to are very happy with the way we’re running the city.”

Ford did not explain what he meant by “on the cliff.” Asked what he will campaign on in 2014, four years after he pledged to “stop the gravy train,” he said, “There’s so much gravy still left, you know.”

“We’ve still got to find efficiencies,” he said. “I want to contract out garbage on the other side of Yonge St. We want to get this traffic flowing. We have to take care of the Gardiner. We have to do another union deal, obviously. So it’s going to be almost a re-run of this term, because things happen every four, five years, the contracts come up. And we’re going to work on the subways.”

Speaking to reporters later in the day, Ford said “no” when asked if he has had any failures or if he wishes he had done anything differently.

Agar, who has been a Ford supporter, did not ask him any questions about any of the scandals that have made his term one of the most tumultuous in the modern history of North American cities. The interview touched on a wide range of other topics.

TCHC RENOVATIONS: Ford said he is “absolutely livid” about a Toronto Community Housing Corp. proposal to spend $1.6 million on renovations to its head office. Ford, a staunch supporter of TCHC chief executive Gene Jones, said, “I hope he’s not losing track of what he’s there for.”

“The money has to go to the tenants,” he said. “It has to go to fixing up Toronto Community Housing.”

PAN AM GAMES: In the wake of revelations about the salaries and expenses of Pan Am Games executives, Ford said he is no longer a supporter of Toronto’s 2015 Games. He said he “highly” advises Premier Kathleen Wynne to fire Pan Am chief executive Ian Troop and Tourism and Sport Minister Michael Chan.

“I’m not a fan of the Pan Am Games now,” he said.

TRANSIT PRIORITIES: Ford said again that he plans to fight first for a Sheppard subway, then a Finch subway, and then the so-called Downtown Relief Line, which could loop from Pape station on the Bloor-Danforth line down to St. Andrew station on the University line. TTC chief executive Andy Byford and other experts argue that the relief line should be Toronto’s first priority.

“There’s enough subways, subway stations, downtown — there could be more, and that’s what the Downtown Relief Line is going to help out on. But the people, like I said, of Scarborough and North York don’t have any,” Ford said.

LAND TRANSFER TAX: Ford campaigned in 2010 on eliminating the tax on home purchases. He told Agar that this is “not going to happen”; his current goal is to reduce the tax by 10 per cent this year, “if possible,” then impose further reductions in his second term.

SUBWAY TAX: Ford said he is “pretty sure” public-private partnerships can allow him to reduce this year’s tax levy for the Scarborough subway extension, which is currently pegged at 0.5 per cent.

For most of his term, Ford steadfastly rejected the suggestion of using taxes to pay for transit expansion, insisting instead that the private sector and other governments would contribute. Pressed by Agar about the Scarborough levy — a 1.6 per cent increase lasting for more than 30 years — he said, “I’m not going to go out there and say it’s not going to cost anything. Subways are expensive. People know that. But that’s what people want. People don’t want streetcars.”

BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Ford cited: his exaggerated budget savings (“the facts are the facts, and I’ve saved a billion dollars”); his elimination of the car registration tax; his reduction in his own office budget; his landmark collective agreements with the municipal unions; his successful push to make the TTC an essential service, preventing strikes; and his outsourcing of waste collection west of Yonge St.

PUNNY CAMPAIGN: Ford again offered a sneak peek at what appears to be one of his reelection slogans. “We’re on the right path, and it’s only going to get better with time, and I just can’t wait for Oct. 27 to come by, next year, and we’ll get Ford more years, as they would say,” he said.

Reality check

How the mayor’s account of his record during his 13-minute interview with Newstalk 1010 host Jerry Agar stands up to a reality check.


October 9, 2013

Suspect named in Nuit Blanche murder of Rameez Khalid

Filed under: management, money — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 1:08 am

Toronto police are looking for a suspect in the stabbing death of 19-year-old Rameez Khalid during the Nuit Blanche art festival early Sunday morning.

On Tuesday police identified the suspect as Emanuel Lozada, 22, a Venezuelan immigrant who lives in Toronto, is wanted on a second-degree murder charge in the incident, which took place at Richmond Street E., west of York St.

RELATED:Nuit Blanche — art fest or street party?

Police say there were two scenes tied to the murder. Det. Scott Whittemore of Toronto police’s homicide squad said Tuesday that there was an altercation between Khalid and a group of men inside at a pop-up rave — not formally affiliated with Nuit Blanche — on University Ave., just south of Queen St. W.

When Khalid and a friend of his left the party, that same group of men approached Khalid and a friend as they were walking along Richmond St. where the fatal stabbing took place.

“There were lots of people involved in the fight,” said Whittemore. “There may have been people who took photos and videos of this fight.”

Police say they searched residences on Tuesday looking for Lozada and are asking witnessed who took any photos or video of the fight to come forward immediately.

Lozada is described as 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9, 180 lbs. with medium build and light skin. They are asking anyone who locates Lozada to contact 911 immediately.


September 14, 2013

90 million child deaths prevented since 1990, UNICEF says

Filed under: money, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:40 pm

Nearly half as many children under 5 are dying today compared to two decades ago, with 90 million deaths prevented since 1990, according to new estimates published by UNICEF and other international agencies.

“I think we’re seeing a child survival revolution going on,” said David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada. “Fewer children are dying today than ever before in human history.”

These latest figures were published in two new reports, jointly released on Thursday by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.

They estimate that in 2012, 6.6 million children died before the age of five, or 18,000 deaths per day. While these numbers are still unacceptably high, they are a huge improvement from 1990, when 12.6 million children died before celebrating their fifth birthdays.

What’s changed over the last two decades? Chalk it up to cheaper and better treatments, innovations in healthcare delivery and sustained political commitment towards improving child survival, said UNICEF’s deputy executive director, Geeta Rao Gupta, in a telephone news conference.

Gupta noted that some of the world’s poorest countries have also defied expectations by making the biggest strides in improving child survival. Bangladesh, Nepal and Malawi, for example, have slashed their under-five mortality rates by two-thirds or more since 1990 — thus achieving one of the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight international targets established in 2000.

But despite the progress, there is an urgent need for more to be done, Gupta said. Only two regions (East Asia and Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean) are on track to meeting the same millennium goal by the 2015 deadline.

Pneumonia and diarrhea continue to be the top killers of young children, collectively accounting for more than 4,600 deaths every day in 2012, according to the report.

“These statistics are all the more outrageous because so many of these deaths … are preventable,” Gupta said.

The first month of life is also the most dangerous and nearly 44 per cent of under-five deaths now occur during the first 28 days. Last year, 2.9 million newborns died within a month of being born, according to the new estimates; roughly one million died on their very first day.

As survival rates continue to improve globally, 81 per cent of under-five deaths are now concentrated in two regions: South Asia (which has actually seen the biggest reduction of under-five deaths since 1990) and sub-Saharan Africa, which together account for 4 out of every 5 deaths under five.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest child mortality rates, with 98 deaths for every 1,000 babies born — Canada, by comparison, has a rate of five deaths per 1,000 live births. But even greater challenges loom; despite making the least progress, the region will have the world’s largest population of under-five children by 2050.

For leading global health expert Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, the new co-director of Sick Kids’ Global Child Health centre, he welcomes these updated estimates on child mortality. He cautions, however, that they are largely based on projections; as the UNICEF report itself points out, less than three per cent of causes for under-five deaths are medically certified and only 60 countries have registration systems for tracking data on child deaths.

Bhutta said he would like to see whether these new estimates are corroborated by two other groups expected to release child mortality estimates in early 2014.


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