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March 31, 2014

China’s leader Xi in first visit to European Union

Filed under: business, management — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:28 pm

BRUSSELS (AP) — China’s president is meeting with the top officials of the European Union to discuss the two sides’ close business ties and their wider diplomatic relations.

Xi Jinping on Monday became the first Chinese leader to visit the headquarters of the 28-country EU in Brussels.

The EU is China’s largest trading partner, while China is Europe’s second-largest, trailing only the U.S. China and Europe trade well over 1 billion euros worth ($1.37 billion) a day.

Xi was meeting with the head of the EU’s executive arm, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament leader Martin Schulz and Herman Van Rompuy, who chairs the meetings of the EU’s 28 national leaders.

Xi visited Belgium as part of a wider European tour that also has taken him to France, Germany and the Netherlands.

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March 25, 2014

Latinos being left behind in health care overhaul

Filed under: management, small business — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:56 am

WASHINGTON • The nation’s largest minority group risks being left behind by President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Hispanics make up nearly one-third of the nation’s uninsured, but many are staying on the sidelines as the White House races to meet a goal of 6 million sign-ups by March 31.

Latinos “are not at the table,” says Jane Delgado, president of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, a nonpartisan advocacy network.

Experts say that’s a loss both for Latinos, and the Obama administration itself us fast cash.

Hispanics who remain uninsured could face fines, not to mention risking high medical bills for their families.

And the government won’t get the full advantage of a largely young and healthy group that could help keep premiums low in the new insurance markets.

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March 21, 2014

Stocks move higher, head for solid weekly gains

Filed under: Uncategorized, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:16 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are higher in midday trading as the market gets set to close out a turbulent week with solid gains.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose eight points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,880 as of midday Friday. If the gains hold the index will close at a record high, its first in two weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 93 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,424. The Nasdaq composite slipped two points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,316.

All three major U no fax payday loans.S. indexes are up about 2 percent for the week.

Nike fell 3 percent after the company said a stronger U.S. dollar will dampen its sales this quarter.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.77 percent.

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March 20, 2014

Jesse Jackson targets tech’s lack of diversity

Filed under: mortgage, small business — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 6:32 am

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is bringing a strategy borrowed from the traditional civil rights era playbook to the age of social media and a booming tech industry known for its disruptive innovation.

Jackson led a delegation to Hewlett-Packard Co.’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday to bring attention to Silicon Valley’s poor record of including blacks and Latinos in hiring, board appointments and startup funding.

In a nearly 10-minute exchange with HP CEO Meg Whitman, Jackson urged her and the company to ensure blacks and Latinos have prominent leadership roles in the booming technology industry.

“Silicon Valley and tech industry have demonstrated that it can solve the most challenging and complex problems in the whole world,” Jackson said during the meeting, which was held in Santa Clara, Calif. “We need you to assume a different level of leadership. Today, too few have too much, too many have too little, and the middle class is sinking.”

Whitman defended HP’s track record, pointing out that the company has been fighting for racial diversity among its suppliers for more than 40 years. She also boasted that HP may be the only major company that employs women in the positions of CEO and chief financial officer, a reference to Catherine Lesjak.

Jackson congratulated her, but then chided Whitman for the absence of blacks and Latinos on HP’s board. “We are not perfect by any means,” Whitman conceded and assured Jackson she hoped to continue to discuss ways to promote more racial diversity in Silicon Valley.

In a letter Monday, Jackson raised similar issues with a list of other technology companies that included Apple Inc., Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.

Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise magazine, said Jackson is shining a light on the fact that technology companies don’t come close to hiring or spending what is commensurate with the demographics of their customers.

“Hopefully, what Rev. Jackson is doing will bring attention to the 800-pound gorilla in the room that nobody wants to talk about. It’s high time that gets addressed,” Graves said.

It’s widely recognized that the tech industry lacks diversity: About 1 in 14 tech workers is black or Latino, both in Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent census data.

“We agree with you there is much work to be done in the United States and much work to be done in Silicon Valley,” Whitman told Jackson during the meeting.

Yet as recently as 2011, The Allstate Corp., in alliance with Jackson’s RainbowPUSH organization, recognized HP for its commitment to diversity.

In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, HP Executive Vice President Henry Gomez said HP spent nearly $1 billion with almost 500 minority business enterprises in the U.S. and an additional $500 million with businesses owned by women during 2013.

Apple and Google declined to comment on Jackson’s grievances. Facebook and Twitter didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Of course, the technology industry isn’t without a handful of high-profile black executives. Microsoft Corp. named John Thompson, an African-American, as chairman of its board last month after he led a search that culminated in the appointment of Satya Nadella as the software maker’s new CEO. Thompson, the former CEO of security software maker Symantec Corp., joined Microsoft’s board in 2012.

Another African-American, Denise Young-Smith, runs Apple’s human resources department, which oversees the personnel policies governing the iPhone maker’s nearly 85,000 employees and contractors. She reports directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

And Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, is an African-American who has been one of the company’s top executives for the past 12 years.

During a recent speech at Stanford University, Jackson cited the dearth of black and Latino leaders in the tech sector. This got sophomore computer science major Rotimi Opeke, a leader at the school’s Society of Black Scientists and Engineers, wondering about his own opportunities.

“I’ve been thinking that if I can code well and produce good products, I can be successful, but to rise up through the ranks is going to be a challenge,” he said. “There’s just not a lot of people of color in high levels of tech leadership, which is where, eventually, I’d like to be. I’m hopeful that it’s not impossible to get there, but I do feel it would take an extraordinary level of leadership skills to navigate.”

Freada Kapor Klein started the Level Playing Field Institute 13 years ago to teach and mentor black and Latino students in science and math. Along with her husband, Mitch Kapor, she also invests in startups with founders who are women and people of color from an underrepresented background through Kapor Capital, a venture capital firm.

The Kapors recently wooed former NAACP President Ben Jealous to Kapor Capital to help boost its social impact investing.

Kapor Klein said she and her husband share Jackson’s goals and vision of what Silicon Valley should look like, but they choose to employ different tactics to get there.

“Jesse Jackson wouldn’t be heading to Hewlett-Packard or any of the other big tech companies if they had done their job and accomplished diversity,” she says. “He’s shining a spotlight on one aspect of the growing inequality of this country.”

Villanova University management professor Quinetta Roberson said the lack of diversity, particularly in Silicon Valley, is a problem given the value of diversity in organizations.

Roberson cites research showing that “diversity of thought generates creativity and innovation, and facilitates better problem-solving, both in terms of quantity and quality of solutions.”

“Given that such outcomes are what drives performance in tech companies in the valley, it is imperative to have such divergent perspectives represented within the body that is doing visioning and strategic directioning for organizations,” Roberson said.

Brooklyn-based technology marketing strategist Rachel Weingarten said she’s frustrated by the lack of diversity in business leadership.

“America pays a lot of lip service to full diversity, and in many ways we’re constantly making great strides, but for women like myself, forming our own companies and entrepreneurship is the only true way to level any playing field — by creating our own,” she said.

In the past, Jackson’s critics have accused him of profiting from similar protest actions. These critics say that after Jackson targeted companies over diversity issues in the financial sector and other industries, some have ended up donating large sums to Jackson’s organizations. In other cases, the targeted companies gave contracts to minority-owned firms that paid Jackson for referrals.

Graves, of Black Enterprise, dismisses such concerns.

“If in the fight to create opportunity, some of the money that these companies would contribute to United Way or the American Heart Association happens to go to (Jackson’s) Rainbow Coalition, I’m more than OK with that,” he said.

“That’s just the fear factor coming from when they see him,” Graves said, “because they know he’s not going to go away.”

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report.

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March 8, 2014

Malaysian airlines missing plane: Vietnam spots oil slicks; Canadians on board named

Filed under: Uncategorized, legal — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:32 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA—Vietnamese air force planes on Saturday spotted two large oil slicks in the area where a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 vanished earlier in the day, the first sign that the aircraft carrying 239 people on board, including two Canadians, had crashed.

The air force planes were part of a multinational search operation launched after Flight MH370 fell off radar screens less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday morning.

A Vietnamese government statement said the slicks were spotted late Saturday off the southern tip of Vietnam and were each between 10 kilometres and 15 kilometres long. There was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane, but the statement said they were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner.

Two-thirds of the missing plane’s passengers were from China, while others were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

Two Canadians, Muktesh Mukherjee, 42 and Xiaimo Bai, 37, have been confirmed by a Malaysia Airlines manifest as passengers on that flight. Both are listed as married on Bai’s Facebook page and have two small children.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted Saturday morning regarding the couple and all other missing from the flight, saying, “Our thoughts & deepest prayers are with those affected by the disappearance of the plane in Malaysia. #cdnpoli”

Our thoughts & deepest prayers are with those affected by the disappearance of the plane in Malaysia. #cdnpoli

March 5, 2014

EU tells Italy, France to up reforms, trim deficit

Filed under: legal, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:04 pm

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission is warning Italy and France must do more to tackle their high levels of public debt and reform their economies to reduce the risk of being hit with financial market turbulence.

The 28-member bloc’s executive arm said in a report published Wednesday that France’s debt burden is rising and the country is projected to miss agreed debt reduction targets.

It says the high debt level in the bloc’s second-largest economy could result in market turmoil that would dent growth and risk spreading to the rest of the 18-country eurozone payday lenders.

It says Italy’s new government must also show “decisive action” to tackle its debt burden and implement reforms to increase competitiveness “to reduce the risk of adverse effects on … the Italian economy and of the eurozone.”

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March 2, 2014

Lampert seeks real estate sizzle by shearing Sears name

Filed under: Canada, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:12 am

Seritage Realty Trust’s website offers illustrations of gleaming retail properties featuring parking lots filled with cars and shoppers, promising locations “in virtually every major U.S. market.”

It’s not immediately obvious that Seritage is connected to Sears, the department-store chain struggling to attract shoppers and shake off a reputation for dilapidated locations.

The 200-plus Sears and Kmart stores listed on the Seritage website are part of an effort by CEO Eddie Lampert to turn around the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company.

Analysts value the real estate portfolio at $4 billion to $7 billion.

Sears established Seritage in March as a separate legal entity with headquarters in Greenwich, Conn.

Sears declined to say why the website doesn’t identify its parent. Another real estate website, set up before Seritage, makes clear that it belongs to the company.

Analysts  speculate that Sears may be planning to spin off Seritage into a real estate investment trust.

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February 27, 2014

Mt.Gox site disappears, Bitcoin future in doubt

Filed under: finance, news — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 4:56 am

The Bitcoin-trading website Mt.Gox was taken offline late Monday, putting at risk millions of dollars put there by investors who gambled on the digital currency. The exchange also deleted all of its tweets, and Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the Bitcoin Foundation’s board of directors on Sunday.

The news frightened Bitcoin investors elsewhere, knocking the price down about 3% to $490 — its lowest level since November.

For now, there’s no telling what’s behind the shutdown. Mt.Gox did not respond to requests for comment.

However, an unverified document called “Crisis Strategy Draft” that is being circulated online claims Mt.Gox has lost 744,408 of its users’ bitcoins, worth nearly $367 million. It also claims Mt.Gox is planning to rebrand itself as Gox.

Mt.Gox has been mired in problems ever since Feb. 7, when it halted withdrawals from its trading accounts. The company’s computer programmers hadn’t accounted for a quirk in the way Bitcoin works, allowing cyber attackers to dupe Mt.Gox with a scheme resembling receipt fraud. When Mt.Gox discovered it was under attack, it stopped any investors from pulling their money out of their trading platform — but it has yet to allow them access to their money.

By the time trading at Mt.Gox was halted entirely late Monday, the price of a Bitcoin there had dropped significantly, to $130. Meanwhile it was trading for more than four times that on other exchanges cash advances pay day loan.

Late on Monday, several other Bitcoin exchanges sought to reassure investors and took a harder line with Mt. Gox.

“This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt.Gox was the result of one company’s abhorrent actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of Bitcoin and the digital currency industry,” the groups said in a statement.

The executives who signed the joint statement cast Mt.Gox’s downfall as the typical industry evolution that weeds out bad actors.

Trading bitcoins the old-fashioned way

Although Mt.Gox’s shutdown was unexpected, its piling troubles were no surprise.

Evan Rose, president of Bitcoin ATM company Genesis, said that the kinds of problems seen at Mt.Gox and other exchanges show that Bitcoin is in flux.

“The people running the systems right now are not necessarily business men,” Rose said. “For the most part, they’re people who came into this digital project without grasping the value or risk of it. The ecosystem is maturing, but it’s a little scary for everyone involved.”

— Charles Riley contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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February 23, 2014

Toronto fans share the joy of gold medal win

Filed under: Uncategorized, loans — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:52 pm

The cold didn’t stop them for relishing gold.

A huge crowd of Canadian ice hockey fans hooted, hollered and hugged each other outside the Air Canada Centre after watching Team Canada’s men blank Sweden 3-0 and capture the Olympic gold medal in Sochi Sunday.

It was -3 C, but that didn’t stop friends Ross Merlino, 34, Ahmed Mohamed, 30, Saleh Mohamed, 28, and David Desintonio, 34 from coming down to watch the thrilling victory on the large screen outside the ACC.

Many in the raucous but orderly crowd of several hundred were decked out in red and white Team Canada jerseys, scarves, and toques or had painted their faces in the colours of the Canadian flag.

A huge cheer went up when Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby and the other Canadian players were awarded their gold medals.

“There’s no words that can describe this,” said Merlino — who then came up with the word: “monumental.”

“For the team to repeat as world champs, as gold medalists (following Canada’s 2010 Olympic gold in Vancouver) and Sid the Kid (Crosby) came up huge again in a gold medal game. It’s great,’’ Merlino, of Toronto, added.

Crosby scored Canada’s second goal Sunday.

“I’m so excited. We’ve got the best powerhouse team in this world right now,” said Ahmed Mohamed, adding: “I think we’re going to celebrate for at least another couple of days,” said the 30-year-old forklift operator from Toronto.

Wearing no hat or gloves, and only a light jacket while standing outside — Ahmed ran into the lobby of a sports bar in Maple Leaf Square periodically to thaw out during the game.

Matthew Medeiros, 23 and girlfriend Emily Rolko, 21, both of Aurora, took public transit down to the ACC to watch the game on the giant screen.

“It’s very exciting, very exciting. Big win for Canada,” said Medeiros, an electrician.

Rolko said the game was fun to watch and she remembers watching the gold medal win in Vancouver in 2010 in her basement at home.

“This time I got to come out and experience the atmosphere down here. I love it,” said Rolko.

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February 20, 2014

Snipers bring Ukraine truce to a bloody end

Filed under: loans, news — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:00 pm

KYIV, UKRAINE—Fierce clashes between police and protesters shattered a brief truce in Ukraine’s besieged capital Thursday, leaving at least 22 people dead. Government snipers were reported to be shooting at some of the protesters.

The deaths in Kyiv came in a new eruption of violence just hours after the country’s embattled president and the opposition leaders demanding his resignation called for a truce and negotiations to try to resolve Ukraine’s protracted political crisis.

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The two sides are locked in a decades-long battle over the identity of the country of 46 million, whose loyalties are divided between Russia and the West. Parts of the country — mostly in its western cities — are in open revolt against President Viktor Yanukovych’s central government.

An Associated Press reporter saw 21 bodies laid out on the edge of the sprawling protest encampment in central Kyiv.

In addition, one policeman was killed and 28 suffered gunshot wounds Thursday, Interior Ministry spokesman Serhiy Burlakov told the AP. Government snipers were seen shooting at some protesters in Kyiv, according to an AP cameraman and a protester.

The deaths Thursday brought the week’s toll to at least 50 in Kyiv, with hundreds injured.

Shocked by the violence, the chief of Kyiv’s city administration, Volodymyr Makeyenko, said Thursday he was leaving Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

“We must be guided only by the interests of the people, this is our only chance to save people’s lives,” he said, adding he would continue to fulfil his duties as long as he had the people’s trust.

As the violence exploded and heavy smoke from burning barricades at the encampment belched into the sky, the foreign ministers of three European countries met with Yanukovych, after their meeting with the opposition leaders.

Neither side appears willing to compromise, with the opposition insisting on Yanukovych’s resignation and an early election and the president apparently prepared to fight until the end.

Later Thursday in Brussels, the 28-nation European Union was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Ukraine, to consider sanctions against those behind the violence.

The latest bout of street violence began Tuesday when protesters attacked police lines and set fires outside parliament, accusing Yanukovych of ignoring their demands to enact constitutional reforms that would limit the president’s power — a key opposition demand. Parliament, dominated by his supporters, was stalling on taking up a constitutional reform instant credit report.

In a statement early Thursday, the Ukrainian Health Ministry said 28 people have died and 287 have been hospitalized during the two days of street violence. Protesters, who have set up a medical care facility in a downtown cathedral so that wounded colleagues would not be snatched by police at the hospital, say the numbers of injured are significantly higher — possibly double or triple that.

A statement from the Interior Ministry on Thursday said the gunfire against officers appeared to be coming from the national music conservatory in Kyiv, which is on the edge of the downtown square housing an extensive protest tent camp.

Also Thursday, the parliament building was evacuated because of fears protesters were preparing to storm it.

At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Ukrainian alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska, 24, said she will not take part in Friday’s women’s slalom to protest the developments in Kyiv.

“As a protest against lawless actions made toward protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games,” her father and coach, Oleg Matsotskyy, wrote in a Facebook post.

The clashes this week have been the most deadly since protests kicked off three months ago after Yanukovych shelved an association agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia. Russia then announced a $15 billion bailout for Ukraine, whose economy is in tatters.

Although the initial weeks of protests were peaceful, radicals helped drive an outburst of clashes with police in January in which at least three people died, and the day of violence Tuesday may have radicalized many more.

Political and diplomatic manoeuvring has continued, with both Moscow and the West eager to gain influence over this former Soviet republic. Three EU foreign ministers — from Germany, France and Poland — were in Kyiv on Thursday speaking with both sides.

President Barack Obama also stepped in to condemn the violence, warning Wednesday “there will be consequences” for Ukraine if it continues. The U.S. has raised the prospect of joining with the EU to impose sanctions against Ukraine.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, described the violence as an attempted coup and even used the phrase “brown revolution,” an allusion to the Nazi rise to power in Germany in 1933. The ministry said Russia would use “all our influence to restore peace and calm.”

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