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October 24, 2014

U.S. girls

Filed under: Canada, loans — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 2:36 am

PARIS—The teenage sisters told their father they were staying home sick from their suburban Denver school. Instead, they took $2,000 and their passports and headed off for Syria with a 16-year-old friend. They made it as far as Germany before border guards detained them for questioning.

Related: IS militants luring Western women as wives

The fact that adolescent girls could make their way across the Atlantic might come as a surprise to many parents, but a patchwork of laws and rules governing international air travel in many cases makes it easy for teenagers to travel with nobody’s permission but their own.

Airlines have a range of rules governing minors’ travel: Many major carriers including United Airlines and Scandinavian airline SAS place no restrictions on children over 12, while others let even young minors travel as long as they are accompanied by someone over 16. Yet others, including American Airlines, require a parent to accompany travellers under the age of 15 to the gate, while those 15 and over face no restrictions.

Countries have a separate set of laws that is no less haphazard, from a Russian requirement for notarized parental permission to the U.S. system where adolescents with valid passports are free to come and go.

In Spain, both parents must fill out a permission form at a police station before a minor can travel alone. In Germany, where the American teens were stopped, border guards are required to verify that minors have parental permission to travel.

And in France, which is Europe’s single largest source of would-be jihadis, parental authorization had to be received by city hall — until January 2013.

That’s when a small administrative change took effect suspending the requirement for parental approval. The government said it would streamline unnecessary bureaucracy and officials remarked that few runaways went abroad, and even fewer stayed there.

Fast-forward 22 months, and nearly every week new reports emerge of French adolescents leaving for Syria. Teenagers from France can travel within the European Union with a valid ID; outside the EU, they need only a passport.

Under French law, parents can have their children flagged if they fear they will leave the country to join extremists. But for many of those who have left, their families had no warning.

Lawyer Agnes Dufetel-Cordier represents a teenage boy from Toulouse who left in January to join the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, before coming back to his family to face criminal charges. She said the teen — now 16 — gave no sign he was about to bolt for Syria, and his departure came as a shock to his parents. He was not stopped at the airport in Marseille, nor on arrival in Turkey or crossing into Syria.

“If you reverse the regulation that lets them travel without their parents’ permission, you will see right away that minors are no longer leaving,” Dufetel-Cordier said. “Today in France, in the case of most minors who go to Syria, the families have absolutely no idea ahead of time.”

At age 17, Sahra Ali Mehenni went so far as to ask her mother to get her a passport, saying she wanted her paperwork in order before she reached adulthood. When she left for Syria on March 11, departing from the Marseille airport just as the teen boy did, she took her burgundy-bound passport and nobody stopped her before she boarded the flight to Istanbul.

“If I go out and I run a red light, they’re going to get me right away,” said her father, Kamel. “But these minors are going to Istanbul — and if they’re going to Istanbul, it’s to go to Syria. They know it. You can’t say they don’t know it. And no one stops it.”

The same concerns apply in the United States, where parental permission is required to obtain a passport — but none is needed for travel.

The teens who flew to Germany were stopped because their parents, part of suburban Denver’s tight-knit East African community, reported them missing quickly, and American authorities contacted German authorities before they landed.


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October 20, 2014

Germany, France to draw up investment plans

Filed under: Uncategorized, small business — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 8:52 pm

BERLIN (AP) — Germany and France agreed Monday to draw up proposals by the beginning of December to boost investment as they try to come up with a strategy that will help shore up the European economic recovery.

Though the decision to come up with an investment plan shows the two countries trying to work together closely, the divide between Berlin and Paris on economic matters is wide.

The German government has faced pressure from abroad to pump more money into the economy to help bolster both its and Europe’s recovery. However, it appears determined to stick to plans to halt new borrowing next year for the first time since 1969.

France, meanwhile, is under pressure to get its finances in order after admitting that its 2015 budget would break promises to bring its deficit below the European Union limit of 3 percent of its annual gross domestic product within two years.

“We are determined to do everything together to strengthen investment in our countries — we will do that in the framework of the different capacities we have to act,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said after he, and Germany’s economy minister met their French counterparts.

A plan to be drawn up over the coming weeks will likely include investment proposals for Germany and France, as well as possible joint projects and “common ideas for European projects,” French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said check cash advance.

The German ministers stressed the importance of stimulating private investment, rather than boosting government borrowing.

Ahead of his visit, Macron was quoted by a German newspaper as suggesting that Berlin should raise investment by 50 billion euros ($63.8 billion) over the next three years while Paris cuts spending by the same amount. Macron said Monday he “didn’t demand anything” but noted that “Germany has a greater capacity than us to make investments.”

The European Union executive will decide over the coming weeks whether to force member countries to revise their budgets. German weekly Der Spiegel reported Monday, without citing sources, that Germany could oppose such a move against France if Paris commits to a specific timetable for reforms.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin insisted that “there is no pact and we are not looking for a pact” on the budget issue, and that Paris doesn’t want any change to budget rules.


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October 19, 2014

Jeffrey Baldwin memorial unveiled in Greenwood Park

Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:20 am

Jeffrey Baldwin, dressed as Superman, was among his fellow children in spirit on Saturday, as hundreds gathered in Greenwood Park for the unveiling of a bronze statue and bench in the young abuse victim’s honour.

It was a scene quite unlike the sadness of his short life.

Twelve years ago, the 5-year-old Toronto boy died of starvation — he weighed only 21 pounds at his death — at the hands of his grandparents, Norman Kidman and Elva Bottineau. The pair were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

“There’s so much support and compassion for Jeffrey,” said an emotional Todd Boyce, the Ottawa father who spearheaded online fundraising efforts that raised more than $36,000 for the memorial. “So much that he didn’t have in his life, but he has it now.”

Jeffrey had been placed in the care of his grandparents by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society. Both Kidman and Bottineau had separate convictions for assault on their own children, but the organization wasn’t aware of that until after Baldwin’s death.

Councillor Paula Fletcher (open Paula Fletcher’s policard), who represents the neighbourhood where Jeffrey lived, just a short distance from Greenwood Park, said the memorial will be part of the city’s public art collection.

“Whenever you’re skating, whenever you’re rollerblading, whenever you’re walking through, there’s a bench to sit on and just have a moment with Jeffrey in Greenwood Park,” she said.

Donors for Boyce’s memorial initiative came from within the local community and around the world — from as far as Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, Boyce said. “I think it’s a testament to the human spirit, really, that so many people, total strangers, were able to reach out and donate.”

In Saturday’s brisk autumn air, numerous children crowded around the sculpture and climbed atop the bench after the memorial was unveiled.

“I’m happy to see that Jeffrey’s going to be able to overlook the park for a very long time and see the children play,” said Boyce, his voice wavering.

Media reports after Jeffrey’s death struck a chord with Boyce, who has no direct connection to the young murder victim. Boyce said his 8-year-old son, Cole, shares Jeffrey’s birthday, Jan. 20.

“I can’t imagine my children suffering in any way close to what Jeffrey had to go through for so long,” Boyce said. “It just breaks my heart.”

Belynda Blyth, co-chair of Friends of Greenwood Park — a group that supported Boyce’s efforts to erect the memorial — said she carries “a weight” after living across the street from Jeffrey during part of his short life payday advance.

“I’m the kind of person that would’ve banged down that door and taken him away,” she said. “But I was completely unaware. I had no idea.”

While the artwork immortalizes Jeffrey, Boyce said it serves a dual purpose. “It’s also to remind people that child abuse does happen, and if they’re not vigilant reporting the signs of it, then this tragedy could repeat itself,” he explained.

The sculpture of Jeffrey, placed prominently in a main gathering point in the park, was designed by noted Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy.

She said the process of designing the sculpture, based on just a few photographs available of Jeffrey, took several months. It was then sent to a foundry to be encased in bronze on the bench.

“I wanted him to be eye level, to encounter the adults that pause for a moment. And then the kids standing on the bench can meet him at eye level as well,” Abernethy said. “One day they’ll be standing on the ground as adults, doing that face-to-face, recommitting to how hard it is to be a parent — and face-to-face with how much it matters. How much good parenting matters; there are no words.”

Jeffrey was, “for such a long time, made to feel unloved and worthless,” Boyce said. “That’s something no child should have to go through.”

The new bench and sculpture join an earlier memorial elsewhere in the park, which included a tree planted in Jeffrey’s honour. The original tree was broken, likely by vandals, last December, but a newer one stands in its place.

The statue’s design hit a roadblock earlier this year when DC initially refused to grant permission for usage of the Superman logo’s stylized S. Jeffrey Baldwin’s father, Richard Baldwin, told last year’s coroner’s inquest how his son was “so excited” to go as Superman for Halloween one year. DC later gave Boyce and Abernethy the green light to use the iconic crest.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has previously been criticized for not seeking standing at that 2013-2014 coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death, despite the fact that it is ultimately responsible for investigating child abuse in Ontario.

The ministry recently redacted large sections of a document detailing how it planned to handle the fallout from that inquest, but the Star has appealed that decision to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.


October 6, 2014

Hong Kong protesters make apparent concessions

Filed under: loans, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:40 am

HONG KONG (AP) — In an apparent concession to authorities warning pro-democracy protesters to clear Hong Kong’s streets by the beginning of the work week, students occupying the area outside city government headquarters agreed Sunday to remove some barricades that have blocked the building’s entrance during the weeklong demonstrations.

But it was not immediately clear how significant the move was and how much it would defuse the standoff, with many protesters vowing to stay in the area. The partial withdrawal also appeared to be part of a strategy to regroup in another part of town.

Television footage from the scene showed a protest representative shaking hands with a police officer and the two sides removing some barricades together. About 300 demonstrators remained standing peacefully outside the government’s main building, and did not appear to have intentions to move.

Across the harbor in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok district, protesters appeared divided about whether to stay put or decamp to the city’s Admiralty area, the main protest site. The atmosphere in Mong Kok was relatively relaxed as people began to clear out, though many said they were headed home and not to another protest area.

“I don’t know what the next step is, but I will not retreat. The people you see here will not retreat,” said Burnett Tung, an 18-year-old student who has served as a volunteer at a food supply station outside government headquarters all week.

“The leaders of the movement are the citizens. We’re leading the movement, not them,” said Roy Wong, 21, referring to some protest leaders who called for a retreat from Mong Kok.

Tens of thousands of people, many of them students, have poured into the streets of the semi-autonomous city over the past week to peacefully protest China’s restrictions on the first-ever direct election for Hong Kong’s top leader, promised by Beijing for 2017. But with the standoff between the protesters and the government in its eighth day, tempers were flaring and patience was waning among residents who oppose the occupation of the streets and the disruption it has brought.

Police using pepper spray clashed with protesters overnight, after officials said they intended to have key streets open for schools and offices by Monday morning. Large crowds of demonstrators scuffled with police in the blue-collar Mong Kok district, a flash point that has seen violent clashes between pro-democracy student protesters and their antagonists throughout the weekend.

Police said they had to disperse the crowds with force because protesters had provoked officers with verbal abuse, while the students accused police of failing to protect them from attacks by mobs intent on driving them away. The students say police allied themselves with criminal gangs to clear them, but the government has vehemently denied the accusation.

Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, appeared on television Saturday evening to urge everyone to go home, saying key roads paralyzed by protesters needed to return to normal by Monday.

“The government and the police have the duty and determination to take all necessary actions to restore social order so the government and the 7 million people of Hong Kong can return to their normal work and life,” Leung said.

Police said they had arrested 30 people since the protests started Sept. 28, and that 27 police officers had been injured while on duty in the protest areas.

“To restore order, we are determined and we are confident we have the capability to take any necessary action,” said police spokesman Steve Hui. “We have to make correct assessments, then depending on the prevailing situation, we will consider all necessary measures.”

Asked to clarify the authorities’ demands for clearing areas near government offices, Hui would say only that government workers needed to work.

“There should not be any unreasonable, unnecessary obstruction by any members of the public,” he said.

The atmosphere on the streets was tense Sunday amid fears police may use pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the protesters, as they did last weekend. The University of Hong Kong, among others, warned students to leave the streets.

“I am making this appeal from my heart because I genuinely believe that if you stay, there is a risk to your safety,” said Peter Mathieson, the university’s president. “Please leave now. You owe it to your loved ones to put your safety above all other considerations.”

The protests are the strongest challenge to authorities in Hong Kong — and in Beijing — since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing has promised that the city can have universal suffrage by 2017, but it says a committee of mostly pro-Beijing figures must screen candidates for the top job. The protesters also are demanding Leung’s resignation, but he has refused to step down.

The next steps are uncertain, after student leaders called off planned talks with the government until officials respond to claims that police tolerated attacks by alleged mobsters. The movement has largely been free-forming, and many who take part are uncertain of what comes next.

The government said Sunday that it was happy to talk to the students, and that it hoped protest leaders would cooperate and allow the reopening of the roads outside the government’s headquarters.

“I believe there will be lots of people who want to stop the police from clearing this place,” Jack Fung, a 19-year-old student, said at the government headquarters Sunday morning. “But if the police use rubber bullets, or real bullets, there will be many people who will leave the place, because it will be too dangerous.”

Fung said he supported allowing civil servants to go back to work Monday, but he believed protesters should block Leung from entering his office.

In Mong Kok, the violence calmed later Sunday, but rowdy crowds kept up loud and heated street arguments. Many residents and businesspeople are fed up with the disruption, saying they want to return to normal life as soon as possible.

Police officers carrying guns patrolled the area, and at least one officer was seen carrying tear gas canisters.

“This is a public place, people need to use this road, people need to live here,” said Johnson Cheung, 26, who works in a duty-free shop. “The students don’t need to make a living, their parents pay for them. But we have jobs, we have to live.”


September 28, 2014

Sweating it out in war against Ebola

Filed under: Canada, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 3:04 am

BRUSSELS—Inside the eight-piece protective suits worn by doctors on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak, the temperature reaches at least 46 C. But one of the most dangerous moments on the job is going through the 12 steps to take the suit off, which can take 30 minutes.

On a fallow field behind a logistics warehouse in Brussels, Doctors Without Borders, also known as M

September 26, 2014

Banks Face Pass-the-Parcel Debt Limit in Writedown Rule - Bloomberg

Filed under: loans, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:40 pm

The world

September 24, 2014

Big new iPhone brings Apple more profit

Filed under: news, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 9:20 pm

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple’s largest iPhone is selling for $100 more than its other new model, but an outside research firm estimated Tuesday that it costs Apple only $15.50 more to make the more expensive version.

Apple said it sold more than 10 million of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models in their first three days on sale. Both have larger screens than earlier iPhone models, and analysts say consumers like the new, bigger sizes. The Plus has a 5.5-inch screen, as measured diagonally, while the regular iPhone 6 is at 4.7 inches.

The new iPhones went on sale Friday and address a key advantage rival Android phones have long had: size. The iPhone has been Apple’s main source of profits and is expected to remain so for at least the next year.

Apple will make more profit on the Plus version, according to a report from research firm IHS Technology. The full, no-contract price for the 16-gigabyte iPhone 6 is $650. IHS estimates it costs Apple $200.10 for materials and manufacturing. The iPhone 6 Plus retails for $750 without a contract, but IHS says it costs Apple $215.60.

With a two-year service contract with a wireless carrier, a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6 costs consumers $200. An iPhone 6 Plus costs $300 with a contract.

The Plus model also has a bigger battery and a slightly more expensive camera than the regular iPhone 6, according to IHS.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. The Cupertino, California, company usually doesn’t disclose details of its manufacturing costs.


September 20, 2014

Scotland votes to remain part of United Kingdom

Filed under: management, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:32 am

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Scottish voters have resoundingly rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.

The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to Britain’s economic and political establishment, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who faced calls for his resignation if Scotland had broken away.

The vote on Thursday — 55 percent against independence to 45 percent in favor — saw an unprecedented turnout of just under 85 percent.

“We have chosen unity over division,” Alistair Darling, head of the No campaign, said early Friday in Glasgow. “Today is a momentous day for Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.”

Independence leader Alex Salmond’s impassioned plea to launch a new nation fell short, with Scots choosing instead the security of remaining in union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Still, the result establishes a whole new political dynamic in the United Kingdom, with Cameron appearing outside No. 10 Downing Street to pledge more powers for regional governments.

Even in conceding, Salmond struck an upbeat tone.

“This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics,” he said to cheering supporters.

The pound hit a two-year high against the euro and a two-week high against the U.S. dollar as markets shrugged off recent anxiety about a possible vote for independence. In early Asian trading, the pound jumped nearly 0.8 percent to $1.6525 against the U.S. dollar before falling back slightly. Britain’s main stock index opened higher.

A much-relieved Cameron promised to live up to earlier promises to give Scotland new powers on taxes, spending and welfare. He said the new plans will be agreed upon by November, with draft legislation by January.

But he also said change was coming to other parts of the country amid the watershed vote.

“Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs,” Cameron said. “The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well.”

The No campaign won the capital city, Edinburgh, by a margin of 61 percent to 38 percent and triumphed by 59 percent to 41 percent in Aberdeen, the country’s oil center. The Yes campaign won Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, but it was not enough.

The voted riveted the nation. Those glued to returns included “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who tweeted that she had “Been up all night watching Scotland make history. A huge turnout, a peaceful democratic process: we should be proud.”

Rowling gave 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to the No campaign.

As dawn broke to lead-gray skies over Glasgow, the dream of independence that had seemed so tantalizingly close evaporated in the soft drizzle.

George Square, the rallying point for thousands of Yes supporters in the final days of the campaign, was littered with placards and debris of a campaign in which many had invested more than two years of their lives.

“I had never voted before or got involved with politics in any way but this time I thought my vote would count for something,” said truck driver Calum Noble, 25, as his voice cracked with emotion free business cards. “I wanted a better country but it’s all been for nothing. I don’t believe we will get any of the things the London politicians promised.”

But popular opinion on a leafy residential street in Edinburgh’s west end told a different tale. Young and old sat by their televisions waiting for news in a half dozen homes. Nearly all said they had voted No.

“Just because I’m not out in the street in a kilt screaming how Scottish I am, that doesn’t mean I’m not a proud Scot. I am. And a proud Brit. That’s the point the Yes side doesn’t respect,” said Ger Robertson, 47, who chose instead to celebrate Scotland’s verdict in his living room with a dram of his favorite single-malt whisky.

Salmond had argued that Scots could go it alone because of its extensive oil reserves and high levels of ingenuity and education. He said Scotland would flourish alone, free of interference from any London-based government.

Many saw it as a “heads versus hearts” campaign, with cautious older Scots concluding that independence would be too risky financially, while younger ones were enamored with the idea of building their own country.

The result saved Cameron from a historic defeat and also helped opposition chief Ed Miliband by keeping his many Labour Party lawmakers in Scotland in place. Labour would have found it much harder to win a national election in 2015 without that support from Scotland.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scot, returned to prominence with a dramatic barnstorming campaign in support of the union in the final days before the referendum vote. Brown argued passionately that Scots could be devoted to Scotland but still proud of their place in the U.K., rejecting the argument that independence was the patriotic choice.

“There is not a cemetery in Europe that does not have Scots, English, Welsh and Irish lined side by side,” Brown said before the vote. “We not only won these wars together, we built the peace together. What we have built together by sacrificing and sharing, let no narrow nationalism split asunder.”

For his part, Cameron — aware that his Conservative Party is widely loathed in Scotland — begged voters not to use a vote for independence as a way to bash the Tories.

The vote against independence keeps the United Kingdom from losing a substantial part of its territory and oil reserves and prevents it from having to find a new base for its nuclear arsenal, now housed in Scotland. It had also faced a possible loss of influence within international institutions including the 28-nation European Union, NATO and the United Nations.

The decision also means Britain can avoid a prolonged period of financial insecurity that had been predicted by some if Scotland broke away.

“This has been a long, hard fight and both sides have campaigned fiercely,” said Norma Austin Hart, a Labour Party member of Edinburgh City Council. “This has not been like a normal election campaign. There have been debates in town halls and school halls and church halls.

“It’s been so intense,” she said. “But the people of Scotland have decided.”


September 18, 2014

Mayor Rob Ford faces weeks of chemotherapy treatment

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

Rob Ford faces more than a month of chemotherapy treatment for a rare form of cancer with an election less than six weeks away.

The mayor has a malignant liposarcoma, a “very rare and a very difficult tumour,” said Dr. Zane Cohen, the renowned colorectal surgeon in charge of the mayor’s medical team at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

A week after news that a tumour was discovered in Ford’s abdomen, Cohen said Wednesday the cancer has spread. A second, smaller tumour was discovered in the mayor’s buttocks, behind his left hip.

“It’s fairly aggressive, but we are treating this very aggressively in order to eradicate the tumour,” the doctor told reporters in a packed meeting room across from the hospital’s main campus. “It comprises about 1 per cent only of all cancers.”

Cohen said a second biopsy done on Monday, after the first biopsy proved inconclusive, revealed the cancer. Ford and his family learned the news in the last 72 hours.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had been diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma, which makes up about one per cent of cancers. Doctors at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital say they are optimistic about Ford’s chemotherapy treatment.

“My brother has been diagnosed with cancer and I can’t begin to share how devastating this has been for Rob and our family. He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this,” said Doug Ford in an emailed statement.

“Rob has always been so strong for all of us and now I ask us all to be strong for him. Your kind words and well wishes mean everything to him right now. Rob will beat this,” Ford said.

Cohen said they are “optimistic” about treating this particular type of cancer — pleomorphic liposarcoma — and that it is the most “sensitive” to chemotherapy.

In the next 48 hours, Ford will begin two rounds of chemotherapy, each to last three days followed by 18 days of a “washout” period. After doctors examine the tumour again, they will decide whether more chemotherapy is needed or if surgery is required, Cohen said.

The mayor may be able to continue working — and campaigning, now that he has put his name into the councillor race for his old seat in Ward 2 (Etobicoke North).

“I think he’s a pretty strong person,” Cohen said of Ford. “He may be able to work through it. I think that he will be able to be functional, but he’s going to have some rough days.”

Cohen also said Mt. Sinai is one of the largest of Ontario’s three sarcoma centres and houses sarcoma treatment and research experts.

Doug Ford replaced his younger brother on the mayoral ballot last week, just days after the tumour was first discovered.

Ford, 45, has two children under the age of 10.

His cancer diagnosis now leaves some uncertainty in the Ward 2 race. Though early polls indicated Ford could easily win his old seat from a hospital bed, he faces several competent competitors — including businessman Andray Domise, a realtor and a Toronto Community Housing board member.

Ford took the place of his 20-something nephew Michael Ford on the Ward 2 ballot after stepping back from the mayor’s race.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma, a rare type of cancer. Dr. Zane Cohen provided the health update and said the mayor will undergo chemotherapy.

“I could be facing a battle of my lifetime, and I want the people of Toronto to know that I intend to face this challenge head on, and win,” he said in his statement last week.

A political source told the Star that Rob Ford’s switch from the mayoral race to one for a councillor seat was meant to give Ford something to fight for as he faces this health crisis.

Ford earlier told the Sun his lungs were biopsied this week, which Cohen said is incorrect.

In 2009, Ford also told several news outlets he had a tumour removed from his appendix. Cohen said that is not true. Ford had appendicitis.

The Fords’ father, former MPP Doug Ford Sr., died of colon cancer in 2006, three months after he was diagnosed.

“The most important thing, most important thing, is your health,” Ford said in a speech at the wedding of assistant Jerry Agyemang in August. “Friends, you can have everything in the world. If you haven’t got your health you don’t have very much.”

Behind-the-scenes this week, political insiders and those close to Ford quietly struggled with the cancer news.

“It’s the worst possible scenario,” a source close to the mayor told the Star on Tuesday.

A somber procession of Ford’s mother, brothers, wife and nephew have been streaming in and out of the hospital daily since he was admitted to Mt. Sinai last week.

“We have a lot of faith in the doctors and we have a lot of faith in God,” Ford’s wife Renata said a few hours before the press conference on Wednesday.

The news of Ford’s condition has also created a dilemma for mayoral candidates, who once faced off against Ford and have yet to meet brother Doug Ford on the campaign trail.

A debate planned by the real estate industry Wednesday evening was postponed in a joint decision by candidates John Tory, Olivia Chow and organizers.

Both Chow and Tory spoke just outside city hall following the announcement on Ford’s condition.

“I think in the end here today we’re thinking about the Ford family,” Tory said. “It’s not the day to analyze all these things, it’s rather a day to express our concern and express a thought and . . . solidarity.”

“I know Rob Ford is strong. He’s a fighter,” she said. “Keep a hopeful attitude. Be stubborn. Be determined. Be courageous and say I can beat this and it will happen.”

On Wednesday, there were messages of support for Ford from all political arenas.

“I was deeply saddened today to learn that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and that he will have to undergo chemotherapy,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a statement. “We wish him a speedy and complete recovery and are certain that he will take on this fight with all of his characteristic tenacity and energy.”

At Queen’s Park, Premier Kathleen Wynne joined the chorus of well wishes for the ailing mayor.

“My sincere hope is that Mayor Ford can beat this and my thoughts are with him and his family. I know he’s been receiving a great number of good wishes,” Wynne said in a statement. “Those thoughtful words — along with the care of the team at Mount Sinai — are sure to help set him on the road to restored health.”

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who has assumed most of the mayor’s powers since Ford was stripped of them last year, also sent words of encouragement.

“Those who know Rob, know that he never backs down from a tough fight. Like every challenges he takes on, I know he will fight until he wins,” Kelly said. “I encourage all Torontonians to wish Rob well as he faces this challenge in the days and weeks ahead.”

Though Doug Ford promised to start campaigning this week, he has yet to participate in any events or debates. A Twitter account and temporary campaign website appeared online on Wednesday.

A second Ford Fest BBQ originally planned for Friday was also postponed ahead of Wednesday’s announcement.

Ford remains the mayor until Dec. 1, when a mayor-elect takes over the office.

With files from Daniel Dale, Betsy Powell, Paul Moloney, Robert Benzie and Katrina Clarke


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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