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August 31, 2014

TIFF overbooks for two world premieres, including Bill Murray

Filed under: online, term — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 1:56 pm

It won’t be much of a Bill Murray Day for some Toronto International Film Festival goers, after a computer glitch froze them out of premium tickets they thought they had for the world premiere of St. Vincent on Sept. 5.

And some ticket pack purchases who thought they had seats at the Sept. 5 world bow of crime drama The Drop, starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini got the same bad news.

The TIFF computer system failed to take two Princess of Wales screenings

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August 29, 2014

Sandy recovery, sun boost Jersey shore business

Filed under: Canada, legal — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:52 pm

BELMAR, N.J. (AP) — Good weather and greater awareness that the Jersey shore has made huge strides in recovering from Superstorm Sandy helped make the second summer after the storm better than the first one, many merchants and elected officials say.

Some business owners report profits up 20 to 30 percent this summer compared with last year’s, when the shore was still in the early stages of recovering from the devastating October 2012 storm.

“This summer was great,” said Matt Riccelli, who manages Gee Gee’s restaurants on the Manasquan beachfront. “We’re all sad to see it end.”

Riccelli said his business was up 20 percent this summer from last, when it was still rebuilding and the beach was much narrower before an offseason replenishment project. Weekend weather was mostly sunny. But he and many others said the biggest factor was getting past the images of Sandy’s destruction.

“Sandy is a memory at this point,” Riccelli said. “A lot of the construction is done, and more locals who were displaced last year are back in town this year.”

Annie’s Ocean Grill has operated from a truck on the Belmar beachfront the past two summers. This year was definitely better, said cook David Gelman.

“People see that the beach is back, the boardwalk is here, and that Sandy is gone,” he said. “There’s a sense that the shore is getting back to normal.”

To be sure, there is still work to do. The whine of power saws and the thwack of hammers still resonate on summer afternoons in places like Manasquan, the Ortley Beach section of Toms River, and Mantoloking, where work continues on homes wrecked by the storm. But even those places have made sure the beach is ready for visitors.

Summer rentals bounced back strongly. Jerry Bennett, a real estate agent with Seashore Agency in Ship Bottom, said his business increased by 30 percent on Long Beach Island.

“If you’re driving around LBI, you wouldn’t even realize there was a superstorm here less than two years ago,” he said. “The island is back to normal now and better than ever, because a lot of places got newly renovated. People have gotten the word that there’s not total devastation here.”

Dan MacElrevey said rentals at the six motels he manages in the Wildwoods, three beach communities at the southern tip of the state, were up by 8 percent in July and August small personal loans. At Maui’s Dog House, a hot dog restaurant that serves its food in dog bowls, saw its sales increase this season, partly because it was still rebuilding in early summer 2013.

Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach also said business was noticeably better this year, although it could not give a percentage increase. Spokeswoman Toby Wolf attributed the improvement to good weather, more available rentals and more out-of-state visitors.

“I’ve always seen some New England license plates here, but this year there seemed to be an abundance of them in the parking lots and driving around the area,” she said.

New Jersey charges people for the privilege of walking onto a beach, and beach badge sales were up in many shore towns this summer.

Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long said her town, which was pummeled by Sandy, had taken in 50 percent more beach revenue as of Aug. 22 compared with all of summer 2013. Belmar had sold 9,000 more beach badges as of Aug. 24 than it did in the same period last summer, and its beach parking revenue nearly tripled this summer. Ocean City was up by $125,000 at the beginning of August.

Tom Rogers said business at his TR’s Food Court in Belmar was about the same this summer as last year — despite raising prices by 3 percent. He said an increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage held down profits and also customers bought fewer soft drinks, which are a big profit-maker for his business.

And despite the imminent closing of the casinos, Atlantic City has been having a good summer, with restaurants and nightclubs doing brisk business, said Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, the casino-funded agency that promotes the city to other parts of the country.

“Contrary as it appears in the face of the closings, Atlantic City is actually experiencing a very strong summer,” she said.


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August 25, 2014

Roche to buy US biotech firm InterMune for $8.3B

Filed under: management, technology — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 2:04 am

BERLIN (AP) — Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche said Sunday it has reached an $8.3 billion deal to buy InterMune Inc., a California-based developer of treatments for lung diseases.

The companies have reached an agreement under which Roche will acquire InterMune in an all-cash transaction, paying $74.00 per InterMune share, Roche said. That is a premium of 38 percent over InterMune’s closing price on Friday.

The acquisition of the biotechnology company, based in Brisbane, California, “will allow Roche to broaden and strengthen its respiratory portfolio globally,” the Swiss company said. It added that the transaction is expected to bolster earnings from 2016.

Roche said it plans “a smooth transition of InterMune employees and operations into the Roche organization payday advances.” The American company hopes to launch its drug pirfenidone in the U.S. later this year.

The drug is designed to treat a terminal lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, which causes inflammation and scarring of the lung that makes it hard for patients to breathe. InterMune began selling it in Europe under the name Esbriet in 2011 and it is also available in Canada and some other countries.


August 23, 2014

McKee applies for St. Louis hospital approval

Filed under: Uncategorized, term — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 10:28 am

Developer Paul McKee has officially submitted his application to state health regulators seeking approval for a three-bed, $6.8 million urgent care hospital on the city’s north side.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Department of Health Director Pamela Walker offered written support for the project along with a handful of other public officials and residents, according to the application submitted Friday to the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee.

In Missouri, hospitals must go through the certificate of need process to obtain approval before building. Applicants must show there’s an actual need for the hospital, and the Health Facilities Review Committee votes on the request.

McKee’s application uses a study from the city’s department of health to show the overall poor health status of north city residents to illustrate the need for the hospital, according to the application. If approved, this will be the city’s only hospital north of Lindell Boulevard. 

Substantial health disparities particularly among the African-American community still persist in north St. Louis, Walker said in a letter contained within McKee’s application. The highest mortality rates, including those of infants, are within north St. Louis zip codes, Walker wrote. And, the lowest life expectancy is in north St. Louis, she wrote.

“An estimated 40 percent of residents living on the north side of St. Louis do not have their own means of transportation, resulting in a high demand for city ambulance services to primarily Christian North East or BJC emergency departments,” Walker wrote my credit score.

In a letter to convey his “unqualified support,” Slay said the project “would not simply promote public health in a part of the city where there is great need, it would represent a significant advance in broader interests of social justice.”

The application is in line with McKee’s previously announced plan for the hospital located at the intersection of 25th and North Market Streets, within McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration project area. But it’s still unclear who will operate clinical services for the hospital.

The three-bed hospital will not house any operating rooms, oncology services, invasive procedure rooms or obstetric services, according to the application. Transfer agreements will be in place with other hospitals and trauma centers to treat patients who need more than urgent care services, according to the application.

McKee estimates the hospital will experience 7,800 patient visits in its first year of operation followed by about 8,580 its second year.

The owner of the project is listed as Northside Urgent Care Property LLC, located in O’Fallon, Mo. The operator is listed as Northside Urgent Care Hospital Inc. with the same O’Fallon address, according to the application. The two have “common” ownership, according to the application.


August 21, 2014

Lights Off at JVC as Abenomics Finds Exporters in Decline - Bloomberg

Filed under: Canada, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 8:20 pm

The lights are off in the lobby of JVC Kenwood (6632) Corp.

August 13, 2014

Carney Pledges No Rush to Raise Rate as BOE Focuses on Wages - Bloomberg

Filed under: marketing, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:28 pm

Mark Carney pledged that Bank of England officials won

August 10, 2014

Farmers worry over forecasts of another strong corn harvest

Filed under: marketing, online — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 11:00 am

With what appears to be another exceptional corn harvest headed our way, you might think farmers would be shopping for new trucks and planning pricey vacations.

But for many of them — particularly those who rent their farmland — 2014 looks like it’s bringing too much of a good thing.

It’s a simple case of supply far exceeding demand, with corn prices rapidly falling to the point where growers may actually lose money, despite having fields bursting with corn.

“A lot of crop producers are nervous,” said Pat Westhoff, director of the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. “They didn’t expect prices to fall as much as they have.”

Indeed, industry observers knew a correction was coming after several years in which rising demand and poor weather shoved prices into record territory, topping $8 a bushel in 2012.

Last year, prices slipped below $5 a bushel. And now the U.S. Department of Agriculture is suggesting the price could drop as low as $3.65, with some observers worried it could go even lower.

The problem is that many farmers can’t sell corn at that price and make a profit. It varies from farm to farm, but typically a grower who rents land needs to make about $4 a bushel to pay for seeds, fertilizer, herbicides, fuel, equipment depreciation and rent.

The picture is better for those farmers who own their land. That brings production costs closer to $2 per bushel. But experts say most large operators rent half or more of the land they farm.

So those farmers are in the uncomfortable position of watching as mild weather and strong harvest forecasts push prices ever lower.

It’s a far cry from the 2010 to 2012 stretch, when rising demand and drought pushed prices upward. The drought of 2012, in particular, hammered fields, reducing the national average yield to around 120 bushels per acre — well below last year’s harvest of more than 160 bushels per acre.

“People who had a decent crop that year actually made some money,” Westhoff said payday loan.

Some farmers have insulated themselves, somewhat, from this year’s price plunge by using advance contracts — agreements to sell corn at a set price. It’s a gamble than can pay off in this situation for farmers who agreed to such deals when prices were still above $5 a bushel.

“If they haven’t already sold it, there’s not much they can do,” said Darrel Good, an agriculture economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

One of the few options is to store the corn instead of selling it at losing prices.

It’s an option that can work, but one that has its drawbacks, said Jim Stuever, president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association.

Stuever, who farms 1,000 acres near Dexter, Mo., plans to store some of his corn this year, even though there’s no guarantee prices won’t slip even further.

And more importantly, he said, “That doesn’t create cash flow.”

That can make it tough when it comes time to pay land owners, seed merchants and other suppliers before the next planting season starts.

“They are businesses just like we are,” Stuever said.

Farmers do have a safety net, of sorts, in the form of crop insurance and subsidies provided by the farm bill passed by Congress earlier this year.

Crop insurance kicks in when yields or revenues drop 25 percent below a farm’s average. The farm bill subsidies are triggered by corn prices falling below $3.70 a bushel over an extended period — though it’s unclear whether those prices will fall low enough to trigger that.

Regardless, farmers are left worrying over how they will cope with the coming years, if things don’t change.

“If we have prices below $4 for several years running, we’d have a very different world than they thought they were in,” Westhoff said.


August 3, 2014

Strong earthquake in southern China kills at least 367

Filed under: Canada, news — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 11:16 pm

BEIJING, CHINA—A strong earthquake in southern China’s Yunnan province toppled thousands of homes on Sunday, killing at least 367 people and injuring more than 1,800.

About 12,000 homes collapsed in Ludian, a densely populated county located around 366 kilometres (277 miles) northeast of Yunnan’s capital, Kunming, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The magnitude-6.1 quake struck at 4:30 p.m. at a depth of 10 kilometres, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicentre was in Longtoushan township, 23 kilometres southwest of the city of Zhaotong, the Ludian county seat.


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Ma Liya, a resident of Zhaotong, told Xinhua that the streets there were like a “battlefield after bombardment.”

Her neighbour’s house, a new two-storey building, toppled, and the quake was far worse than one that struck the area in 2012 and killed 81 people.

“The aftermath is much, much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago,” Ma said. “I have never felt such strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins.”

Xinhua said at least 367 people were killed in the quake, with 1,881 injured.

Most of the deaths — 357 — were in Zhaotong City. Another 10 people were killed in Quijing City.

News reports said rescuers were still trying to reach victims in more remote towns Sunday night.

Photos on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media site, showed rescuers searching through flattened buildings and people injured amid toppled bricks.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered “his condolences to the Chinese Government and the families of those killed,” according to a statement from his office. The statement said the UN is ready to “lend its assistance to efforts to respond to humanitarian needs” and “to mobilize any international support needed.”

Many of the homes that collapsed in Ludian, which has a population of about 429,000, were old and made of brick, Xinhua said, adding that electricity and telecommunications were cut off in the county.

The mountainous region where the quake occurred is largely agricultural, with farming and mining the top industries, and is prone to earthquakes.

Relief efforts were underway, with more than 2,500 troops dispatched to the disaster region, Xinhua said. The Red Cross Society of China allocated quilts, jackets and tents for those made homeless by the quake, while Red Cross branches in Hong Kong, Macau and neighbouring Sichuan province also sent relief supplies.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the quake was the strongest to hit Yunnan in 14 years.

In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a magnitude-7.1 quake in the province killed more than 1,400 in 1974. In September 2012, 81 people died and 821 were injured in a series of quakes in the Yunnan region.


July 22, 2014

CitiMortgage seeks $4.5 million in lawsuit against Chicago bankers

Filed under: Canada, mortgage — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:36 am

CitiMortgage is suing two Chicago bankers, Steve and John Calk, alleging a mortgage bank the brothers operated that dissolved in 2012 contained inaccuracies in residential loan underwriting documents.

CitiMortgage, which is based in O’Fallon, Mo., is seeking more than $4.5 million in damages in the breach of contract lawsuit filed in federal court in St. Louis Monday.  

Since 2004, CitiMortgage purchased 4,790 loans from Chicago Bancorp, once one of the largest privately held retail mortgage banks in the country, according to court documents. 

Steve Calk was president and co-owner of Chicago Bancorp, and John Calk was vice president and co-owner before Chicago Bancorp dissolved in late 2012. Steve Calk now is founder, chairman and CEO of The Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, which also is named a defendant in the lawsuit, and John Calk is vice chairman. 

Eighteen loans Chicago Bancorp sold CitiMortgage over the last decade contained inaccurate information or material misrepresentations that included misrepresenting a borrower’s income, employment or debt, according to the lawsuit. In one loan Chicago Bancorp sold CitiMortgage, the lawsuit alleges a borrower provided a false Social Security number belonging to another individual. “Chicago Bancorp sold (CitiMortgage) at least 18 loans … that were underwritten and/or originated based upon materially inaccurate information or on material misrepresentations,” CitiMortage’s lawsuit alleges. 

CitiMortgage alleges its contract with Chicago Bancorp required Chicago Bancorp to repurchase loans that CitiMortgage deemed did not meet the requirements set out in the contract instant payday loans. After Chicago Bancorp dissolved, CitiMortgage alleges that The Federal Savings Bank continued Chicago Bancorp’s business of originating mortgage loans with Chicago Bancorp’s employees, and Chicago Bancorp’s assets were transferred to The Federal Savings Bank and its holding company, National Bancorp Holdings. 

“Chicago Bancorp and the other defendants made the transfer of Chicago Bancorp’s assets with the actual intent to hinder, delay and prevent (CitiMortgage) from collecting amounts due to it in payment of repurchase claims against Chicago Bancorp,” CitiMortgage alleges in the lawsuit. 

A CitiMortgage spokesman and an attorney representing the Calks, The Federal Savings Bank and National Bancorp both declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

The new lawsuit isn’t the first time the parties have litigated over home loans. CitiMortgage sued Chicago Bancorp, the Calks, The Federal Savings Bank, and National Bancorp Holdings in February 2012 in federal court in St. Louis alleging 11 loans contained inaccuracies, and CitiMortgage sought more than $2 million in damages in that case. In a summary judgment this year, Judge Catherine Perry approved CitiMortgage’s motion for summary judgment in its favor on 9 of the 11 loans in dispute. 



July 18, 2014

Paradowski names Edinger executive creative director

Filed under: small business, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 5:56 pm

Marketing agency Paradowski has named Jake Edinger its new executive creative director. 

Edinger, who previously was group creative director at ad firm Hughes Leahy Karlovic in St. Louis, replaces Brad Hauck in the role. Hauck left Paradowski in June and now is creative director at 2e Creative in St. Louis. 

Edinger is one of 17 new hires to Webster Groves-based Paradowski’s account management, creative, production and digital teams since January. The agency has nearly doubled its employee roster in the past two years, the firm said in statement announcing the hires.  

The other new hires are: Julia Ahrens, Rashida Nebbitt, Stephanie Drucker, Colleen Ewell and Karen McKinley, who joined its account management team; Ryan Bennett, Jake Eshelman, Natasha Zerjav and Dan Rayfield, who joined the creative team; and Corey Welch, Luke Thomas, Tim Pickett, Kevin Olsen, Derek Yeager, Keith Walter and Henry Roberts, who joined its digital team Online payday loans

Paradowski’s clients include Brown Shoe, Monsanto and Central Bancompany.


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