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Showing posts from August, 2013

Wireless markets and foreign ownership

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Verizon High Speed Internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Bell Atlantic logo, 1984-1997 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) If the federal government really wants healthy competition in the wireless market, it should just do away with the limits on foreign ownership and other regulations, a new report says.
The analysis published Monday by the right-of-centre Fraser Institute is the latest input into the heated debate on the upcoming auction of valuable wireless spectrum.
The big three Canadian providers — Bell, Telus and Rogers — are furious that current rules might allow an American giant like Verizon to bid at the auction.
- Industry minister strikes back on telecoms' wireless rhetoric.
As the system works now, the government limits how much of the spectrum the big "incumbent" companies can buy up, in order to encourage smaller players to come to the table. That theoretically would stimulate competition across Canada and ultimately keep prices down.
But those smaller players — Wind …

Fiat Industrial (FI.MI) said on Monday its Chief Operating Officer Richard Tobin would run CNH Industrial

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Fiat Industrial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Fiat Industrial (FI.MI) said on Monday its Chief Operating Officer Richard Tobin would run CNH Industrial, the new company that will be formed CNH in the autumn.
The appointment, which was widely expected, completes top management appointments at the new group which is expected to be created at the end of September.
"Rich will be assuming the position of Chief Executive of CNH Industrial upon completion of the merger," Fiat Industrial and CNH Chairman Sergio Marchionne said in a statement.
Tobin, CFO at Switzerland'sSGS Group in Geneva before joining CNH in 2010, is currently also CNH's CEO.
Fiat Industrial and CNH also said in a joint statement that Massimiliano Chiara will take over as chief financial officer of the new company from Pablo Di Si, who was leaving the group.
After the merger Fiat Industrial will move its corporate headquarters to the Netherlands. The new CNH Industrial group will have a primary stock listing in…

Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods recorded their biggest drop

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Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods recorded their biggest drop in nearly a year in July and a gauge of planned business spending on capital goods tumbled, casting a shadow over the economy early in the third quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Monday durable goodsorders dropped 7.3 percent as demand for goods ranging from aircraft to computers and defense equipment fell. That was the biggest decline since last August and snapped three consecutive months of gains
Orders for these goods, which range from toasters to aircraft, had increased 3.9 percent in June.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected durable goods orders to fall 4.0 percent.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 3.3 percent, breaking four straight months of gains. It was the biggest fall since February.
Orders for these so-called core capital goods increased by a revised 1.3 percent in June.
Economists had expected this category …

small-business optimism is the highest it has been

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found photo: business leaders (Photo credit: squareintheteeth) While it's well below pre-recession levels, the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small-Business Index, conducted at the end of July, reveals small-business optimism is the highest it has been since the third quarter of 2008, in large part because small-business owners said they feel more optimistic about their ability to access credit over the next year.
In the survey, 28 percent of small-business owners said they expect credit to be very or somewhat easy to obtain in the next 12 months, up from 24 percent in the second quarter of 2013 and the highest percentage since 2009. In addition, 30 percent said they expect credit to be difficult to obtain in the next 12 months, down significantly from the 36 percent recorded last quarter and the lowest this measure has been in five years.
Improved access to credit was a major driver of improvement in small-businesses optimism, helping push overall sentiment 9 points since the second q…

Shawnigan Files Appeal to Stop South Island Aggregates Toxic Soil Dump

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Shawnigan Residents Association Files Appeal to Stop South Island Aggregates Toxic Soil Dump August 26th, 2013
By: Shawnigan Residents Association (SRA)
Shawnigan Lake, BC: Today the SRA has filed a Notice of Appeal with the BC Environmental Appeal Board in opposition to the Ministry of Environment's decision to grant South Island Aggregates a permit to dump contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Lake drinking watershed. Sean Hern and Robert Anderson QC of Farris LLP are representing the SRA on this matter.
The SRA is profoundly disappointed that the Ministry of Environment has disregarded the will of the community and is jeopardizing the health, safety and well-being of the people of Shawnigan Lake.
The SRA will argue that the risks of the landfill failing to contain the contaminents and poisoning the watershed and lake are far too high.
"We expect this to be a tough fight given government's support of this project, but on our side we have the overwhelming support of a …

Central banks should coordinate

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Central banks should coordinate to avoid unwanted side effects as they exit from ultra-easy monetary policies that have left the world awash in cheap money, top policymakers were told on Saturday.
Opening the second day of an annual monetary symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, after a week in which several top emerging markets suffered steep losses, a former Bank of France deputy governor painted a grave picture of the problem.
"The main challenge will be to manage the consequences of monetary policies, and their evolutions, on cross-border liquidity movements," Jean-Pierre Landau concluded in a paper he presented to an audience that included top central bankers from advanced as well as emerging market economies.
"Amplifications, feedback loops and sensitivity to risk perceptions will complicate the task of exit and necessitate very close and constant dialogue and cooperation between central banks," said Landau, now a professor at Princeton.
But he lamented that t…

Ministry of Environment approves permit for toxic site dump in Shawnigan Lake watershed

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Ministry of Environment approves SIA permit Share this story By Don Bodger - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial    Published: August 21, 2013 4:00 PM Updated: August 21, 2013 4:26 PM South Island Aggregates has received the green light from the Ministry of Environment to establish a soil remediation facility within the Shawnigan Lake watershed.

But the Shawnigan Residents Association vows to put a stop to it yet.

A Ministry of Environment press release indicated a statutory decision-maker, kept independent from the political process, approved the permit application.

"The decision-maker looked at the proposed project, including associated environmental concerns and concluded that the proposal adheres to legislation and appropriately manages health and environmental concerns,'' the release states.

SIA is naturally pleased with the decision, allowing treatment and waste soil to be put in a landfill at its Stebbings Road facility.

"The issuance of this permit reflects the rigo…

Netflix signs exclusive with Weinstein

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Image via CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase Netflix Inc obtained a multi-year deal that makes the video streaming company the exclusive U.S. subscription TV provider for new movies from The Weinstein Company starting in 2016, the companies announced on Tuesday.
The agreement for first-run rights to Weinstein films after they appear in theaters will bring new content to Netflix to help the company gain subscribers and compete with cable channels such as HBO and Showtime. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Weinstein Company is known for releasing awards season contenders, including Oscar winners "The Artist" and "The King's Speech". Netflix already had a deal to stream Weinstein documentaries and foreign films.
Netflix shares rose 3.4 percent to $268.59 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq.
Related articlesNetflix strikes movie deal with Weinstein Co.

Windows XP will face not only a support cutoff

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Image via CrunchBase Come April 2014, organizations that are still running Windows XP will face not only a support cutoff, but a security nightmare, cautions Microsoft. And the company's warnings are growing louder. "There is a sense of urgency because after April 8, Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates," explained Tim Rains, director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, in an Aug. 16 Microsoft Security Blog post. In essence, enterprises with Windows XP machines in their PC fleets will be left to fend for themselves, and given XP's continued popularity, a good number of PC users may be at risk. According to the latest desktop operating system market statistics (July 2013) from Net Applications, Windows XP commands 37.19 percent of the market, second only to Windows 7 with 44.49 percent. Next year, unless XP's share of t…

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Ecuador approves Yasuni park oil drilling in Amazon rainforest

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Ecuador approves Yasuni park oil drilling in Amazon rainforest

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People took to the streets to protest against the decision to allow oil drilling
Related StoriesRace to save 'lungs of the world'Ecuador's Amazon drilling pledge still to take shapeEcuador children tell of rainforest dilemmas Ecuador has abandoned a conservation plan that would have paid the country not to drill for oil in previously untouched parts of Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rainforest. President Rafael Correa said rich nations had failed to back the initiative, leaving Ecuador with no choice but go ahead with drilling.
The park is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
Hundreds of people gathered in Quito to protest against Mr Correa's decision.
Oil exploitation has been taking place in parts of the Yasuni National Park, which covers nearly 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles), since the 1970s.
Oil is Ecuador's main export. Exploitation …

District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in a recent decision disposing of Dreier’s $33 million personal art collection

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Now, though, Dreier can claw back some notoriety by dint of the fact that the remnants of his prosecution have produced one of the great lines in modern American jurisprudence. “Fraud is the dysentery of crime,” U.S. District JudgeJed Rakoff wrote in a recent decision (pdf) disposing of Dreier’s $33 million personal art collection. “Even after the infection is contained, the unpleasant after-effects linger interminably.”
Rakoff approved the transfer of 15 art works to Heathfield Capital, a successor-in-interest to one of Dreier’s main victims, financier Paul Singer’s Elliot International. The pieces, which once adorned Dreier’s Manhattan home (itself auctioned off several years ago for $8.2 million), bear such famous names as Lichtenstein, Rothko, and Warhol. Dreier had pledged the art as collateral in an elaborate scheme involving the sale of fake promissory notes. On Aug. 12, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan saidU.S. Marshals had made the hand-off to Heathfield Capital.
Certa…

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued to shut down a lender called Western Sky Financial

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In the carnival that is the U.S. financial services industry, a product has to be pretty rickety before it is shut down by regulators. After all, any schmoe with a couple of Benjamins to rub together can still sign up for some Bitcoins, a timeshare, or an adjustable rate mortgage.
So our interest was piqued this week when New York Attorney GeneralEric Schneidermansued to shut down a lender called Western Sky Financial. The legal battle promises to be complex and interesting because Western Sky claims to be owned by a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and thus not subject to U.S. laws. Schneiderman, in turn, argues it’s simply a corporation registered in South Dakota.
So how rickety are Western Sky loans? Very, according to a quick Web search this morning.
Its $10,000 loan has a listed annual interest rate of 89.68 percent; 89 percent of the gangsters watching the Whitey Bulger verdict yesterday would likely give better terms. If a borrower were to pay it off over the seven-year…

Powerex, the electricity trading subsidiary of BC Hydro will pay $273 million US settlement

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Powerex, the electricity trading subsidiary of BC Hydro will pay $273 million US in cash and offer California electric utilities a credit worth $477 milion US to settle claims against it related to allegations that it helped inflate the California power market during that state's electricity market crisis in 2000/01, the company announced this morning.
The settlement, Powerex said, relieves it of a potential $3.2-billion liability from the ongoing actions of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against the 60 electricity trading companies that sold power into the California market during that period.
California suffered rolling blackouts and record-high electricity prices during the crisis in a market that FERC concluded had become dysfunctional. The agency has since ordered refunds from the trading companies that sold power into that market and the province said the majority of its settlement will provide refunds as previously mandated.
In unveiling the settlement, the p…

High risk credit card processing for pharmacy

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Nestle taking British Columbia water for free

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Nestle KitKat (Photo credit: HowardLake) The price of a litre of bottled water in B.C. is often higher than a litre of gasoline.
However, the price paid by the world’s largest bottled water company for taking 265 million litres of fresh water every year from a well in the Fraser Valley — not a cent.
Because of B.C.’s lack of groundwater regulation, Nestlé Waters Canada — a division of the multi-billion-dollar Switzerland-based Nestlé Group, the world’s largest food company — is not required to measure, report, or pay a penny for the millions of litres of water it draws from Hope and then sells across Western Canada.
According to the provincial Ministry of Environment, “B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t regulate groundwater use.”
“The province does not license groundwater, charge a rental for groundwater withdrawals or track how much bottled water companies are taking from wells,” said a Ministry of Environment spokesperson in an email to The Province.
This isn’t new…

Musk's Tesla Motors (TSLA) reported a surprise second-quarter profit

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English: Elon Musk at the panel Tribeca Talks: Revenge of the Electric Car, for the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Elon Musk's hot streak continues. Musk's Tesla Motors (TSLA) reported a surprise second-quarter profit on Wednesday, blowing past estimates on sales. The electric car maker reported earnings of 20 cents a share, excluding special items, after analysts predicted a loss of 17 cents. The stock surged 13% in after-hours trading.
The company attributed its strong performance to record deliveries of its Model S plug-in sedan and improved margins.
Tesla is still expanding aggressively and said turning a profit at this point is "not our primary mission." Net income nonetheless increased 70% versus the previous quarter, with 5,150 Model S's delivered to customers.
The company improved production in the second quarter from 400 to almost 500 vehicles per week, and said further production gains are its "primary focus" going f…
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Under New Standards, Students See Sharp Decline in Test Scores By The number of New York students passing reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported on Wednesday, unsettling parents, principals and teachers, and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.
In New York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the state exams in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department. The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving. Last year, under an easier test, 47 percent of city students passed in English, and 60 percent in math. City and state officials spent months trying to steel the public for the grim figures, saying that a decline in scores was inevitable and that it would take sev…