Tim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands International closed four more American locations as the coffee-and-doughnut chain struggles to overcome franchisee discontent and souring public opinion.RBI says it reached a mutual agreement with the franchisee in Cincinnati, Ohio, to close four restaurants.Spokeswoman Devinder Lamsar did not directly answer why the company made the decision and instead sent a statement.“Every market we enter poses unique opportunities and challenges, the U.S. market is no different,” the statement reads. “We have learned a great deal about what works well and areas where we can improve by working closely with our area development partners.”The company has seen robust growth in some markets, like New York and Michigan, she said in the email.However, it has closed multiple restaurants in the U.S. over the past several years.It reportedly recently also closed an Indianapolis, Ind. location after less than four months of operations.Lamsar declined to confirm the closure, but sent a statement saying the company believes the city “remains an attractive market” for it.Show Me Hospitality LLC, the area developer for Tim Hortons restaurants in the Greater St. Louis, Mo.-area, closed six of its restaurants there in late 2017, according to a statement it released in January.The developer said it was forced to do so after RBI terminated franchise agreements for the six spots.Show Me Hospitality filed a lawsuit against the parent company in July 2017. It claims RBI wanted the group to enter into a new area development agreement that required it to open 200 restaurants — five times more than its original agreement with former management. When Show Me Hospitality declined to do so, it claims RBI said it would terminate the old agreement.Neither the developer’s president, its lawyer nor RBI immediately responded to a request for comment on the suit.The closures come as Tim Hortons is embroiled in an ongoing public battle with some of its franchisees, who have formed an unsanctioned group called The Great White North Franchisee Association to fight against alleged mismanagement.The company and group have filed multiple lawsuits against each other in both Canada and the U.S. Meanwhile, Tim Hortons ranking plummeted in two recent reputational surveys and the company grappled with nationwide protests against how it and some franchisees handled a minimum wage increase in Ontario earlier this year. Some restaurant owners scaled back on employee benefits to offset the higher labour costs.Show Me Hospitality is a member of GWNFA’s U.S. chapter. GWNFA says it represents about half of all Tim Hortons franchisees in Canada and the U.S.GWNFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the string of American closures.In June, after reports RBI was scaling back on its U.S. expansion plans, Tim Hortons president Alex Macedo said in a statement that the company has seen softer comparable sales growth in the U.S. in more recent quarters amid a very competitive environment.The company had 685 American locations at the end of 2017, up from 649 stores at the end of 2014, he said.Lamsar said the company remains committed to working closely with its franchisees to drive the brand’s growth in the U.S.“We will need to determine the sequence of our expansion efforts outside of Canada to prioritize markets to establish density and brand awareness.”RBI’s shares fell 94 cents or 1.14 per cent to $81.62 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.Follow @AleksSagan on TwitterCompanies mentioned in this story: (TSX:QSR)
The first judgment came Monday in a lawsuit from a state government seeking to hold a drug company accountable for a U.S. opioid crisis that has ripped apart lives and communities. More trials and legal settlements are likely to follow the ruling in Oklahoma as the nation looks for answers and solutions to a massive societal and legal problem.Following are questions and answers about the opioid crisis.Q: What are opioids and how are they used?A: They’re an addictive family of drugs that block pain signals between the body and brain. They include prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin as well as illegal drugs such as heroin and illicit versions of fentanyl. Until recent decades, they were prescribed largely for pain for patients with cancer, at the end of their lives, or with acute pain, such as after surgery. Since the 1990s, there’s been a push in the medical world, partly funded by drug companies, to do better at treating pain — and opioids came to be seen as part of the solution.Q: Are opioids used to treat chronic pain?A: Yes. That’s one of the results of the push to do more to treat pain. But recent studies have questioned their effectiveness with chronic pain and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told prescribers to be cautious about using the powerful drugs to treat patients with long-term pain. Experts say the longer patients are on the drugs and the higher the doses they receive, the more likely they are to develop addictions. Also, more people with prescriptions means more access to the drugs for recreational users and addicts.Q: When did the opioid crisis begin?A: By the early 2000s, the death toll from opioids was rising and there were growing numbers of thefts of drugs from pharmacies. In 2007, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, paid a $634 million fine and pleaded guilty to understanding the addiction risks of the drug. But the crisis only deepened after that. Prescriptions flowed freely at “pill mill” clinics, especially in Florida, where drug dealers would get drugs and spread them around the country.Q: How many people have opioids killed?A: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tallied more than 400,000 opioid-related deaths across the country since 2000, including more than 47,000 in both 2017 and last year. In recent years, opioid overdoses have been the nation’s largest cause of accidental deaths, ahead of even automobile accidents. The death tolls per capita have been the highest in the same places as the highest prescription rates. The Appalachian region has been hardest hit.Q: Have prescriptions stopped being given out so freely?A: Yes. States have used databases to track prescriptions and prescribers, pill mills have been shut down and prescribers have become more conservative in calling for the drugs since around 2011. Government guidelines and some insurance company standards have also been tightened. But as prescription rates started falling, death rates actually rose, with more addicts using deadlier illicit versions of opioids. Preliminary data shows that the death toll declined very slightly in 2018 for the first time since the crisis began.Q: What’s the financial toll of the crisis?A: The White House Council of Economic Advisers published a report in 2017 pegging the cost of the crisis at just over $500 billion in 2015. That includes lost productivity as well as costs born by taxpayers, such as ambulance runs, jail treatment costs, and the costs of caring for children whose parents have died from opioid overdoses.Q: Is that why so many governments are suing over opioids?A: It’s a big factor. Forty-eight states plus around 2,000 local and tribal governments have sued companies in the drug industry, arguing that those that make, distribute and sell the drugs are partly responsible for the crisis. They argue that drugs were improperly marketed and that companies failed to stop suspicious orders from shipping.Q: What makes the cases legally complicated?A: There are dozens of defendants and thousands of plaintiffs with different interests. State and local governments are battling over control of any settlement money before any national deals have been reached. And unlike with tobacco, which was the subject of a massive legal settlement in the late 1990s, opioids are allowed by the federal government and prescribed by doctors and other licensed medical professionals.Q: What’s happened leading up to the Oklahoma trial?Oklahoma’s public nuisance lawsuit against several drugmakers and their subsidiaries was the first in a wave of opioid litigation to make it to trial. Before the start of the six-week trial in May, Oklahoma reached a $270 million deal with Purdue and an $85 million settlement with Teva, both of which faced criticism from state lawmakers, who argued they have control over dispersing funds. The Purdue settlement calls for about $200 million to go into a trust to fund an addiction studies centre at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa.The remaining defendant, Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries, proceeded to trial. A judge who oversaw the case found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s opioid drug crisis and Monday ordered the consumer products giant to pay $572 million.Q: What’s next?A: The first federal trial, involving claims from Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties, is scheduled for Oct. 21. The Cleveland-based judge in that case, Dan Polster, intends to use that as a bellwether, providing decisions that could apply to other cases. Polster is overseeing most of the opioid cases and is pushing the parties to settle.Other cases in state and federal courts could be tried as soon as next year.___Follow Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihillGeoff Mulvihill, The Associated Press
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press In the end, one maverick Liberal MP wasn’t enough.Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion was poised on Wednesday, ready to appear via videoconference before the House of Commons ethics committee, but his services were never required.Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith voted against his party’s line, joining three opposition members in favour of letting the ethics commissioner testify about his damning report into the SNC-Lavalin affair.At first, the opposition members couldn’t quite believe they had lured a Liberal to their side. Could a hearing that was expected to be mere spectacle turn into a showdown? After Erskine-Smith finished a lawyerly speech about his position, NDP MP Charlie Angus interrupted the committee to make sure he had heard him correctly.“Are you voting for the motion or against it?” Angus asked.Erskine-Smith confirmed that he was voting for the motion and Angus saluted him. “I don’t like his shoes, but everything else I have respect for,” Angus said.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below. Liberals shut down opposition attempt to have ethics commissioner testify on SNC-Lavalin affair Who is Mario Dion, the ethics watchdog who found Trudeau broke conflict-of-interest rules in SNC-Lavalin affair? Read the full report: Watchdog finds Trudeau broke conflict of interest rules on SNC-Lavalin Angus quickly did the math, though, noting that there were six Liberal MPs and three opposition MPs, so they could afford to let one go rogue because he’s a “nice guy.” Angus was right; the remaining five Liberal MPs shut down the motion.Although the MPs were generally collegial with each other, the upcoming election campaign suffused the debate. Liberal MP Steven MacKinnon said the whole thing was just “partisan games,” and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who gave an impassioned speech about how the ethics report had shaken her to the core, said she wasn’t sure that it could be analyzed dispassionately so close to the election.“Everyone goes into hyper-partisan mode before an election,” May said. “And this is, in a way, red meat before the election.”The ethics report was a matter for resigning, although she added that she was not calling for Justin Trudeau to resign.Although the writ has yet to drop for the Oct. 21 election, the campaigning has begun and, from the pre-campaign trail, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was making personal pleas to Liberal MPs on the ethics committee to buck the party line.Earlier on Wednesday, Scheer said he bumped into Erskine-Smith in his Toronto riding and urged him to “do the right thing for Canada.” Liberal MPs Mona Fortier, Steve Mackinnon and Anita Vandenbeld head to a meeting of the House of Commons ethics committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Aug. 21, 2019. Before voting in favour of the Conservative motion, Erskine-Smith made a point of noting that he wasn’t voting that way because Scheer told him to, or because of an email campaign to his office, which he said totalled about 10 emails.The Liberal MP said he voted for the motion out of a desire for transparency around the ethics report and because he wanted a chance to interrogate the ethics commissioner. Erskine-Smith said he agreed that the “PMO exerted pressure that should not have been exerted” in the SNC-Lavalin affair but said he also had major questions and concerns about the conclusions reached by Dion. “I want him to sit right there” and answer them, he said, pointing at the empty witness seats around the committee table. Erskine-Smith said he didn’t agree with Dion that Trudeau had committed a conflict of interest in pressuring the attorney general to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.It was left to MacKinnon to defend the government’s side and, for his efforts, he was interrupted by three points of order from the opposition side and numerous snorts of laughter and derision.“This issue was studied thoroughly,” said MacKinnon, referring to justice committee hearings which heard testimony from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and Gerald Butts, the former principal secretary to Trudeau.This is, in a way, red meat before the electionDion’s report said Trudeau contravened conflict of interest rules when multiple people in his office tried to coax Wilson-Raybould into offering a deferred prosecution deal to SNC-Lavalin.When MacKinnon insisted the government was simply trying to protect jobs, he was interrupted by Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre who asked whether he had any analysis that showed jobs were actually at risk.“Uhh, no,” said MacKinnon, causing a general uproar around the committee table.The rest of the Liberal MPs kept quiet for the full two-hours of debate, then voted down the opposition motions.Their silence allowed the stage to be commanded by the Conservatives and the NDP who set upon the government with relish. Common themes from the opposition included that Trudeau broke the law, that the prime minister snubbed the ethics commissioner and that there had been obstruction of justice.But Bill Morneau also came in for criticism from Charlie Angus who noted that the finance minister appeared to have had several memory lapses when talking to the ethics commissioner. Morneau was “the man with the amazing disappearing memory,” he said.Talking to reporters after the hearing, Conservative MP Peter Kent said MacKinnon was a Liberal “hitman,” sent to quash any embarrassing testimony from the ethics commissioner and keep the other members quiet. MPs Bob Zimmer, left, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, middle, and Charlie Angus from the federal ethics committee at a news conference in Ottawa, Dec. 11, 2018. MacKinnon said he had no direction from the Prime Minister’s Office and that the individual members had chatted before the hearing about how they would each vote.The Liberal leadership, though, surely has its eye on recent polling that showed Canadians are either unaware or unconcerned about the recent ethics report, which dropped in the middle of August.Abacus Data found that only 16 per cent of Canadians “consumed a lot of news” on the topic compared to more than a third of Canadians who had not heard of the ethics report at all.Nearly 80 per cent of Canadians polled said the report didn’t change their opinion about what happened in the SNC-Lavalin affair, while a mere six per cent said the report had changed their mind and they now believe the prime minister did something inappropriate.“So all in all, not much impact,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto, on Twitter on Wednesday.A Leger poll released on Wednesday showed the Conservatives and Liberals remaining in a dead heat, at 33 per cent each.Conservative MP Lisa Raitt told reporters that Canadians can’t make a decision in October until they hear the whole story on the SNC-Lavalin affair.“The prime minster has never been really clear on what aspects of the ethics commissioners report that he actually is in disagreement with,” said Raitt.• Email: email@example.com | Twitter:
Today, SMMT released figures for April pre-registrations in the UK new car market. The data shows the number of cars disposed of by vehicle manufacturers in April 2014 that were defined as pre-registrations.CLICK HERE: Download the April 2014 release.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
After upsetting No. 10 Northwestern, 3-2, on Wednesday, the Ohio State field hockey team routed visiting Missouri State and made history in the process. OSU (7-3) defeated Missouri State (3-6), 10-1, on Sunday, at Buckeye Varsity Field. The 10 goals are tied for the most any OSU team has ever scored in a single game. Six OSU players scored in the game and three members of the team had multiple goals. The Buckeyes’ offensive attack was led by three goals from senior forward Berta Queralt. In OSU’s last three games in five days, they’ve scored 21 goals, a figure that triples the amount of goals they netted in the first seven games of the season. “We were moving the ball very well and we were attacking in numbers,” said coach Anne Wilkinson. “We are finding the open player and we are very, very unselfish with the ball.” Thanks to an assist from junior midfielder Paula Pastor-Pitarque, OSU took the lead early with Queralt’s first goal of the game almost five minutes into the contest. Queralt said the team could have taken it easy today because it was their third game in a week, but they came out and passed the ball and finished their scoring opportunities well. Next, senior forward Danica Deckard netted her 10th goal of the season with the help of an assist from sophomore midfielder Mona Frommhold. Just 33 seconds later Frommhold scored a goal of her own, deflecting in a shot from freshman forward Peanut Johnson. “We are just working really well together, connecting passes and stuff,” Deckard said. Queralt scored again on a reverse shot in front of the net with 17 minutes left in the half after an assist Deckard. The two would team up again later. Pastor-Pitarque scored the half’s last goal seven minutes later, making the score 4-0 in favor of the Buckeyes. “We kept the patience, kept passing around, practicing the easiest ball and playing our field hockey,” Pastor-Pitarque said. “I think that was the key, us playing unselfish and the team playing like we would do against the best teams of the Big Ten.” The Buckeyes came out firing in the second half as Queralt scored her third goal of the game, and sixth of the season, less than two minutes into the half. Deckard provided the pass to Queralt. The next two goals came in an eight-minute span from Johnson and brought the score to 8-0. She scored both shots unassisted and leads OSU’s freshmen class with three goals this season. With 19 minutes left in the game, Missouri State scored their lone goal. Pastor-Pitarque answered the Bears’ shot two minutes later, scoring her second goal of the game which extended the Buckeyes’ lead back to eight. The final goal of the game came with less than two minutes to play and was scored by freshman back Emma Royce. She sent a screaming slapshot into the goal on a pass from Frommhold. Players from the Buckeye bench saw more action than usual as seven players came off the bench and six of them played 20 minutes or more. In the last five matches an average of almost four players have substituted in. Just five times have one of those players played more than 20 minutes. “It was nice to have some of the younger kids get in to play and get those minutes so they can build their confidence up,” Deckard said. The Buckeyes are scheduled to play against Robert Morris University, Wednesday at Buckeye Varsity Field.
Cleveland-Cliffs and Alpha Natural Resources have approved a definitive merger agreement under which Cleveland-Cliffs will acquire all outstanding shares of Alpha in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $10 billion. The combined company, which will be renamed Cliffs Natural Resources, will become one of the largest US mining companies and be positioned as a leading diversified mining and natural resources company. Its mine portfolio will include nine iron ore facilities and more than 60 coal mines located across North America, South America and Australia. The company’s significant position in both iron ore and metallurgical coal will make it a major supplier to the global steel industry, as well as provide a platform for further diversification both geographically and in terms of the mineral and resource products it sells. Upon the transaction’s close, Cliffs Natural Resources would have estimated combined pro forma 2008 revenue of nearly $6.5 billion and EBITDA of $1.9 billion. The company’s estimated 2009 revenue would reach $10 billion with estimated EBITDA of $4.7 billion.Joseph A. Carrabba, Cleveland-Cliffs’ Chairman, President and CEO, said, “Today’s announcement represents a significant strategic milestone for both companies. Cliffs Natural Resources will be positioned as a diversified natural resources company with significant holdings in a variety of important minerals. By combining our companies’ complementary operations and management capabilities, we will be well positioned to meet the world’s increasing demand for raw materials. Since its inception in 2002, Alpha has been highly respected for its industry leading expertise around both the operation and acquisition/integration of coal properties, and we are confident our two management teams and more than 8,900 employees will achieve great things together.” Michael J. Quillen, Alpha’s Chairman and CEO, said, “Together, Alpha and Cleveland-Cliffs will have the size, the management depth and the mining expertise to compete on the global stage as demand for raw materials continues to increase around the world. This transaction is financially compelling for Alpha’s stockholders, who will benefit from enhanced value today alongside growth opportunities in the future. We look forward to working together with Joe Carrabba and the Cleveland-Cliffs management team to realize the substantial opportunities that this combination presents.” The combined company’s enhanced size and scale will enable it to efficiently offer a broad portfolio of various iron ore and metallurgical coal types to meet the growing needs of world steel producers. Cliffs Natural Resources will have a reserve base of approximately 1,000 Mt each of iron ore and metallurgical and thermal coal. The company anticipates having an annual sales volume in excess of 30 Mt of iron ore and some 16 Mt of metallurgical coal, making it one of the largest suppliers to the world’s steel industry. The combined company will have a more diverse revenue stream and will be well-positioned to continue its aggressive growth. In addition to leading positions in iron ore and metallurgical coal, the company will also ship approximately 15 Mt of thermal coal.The combined company is expected to have a strong credit profile. Year-end 2008 pro forma leverage is expected to be 1.2 x EBITDA. The company expects to generate substantial free cash flow, enabling significant debt reduction and supporting future growth. In 2009, the transaction is expected to be accretive to current analyst expectations for Cleveland-Cliffs. Cliffs Natural Resources expects to realise annual synergies of at least $200 million beginning in 2010, with the majority being achieved through enhanced coal processing and blending efficiencies along with elimination of duplicative administrative expenses associated with two public companies. Under the terms of the transaction, Cleveland-Cliffs will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Alpha Natural Resources for aggregate consideration of approximately $10 billion. For each share of Alpha common stock, Alpha stockholders would receive 0.95 Cleveland-Cliffs common shares and $22.23 in cash. The aggregate consideration comprises $1.7 billion in cash and approximately 71 million new shares of Cleveland-Cliffs common stock. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. is providing an underwriting commitment for up to $1.9 billion which will be used to finance the transaction. The combined company expects to generate strong operating cash flow which it will use to pay down debt. Upon completion of the transaction, Alpha stockholders would own approximately 40% of the combined company and Cleveland-Cliffs shareholders would own approximately 60%. Following the close of the transaction, Cleveland-Cliffs’ Board of Directors will be expanded by two seats to be filled by two current Alpha Natural Resources directors, Michael Quillen and Glenn Eisenberg. Joseph Carrabba will serve as Chairman and CEO of the combined company, and Michael Quillen will serve as non-executive Vice Chairman. Cliffs Natural Resources will have two operating divisions-Iron Ore and Coal. Kevin Crutchfield, currently president of Alpha Natural Resources, will become President of the combined company’s coal businesses. Donald Gallagher, currently Cleveland-Cliffs’ President, North American Business Unit, will become president of the combined company’s iron ore businesses. Cleveland-Cliffs’ executive Vice President and CFO, Laurie Brlas, will remain chief financial officer of the combined company. Cliffs Natural Resources’ world headquarters will be located in Cleveland. The iron ore business will operate from Cleveland and the coal business from Abingdon, Virginia.
AS SOME 116,845 Junior and Leaving Certificate students prepare for their first day of exams this morning we thought some soothing numbers might ease their stress about the English papers.The 53,749 Leaving Certificate students, 2,853 Leaving Certificate Applied students and 60,243 Junior Certificate students will have these figures, provided by the State Examinations Commission, to contend with over the next two weeks:13 – That’s how many days the exams will last, with Junior Certificate Students finishing a day earlier.6,000 – The total number of examiners.3.1 million – The amount of examination papers in boxes across the country right now.38 million – The staggering number of A4 pages in those 3.1 million exam papers. A gold star to the person who can tell us how tall the paper tower would be if we piled them all up…105 – The total number of curricular and non-curricular subjects.15 – The number of non-curricular language subjects including Dutch, Ancient Greek and Bulgarian.80,465 – The amount of oral tests that will take place over the next fortnight.1.9 million – The number of test items including scripts, art and craftwork pieces, practical materials like wood, journals and portfolios.1 million – The amount of individual grades that will be generated.12,679 – That’s how many appeals the Examinations Commission is expecting.14 August – The date Leaving Certificate students will get their results. Junior Certificate students will have to wait until mid-September.If you’re taking the exams today, all of us here at TheJournal.ie wish you the best of luck.Read: Quinn wishes students luck in exams during “stressful” time>
It’s a safe bet that anyone manning the airport baggage security scanners over the holidays is going to see a growing number of e-readers inside carry-on baggage. The devices are perfect for reading while traveling, and easily slip into the side pocket of your shoulder bag.There does seem to be one issue with passing your e-reader, and in particular your Amazon Kindle, through airport security, though. Apparently some Kindles are appearing the other end of the X-ray scanners with their E Ink screens broken.The blame is being attached to the radiation the scanners emit, but at least one expert has said that is very unlikely. The very low levels of radiation wouldn’t have an impact on the E Ink display. Amazon has also pointed out that the majority of Kindle devices make it through airport checks unscathed, again making it unlikely to be a radiation issue.Another explanation does exist though, and has been offered up by the chairman of the University of Cambridge center for Advanced Photonics, Professor Daping Chu. He believes that the airport scanners suffer from a build up of static electricity due to the rubbing of the rubber belt they use. If that somehow discharged through the Kindle, your display would be toast.The static charge makes more sense because it would only happen occasionally, and that would explain why only some Kindle device are appearing broken.If you want to avoid the chance of a broken e-reader, then the best thing to do is make sure your device is inside something that would block the static charge, even something as simple as a plastic bag would help.You may even be able to form your very own e-reader antistatic bag if you’ve bought a few PC components lately e.g. a hard drive or memory modules. A decent case is a good idea too, as it will protect your screen from scratches or drops.Read more at eWeek
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Turks and Russians are among the tourists outside the Schengen area whose number has spiked in the previous four years, from 2010 to 2014, according to a survey published on Monday by the Intelligence Institute of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).The number of visas issued to Chinese visitors to Greece reached 64,221 last year, growing at a far greater rate than that of rival destinations such as Spain, Italy, France and Portugal.Visas to United Arab Emirates visitors doubled in those four years to 7,084 in 2014, while visas to Indians grew six time to reach 17,028. Visas to Turks grew threefold to 144,063.
Asian stock markets were tentative on Tuesday as they braced for a run of policy announcements from the world’s major central banks this week, with all eyes on the Bank of Japan’s meeting later in the day after it stunned markets in January by adopting negative rates.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dipped 0.1 percent in early trade, but still near 2-1/2-month highs touched on Monday. It was dragged down by a 0.4 percent fall in resource-heavy Australian shares following a drop in oil and commodity prices.Japan’s Nikkei tacked on 0.1 percent after hitting a six-week high on Monday.Wall Street shares were narrowly mixed. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 0.09 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.13 percent.With the global economy slowing and many countries facing deflationary pressures, investors’ attention was squarely on policy decisions from the world’s major central banks.The Bank of Japan kicks off its meeting on Tuesday, followed by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday and the Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank on Thursday.”On the whole you could say the recovery in markets so far has been just a reversal from sharp falls earlier this year. There are hopes that the Fed may be more dovish but we need to see whether there will be more supportive stance from central banks,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.The BOJ is widely expected to keep its policy on hold after its surprise decision in January to introduce negative interest rates raised worries about banks’ profitability.Even those wary of the side effects of easing expect BOJ add to its stimulus in coming month, given heightening risk to Japan’s fragile economic recovery.The Fed is unlikely to raise rates this week but it will likely make clear that as long as U.S. inflation and jobs continue to strengthen, economic weakness overseas won’t stop rates from rising fairly soon.Still, a consensus in the market is that fresh forecasts from the Fed’s 17 officials released after the meeting will signal perhaps two or three rate hikes this year, a retreat from their projection in December for four or more increases in 2016.The interest rate futures markets are even more cautious, pricing only one rate hike by year-end.U.S. Treasury debt prices rose on Monday, rebounding from an aggressive sell off last week, as investors tried to get back to neutral positions ahead of this week’s two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting.The 10-year U.S. notes yield stood at 1.961 percent US10YT=RR, off a six-week high of 1.986 percent hit on Friday.Oil prices are running out of steam on concerns that a six-week market recovery may have gone beyond fundamentals as U.S. crude stockpiles continue to build and Iran is seen showing little interest in joining major producers in freezing production.U.S. crude futures CLc1 last traded at $37.28 a barrel, up slightly from Monday settlement.On Monday it fell 3.4 percent to $37.18 a barrel, while Brent LCOc1 finished down 2 percent at $39.53.In the currency market, the euro slipped further from its three-week high hit after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi indicated he does not plan further cuts in interest rates.The euro traded at $1.1101, off Thursday’s high of $1.1218. The yen was little changed at 113.80 to the dollar while the British pound changed hands at $1.4283, off Friday’s three-week high of $1.4437.
More than 4,000 registered voters in Baltimore City have been removed from the voter rolls since the last federal election in 2012. But at Votefest 2014, an event sponsored by Radio-One to be held at Coppin State University on May 17, a number of organizations will look to register new voters as well as anyone whose registration may have been purged since that election. The event comes just ahead of this year’s June 3 deadline for voting in the June 24 primary. The state of Maryland has a multi-step process in place under which a registered voter can be removed from the active rolls. If a jury notice or any correspondence from a local board of elections to a registered voter is returned because that voter is no longer at his or her registered address and has not set up a forwarding address, the local board of elections will send a second correspondence to verify the address, according to Abigail Goldman, deputy director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections. If that second correspondence is also returned, the voter is placed on an inactive list. Once placed on the inactive list, if that voter then fails to vote in the next two general elections, one gubernatorial and one presidential, he or she is removed from the roll of registered voters. Since the 2012 presidential election, 4,246 people have been removed from the voter rolls in Baltimore City, Goldman said. Because election years in which the presidency is not at stake tend to generate lower turnout than presidential elections, more Maryland residents may be at risk for removal from the rolls for their failure to participate this time around “Quite frankly this campaign has been very dry, and the people are not as excited as we want them to be,” said Larry Young, an on-air personality with Radio-One, and the coordinator of Votefest 2014. Young will also be serving as one of the hosts, he said in an interview with the AFRO. The 2008 and 2012 presidential elections saw 67 and 66 percent voter turnout in Maryland, according to the United States Elections Project, an elections research database created by George Mason University professor and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Dr. Michael McDonald. However, the last two midterm elections in 2010 and 2006 saw that percentage drop to approximately 47 percent across the Old Line State. For Young, the lack of voter engagement during mid-term elections is a mistake. “If we do not see the voters come out in strong numbers around this country,” said Young, “we could very well see red states putting forth candidates and winning; that could beat the blue states, and that could lead the Obama administration to become [a] lame duck.” According to Young, the goal for Votefest 2014 is to register at least 1,000 people. To that end, the Baltimore Urban League, the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP, and the National Action Network—all co-sponsors of the event—will have booths available at the event where voters may register. This is the first year in Maryland in which the primary election will be held in June rather than the fall, according to Tess Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore City NAACP, giving community organizations less time to register voters prior to the election than they have had in the past. “A lot of people are not used to the fact—or none of us are—that the primary has come so soon, so we’re trying to do the best we can to keep people pumped up,” said Hill-Aston. In order to register to vote in the state of Maryland, an individual must be a U.S. citizen, a Maryland resident, and at least 16 years old, according to the State Board of Elections website. While anyone 16 years of age or older may register, voters must be 18 in order to cast a ballot. Additionally, anyone with a past felony conviction is eligible to register and vote so long as he or she has completed any court-ordered prison term, including parole or probation. Anyone convicted of buying or selling votes, however, is not eligible. Votefest 2014 will be held at the Physical Education Complex of Coppin State University, located at 2523 Gwynns Falls Parkway in Baltimore City. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and feature activities for children, including a magic show, and performances by R&B, hiphop, jazz, gospel groups, comedians, and step dancing troupes. Candidates for office are also expected to be on hand to address those gathered regarding their candidacies.
After five million sales, a convention that drew more than 4500 people, and countless YouTube tutorials, it’s safe to say that Minecraft has been a hit, but not a hit like most others. More than just a well-executed rehash of the classic formulas, Minecraft became a phenomenon because it felt fresh and unique, and players hadn’t experienced anything quite like it.Now that the gaming world has had time to digest Minecraft’s official release, one has to wonder what kind of impact such a unique and popular title will have in the long run. Years from now, will we look back and see Minecraft’s most interesting elements in the games that come after it? Here are three lessons that future titles could, and hopefully will, learn from Minecraft.The Power of InfinityMinecraft worlds aren’t truly infinite, but their maximum size is thousands of times the surface of the Earth, so they’re infinite for most practical purposes. As a player moves into new areas of the map, the game algorithmically generates his surroundings in all directions (including deep underground), continually combining various terrains and biomes into blocky, Monet-esque landscapes. Despite a few logical oddities, like arid deserts that butt up against snowfields, the game’s unpredictable environments create a sense that this virtual world is a real place where new sights are always waiting a little further ahead.In most games, the boundaries of the play space are obvious, no matter how many conveniently locked doors or for-some-reason-impassable shrubs developers use to cover the world’s edges. With a little suspension of disbelief, players can look past those hard limits, but invisible walls always hamper the sense of immersion. Minecraft demonstrates the value of creating worlds that aren’t so claustrophobic.Not every game could adopt Minecraft’s form of algorithmic near-infinity, but the technique is a natural fit for genres where exploration is a focus. The fantasy world of a dungeon crawler, for instance, would feel far more genuine if it seemed to go on forever. Developers could even create fixed, well-crafted dungeons, then let the automated map decide where to place the entrances (as long as those entrances were kept reasonably close to the starting point, of course).The Power of InventionEven games that focus on user creation, like Little Big Planet and Spore, can’t match Minecraft’s level of authorial power. Every last cube of space within Minecraft’s upper and lower boundaries can be filled in or emptied, which lets players create any sort of structure they want, from houses to castles to secret lairs inside hollowed-out mountains. But the inventive power truly opens up because of redstone, the wiring material that runs Minecraft machinery. Using combinations of block-pushing pistons, powered torches, and other basic mechanisms, Minecraft players have made some mind-boggling devices within the game world: auto-loading cannons that fire explosive rounds, automated minecart-based inventory systems, and lightning fast elevators just to name a few.More focused interactive experiences can’t be expected to match Minecraft’s moldability, but the basic lesson is one other games should take to heart: “crafting” can be deeper than just creating a better sword. When virtual worlds are malleable, they seem more genuine, and more like the real world; when they’re static, they seem flat and fake. If players can design their own devices, and make meaningful changes to a persistent game world, their incentive to create is incredibly strong.The Problem of OwnershipMinecraft’s virtues have a lot to teach gaming, but so do some of its drawbacks. The game’s impressive level of player freedom makes griefing a serious problem. If one player builds a gigantic pyramid in Minecraft, there’s nothing to stop another player from blowing it to pieces. Likewise, when a player stores hard-earned materials in a chest, he has to hide it well because there’s no way to lock it. As you might expect, servers that host large number of users often rely on anti-griefing mods to keep the peace.The items a player acquires and the things he creates are a part of his investment in a game, and it’s disheartening when those things are taken away unfairly. It’s likely that many Minecraft players have abandoned a particular server or the game itself because they found their hard work undone by some anonymous party. Encouraging players to explore, build, and create is meaningless if they have no way to protect their investment. Designers of persistent world games must carefully walk the line between allow player freedom and preventing player abuse.
When will the PlayStation 4 be revealed? We’ve heard several dates so far this year including a May announcement just before E3 and even one during GDC in March. But there’s another date to add to the mix now, and this one is a bit more official and even sooner.Sony has announced it is set to have its first PlayStation meeting in two years on February 20 in New York. No details of what will be announced have been forthcoming other than Sony stating it will focus on the “PlayStation business.”Historically, though, Sony has used PlayStation meetings to announce new hardware. Here’s a list of the last few meetings and what was revealed/focused on:1999 – PlayStation 22005 – PlayStation 32011 – PS VitaClearly PlayStation meetings have all been about new hardware in the past, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that February 20 could be the first time we get to see the PlayStation 4. It may just be revealed in concept form, but that’s still something for us to start getting excited about. We may also get to hear about the new DualShock controller that’s meant to emulate the PS Vita as well as incorporating biometrics.Even though Sony would like a longer cycle between hardware releases, we are definitely in the timeframe where a new console launch is expected. The PS2 saw a release in 2000, then the PS3 turned up in 2006. That suggests a 2012/13 release for the PS4.Sony also needs to consider what its competitors are doing. Nintendo has already launched its next-gen machine with the Wii U, and Microsoft is expected to launch the new Xbox before the year is over. To not react to that would be risky, especially with competition coming from other areas such as Ouya and the growing games market on smartphones.via Reuters
eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us) The actor is ready to move on | Photo: Facebook/George Takei Former model Scott Brunton, 60, admitted he was not drugged or touched by the Star Trek actor last week.He also admitted it could have been a ‘misunderstanding’ and it was not a ‘painful’ interaction.Takei denied the allegations from the start.Scott Brunton’s allegations against George TakeiBrunton claimed Takei spiked his drink one evening at the actor’s home in Los Angeles in 1981.The ex-model claimed he was ‘disoriented and dizzy’.Toxicologists have ruled out the possibility of drugs.‘”What are you doing?!” I said, “I don’t want to do this.” He goes, “You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.” And I said, “No. I don’t want to do this.” And I pushed him off, and he said, “OK, fine,”‘ Brunton said.‘And I said, “I am going to go”, and he said, “If you feel you must. You’re in no condition to drive.” I said, “I don’t care I want to go.”‘The 60-year-old came out about the alleged assault after reading media accounts of drink-spiked sex attacks and rape allegations against Bill Cosby.The Observer questioned Brunton about his conflicting stories of the event. To one outlet, he claimed Takei was shirtless. In others, he said he was wearing a white t-shirt.Brunton added: ‘He was 20 years older than me and short. And I wasn’t attracted to Asian men… I was a hot, surfer, California boy type, that he probably could have only gotten had he bought, paid for or found someone just willing to ride on his coattails of fame.’ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… GAYSTARNEWS- The episode itself was ‘not painful,’ Brunton said, laughing. ‘It didn’t scar me.’Ex-model admits Takei may not have touched his genitalsAnd finally, he admitted that Takei may not have have sexually assaulted him.‘He was clearly on his way to…to…to going somewhere,’ Brunton said.‘So you don’t remember him touching your genitals?’ he was asked.And Brunton confessed he did not remember any touching.He admitted that it could have been a ‘misunderstanding’, but insists it was an ‘unwanted situation’. He finally told the Observer ‘it might not have happened’.Takei, who is best known for playing Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek television series, said he did not remember ever meeting Brunton.Takei has repeatedly denied sexually assaulting ex-model‘The events he describes back in the 1980s simply did not occur,’ Takei said.‘Right now it is a he said / he said situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago,’ Takei wrote.‘But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.’Brunton told ABC News that he does not understand Takei’s claim, and is hoping for an apology. He also wants to clear his own name.‘I have friends around the world, people I went to school with, basically calling me a liar,’ he said. ‘It’s really, really disturbing.’Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . The man who falsely accused George Takei of sexual assault has insisted he is not a liar. George Takei’s accuser now admits assault ‘may not have happened’George Takei wishes his accuser ‘peace’ during this ‘difficult period’Gay porn site owner retires after denying he’s raped starsRead the full article on Gaystarnews: :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/model-who-falsely-accused-george-takei-of-sexual-assault-i-am-not-a-liar/
Their story is now the subject of a new film about how the West Hollywood Aquatics Club overcame prejudice and the scourge of Aids to win victory.WH20 athletes: The LA club overcame prejudice to claim victory. Photo: @LogoTVLight in the Water tells the story of the LGBTI men and women who found a sense of family in their membership of the WH20 club, as it became known.Directed by first time film-maker Lis Bartlett, the film reveals the prejudice the gay athletes faced while in training. And how, back then, the idea of being gay and athletic were seen almost as mutually exclusive.[embedded content]The film reveals a different world to that of modern out gay athletes such as Adam Rippon and Tom Daley.Rival clubs feared getting Aids from WH20 athletesIn the film, one team member explains how local straight rival teams treated them, when they competed against them. Many club feared they might catch HIV from members of the WH20 club. One local club even went so far as adding extra chlorine to the water, to reduce the risk of their team catching Aids.Morri Spang, a lesbian member of the original club team tells how she was sacked from her job for printing fliers for the gay games at the school where she taught.But the documentary also features many uplifting accounts of how being part of the WH20 team made members feel stronger. Light in the Water: How gay LA athletes battled prejudice. Photo: @LogoTV In 1982, a group of LA athletes formed a swimming team for the first ever Gay Games. But Many sneered at their efforts. Moreover, it shows how their combined efforts led them to victory in the first ever Gay Games in San Francisco.Pink Flamingoes: Gay Games had their fun side, too. Photo: @LogoTV‘I remember a certain sense of pride,’ one swimmer says, ‘in just being able to be gay on a swim team.’The team would also go on to set new world records. In 1994, James Ballard, who had been diagnosed as HIV positive, broke a world record in the 100-meter backstroke.‘It was seen as such a surprise to have a world record holder like Jim Ballard,’ says Spang. ‘As the first gay and lesbian swim team, we were fighting against the idea that men are sissies and the only thing women did in sports was softball.’The film debuted on Viacom’s US LGBTI network, Logo, on 19 July. Its worldwide release date has not yet been named.Light in the Water’s release comes just weeks ahead of the 2018 Gay Games, due to take place in Paris from 4 – 12 August.See also:Standing ovation as out gay soccer star finally gets to play Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… eTN Chatroom for Readers (join us) GAYSTARNEWS- Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us . Read the full article on Gaystarnews: :https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/inspiring-story-of-gay-la-swimming-club-told-in-new-film/
GUATEMALA CITY – Jimmy Morales, a former TV comic elected Guatemala’s new president on a wave of public revulsion against widespread graft, took office Thursday in a ceremony attended by leaders from the Americas.Invitees to the swearing-in included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and the presidents of Mexico, Ecuador and most Central American nations, including Costa Rica’s Luis Guillermo Solís. Spain’s former king Juan Carlos also attended.“Not tolerating corruption or theft, that is something we can do and what we are going to do from the first day,” Morales, 46, said as he accepted the presidential sash.Morales was previously best known for a television role as a country bumpkin who nearly becomes president.Elections on Oct. 25, 2015 elevated him to the office of head of state for real, by a landslide, despite having no political experience beyond an unsuccessful run for municipal office in 2011.His victory was attributed to widespread public disgust with corruption, especially after his elected predecessor, Otto Pérez Molina, was felled by a major graft scandal. U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden smiles during the inauguration ceremony of Guatemala President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City, on Jan. 14, 2016. Johan Ordóñez/AFPWeak political baseHis political support is weak, with his conservative party holding just 11 seats in the 158-seat Congress. No members from his party sit on the incoming congressional steering committee, and an opposition figure was chosen to be the new speaker.Morales’ party is also fending off charges that some of its founders, former military officers, are linked to atrocities committed during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war.Morales has given few concrete indications of how he intends to make good on his vows to fight corruption, or to combat the country’s high murder rate and poverty.His Cabinet was expected to be unveiled hours after the inauguration ceremony, which was delayed more than two hours because of congressional wrangling over its top posts.Ahead of the swearing-in, Biden met with Morales to congratulate him for vowing to fight corruption in his nation of 16 million people. He also stressed that Guatemala should attract more investment to counter emigration.Morales asked for Guatemalan migrants in the U.S. to be given “temporary protected status” that would preclude them being deported. Biden said he would analyze the proposal.Biden and Morales then went into a closed-door meeting with the presidents of Honduras and El Salvador.Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said after the meeting that the three Central American nations would hold a technical meeting on migration and security in two weeks, then another meeting would be held with Biden in a month’s time.The United States this month launched raids to round up and deport mostly Central American migrants who have court orders to leave the country.Washington in parallel has allocated $750 million to improve security and prosperity in the so-called Northern Triangle made up of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which is prey to vicious gang violence.‘Academically, emotionally’ readyGuatemala recorded 6,000 murders in 2015, at least half of them blamed on gangs.Its problems were heightened last year by political instability when protests erupted over a corruption scandal exposing kickbacks to officials in return for lowered customs duties for some companies. That brought about Pérez Molina’s ouster in September.Most Guatemalans view Morales with fondness as a familiar figure from his 15-year television career on a program he produced.His brother Sammy Morales who co-produced the show told a web magazine, Nomada, asserted Jimmy was prepared “academically, emotionally and spiritually” to take on his new role.According to his official biography, Jimmy Morales, an Evangelical Christian, has a university degree in business administration, a masters in media and communication and another in strategic studies with a specialization in security and defense.He has been married for two decades to his wife, Gilda Patricia Marroquín, and has three children. Facebook Comments Related posts:In Guatemala’s capital, little enthusiasm for country’s next president Comedian leads vote in corruption-weary Guatemala Guatemala elections update: Comedian Jimmy Morales declares victory in runoff vote US VP Biden to attend swearing-in of new Guatemala leader
Associated PressGEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – A boy who appeared no older than 8 was found panning for gold in a mining camp in Guyana, a sign that greater efforts are needed to stop child labor in the South American country, the president of a non-government organization said Monday.The child did not appear to be in bad health but was performing dangerous work that should only be done by adults, said Simona Broomes, president of the Women Miners Association. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The Gold and Diamond Miners Association said it has no statistics on the number of children working in small, independent gold-mining operations.Thousands of independent miners have carved up the forest and polluted streams in Guyana and neighboring Suriname in recent years in the search for gold. The camps can range from just a few people to hundreds clustered in informal towns that sprout to serve the miners and then disappear when the gold runs out. Most are illegal and unregulated and a large number of the miners are illegal immigrants from Venezuela and Brazil.“We know of cases where parents take entire families to look for gold,” said Tony Shields, a spokesman for the association.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) His exact age was not known, but he appeared to be no older than 8. He was found in the remote Puruni region, near the Venezuela border as Broome and members of her group performed a tour of work camps to check on working conditions.The boy was placed in protective custody while she works with local authorities to locate his mother, who is believed to be working in another gold mining camp, she said.“What concerned us the most is that he is not going to school and was talking and cursing like the other grown men in the camp and contributing to the conversation as though he is a grown man,” Broomes said in a phone interview while traveling by river through the rugged region.It is illegal for anyone under 15 to work full-time in Guyana except under certain circumstances, but the law is widely flaunted. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor in September found that there are more than 44,000 children ages 5-14 working in Guyana, including in dangerous activities in agriculture and prostitution. Most work in domestic service and on the streets, typically as vendors or beggars, the report found.The Guyanese government, in response to international criticism, set up a task force whose members have visited camps and removed children or people found to be working under exploitative conditions. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 0 Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project
January 27, 2017 664 Views Share Loan origination system (LOS) provider OpenClose and mortgage hedge advisory and secondary marketing technology firm Mortgage Capital Trading, Inc. (MCT) have announced the development of “an integration that eliminates manual intervention and streamlines the delivery of loan data to maximize hedging for lenders,” according to a joint news release from the companies.The process works by automatically analyzing data obtained from loans which are originated using OpenClose’s LOS system and sending that data directly to MCT. The release notes that the data can be updated every fifteen minutes, providing a seamless data acquisition process which is faster and more accurate than current processes.“We worked diligently with the team at OpenClose to develop this connectivity between their LOS and our proprietary HALO hedging model, which now facilitates a much smoother, quicker way for us to obtain locked loan information from our mutual customers,” stated MCT Chief Administration Officer Chris Anderson. “We are continuing to expand our integration partner network in order to provide the best service and support for our lender clients.”The process reduces the lender’s exposure to risk by shortening the time frame in which the lender can respond to rate shifts, which are more likely to occur over longer periods of time. The system has received positive feedback thus far.“This integration saves my staff valuable time and transfers our data quickly and securely, ensuring that my hedge positions are always optimized,” stated Dan Beam, SVP of capital markets at Firstrust Bank. OpenClose and MCT Announce Integration Lenders Mortgage Rates 2017-01-27 Timothy McNally in Data, Headlines, News, Technology
CroatiaHvartourists The Mayor of the popular Croatian holiday island of Hvar has had enough of disrespectful tourists – and he’s pointing the finger largely at you, young British holidaymakers!The newly-elected mayor, Rikardo Novak, had promised a clean up, and last month he aired his tourist gripes to local media:“They are vomiting in town, urinating on every corner, walking without T-shirts … crawling around, unconscious.” On the weekend, signs saying ‘Save Your Money and Enjoy Hvar’ were erected around the town, depicting unacceptable behaviour and fines for each transgression, including:Not wearing a top – €500Walking around in swimsuits – €600Drinking in public – €700 euros.Watch Euro News video!
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