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August 21, 2014

Bike lanes closed on eastbound Bloor Viaduct

Filed under: Business, technology — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 7:28 am

Cyclists found the eastbound bike lane on the Prince Edward Viaduct blocked by barriers Tuesday evening, forcing them to merge with vehicular traffic on the busy route.

The lane was still closed Wednesday morning, when the city said on its Toronto Cycling Twitter feed that a contractor had improperly closed the lane and a fix was in the works.

But a construction notice dated July 4 noted the bike lane would be closed as part of ongoing repairs on the bridge substructure and deck drainage to take place over the next year.

The bike lane closure is part of work to patch Bell Canada manhole covers on the bridge, said local councillor Mary Fragedakis.

“They haven’t given a time frame of how long that’s going to take,” she said.

Signs were posted Tuesday at the eastbound entrance to the bridge, warning “bike lane closed ahead” and “motorists and cyclists share the road.”

Arcady Genkin bikes daily over the Prince Edward Viaduct, which connects Bloor St. E. and Danforth Ave. over the Don River, between his job at the University of Toronto and his home in Riverdale best payday advance.

“Hopefully they’re going to fix it. I hope they’re going to punish the contractor who did this because they endangered the lives of many people,” Genkin said, adding he’s glad he didn’t have his kids in the bike trailer.

Arcady chose to cycle in the middle of the car lane, which is legal. Others were trying to hug the concrete barrier, leaving little room between them and the fast-moving cars, he said.

The barriers blocking the bike lane were spread out in five sections, meaning cyclists could choose to rejoin the bike lane for a few metres and then merge again with traffic, something Genkin said only added to the danger.

“The moment of merging with the car lane is the most dangerous thing. You need to be really aware and the motorist needs to be really aware of the cyclist doing this,” he said.

The closest detours are the Gerrard St. bridge and a pedestrian bridge at Riverdale Park.

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August 19, 2014

Toronto police identify victim of Monday

Filed under: Loans, news — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 2:08 pm

Toronto Police have identified Monday evening’s homicide victim as 24-year-old Olatoyebi Waheed of Toronto.

EMS was called to the area of Jane St. and Eglinton Ave. W. around 6:45 p.m. to what appeared to be a targeted drive-by shooting on a high traffic North York street.

Rescuers discovered two males, ages 23 and 24, with gunshot wounds. Waheed was without vital signs; the surviving victim was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive. His name has not yet been released.

Waheed was driving south with the other victim in a Nissan hatchback. He stopped at a light when a lone gunman in another vehicle approached them from the rear of their car and fired approximately six shots into the back of the vehicle, Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga told reporters on Monday night.

The post-mortem examination confirmed the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. Waheed’s death marks Toronto’s 26th homicide.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

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August 17, 2014

Thailand Economy Averts Recession as Outlook Improves After Coup - Bloomberg

Filed under: economics, legal — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 11:12 pm

Thailand

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August 16, 2014

Energizer’s CFO to leave after company separates

Filed under: Finance, legal — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 5:52 am

Energizer Holding’s longtime chief financial officer Dan Sescleifer will leave the company next year after the household and personal care businesses split into two separate companies. 

Town and Country-based Energizer announced the split, which is expected to finalize by July 1, 2015, earlier this year. Sescleifer became CFO in 2001 and will remain in the role through the completion of the separation. 

Two executives have been named to fill the CFO roles upon completion of the separation, Energizer said Thursday.

Vice president of finance Sandy Sheldon will become CFO of the personal care business; and Brian Hamm, Energizer’s controller and chief accounting officer, will become CFO of the household products business, which includes batteries and lighting products. 

“We look forward to continuing to benefit from Dan’s experience and leadership as we continue to work diligently to complete the planned separation of our businesses and position each company for its next phase of growth and development,” CEO Ward Klein said in a statement.

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August 14, 2014

Euro Recovery Halts as Germany Shrinks, France Stagnates - Bloomberg

Filed under: Finance, Loans — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 5:20 pm

The euro area

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August 13, 2014

Toronto Public Health urges ban on serving energy drinks and alcohol on city property

Filed under: money, technology — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 4:48 am

Toronto Public Health is recommending that energy drinks not be sold along with alcohol at events on city property due to concerns about the harmful effects of mixing booze and caffeine.

The city agency’s report, to be presented at the Toronto Board of Health’s Aug. 18 meeting, proposes to ban the sale of caffeinated energy beverages such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar to use in mixed drinks at events where organizers apply for a liquor permit, from wedding receptions to large-scale gatherings like Ribfest.

Monica Campbell, TPH director of healthy public policy, worked on updating the policy. She says it’s intended to prevent a phenomenon called “wide-awake drunk,” which can happen when people mix caffeine and alcohol.

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“People think they’re fine and they can drink more — so they drink more and they become more impaired and they lose judgment,” says Campbell.

Mixed drinks such as a vodka Red Bull or a Jagerbomb — a shot of Jagermeister added to a glass of Red Bull — can create a sense of alertness that masks how drunk a person really is, she says.

“They might be more likely to walk home drunk and possibly get into a personal injury accident. Or they might get into a car and drive because they are just so unaware of how intoxicated they are,” she says.

Campbell says the policy is not based on any one study. “We’ve looked at a number of studies and they’re generally pointing to this problem.”

The proposed ban is part of an update to the city’s Municipal Alcohol Policy, which aims to reduce drinking-related risks.

Stephanie Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Beverage Association, calls the scientific evidence on the issue “inconclusive flexcheck cash advance.”

“While we don’t support and we don’t encourage the mixing of energy drinks and alcohol, we feel that targeting one specific beverage that contains caffeine is inappropriate,” she says. “Cola has caffeine in it, coffee has caffeine in it. Both of those are used and mixed with alcoholic beverages.”

Toronto resident Andrew Cain, who says he enjoys drinking vodka and Red Bull in moderation for “a bit of a jump start,” does not agree with the ban.

“(People) know what they’re drinking. If they want to be educated about it they certainly can teach themselves. I think it should be a choice for people for sure.”

Ryan Calbeck says he regularly enjoys Rockstar and vodka. The 24-year-old also objects to Toronto Public Health’s proposal.

“People should be responsible for their own actions. Neither of these products contains anything illegal and both can be purchased easily,” he says.

In July, Australian researchers released a study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research that found that mixing energy drinks and alcohol is linked to greater drinking, which can in turn increase the risk of injuries, drunk driving and alcohol poisoning.

Health Canada capped the caffeine of energy drinks at 400 milligrams per litre and 180 mg of caffeine per can or single-serving bottle in response to concerns about health effects of high levels of caffeine.

Health Canada also reclassified the drinks as food (from natural health products), introduced nutritional labelling requirements and banned them as an ingredient in pre-mixed alcohol drinks.

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August 11, 2014

US Postal Service loses $2B this spring

Filed under: Homes, legal — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 1:52 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service lost $2 billion this spring despite increasing its volume and charging consumers more money to send mail, officials said Monday.

The loss for the spring quarter, which ended June 30, was significantly higher than the $740 million loss for the same three-month period last year. The agency blamed increases in compensation and benefit costs for the red ink and said it would be unable to make a congressionally mandated payment of $5.7 billion this September for health benefits for future retirees. The loss came despite a 2 percent increase in operating revenue compared to last spring.

“Due to continued losses and low levels of liquidity, we’ve been extremely conservative with our capital, spending only what is deemed essential to maintain existing infrastructure,” said Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service’s chief financial officer.

The Postal Service is an independent agency that receives no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control. It has asked to end most Saturday deliveries, a request that is languishing in Congress amid opposition by postal unions. The agency also is seeking to eliminate the congressionally mandated $5.7 billion annual payment for future retiree health benefits.

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, agrees that Congress should get rid of the 2006 mandated payment but says it would be “irresponsible to degrade services to Americans and their businesses” just as postal delivery is rebounding with the economy. Because more people are shopping online, “the Internet is now a net positive for USPS, auguring well for the future as e-commerce grows,” Rolando said in a statement.

The Postal Service has defaulted before on federally mandated annual payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. Corbett said the agency also needs $10 billion to replace old vehicles, buy new package sorting equipment and make other infrastructure upgrades.

Other findings from the latest quarterly report compared to the same time period last year:

—Shipping and package revenue was up 6.6 percent, while standard mail revenue increased 5.1 percent. The increase was attributed both to higher volume and prices charged to consumers.

—First-Class mail volume declined by 1.4 percent, but revenue climbed 3.2 percent because of price increases.

—Operating revenue increased by $327 million to $16.5 billion.

—Operating expenses increased by $1.5 billion to $18.4 billion.

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August 9, 2014

Grumpy Cat mania grips Toronto

Filed under: management, marketing — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 10:56 pm

They started lining up at 7 a.m. on Saturday. When the doors were unlocked at 9 a.m., hundreds of adoring fans rushed into the Indigo store at the Toronto Eaton Centre, vying to be the first to meet Grumpy Cat, the Internet meme sensation, in Toronto for one stop only.

With smartphones at the ready, fans of all ages paid $15 a head for a book and the ultimate online souvenir: a selfie with the frowning feline.

The crowds were so large and so enthusiastic hundreds of people snaked through the store and paparazzi jostled for position that extra security was brought in to control the crowd.

At the very front of the line, Kayla Herbert stood nervously. The 18-year-old from Edmonton had begged her mom to extend her Toronto vacation long enough to see the cat in person.

She whiled away the hours rehashing the perennial debate: should she smile or frown in her selfie with the grimacing tabby?

After a lengthy email exchange with Grumpy Cat’s publicist, the Star was able to secure a coveted one-on-one with the cat of the hour. Due to her tight schedule, a mere five minutes were allocated for the sit-down interview.

At the appointed hour, your correspondent was ushered through a door locked with a numbered keypad and into the service hallways of the Eaton Centre, filled with the cat’s entourage, groupies and hangers-on. The previous interviewers rushed out, feverishly posting their selfies to Twitter.

Grumpy Cat naps on her luxurious terrycloth daybed.

In the inner sanctum, there she was, sprawled half-asleep in a luxurious terrycloth bed. Seeing Grumpy Cat in the flesh, you couldn’t help but notice she’s smaller than she appears on screen. And she wasn’t as funny without witticisms printed boldly above and below her unimpressed visage.

Grumpy Cat’s mom, Tabby Bundesen, said it was thanks to a single photo posted on Reddit that the world discovered her uniquely adorable cat. Now a full-blown celebrity, Grumpy Cat’s travel schedule is relentless. Toronto was the last stop on a North American book tour and the Bundesens were exhausted.

After so many flights, was she worried that maybe she was pushing her 2-year-old a little hard?

“No, we let her do her thing,” said Bundeson. “She mostly sleeps through all her public engagements. We never force her to get up. We’re not going to wake her up for a thousand people.”

She may look grumpy, but don’t all cats want attention, and isn’t she just maybe enjoying this?

“She can’t get enough attention. She still wants more at the end of the day,” said Bundesen. “She’s really pampered.”

At this point a publicist politely but firmly informed us that the interview was over and ushered us out of the room. The feline diva had to prepare for her curtain call.

Grumpy Cat fan Catherine Renauld gets her photo taken with the feline celebrity.

Grumpy Cat’s green room and event requirements were detailed enough to make Van Halen proud. A one-page list detailed everything needed to achieve “standards suitable for a celebrity cat.”

In addition to 12 small bottles of still spring water at room temperature, Grumpy Cat requires one small plate of “assorted, fresh, individually wrapped sushi, to include spicy tuna hand rolls. NO fugu!”

Outside, in the store, anticipation had grown to a fever pitch before the tension was broken by the announcement over the PA.

“Here she comes!”

Two muscled security guards pushed through the crowd, clearing the way for Grumpy Cat. Atop a podium, she lazed in her bed as one fan after another posed for a selfie.

Chelsea Kruschel, 12, was thrilled to meet the frowning feline she had become so familiar with on Facebook.

“Everyone’s been posting about this,” she said.

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August 8, 2014

Smart meters linked to 13 fires in Ontario, Fire Marshal says

Filed under: money, news — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 8:00 am

Nearly half of Ontario’s 77 electricity distributors have installed so-called “smart” meters manufactured by a U.S. company whose equipment has been linked to nine fires in Saskatchewan, Ontario’s electricity regulator said Thursday.

Publicly owned Hydro One, Ontario’s largest electricity distributor, doesn’t use meters made by North Carolina-based Sensus, officials said.

But the Ontario Energy Board said it’s still unclear how many of the 30 distributors who do use Sensus may have the Generation 3 smart meters that have raised safety concerns in other parts of Canada and the U.S.

Ten distributors have confirmed that they didn’t use that particular model, and the remaining 20 are expected to report back to the OEB on Friday, said spokeswoman Karen Cormier.

“So far, we can say that we haven’t heard of any safety issues,” she said.

However, smart meters have been linked to 23 incidents reported to Ontario’s Fire Marshal from 2011 to 2013.

“I can tell you 10 of those were smart meter failures attributed to internal faults, and 13 were small fires attributed to high-resistance heating,” said spokeswoman Carol Gravelle.

Ontario’s governing Liberals say more than 4.78 million residential and small business customers in the province have a smart meter, which records consumption of electric energy in small intervals and can relay the information electronically to a power company. It eliminates the need to estimate bills when a meter reader can’t do a check on site.

A spokeswoman for Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said that, at this point, there is no plan to remove the smart meters because of fire concerns.

“We note that the investigation into the cause of the incidents is still in progress and that it has not yet been determined whether the issues originated from the meter itself versus an issue with the meter base or as a result of the installation process,” Beckie Codd-Downey said in an email fast cash now.

Sensus has said it conducted lab tests and site inspections to determine the cause of the “incidents” and the results so far point to “contributing external factors” such as holes in the meter boxes that allowed water in, or power surges.

“Safety is our number one priority and all Sensus meters go through rigorous testing and meet or exceed industry safety standards,” company president Randy Bays said in a statement.

But Ontario’s New Democrats are pushing the government for answers, saying they’ve had a week to figure out how many Ontario homes may have the same equipment.

“It’s imperative that the minister act quickly to find out whether we have these meters and have them removed immediately before somebody does get hurt or before somebody’s home burns down,” said NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky.

PowerStream, which serves several communities north of Toronto and in central Ontario, said it has installed more the 320,000 Sensus smart meters since 2007 and have used three different models.

But they’ve not had any fires, said spokesman Eric Sagen. So far, just one customer has called to ask about the meters.

SaskPower plans to remove all 105,000 of its smart meters and replace them with traditional units. Utilities in Philadelphia and Oregon have also reportedly decided to remove the Sensus meters after a number of devices overheated and some caught fire.

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August 6, 2014

Alberta premier wants RCMP to probe Alison Redford

Filed under: Mortgage, online — Tags: , , , — Gogo @ 2:52 pm

CALGARY—Alberta Premier Dave Hancock says he wants the RCMP to review travel expenses and the use of government aircraft.

The move comes ahead of the release of an auditor’s report into the matter.

Hancock says he is extremely disappointed in Alison Redford’s actions while premier.

Redford announced today she is resigning her seat in the provincial legislature effective immediately.

In an opinion article written for Postmedia newspapers, Redford acknowledged mistakes were made during her time as leader of the governing Progressive Conservatives.

“In hindsight, there were many things I would have done differently,” she wrote. “That said, I accept responsibility for all the decisions I have made.”

Redford resigned as premier in March after facing increased unrest within her caucus, fuelled by concerns over her leadership style and a $45,000 trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Since leaving office, she has faced increased criticism over her travel habits.

Last week, the CBC reported that a leaked review from Alberta auditor general Merwan Saher found that passenger lists on government aircraft were altered so that Redford could fly alone.

It’s expected that Saher’s full report will be released to members of the legislature and the public on Thursday.

“I will leave it to others to analyze and comment on the past. I am sure that I will be asked to weigh in, but I will respectfully decline,” she writes.

“It is time to move forward.”

There had been calls from within her own party to give up her Calgary-Elbow seat.

Thomas Lukaszuk, one of the men vying to become the next leader of Alberta’s Conservatives, had called for an emergency caucus meeting to discuss Redford’s continued membership in the party.

He said it is now time to move forward.

“It’s a new chapter for Alberta. I wish everyone involved all the best on future journeys. Now is time to focus on tomorrow in Alberta,” Lukaszuk said on Twitter.

Redford says in the letter that she will not accept a transition allowance given to members of the legislature who leave their seats.

She concludes her letter by thanking her friends and family.

“My family stood by me throughout and in the course of my political career there are some truly unique friends who have been volunteers and who have worked in my office,” she says.

“I thank each and every one of them for their friendship and loyalty in the face of some very difficult circumstances.”

A Mount Royal University political scientist questioned the timing of Redford’s resignation.

“Redford made the right decision, but at wrong time. She should have resigned as MLA at the same time as she resigned as premier,” Duane Bratt said in a Tweet.

Redford’s ex-chief of staff said he wishes her well in the future.

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