09/19/2014 (6:40 am)

New Zealand Votes With Key Leading After Snowden, Eminem Barrage - Bloomberg

Filed under: Rates, money |

New Zealanders vote in an election today with Prime Minister John Key leading in opinion polls after surviving a political scandal, Edward Snowden

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09/15/2014 (8:36 pm)

Ottawa announces plan to address violence against aboriginal women

Filed under: Europe, legal |

OTTAWA—The federal government has released details of its plan to address the issue of violence against aboriginal women and girls.

Labour Minister Kellie Leitch, who is also minister for the status of women, says the plan consists of a range of measures to address the problem.

They include the development of more community safety plans both off and on reserves and projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse.

The plan also proposes projects to empower aboriginal women and girls to denounce and prevent violence.

The last budget earmarked $25 million over five years to address crimes against aboriginal woman and girls.

The government has steadfastly refused calls from the opposition and aboriginal groups for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

New Democrat MP Niki Ashton urged the government again on Monday to set up an inquiry.

“The government has a responsibility to help end the violence against indigenous women,” she said in the Commons installment payday loans.

Leitch said there have been 40 such studies already.

“Now is not the time for another study, another look by the lawyers,” she said. “Now is the time for action.”

Leitch said the newly released plan is evidence of the government’s commitment.

The largest single chunk of the $25 million is $8.6 million allocated for community safety plans.

The government says overall it has budgeted almost $200 million over five years to deal with violence against aboriginal women, including $158.7 million for shelters and family violence prevention activities, starting next year.

The government also plans to establish a DNA-based missing persons index and pledges better liaison between police and the families of victims.

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09/09/2014 (1:20 pm)

Draft study: More pilots test positive for drugs

Filed under: management, technology |

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tests of pilots killed in plane crashes over more than two decades show an increasing use of both legal and illegal drugs, including some that could impair flying, according to a draft study by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The study, a copy of which was provided by the safety board, examines toxicology reports for almost 6,700 pilots killed in crashes from 1990 to 2012. Not only did the share of pilots testing positive for a drug increase over that period, but the share of pilots who tested positive for multiple drugs increased as well. Pilots testing positive for at least one drug increased from 9.6 percent to 39 percent, while positive tests for two drugs rose from 2 percent to 20 percent and three drugs from zero to 8.3 percent.

Over the same period, new drugs were coming into use and the U.S. population was aging, creating greater demand for drugs. The toxicology tests “reflect tends in the general population and likely indicate a significant increase in drug use” by pilots as well, the study said.

However, the share of accidents the board has investigated in which impairment from a drug was found to be a factor hasn’t increased appreciably, the report said. Since 1990, the NTSB has cited pilot impairment due to drugs as a cause or a contributing factor in about 3 percent of fatal civil aviation accidents bad credit unsecured personal loans.

More than 9 out of 10 of the pilots tested were private rather than commercial pilots, and 98 percent were male. The average age of pilots killed also increased markedly, from 46 years old in 1990 to 57 in 2012. The average age of pilots killed was 5 to 15 years older than the general population of active pilots.

The tests also revealed increased pilot use of all kinds of drugs, including drugs that could impair a pilot’s functioning as well as drugs used to treat potentially impairing conditions such as seizure disorders and psychiatric illness.

The most common drug found in the tests was an antihistamine that causes drowsiness and is a key ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy, cold and sleep medications. Sedating antihistamines in general were found in 9.9 percent of pilots tested during the last five years studied, up from 2.1 percent of the cases during the early years examined.

The share of pilots testing positive for illegal drugs was small, but increased from 2.3 percent to 3.8 percent. The study attributed the increase mostly to greater marijuana use in the last 10 years.

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09/07/2014 (10:04 pm)

Iowa landowners want details of proposed pipeline route

Filed under: Mortgage, economics |

SIOUX CITY, Iowa • Iowa landowners want to see the details of a proposed oil pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota across the state to Illinois.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners has said the 1,100-mile pipeline would likely go through 17 Iowa counties as it crosses from the northwest corner of the state to the southeast corner. The oil’s final destination would be in Patoka, Ill., about 70 miles east of St. Louis.

Environmentalists oppose the project because they worry about the potential for contamination if there were a pipeline spill. Federal records show that Iowa has avoided significant disasters with pipelines but there have 100 pipeline spills since 2004 that caused nearly $20 million in property damage.

“We are against a pipeline going through our state. Iowa won’t benefit from it, and we will take all of the risks environmentally,” Neila Seaman, director of the Sierra Club in Iowa, told The Des Moines Register.

Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado said the proposed pipeline would meet or exceed all state and federal safety standards.

All of the pipeline crossing Iowa would be buried at least 36 inches deep, and in farmland it will be at least 48 inches deep. River and road crossings will be even deeper.

“We are very experienced and very proud of the safety record that we have,” Granado said.

The company will hold public meetings about the project across Iowa in December. Those hearings will be the first step in obtaining a state permit.

“The route is not final at this time as we are still performing civil surveys and executing environmental studies along the proposed pathway of the pipeline,” she said.

Energy Transfer Partners hopes to have the $3.7 billion pipeline in service by late 2016. It would initially transport up to 320,000 barrels of crude per day with the potential to transport as much as 570,000 barrels.

Landowner Don Kreber agreed to let the company survey some of his farmland in O’Brien County, but he told the Sioux City Journal he still hasn’t learned many details — even after meeting with a company representative.

“They really aren’t specific. They guy who came here with the papers didn’t have a map,” said Kreber, who would be open to allowing the pipeline on his land if the compensation is fair.

But farmer Darrell Vande Vegte said he wouldn’t want the pipeline crossing the land he farms near Rock Valley and Doon because of the impact on crops. He said he already has a natural gas line under one of his farms, so production gets disrupted every time repairs are needed.

“It takes several years to get the land leveled properly and fertilized” until it returns to full production, he told the Sioux City Journal.

The Iowa Farm Bureau hasn’t taken a position on the pipeline, but said it wants to hear more details and is urging landowners to closely study any contract they sign.

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09/04/2014 (4:16 pm)

Judge: BP’s reckless conduct caused Gulf oil spill

Filed under: Lenders, Loans |

BATON ROUGE, La. • A federal judge has ruled that BP’s reckless conduct resulted in the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, leaving the company open to billions of dollars in penalties.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling Thursday could nearly quadruple the amount of civil penalties for polluting the Gulf of Mexico with oil from BP’s Macondo well in 2010.

Barbier presided over a trial in 2013 to apportion blame for the spill that spewed oil from April 20 to mid-July 2010. Eleven men died when the well blew wild; BP already has agreed to billions of dollars in criminal fines payday advance lender.

Barbier says BP bears 67 percent of the blame for the spill. He says drilling rig owner Transocean Ltd. takes 30 percent of the blame, and cement contractor Halliburton Energy Service takes 3 percent.

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09/02/2014 (7:04 pm)

Mo. regulators to investigate solar rebate payments

Filed under: Rates, legal |

Missouri regulators will look into complaints that the state’s investor-owned utilities have taken longer than the maximum 30 days to pay solar rebates to customers.

The Missouri Public Service Commission staff proposed investigating the payment practices of Kansas City Power and Light and Ameren Missouri two months ago. The PSC announced the investigation Tuesday.

The solar rebate program was part of the voter-approved renewable energy law passed in 2008 that was supposed to kick-start solar energy in Missouri. It required the utilities to pay rebates to customers who install solar panels but was not allowed to raise rates more than 1 percent free 3-in-1 credit report.

Ameren and KCP&L have invoked the 1 percent clause to effectively cap the programs. Ameren customers had spoken for all the program funds by late last year, and projects were supposed to be finished by the end of June to receive the full rebate. It’s unclear whether solar rebates will continue in the state without new legislation.

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09/01/2014 (12:24 pm)

$2.4 billion Atlantic City casino to close after just two years

Filed under: economics, money |

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.—The most spectacular and costly failure in Atlantic City’s 36-year history of casino gambling began to play out Monday when the $2.4 billion (U.S.) Revel Casino Hotel emptied its hotel.

Its casino will close early Tuesday morning.

Revel is shutting down a little over two years after opening with high hopes of revitalizing Atlantic City’s struggling gambling market. But mired in its second bankruptcy in two years, Revel has been unable to find anyone willing to buy the property and keep it open as a casino. It has never turned a profit.

Revel will be the second of three Atlantic City casinos to close in a two-week span. The Showboat Casino Hotel closed its doors Sunday, and Trump Plaza is closing Sept. 16.

So what killed Revel?

Analysts and competitors say it was hampered by bad business decisions and a fundamental misunderstanding of the Atlantic City casino customer.

“The timing of it could not have been worse,” said Mark Juliano, president of Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and the former CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City. “The financial climate while Revel was developing and when it opened were completely different.”

Revel officials declined to comment.

The casino broke ground just before the Great Recession. It ran out of money halfway through construction and had to drop its plans for a second hotel tower while scrambling for the remaining $1 billion (U.S.) or so it needed to finish the project. When it opened in April 2012, it was so laden with debt that it couldn’t bring in enough revenue to cover it.

The idea behind Revel was to open a totally different resort, a seaside pleasure palace that just happened to have a casino as one of its features. That included Atlantic City’s only total smoking ban, which alienated many gamblers; the lack of a buffet and daily bus trips to and from the casino; and the absence of a players’ club. By the time those decisions were reversed, it was already too late. High room and restaurant prices hurt, too.

“If there had been a range of new attractions and potential customers with enough discretionary income, I think that Atlantic City could have absorbed the new capacity,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. “That’s certainly what happened with Borgata more than 10 years ago. But the market that Revel foresaw for its property just didn’t materialize, partially because of the growing perception that the city wasn’t ready for that kind of customer. At the same time, Revel didn’t have a plan to successfully market to the traditional Atlantic City customer.”

It also started at a huge disadvantage by not having a pre-existing database of gamblers to solicit, in the way that casinos owned by nationwide companies like Caesars Entertainment or Tropicana Entertainment can.

Customers found Revel’s design off-putting as well, said Joe Lupo, senior vice-president of the Borgata, whose upscale market Revel appeared to target. Entering from the Boardwalk, they had to take a vertiginous escalator up four flights to reach the casino floor. Once there, the property wound around a circular pattern instead of the linear layout of most other casinos.

“Revel struggled with the execution of plans to develop their market, as well as with their design and just a basic understanding of the Atlantic City visitor,” he said.

A huge power plant proved enormously costly. Some potential buyers in bankruptcy court reportedly were scared off by the ongoing expense of the heating, cooling and electrical plant, and they sought unsuccessfully to exclude it from their purchase offers. Juliano said Revel apparently hoped there would be additional development in the immediate area that it could sell utility service to, but that never materialized.

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08/30/2014 (3:16 pm)

Shop class not for slackers as high school grads excel

Filed under: Finance, Lenders |

Two years out of high school, Evan Fischbach is earning $40,000 a year. His secret: shop class.

Fischbach, 19, has known he wanted to work on cars ever since he took an automotive class in his junior year of high school in Saline, Mich. His college-educated parents wondered if he was aiming too low.

Then when Fischbach was still a junior, a local auto dealer desperate for mechanics hired him as an apprentice in the service bay. Now he’s earning about three times as much as the average 19-year-old high school grad and slightly more than the national median, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Friends weren’t interested in auto shop when I suggested it, and now I think they wished they had tried it,” said Fischbach, who works at the LaFontaine Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in Saline. “I’m not rich, but I’m not hurting, either.”

Fischbach is an all too rare success story that educators, legislators and executives are eager to replicate. With schools focused on preparing kids for college, shop class has gone the way of stenography class in much of the U.S. Companies from Toyota Motor Corp. to Siemens AG and International Business Machines Corp. are pushing high schools to graduate students with the real-world skills they need.

The message is getting through. This year, for the first time in a decade, the U.S. government boosted funding for high school and college vocational education, though the $1.125 billion war chest is $188 million smaller than it was in 2004.

Proponents say re-emphasizing vocational education will help reverse the hollowing out of America’s middle class and combat rising inequality. Wage growth since 2009 has been the weakest since World War II even as the rich get richer.

There are 29 million “middle-education” jobs that pay more than $35,000 a year, considered a threshold to the middle class, according to Georgetown University research. Of those, 22.9 million require only high school or some post high-school training. Fischbach’s job pays enough to launch him on a once-familiar trajectory: start a family, buy a home, pay taxes.

Fifty years ago, most American kids in middle and high school attended shop class, where they learned to make ashtrays, rebuild engines, weld metal and even market products. As the space race gave way to the high-tech era, policymakers decided such skills were unnecessary. College prep classes gradually supplanted shop, which by then was perceived as a place for slackers and stoners.

The average number of high school credits earned in career and technical education fell 15 percent from 1990 to 2009 at the same time core academic credits in study areas such as English, math and science rose 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“It became seen as a dumping ground for kids the regular school couldn’t figure out what to do with,” said James Stone, director of the National Research Center for Career & Technical Education in Louisville, Ky.

Those prejudices are even more prevalent now that many parents expect their offspring to attend a four-year college.

While many parents agree that more students should attend vocational training, the prevailing attitude is: not my kid.

“For a lot of parents, and policymakers, it’s easier to say we need to send more kids to college,” Stone said.

“Parents go, ‘Yes, that’s what I want to do. My kid will be successful.’ Then after four or five years, they come back with a lot of bills and they’re sleeping on the couch.”

Yet businesses can’t find enough people to fix cars and work in factories. Mike Hughes, the service manager who hired Fischbach, finds himself competing with rival dealerships to recruit kids right out of high school. If he can’t find candidates there, he has to train them from scratch.

“Nobody wants their kid to be a mechanic,” said Hughes, who estimates Fischbach eventually will pull down $60,000 a year. “They just don’t know how good of a living it is.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Mike Dales, 28, didn’t bother with shop class because he was told college prep classes were more important. His school even charged an extra fee to take shop.

After graduating, Dales dabbled in trade school before realizing that he wasn’t going to grasp the math needed for mechanical engineering. He ended up slinging crab claws at Red Lobster before taking a job last year at Area Tool & Manufacturing in Meadville, Pa., where he’s now making parts for the medical, automotive and tech industries.

“It always amazes me what I can come up with” after starting with a “chunk of steel,” said Dales, who wishes someone had pointed him toward a vocation when he was a teen.

LAID-OFF PARENTS

The parents most likely to be dubious about shop class held down manufacturing jobs themselves, only to watch them disappear. The U.S. lost 6.1 million such jobs from 1997 to 2009. Only 644,000 have been added since, according to the BLS.

“I mean, how do you walk into the classroom and talk to a 16- or 17-year-old kid about getting into the shop when he had a parent who used to work there but was laid off 10 years ago?” said Ashleigh Smith, office manager of the shop where Dales works. “It’s difficult to explain that the industry is coming back when you have that kind of personal experience.”

Advocates of vocational education are pushing high schools to identify students’ career interests earlier and guide them to both vocational and other classes to support that career whether the ultimate goal is college or not. Progress is patchy, and many of the newer programs require students to leave their neighborhood schools altogether or travel to class.

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08/19/2014 (8:48 am)

Allegiant adds flight to Florida from MidAmerica Airport

Filed under: Loans, Uncategorized |

Low cost airliner Allegiant is adding nonstop a flight from St. Louis MidAmerica Airport in Belleville to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. 

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co. resumed passenger flights from Belleville in late 2012 after a several-year-long hiatus. 

The new nonstop service from Belleville to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport begins begins Nov. 19 with on-way fares starting at $75, the airliner said Tuesday. The airliner also said it’s adding nonstop flights to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport from Bloomington, Ill., and Concord, N.C., and a flight from Peoria to Orlando Sanford International Airport payday advance online.

“We are thrilled to offer more convenient, low-cost vacation options to more communities,” Allegiant’s president and COO Andrew C. Levy said in a statement. “Allegiant is committed to providing our customers the opportunity to save money on their vacations by offering the lowest possible fares and nonstop travel service to world-class vacation destinations.”

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08/11/2014 (6:08 am)

Cowabunga! ‘Ninja Turtles’ bring box-office power

Filed under: UK, marketing |

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Studio estimates say “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sliced off $65 million at the weekend box office.

The Paramount comic-book adaptation featuring Megan Fox alongside computer-generated renditions of the pizza-eating, sewer-dwelling superheroes lunged into first place in its debut weekend.

The studio announced plans Sunday for a sequel scheduled for June 3, 2016.

Marvel’s cosmic romp “Guardians of the Galaxy” starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana as members of an intergalactic band of do-gooders slid into second place in its second weekend, with $41 cash advance.5 million, bringing its total domestic haul to $175.9 million.

The Warner Bros. disaster film “Into the Storm” touched down in third place with $18 million.

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