10/01/2014 (8:08 am)

Photos, exhibits paint grisly picture in Magnotta murder trial: DiManno

Filed under: legal, real estate |

WARNING:Due to the nature of the trial, this column contains graphic content.

MONTREAL—“If you don’t like the reflection, don’t look in the mirror.”

Those were the words scrawled in red marker on the wall inside a closet in the studio apartment where Luka Magnotta resided and allegedly committed butchery of a human being.

But Magnotta was in thrall to mirrors.

As he was in thrall to his own beauteous image: the cherry-mouth pout a signature feature in autoerotic poses.

The sculpted cheekbones.

The arched eyebrow.

The seductive moue.

He lived in a house of mirrors, metaphorically, that reflected his own contrived creation.

“I don’t care,” the epigram on the wall continues.

Magnotta, who’s admitted — but pleaded not guilty — to the murder and dismemberment of Chinese exchange student Jun Lin, may or not be a head case, which is the “not criminally responsible” argument his lawyer has stated he will mount at trial here. But he was indisputably a vanity case, a walking hunk of narcissism.

The figments of his imagination were obliquely portrayed in court on Tuesday, in bizarre notes written on fuchsia paper, attached to gift bags containing parts of Lin’s mutilated body, sent through the mail to addresses across Canada.

The Conservative party offices in Ottawa received a foot and this communiqu

09/21/2014 (1:36 pm)

G-20 Sees Potential Excessive Risk in Markets on Low Rates - Bloomberg

Filed under: bank, real estate |

Group of 20 finance chiefs and central bankers said low interest rates are contributing to a potential increase in financial market risk, as major policy makers rely on monetary stimulus to bolster growth.

09/02/2014 (3:48 am)


Filed under: Stock market, real estate |

Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan said the ceiling on the Swiss franc remains vital as global economic risks have increased.

08/28/2014 (6:04 am)

Aussie Defiance of Iron Erodes on Fed Bets: Chart of the Day - Bloomberg

Filed under: finance, real estate |

Plunging iron ore prices and growing bets the Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy suggest Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens could gain relief from his strong-currency headache.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows a deepening divergence between an Australian dollar that remains above its 91.5 U.S. cent average since Stevens took office in September 2006, and a slide in prices for the country

08/20/2014 (2:28 am)

Private prison company pays $8M in back wages

Filed under: economics, real estate |

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corp. of America, has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees guarding federal inmates at a prison in California City, officials with the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday.

The payments came after an investigation found that the federal prison subcontractor underpaid 362 employees at the California City Correctional Center under the terms of its contract, where pay rates are established by law.

In some cases, employees were paid 30 to 40 percent less than they were supposed to be paid, said Eduardo Huerta, assistant director of the department’s wage and hour division.

Many employees recouped more than $30,000 in back pay, benefits, overtime and holiday pay, officials said, and had worked at the lesser pay rate for up to five years.

The facility houses federal inmates being detained by the U.S. Marshal and federal immigration authorities, as well as state inmates. The back wages only applied to CCA employees working with federal inmates.

Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for the company, did not have an immediate comment.

“If somebody was supposed to be making $30 an hour, they were making $20 an hour instead,” Huerta said.

“The people that get these federal monies from a federal agency to get one of these contracts have to abide by the wage rates.”

The company also wasn’t making the required contributions to health and life insurance and retirement accounts, he said. The investigation also found record-keeping violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, include inaccurate recording of breaks, lunches and overall hours worked.

Corrections Corp. of America — the fifth-largest prison system in the nation — has come under scrutiny before.

In Kentucky, it paid $260,000 last week to settle claims that it denied overtime to shift supervisors and forced them to work extra hours.

In Kansas, CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks settled in 2009 in federal court over allegations of unpaid overtime. CCA agreed to pay a maximum of $7 million but did not acknowledge fault in the case.

Idaho announced this year that it would not renew a $29 million-a-year contract with the private prison company and began the process of returning operations of the state’s largest prison, in Boise, to state control.

The facility was sued and plagued by accusations of violence, gang activity and understaffing after the private prison contractor took it over.

Corrections Corp. of America operates detention centers for federal, state and local governments in 20 states in the U.S. and houses nearly 80,000 inmates at 60 facilities.

California City is about 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles.


08/13/2014 (2:44 pm)

Urban living distracts us from driving: Hume

Filed under: management, real estate |

Oh dear. If Toronto’s much put upon drivers didn’t have enough to deal with, now they must worry about uppity BMXers.

Sunnyside Bike Park, which recently opened east of Ellis Ave. between Lake Shore Blvd. and the Gardiner Expressway, has received rave reviews from users — mainly teenage boys — but according to the Star’s esteemed Wheels editor and Motor Sport Hall of Fame inductee, Norris McDonald, the new facility is guaranteed to make a bad driving situation even worse.

“Visual distractions,” McDonald wrote last weekend, “are very dangerous because no matter how many times they are told not to, drivers will always take a gander and that . . . can create serious problems.”

That must be why whole stretches of our major highways are either lined with enormous barriers or built up with the most nondescript buildings imaginable. All that rear-lotting on the broad avenues of the postwar city is also for their benefit. Anything more interesting would be unnecessarily hard on drivers.

Lest drivers find themselves distracted, which, being human is beyond their control, the space through which they move should be pleasant but not overly so. Certainly it should not be exciting or engaging. Anything that catches the eye should be eliminated wherever possible.

McDonald didn’t address the issue of the countless billboards — digital, neon, LED, static and moving — that fill the drivers’ every view. It’s clear, however, that in the interests of vehicular safety they should go.

So what about that extraordinary white marble Hindu temple on the east side of Highway 400? Or the spectacular Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum visible from the Don Valley Parkway at Eglinton? And how did all those condos next to the Gardiner get built — the ones with living rooms overlooking the highway?

They offer nothing but death, destruction and gridlock. These sorts of things should never have been allowed. Surely they could have been put somewhere out of view, on some hidden site where few would have noticed?

Of course, from a driver’s perspective the world is a place where the least distraction is welcome. As long as it’s not other cars, drivers are happy for any diversion, be it an accident, a truck with a flat tire, police activity or a beeping cell phone. Police say distracted driving happens more often now than drunk driving; so the last thing the city’s beleaguered drivers need is a biker park within view.

Perhaps it’s time city planners insist that invisibility be enshrined as a guiding principle for all future development. That would fit in nicely with the department’s fear of heights, architectural excellence and anything that isn’t a generic glass tower or a concrete box. In the name of driver safety, planners should insist that space surrounding new buildings be set aside as designated zones of emptiness, inactivity, blandness and/or strategically placed barriers.

That’s the sort of thing Toronto planners could get enthusiastic about. Look how successful that model has been in the inner suburbs. Besides, anything less would be irresponsible and unfair to drivers.

As McDonald points out, “drivers can’t help themselves . . .”

That’s also why bikes and pedestrians in general should be kept off the streets; they are distracting and make getting around unnecessarily difficult. After all, kids can ride their bikes pretty well anywhere. Cars, alas, are restricted to the roads.

Is it any wonder congestion has become such a pressing issue in Toronto? The way drivers are treated in this ungrateful burg, you’d think congestion was their fault. Whoever bears the blame, it’s certainly not them.


07/25/2014 (5:24 am)

U.S. TIPS Sale Yields Least in a Year on Inflation Bets - Bloomberg

Filed under: mortgage, real estate |

The U.S. sold $15 billion of 10-year inflation-linked debt at the lowest yield in more than a year amid wagers consumer-price growth will increase beyond the Federal Reserve

07/20/2014 (6:44 am)

Casey Kasem

Filed under: marketing, real estate |

SEATTLE—A judge has granted Casey Kasem’s daughter a temporary restraining order preventing the famous radio host’s wife from cremating his remains, but it’s unclear where those remains are or whether they’ve already been disposed of.

A lawyer for Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, said Friday that when he went to give a Tacoma funeral home a copy of the restraining order, he was informed it no longer had the remains.

“They said they could not disclose where he had gone or where he would end up,” said the lawyer, Scott Winship.

Tim Grant, funeral director at Gaffney Funeral Home & Cremation Services, confirmed Friday that Kasem’s body was no longer there.

“I cannot discuss the actual arrangements themselves, but he’s no longer in our care,” he said.

Kasem’s wife of the past 34 years, Jean Kasem, filled out a death certificate dated July 15 listing an address in Jerusalem, Israel, according to a copy filed in Pierce County Superior Court. The document listed “removal from state” as the intended means of disposing the remains, the Urgel Bourgie funeral home in Montreal as the place of disposition and July 14 as the date of disposition.

A man who answered the phone at Urgel Bourgie on Friday evening said it had disposed of no such remains and had no one by the name of Casey Kasem in its computer system Low fee payday loans.

Teruyuki Olsen, a lawyer for Kasem’s wife, refused to comment Friday or provide any information about what happened to Kasem’s body.

Kasem, the radio host of American Top 40 and voice of animated television characters like Scooby-Doo’s sidekick Shaggy, died June 15 at a hospital in Gig Harbor, Wash.

He was 82 and suffering from dementia, and his death followed a lengthy battle over his care between Jean Kasem and his three adult children from his first marriage.

Kerri Kasem asked a Pierce County Superior Court judge on Wednesday for authorization to seek an autopsy on her father as well as a temporary restraining order to ensure his body was held in cold storage and not cremated until that autopsy is completed.

Judge Ronald Culpepper ordered Jean Kasem to ensure that the radio host’s remains were preserved and that his body stayed at the Tacoma funeral home until the court decided on the autopsy petition following a July 25 hearing.


07/13/2014 (8:24 pm)

World Cup: Netherlands shuts out Brazil in third-place game

Filed under: Uncategorized, real estate |

BRASILIA, BRAZIL—Robin van Persie and Daley Blind scored early goals to help give the Netherlands a 3-0 win over host Brazil in the third-place match at the World Cup on Saturday.

Van Persie converted a penalty kick three minutes into the match after Arjen Robben was brought down by Brazil captain Thiago Silva. Blind added to the lead in the 17th with a shot from near the penalty spot after defender David Luiz made a mistake while trying to clear a cross in front of the goal low rates payday advance. Georginio Wijnaldum rounded off the win in injury time.

With the result, the Netherlands finishes a World Cup unbeaten in regular play for the first time. It lost to Argentina on penalties in the semifinals.


07/08/2014 (10:40 pm)

American’s CEO says demand for travel still bright

Filed under: bank, real estate |

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The CEO of American Airlines says travel demand is still strong and he is not worried about airlines adding so many flights that they will drive down prices.

American Airlines Group Inc. CEO Doug Parker said Tuesday that airlines can charge profitable fares even as they add seats, which is different than in past years, when they were losing money.

Parker’s upbeat tone contrasted with comments from Air France-KLM, which lowered its 2014 earnings forecast because overcapacity on international flying is hurting profits. Last month, Deutsche Lufthansa AG issued a similar warning.

American is expected to release June traffic figures this week. Parker declined to say what the statistics will show, but he said, “We’re happy with the demand we are seeing for the product throughout the world.” He dismissed the idea that there might be too much capacity on key routes, such as between the U.S. and Europe.

“There happens to be some growth internationally from a number of carriers, including American Airlines, in response to increased demand,” he said. “That’s what should happen.”

In the past, airlines struggled when jet fuel prices rose or overcapacity caused a drop in the average fare per mile, called yield bad credit payday loans. Most carriers are profitable now despite fuel prices which are high by historical measures, and that is partly because they have been successful at controlling the number of seats and preventing prices from falling.

American, which owns US Airways, earned $480 million in the first quarter. Analysts expect net income to top $1.2 billion for the second quarter, according to a survey by FactSet.

“The airline is doing very well,” Parker said. “We expect to continue to do very well.”

Parker made the comments after a ground-breaking ceremony for a new flight operations center, the first new building at American’s headquarters complex in more than 20 years. The center will house employees who coordinate and track flights.

American Airlines shares were down 11 cents at $39.99 in afternoon trading. Its shares are up 11 percent for the past three months but are about flat for the past year.


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