DUBLIN, IRELAND—On the eve of a summit of world leaders, Prime Minister Stephen Harper castigated Russian President Vladimir Putin for supporting “the thugs of the Assad regime” in Syria and said there’s no reason to hope other G8 leaders can convince Putin to help depose the Syrian strongman.
Harper, who wants an end to the dictatorship of President Bashar Assad to halt the bloody civil war in the Middle Eastern nation, went so far as to suggest Putin doesn’t deserve to sit at the table with leaders of some of the most advanced industrial democracies.
“I don’t think we should fool ourselves,” Harper said, using what may be his toughest language ever on the international stage. “This is the G7 plus one. Let’s be blunt, that’s what this is: the G7 plus one.”
The G7, which includes Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, France and Britain, has been meeting for decades as a way for like-minded leaders to talk candidly about global problems. Russia was only invited to join in 1997.
Photos:G8 Protests in Ireland
The two-day G8 summit, which begins Monday in Northern Ireland, is shaping up to be a tense, fractious clash over Putin’s support for Assad. Russia is the main diplomatic backer and arms supplier for Assad, whose efforts to suppress opposition forces seeking his ouster has led to the deaths of nearly 93,000 people so far.
Most of the other G8 leaders have come out in support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to deliver military support to the Syrian rebels — a decision Obama made after concluding that Syrian government forces had used small amounts of chemical weapons against their opponents.
Putin has scoffed at efforts to convince Russia to moderate its backing of Assad. On Sunday, the Russian leader added more fuel to the expected dispute at the G8 by warning the West not to back rebels “who kill their enemies and eat their organs.” He was referring to the purported photograph of an anti-Assad fighter taking a bite of a liver he had cut from a dead Syrian soldier.
Harper, speaking to reporters after a bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, said Putin’s position was unjustifiable but added he doesn’t expect much co-operation from the Russian leader over the next two days.
“Unless there’s a big shift of position on his part, we’re not going to get a common position with him at the G8,” Harper said.
Canada should instead, he said, “continue to work with our allies in the G7 and in NATO to see how we can move the situation (in Syria) in a positive direction where we get the transition towards a government that is genuinely representative, broadly based, democratic, not a threat to the world and certainly, not embracing of terrorist or extremist elements payday advances.”
Harper said his government is not budging from its refusal to send Canadian arms to Syrian rebels even though Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada understands why the United States is doing so.
“We are not, in Canada at the present time, we are not contemplating arming the opposition in Syria,” Harper told the media.
For now, he said, Canada will continue to send only humanitarian aid but he fully understands “why our allies would do that, particularly given recent actions by Russia, Iran and others.”
He was referring to countries whose support has helped Assad’s forces gain a military advantage over the rebels in recent weeks.
That may be seen as a bit of a shift in Harper’s position. He has said repeatedly that sending lethal aid to forces trying to topple Assad was a risky move because the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist-linked groups who number among Assad’s opponents.
Earlier on Sunday, Baird had explained on CTV on Sunday that “what the United States wants to do is ensure there’s a greater level playing field so we can get both parties” to join in negotiations to wind down the civil war.
According to one theory, recent successes by his army might make Assad less inclined to join the talks the U.S. and Russia have been trying to set up in Geneva. U.S. officials say more help for the rebels could shift the balance of power in the fighting and induce Assad to sit down and negotiate.
On another key issue at the G8 summit, Harper said his government supports a move by the host, British Prime Minister David Cameron, to enlist the co-operation of G8 countries to clamp down on tax evasion.
Cameron wants countries to develop registries to prevent individuals or companies from dodging taxes by hiding corporate ownership in shell companies.
“This is a very important initiative by Prime Minister Cameron,” Harper said. “It is important that we do it and we do it together because when we are dealing with tax evasion, we’re dealing with problems that cross borders.”
Harper said the only reservation that Canada will bring to the table is that “we’re going to have to consult with our provinces.”
Harper and Kenny discussed trade, immigration and historical ties between Canada and Ireland in their closed-door meeting at Ireland’s official guest house in the outskirts of Dublin. On Monday, Harper travels to Lough Erne in Northern Ireland to join the other G8 leaders in their summit.
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U.S. markets rose Thursday as positive economic data helped steady investor nerves after Japan’s main stock index plunged into “bear market” territory. European markets were mixed.
Japan’s Nikkei fell 6.4 percent to close at 12,445.38, a drop of 21 percent from its high in May. When an index falls by more than 20 percent from a high, it is commonly defined as a bear market.
Analysts said speculators are fleeing the Nikkei after the Bank of Japan’s decision earlier in the week to refrain from additional monetary easing measures.
European stocks initially fell sharply in reaction to the losses in Japan and after the World Bank cut its forecast for global growth in 2013 to 2.2 percent from 2.4 percent.
But they recovered, and Wall Street traded higher, after U.S. Commerce Department figures showed retail sales rose 0.6 percent in May, the strongest showing in three months.
IG Markets strategist Alastair McCaig said markets were also helped by a fall in unemployment benefit applications, which came in at 334,000, near five-year lows.
“Like almost all the major global indices, the Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ have all had a negative few weeks of trading, but… as at this stage it appears more like U.S. markets have blown some of the froth off the top rather than changed sentiment,” he said in a note.
By mid-morning in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial index was up 0.3 percent, rising above the 15,000 mark to 15,045.40, while the S&P 500 index rose 0.4 percent to 1,619.44.
Britain’s FSTE 100 gained 0.1 percent to 6,304.63 and France’s CAC-40 was up the same percentage to 3,797.98. Germany’s DAX closed 0.6 percent lower at 8,095.39.
Among notable losers in Europe was Royal Bank of Scotland, PLC, down 3.3 percent on the news CEO Stephen Hester will resign and the bank will cut 2,000 jobs.
Market sentiment has worsened generally since the chief of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, said the central bank might pull back on its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program _ known as quantitative easing _ if U.S. economic data, especially hiring, improves.
“Ever since talk of Fed tapering was first mentioned U.S. bond yields have edged higher and money has leaked out of emerging markets and emerging market currencies,” said market analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.
Investors now expect some reduction in the Fed’s monthly asset purchases sometime this year. Fed stimulus has been one of the main reasons why many assets, such as global stock markets and emerging markets, have rallied in recent months.
Analysts said markets will likely remain on edge until next week’s Fed policy meeting for greater clarity on the timing and extent of any tapering.
“Mr Bernanke is riding a tiger he dare not dismount” for fear of disrupting the global recovery, said Stephan Lewis of Monument Securities.
Juichi Wako, equity market strategist at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo, said the drop on the Nikkei was due to a reversal of the money flow that had flooded Japan in recent months, partly on inflated hopes for “Abenomics,” as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s fiscal and monetary policies have been dubbed.
In April, the Bank of Japan announced a massive stimulus in an attempt to encourage economic growth and get inflation up to 2 percent. The euphoria drove the Nikkei up to five-year highs, briefly.
Excitement is now ebbing, Wako said, and the yen is strengthening _ a headwind for Japanese exporters.
The dollar weakened sharply against the yen, to 94.42 yen from 95.71 yen the day before.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Hang Seng index fell 2.2 percent to 20,887.04, while the Kospi in South Korea lost 1.4 percent to 1,882.73.
Mainland Chinese were pummeled as accumulating signs of a slowdown in growth in the world’s No. 2 economy caused investors to retreat. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 2.8 percent to 2,148.36, its lowest close in six months.
In other markets, the euro dropped to $1.3317 from $1.3331 late Wednesday, while the benchmark crude oil contract was down 5 cents to $95.83 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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The Filipino nanny who was granted permanent residency while she lay in a vegetative state from a brain tumour in an Oakville hospital, has died.
A funeral service was held Friday at Glen Oaks Memorial Gardens for Maricon Gerente, who passed away peacefully this week after staff at Oakville-Trafalgar Hospital, with the consent of her family, removed her from life support in early May, said community worker Esel Panlaqui.
A live-in caregiver since 2008, Gerente, 44, had been in a coma since November after undergoing surgery for a benign brain tumour. She had been waiting to become a permanent resident since 2011.
In a rare move, Citizenship and Immigration dispatched two officers to the hospital in April to issue her landing papers after the Star published a story about her tragic circumstances.
Gerente’s dying wish was to reunite in Canada with the two daughters — Lean, 14, and Saniel, 11 — she left behind in the Philippines. But her two girls could not join her as dependants until she became a permanent resident.
Both Lean and Saniel managed to visit their mother with help from Gerente’s former employers, Eli and Jodie Gilbert, but they were not granted permanent resident status as their divorced mother had hoped, Panlaqui said.
Instead, the girls and their guardian and aunt, Aileen Banzon Tan, who left Canada on May 19 after a four-week visit, were issued temporary resident permits that will allow them to return and live here on a temporary basis.
They can then apply to stay permanently on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The girls and their aunt plan to return in September.
PHOENIX—The judge in the Jodi Arias murder trial declared a mistrial in the penalty phase Thursday after the jury reported for a second time that it was deadlocked on whether to sentence her to life in prison or death for killing her boyfriend in 2008.
The judge scheduled a retrial for July 18. A new panel likely will be seated to try again to reach a decision on a sentence — unless the prosecutor takes death off the table agrees to a life sentence.
The panel began deliberating Tuesday and first reported they had failed agree the next day. The judge instructed them to keep trying.
The same panel on May 8 found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Travis Alexander, who was stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times and nearly decapitated at his Mesa, Ariz., home. The jury later determined the killing was cruel enough to merit consideration of the death penalty.
Under Arizona law, a hung jury in the death penalty phase of a trial requires a new jury to be seated to decide the punishment. If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life in prison or be eligible for release after 25 years. The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.
Former Maricopa County attorney Rick Romley has said the case could drag on for several more months as the new jury reviews evidence and hears opening statements, closing arguments and witness testimony in a “Cliffs Notes” version of the trial.
However, if the prosecutor decides not to pursue the death penalty a second time, the judge would then sentence Arias to one of the life in prison options, and the trial would come to a conclusion.
The verdict came two days after Arias spoke directly to jurors and pleaded for her life quick cash. She said she “lacked perspective” when she told a local reporter after her conviction that she preferred execution to spending the rest of her days in jail. She displayed family pictures for the jurors and told them she could bring about positive change in prison by teaching inmates how to read and helping launch prison recycling programs.
That night, Arias gave a series of media interviews from jail, telling reporters out about her many fights with her legal team and her belief that she “deserves a second chance at freedom someday.”
Arias, 32, contends she killed Alexander in self-defence when he became enraged after a day of sex, forcing her to fight for her life. Prosecutors say she attacked him in a jealous rage because he wanted to end their relationship and go to Mexico with another woman.
Her case became a sensation from the beginning as Arias gave a series of jailhouse interviews following her 2008 arrest in which she blamed the killing on armed, masked intruders.
She went on trial in January, and the case provided endless amounts of cable TV and tabloid fodder, including a recorded phone sex call between Arias and the victim, nude photos, bloody crime-scene pictures and a defendant who described her life story in intimate detail over 18 days on the witness stand.
The former waitress told jurors of an abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, her sexual relationship with Alexander, and her contention that he had grown physically violent.
The trial was streamed live on the Internet and became a real-life soap opera to people around the globe.
Google on Wednesday launched a subscription-based music service, allowing users of Android phones and tablets to listen to their favorite songs and artists for a monthly fee.
The streaming service, called All Access, is available in the U.S. for $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial. It will be available in other countries later. For those who start the trial by June 30, the monthly fee is $7.99.
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All Access will be competing with Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora and other popular music services. Apple, the biggest seller of online music, does not have a subscription-based service.
Google Inc. announced the music service along with expansions to its game services and tools for coders at its annual software developers’ conference in San Francisco.
Google wants to not only offer access to millions of songs, but also help guide you to music you might like. You can choose one of 22 music genres and see key albums that define the genre along with recommendations from Google’s curators. You can listen to any track right away, or switch to a “radio station” format featuring songs you’ll likely want to hear. You can adjust the playlist as you go.
On the game side, Google is adding leaderboards and the ability to match players in online games to its Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers.
The new features match those available in Apple’s Game Center for the iPhone and iPad. Google is also making it possible to save game progress online, so players can pick up games where they left off, even on other devices.
Three employees tried to demonstrate on stage how they could all join a racing game, but failed to pull off the demo due to wireless connectivity issues in the conference center fast payday loan.
The Google Play leaderboards will also be available through a browser, said Hugo Barra, vice president of product management of Android.
The developers’ conference provides Google with an opportunity to flex its technological muscle in front of a sold-out audience of engineers and entrepreneurs who develop applications and other features that can make smartphones and tablets more appealing.
The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., made a big splash at last year’s conference by staging an elaborate production to highlight the potential of Google Glass — an Internet-connected device and camera that can be worn on a person’s face like a pair of spectacles. Google co-founder Sergey Brin wowed the crowd last year by taking to the stage and then engaging in a live video chat with a group of skydivers who were in a dirigible hovering above the convention. When they jumped, the skydivers’ descent to the rooftop was shown live through the Google Glass camera.
Much of the speculation about this year’s conference, dubbed “Google I/O,” has centered on a possible upgrade to the Nexus 7, a mini-tablet that debuted at last year’s event as an alternative to the similarly sized Kindle Fire made by Amazon.com Inc. and the larger iPad. A few months after the Nexus 7 came out, Apple released the iPad Mini to counter the threat posed by Google’s entrance into the market.
So far, Google hasn’t showed off new hardware at this year’s conference. Instead, it announced that it will be selling a version of Samsung’s new flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, which runs a “clean” version of Android, without the modifications that Samsung applies to its phones.
Is Kellwood selling Baby Phat?
Baby Phat is the urban lifestyle brand that was once synonymous with St. Louis native and fashion and media star Kimora Lee Simmons. The trendy clothing line, which has a cat in its logo and which is sold at Macy’s among other retailers, is aimed at young women.
The line was, at least as of a few years ago, still one of the Town and Country-based apparel company’s larger brands along with Vince and Sag Harbor.
But in a breach of contract lawsuit filed this week in federal court, a Singapore-based distributor and retailer said it stopped receiving shipments of Baby Phat in November.
And in February, Ossia International Limited says it was told by Kellwood that it had stopped production of Baby Phat in mid-January and did not intend to restart it.
“Kellwood has informed Ossia that it has ceased production entirely and is in the process of selling the Baby Phat brand to a new owner,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit goes on to say that Ossia was told the new prospective owner, who Kellwood would not name, would not likely sell ladies’ apparel, but possibly just accessories such as handbags.
A Kellwood spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2004, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and his then-wife, Kimora, sold Phat Farm and Baby Phat to Kellwood for $140 million. She stayed on as president and creative director of the brand.
In 2010, Kellwood surprised many when it parted ways with Simmons, especially since she had been such a prominent spokeswoman for the brand.
At the time, Kellwood CEO Michael Kramer said Baby Phat was still a large and significant brand for the company.
“It is a brand that we’re very proud of and that we’ll continue to invest in,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Post-Dispatch. “We’re very excited about the future of Baby Phat.”
But times have changed. There’s now a new CEO at the helm of Kellwood. Jill Granoff, who came on board last year, has been charting a new strategic direction of the company.
OTTAWA—The RCMP has dropped a cloak of secrecy over the identity of two Canadian terror suspects killed in January’s Algerian gas plant attack as Canadian security officials scramble to determine the extent of their terrorism ties.
Ordinarily, the identity of Canadians killed at a crime scene would be made public after notification of next of kin.
But the RCMP are extremely tight-lipped in this case, citing only “operational reasons” even to highly placed government officials, a source told the Star.
The national police force confirmed on the weekend what Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal first revealed two months ago in the wake of Algeria’s counter-attack that ended the hostage-taking: that two Canadians were among the militants killed.
RCMP spokesman Greg Cox said Saturday “a second Canadian has been identified from human remains of alleged terrorists in the attack at the gas plant.” Prior to that, the force had confirmed one death, but declined to say whether the individual was among the militants or victims.
On Monday, the RCMP would say only that its investigation is continuing, and would offer no more details, nor explain why it is not releasing the names of the dead.
A Malian news organization, citing an Algerian source, said the two were of Arab origin and held Canadian citizenship. Hostages who survived the attack had previously told media of a blond-haired man who spoke English with a North American accent.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney cited the Algerian case and a recent Bulgarian terror attack involving a dual Canadian-Lebanese suspect at a parliamentary committee last Thursday in support of a legislative change that would strip Canadian citizenship from dual nationals found to have committed acts of terrorism abroad.
Kenney doubted new provisions would affect many individuals, “but their passage would deliver a strong message that Canadian citizenship is not a flag of convenience to be waved whenever it serves one’s interest, particularly when they’re committing some of the most terrible crimes conceivable payday loan.”
Kenney said a Canadian passport is “extremely useful” to would-be terrorists.
“The Canadian passport is considered a high-value passport for terrorist operators because of the credibility of Canada and the Canadian passport. So we ought not to be naive,” said Kenney.
“We cannot exclude the possibility that people will, in some occasions, seek to obtain Canadian citizenship, or use their Canadian citizenship, precisely so that they can move around the world with raising fewer eyebrows and attracting less scrutiny in the service of terrorist organizations.”
Kenney’s parliamentary secretary Rick Dykstra said in an interview Monday the committee is expected to conclude its study of the private member’s bill which Kenney backs by the end of April.
Dykstra said he believes the names of the two Canadians have been withheld because the Algerian police are continuing their own investigation.
NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said, given it is a national security investigation on terrorism, “there may be good reasons at this point for withholding information, but I have no information to allow me to draw that conclusion. If it involved further terror plots or further terror threats that might be a good reason.”
Garrison said what he objected to was that the Conservative government “seems to want to use this for political purposes.”
ARA Asset Management Ltd. (ARA), a manager of real estate trusts partly owned by billionaire Li Ka- shing, wants to double assets under management over five years as its private funds buy more properties.
ARA, which manages about S$22.1 billion ($17.7 billion) of assets through real estate investment trusts and funds, plans to expand with acquisitions and enhancing existing properties, Chief Executive Officer John Lim said in an interview yesterday. Its real estate funds, which make up less than a third of assets managed by the Singapore-based company, are expected to increase to half in five years, he said.
With six REITs listed in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, ARA now wants to focus on expanding its private property funds after attracting the largest U.S. pension investors. The stock rose 0.6 percent to S$1.815 as of 9:14 a.m. in Singapore, extending the gain this year to 12 percent, more than twice the 5 percent advance in the index tracking the city
A nonpartisan, investigative arm of Congress is calling for the United States to stop printing dollar bills and switch entirely to $1 coins instead.
Why? Because the Government Accountability Office believes it could save Uncle Sam money.
A $1 coin typically costs about 30 cents for the U.S. Mint to produce, but then the government can sell them to Americans for a dollar each. That financial gain is called seigniorage, and over a period of 30 years, it could save the U.S. government about $4.4 billion, the GAO said. These coins typically last around 30 years.
In contrast, producing paper bills is cheaper, at about 5 cents apiece. But they also wear far more quickly. A typical $1 bill lasts only 4.7 years, according to GAO estimates.
The push is nothing new. The GAO has been recommending the change for the last 22 years, and will try again Thursday in a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee.
“We continue to believe that replacing the note with a coin is likely to provide a financial benefit to the government if the note is eliminated and negative public reaction is effectively managed through stakeholder outreach and public education,” Lorelei St. James, a GAO director, said in prepared remarks to be presented Thursday.
St. James points to 10 countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, that have successfully replaced low-denomination notes with coins, even in spite of public disapproval.
The report also notes that as inflation erodes the purchasing power of a currency, low-denominated notes like the $1 bill are circulated more quickly, causing wear and making the switch to coins more worthwhile.
The main challenge is the switch remains controversial among the public, the vending machine industry and even the Federal Reserve.
As of May, the Fed had amassed $1.4 billion in $1 coins in its vaults because demand for the coins remains weak.
The Treasury Department suspended the production of the coins, for the most part, last December. The U.S. Mint now only produces a few new presidential designs — like those featuring Chester Arthur and Grover Cleveland — to satisfy the demands of collectors.
Louise Roseman, director of the Federal Reserve Bank operations and payment systems, wrote a letter to the GAO last year, questioning whether switching to coins would pose any broader economic benefit.
Seigniorage, she said, is merely a “revenue transfer from the private sector to the government”, and it doesn’t include the costs to the banking industry, retailers, the Federal Reserve and consumers.
Under seigniorage, the U.S. government gains money when it produces dimes, quarters and dollar coins, because it costs less to produce these coins than they are worth in circulation.
The government loses money, however, when it produces pennies and nickles — a problem President Obama has asked Congress to fix, by granting the U.S. Mint greater flexibility to use a cheaper makeup of metals in their production.
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