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Lawmakers of Missouri Fail to Help Uber, Lyft Grow in the State

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 04:01

Ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft face another stumbling block in Missouri this year, as lawmakers failed to make things easier for the ride sharing services in this legislative session.

The companies say they cannot start providing services in other areas than the largest cities in the state soon. The issue which is stopping the companies that allow people to use apps on their smartphones to hail a private car ride service is different rules varying from city to city. The companies want uniform statewide rules which makes doing business easy.

For example, Kansas City imposes an annual fee of $45,000 per company right now, with St. Louis requiring finger print verification for drivers, which poses another hurdle for the companies.

In 2014, Uber and Lyft stopped their business in Missouri. They at present run background checks on drivers which the companies consider to be enough to ensure the safety of riders. Critics however say fingerprinting the drivers improve the safety of riders.

According to Ube, passing uniform statewide rules would permit the company to hire almost 10,000 new drivers in the state and would allow it to expand services to different cities including St. Charles, St. Joseph and Springfield. But it appears that's unlikely to happen right now.

In an emailed statement, Lauren Altmin, an Uber spokeswoman said "The regulatory uncertainty certainly slows down our ability to launch new markets."

Companies: Uber. LyftBusiness: Auto SectorRegion: United States

Marc Edwards, a Virginia Professor Preparing Data to Show Flint’s Water Condition is Improving

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 03:59

The water supply in Flint is getting better, at least that's what Marc Edwards, a Virginia professor who helped discover the lead contamination in drinking water in the city says. He is preparing data which once released will show that Flint's water condition is improving.

Flint's water got contamination by lead when two years back; the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River.

On Tuesday, a news conference has been scheduled by Marc Edwards along with three civil and environmental engineers who will independently produce information related to the amounts of disinfection byproducts present in the water sources. Along with that they are also slated to discuss continuous sampling of the water looking out for bacteria which might cause Legionnaires' disease.

There is a battle going on between Edwards and an activist group founded by actor Mark Ruffalo related to the safety quotient of Flint's water use. While Edward says it is safe for bathing and showering the activist group, Water Defense, says it is not.

Starting from late January, Water Defense has been working on Flint's water and in May Edwards accused the activist group of making statements which were not supported by scientific studies.

Region: United StatesGeneral: GeneralPeople: Marc Edwards

Man charged with negligence over Alpine bus crash is named

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 03:55

An engineer, who was charged with injuring by unlawful act over his alleged work on a tourist bus involved in a crash in the Southern Alps on New Year's Eve, is James Henry Coakley.

Coakley, who is 68 years old, was involved in the maintenance of the bus that was carrying a group of 31 tourists from China when it lost control and collided with a car with Swiss family of three. The bus collided with the car travelling up Otira Gorge in Arthur's Pass on 31 December, 2015. The bus overturned and slid into the roadside barriers that stopped it from falling into the river.

Thirteen of the bus passengers suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalisation and surgery including several fractures and internal injuries while the Swiss family also sustained moderate to serious injuries.

Coakley was granted a registrar's remand today at a Christchurch District Court, which means that he does not have to appear before the court. He will reappear on June 20. Tasman Police District crime manager Detective Inspector Paul Borrell has said that it was "miraculous" and the Police was thankful that the accident did not involve loss of life. The police said that all those involved have since returned home.

General: GeneralRegion: New Zealand

Police looking for man in Coromandel after shots fired at a house bus

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 03:51

The police officials in the city of Coromandel have said that they are looking for a manafter fires were shot at a house bus on the property.

The motorists and residents were advised to take alternative routes as Kopu-Hikuai Roadbetween State Highway 26 and Kitahi Road was closed following the incidence. The police was directing traffic towards diversions. The police then announced that cordons have now beenlifted on the State Highway 25, the theKopu-Hikuai Road.

The Armed Offenders Squad and the Eagle Helicopter arrived at the scene to access the situation and take appropriate steps. People believe that the shooting is linked to a domestic incidence in the man's family. The manhunt for the person is still on but the police said that they don't believe he poses any risk to the community. The police also announced that two schools did not go through lockdown procedures as advised earlier.

The police have also confirmed that no person has been shot in the incidence and confirmed that they are looking for the man in Coromandel for the shooting at the house bus on the property.

General: CrimeRegion: New Zealand

US Private Equity Firm Blackstone Invests $200 Million in Partners Life

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 04:07

Partners Life, the life insurer based in Auckland announced that US private equity firm Blackstone is investing $200 million in the company and will hold lesser than fifty percent with "a significant minority shareholding". However the specific level of holding was not disclosed.

The other share holders of Partners Life like Maui Capital and Rangatira Investments would also continue as co-investors side by side with the U.S private equity firm which is subject to regulatory and shareholders' approval.

Naomi Ballantyne, founder and managing director of Partners Life, "The $200 million is all new capital, meaning existing shareholders will remain co-invested alongside Blackstone."

She said that, the new investment will provide the firm's requirement for medium-term capital which will also finish its requirement for looking for more money in the equity markets.

When the conditions are right, Ballantyne says "We intend to go for a public listing." She added that the support from Blackstone now and in the future listing process will permit the company to strengthen its leading position in the market in New Zealand.

Kishore Moorjani, senior managing director of Blackstone said his firm was impressed with Partners Life's management team and the growth they have achieved through its customer focused approach.

Business: Business NewsCompanies: BlackstoneRegion: United States

Greenpeace Criticizes Contracting Onboard Monitoring Cameras and Analysis to Trident

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 04:06

Should a commercial fishing company be made responsible for monitoring what goes on board the commercial fishing vessels? Greenpeace leader Russel Norman says, it is like "the fox guarding the henhouses".

Greenpeace has criticized Ministry for Primary Industries for rolling out cameras on fishing vessel which is supplied as well as monitored by Trident for the fishing industry. The company is owned by Sanford and thirteen other seafood and fishing companies in New Zealand.

The news was confirmed by Nathan Guy, the minister for MPI. So it is clear that indeed the fishing industry is responsible for analyzing the video surveillance that comes from its own trawlers and reports any suspicious behavior to the regulators.

Norman said, "The Government has awarded the contract to monitor fishing companies to an entity owned and controlled by the very same fishing companies."

According to the minister, Trident which is very much a part of the industry analyzes the footage it gets from the trawlers to decide what should be reported to the MPI.

Guy said, "Trident does the summary, they alert MPI if there's anything they see that's suspicious."

Executive Director of Greenpeace New Zealand, Russel Norman says that makes things worse as the government has given out the contract and analyzing task to the industry with Nathan Guy and Prime Minister John Key defending it.

General: GeneralRegion: New ZealandPeople: Russel Norman

Watch Out for Dehumidifiers which Were Recalled in 2014 Over Overheating and Fire Concerns

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 04:04

Fires caused by dehumidifiers are not that common but air conditioners and dehumidifiers have been the cause behind eighty four fires since 2000 with twenty incidents in the past two years. Officials say that before use machines should checked for safety and the users should be careful while using electrical gadgets.

Steve Callagher , a Takapuna senior station officer says, "If you ever have a fire in your house, on your way out close the doors behind you because a closed door will stop the fire for up to half an hour." He adds that while using electrical devices "Make sure it's in a clear area and don't drape clothes over or have curtains blocking the vents."

In 2014, CDB, an electrical accessory company recalled a certain model of its dehumidifier over concerns that it could cause fire incidents due to overheating. The recall was initiated by a May fire in Hamilton related to the concerned model.

As winter is approaching CDB and Mitre 10 are requesting people to watch out for the dehumidifier model which was recalled in 2014.

As a safety measure, Electrical Safety Services might recall electrical equipments that cause fires more than once.

People: Steve CallagherGeneral: General

Lake Station Farm Near St Arnaud Open for Bull Walk ahead of Auction; Rain Keeps Attendance Low

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:56

A bull walk at the Lake Station farm close to St Arnaud, managed by Malcolm and Ingrid McConachie gives a great chance to the potential buyers to find a perfect stud for their farm. Though the rain did not draw too many people on Saturday but it could not keep away some country farmers who are too keen to visit the auction and find a breeding sire for their farm weigh a number of factors to unearth the bulls they think is a right match for their farm.

Since 1982, the couple, Malcolm and Ingrid McConachie has been breeding Hereford bulls but are comparatively newer than the third and fourth generation breeders.

The couple wants to continue doing it as they want the bulls to be perfect, which is not an easy task, says Ingrid McConachie. Producing an elite breeding stud could be something that a breeder might achieve once or twice in their lifetime.

Malcolm McConachie "I think it's probably 50 per cent luck and 50 per cent ability. It's a matter of getting the right mix of phenotype and genotype and what suits you may not suit everybody else, but at the end of the day if you get somewhere in between you've got a pretty good mix."

Region: New ZealandBusiness: Agriculture

Kathmandu Draws Criticism on Social Media after Staff was Seen Destroying Goods

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:53

On Saturday, Christchurch, New Zealand based outdoor and travel apparel, gear and accessories retailer Kathmandu, drew criticism on the social media for destroying clothing and sleeping bags which could have been donated to the homeless people.

However, according to the retail chain its actions were noting wrong because those items were old and faulty no more suitable for use. The retailer said the tents that were slashed were not water-proof anymore and the sleeping bags which were destroyed were "pretty much unusable" even for those who are living on the streets.

According to a Kathmandu official, the company has a good track record of donating the goods that are unsold and could be repaired to various charities.

The report of Kathmandu workers "slashing sleeping bags and slicing through clothing" close to its store in Takapuna store in Barrys Point Rd started the outrage. The company's then threw the damaged goods into dumpsters in front of people who live on the streets nearby.

Anna Horley who works nearby and witnessed the scene said "There's a homeless man who lives in the car park next to Kathmandu, and the staff are slashing sleeping bags and tents right in front of him."

Business: Business NewsCompanies: Kathmandu HoldingsRegion: New Zealand

English blames Auckland City Council for the housing crisis

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:50

Finance Minister of New Zealand, Bill English has said that the Auckland City Council is to be blamed for the housing crisis.The minister said that it is the council's responsibility to ensure infrastructure funding is available and not the central government of the country. He said that the crisis can only be resolved with a higher number of houses on the ground and soon.

He said, "That's the deal. They get to decide on how the city is planned. And they get to pay for the development. We've known about housing stress in Auckland for a number of years. It's why the Government has made some very direct statements about the obligations of the city council to change the planning rules, to enable more supply so we can get more houses. The only people who can agree to get the house built are Auckland City Council."

He said that the present rate at which completed houses are entering the market is at 40 houses a day, which is not enough. He pointed out that the government is required to work with the Auckland City Council to ensure that more houses enter the market.

Meanwhile, Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson has said that Government and council have a joint responsibility to fix the housing crisis.

Business: Business NewsRegion: New ZealandPeople: Bill English

Missing 10 year old autistic Waikanaeboy found safe and well

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:48

A missing ten year old boy with autism was found safe and well in Waikanae after he went missing amid concerns over his wellbeing.

There was a sign of relief in the streets of Waikanae afterNathan Daniel Callaghan was found safe. He was found hiding in a house opposite their family home on Winara Ave, Waikanae. The boy was seen wrapped in a sheet ad being supported by two people up the driveway of his family home on Winara Ave, Waikanae.

Reports showed that hundreds of people had gathered to look for Callaghan after he went missing since around 4.45pm on Saturday. The police has thanked Waikanae community and the wider public for their support in the search efforts and "kind thoughts" during the search.

Volunteers from as far asJohnsonville are still reaching the spot to help find the boy. People filled the streets in huge numbers in the rain as they tried to look for the missing boy in the area. They used torches and cellphones and had gone door to door in Winara Ave and Elizabeth St in the Kapiti Coast town in order to look for the boy.

There were concerns that Callaghan, who has low cognitive skills, was believed to have a "particular fascination with water". The police had asked searchers to check waterways, as well as properties including cars, sheds and garages to look for the people.

General: Health

Virgin Atlantic’s 747-400 series Jumbo Jet Lady Penelope Up for Sale

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:46

Lady Penelope which has served Virgin Atlantic's fleet for twenty five years is up for sale on eBay. The 747-400 series jumbo jet which joined the airline in 1994 could be bought for about $US299, 000, at least that is the one bid which the aircraft has.

The plane is stationed at the Arizona airplane graveyard since the time it made its last commercial flight from JFK to Heathrow last year in September.

Although there is only one bid for Lady Penelope but the number of visitors on the page are a huge 2000 views every hour.

The Boeing 747 jumbo jet has its engines removed but otherwise is in one piece with its three hundred and fifty seats and the "flying lady" logo intact on the tail.

Concord Aerospace is the seller and apologized for delayed responses due to the "extreme high demand".

Whoever buys it would have to pay for shipping if they want it delivered because it's not included in the price. The retired aircraft cannot re-enter service but holds other options for the buyer who can convert it into a hotel accommodation, restaurant or even a unique apartment for living.

Region: New ZealandBusiness: Business News

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers have a Bumper Season

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:43

The kiwi fruit growers in New Zealand experienced a bumper crop year.

New Zealand's kiwifruit season for the year 2015-16 set new records for the industry. Zespri gave the largest ever total return to the kiwi growers along with the highest recorded green return per hectare. The highest sales volume was recorded by Zespri green and Zespri SunGold kiwifruit both.

Peter McBride, Zespri's chairman said that the total sales revenue increased to touch $1.9 billion for the season which is also a twenty one percent increase compared to the previous season. David Courtney, General manager and grower at Zespri, , said we are selling more and growing more kiwifruit. He said, "This year we returned about 1.1 billion back to those communities where kiwifruit is grown. Places like Te Puke, Katikati, Opotiki, Whakatane."

Mr McBride said, "Zespri sold 131.6 million trays in the 2015/16 season, up 21 percent on the previous season. " He added that the kiwi fruits grown in New Zealand touches sales figure of 117 million trays which is close to twenty two million trays higher than what was sold in the previous year. The sales figure for kiwi fruits not grown in New Zealand were 14.5 million trays.

Business: BusinessRegion: New ZealandPeople: Peter McBride

Air New Zealand Trials Robotic Inspection Equipments Originally Meant for the Dairy Industry

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 03:41

Robotic inspection equipments which were originally designed to inspect damage in the milk tanks might now be used by Air New Zealand to keep its aircraft fuselage safe.

A robot made in New Zealand aimed for use in the dairy industry is helping the carrier to keep its aircrafts safe. Air New Zealand has partnered with Invert Robotics, company based in Christchurch to test robotic inspections of its aircrafts. The robots use remote-controlled cameras, to detect damage from activities like lightning.

In the dairy industry, the robots explore damage inside milk tanks as they show high-resolution recording in real time.

Andrew Hewitt, the head of Air New Zealand engineering contracts said using the robots gives engineers an access to aircrafts which save people from risk. Right now the engineers require working at heights that may extend till eight meters. Mr Hewitt said, "We look at the robot as a way of making the aircraft safer and improving the inspection technique".

There is one more advantage of the robots as they allow better visuals for the staff as the cameras they are equipped with provide picture that is "better than a human eye."

Region: New ZealandBusiness: Aviation SectorBusiness

Bill English indicates tax cut is possible for middle income earners

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 04:09

Finance Minister Bill English has indicated that he might consider cutting taxes for middle income earners during the year 2017.

Englishalso said that he will soften the Budget's stance on cutting debt that will allow for further tax cuts in the country. He said that any tax cuts will depend on the level of surpluses in the economy. He said that there are also other considerations for cash flows in the economy that may influence decisions on tax cuts. There was no tax cuts announced in his eighth budget on Thursday. While speaking to the media persons after the Budget breakfast in Wellington, he said slower pace of planned debt reduction might utilise additional cash in the economy from the forecast surpluses between now and 2020 and leave nothing for the tax cuts.

English has indicated that the government is planning larger spending this year but is aiming to cut spending in the coming years. He said that he has taken a decision not to include a 2017 tax cut in the budget. The government is aiming to spend today in order to save tomorrow. They pointed out that the exiting allocation of $1 billion for new spending will not be able to cater to the growing demand. The addition funds will come from a fund of $2.5 billion that was saved for the election year. Out of the total $2.5 billion, the minister had kept $1.5 billion for offering tax cuts. Thus tax cuts now appear to be out of the agenda for the government until improvements in economic and fiscal situation are recorded.

English said, "Yeah that's one of the options. That would be implied by, for instance, putting more money into the super fund, reducing taxes or spending more than we forecast."

People: Bill EnglishBusiness: Business NewsEconomy

Russell John Tully sent to prison for 27 years

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 04:08

Russell John Tully, the Ashburton Work and Income shooter has been sent to prison for 27 years, which is one of the longest sentences imposed in New Zealand.

Justice Cameron Mander has described him as "a very dangerous man" during sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch. The man was charged with shooting in cold-blooded executions. They victims were killed while they were defenceless and were working on their job.

Judge Mander said that more people would have been killed if they had not been able to fled the office during the day of the crime on 1 September, 2014. The criminal disguised himself and went to the office with a shotgun to take revenge on staff for a sense of grievance as he believed that he was unfairly treated during the few months. He had been trespassed from the office.

Tully used methamphetamine, cannabis, synthetic cannabis and drank alcohol before he moved to Ashburton. Justice Mander said that his testimony in court showed that he "didn't much care" about his victims. Tully had claimed that Crown's evidence and other reports were a "cover up".

Region: New ZealandGeneral: Crime

Report Shows More Single Men Own Orange County Homes Compared to Women

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 04:06

A new study by RealtyTrac showed that there is more number of Orange County homes that are owned by single men compared to single women. The homes that the single men own are also comparatively costlier and more profitable than the houses owned by the women.

The study found that single men owned 20,593 Orange County homes and 14,608 were identified to be owned by single women and that's a stark forty one percent difference. The numbers are based on records collected by the online real estate tracker from April.

The Orange County homes owned by single men were estimated to be worth $563,017 on an average against the $521,453 for the residences owned by women. It again shows a gap of almost seven percent or $41,564.

RealtyTrac found same kind of ownership gaps even across the nation and the state of California. In California, 257,819 homes were identified to be owned by single men and the numbers were186, 438 owned for the single women owners marking a thirty eight percent gap.

The same thing was noted in the price gap of homes with single men and women owners with a difference of $455,320 vs. $439,706, a gap of three percent or $15,614.

Even nationally, 1.14 million single men owned homes vs. 1.01 million owned by women show a thirteen percent gap.

Companies: RealtyTracBusiness: Business NewsReal Estate

Reports Suggest Apple might be Considering an Acquisition Deal for Time Warner

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 04:05

If a report from the Financial Times was to be believed Apple could actually become the second biggest media company globally only after Disney.

The report said that one of the Apple executives has proposed bidding for the media company that owns the HBO, Warner Bros. movie studio, and CNN.

Senior VP of Internet services of Apple, Eddie Cue suggested the idea to Time Warner's, Olaf Olafsson, in late 2015. The discussion was rather preliminary and did not take any serious turns and even Tim Cook; Apple's CEO was not involved in it.

Although no acquisition deal for Time Warner materialized till now but the proposal from Cue suggests that the Cupertino based tech giant is serious about its investments in original content.

Time Warner with its market capitalization of $60 billion owns lot of cable channels besides HBO and also has a share in many of the iconic entertainment properties starting from the Looney Tunes to Harry Potter. Reportedly, in January this year, the CEO of Time Warner was exploring sales deals or a spin off for HBO. At that time he said it's because of the assets of Time Warner "everybody wants to own us."

If any deal takes place between Apple and Times Warner, a strong competitor could be created for the current leaders in the field of streaming services, Netflix and Amazon.

Business: Technology SectorCompanies: ApplePeople: Tim Cook

Takata Appoints Financial Advisory Firm Lazard to Lead Restructuring Plan

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 04:04

Takata Corp, the air bag maker from Japan has been losing money continuously due to the recall of hundred thousands of its faulty airbags. The company said on Thursday, it has hired Lazard, the financial advisory and asset management firm to help it tackle the problems through a financial restructuring.

Takata's air bags related issues have caused minimum thirteen cases of deaths and greater than hundred injuries globally. The Malaysian authorities have started an investigation into some recent deaths related to the Takata air bags which might deploy with too much force during accidents, spraying shrapnel into the vehicle.

A committee was formed by the company in February to tackle the issues of recalls and come up with a restructuring plan. The committee members included legal and financial experts and a lawyer Hideaki Sudo, who heads the committee, said Lazard will help the company with its restructuring plan in partnership with the auto customers.

He dais in a statement, "These are highly challenging and complex issues, but the committee strongly believes that it is in the best interests of all Takata stakeholders for Takata and its automotive customers to reach a consensual resolution that addresses the costs of the inflator issues while enabling Takata to remain a viable and valued global supplier."

Companies: TakataBusiness: Business NewsAuto Sector

Salesforce.com will Use Amazon Web Services for Expanding its Presence in Canada and Australia

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 04:01

There were some hints that pointed at Salesforce getting cozy with Amazon Web Services when Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce went all out to praise Amazon's cloud unit during the recent earnings call. The reason is quite clear now. Salesforce.com announced on Wednesday that it will use Amazon Web Services (A.W.S.) to expand its presence in Canada and Australia. The deal is valued at approximately $400 million. In case if the deal leads to success there could be further augmentation to the transaction.

In public statements, both companies said that Amazon Web Services is now officially the "preferred public cloud infrastructure provider" for Salesforce.

Co-founder and chief executive of Salesforce, Marc Benioff said "For sure, we're talking of billions of dollars in services over the next several years."

It is not the first time Salesforce is using the services of A.W.S. The company already uses it for some of its businesses however what makes this one different is that, this while it is the first time when Salesforce's key applications will be on someone else's computers.

According to Mr. Benioff, the company has evaluated same kind of deals with other tech giants Microsoft and Google, which sell cloud-computing to corporations but A.W.S. is offering a better price. He said that Salesforce will again review the contract after a year.

Companies: AmazonSalesforceBusiness: Technology Sector

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