07/18/2014 (2:48 am)

SSM Cardinal Glennon debuts $10 million renovation

Filed under: management, online |

On Thursday, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center unveiled its new $10 million pediatric intensive care unit.

The unit nearly tripled in square footage to 20,500 square feet to create more space in each of the 18 rooms for family members and larger medical equipment, Pam Brouder, director of critical care for the unit, said.

Before the expansion, only two family members could be in a patient’s room at any given time. Those limits will be removed now that the rooms are larger. Plus, the couch in each room can be converted into a full-size bed so caregivers can stay with the child through the night no fax payday advance.

The unit will open up to patients next Tuesday.

Brouder expects the unit will be at capacity when it opens due to higher volumes of trauma cases experienced during the summer months. The pediatric intensive care unit has 21 beds, it previously had 16 beds in 14 rooms.  

Due to the expansion, Brouder expects to hire additional nurses to the unit. Currently, the unit has 85 staff members. 


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07/08/2014 (6:49 am)

Ghani Poised to Be New Afghan Leader as U.S. Warns Outcome May Change - Bloomberg

Filed under: management, stocks |

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai won an initial count to become Afghanistan

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07/06/2014 (2:41 pm)

Democrats’ Florida push calls for US shift on Cuba

Filed under: news, stocks |

MIAMI (AP) — When Charlie Crist went to Miami’s Little Havana recently, the Democratic candidate for governor stood before a crowd and said what few politicians have in decades of scrounging for votes in the Cuban-American neighborhood: End the trade embargo against Cuba.

“If you really care about people on the island, we need to get rid of the embargo and let freedom reign,” he said, shouting above a small band of protesters who responded with chants of “Shame on you!”

Crist’s supporters cheered louder.

It was a scene inconceivable just a few years ago, when politicians were careful about what they said on the issue, for fear of alienating Cuban-American voters, many of whom fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba in the 1960s.

But Democrats now sense an opening with newer Cuban arrivals and second-generation Cuban-Americans who favor resuming diplomatic relations with the communist island.

In a sign of just how much the climate has shifted, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who backed trade limits when she ran for president in 2008, is now calling for the embargo to be lifted. She described it as “Castro’s best friend” and said it hampers “our broader agenda across Latin America.”

Her words mark the first time a leading presidential contender from either political party has suggested reversing the 52-year-old policy.

The efforts represent the largest challenge to Cuban-American orthodoxy in decades and could help reshape American foreign policy.

It also could alter the political landscape in the largest swing-voting state, where Republicans long have dominated the Cuban vote by taking a hard line on the embargo.

Crist’s campaign will be the first statewide test of whether the trade restrictions are still a live wire for politicians in Florida, home to 70 percent of the nation’s Cubans.

Crist is a former Republican governor who once said he would only visit Cuba “when it’s free.” Now that he’s a Democrat and trying to regain his old job, he has floated the idea of going to Havana “to learn from the people of Cuba and help find opportunities for Florida businesses.”

He argues that the embargo has failed because it has not toppled the Castro government but has hurt the Cuban people. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” he told reporters at the opening of a campaign office in Little Havana.

Florida Republicans are outraged, casting Crist’s position as a betrayal of the Cuban-American community.

“I’m going to stand with Cuban-Americans that believe in freedom, believe in democracy, believe in freedom of speech and oppose the oppression of Cuba,” said GOP Gov. Rick Scott. Crist, he added, will “be standing with Castro.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential GOP presidential candidate whose parents left Cuba in the 1950s, said the embargo is “the last tool we have remaining to ensure that democracy returns to Cuba one day.”

Lifting the embargo, he said, would “further entrench the regime in power by giving them more money to carry out their violent repression of people’s fundamental rights and dignity.”

Nationwide, the share of Cuban registered voters who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has doubled in the past decade, from 22 percent to 44 percent, according to the Pew Research Center payday lenders. Less than half of Cuban voters now affiliate with the Republican Party, down from 64 percent over the same time period.

President Barack Obama won Florida twice, campaigning on easing travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit their families on the island and allowing them to send more money to their relatives. In 2012, he captured nearly half the Cuban-American vote, a record for a Democrat.

The shift is driven in part by changing demographics.

Cuban-Americans, once the dominant bloc of Florida’s Hispanic vote, have seen their political clout diminished by a huge influx of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who lean Democratic. In the 2012 election, 42 percent of Hispanic voters in the state were Cuban, an 11 percentage point drop from 2000, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The exiles who arrived in the decade and a half following Cuba’s 1959 revolution have been dying off while their children and fresh waves of immigrants hold a different view of Cuba. More than one-third of the Cubans residing in Miami-Dade County arrived after 1995, with many supporting travel and trade policies that strengthen ties between the U.S. and Cuba, said Guillermo Grenier, a lead researcher for the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.

Even some of South Florida’s most prominent Cuban-American business leaders, long among the most strident defenders of the embargo, are publicly talking about investing in Cuba.

“The politics are way behind public opinion on this one,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant and Crist adviser who managed Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008.

Overall, polls of the community have confirmed a tilt toward engagement, with the most recent survey by Florida International University finding Cuban-Americans in Miami split over the embargo, which was a near record, and 71 percent saying it had not worked either very well or at all.

“The embargo! It’s so screwed up!” said Caridad Novo, as she sipped espresso at a cafe in Doral, a Miami suburb.

The 52-year-old Cuban, who came to Florida during the 1980 Mariel boat crisis, said U.S. trade restrictions drive up the cost of sending goods to her family in Cuba. Shipping a 4-pound can of milk to her 3-year-old grandson in Havana costs $55, she said.

But some scholars and political operatives say Crist risks energizing Republicans in the conservative exile community while attracting little support from younger Cuban-Americans and newer arrivals, who tend to be less politically active.

The recent Florida International University poll found that less than one-third of those who have arrived since 1995 are U.S. citizens. Voter registration rates among newer arrivals lag their older counterparts by double digits.

“What is changing is opinions” on the embargo, Grenier said. “But for the opinions to become relevant to policymakers, they have to translate into more than just opinions. They have to be votes.”


Associated Press writers Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami and Matt Sedensky in Riviera Beach contributed to this report.


07/03/2014 (11:13 am)

Blue Jays: Bautista

Filed under: management, technology |

The soccer match on TV was playing to a largely empty house, most of the clubhouse emptied out, when Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were summoned into a private meeting with their manager.

Not long behind closed doors, maybe 10 minutes.

Now what do you think that was about?

On a day when the Blue Jays rode a masterful pitching performance from Drew Hutchison, savoured an uplifting DH home run by Bautista in his first regular lineup appearance — except for a pinch-hit cameo on the weekend — since June 22, and otherwise acquitted themselves beautifully in beating the Brewers 4-1, there seemed little cause for a private chat between John Gibbons and his tandem of big boppers.

One conspiracy theorist’s theory: Gibbons will rest Encarnacion in Wednesday’s concluding encounter in this itty-bitty series with Milwaukee, keep Bautista in the DH role and slot Adam Lind at first to get his left-handed bat into the mojo-mix against righty starter Wily Peralta.

Lind’s pinch-hit single in the eighth inning Tuesday — actually, pinch-pinching for Brad Glenn, who was supposed to pinch hit for Anthony Gose but was reeled back into the dugout when righty Rob Wooten replaced lefty Zach Duke — would ultimately register as Toronto’s third run to cross the plate, in the form of pinch-runner Darin Mastroianni, driven home on Melky Cabrera’s lined triple.

“Gibby’s going to try and figure out a way to get Lind back in the lineup,” Bautista said afterwards. “I don’t know what he’s going to end up doing. He might have to get creative.”

RELATED:The Bullpen: The Jays report card at the midway mark

The club has been begging for offence lately and wasting some dandy pitching starts in the process. Fortunately, that outcome did not befall young Hutchison on this afternoon, as he persisted through seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out a career-high 10 batters, now 6-6 on the season and finally showing the best of his stuff at the Rogers Centre, which hasn’t been kind to the 23-year-old.

Bautista backed off from confirming or denying his manager’s intentions for the back end of this two-game engagement with Milwaukee and the Jays having recorded just one series victory over their last seven, which explains why their hold on first place in the AL East has become quite tenuous.

“You shouldn’t assume that’s what the meeting was about,” cautioned Bautista about the possibly reconfigured lineup for Wednesday. But he continued: “That’s always been the predicament when one of us is DHing because of rest or injury — it’s impossible to have Lindy and Eddie in the lineup at the same time.”

Unless, of course, Gibbons does something wacky — creative, in Bautista’s lexicon — and deploys one of them to play third. Nah.

Almost 100 per cent certain, however, that Bautista will not be pulling sentry duty in right field until the Jays head out on their upcoming monstrous 10-game road trip, boing-ing from California to Florida. Bautista has matriculated from pinch hitter to DH in recent days but he’s leery about returning prematurely from a sore hamstring. “I don’t want to put the team in a bind but I also don’t want to make my injury worse and have to miss two weeks by going on the DL.”

Doesn’t bother his home run trot, though, that hammy.

“As long as the ball is going out of the yard, I think I’m fine,” Bautista laughed. “So I’m going to try to do that until I’m good enough to play defence. I’m going to try to keep doing that, I guess.”

He belted a 3-2 changeup from Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada over the fence in left-centre for his 16th four-bagger of the season, a solo shot. That got a sellout crowd of 45,088 totally into the festive Canada Day mood, as Bautista — in commemorative red jersey — circled the bases cash advances pay day loan.

Of course, what Gibbons and the Jays need is to have both their go-to-guys — Bautista and Encarnacion — in play and on their game, and indeed both were crucial contributors in Tuesday’s victory, with Encarnacion’s very loud eighth-inning double — just inches shy of home run No. 26 — scoring Cabrera.

Bautista may have done no further damage to Milwaukee than that first-inning dinger but the potential is always there. Besides, he’s simply the lead in this team’s pencil and his mates have spoken longingly in the past week about his return. Ditto the skipper.

“For us to be good, he’s got to be in the lineup,” Gibbons had said before the game. “But you can’t expect one guy to come save the day. But surely he’ll help. Realistically, he’s been out a little over a week so his timing’s going to be off a little bit. Maybe not, we’ll see.”

We saw.

On the issue of timing, Bautista said: “Other than one pitch here and there, I felt pretty good.”

The hamstring wasn’t genuinely tested, though.

“I didn’t get a chance to run the bases at all. A home run, two pop-ups and a strikeout. I didn’t really have any stressful running in there.”

Adding: “I would rather not take the chance.”

Speaking of chances and taking them . . .

Gibbons was in for a penny and in for a pound with Hutchison, demonstrating faith in the young right-hander when he, Hutchison, got himself into a spot of bother in the seventh after walking Carlos Gomez and plunking Khris Davis. With Gomez stealing and proceeding another 90 feet on a groundout, that put runners on second and third with just one gone, Toronto clinging to a 2-1 lead. Hutchison struck out Lyle Overbay swinging with a sharply breaking slider down and in but then walked Mark Reynolds, which loaded the bases for Jean Segura, who lined out.

The manager had been widely criticized for lifting a going-strong Marcus Stroman on the weekend and watching helplessly as reliever Dustin McGowan blew the assignment and Toronto’s lead against the White Sox. This time, he rolled the dice on a starter who was already into triple digits on the pitch count.

His reasoning — what were you thinking there, Gibby? — was a matter of curiosity at the manager’s post-game press conference. He was asked if that situation was a “learning point” with Hutchison.

“For him or for me? What’s your point?”

He continued — mostly tongue-in-cheek but perhaps not entirely: “Show some guts and ask the real question.”

But he explained: “I know Hutch pretty good. When he’s on, he’s on. He’s got that knack, working out of some jams. Even the walk to load the bases, he was trying to get (Reynolds) to fish out of the zone, so it wasn’t a case that he was losing it there. And then he got the big out to finish it.”

Hutchison — who was perfect until a two-out single in the fifth, racking up eight Ks to that point — departed after seven. Aaron Loup, McGowan — who induced a timely double-play ball — and Casey Janssen, with his 13th save, brought it home.

Thus the Jays avoided a fourth consecutive loss and a whole lot of anxiety was dispelled.

“It’s been a while,” Gibbons acknowledged.

“Canada Day, in front of a nice crowd, you don’t want to lay an egg that day.”

Make that order over-easy instead, Canada Day bacon on the side.


07/01/2014 (6:33 pm)

Spam maker Hormel buying Muscle Milk

Filed under: USA, technology |

NEW YORK (AP) — The maker of Spam is bulking up on its protein with Muscle Milk.

Hormel Foods said it will pay $450 million to acquire CytoSport, which owns Muscle Milk sports nutrition drinks, bars and powders. The move builds on Hormel’s push to expand beyond its stable of packaged meats, which include Dinty Moore stews and its namesake chili. Last year, Hormel also added Skippy peanut butter to its lineup.

In a call with analysts Tuesday, Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger said people are increasingly looking for portable, easy-to-eat products packed with protein. It’s why the company recently introduced Rev snack packs, which are wraps filled with meat and cheese, and Skippy Singles, which are portion-controlled packs of the peanut butter.

As for Muscle Milk, Ettinger said the brand would give it access to a different kind of customer.

“It’s much more active, young consumer that was appealing to us,” he said.

Americans have increasingly been looking to increase their protein intake in recent years, and packaged food makers have been responding by adding it to a variety of products cash advance no fax. General Mills Inc. even recently rolled out a version of Cheerios with extra protein, for instance.

Last year, Coca-Cola Co. bought a stake in the maker of Core Power, which is marketed as a post-workout recovery drink. The Atlanta-based company didn’t disclose its stake in Fair Oaks Farms Brands LLC or other terms of the deal.

Private-equity firm TSG Consumer Partners is selling its stake in CytoSport, which is based in Benicia, California

CytoSport founders Greg and Mike Pickett, who are father and son, will still be involved in day-to-day operations. For 2014, Hormel said it expects sales of CytoSport to be about $370 million. The deal will add about 5 cents per share to its fiscal 2015 earnings, the company said.

Shares of Hormel Foods Corp., based in Austin, Minnesota, slipped 14 cents to $49.21.

The deal is expected to close within 30 days.


06/27/2014 (12:41 am)

Iron Mountain and Barclays are big market movers

Filed under: business, money |

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Market:


Iron Mountain Inc., up $5.97 to $35.75

The information management company increased its profit outlook as it plans to convert to a real-estate investment trust.

Steelcase Inc., down $1.89 to $15.77

The workplace equipment maker reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter profit and issued a disappointing second-quarter outlook.

Barclays PLC, down $1.16 to $14.55

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a securities fraud lawsuit against the British banking and financial firm.

General Motors Inc., down 19 cents to $36.90

The automaker is preparing to recall about 33,000 Cruze compact cars because the air bags might fail to inflate properly.


Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., down $4.41 to $56.70

The home furnishings retailer reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter profit and lower-than-expected second-quarter guidance.

Canadian Solar Inc., up $1.28 to $29.79

The solar power company closed a deal expected to bring in $300 million in revenue for work on Canada’s largest solar energy farm.

Elizabeth Arden Inc., down $4.59 to $22.41

A Korean cosmetic company said it is no longer interested in buying the U.S. cosmetic firm, which is restructuring its business.

Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc., up $1.04 to $16.71

The natural health and wellness company signed a deal to form a joint venture that will fuel an expansion into the Chinese market.


04/29/2014 (2:10 pm)

Deadly GM switch may spell demise of ignition keys

Filed under: loans, news |

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. • The furor over General Motors’ deadly ignition switch has the potential to doom the car key, a technology drivers have been using for 65 years.

Testifying before Congress this month, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said the recall of 2.59 million affected cars may prompt the company to make push-button start standard in all its vehicles. The shift by the largest U.S. automaker would hasten a technological evolution that started with the hand-crank starter more than a century ago, before Chrysler introduced the keyed ignition across its lineup in 1949.

Push-button start, which showed up in Mercedes models in the late 1990s, is now an option in 72 percent of 2014 cars and trucks in the U.S., according to Edmunds.com. In a survey conducted by auto researcher AutoPacific, consumers ranked the technology the fifth most coveted upgrade for $100 or less. This month the New York auto show used a push button as its logo.

“People really see the push button as a convenience and a luxury feature,” said Bill Visnic, senior editor at Edmunds.com. “The ignition switch is a very fussy, electro- mechanical part that’s seen as less reliable.”

Drivers were complaining about key ignitions long before GM discovered switches in the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion could slip out of the “on” position, shutting off the engine and disabling air bags life insurance. The defective part has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged more than 18,000 complaints about key ignitions, according to a Bloomberg News analysis. They involve multiple models and carmakers and range from keys getting stuck, vehicles stalling at high speeds and even cars starting on their own.

GM’s faulty key ignition is fairly typical of the flaws cataloged by NHTSA over the years. The key could be inadvertently jarred by a knee, uneven road or weighed down by a heavy key chain. GM is under investigation because it waited more than a decade to recall the affected cars.

The recalled Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models don’t in fact top the list of ignition-related complaints in the NHTSA database. That distinction goes to Ford’s Focus, which garnered more than 2,000 complaints about keys getting stuck or not turning, primarily in models from 2000 to 2005. Because Ford decided the flaw didn’t imperil drivers, the company declined to recall the cars and instead alerted dealers to the problem so they could fix it.

“There was no safety risk, as this could only occur when the car was parked and the driver shut off the engine and tried to remove the key,” Kelli Felker, a Ford spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Automakers have recalled about 21 million vehicles for issues related to the keyed ignition switch, including more than 8.8 million from Ford, 5.5 million from GM, 3.5 million from Honda and 1.6 million from Chrysler and its predecessors.

“The biggest weakness for the key has always been that it was a rotating device, if you weigh it down, you can wear it out,” said John Wolkonowicz, an independent auto analyst, who acknowledges replacing an ignition switch in a 1980s GM model after loading down the key ring with about 25 keys.

Push-button start has few moving parts and simply sends an electronic signal to the engine. The button works only if the driver brings a small remote unit, such as a keyless fob that also locks and unlocks the doors, into the vehicle.

The push-button system may be a boon as Americans age because it doesn’t strain the wrist like turning a key, said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with auto researcher Kelley Blue Book, who said that was a frequent complaint among disabled drivers he’s interviewed about making cars easier to drive.

Not that push-button start is trouble-free.

In 2009, a police officer couldn’t shut off a button-start Lexus ES 350 after a floor mat got wedged in a pedal. He and three others died health insurance tennessee. That model required the driver to hold the start button down for as long as three seconds to stop the car. In 2011, NHTSA proposed a new standard of a half-second hold. The Society of Automotive Engineers recommends a range of a half-second to two seconds.

The agency also proposed giving drivers an audible warning if they exit a car without turning the engine off. In several cases, drivers mistakenly started their parked cars in enclosed garages, sometimes leading to a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide. In one such incident in 2010, a Florida woman died and her boyfriend was seriously impaired.

Getting used to new technology always takes time, said Visnic of Edmund’s.com. He recalled stopping by his house to drop off his gym bag and leaving the car running outside. It was only later when he tried to restart the vehicle that he realized he’d left the starter fob in the gym bag.

“We’re asking people to unlearn something which was developed over generations of habit,” he said: “You turned the key and it started or stopped.”


04/18/2014 (3:35 pm)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, beloved Latin American author, dead at 87

Filed under: Homebuilders, finance |

MEXICO CITY—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America’s passion, superstition, violence and inequality, died at home in Mexico City around midday, according to people close to his family. He was 87.

Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, Garcia Marquez achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works — among them Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Love in the Time of Cholera and TheAutumn of the Patriarch — outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.

His stories made him literature’s best-known practitioner of magical realism, the fictional blending of the everyday with fantastical elements such as a boy born with a pig’s tail and a man trailed by a swarm of yellow butterflies.

His death was confirmed by two people close to the family who spoke on condition of anonymity out of respect for the family’s privacy.

One Hundred Years of Solitude was “the first novel in which Latin Americans recognized themselves, that defined them, celebrated their passion, their intensity, their spirituality and superstition, their grand propensity for failure,” biographer Gerald Martin told The Associated Press.

When he accepted the Nobel prize in 1982, Garcia Marquez described Latin America as a “source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”

With writers including Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe, Garcia Marquez was also an early practitioner of the literary nonfiction that would become known as New Journalism. He became an elder statesman of Latin American journalism, with magisterial works of narrative non-fiction that included the The Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor, the tale of a seaman lost on a life raft for 10 days background check.

Other pieces profiled Venezuela’s larger-than-life president, Hugo Chavez, and vividly portrayed how cocaine traffickers led by Pablo Escobar had shred the social and moral fabric of his native Colombia, kidnapping members of its elite, in News of a Kidnapping. In 1994, Garcia Marquez founded the Iberoamerican Foundation for New Journalism, which offers training and competitions to raise the standard of narrative and investigative journalism across Latin America.

Like many Latin American writers, Garcia Marquez transcended the world of letters. The man widely known as “Gabo” became a hero to the Latin American left as an early ally of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and a critic of Washington’s violent interventions from Vietnam to Chile.

Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, a small Colombian town near the Caribbean coast, on March 6, 1927. He was the eldest of the 11 children of Luisa Santiaga Marquez and Gabriel Elijio Garcia, a telegraphist and a wandering homeopathic pharmacist who was also something of a philanderer and fathered at least four children outside of his marriage.

Just after their first son was born, his parents left him with his maternal grandparents and moved to Barranquilla, where Garcia Marquez’s father opened a pharmacy, hoping to become rich.

Garcia Marquez was raised for 10 years by his grandmother and his grandfather, a retired colonel who fought in the devastating 1,000-Day War that hastened Colombia’s loss of the Panamanian isthmus.

His grandparents’ tales would provide grist for Garcia Marquez’s fiction and Aracataca became the model for “Macondo,” the village surrounded by banana plantations at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains where One Hundred Years of Solitude is set.

“I have often been told by the family that I started recounting things, stories and so on, almost since I was born,” Garcia Marquez once told an interviewer. “Ever since I could speak.”

Garcia Marquez’s parents continued to have children, and barely made ends meet. Their first-born son was sent to a state-run boarding school just outside Bogota where he became a star student and voracious reader, favouring Hemingway, Faulkner, Dostoevsky and Kafka.

Garcia Marquez published his first piece of fiction as a student in 1947, mailing a short story to the newspaper El Espectador after its literary editor wrote that “Colombia’s younger generation has nothing to offer in the way of good literature anymore.”

His father insisted he study law but he dropped out, bored, and dedicated himself to journalism. The pay was atrocious and Garcia Marquez recalled his mother visiting him in Bogota and commenting in horror at his bedraggled appearance that: “I thought you were a beggar.”

Garcia Marquez’s writing was constantly informed by his leftist political views, themselves forged in large part by a 1928 military massacre near Aracataca of banana workers striking against the United Fruit Company, which later became Chiquita. He was also greatly influenced by the assassination two decades later of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, a galvanizing leftist presidential candidate.

Garcia Marquez suffered a strong official backlash to his story about how government corruption contributed to the disaster recounted in The Story of A Shipwrecked Sailor. A dictatorship seized power and Garcia Marquez made a new home in Europe. After touring the Soviet-controlled east, he moved to Rome in 1955 to study cinema, a lifelong love. Then he moved to Paris, where he lived among intellectuals and artists exiled from the many Latin American dictatorships of the day.

Garcia Marquez returned to Colombia in 1958 to marry Mercedes Barcha, a neighbour from childhood days. They had two sons, Rodrigo, a film director, and Gonzalo, a graphic designer.

After a 1981 run-in with Colombia’s government in which he was accused of sympathizing with M-19 rebels and sending money to a Venezuelan guerrilla group, Garcia Marquez moved to Mexico City, his main home for the rest of his life.

Despite being denied U.S. visas for years over his politics, he was courted by presidents and kings and counted Bill Clinton and Francois Mitterrand among his friends. He denounced what he considered the unfair political persecution of Clinton for sexual adventures

Clinton himself recalled in an AP interview in 2007 reading One Hundred Years of Solitude while in law school and not being able to put it down, not even during classes criminal record checks.

“I realized this man had imagined something that seemed like a fantasy but was profoundly true and profoundly wise,” he said.

Dirt poor and struggling through much of his adult life, Garcia Marquez was somewhat transformed by his later fame and wealth. A bon vivant with an impish personality, Garcia Marquez was a gracious host who would animatedly recount long stories to guests. Fiercely protective of his image, a trait shared by his wife, he would occasionally unleash a quick temper when he felt slighted or misrepresented by the press.

The author with the bushy grey eyebrows and white moustache spent more time in Colombia in his later years, founding the journalism institute in the walled colonial port city of Cartagena, where he kept a home.

Garcia Marquez turned down offers of diplomatic posts and spurned attempts to draft him to run for Colombia’s presidency, though he did get involved in behind-the-scenes peace mediation efforts between Colombia’s government and leftist rebels.

In 1998, already in his 70s, Garcia Marquez fulfilled a lifelong dream, buying a majority interest in the Colombian newsmagazine Cambio with money from his Nobel. Before falling ill with lymphatic cancer in June 1999, the author contributed prodigiously to the magazine.

“I’m a journalist. I’ve always been a journalist,” he told the AP at the time. “My books couldn’t have been written if I weren’t a journalist because all the material was taken from reality.”

In later years there were persisting reports about the author’s memory problems, which were not publicly diagnosed, and Garcia Marquez’s public appearances were limited, although he continued to enjoy socializing with friends.

When he turned 87, he was feted before the press by friends and well-wishers who gave him cake and flowers outside his home in an exclusive neighbourhood in Mexico City.

Garcia Marquez did not speak at the event.


04/16/2014 (5:08 am)

Investors dip a toe back in emerging markets

Filed under: legal, term |

Nearly $2.5 billion flowed into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that invest in emerging market stocks during the week that ended April 2, according to data from EPFR Global.

It was the first time money poured into those funds since October.

The inflow suggests that investors have regained some appetite for emerging market stocks, which were trading at a sharp discount following a big sell-off in January.

The ), which tracks the widely-followed benchmark for emerging market stocks, is now in positive territory for the year.

Investors fled emerging markets in January amid fears about the so-called “Fragile Five” — Turkey, Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Central banks in those countries were forced to prop up shaky currencies after political and economic concerns sparked big outflows of capital.

According to Allan Conway, head of emerging market equities at U.K.-based asset manager Schroders, investors overreacted and stocks in many countries are actually trading at very attractive levels.

While he expects most emerging markets to remain volatile in the short run, Conway said some specific countries could see “an avalanche of cheap investment opportunities by the end of the year.”

Specifically, he pointed to what he dubbed the “Fab Four” of Taiwan, Korea, China and Russia (assuming the confrontation with Ukraine does not escalate).

While investments in any country carry a certain degree of political risk, it is especially acute in many emerging economies since governments in these nations often own a stake in the largest companies in the country.

Investors hope that upcoming elections in India, Indonesia and Brazil will set the stage for reforms that will make those economies more efficient, said Michelle Gibley, director of international research at Charles Schwab cash advance loan.

She said there’s also been talk of new stimulus efforts in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Still, the optimism may be “misplaced” since there’s no guarantee the newly elected politicians will follow through on proposed reforms, she added.

“I’m still cautious on emerging markets,” said Gibley. “They still have a long way to go to fix their structural problems.”

Emerging markets are generally considered more of a gamble than developed ones because the political risks are higher and many developing economies are exposed to volatility in commodities prices.

On the other hand, economic growth has historically been stronger in emerging markets, many of which have benefited from an expanding middle class.

That growth story began to unravel last year when the Federal Reserve first signaled that it would begin slowing its monthly bond purchases.

The U.S. central bank has pumped billions of dollars into the global economy over the past few years and much of the liquidity has made its way into emerging markets. The fear is that developing economies might be left high and dry as the Fed gradually turns off the taps this year.

Paul Christopher, chief international strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, said it will take years for emerging market economies to work through excessive levels of domestic debt.

“The Fed’s policies have exposed some of the weakness in emerging markets,” he said. “Those problems have been there for years, but as the tide goes out, you begin to see the hazards below the surface.”

While he has a positive long-term view on developing economies, Christopher said the average investor should not have more than 5% to 7% of a portfolio in emerging markets.


04/14/2014 (2:08 pm)

GM finds new ignition flaw, will replace second part

Filed under: money, stocks |

The automaker said Thursday it “is aware of several hundred complaints of keys coming out of ignitions” in recalled Chevrolet Cobalts and HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and G5s, as well as Saturn Ions and Skys.

As a result, the company will replace the ignition lock cylinder in these vehicles. GM said there was one instance of a vehicle rolling away and crashing. That accident resulted in injuries, but no deaths.

The ignition lock cylinder fix will be made in addition to a repair to the faulty ignition switches.

These cars were originally recalled in February because the ignition switches were getting knocked out of the “Run” position, causing the vehicles to stop unexpectedly and disabling the airbag, power steering and anti-lock brakes.

, Fortune 500) identified an issue with the switch indent plunger, a tiny part that provides pressure, or torque, to prevent the ignition from turning off accidentally. The ignition lock cylinder is the part where the key is inserted. It can be worn down over time as the key is repeatedly turned.

Spokesman Kevin Kelly said all the ignition repairs are meant to be done at once. Dealerships will receive a kit with both parts and the repair will take about an hour, he said. Customers will also be given new car keys.

The parts have started shipping and dealers will be able to perform the service beginning Friday, he said.

The additional part replacement means the recall will cost the company more. GM said it will take a $1.3 billion charge in the first quarter for the recall, nearly four times the original $300 million charge.

GM has taken heat for a delay in recalling the vehicles. The company has attributed thirteen deaths to the fault. The company has revealed it knew of issues with the ignition switch as early as 2004, but only announced a recall in February. Earlier Thursday, it announced that two engineers were suspended over the matter.

–CNNMoney’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report


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