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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Crew Energy Inc. Announces 2013 Budget Targeting 15% Increase in Liquids Production- January 7, 2013

Category : Stocks

CALGARY, ALBERTA–(Marketwire – Jan. 7, 2013) - Crew Energy Inc. (“Crew” or the “Company”) (TSX:CR) is pleased to announce its Board of Directors has approved a 2013 capital budget of $219 million. The 2013 program is designed to focus on the Company’s operating strategy to invest in the highest rate of return projects while also further defining and capturing hydrocarbon resource. Funding of this program will come from cash flow from operations and bank debt. The 2013 program is expected to provide 15% liquids growth spearheaded by the drilling of 101 (99.0 net) wells with 87% of the wells targeting oil and 13% of the wells targeting liquids rich natural gas.

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BA cutting 400 cabin crew jobs

Category : Business

British Airways confirms that it is cutting 400 senior cabin crew positions on both its long and short-haul routes.

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BA’s Spanish marriage flies into financial difficulties

Category : Business

The British carrier’s profits are being almost wiped out by the performance of Iberia, which is in a ‘fight for survival’

When flag carriers flew the world like proud extensions of government foreign policy, the merger of British Airways and its Spanish counterpart Iberia would have been unthinkable. But the advent of Ryanair, easyJet and other low-cost ingenues, followed by the dent in demand caused by 9/11, exposed them to the unforgiving economics of modern aviation. The industry has lost $25bn (£16bn) since 2001, in a decade littered with redundancies, financial restructurings and bankruptcies.

The formation of International Airlines Group (IAG) through the merger of BA and Iberia in 2011 was supposed to muster strength from an imperilled business model. The group would earn more revenue for less cost, while pooling expensive overheads such as buying aircraft. Speaking as BA chief executive at the time, Willie Walsh, now chief executive of IAG, said BA would benefit from adding Latin America to its lucrative transatlantic routes. “We are very pleased to have the combined network of BA and Iberia,” he added.

It is now clear that one half of IAG entered this modern marriage still rooted in an earlier era. According to IAG’s nine-month results, BA made an operating profit of €286m (£229m), bolstered by its UK-US routes and the accumulated benefit of years of cost-cutting, including a bitter industrial dispute with cabin crew in 2010. Iberia, on the other hand, nearly wiped out BA’s gains with an operating loss of €262m.

This month Walsh inadvertently confirmed how far Iberia lags behind BA as he warned that the partner airline was in a “fight for survival”. He used the same phrase about BA three years ago in the months before the crew dispute.

Further upheaval is on the way. Walsh said he would cut 4,500 jobs at Iberia – 20% of the workforce – and shed a quarter of its aircraft fleet in a bid to stem losses running at €1.7m a day.

In Madrid, the feeling among Iberia workers is that their airline is very much the junior partner in IAG. They see IAG’s recent €113m offer to take over profitable low-cost Spanish carrier Vueling as an indication of where Iberia is heading. Their concerns are adding new members to a generation of indignados alarmed by an economic slump that has left one in four adults on the on the dole. Trade unions are determined to fight the plans.

“This isn’t a plan to fix Iberia but dismantle it,” said Manuel Atienza, who has been a flight attendant for 40 years and is a spokesman for the UGT union federation. “If anyone thinks we are scared and resigned, they are very much mistaken.” The Spanish pilots’ union, Sepla, has long had a reputation for industrial muscle and a gathering of 1,000 of its Iberia members voted last week to reject the redundancies and demand a demerger of BA and Iberia.

Maria López, who has worked as an Iberia flight attendant with Iberia for 35 years, complained that workers were suffering the consequences of management decisions and circumstances beyond their control. “The mood is one of deep sadness, as well as anger and indignation,” she said. “We understand that many airlines are running at a loss in the current economic situation and have loss-making routes, but I don’t think this is the way to solve it. There is a lot of shared responsibility and it doesn’t make sense to go after the weakest – and 4,500 is a lot of people.”

While Iberia staff are counting the cost in terms of thousands of colleagues, for shareholders it could be in the millions of pounds. A footnote in IAG’s first-half results, published in the summer, refers to an “impairment review” that could lead to a writedown of Iberia, whose goodwill and brand is valued at more than €500m on IAG’s books. Defending the deal, IAG points to a strengthened combined balance sheet and says Iberia has gained from €101m in “synergies” since the merger.

Antonio Sanchez, a retired Iberia economist, said the carrier’s demise would have far-reaching economic repercussions in a country that depends on tourism for more than 10% of its economic output: “It just isn’t the same when you no longer have a flagship. St Louis, Missouri suffered terribly after the collapse of TWA, because there are a lot of secondary services linked with a flagship. Pilots’ schools have to close, you have no bargaining power over routes.”

Attempts to restructure Iberia may not prove an easy fight, even for a man of Walsh’s reputation for enjoying the battle. Employees will be looking with interest at developments at Heathrow, where BA’s management are reluctantly moving to union recognition for the “mixed fleet” of cabin crew. The fact that this tranche of staff, established by BA in 2010 to undercut the pay and conditions traditionally enjoyed by its crew, has rapidly unionised suggests that not even eager young recruits are willing or able to sustain the flexible working demands their bosses want to impose.

Stock market analysts are largely supporters of airline consolidation along the lines of IAG, Air France/KLM and the shopaholic Lufthansa, which has brought Swiss and Austrian Airlines under its wing in recent years. Andrew Lobbenberg, an analyst at HSBC, said: “There can be no doubt that the scale of the Spanish downturn was not part of the game plan when BA originally combined with Iberia.”

However, he added that Spain’s economic troubles and Iberia’s losses gave Walsh the opportunity to correct those problems quickly: “The original logic of the combination continues to have merit: it combines BA’s strength position on the mature North Atlantic market with Iberia’s strong position in the fast growing South Atlantic market.”

Gerald Khoo, an analyst at Espírito Santo, has warned that the market has underestimated the scale of the problems facing Iberia, but agrees that progress towards consolidation is inevitable. “The strategic logic of consolidation is still there, as is the attractiveness of Iberia’s Latin American network,” said Khoo. Walsh himself puts it as starkly as ever: “Consolidation is inevitable in our industry.”

Walsh remains bullish about the deal, telling the Observer this month that he had “no regrets at linking up with Iberia – not at all”. But he is now seeking savings on a more significant scale, and warned: “No airline can guarantee its survival. And the reality is that Iberia cannot continue in its present form.”

Russian ship carrying 700 tonnes of Polymetal gold ore spotted on seabed

Category : Business

Polymetal shares rally as scuba divers discover gold-laden freighter two weeks after it disappeared in Okhotsk sea

Polymetal has tended to attract more publicity as one of a number of natural resources companies from the former Soviet republic that have controversially listed in London.

But it has become the subject of an entirely different sort of tale after Russian scuba divers found a sunken cargo ship loaded with 700 tonnes of gold ore owned by the FTSE 100 group.

The 40-year-old freighter, Amurskaya, had disappeared in the Okhotsk sea, one of the main routes for Russia to Asian markets. But the country’s transport ministry said on Tuesday state lifeguards had located the vessel, albeit without its nine-member crew.

“Scuba divers investigated the sunken object and it is the Amurskaya freighter. We plan to continue penetrating the vessel,” the lifeguards said.

The ship, operated by a company based in Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, left the Kiran sea terminal on 28 October carrying ore from Polymetal’s Avlayakan mine to be delivered at its Hakanja processing plant. It was discovered on the seabed at a depth of 25 metres after capsizing in high seas.

“A ladder, the lack of people on the bridge, the open door to the room below the bridge deck and the lack of lifeboats on board confirms with a high likelihood that the crew attempted an emergency evacuation,” the ministry added.

The director of the ship’s operator is being investigated on charges of negligence for having sent the vessel out in bad weather and overloading it with gold ore.

There was more good news. In a falling market, Polymetal’s shares were one of the few positive performers, gaining just under 1% as the FTSE 100 dropped 93 points to 5791.63. However, the strength was more likely attributable to the company being seen as generally benefitting from a rising gold price.

Even at current levels, the ore aboard the Amurskaya is worth about only $230,000 (£144,000), with each tonne out of the Avlayakan mine containing about six grammes of gold.

Argentina orders crew to quit Libertad ship held in Ghana

Category : Business

Governments in tense talks over court ruling that would allow vulture fund to sell frigate unless Argentina settles $370m debt

Crew members on the Argentinian naval ship ARA Libertad, which has been impounded in the port of Tema in Ghana, have been ordered to fly home as the diplomatic crisis over the vessel’s future looks set to intensify.

The 281 crew members – from Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname, Venezuela, Uruguay and Chile, as well as Argentina – will return to Buenos Aires on a chartered Air France flight on Wednesday, while the most senior officers and a skeleton crew will remain on board.

Meanwhile, the Argentinian and Ghanaian governments are holding talks to attempt to circumvent a court ruling that gives a US-based vulture fund, NML Capital, the right to sell the 50-year-old frigate unless Argentina settles a $370m (£231m) debt.

Argentina has also held talks with the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, over the conduct of the west African country.

“Meetings between these south American delegations and [the Ghanaian] government are continuing as we speak,” said a source. “We are not talking about interfering with the ruling of the court, but there may be another solution. We will continue talking to the Argentinians and others until we resolve this matter.”

The talks come three weeks after the Libertad, a three-masted training vessel, was detained on arrival in Ghana by order of the country’s high court. Although the ship is forbidden to leave Tema, crew members have been free to leave the vessel, making frequent trips to the nearby capital, Accra.

A delegation from Argentina’s embassy in Nigeria was understood to be holding talks with officials from the Ghanaian ministry of foreign affairs and attorney general’s office. Officials from Chile, which has 15 naval officers on board the Libertad, confirmed that its naval attaché in London, Ronald McIntyre, was also holding talks with Ghana in an attempt to secure the ship’s release.

“The naval officers have been evacuated but the vessel is still in the port,” said Kumi Adjei-Sam, a spokesman for the Ghana ports and harbour authority. “It is causing us a lot of disruption and occupying one of our very busy berths. We need the space back – the order to detain the vessel came from the military and unless we receive a court order to release it soon, we will have to take the matter up with the military authorities.”

The order to evacuate the vessel is the latest in a series of defiant moves by the Argentinian government, which has said it refuses to honour judgments in favour of NML Capital.

NML, which is backed by the US billionaire Paul Singer and has a reputation for buying up sovereign debt, is suing Argentina for failing to pay out on bonds it bought from the heavily indebted Argentinian government in 2000, one year before the country’s $100bn sovereign default saw most of its debt restructured.

NML says it will not release the Libertad unless Argentina pays at least $20m of the $370m it is owed. Earlier this month Ghana’s high court backed the fund’s bid to detain the vessel, ruling that the legal immunity usually enjoyed by warships had been waived by Argentina when it entered into the bond swaps. NML has obtained more than $1.6bn worth of judgments against the country in courts in the US and England, and has made numerous efforts to seize Argentinian assets in an attempt to obtain payment.

But Argentina has repeatedly stated its refusal to pay NML, describing the legal bid as a “hoax staged by unscrupulous financiers”.

“All the expenses and damages resulting from the illegal detention of the frigate Libertad will form part of the demand Argentina will present before international organisations,” said the Argentinian foreign ministry.

Last week Argentina removed the navy chief, Carlos Alberto Paz, over the incident, and suspended two other senior naval officials, saying it was launching an inquiry into why the Libertad was allowed to stop in Ghana given the likelihood that NML would bring court proceedings in the country.

The Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Respond to Another Call for Help While in Val-d’Or

Category : World News

VAL-D’OR, QUEBEC–(Marketwire – Sept. 23, 2012) - A crew from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox, who was participating in the National Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) in Val-d’Or earlier this week, was called for help, this time to rescue a severely injured hunter approximately 450 kilometres north east of Val-d’Or.

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Lufthansa set to resume flights

Category : Business

Lufthansa says it hopes to resume flights early on Saturday after cabin crew agreed to end strike action that stranded thousands of air passengers.

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VIDEO: Union praises staff over Lufthansa strike

Category : Business

Lufthansa cabin crew have taken strike action over a 5% pay claim.

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P&O cruise ship Arcadia hits troubled waters over ousting of Indian crew

Category : Business

As P&O heads for 175th anniversary, dismissal of restaurant staff after pay protest threatens to cast shadow over celebrations

The cruise ship Arcadia will take pride of place in festivities to commemorate 175 years of P&O shipping on Tuesday, with royalty in attendance and the Red Arrows saluting overhead.

But as the P&O Cruises fleet sails from Southampton, the Arcadia will be without the Indian restaurant crew who were serving British passengers this time last year. For daring to protest for little over an hour at their falling, meagre earnings – and despite the assurances of the ship’s captain and P&O’s British head office – the careers of about 150 people have been quietly, summarily ended.

Signs of trouble had been growing on the P&O fleet for years amid passenger complaints at falling standards. But such irritations had a more serious downside for crew members, whose livelihood depends on the goodwill of the clientele. With basic wages of as little as 75p an hour, tips make up the bulk of earnings – and these were drying up.

In late 2010 P&O Cruises had agreed to review procedures, to instigate more auto-tipping, and underwrite the crew’s precarious wages. But by the middle of 2011 nothing had been done.

The Arcadia was on a 72-day cruise from Southampton to Alaska via the Panama canal and back. A number of passengers were booked only until San Francisco, where they disembarked to fly home. And, again, the expected tips from departing passengers failed to materialise.

With the Arcadia in port in Seattle, about 150 of the lowest paid decided to protest. Before that evening’s meal, the waiters gathered on the dockside.

The demonstration inconvenienced some passengers, who had to wait for their usual table at the Arcadia’s Meridian restaurant or dine earlier at the ship’s Belvedere food court. Fewer than usual made it to the cabaret that night. But as one passenger blogged, the overall atmosphere was good.

Before the 90 minutes were up, the good-humoured protest was over. The ship’s British captain, Kevin Oprey, had spoken to the Southampton head office to relay the restaurant staff’s concerns. The waiters then returned to work, labouring late into the night, and were assured there would be no recriminations or sanctions.

While most on board assumed the matter had been amicably laid to rest, a different decision was being taken in the head offices of P&O’s owner, Carnival. This protest could not, directors decided, be tolerated – no matter what assurances the captain had given the crew.

The crew completed their contracts – typically six to nine months at sea, at least 14 hours’ work a day, every day – and returned to their homes and families in India, expecting to get the call as usual to rejoin the ship.

Just before Christmas last year, the letters arrived. Carnival had, they stated, listened to the crew. They were talking through the options for a “more guaranteed remuneration package at some point in the future”. They were “working on a project to address the issues”.

As the Guardian reported in April, this new remuneration package would raise the lowest rate of basic pay to £250 a month. Additional bonuses, replacing tips, could be withheld from crew who failed to achieve satisfaction ratings of 92%.

But Carnival’s letter continued: “Unfortunately, the majority of the restaurant crew on the Arcadia chose not to wait … Instead these crew, which included yourself, chose to take industrial action … greatly impacting our customers. This behaviour is not something Carnival UK is prepared to tolerate.”

No waiter who took part in the protest would be re-engaged on any Carnival UK ship. Neither would they be offered any future contract by their employers, the Mumbai recruitment agency Fleet Maritime Service International. Enclosed was a letter from Fleet which added: “We have been provided with details regarding the situation from Carnival UK advising that they do not wish to re-engage you on a ship.” It said that, “after careful consideration, we agree”.

Fleet’s employees are not protected by British law: the letters of effective dismissal list only the address of its registered office in Bermuda, a favoured flag of convenience for ships based in ports far away. The Fleet payroll office is in the tax haven of Guernsey. Yet the letter is signed by an Edward Jones, the chief financial officer of Carnival UK.

Steve Todd of the RMT union, which represents British seafarers, said: “Big, reputable cruise companies have got convoluted ways of getting past the employment legislation of countries they belong to – there’s a brass plate on the wall in Bermuda and the levers being pulled in head offices at home. It’s a shabby, unacceptable practice to exploit cheap foreign labour and it needs stamping out.”

A spokeswoman for P&O said on Sunday: “The withdrawal of labour, which was undertaken by some of Arcadia’s restaurant team on May 10 2011, was without warning, ‘unofficial’ and greatly impacted our customers. At the time the captain committed that no disciplinary action would be taken. As a result all crew were allowed to complete their current contracts.

“However, given the serious and inappropriate nature of the staff’s actions P&O Cruises has decided not to offer any further contracts to the crew concerned.”

Fleet is the largest employer of cruise ship personnel in India, and Carnival runs half of the world cruise market. Historic connections mean Indian crew largely find work on the British ships Carnival controls. Ship workers often send the bulk of their pay packets to support families at home.

The chief executive of Carnival UK, David Dingle, told the Guardian earlier this year that at the recruitment office in Mumbai “there are queues out on to the street. It clearly is of value to these people.”

Success! Space station snags SpaceX Dragon capsule – CNET

Category : Stocks

Toronto Star
Success! Space station snags SpaceX Dragon capsule
An astronaut using the International Space Station's robot arm successfully plucks a commercial cargo ship out of open space to complete a dramatic rendezvous. by William Harwood May 25, 2012 7:30 AM PDT In a moment of high drama on the high frontier,
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Successfully Captured by ISSPC Magazine
SpaceX capsule captured by space station crew in historic missionLos Angeles Times
SpaceX's Dragon comes in for historic hookup with space

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