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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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Bayport International Holdings, Inc. (EXTO: OTC Pink Current) | Bayport International Holdings, Inc. has finalized the Letter of Intent by management signing the contract to purchase Interest in Oil Wells in Pennsylvania.

Category : Stocks

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Bayport International Holdings, Inc. has finalized the Letter of Intent by management signing the contract to purchase Interest in Oil Wells in Pennsylvania.

PR Newswire

LAS VEGAS, March 22, 2013

LAS VEGAS, March 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

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Bayport International Holdings, Inc. (EXTO: OTC Pink Current) | Bayport International Holdings, Inc. has finalized the Letter of Intent by management signing the contract to purchase Interest in Oil Wells in Pennsylvania.

Category : Stocks, World News

< ?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

Bayport International Holdings, Inc. has finalized the Letter of Intent by management signing the contract to purchase Interest in Oil Wells in Pennsylvania.

PR Newswire

LAS VEGAS, March 22, 2013

LAS VEGAS, March 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

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Fracking debate draws Yoko, Lennon and Sarandon to rural battlegrounds

Category : Business

Artists Against Fracking board bus for magical mystery tour of Pennsylvania as New York and New Jersey decisions draw near

Yoko Ono might not seem the most likely bus traveller. Northern Pennsylvania, on a cold, snowy January day, might not seem a likely destination.

Yet the threat of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and its impact on the farm she and John Lennon bought in New York spurred Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, into action. On Thursday the pair, a group of activists and the actress Susan Sarandon formed an improbable troupe for a road trip through towns which have been affected by fracking.

The expedition travelled under the banner of Artists Against Fracking, the group Ono and Lennon set up last summer, when governor Andrew Cuomo was originally due to rule on whether to allow fracking in New York State. Thanks no doubt to the star power of its founders, the group quickly managed to attract backing – from regular celebrity activists such as Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo to Alec Baldwin, the two living Beatles and Robert DeNiro. They also earned the support of the Scissor Sisters.

“It was an incredible response,” Ono said, as the bus picked its way along narrow lanes. “All these artists are starting to come together. These days artists are very much into, and very sensitive to what is happening in society, not just what is happening with their work.”

It was the potential impact of fracking on rural parts of New York State that prompted Lennon and Ono to get involved in the anti-fracking cause last summer. Cuomo eventually delayed his decision, pending further investigation into the practice; he is now due to rule on whether to allow fracking as early as 27 February, following a four-and-a-half year ban.

Ono and Lennon clambered aboard the bus – in fact a relatively luxurious coach – on Thursday as part of their bid to persuade the governor against the practice. Ono and Lennon still spend time at their rural farm, which was bought in the years before John Lennon died. While the farm might have inspired Ono to take up the cause, she said the campaign now went beyond that.

“It’s not just for me, but for New York State and New York City as well. But also when we lose this game we’re losing not just for New York State but for the United States and for Britain. I’m getting letters from Britain saying, ‘Yoko, please do something, they’re starting to frack here.’”

The pair keep secret the exact location of their farm, where Ono and John Lennon famously tended a herd of cows, but they will say that it is in prime fracking territory. The pair established Artists Against Fracking in August and organised the bus tour to show the impact fracking has had in Pennsylvania.

Fracking involves drilling a hole into shale rock deep underground, then blasting in water mixed with sand and chemicals. This creates fissures in the rock, releasing natural gas that is captured in a well at the surface. Problems can arise if the cement casing around the well-hole is inadequate, allowing chemicals to leak into water supplies. Those who support fracking say that with tougher regulation and stricter controls on the drilling process the practice is safe, although opponents argue that this is too much to risk.

‘Our water was bubbling in our well’

The home of Michael and Tammy Manning in Franklin Forks was one of the bus tour’s first stops – after four attempts to climb a particularly icy hill. The couple say the water in their home, which is sourced from their own well, like many homes’ water supply in this region, became contaminated after fracking was carried out nearby.

“Our water was bubbling in our well. It looked like a full running boil in our well,” said Tammy Manning, 45. Four generations of their family live in the house, a two-storey wood-paneled structure set in perhaps an acre of land. Video taken by Matthew Manning and shown as the anti-fracking entourage crammed into the Mannings’ small living room showed water spurting out of the top of their well as from a fire hydrant. Inside the house, the water ran brown.

Pennsylvania’s department of environmental protection tested the Mannings’ exploding well soon after it began erupting. It found extremely high levels of methane, and told the family to keep all windows and doors open when running the taps or taking a shower – any build-up of the gas could be dangerous. The Mannings said they have received little help beyond that, and have to buy mineral water for drinking and cooking. They shower in tainted water.

“We don’t want to have to leave,” Tammy Manning said. “We just bought the house. But if we’ve no water what can we do.” The reality is that the family has few options. “I don’t think we can sell it with no water. We’re stuck.”

Supporters of fracking argue that the process can produce cheap fuel, promote energy independence and create jobs. The roads of Susquehanna County were certainly busy on Thursday, activists on the bus shouting out “sand truck” or “water truck” time and again, as heavy goods vehicles bearing the key elements of fracking passed by.

Some spoke of the tension within small towns and villages that has been caused by differing opinions over fracking. Companies pay good money for access to mineral rights, but one or two neighbours resisting the deal can deter companies from becoming involved with a whole street or community.

Representing ‘the 1%’?

As the bus arrived in Dimock, where the department of environmental protection ruled in 2010 that fracking wells drilled by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp had leaked into 18 drinking wells, a man who identified himself as living locally shouted and gesticulated animatedly at the members of Activists Against Fracking as they disembarked. The man, who left before the Guardian could ask his name, insisted loudly that money from fracking had paid for his wife’s cancer treatment.

He was not the only fly in the ointment. Filmmaker Phelim McAleer, a vocal critic of those opposed to fracking and something of a courter of controversy, approached the bus with a cameraman, loudly accusing Ono, Lennon and Sarandon of acting in the interests of the “1%” in their opposition to the practice.

As McAleer jogged and jostled for position, heckling Ono, Lennon and Sarandon and being heckled back by activists, the Irish filmmaker – who made the news recently after accusing Matt Damon, the actor whose new film, Promised Land, deals with the subject of fracking, of being a “liar” – became separated from his trilby hat, which he had to collect from the muddy slush.

McAleer shouted to the group that the drinking water in Dimock was safe, citing EPA studies that activists say are incorrect. In any case, Cabot Oil and Gas Corp agreed in December 2010 to pay a $4.6m settlement that required it to fix its leaking wells. The Pennsylvania DEP ruled that Cabot could resume fracking near Dimock in August last year.

McAleer’s arrival marked the only time Ono took advantage of a large V12 Mercedes-Benz which an aide drove behind the coach for the entire trip, and which might raise some questions over the environmental soundness of the exercise. Ono got into the back of the black car as McAleer made himself known nearby, later popping her head out of the window to check all was clear before clambering back on to the bus for the ride home.

‘I’m not an activist by nature’

Artists Against Fracking have already given Cuomo plenty to consider ahead of his February ruling. In addition to the clutch of celebrity supporters, the group and other anti-fracking organisations collected 200,000 messages during a 30-day public consultation period in December and January. Ono and Lennon helped to deliver the messages to the governor in Albany on 11 January.

The campaign could have an impact in New Jersey too. The Garden State’s year-long moratorium on fracking expired on Thursday, and governor Chris Christie is due to make an announcement on the immediate future of the process before the end of the month.

“I’m not an activist by nature, I’m a musician. What I’m interested in is making music and art,” Lennon said on the bus. “I had no desire to be spending any of my time researching things like benzene, methane and uranium and well-pits and well-casings and what percentage of well-casings fail over how many years.”

Lennon said he had been moved by the stories of people who face having to leave their homes because of a lack of clean water, but like those people, he had the sense of a personal threat. His family’s farm draws fresh water, unfiltered, from its own well, just like the Mannings’ house and the homes in Dimock. To Lennon, fracking poses a risk to the farm at which he can remember spending time with his father as a young boy.

“It would actually change my life,” he said. “I think on some level I might have to consider leaving. I’m so into nature and the country, and having a place in the country where I could drink my own water was really essential to my feeling safe, it means a lot to me. So if that changes, I might leave.”

Lennon said he was unsure if he would leave New York, or leave the US entirely – he has both American and British passports and describes himself as an Anglophile. “But I don’t want to be in a place where I feel like I can’t drink clean water,” he said.


Category : Stocks

MIHL had announced today that as of January 2, 2013, its Board of Directors had been expanded by an additional three members and that it had retained the services of in-house Corporate Counsel in addition to the outside legal representation it currently enjoys.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

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Romney adds Pennsylvania to late campaign blitz – Los Angeles Times

Category : Stocks

Irish Independent
Romney adds Pennsylvania to late campaign blitz
Los Angeles Times
MORRISVILLE, Pa. — Trying to quilt together a patchwork of states that would give him the White House, Mitt Romney ricocheted around the country Sunday, arguing that he represented true change and that reelecting the president would mean a
Romney campaign brings Pennsylvania into playDallas Morning News
Romney Spends Final Campaign Hours in PennsylvaniaWall Street Journal (blog)
In Pa., Romney praises NJ's ChristieCBS News

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Farmers Insurance Claims Teams and Mobile Claims Units in Columbus, OH; Bensalem, PA and Toms River NJ, Helping Customers Who Have Suffered Damage From Hurricane Sandy

Category : Stocks, World News

LOS ANGELES, CA–(Marketwire – Nov 1, 2012) – Two Farmers Insurance Mobile Catastrophe Claims (MCC’s) buses, one Customer Care Claims Vehicle, and Farmers Insurance Group of Companies® claims teams, including subsidiaries Foremost Insurance, 21st Century Insurance and Bristol West, are helping customers file Hurricane Sandy claims in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

See the original post here: Farmers Insurance Claims Teams and Mobile Claims Units in Columbus, OH; Bensalem, PA and Toms River NJ, Helping Customers Who Have Suffered Damage From Hurricane Sandy

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Mitt Romney still struggling to convince Pennsylvania’s female voters

Category : Business

Obama’s lead has grown smaller in the Democratic-leaning state but women say they are unimpressed by Romney at debates

To Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Briana Mihok is gold dust. She ticks the three boxes that qualify her to be exactly the type of voter the presidential candidates are focusing all their attention on as the White House race enters its final three weeks. She is undecided, she lives in an unexpectedly competitive state and – by far the most important of all – Mihok is a woman.

Presidential elections always come down to a narrow territorial battle for advantage in a handful of swing states. But after almost a year of constant campaigning and millions of dollars of television advertising, it became clear this week that both candidates believe that the defining battle of 2012 is now for female voters.

At the second presidential debate on Tuesday night on Long Island, Obama and Romney clashed repeatedly on women’s issues, ranging from workplace equality to access to contraception. Romney said women had suffered worse under Obama’s economic policies, while the president in turn tied issues like equal pay and healthcare to economic recovery, describing women as important breadwinners in their family.

A look at the polls over the last two weeks explains why. Since the first debate, Romney, whose campaign had been faltering, has surged back into contention, overtaking Obama in some national polls. Behind those headline figures is the first sign of a big shift among women, with Obama’s massive advantage cut back to a few points.

But for some of the women whose votes the campaigns so openly covet, the sudden intensity of these arguments has done little to clarify matters.

Mihok, a mother of one and registered Republican, said she was struck by Romney’s ignorance of issues that concern women during Tuesday’s debate.

She cited the answer he gave to a question about workplace equality in which he said he understood the need to be “flexible” in order to have women in the workforce. Giving the example of his chief of staff, who had two children of school age, Romney told the audience at Hofstra university: “She said: ‘I can’t be here until 7 or 8 o’clock at night: I need to be able to get home at 5 o’clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said: ‘Fine. Let’s have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.’”

Romney’s comments were “weird”, said Mihok, a 32-year-old policy analyst for a non-profit research company at the University of Pittsburgh. She has been leaning towards Obama in recent weeks.

“My husband and I both work, and flexible work hours are just as important to my husband as they are to me,” she said. “Unfortunately governor Romney showed a real ignorance when it comes to women’s issues.”

Mihok, who did not watch Tuesday’s debate but discussed it with friends and read about it afterwards, said Obama put forward a better case for women. “President Obama, with his background and his upbringing, has the opportunity to see first hand what is important to women and their families. Look at the statement about his grandmother training men for positions for which men got higher pay and better promoted, yet she never had that opportunity. That legacy is still around, and it’s important to recognise that.”

But while that’s good news for Obama, Mihok said women’s issues would not be at the front of her mind when she came to cast her ballot on 6 November.

She is not alone. Mihok is one of a number of undecided female voters from Pennsylvania whom the Guardian is talking to over the course of the election to find out what is important to them. None of them cited equal pay or social issues as top of the list of things important to their vote, although three out of five cited affordable healthcare as ranking top alongside the economy.

“Who can say what women need or want?” said Judy Beck, 52, a grandmother and divorced mother of three from O’Hara township in Allegheny County. “We are really just people.”

The issues most important to Beck’s vote are the economy, foreign policy and the partisan makeup of Congress, but she said she did not hear anything on any of these issues that would make her change her mind, she said.

Shireen Parsons, 68, a grandmother and community organiser from Summit Hill, Carbon County, was also unconvinced by the efforts to appeal to women. “I’m old and cranky and sceptical,” said Parsons, an independent. “Women voters are smarter than most politicians think. When Romney talked about women, just how many women did he have in his cabinet? I’ve no idea but I would like to know.”

‘What decade does Mitt Romney think he’s living in?’

Pennsylvania is typically Democratic but the race for its 20 electoral college votes has tightened considerably since the first debate.

It has a particularly marked gender divide among voters, as well as a higher pay disparity among men and women. Women earn almost 81¢ to a male worker’s dollar, compared to the national average of 82¢.

Of the five women, three are Republican, one is a Democrat and one an independent. In the last two weeks, one of the Republicans has decided to vote for Obama, with another two leaning that way. But this week, the Democrat said she is leaning heavily towards Romney.

Beck, who is “principally a Republican” because of her belief in less government, has made up her mind to vote for Obama over the course of the campaign.

She said that the most recent arguments over women from the candidates has “solidified my leaning towards the Obama campaign”.

“Obama didn’t get as specific as Mitt Romney. Romney was too specific and it was apparent he doesn’t have a clue. Obama mentioned his mother was a single mother, and he understands there are single mothers who need to make a living and that both men and women need to work.”

Obama answered the equal pay question during Tuesday’s debate by referring to his upbringing by a single mother and grandmother who trained men for jobs that paid them more and ranked them higher. He cited the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for women to sue over pay discrimination, as one of his first official acts in office. And he cited childcare tax credits as a factor in whether women can become the breadwinners.

“These are not just women’s issues,” the president said. “These are family issues. These are economic issues. And one of the things that makes us grow as an economy is when everybody participates and women are getting the same fair deal as men are.”

These comments chimed with the Pennsylvania women. Romney’s answer to the same question was to insist that his record when governor or Massachusetts was one of equality. His description of his efforts to hire women into his cabinet were pilloried as wrong-footed and false, and he has been widely ridiculed for his “binders full of women” remark about female appointments to his cabinet.

Beck said that Romney reminds her of an old boss who refused her a raise because he told her “the married men need it first”.

“That was back in 1987,” she said. “It was wrong then, and it is so much more wrong now. Any suggestion that a woman should be paid any differently is ridiculous. What decade does Mitt Romney think he’s living in?

“Romney does not like anyone to disagree with him, You need to be the president but you also need to listen to advice. It seems to me he assumes he has all the answers.”

Like Beck, Parsons said she found herself being more sceptical of Romney than Obama.

“Romney believes that life begins at conception, but he said he wouldn’t legislate against a woman’s right to abortion. I don’t believe that,” she said.

“Because of Obama’s upbringing and who he is and also because of his wife, he tends to do better among women. I’m inclined to trust some things that Obama says than anything Mitt Romney says. I’m not sure why.

“On the other hand I see what Obama has failed to do for women at the bottom layer. He is as much owned by corporate interests as other politicians. They work for corporate interests and leave poor people women and children at the bottom of the heap.”

Joanne Quinn-Smith, 63, a talkshow host, publisher of an online news network and CEO of a marketing company, praised Obama for talking about women as breadwinners. “If I work as hard as a man I want to get paid like a man,” she said.

She also pointed out the gender pay disparity in Pennsylvania, but said the economy was her number one concern.

“I want someone who can bring us out of this (recession),” she said. “Someone who wants to drive business or someone who wants to drive spending that is supported by taxes? I think I just told you where I am leaning. Someone needs to say: ‘We’ve spent enough money, let’s re-organise, let’s tighten our belts.’ Who is better to do that than someone from a business environment?”

Quinn-Smith said that she thought that Romney would be successful in gaining votes among women in higher income brackets.

But, despite leaning towards the Republican, she is still not sure. “In the last Guardian piece someone said, it is about who you hate less.”

She compared the election to a college student “going home for the weekend and talking to your parents for advice, and you need them to say something wonderful about what’s going on and you don’t feel any better because you haven’t gotten it.”

Pennsylvania Judge Keeps Voter ID Law Intact on Its Way to Higher Court – New York Times

Category : Stocks

New York Times
Pennsylvania Judge Keeps Voter ID Law Intact on Its Way to Higher Court
New York Times
A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday declined to block a new state law requiring specific kinds of photo identification to vote. Liberal groups, arguing that minorities and the poor would be disproportionately deprived of the ballot, said they would
Judge Allows Voter-ID Law to ProceedWall Street Journal
Pennsylvania voter-ID law upheldUSA TODAY
Judge won't halt Pennsylvania voter ID lawFox News
Washington Post

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GOP-backed voter ID law will stand in Pennsylvania – Christian Science Monitor

Category : Stocks

Christian Science Monitor
GOP-backed voter ID law will stand in Pennsylvania
Christian Science Monitor
A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday refused to stop a tough new voter identification law from going into effect, which Democrats say will suppress votes among President Barack Obama's supporters. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he wouldn't
Judge Refuses to Block Pennsylvania Voter ID LawWall Street Journal
Ruling not likely to settle voter ID questionPhiladelphia Inquirer
Pennsylvania judge won't block voter ID
The Associated Press all 211 news articles

Scranton, Pennsylvania: where even the mayor is on minimum wage

Category : Business

With shrinking tax revenues, industrial decline and a political stand-off, the city is a symbol of a nation’s crisis – some of it self-inflicted

Scranton is the setting for the hit American version of the sitcom The Office. Not many people in this beleaguered city are laughing any more.

A former industrial city of 76,000 citizens, nestling amid the rolling wooded coal country hills of north-eastern Pennsylvania, Scranton is in crisis.

Its political system is deadlocked. The city coffers are virtually empty and its debts are huge. Last week the pay packets of all its municipal workers – including firemen, police and the mayor – were slashed to the minimum wage of $7.25 (£4.70) an hour. That effectively equates a life-saving Scranton fire chief with a burger-flipper elsewhere in the US. Not surprisingly, many expect Scranton to go bankrupt soon.

And Scranton is far from the only American community to face this dismal prospect. In the past month three Californian cities – San Bernardino, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes – have all gone bankrupt. Some experts have warned that a wave of municipal bankruptcies is set to sweep the United States as towns, cities and counties plunge into a fiscal black hole, collapsing under the weight of huge debts and reduced revenues. Last week Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities, warned in the Los Angeles Times that some smaller cities in his state “may cease to exist”.

That sort of scary talk does not convince everyone. But it certainly rings a bell with proud Scrantonian Gary Lewis, 26. The financial consultant, whose family are fifth-generation Scranton residents, saw his city as a harbinger of a crisis to come elsewhere in America.

“Give it a couple of months. This is the first domino. This is the leak that indicates the dam is breaking,” he told the Observer. Lewis runs a respected financial blog on Scranton’s fiscal crisis. He has calculated that on 5 July the city had just $5,000 cash in hand. “If this city was a private company, they would be liquidating,” he said.

Scranton is a symbol for an age of economic crisis in America. There is not one simple factor that has caused Scranton’s problems, but it has instead been hit by a perfect storm of issues that are facing many similar communities.

The most obvious is industrial decline. Along with many once proud factory towns, Scranton has been hit by jobs going abroad and a collapse in manufacturing. Dubbed “the Electric City” by hopeful city marketers – it had the first electric trams in America – Scranton has seen its population almost halve since 1940. Critics say the city government has not adjusted to its reduced size, keeping up wage, retirement and healthcare commitments that it no longer has the revenue to pay off. At the same time, debts have racked up and policy mistakes have been made that have wasted millions. Yet, like so many politicians across the US, many on the city council have refused to approve the raising of taxes that would stave off fiscal catastrophe.

In the era of the anti-government Tea Party, talking about tax rises in America remains politically dangerous, even in the face of bankruptcy.

So Scranton finds itself in a fiscal mess with a dysfunctional and squabbling political system that is struggling to find an answer: a miniature version of what many believe has happened to America as a whole. Mayor Chris Doherty no longer attends council meetings, so bad are relations with the city council. He slashed wages to the minimum despite a judge ruling that he could not do so. But his action prompted the municipal unions to sue in court. He is desperate to raise taxes. The city council refuses.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, it hardly presents a picture of unity in the face of adversity. “It seems like they can’t just sit down together and work out a compromise,” said JoAnn Fremiotti, a supply teacher, as she drank coffee in Scranton’s grand main square. The newspaper she was reading bore the headline “We failed”. The reference was to a local college child abuse scandal but it was not much of a stretch to read it as expressing a more general despair. Some of Scranton’s problems have been farcical and self-inflicted. For example, a key part of a recent Doherty recovery plan for the city centred on the $5.4m sale of the city’s stormwater pipes. Yet, as the sale was being readied, it was discovered that the city had not actually owned them since the 1960s.

Not all experts are pessimists, however. In the aftermath of the recession, many American cities have reacted by desperately trying to get their fiscal houses in order. Richard Ciccarone, managing director of McDonnell Investments, is a specialist in tracking the finances of distressed American cities. He maintains a powerful – and lucrative – database that details their debts. He expects more city bankruptcies in the coming months, but nothing that will threaten the economy. “I don’t think we are going to see this become a systemic risk,” he said.

Ciccarone believes that most American cities are on a sounder financial footing now than two years ago because they have been building cash reserves to stave off the sort of crisis moments that Scranton, San Bernardino, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes have been caught up in. “Many cities have built up their cash reserves and cut their budgets,” he said.

But there is a devil in that detail

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