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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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S&P 500 has worst week of the year

Category : Business

The U.S. stock market slumped in the face of disappointing payroll report, with only 88,000 jobs created in March. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq delivered their worst weekly performances of the year, falling 1% and 2%, respectively.

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Gear International Inc. (GEAR: OTC Link) | GEAR International Improves Communications

Category : Stocks, World News

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GEAR International Improves Communications

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, March, 8, 2013

NEW YORK, March, 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

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Brighthouse and the heavy price of paying by the week

Category : Business

Those who can least afford it are being charged up to twice as much to buy goods from the growing number of rent-to-buy stores such as Brighthouse

Hard-up households are paying as much as double the normal price for basic domestic goods by using high-cost credit offered by weekly payment stores.

Brighthouse promises a “great deal” on its kitchen appliances, furniture and televisions, with its cheery daytime TV adverts telling customers it makes “life a little bit easier by giving you the things you need right now”.

The retailer is expanding rapidly, with 253 stores already and plans for as many as 650 across the UK. Every year for the past six years, at a time when the rest of the high street has been savaged, Brighthouse has enjoyed double-digit profit increases.

But its hundreds of thousands of customers – typically those on benefits or low incomes, who may have had problems with loans in the past – are paying a high price.

Brighthouse claims its goods are “competitively priced”, although when Money tested a sample of goods, we found it relatively easy to source them more cheaply elsewhere. But Brighthouse’s profits come not so much from selling the goods but from the expensive loans it offers customers and the extraordinary rates for its optional, but heavily promoted, service cover.

For example, a 60cm Beko double oven costs £562 in Brighthouse. An almost identical Beko oven sells for just £389 at the Co-op.

But Brighthouse encourages customers to pay weekly, at an interest rate of 29.9%. That takes the cost of the oven to £809.64 over three years. On top of that, Brighthouse sells its service cover for £436.80, again over three years. At

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Science Weekly Extra: An extended interview with Ben Goldacre on Bad Pharma

Category : Business

In Science Extra this week we bring you Alok Jha’s extended interview with science writer, broadcaster, doctor and academic Ben Goldacre.

His new book Bad Pharma is a forensic investigation into how the pharmaceutical industry – which invests millions in the high-stakes process of drug development and clinical trials – ensures its products reach the market.

Goldacre discusses the central thesis of Bad Pharma, that drug development and evidence-based medical research are not working for the benefit of patients and may even be endangering lives.

Goldacre also explains why he thinks there is a need for more transparency in the patient-doctor relationship and why science journals and regulatory authorities need to rethink the evidence threshold and seek full and open disclosure of both positive and negative drug trials.

Subscribe for free via iTunes to ensure every episode gets delivered. (Here is the non-iTunes URL feed).

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We’re always here when you need us. Listen back through our archive.

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Beyoncé and Jay-Z Host Obama Fund-Raiser – New York Times (blog)

Category : Stocks

New York Times (blog)
Beyoncé and Jay-Z Host Obama Fund-Raiser
New York Times (blog)
By MARK LANDLER Michael Appleton for The New York TimesOutside the 40/40 Club in Manhattan, where President Obama attended a fund-raising event hosted by Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z on Tuesday. On a day when Mitt Romney's videotaped remarks at a
President Obama talks Romney, debt, Libya, and Hannah Montana — naturally Entertainment Weekly
Obama: Jay-Z and I have a lot in commonPolitico
Beyoncé & Jay-Z host NY Bam ba$hNew York Post

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Climate change minister Greg Barker’s thorny relationship with his adviser

Category : Business

Civil servants raised fears about minister’s ties with consultant Miriam Maes while leaked emails reveal messy contract dispute

The relationship between civil servants and outside advisers has long been a thorny one, especially when the external consultants have direct access to, and links with, ministers who are outside the control of the department.

Senior civil servants warned the then defence secretary Liam Fox over his ties with the lobbyist Adam Werritty months before details of their working relationship surfaced and eventually cost him his job in October last year, and No 10 staff often complained of the power and autonomy given to special advisers working for Tony Blair’s government.

Documents released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) (pdf) show tensions frequently rising over ties between the minister of state, Greg Barker, and Miriam Maes, an energy consultant appointed as an adviser to the department.

Maes, who has worked for multinationals for 30 years, was given an advisory role on a specific Decc programme and was issued with business cards and a staff pass.

In the course of her time at the department, she attempted to secure meetings for Air Products, a company for which she acted as a consultant, and also sought direct ministerial intervention to expand her role, often leading her into direct conflict with civil servants.

Some of them politely cautioned Maes that she needed to be careful to keep separate her Decc functions and her consulting role – she is chief executive of the energy efficiency adviser Foresee, whose clients include BAA, Morgan Stanley and British Gas.

She was also pressed to give civil servants the chance to sit in on her meetings.

In an email, the national climate change director Colin Church wrote: “Your offer to provide a weekly review and look forward of meetings and activities you are engaged in is very welcome – it is vital that the team get the option to sit in on these meetings, especially in relation to MoD work, and to help make clear the separation of your Foresee/Matrix position and your contract with Decc.

“There is one other issue I wanted to mention. I know the team are keen to share the full range of our work with you to maximise their use of your experience. However, we are of course speaking to a range of outside contacts, where the parties concerned may have concerns on the level of disclosure of commercially sensitive material.”

The weekly updates were initially welcomed as “very useful” by civil servants, but stopped within months. Maes also continued to have direct contact with Barker without civil servants being present or copied in to emails.

Barker asked Maes to lead or advise on issues outside the remit of her Decc contract, which then led to debates with civil servants over payment. “[Redacted] is also aware and has agreed to help clarify for all when Ministerial requests are within contract or not,” one email sent in November 2010 noted.

By March 2011, officials objected to conflicting advice from Maes reaching ministers without their knowledge and attempted to get more information on her activities and advice: “I would ask if you could restart your short weekly emails of what you have been doing,” said the email, from an anonymous official. “Secondly, it would be very useful to be copied your advice to Greg in same we share our advice with you.

“I trust you would agree that it is not efficient, effective or indeed fair, for me or my team to be in meetings where we are basing our support to GB [Greg Barker] or SoS [secretary of state] on one briefing, if they are working to another briefing we have not seen before … Besides providing clarity we do need to watch the ‘audit trail’ for decisions as it will be me and my management answering challenging select committee questions!”

Maes was evidently not happy with the requests made in the civil servant’s email and quickly brought the matter directly to Barker’s attention, saying that the communications were “really getting to me” and that sending officials weekly updates was “out of the question, in particular as I am doing a lot of confidential work for you and not getting paid any more”.

She continued setting out details of extension payments to her contract that she was attempting to secure – noting: “The next extension can only be £10k” – and concluded by saying: “I really appreciate your personal support in trying to solve this issue.”

Barker replied three and a half hours later: “I am sorry about the continuing aggro with your invoice, I really am going to bang the desk about this today.”

Barker continued to be asked to involve himself in the contractual dispute between Maes and officials. “Please find below the email regarding the outstanding invoices to Decc. Thank you so much in advance for dealing with this painful situation,” Maes wrote. “I greatly appreciate your personal support in this.”

A separate email from Maes drafted a reply for Barker to send to civil servants telling them Maes should head a particular Decc programme and asked: “Could you please also figure out a way in which I could be paid for this work?” Soon afterwards, Barker sent an email based on Maes’s draft to civil servants.

Maes eventually won a contractual extension for the additional funds, but then needed to secure a new role after the end of her time at the department. She drafted a note to Barker asking: “Can you get a new contract under Whitehall District Scheme for example whilst the Chairman Energy Efficiency role is being sorted or just sort the Chairman role now?”

The note to Barker continued: “You are reviewing the option of Chairman of the new Office for Energy Efficiency with Phil and Moira. You are also possibly discussing for me to temporarily take on the role of leading this unit.”

Soon after, she was appointed as an external adviser to Decc’s energy efficiency deployment office.

On Tuesday night, Maes defended her Decc role and said she took on unpaid work even though her consultancy Foresee employs just her and her personal assistant.

“I declared the clients I had in Foresee, of which Air Products was one. Air Products was also mentioned on my CV and Decc was aware of my commercial relationships in my consultancy as part of the recruitment process and beyond,” she said. “Decc contracted with Foresee as an adviser to the department because of my expert knowledge on energy efficiency, decentralised energy and transmission and distribution . In addition, I provided views to Decc and the minister on a pro bono basis.”

The Awe and the Awkward of Mitt Romney’s Speech – Salt Lake City Weekly

Category : Stocks

Salt Lake City Weekly
The Awe and the Awkward of Mitt Romney's Speech
Salt Lake City Weekly
by Eric Peterson Romney delivered his speech in true robotic fashion: Awkwardly in talking about human feelings and like a cold, calculating campaign killbot when attacking President Barack Obama's record. Try as he might, Romney's delivery of his
Fact check: Context missing in GOP's repeated 'we-built it' themeThe Seattle Times
Assessing the digital campaign: Obama vs.
Can Romney Counter Obama's 'Commander in Chief' Strategy?National Journal

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Obama calls for funds to stop teacher layoffs as student-to-teacher ratios rise

Category : Business

A White House report finds 300,000 teaching positions have been lost since 2009, sending student-to-teacher ratios up 4.6%

President Barack Obama has called on Congress to release billions of dollars in funds to counter the damaging impact of teacher layoffs on America’s education system.

A report released Saturday by the White House found that more than 300,000 teaching positions had been lost since the end of the recession in 2009, resulting in a 4.6% bump in student-to-teacher ratios.

In his weekly address, Obama struck out at obstructionists in Congress for blocking provisions that would support states in preventing further job cuts and help them rehire out-of-work teachers.

He also took a swipe at Republicans for putting forward a budget that he claimed would further impact teacher numbers.

The president said the financial blueprint put forward by his opponents would lead to “fewer teachers in the classroom, and fewer college students with access to financial aid, all to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires”.

“That’s backwards, that’s wrong. That plan doesn’t invest in our future, it undercuts our future.”

The White House claimed that the proposed Republican budget could strip close to $3bn from education grants.

They contrast this with the president’s job plan that was put forward a year ago, but has only been passed in part.

That employment blueprint includes provisions for some $25bn in educational aid. The money is needed, the administration says, to prevent further teacher layoffs.

According to the report released Saturday, average class sizes have climbed as a result of an uptick in student-to-teacher rations from a low of 15.3 to one in 2008 to 16 to one in 2010.

“If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible – from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career,” Obama said in his radio address.

Meanwhile, in the weekly Republican address, House representative Vicky Hartzler attacked Democrats for failing to restore disaster programmes for farmers in the mid-west suffering from the worst drought in a generation.

The upper house refused to carry the legislation before breaking for the summer, citing that Republicans in the House had stripped from the bill provisions related to the extension of food stamps.

“A lot was riding on this bill, but the Senate – a body controlled by the president’s party – left Washington for the month of August without bringing it to a vote,” the Missouri politician said.

MONEY MARKETS-Unimpressed by Draghi’s pledges of strong action – Reuters

Category : Stocks

Brisbane Times
MONEY MARKETS-Unimpressed by Draghi's pledges of strong action
By Marius Zaharia | LONDON, July 27 (Reuters) – Euro zone money markets shrugged off the excitement created by ECB President Mario Draghi's comments that he will do whatever it takes to save the euro in a sign that investors believe the ECB does not
Draghi Roars, but What Will He Do?Wall Street Journal
Oil Pares Weekly Drop on Speculation ECB to Boost EffortsBusinessweek
Merkel, Hollande say they're determined to protect the eurozoneWashington Post

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BBA ‘warned weekly’ about Libor

Category : Business, World News

The British Bankers’ Association was given weekly warnings during 2008 that the process of setting the Libor interest rates was being corrupted.

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