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Saturday, February 26, 2011

CANADIAN FARMLAND--THE NEW (AND CHEAP) INVESTMENT





Canadian farmland is cheap compared to prices asked elsewhere.  In fact Saskatchewan, the 4th largest grain exporting region, is the cheapest at $450 an acre as reported on Business News Network (BNN) yesterday.  Compare that to Manitoba at $690/acre, Alberta $1,100, the USA at $2,900 and the UK at a whopping $10,000 and acre!  No wonder Canada is being eyed up as the place to park some money.  Some emerging markets are starting to take protectionist steps to curb future out-of-country investment in their arable land.  Take Brazil for instance.
In the last 6 years Brazil has had $5B in foreign investment buying up farmland.  That is now prompting legislative moves to bar any further foreign buyouts.  Currently they are trying to make the law retroactive which in effect is expropriation. 
Such is the risk of investing in emerging markets in times of increased sensitivity in agriculture and food supply.  Political risk is a key determinate factor in return. 
 From that standpoint alone, stable Canada is an oasis in a world of uncertainty. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ryerson Publishing and The Methodist Church In Canada

 

299 Queen St Toronto Ontario Canada


When the Methodist Church - later to become the United Church of Canada - was seeking a new home for its administrative offices, presses and bookrooms in 1914, it decided to build on property bound by Queen, Richmond and John Streets. They acquired the land and raised the Wesley Building. The Churches' printing operation was called The Ryerson Press after Egerton Ryerson, a pioneer Methodist circuit rider who established Canada's first publishing company, laid the foundations for our free public school system and set up the country's first university. By the time the Church offices moved into the new headquarters in 1959 the Ryerson Press had become a self supporting and profitable business. In the 1960's the Ryerson Press experienced financial difficulties. The American company McGraw Hill bought the company in the early 1971's & the Church put the building up for sale. Subsequent owners leased space to various artists and artisans as well as Toronto's more interesting cultural organizations and individuals. Today the building remains the finest example of Industrial Gothic Architecture in Toronto and is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Ryerson Press, one of Canada’s most important book publishers during the twentieth century, was the general trade publishing arm of a much larger Toronto-based printing, bookselling, and publishing operation known in its entirety as the Methodist Book and Publishing House (MBPH). After the church union of 1925, which brought together the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational Churches into the United Church of Canada, the overall operation was known as the United Church Publishing House. From 1919 to 1970, numerous educational, historical, and literary titles appeared under the Ryerson Press trade imprint, authored by such prominent Canadians as A.R.M. Lower, Earle Birney, A.M. Klein, and Alice Munro.
The adoption of “The Ryerson Press” as the trade book imprint of the MBPH on 1 July 1919 marked a significant transition for the Toronto company. Prior to 1919, the MBPH’s primary concern in terms of original publishing had been denominational in focus, with an emphasis on periodical rather than book production. The Reverend Samuel W. Fallis (1866-1932), who had become book steward (general manager) of the MBPH in June of that year, broke with tradition when he chose a distinctive imprint for the MBPH’s general trade books. Since the early nineteenth century, it had been the house’s practice to use the name of the overseeing book steward as the imprint on books produced for trade sale. Fallis’s immediate predecessor, the Reverend William Briggs (1836-1922), had held the position of book steward for forty years, during which time he expanded the entire business considerably and imprinted the name “William Briggs” on the consciousness of two generations of Canadian booksellers and readers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PROMISING TEST FOR EARLY SIDELINE CONCUSSION DETECTION

As the discussions about concussions becomes more widespread, and education begins to make inroads into the sports psyche, safer and faster methods of detecting injury are sure to make all sports athletes and the public in general safer.

  A quick, simple test done on the sidelines of sports events can accurately detect concussion in athletes, a new study says. The screening -- known as the King-Devick test -- is superior to current sideline tests that can fail to assess a wide range of brain functions, according to the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
For this test, athletes are asked to read single digit numbers on index-sized cards. Normally, it takes about one minute. Any increase in the time needed to complete the test suggests the athlete has suffered a concussion, particularly if the delay is more than five seconds longer than the athlete's baseline test time.
The researchers said the test can detect impairments in eye movement, attention, language and other symptoms of concussion. This study of 39 boxers found that test times improved an average of one second for those who didn't experience head trauma, but worsened 11.1 seconds for those who did suffer head trauma and 18 seconds for those who were knocked out.
The study appears online in the journal Neurology.
"This rapid screening test provides an effective way to detect early signs of concussion, which can improve outcomes and hopefully prevent repetitive concussions," senior author Dr. Laura Balcer, a professor of neurology, ophthalmology and epidemiology, said in a university news release.
"If validated in future studies, this test has the potential to become a standard sideline test.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

THE SUEZ CANAL HISTORY

The history of the canal is fascinating and previous connections of the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea were embarked upon many times over history the earliest predated the Exodus of the Isrealites. 


The ship canal is as nearly as possible one hundred miles in length, running due north and south from Port Said to Suez. It was not found necessary, however, to excavate the channel for the whole distance. A glance at the map will show that it runs through four great lakes: Menzaleh, Ballah, Timsah, and the Bitter Lakes. The first two of these, with only a few short cuttings, extend for 41 miles, the second for 5, the third for 25, making together about 6o miles, and leaving 40 miles of earthwork to be excavated. Lake Menzaleh was so near the Mediterranean as to be always under water. The others were deep depressions in the soil, marking the spots where lakes of sea-water were left when geological changes raised this part of the isthmus above the level of the Gulf of Suez. It was only necessary, therefore, to admit water into them, to bank the channel, and to make it of the required depth by dredging.

Monday, February 21, 2011

AN ICE DAM IS NOT A GOOD THING



If you didn't know what an ice dam was before, you know now.  This is a picture that I took through my bathroom window of the duplex next door.  The lady has just moved out in the middle of February because it was leaking inside.   This month we have a lot of snow then quite a few above average temperatures with a lot of melting.  Despite the landlord's belated and feeble attempt two weeks ago to remove the snow he couldn't get at the ice.  The melting snow and ice has nowhere run except back under the shingles and it will start to leak into the interior of the dwelling.  Eventually the fascia and soffit will rot which leads to their failure and the eventual loss of the eaves.  Obviously the sagging eave trough cannot do its job anymore as it's likely filled with ice by now and will pull away from the structure eventually.  It's neglect pure and simple.
Homeowners and landlords need to keep on top of excessive snowfalls and promptly remove it away from the vulnerable roof areas. 
This landlord will miss his rent checks for sometime I'm sure while the damage inside and outside is dealt with responsibly or as in some cases not so responsibly in order to get the money coming in again.  Hopefully he will sell it to someone who cares.

I will miss Deb and her young kitty that she had to give away in order that she could take the apartment she wanted.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

THE NEW AGE MASKED BANDITS


700 LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS EXECUTE TAKEDOWN IN USA TODAY

The first thing one might think of is a drug cartel or mafia group but no it is your friendly neighborhood doctors, nurses and varieties of health care providers robbing you to the tune of $225 million dollars.  A well known statesman once said, "A nation divided against itself cannot stand."  That is true and with this kind of inner rot it will not take long as the god of the almighty dollar takes over the minds of those who worship it by highjacking common descency and moral sense.  Fraud is not new, we've seen it in businesses large and small, in education, politics is a given and it's become common place in many religious institutions.  Most of us are not surprised anymore because we see more and more of it and on a daily basis from some direction.  But when it permeates a sector of society that we deal with frequently, is very personal to each and every one of us from a source that is supposed to 'do no harm', it is shocking and disturbing.

 The Medicare Fraud Strike Force charged 111 defendants in nine cities, including doctors, nurses, health care company owners and executives, and others, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $225 million in false billing, announced Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson. Also today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and HHS announced the expansion of Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations to two additional cities - Dallas and Chicago. Today's operation is the largest-ever federal health care fraud takedown.

The joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing. More than 700 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in today's operation. In addition to making arrests, agents also executed 16 search warrants across the country in connection with ongoing strike force investigations.

"With this takedown, we have identified and shut down large-scale fraud schemes operating throughout the country. We have safeguarded precious taxpayer dollars. And we have helped to protect our nation's most essential health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid," said Attorney General Holder. "As today's arrest prove, we are waging an aggressive fight against health care fraud."

"Over the last two years our joint efforts have more than quadrupled the number of anti-fraud Strike Force teams operating in fraud hot spots around the country from two to nine -- with the latest additions Chicago and Dallas -- bringing hundreds of charges against criminals who had billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year alone, our partnership recovered a record $4 billion on behalf of taxpayers. From 2008-2010, every dollar the Federal Government spent under its Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control programs averaged a return on investment of $6.80," said HHS Secretary Sebelius.

The defendants charged today are accused of various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback statutes, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy, nerve conduction tests and durable medical equipment.

Arkansas Earthquake Swarms





The Associated Press reports from  that several earthquakes have been rattling nerves in cities of Greenbrier and also Guy.  Since last Sunday more than 30 have been reported ranging from 1.8 to 3.5 and causing a lot of speculation.  No one cause has been pinned down although the locals blame the ongoing natural gas exploration in the area which uses a technique called 'fracking'. 
In the past 6 months the 700 quakes have no doubt 'frack-tured' many nerves.