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International Insight

Fresh, focused analysis of today's business news
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Entry archive:

Ottawa to make new funding pledge to ISS as two Canadian astronauts set to visit space


Two more Canadian astronauts are headed into space, the government will announce on Tuesday as it commits about $350-million to the International Space Station to secure a continued presence in the orbiting research laboratory.

This pledge will ensure that both Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques, the two Canadians training as astronauts, can make the trip to the station, which circles the Earth at an altitude of about 400 kilometres.

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Family of Canadian who died in Laos wants answers, demands action from government

Michelle McQuigge

A Canadian family is demanding action from the federal government after a 28-year-old man died under mysterious circumstances at an airport in Laos.

Nara Pech’s family was told that he committed suicide on Jan. 22 while being detained in Laos’ Wattay International Airport.

But a number of voicemails he left in the hours before he died, combined with troubling autopsy results, are raising questions for Pech’s loved ones.

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IOC report on 2022 winter bids cites concerns over Beijing’s pollution, Almaty’s budget risks

Stephen Wilson

The IOC has highlighted serious challenges facing the two bids for the 2022 Winter Olympics, including pointed concerns over Beijing’s air pollution and lack of natural snow and Almaty’s budget risks and limited experience in hosting major events.

The International Olympic Committee issued a 136-page report Monday that assessed the bids from the Chinese capital and the Kazakh city, citing strengths and weaknesses of both candidacies.

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Malaysia Airlines CEO says carrier ‘technically bankrupt,’ set to cut jobs, routes

Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah

The newly appointed chief executive of loss-making Malaysia Airlines said on Monday the carrier is “technically bankrupt”, underlining the case for a restructuring to cut a third of jobs, scrap some international routes and review its long-haul fleet.

“We are technically bankrupt...the decline of performance started long before the tragic events of 2014,” Christoph Mueller said, speaking at a news conference. Already squeezed into years of losses by stiff regional competition, the carrier was seriously affected last year by two separate jet disasters.

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Tsipras’s strong comments prompt EU leaders to discuss game plan


The chiefs of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Funded headed to Berlin for talks late on Monday with the leaders of France and Germany on how to proceed with Greek debt negotiations.

EU officials said ECB chief Mario Draghi and Christine Lagarde of the IMF were joining the German and French leaders, and the President of the European Commission, with the aim of reaching a joint position on how to negotiate with Greece.

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New banking regulations up in the air as federal election looms


Some of the Conservative government’s biggest banking-sector proposals will go unfulfilled this spring, creating an opportunity for banks to regroup and lobby the government on key promises over the summer and into the fall.

Big-ticket banking-policy measures – including commitments for a “bail-in” regime for systemically important banks and for a comprehensive financial consumer code – were left out of the Tories’ budget implementation bill introduced in Parliament this month.

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Lack of federal resources fails international student strategy


Canadian officials are finding it difficult to keep up with the increasing demand from international students, leading to waiting times for visas that are weeks longer than those in Britain or the United States, and reducing the program’s competitiveness.

The lengthy timelines are contained in a report from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), obtained by The Globe and Mail through freedom of information legislation. While the federal government wants to double the number of students from abroad by 2022, it has not provided sufficient resources to process the increased numbers, the report says. CIC blames this “lack of coordination” between federal departments for an increase of 30 per cent in processing times for study permits and a doubling of the time for temporary resident visas.

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Netanyahu blasts attempts to ‘blacken’ Israel’s name


Israel faces an “international campaign to blacken its name” aimed at delegitimizing its very existence regardless of its policies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. The international community disproportionally singles out the Jewish state for condemnation while remaining silent on major conflicts and human rights abuses in other countries, he said.

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U.S. warns against global effects of potential Greek default

David Ljunggren and Paul Carrel

The United States warned on Friday of a possible accident for the world economy if Greece and its creditors miss their June deadlines to avert a debt default.

Germany said there was no sign of a breakthrough.

With Athens struggling to make repayments due next month, the debt standoff between Greece and its European Union partners overshadowed a meeting of policy-makers from the Group of Seven rich nations otherwise held to focus on ways to get the global economy growing strongly again.

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What’s holding India’s tech future back? Old habits


The Indian business press is a little like science fiction. The “pink pages” are full of stories related to the hundreds of millions of dollars that investors are pouring into India’s technology industry. All that money is a bet on a future in which more than a billion people conduct their lives on a smartphone. The stakes are huge: The winners will be the next Facebook or Alibaba. It makes for exciting reading.

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Judy Blume gets personal with latest – and last? – book


I am one of those young women – there’s an army of us – who grew up on Judy Blume’s novels, and I can remember when I was a kid imagining what it would be like to talk to her.

When I finally got my chance last week, to the great chagrin of my younger self, I started off by making Judy Blume cry.

“I’m going to stop you for a moment, thank you,” Blume says about two minutes into our phone conversation from her home in New York. I’d opened with how much I loved her book. “I’m getting very emotional at this point, so when someone says something nice to me about the book I burst into tears.”

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G7 agree in principle on China joining IMF’s major league

Michelle Martin and Paul Carrel

Finance chiefs from the Group of Seven industrial nations agreed on Friday that including China’s renminbi in the International Monetary Fund’s currency basket is desirable, but a technical review must be completed first.

The inclusion of the renminbi, also known as the yuan, as part of the IMF’s unit of account would mark another stage in China’s rise as a global economic player, requiring the United States to accept a dilution of its power in international finance.

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Top Links: Meet the modern investor, same as the old

Scott Barlow

A roundup of what The Globe and Mail’s market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the World Wide Web.

Bank of America research notes that U.S. investors are flocking to Chinese equities, so we can dispense with the notion that modern investors are more sophisticated than times past. The Internet has provided investors with more tools, but the performance chasing in China highlights the same lottery-loving investor behaviour apparent since the tulip bubble.

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Chinese President’s new Silk Road plan will fail unless ideas are free to travel


“One Belt, One Road” is China’s slogan for a 21st-century revival of the ancient trading routes that linked Han Dynasty silk merchants with Central Asia and the Mediterranean. President Xi Jinping’s big idea is investment in roads, railways, ports and pipelines that will link China to the world.

However, the ancient Silk Road was more than a caravan of camels loaded with stuff. It was also a convoy of ideas, and this may be where the Chinese Communist Party’s great ambition comes a cropper.

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Amnesty wants Ottawa to reveal details of $15-billion Saudi arms deal


A leading human-rights watchdog is pressing the Conservative government to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding a $15-billion arms deal Ottawa has inked to sell fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for its treatment of women, dissidents and offenders.

The Harper government has stunned rights advocates by refusing to divulge how it is justifying this massive sale to Saudi Arabia under Ottawa’s strict export control regime. It is by far the largest military export contract brokered by the Canadian government, and federal rules oblige Ottawa to examine whether arms shipments would further endanger the civilian population in countries with poor human-rights records.

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Indians look at Modi and ask: ‘Is that all?’


On a sunny afternoon in early April, I sat down for a light lunch at the historic Delhi Golf Club. I was dining with the genial proprietor of the bed and breakfast I was staying at in India’s capital. A native of Mumbai, he had worked for a logistics company before opening up his quaint, white-washed abode, whose courtyard is patrolled lazily by adopted stray dogs. This particular hotelier is an unabashed supporter of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He is also fond of calling Rahul Gandhi of the rival Congress Party a “duffer,” which, regardless of your leanings, is a rather delightful epithet.

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Lexpert: Pharma M&A in the spotlight


Lexpert identifies and reports on emerging business issues and practice areas in the business of law. Whether online, in our magazine or in the DealsWire e-newsletter, we chronicle deals and lawsuits of interest, and cover issues of broad concern to the legal profession and those who purchase legal services. We hope you enjoy this sample of our latest content.

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TIFF poll shows Canada’s All-Time Top Ten films


Suddenly, in the summer of 2012, after a half-century at the top, Citizen Kane was no longer the greatest film of all time.

The canon-forming Sight & Sound poll, which has canvassed 800-plus international critics once a decade since 1952, declared that Orson Welles’s 1941 American epic had been unseated by Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 necrophiliac detective drama. The news made international headlines and, presumably, plenty of headaches for the last remaining video-store clerks reshuffling their Greatest Movies Ever shelves. Where Kane, classic though it is, was the stuffy high masterpiece, Vertigo was the scrappy oddball gradually chipping away at the edges of the criterion. It would be like Captain Beefheart’s avant-blues rock experiment Trout Mask Replica trumping Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time.

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Valeant challenges TD Bank to become Canada’s second-largest stock

Eric Lam

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. briefly surpassed Toronto-Dominion Bank’s position as Canada’s second-largest stock as the two jockey for position behind leader Royal Bank of Canada.

Valeant, the top performer in Canada’s benchmark equity gauge this year, surged as much as 3.4 per cent in Toronto trading on Thursday, boosting the company’s market capitalization to $104.3-billion, ahead of Toronto-Dominion’s $104.1-billion at the time.

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Florida builders making structures hurricane-resistant, analysis shows


Since eight hurricanes whipped through Florida during back-to-back seasons a decade ago, causing $33-billion in insurance claims, the state’s coastal communities have added an additional 1.5 million people and almost a half-million new houses, an Associated Press analysis shows.

But experts say the risk of catastrophic destruction hasn’t grown along with the new development because Florida builders are doing a better job of making structures hurricane-resistant.

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Trophy homes – a must-have for affluent Asian investors


This is the ninth in a series of stories on global property that examines the shifts and trends in the housing market on the international stage.

The ranks of the super-rich are swelling, but nowhere faster than in Asia. Ultra-high-net-worth individuals, classified as having a net worth of more than $30-million (U.S.) each, are snapping up properties all over the world.

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G7 finance chiefs discuss growth risks, urge deal on Greece

Gernot Heller and Paul Carrel

Finance chiefs from the Group of Seven economic powers discussed ways to revive the faltering global recovery on Thursday as the United States leant on Europe to reach a deal to avert a Greek bankruptcy.

The threat of a Greek default, rising oil prices and bond market volatility are fuelling investor nervousness about the world’s economy. A slowdown in China – which was not present at the talks in Dresden, Germany – is adding to the concern.

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Ontario’s Ombudsman starts Twitter flame war as end of term approaches


Ontario’s colourful and controversial Ombudsman has launched his campaign for a third term the only way he knows how: with a Twitter flame war.

André Marin’s social-media salvo notched a minor early victory Thursday. The legislature agreed to extend his contract to September while an all-party hiring committee decides whether to grant him another five-year term or give the job to someone else.

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Market calm on Grexit an eerie recall of pre-Lehman bets


Relative calm on global markets during the latest Greek debt standoff more closely reflects the low probability assigned to a euro exit than how contained such a shock could be.

As Greece has returned to the precipice of another default and the outsize chance of Grexit – Greece being forced out of the euro zone – world markets have barely flinched.

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Premarket: U.S. dollar momentum wanes, China stocks tumble

Marc Jones

The dollar took a breather on Thursday after hitting its highest level against the yen since 2002, and stocks stuttered as high-flying Chinese shares tumbled and European officials played down talk of an imminent deal to keep Greece afloat.

Commodity markets rebounded as the dollar’s momentum waned and though the euro clung to hopes of an agreement on Greece, the bloc’s shares and lower-rated government bonds all lost ground.

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Edgy design piqued Asian interest, but golf apparel company can’t rely on foreign factor


When a 14-year-old Chinese teenager bucked the odds to become the youngest-ever player to make a PGA Tour cut at the 2013 Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., it had an unexpected impact on one southern Ontario company.

Guan Tianlang stood out not only because of his precocious play but also because of the clothing he wore, in bold patterns and eye-catching hues ranging from bright orange to lime green.

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Top links: What to do about Canadian bank stocks


A roundup of what The Globe and Mail’s market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the World Wide Web.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon apparently believes that only bad investors want to limit his pay, in a remarkably tone deaf display of hubris.

“God knows how any of you can place your vote based [proxy advisors], ” Mr Dimon said at the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. investing conference. “If you do that, you are just irresponsible, I’m sorry. And you probably aren’t a very good investor, either. And you do. Believe me. I know some of you here do it, because you’re lazy.”

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South America: Remote resource-rich areas … sound familiar?


When he talks about the advantages for Canadian companies in South America, Ray Castelli, the chief executive officer of Weatherhaven Global Resources Ltd. in Vancouver, imagines a map folded in half at the Equator. Viewed this way, he says, the countries of the continent are a mirror image of Canada itself – remote, resource-rich areas separated from major population centres by vast, ecologically sensitive regions.

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Balanced budget law is poor economics


The balanced budget legislation introduced as part of the federal budget is based on dubious economic principles that should raise the eyebrows of even fiscally conservative economists.

Bill C-59 requires the federal government to balance the budget and reduce debt each year except when there is a recession or emergency. It imposes significant sanctions on ministers and deputy ministers if this is not the case. The preamble to the bill states that a balanced budget is crucial to economic growth and job creation over the longer term.

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Audit changes are good news. But the U.S. is holding Canada back


Permit me, if you will, some ancient history. In a past journalistic life, I wrote extensively about Qwest Communications International Inc., one of the secondary accounting scandals of the Enron era. As we learned how the company came to unravel, we discovered a number of things.

One, the company was using a very narrow definition of “materiality,” the threshold for disclosure to investors, in failing to describe important revenue-generating transactions. Two, the company’s auditor, Arthur Andersen, had made a presentation to the company’s board more than a year before Qwest collapsed that described a number of the company’s accounting policies as “aggressive” or close to “unacceptable,” and that portions of the company’s financial statements were “maximum risk.” And three, Qwest’s chief financial officer had previously been a partner at Coopers & Lybrand with a significant role in three separate audits of companies that went bankrupt or were accused of fraud, including a notorious failed savings and loan.

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EU officials dismiss Greek statement on aid agreement being drafted

Greece’s government on Wednesday said it is starting to draft an agreement with creditors that would pave the way for aid, but European officials quickly dismissed that as wishful thinking.

Greece and its European and International Monetary Fund lenders have been locked in tortuous negotiations on a reforms agreement for four months without a breakthrough in sight. Without a deal, Athens risks default or bankruptcy in weeks.

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At the open: TSX steady; Wall Street rebounds from steep selloff

U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday, a day after notching their steepest fall in three weeks as the dollar enjoyed its biggest rally in two years.

That rally was spurred by buoyant U.S. economic data on Tuesday, which fueled expectations that an interest rate hike could come sooner rather than later this year.

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G7 finance chiefs ponder flagging growth, Greek risk

Paul Carrel

Little more than a gentlemen’s club in recent years, G7 finance ministers and central bankers have their work cut out this week to revive stuttering global growth and defuse tensions over China’s growing economic clout.

Topping the agenda for the finance chiefs from the Group of Seven industrial nations is how to keep a faltering global recovery on track as the threat of a Greek default, rising oil prices and bond market turmoil fuel investor nervousness.

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Premarket: U.S. dollar retreats after its best day in two years

Jamie McGeever

A string of reversals from sharp moves the previous day marked global financial market trading on Wednesday, with stocks and oil gaining ground and the U.S. dollar falling after its biggest rally in two years.

In early European trading, the dollar was down around a third of one per cent against a basket of currencies, after jumping 1.3 per cent on Tuesday, its biggest rise since July 2013.

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Margaret Atwood submits manuscript to Future Library; won’t be read for 100 years

Victoria Ahearn

Under a drizzling sky in a forest in Oslo on Tuesday, Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood submitted an unread manuscript to a project that will keep the work under wraps for the next century.

The Toronto-based Man Booker Prize winner is the first author to hand over an unpublished piece to the Future Library in Oslo.

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Greece might sidestep June 5 IMF payment deadline

Cash-strapped Greece could avoid paying back the IMF on June 5 and win more time to negotiate a funding deal without defaulting if it lumps together all IMF repayments due in June and pays them at the end of the month, officials said on Tuesday.

Greece has to repay the International Monetary Fund 300 million euros on June 5, the first of four instalments due in June that total 1.6 billion euros.

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As Nobel winners gather to speak out about Rohingya, where’s Myanmar’s Suu Kyi?

Robin McDowell

An international gathering about the plight of Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslims boasts a star-studded cast, with three Nobel Peace Prize laureates among those calling on the world to wake up to the unfolding tragedy.

But fellow winner and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will not be among them. She wasn’t invited.

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Top tips from a Canadian barbecue pitmaster


Put a flipper in someone’s hand and have them tend meat over an open flame – they’ll be certain they know how to cook to perfection. But Mike Callaghan is next-level good. As the pitmaster for Team Canada BBQ, the official national team that represents our country at international cooking competitions, Callaghan has racked up a slew of honours, including the award for best sauce in the world at last year’s Memphis In May, an annual competition deep in the heart of barbecue country that hosts 250 teams.

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China’s yuan no longer undervalued but further reforms needed: IMF

Koh Gui Qing

China’s yuan currency is no longer undervalued after its recent substantial appreciation, but the government should quicken reforms to get to having “a floating exchange rate”, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

The IMF has previously labelled the yuan as “modestly undervalued”, despite the currency’s gradual appreciation since a landmark 2005 revaluation. The yuan has gained sharply against most non-dollar currencies in recent months.

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Canada hopes Chinese consumers warm up to ‘cool-climate’ wines


Throughout the summer months, the parking lot at Summerhill Pyramid Winery is teeming with tour buses – thousands of travellers a day visit this vineyard in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, many of them from across the Pacific.

It has taken 18 years, and several tried and failed collaborations, but this Kelowna, B.C.-based winery’s relationship with its Chinese visitors now continues even after they fly back, with 30 per cent of its wine sales taking place in China.

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Two-thirds of Ontarians support cap-and-trade plan, poll suggests


Ontario’s plan for a “cap-and-trade” system to help cut greenhouse gas emissions has strong public backing, a new poll suggests.

About two-thirds of people in the province support the government’s move, according to the survey conducted for the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) by research firm Gandalf Group.

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Circus act detracts from the real work of MPs


Today the House of Commons foreign affairs committee begins its study of North American integration and competitiveness. This forward-looking exercise is to help prepare for the Leaders Summit that Canada will host later this year. It is also a more accurate reflection than the usual skeptical portrait of our parliamentarians at work.

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Smart beta ETFs: Look beyond the hype on market performance


Andrew Hallam is the index investor for Strategy Lab. Globe Unlimited subscribers can view his model portfolio here and read more in the series online here.

Investors are a lot like gold panners. Whispers about a profitable bend in the stream bring caravans to its shores. Such is the case with ETFs that claim to beat the market. Some people call them “smart beta” exchange-traded funds. Others call them “factor based.” I call them popular.

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Canada helps block UN plan to rid world of nukes, citing defence of Israel

Mike Blanchfield

Israel has expressed its gratitude to Canada for helping to block a major international plan towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Elsewhere, however, there was widespread international disappointment that Canada and Britain supported the United States in opposing the document at the United Nations review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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The close: TSX slips in slow trade on energy pullback

Canada’s main stock index slipped on Monday as investors took money out of recently rising energy stocks, but gave muted backing to banks ahead of their closely watched week of quarterly earnings reports.

Trade was slow, with U.S. markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index dropped 13.36 points, or 0.09 per cent, to close at 15,187.40.

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Uber closes in on its last frontier: airports


In a productive week, Ingemar Smith, driver for hire, picks up about 50 passengers from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Instead of pulling up to the curb outside the baggage claim area, the typical zone for fetching fliers, Smith and his silver Toyota Prius often lurk in the short-term parking deck, another minute’s walk.

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IT chief at Bangladesh Coca-Cola unit arrested as Islamic State suspect

Ruma Paul and Serajul Quadir

An IT manager at a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Co was one of two men arrested in Bangladesh on suspicion of planning to fight for Islamic State in Syria, police and company sources said on Monday.

The pair were detained during a raid in the capital Dhaka on Sunday night, said Sheik Nazmul Alam, a senior official of the police detective branch.

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Donor fatigue hits Nepal one month after mega earthquake, UN official says

Nita Bhalla

The international community’s response to devastating earthquakes in Nepal has been disappointing, a United Nations official said on Monday, adding that donors were focusing more on reconstruction than much needed aid such as food and shelter.

The impoverished Himalayan nation is reeling from a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck on April 25, disrupting the lives of almost a third of the 28 million population.

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At the open: TSX starts broadly lower; energy leads retreat

Canada’s main stock index opened lower on Monday, with most of the index’s main sectors losing ground and U.S. markets closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 21.09 points, or 0.14 percent, to 15,179.67. Energy stocks were off 0.3 per cent as crude prices dipped.

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Premarket: European shares dip, dollar gains after Yellen comments

Emelia Sithole-Matarise

European shares fell in thin trade on Monday while the dollar held firm after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates this year.

U.S. shares fell on Friday after Yellen suggested the Fed was ready to act if the economy kept improving as expected, though a raft of recent data has suggested it is growing only modestly in the second quarter. She said delaying a policy tightening until employment and inflation hit its targets risked overheating the economy.

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When fire breaks out abroad, a Canadian drone swoops in


For a fast-growing Canadian company, it’s another eye in the sky in another part of the world. Last fall, Britain’s West Midlands Fire Service began using a SkyRanger small unmanned aerial system (sUAS), or drone, from Waterloo, Ont.-based Aeryon Labs Inc. Staff deploy the SkyRanger, a four-propeller unit with two high-resolution cameras, to do everything from track the spread of fires to search for missing persons.

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Greek threat to default on loans slams stocks, euro


Greece has threatened to default on debt repayments – a move that could easily push it out of the euro zone – to free up enough cash to pay for wages and pensions.

The admission over the weekend by several Greek government ministers that the country was close to financial collapse and could in no way satisfy both its official creditors and public employees sent the euro and Greek bank shares tumbling on Monday.

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Magna International moving headquarters to King City, Ont.


Magna International Inc. plans to move its global headquarters out of the chateau-like building that came to symbolize the extravagance of company founder Frank Stronach.

The Canadian auto parts giant will shift its head office from Aurora, Ont., north of Toronto, to a site near King City, Ont., also north of Toronto, but further west and closer to Pearson International Airport.

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Earnings and valuations outweigh potential in tech sector investments


John Reese is CEO of and Validea Capital, and portfolio manager for the National Bank Consensus funds. Globe Investor has a distribution agreement with, a premium Canadian stock screen service. Try it.

Social media and “new Internet” stocks such as Twitter and Yelp – as well as private companies such as Uber and Lyft – get a lot of attention in the financial media these days. It’s to be expected – we humans are obsessed with new things, and we get infatuated with “potential.” Why else would more than seven million people have spent an evening watching Round 1 of the recent NFL draft?

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Emerging-market investors face debt hangover


Emerging-market companies have been binging on debt for years, borrowing record sums and increasingly tapping international bond markets to take advantage of cheap credit and outsized demand from institutional investors scouring the world for any sort of decent yield.

But the boisterous party may soon be coming to an end, and the cleanup could be messy.

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Greece can’t make June IMF payment without creditor deal, minister says


Greece cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund next month unless it achieves a deal with creditors, its interior minister said on Sunday, the most explicit remarks yet from Athens about the likelihood of default if talks fail.

Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation euro zone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.

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Deficits vs. austerity: New facts, same old Keynesianism


“If the facts change,” John Maynard Keynes is supposed to have said, “I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?” It is a question his latter-day disciples should be asking themselves today.

Long before this month’s general election, which the Conservatives won by a margin that stunned their critics, the facts about Britain’s economic performance had indeed changed. Yet there is still no sign of the Keynesians changing their opinions.

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In Indonesian camps, migrants reflect on desperation at sea


Rojia Begum had sold her jewellery and made ready to flee her Myanmar home on a boat. But she faced an excruciating decision. She was not certain she could care for all of her children on what she was told would be a seven-day journey to Malaysia.

“I was thinking, ‘how will I manage three kids?’ ” she said. “When it was time to leave, my four-year-old was sleeping. So I left him there.”

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Despite debt pledge, Valeant’s M&A streak not done


Doing deals is in the DNA of Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., so even though the company has lately been emphasizing its growth from operations, investors have applauded its mergers and acquisitions strategy by relentlessly bidding up its stock.

Valeant chief executive officer Michael Pearson didn’t tip his hand in a chat Thursday with The Globe and Mail on when and where the next big deal might come from, but he did suggest how the company might pay for it.

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New Luminato CEO expects to raise local content and international flair

Simon Houpt

It seems like a coup: This week, the multidisciplinary Toronto arts festival Luminato announced that its new chief executive officer would be Anthony Sargent, the widely admired former general director of Sage Gateshead, the music centre in England’s northeast. But as Luminato moves toward its second decade, it faces questions about its artistic future and financial pressures: It has spent most of the $15-million in provincial startup funds. Does Sargent know what he’s getting into? We spoke with him by phone from a conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

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Kate Taylor: Luminato is still trying to earn its international arts credentials

Kate Taylor

So, Luminato now has not one but two Europeans trying to vault the festival into international ranks. British arts executive Anthony Sargent, appointed as chief executive of the Toronto multiarts festival this week, joins German artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt on the job and may prove just the boost Luminato needs: Europeans do know their arts festivals. Still, Sargent is going to have to perform the Euro hoist while balancing on the heads of Canadian artists and playing to a Toronto crowd. The man may be an administrative gymnast, but his assignment looks about as wobbly as this metaphor.

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Merkel, Hollande tell Greece no way around satisfying creditors

Jonathan Stearns, Helene Fouquet and Arne Delfs

Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande told Greece there’s no alternative to dealing with creditors as it seeks to unlock bailout funds, after another round of negotiations failed to break the impasse over aid.

With time running out for a deal to free up the remaining 7.2 billion-euro ($8-billion) tranche of aid, the German chancellor and the French president said the Greek government needs to do more work to flesh out its reform program and satisfy the creditor institutions of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

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Seven years later, is Wall Street too big and brash again?


They were a cool bunch, so brazen in their disregard for the rules that they had the nerve (or the stupidity) to call themselves “the cartel.” They used an invitation-only chat room to rig trades in the foreign-exchange market to enrich themselves and their employers – and to “rip off” their clients, in the words of New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services, Benjamin Lawsky.

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Canada health-care stocks are trouncing their American counterparts


Canada’s health care stocks are sizzling, as Concordia Healthcare Corp. and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.’s buy-and-streamline strategy has pushed the industry’s earnings and margins ahead of U.S. peers.

The drugmakers are the two top-performing stocks in the Canadian equity benchmark this year, boosting total returns for the members of the S&P’s/TSX Composite Health Care Index to almost six times that of its U.S. counterpart, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Conservatives would likely cut more taxes if re-elected, Oliver says


A re-elected Conservative government would have room for further tax cuts as debt servicing costs decline, Finance Minister Joe Oliver says.

Mr. Oliver also acknowledged on Thursday that the fall in the price of oil over the past year forced his government to scale back its plans by as much as $7-billion for the 2015 budget that was released on April 21.

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The close: TSX rises amid energy share gains

Jennifer Kaplan

Canadian stocks rose the most in two months as energy producers jumped with the price of crude and health-care companies rallied with railroads.

Penn West Petroleum Ltd. gained 7.2 per cent to lead a rise in energy shares as oil advanced 3 per cent in New York. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. jumped 2.4 per cent, contributing to a 2-per-cent gain for health-care companies. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. climbed 1.8 per cent.

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Michael Winterbottom: ‘You shouldn’t want to watch a film about a murder’


The director Michael Winterbottom knows that his new drama, The Face of an Angel, is going to drive a lot of people crazy. But that’s his point.

The film, which opens in select cities Friday, looks like a fictionalized account of the November, 2007, murder of Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old Brit studying in Perugia, Italy, and the trial of the roommate accused of killing her, 20-year-old American Amanda Knox. The crime made salacious headlines around the world (Sex! Betrayal! Death! Unsolved Mystery!), stayed in the news throughout the lengthy trial and appeal and has been the subject of at least 10 books, a telefilm and a documentary.

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Valeant ramps up Canadian growth plan


Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. says it will expand its presence in Canada over coming years as the serial acquirer becomes an increasingly weighty presence on the country’s benchmark equity index.

The company is moving manufacturing of 13 products to a plant in Laval, Que., and two or three to a separate plant in Steinbach, Man., with room for further expansion at both facilities, company officials confirmed Thursday.

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TIFF announces two new programs and a $25,000 prize

Brad Wheeler

The list of programs comprising the 40th Toronto International Film Festival was announced Thursday, with two new series scheduled for the September cinematic happening.

The inaugural Platform program aims to showcase international pictures deemed to be artistically ambitious and made with strong directorial vision. “Our objective … is to offer greater visibility during the festival to distinctive and visionary films from around the world,” TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling said in a statement. The festival’s artistic director, Cameron Bailey, added that the new package would showcase “free, daring and transformative” films.

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The art of the CEO apology


A new skill has just dropped into the job description of the perfect CEO. It’s not good enough to be a great leader, manager or business strategist; deft social skills are now essential and the one that has moved to top of the list is how to say “sorry.”

We should consider the cautionary tale of Thomas Cook, the venerable Victorian travel company that chose to soldier on rather than apologize for the death of two children from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a badly maintained boiler at a hotel in Greece.

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At midday: Energy stocks lead TSX rally; Shopify surges

Canada’s main stock index rebounded on Thursday, lifted in part by a general upbeat tone among investors and higher crude prices that bolstered energy stocks for the third straight session.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International was by far the most influential individual gainer on the index, rising 2 per cent to $284.95. The company is in talks to buy Egyptian drugmaker Amoun Pharmaceutical Co, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday.

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Indonesia’s civilian, military leaders at odds over accepting stranded migrants


A day after authorities here said they would offer temporary shelter to migrants stranded for weeks at sea, no new boats have made land as the country’s military commander said he would continue to block their arrival.

The contradiction between Indonesia’s civilian and military leaders adds a new obstacle to thousands of refugees who have been abandoned on boats, dying and starving as they float next to countries that have been unwilling to accept them.

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Greece’s Varoufakis stirs more controversy with taping remark

Lefteris Papadimas and Deepa Babington

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has raised a fresh furore by telling a newspaper that he taped a confidential meeting of euro zone finance ministers, drawing criticism that he was undermining Greece’s efforts to secure aid from lenders.

Since assuming his post in January, the outspoken Varoufakis has often found himself in the midst of controversy over his brash style and sharp-tongued barbs against creditors at a time when Greece needs their help to avert bankruptcy.

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Human rights advocates blast arms deal with Saudi Arabia


Critics say a $15-billion arms deal the Canadian government has brokered to sell fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for human-rights abuses, undermines Ottawa’s rationale for refusing to sign a landmark global treaty to regulate the weapons trade.

Canada is alone among peers in refusing to sign the Arms Trade Treaty, which came into force a few months ago. It’s the only member state of the NATO military alliance and the Group of Seven wealthy industrialized nations that hasn’t signed the agreement. At last count, 130 countries had inked the deal.

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Hot Ticket: Surrey and Vancouver International Children’s Festivals


If you were given a large tract of land in the heart of Vancouver, what would you do with it?

That’s the question Neworld Theatre asked kids across the city in the lead-up to Me on the Map – one of several interactivity-minded performances at this year’s Vancouver International Children’s Festival. Once they gathered the answers (Playground? Hospital? Park? Library?), the creators used a consensus model to arrive at the result – and now kids at the fest get to fine-tune the master plan.

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Canada’s foreign affiliates change country’s trade game


Stop me if you’ve heard this argument before: Canada’s international trade footprint barely sticks a toe beyond the United States. And while that has often served us well (if you’re going to rely on one trading partner, why not the world’s biggest economy?), it’s not healthy. For our own long-term good, we have to diversify into more foreign markets.

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Ten arrests at Montreal airport shine light on radicalization problem


A counterterrorism catch-and-release campaign by Canada’s national police force may have prevented 10 aspiring jihadis from heading off to war, but the roundup at Montréal-Trudeau airport is raising worries about what comes next for radicalized youth.

On Wednesday, while federal and provincial political leaders applauded the police work, anti-radicalization experts said only an integrated effort involving civilians and police can deal with youth fixated on taking up arms in the Middle East or joining terrorist groups.

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Valeant said to be in talks to acquire Egyptian drug maker Amoun

Dinesh Nair, Ed Hammond and Manuel Baigorri

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. is in talks to acquire one of the largest drug makers in Egypt to expand in both veterinary and human medicines, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Negotiations to buy Amoun Pharmaceutical Co. are at an early stage and may still fall apart, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Should the company fail to find a buyer, it may instead consider an initial public offering in London, two of the people said.

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Greece says it will default in June without aid from lenders

Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou

Greece cannot make an upcoming payment to the International Monetary Fund on June 5 unless foreign lenders disburse more aid, a senior ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday, the latest warning from Athens it is on the verge of default.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist government says it hopes to reach a cash-for-reforms deal in days, although European Union and IMF lenders are more pessimistic and say talks are moving too slowly for that.

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Premarket: Euro slides as Greek official says IMF repayment in doubt

Jamie McGeever

The euro slid to a two-week low and a rally in European shares stalled on Wednesday after a Greek official said the country may not make an upcoming repayment to the International Monetary Fund.

The euro’s fall follows remarks from a European Central Bank board member on Tuesday that the central bank could increase the pace of its bond-buying in May and June, bringing its losses against the dollar this week to more than 3 per cent.

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U.S. takes to Twitter to sway Burundi’s President


After trying almost every other pressure tactic, the U.S. government is taking to the Twitter airwaves in an unorthodox attempt to communicate to Burundi’s embattled President.

Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary for democracy and human rights in the U.S. State Department, led the latest charge. He tweeted directly to Pierre Nkurunziza, the controversial President who has triggered a national crisis by trying to extend his rule for a third term in defiance of most interpretations of the constitution.

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Transcontinental employee suspended after heckling female comic at awards show


An employee of TC Transcontinental has been suspended and an investigation was launched by the company after a heckling incident at a printing awards event that saw a comedian leave the stage in tears in the middle of her routine.

“I’ve been doing standup a long time, I’ve got thick skin,” said Jen Grant, recounting the event. “And I sympathized with women all over the world who put up with stuff because they need that paycheque.”

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Elisabeth Bing: Lamaze-method advocate transformed birthing experience


Elisabeth Bing, who helped lead a natural childbirth movement that revolutionized how babies were born in North America, died Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 100.

Her death was confirmed by her son, Peter.

Ms. Bing taught women and their spouses to make informed childbirth choices for more than 50 years. She began her crusade at a time when women in labour were heavily sedated, and men were expected to remain in the waiting room, pacing.

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Tim Hortons closes U.S. head office ahead of expansion


The new owner of Tim Hortons Inc. has closed the café chain’s U.S. head office just as it is gearing up for a big push south of the border.

Tim Hortons is shifting its efforts to build the U.S. business to its headquarters in Canada, spokesman Patrick McGrade said on Tuesday.

He did not elaborate on job cuts.

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Investors cut U.S. equity exposure to lowest in seven years, survey shows


International investors slashed their exposure to U.S. equities in May to its lowest level in over seven years, while maintaining the euro zone as their leading stock market destination, a closely watched survey said on Tuesday.

Driven by worries about a string of disappointing U.S. economic indicators and the strength of the dollar, global investors cut their allocation to U.S. stocks to 19 per cent underweight from 12 per cent underweight the month before.

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The close: TSX edges up as health-care gains offset by energy slump

Financial stocks helped Canada’s main stock index gain for a third consecutive session on Tuesday as investor optimism got a boost from Bank of Canada commentary and the U.S. Dow industrials closing at a record high.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index rose 12.90 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 15,121.02. The market was closed on Monday, when two major U.S. indices hit record closing highs. Six of the index’s 10 main groups fell.

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Valeant CEO expects major boost in Asia revenue by 2020

Bertrand Marotte

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. rates Asia as its top market for future growth and is eyeing a major boost in sales there over the next five years, says chief executive officer Michael Pearson.

“Asia has the best growth prospects of any region in the world,” Mr. Pearson told reporters after the company’s annual meeting at its head office in Laval, Que.

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‘No immediate plans’ to bring case against U.S. over Volcker rule: Oliver


Finance Minister Joe Oliver says there are “no immediate plans” to bring an international trade arbitrage case against the United States in the dust-up over the Volcker rule.

Following a speech on Tuesday at the Toronto Board of Trade as part of a conference organized by the Private Capital Markets Association of Canada, Mr. Oliver said he hopes “there is no need” to launch a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding that “We’re not looking to have a dispute here.”

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There are always mountains for Piers Handling to climb


24/7 Executives is a series of stories on high-performing professionals who are as serious at play as they are in the conference room. See the other stories here.

You’d think Piers Handling might have gone to film school or at least studied cinema before becoming chief executive officer of the Toronto International Film Festival, a position he has held for the past 33 years.

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Russian team faces punishment for leaving ice before O Canada at hockey worlds

Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

Russia will be sanctioned after their players showed a lack of respect to Canada following a 6-1 loss in the final of the world championships in Prague, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said on Monday.

Most of Russia’s players left the ice straight after Sunday’s defeat and headed for the dressing rooms without waiting for the national anthem of Canada to be played, which goes against the etiquette of the sport.

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At midday: TSX lifted by financials, record U.S. stocks

Canada’s main stock index climbed for the third straight session on Tuesday, as financial stocks helped lead the market higher and investor optimism got a boost from U.S. stocks closing at record highs on Monday.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, a perennial index heavyweight, lead with a 2.7-per-cent rise to $277.24. The overall healthcare group jumped 2.1 per cent.

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Canada will retaliate against American meat-labelling laws by autumn

Canada will likely be able to impose retaliatory tariffs against the United States by late summer or early fall, if Washington doesn’t repeal its country of origin labelling rules.

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that the American label requirements, known as COOL, violate America’s trade obligations.

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National Space Society conference to discuss future space travel

Peter Rakobowchuk

Future space travel beyond Earth — to Mars and beyond — will be one of the hot topics at a five-day international space development conference in Toronto this week.

It’s the annual conference of the National Space Society which brings together engineers, scientists, educators, and business representatives from the civilian, military, commercial and other space sectors.

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International trade with the click of a button


When Montreal’s Budge Studios decided to get into the app development business, the marketplace looked a lot different than it does today. It was the fall of 2009, and the iPad had not yet taken the world by storm.

“We saw an opportunity to jump into the business of creating high quality interactive products for kids,” says Budge Studios co-founder and co-CEO, David Lipes. “The market was just starting to explode, no one knew what the iPad would mean to the kid space and no one was doing it yet for the iPhone.”

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Russia could be sanctioned for leaving ice before O Canada at hockey worlds

Russia’s hockey team may end up paying for its Canadian anthem snub.

Russian news agency TASS reported the Russian team is facing sanctions after players left the ice before O Canada.

The Canadians crushed Russia 6-1 in Sunday’s gold-medal game, and most of the Russians quickly departed for the dressing room, a breach of the sport’s etiquette.

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Endo buys Par Pharma for $8.05-billion amid deal hunt


Endo International PLC, the maker of pain drugs like Opana and Percocet, agreed to buy Par Pharmaceutical Holdings Inc. for $8.05-billion (U.S.) as part of a plan to ignite sales growth and pursue more acquisitions.

In exchange for Par, the drug maker agreed to give private-equity firm TPG Capital $1.55-billion in stock and $4.1-billion in cash and to assume $2.4-billion of Par’s debt. The takeover will create a generic-drug business that is among the top 5 in U.S. sales, the companies said in a statement Monday, and will boost Endo’s earnings in the first year.

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What I learned about Canada on my flight leaving Pakistan


Facts & Arguments is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at

It was noisy and busy at 1 in the morning at Islamabad International Airport. I heard the boarding call for my flight to Toronto.

I had said goodbye to my sister and father through a haze of numbness, and spent the last hour hunched over my luggage writing a letter to my mother that would not be sent. She had refused to come and see me, her 19-year-old daughter, fly off to Canada as a foreign student: For a single girl to go away on her own was unheard of and, well, against societal (and, to some extent, religious) norms.

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Energy subsidies to cost $5.3-trillion in 2015: IMF

Governments around the world charge prices for energy that do not account for its harmful environmental, health and other side effects, amounting to a $5.3-trillion (U.S.) “post-tax” subsidy this year, the International Monetary Fund said in a report on Monday.

The IMF said China in particular failed to charge its more than 1 billion consumers for the pollution that comes from heavy use of fossil fuels, adding up to a $2.3-trillion subsidy this year.

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Greece will pay wages and pensions, needs deal by end of May

Greece’s government will pay public-sector wages and pensions in May but needs an agreement with creditors by the end of the month, its spokesman said on Monday, amid growing fears the country is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Without aid or access to debt markets, Athens is close to running out of money – it had to empty an International Monetary Fund reserves account to make a debt payment to the IMF last week. Investors dumped Greek stocks and bonds on Monday over worries Athens could miss a payment due next month.

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The unlikely site of Palestine’s battle for recognition: the soccer field


Palestinians have resorted to various means in their struggle for recognition by Israel and the creation of their own state – armed resistance, peaceful protest, acts of terrorism and negotiations. They’ve accepted Israel’s existence and sought recognition as a state by various international bodies. But the most effective means yet could turn out to be a completely non-violent contest – on the soccer field, of all places.

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