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In this Saturday, July 31, 2010, file photo a field of unidentified cereals burning near the town of Voronezh some 500 km (294 miles) south of Moscow, after weeks of searing heat and practically no rain. A severe drought destroyed one-fifth of the wheat crop in Russia, the world's third-largest exporter, and now wildfires are sweeping in to finish off some of the fields that remained. (Mikhail Metzel/Mikhail Metzel/AP)
In this Saturday, July 31, 2010, file photo a field of unidentified cereals burning near the town of Voronezh some 500 km (294 miles) south of Moscow, after weeks of searing heat and practically no rain. A severe drought destroyed one-fifth of the wheat crop in Russia, the world's third-largest exporter, and now wildfires are sweeping in to finish off some of the fields that remained. (Mikhail Metzel/Mikhail Metzel/AP)

In Review

Required reading: Five essential stories of the week Add to ...

Each week, Report on Business editors choose five stories that shouldn't be missed. Here are the 'must reads' for the week of Aug. 2, 2010.

The last stands of wheat remain before being harvested by the Sawyer family near Acme, Alta., in September, 2009.

Wheat turmoil hits home on the Prairies

On the family farm in Saskatchewan, Dale Johnson marvels at how quickly the price has risen for the crop in his fields. In three weeks, Mr. Johnson plans to start harvesting 1,000 acres of wheat , a task that will stretch well into September. But the prospect of new crops hasn't been enough to halt worries about a wheat shortage on the planet - worries that have driven up world wheat prices more than 60 per cent since early June. Wheat prices have hit their highest point since the fall of 2008, amid a rally triggered by heavy rains in June that flooded parts of the Prairies to damage fields and a summer drought in Russia that has dampened production forecasts. Those factors helped send benchmark wheat contracts up another 6.7 per cent Wednesday to surpass $7.25 (U.S.) a bushel. Read the full story



The price of pork bellies, used to make bacon, has skyrocketed
August tomato crop helps put the B in BLT The rise in pork belly prices is welcome news for farmers



The sun beats down on wheat growing in Mokrye Kurnali on July 20, 2010. Owing to the worst drought for decades, Russia - currently the world's number three wheat exporter - banned grain exports as of August 5, 2010.
Russia's export ban chills wheat markets Importers will have to find short-term supplies elsewhere, including Canada and the U.S.

In this Saturday, July 31, 2010, file photo a field of unidentified cereals burning near the town of Voronezh some 500 km (294 miles) south of Moscow, after weeks of searing heat and practically no rain. A severe drought destroyed one-fifth of the wheat crop in Russia, the world's third-largest exporter, and now wildfires are sweeping in to finish off some of the fields that remained.
The drought that took the wheat Photos: Dry weather and fires devastate Russian farmers and send wheat prices soaring





Container ships are loaded and unloaded at the TSI Terminal Systems Inc at Deltaport in Delta, BC, August 05, 2010.

Vancouver port vows to unplug bottleneck

On the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, tall cranes hoist containers off ships onto the docks of Canada's busiest port. And there the containers sit. North American ports try to get boxes from ships to railcars within three days, but at Port Metro Vancouver, which handles more containers than all other Canadian ports combined, only about half the containers make it out in that time. This year, almost a quarter sat for six days or more. The port's problems are typical of the productivity issues confronting Canada. Facing fierce competition from the United States, Port Metro Vancouver is in the early stages of a makeover aimed at radically increasing its efficiency and opening up an important but little-noticed bottleneck in the Canadian economy. Read the full story





RIM lights the way with Torch

After more than a year of development and countless hours of testing, RIM has unveiled what company executives describe as the best BlackBerry ever. Now comes the hard part. The Waterloo, Ont. smart phone maker launched its newest device, the touch-screen BlackBerry Torch, at a slick media event in New York City. But the early reviews from technology experts and investors were underwhelming, and RIM shares, which had been rising in anticipation of the new product, fell more than 5 per cent from their intraday high after the company took the wraps off the Torch. The phone is RIM's most aggressive entry yet into the consumer smart phone market, which analysts believe is critical to the company's future growth. Read the full story



People buy Blackberry phones in a handphone shop at the International Trade Centre Ambassador shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Indonesia also demanding data access from RIM Canadian company has built reputation for Blackberry as world's most secure device



Bobby Bolton, BP wellsite leader, talks to reporters on the Helix Q4000, which is performing the static kill procedure, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010.

BP declares ‘static kill' of blowout

BP is turning the corner on its environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, after the company managed to seal its rogue well and U.S. government officials said three-quarters of the spewed crude has been either captured or dispersed into small, fairly harmless droplets. The company declared it had achieved a "static kill," eliminating the pressure on the temporary cap that had been in place for the past three weeks. BP expected to proceed with cementing-in the well for a permanent seal, an operation that the company hoped to commence Wednesday night after getting approval from government scientists. Read the full story



A BP mobile claims office is seen last August in Chalmette, La.
BP nightmare could be just beginning Liabilities would skyrocket if oil company is proven guilty of gross negligence in Gulf of Mexico spill



Left to right, Michael Bloomberg, T. Boone Pickens, Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, Ronald Perelman



Billionaires accept charitable challenge

When Warren and Bill and Melinda call, billionaires listen. Nearly 40 ultrawealthy individuals and families pledged Wednesday to give away half or more of their fortunes to charity, answering a challenge issued in June by famed investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda. The first group of people to commit it the initiative includes technology titans and media moguls, financiers and tycoons, new money and old. Star Wars creator George Lucas is on the list, as is Larry Ellison, the founder of software giant Oracle Corp., and Montreal-born Jeff Skoll, past president of eBay. Read the full story



Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corporation. Worth: $53-billion.
The billionaires who are giving it away See who they are and what they're worth



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