The recline of the American empire: Mallick

When neighbours can’t get along they build fences. When airplane passengers can’t get along they hastily install a device that prevents the passenger in the seat in front from reclining. That passenger then throws a cup of water on the installer’s head, the plane is diverted, they’re both thrown off the flight, end of story.

In all the enraged commentary on this comedy skit aboard a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver, none of the solutions offered — hammering spikes into the seat back, killing people who recline, self-injection with a 12-hour general anesthetic — included the obvious one.

Recline your own seat, sir, so that all seats the length of the plane look like falling dominoes in a suspended state. Everyone reclines, everyone shutters their personalities, hunkers down and endures. It’s a retro World War II attitude — we fight the Nazis until we’ve won and no sooner, we restrain ourselves until the plane lands — yet Americans seem to think it’s communism.

Passengers have briefly joined a team, a sweatpanted, line-sneaking, oversized-bag-stowing team. People, there is no “I” in “team.” There is no “I” in “airplane,” oh wait, yes there is, sorry.

When you fly, you can’t have everything you want because you’re already getting so much more, sitting in a chair that will get you to Barcelona in 10 hours at relatively minimal cost. Staff are paid to politely attend to you, and you have access to a washroom marginally better than a bucket. Life is good.

Not so long ago, an aspirational Atlantic-crosser would have had to sail on a craft made of balsa wood and a dream fed by nothing more than a scurvy preventative and a salt lick. When seasickness put up its pale trembling hand, passengers didn’t have a wax-lined bag with a twist-tie to seal the mess for eternity, they had a cloth cap that was ruined, just ruined. They shared a berth with thieves and buffalo hunters. The captain had a whip for emergencies.

And now we complain that the airline charges extra to check a bag. No it doesn’t. It charges a variety of sums for small services because Canadians worship the God of Cheap and if you give the number in one whack, we faint. So we are made to add up smaller numbers and sit in ever smaller harder seats.

Reclining the seat slightly is the one act of agency passengers have left, thanks to their own reluctance to pay a reasonable sum to cross the ocean lickety-split. I’m not saying that we should compare all modern problems to those of the 19th century but it does clear the mind.

I keep thinking of the Arizona shooting range owner defending handing an Uzi to a 9-year-old girl from New Jersey. She shot her instructor in the head with it. “This was a very mature young lady,” Sam Scarmardo told a reporter. “It was something high on her bucket list to do.”

Since when do 9-year-olds have “bucket lists” — things to do before you die—particularly ones that include submachine guns? Since when do grown men think they should have the only seat in a row of 40 that doesn’t recline? Who travels with a “Knee Defender”? It’s a Stand Your Ground law for legs.

In the U.S., little children do adult things — watch the online video of that child in grey T-shirt, pink shorts and running shoes with a fawn’s skinny legs trying to brace against the recoil — and adults dressed like children throw hissy fits on a plane.

When I was a child, my list of things to do before I died was to eat big marzipan, win the spelling bee, not be carsick, and grow up and get the hell out of Sioux Lookout. I did this. I note that as an adult, I have not greatly altered my list.

But American adult-children have different dreams. On TripAdvisor, 893 visitors, some Canadian, rated Bullets and Burgers, site of the Arizona killing, as “Excellent,” while 38 had quibbles. “Skip the grenade launcher, it’s really lame,” one man said. “This experience will forever be remembered as one of my manliest in my life,” said another.

I would describe these people as childish, especially the ones on their honeymoon. (Sorry, that is sexually weird.) You will be on my plane to Barcelona. I am dreading meeting you.

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Energizer names executives to lead businesses following split

Energizer Holdings has named the executives who will lead the household and personal products businesses after the two divisions split into standalone companies next year. 

Town and Country-based Energizer’s household products division includes batteries and lighting products, and its personal care division includes a range of products from Banana Boat sunscreen to Schick shavers. Earlier this year, Energizer announced it’s splitting the two divisions into standalone companies by July 1, 2015.

This month, Energizer said its longtime chief financial officer Dan Sescleifer will leave the company after the split finalizes. 

The company previously announced that Ward Klein, Energizer’s chief executive officer, will become executive chairman of the board of standalone Personal Care, and David Hatfield, president and CEO of Energizer’s Personal Care division, will be CEO of Personal Care. J. Patrick Mulcahy, chairman of Energizer’s board, will become Executive Chairman of the Board of the Household Products company, and Alan Hoskins, president and CEO of Energizer Household Products division, will become CEO of the Household Products company.

Energizer announced more executive changes Thursday. The executives who will lead the Personal Care company are: Sandy Sheldon, Chief Financial Officer; Manish Shanbhag, VP, General Counsel and Secretary; Al Robertson, Chief Marketing Officer; John Hill, VP, Commercial – North America; Colin Hutchison, VP, Commercial-International; Dave VerNooy, VP, Global Operations and Research, Development and Engineering; Peter Conrad, Chief Administrative Officer; Tony Bender, Chief Information Officer and VP, Business Process Outsourcing; and Teresa Ceotto, VP, Human Resources quick guaranteed personal loans

The executives who will lead the Household Products company are: Brian Hamm, Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer; Michelle Atkinson, Chief Consumer Officer; Dan Carpenter, Chief Innovation Officer; Greg Kinder, Executive VP and Chief Supply Chain Officer; Mark LaVigne, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer; Brandon Davis, Chief Business Officer, The Americas; Patrick Hedouin, Chief Business Officer, International; Kelly Boss, VP, General Counsel & Secretary; and Sue Drath, Chief Human Resource Officer. 

Energizer hasn’t said what the two companies will be named. 

“We are excited to have such an experienced and talented group of individuals to lead Energizer’s Personal Care and Household Products businesses as each company moves forward independently,” Klein said in a statement. “These individuals bring a unique blend of experiences, talents and expertise, along with commitment and passion for these businesses.”

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French Manufacturing Confidence Falls to 13-Month Low - Bloomberg

French factory confidence fell to the lowest in 13 months in August, adding to signs that the economy may struggle to grow after a stagnant first half.

A manufacturing-sentiment index slipped to 96, the lowest since July 2013, from 97 the previous month, the French national statistics office INSEE said today in Paris. That matched the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey. A separate business-confidence index also declined.

The latest evidence of weakness in the French economy comes as President Francois Hollande deals with a mutiny within his government over austerity. The economy failed to expand in the past two quarters and a survey last week showed manufacturing contracted for a fourth month in August.

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City council candidate struggles against Ford dynasty in Ward 2

The doormat in front of Ed Roberts’ house says ‘Go Away.’

But Roberts was in a welcoming mood when city council candidate Andray Domise appeared outside his house during a recent afternoon canvass on a quiet cul-de-sac in Toronto’s west-end.

“We need fresh faces,” Roberts, barefoot and on a break from house painting, told Domise.

The reception is equally warm down the street.

“You talk nice,” says a woman standing outside her brick bungalow. She touched Domise’s arm but waved away a request for her name. “You look like Obama.”

With ten weeks to go before the Oct. 27 election, thanks to the power of social media, people are taking notice of this first-time candidate.

He’s scored a couple of high-profile endorsements — mayoralty candidates John Tory and David Soknacki are fans — while campaign donations are pouring in, as are requests for media interviews.

Encouraging signs of a looming victory?

Perhaps, except this is Ward 2.

Rob Ford represented the area for a decade before he was elected mayor in 2010, when his businessman brother, Doug Ford, picked up his council seat. This time, the Ford brothers’ 20-something-year-old nephew, Mike, has registered to run. He changed his last name in February, ensuring the Ford name will be on the ballot this fall.

The Ford family has lived in Etobicoke for decades. On Royal York Road, Douglas B. Ford Park is named for the late patriarch businessman, who served as an area MPP in the Ontario legislature in the ‘90s.

Domise knows what he’s up against.

“I don’t count money until it’s actually in my pocket,” the 33-year-old says, walking briskly to the next house. “This is what it takes to win elections — not really nice things said by the media.”

In Toronto municipal politics, name recognition is critical for candidates trying to topple incumbents, who get elected 80 per cent of the time.

“People vote for the names they’ve heard of. In Ward 2, that name is Ford, no matter which one it is,” Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said in a recent news release.

In July, Forum released poll results showing Mike Ford had 43 per cent of the vote in Ward 2, while Domise had 24 per cent. There are also 11 other registered candidates not named Ford — the one that isn’t doing interviews. He doesn’t need to, explained his uncle, Doug Ford.

“It won’t help him in the least up in Ward 2,” Ford told CP24.

Domise doesn’t disagree. Nevertheless, he is astonished by the cone of silence existing around Mike Ford.

“I would love to have a conversation with him and find out what his ideas are,” Domise said. “I’ve never just walked into a job without an interview, and say ‘hey my name’s Andray’ and I get hired.”

Domise, like Rob and Doug, grew up in Ward 2. But Domise and his two sisters were raised by a single mother in a social housing complex in Rexdale, in the north quadrant of the ward. Domise earned a B.A. in politics before going to work in Toronto’s financial industry.

On this day, Domise is door knocking on Fabian Pl., a street lined with tall trees and detached brick homes. Nearby is Royal York Rd. and La Rose Ave., the ward’s most southern border.

Domise is relaxed on the campaign trail.

“I’m not here to sell you insurance, I promise. I’m running for city council in this ward, my name is Andray,” Domise says, smiling, when greeting a resident at the door. He effortlessly tailors his banter and speaks knowledgably on a range of big idea topics, such as transit or homeowner concerns, whether tree pruning, catch basins, basement flooding or barking dogs.

If Domise set the agenda at city hall, one of his biggest priorities would be to build a flagship recreation/library centre in Rexdale, an area he says that is “screaming” for development.

“It’s not just for kids to play basketball or read, but to create a pipeline into different industries,” he explains. “If you start investing in infrastructure to build libraries and fix roads, you attract more businesses out to the area, you’re also attracting blue-collar jobs.”

Domise recently left his job with a large insurance company to put all his energies into his campaign. His background in client relations and financial planning would be put to good use in politics, he says.

“I have … learned when costs outweigh benefits. It’s the job of city hall to make intelligent, sound investments that can show immediate or long-term return on investment for our city’s residents.”

Social media has been a boon to the fledgling campaign.

Earlier this summer, Domise gained many admirers — and some detractors — after questioning why some black Torontonians continue to support Rob Ford, despite his past use of racial slurs. Domise also challenged Ford face-to-face at a Canada Day event.

The mayor told him “it’s complicated” and walked away.

“Some people complain about the long campaign period, but it actually helped me to learn the ropes about communications and press,” Domise says.

He has heard the suggestion he is in the race to seek attention. “If this is what it takes to get attention, I’d rather stay anonymous,” he laughs.

Domise describes himself as “blue grit.”

Mark Moskaluk, 18, stops pushing a lawn mower and pulls the buds out of his ears to ask Domise about his politics.

“Last time I supported the Liberal party at the provincial level, I was also a big Justin (Trudeau) supporter too,” Domise says as the university student nods his head.

Domise doesn’t bring it up, but later, asked about the current makeup of city council — there is only one black representative out of 44 councillors — he cites Toronto’s motto, “Diversity Our Strength.”

That is not reflected in our current council, and that has created blind spots in policy-making that negatively affects some communities, he writes in a followup email.

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India to Unveil Warship to Deter Chinese Submarines - Bloomberg

India will unveil its first home-built anti-submarine warship tomorrow in a move to deter China from conducting underwater patrols near its shores.

Defense Minister Arun Jaitley will commission the 3,300-ton INS Kamorta at the southeastern Vishakapatnam port. The move comes a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the largest indigenously built guided-missile destroyer and vowed to bolster the country

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European explorers didn

A remarkable new study says European explorers weren’t the first to bring tuberculosis to the Americas, as has long been suggested.

An earlier strain of the disease existed long before Christopher Columbus’s arrival — brought from Africa by seals and sea lions, it says.

“It was a surprise for us, too,” said Anne Stone, professor of human evolution at Arizona State University and a co-author of the study, which was published this week in the journal Nature. “We had not thought about seals.”

Read more on thestar.com:

McMaster creates ‘promising’ TB vaccine

Government used reserves for 1930s TB vaccine tests

Researchers looked at tuberculosis strains in 1,000-year-old bones from Peru and discovered they were closely linked to those found in sea mammals. Those ancient strains of tuberculosis were replaced by other strains of the disease after Europeans arrived.

“It was really surprising. The ancient strains are distinct from any known human-adapted tuberculosis strain,” she said in an interview.

Within the past 2,500 years, sea mammals likely contracted the bacteria from humans in Africa and carried it across the ocean to the coast of South America. One it was established there, it moved to North America.

Africa, said Stone, has the most diversity among tuberculosis strains.

Tuberculosis is one of the world’s deadliest diseases. According to the World Health Organization, it is second only to “HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent.” In 2012, tuberculosis sickened 8.6 million people and killed 1.3 million.

Scientists worldwide have long debated the origins of tuberculosis, which often attacks the lungs and is both curable and preventable.

Some have argued that it spread from cows when the animals were first domesticated 10,000 years ago. Others have argued the disease is older, having evolved about 70,000 years ago, and that it spread from humans to cows and other animals.

A group of archaeologists and geneticists got together about two years ago and began the hunt for tuberculosis DNA in samples of bones from 68 sets of New World remains cheap payday advance. They found genetic material in three 1,000-year-old mummies from southern Peru.

“Little was known previously about which strains of tuberculosis were circulating in the New World before contact,” said Canadian Kirsten Bos, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tubingen in Germany and the lead author of the paper.

Tuberculosis is one of the few infectious diseases that can cause physical changes in the skeleton, she said. “So we could actually see evidence of these tuberculosis-specific lesions in the bones of individuals from the New World before contact.”

All of the strains of the disease that are circulating now are of European origin, said Bos. “But the genetic data wasn’t matching the archaeological data. So we wanted to use advanced techniques in ancient DNA to try to solve this riddle.”

Why the ancient strains were replaced after European contact is not clear. “We don’t know why … whether the European strains were more virulent or whether they were better adapted to humans.”

Researchers may have solved part of the riddle but there is much more to be done, said Bos.

Future research will be to determine the “relationship of these older forms to those currently circulating, and those isolated from other ancient remains,” said Bos.

Researchers, she said, also want to “look at other bones from North and South America that show similar skeletal patterns and see which strains those individuals were carrying to determine whether this Peruvian strain was more widespread in the New World or whether there may have been multiple routes of entry in the New World before (European) contact.”

Not everyone is convinced of the study’s results.

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Time to end alcohol retail monopolies in Ontario, report says

The “quasi-monopoly” LCBO and The Beer Store have hosed Ontario consumers long enough, a C.D. Howe Institute report says.

The right-wing think tank said the Ontario government should strip them both of their almost exclusive right to sell beer, wine and spirits, suggesting the report proves that opening up to alcohol sales to competition will mean lower prices.

“The lack of competition in Ontario’s system for alcoholic beverage retailing causes higher prices for consumers and foregone government revenue,” states the 30-page report, Uncorking a Strange Brew: The Need for More Competition in Ontario’s Alcoholic Beverage Retailing System, to be released publicly Wednesday.

The report includes tables comparing Ontario beer prices to other provinces with greater private sector involvement, particularly with Quebec, where a case of 24 domestic beers can be as much as $10 cheaper and even more for imported brands.

Since 1927, when the Liquor Control Act was passed, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the privately owned Brewers Warehousing Company Limited have had a stranglehold on alcohol sale in the province.

“The Beer Store’s quasi-monopoly of beer retailing is . . . an anachronism,” the report says, referring to the foreign-owned private retailer that is protected by provincial legislation.

For almost 30 years now provincial governments of various stripes have talked about opening up competition but have bowed to political pressure from the brewers and fears that competition would kill the golden goose — the LCBO, which in 2013-14 pumped $1.74 billion into government coffer, excluding taxes.

“Those profiting from the status quo . . . have a major stake in it and strongly oppose reform,” the report says.

The report insists the province would see more money and consumers would pay less if it allowed the sale of beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores as it is now in Quebec, allow other retailers to sell beer and by freeing up wine retailing — now limited to certain industry owned stores, the LCBO and on-site sales by wineries.

“These changes would increase the choices available and reduce prices for Ontario consumers, as well as improve the competitiveness of Ontario’s smaller wineries and breweries and generate more revenue for the government,” the report concludes.

The report notes that a Liberal government-initiated Beverage Alcohol System Review in 2005 came to similar conclusions but the panel’s recommendations were rejected by then premier Dalton McGuinty.

The C.D. Howe Institute is just the latest to add its voice to a growing chorus advocating a liberalization of alcohol sales in Ontario, including the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. But the Liberal government has consistently put the boots to the idea.

“A major component of the lack of competition is the disadvantage faced by small Ontario wineries and breweries relative to the larger producers. Three large brewers own The Beer Store, which dominates retailing of beer, while two large wineries enjoy the right to sell their wines in major off-winery stores: the Wine Shop and the Wine Rack,” the report states.

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PG&E pleads not guilty to charges in deadly blast

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pleaded not guilty Monday to charges in a new indictment that accuses the utility of lying to federal investigators looking into a fatal pipeline explosion in a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood.

Steve Bauer, an attorney for the company, entered the plea in federal court to all 28 counts, including obstruction of justice. The new indictment — announced last month — replaced a 12-count indictment that related to PG&E’s safety practices but did not include an obstruction charge.

Prosecutors say PG&E tried to mislead federal investigators about pipeline testing and maintenance procedures it was following at the time of the 2010 explosion in the city of San Bruno and for six months afterward.

The blast killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

The utility was operating under a company policy that did not meet federal safety standards, failing to prioritize as high-risk and properly assess many of its oldest natural gas pipelines, prosecutors said.

PG&E said in a statement on Monday that the obstruction charge stems from a paperwork error that the company quickly corrected.

“We are confident the legal process will ensure all of the facts are fully reviewed. In the meantime, we want all of our customers to know that we will stay focused on transforming this 100-plus-year-old natural gas system into the safest and most reliable in the country,” the company said cash advance companies.

The other charges accuse the utility of failing to act on threats in its pipeline system even after the problems were identified by its own inspectors. The indictment charges PG&E with keeping shoddy records, failing to identify safety threats and failing to act when threats were found.

PG&E said Monday that employees did not intentionally violate the federal Pipeline Safety Act and even when there were mistakes, “employees were acting in good faith to provide customers with safe and reliable energy.”

The new charges expose PG&E to more than $1 billion in fines. It had faced up to a $6 million fine under the old indictment.

In addition, the utility is facing lawsuits and $2.5 billion in civil fines from regulators, including the state Public Utilities Commission.

San Bruno officials said they have asked federal prosecutors to request the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee PG&E and its state regulators as part of any penalty against the company.

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Tormented by debt collectors? Here’s how to fight back.

Despite the upturn in the economy, more than one-third of Americans last year defaulted on debts and bills that later went into collections, which means many of those people were probably hassled by a debt collector.

It’s not exactly busting the kneecaps of deadbeats, but overaggressive debt collecting has become a huge problem — sometimes for people who don’t even owe a debt.

“Debt collection constitutes one of today’s most important consumer financial concerns,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a report this year. The largest source of complaints every month at the bureau is debt collection.

Also, 35 percent of adults have a debt in collections, a recent Urban Institute study found. It estimates that some 77 million Americans owed an average of $5,200 in overdue debts.

That means a lot of people are dodging calls from debt collectors, some of whom use overly aggressive — and illegal — tactics.

“Most debt collectors play by the rules, but it’s those who don’t that tar the industry,” said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Credit counselors “hear horror stories of people being harassed, called names and threatened by legal action,” she said.

Debt in collections refers to failing to pay a nonmortgage bill, such as a credit card balance, child support, a medical or utility bill, parking ticket or membership fee. The debt is so far past due that the account has been closed and placed in collections, often with a third-party debt collector.

If you’re being hounded by a debt collector, here are some things to know:

Debt-collection rules

Get familiar with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It lays down the rules for how a debt collector must treat a consumer. “It is up to consumers to become familiar with the provisions within the act so that they can know when a collector has crossed the line,” Cunningham said.

For example, a collector cannot harass you by threatening you, cursing, lying or calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless you agree to it. And collectors may not contact you at work if you tell them you’re not allowed to get calls there. They can’t say you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay. Other than to get location information about you, a debt collector generally is not allowed to discuss your debt with anyone other than you, your spouse or your attorney.

See more on the law at the Federal Trade Commission website, tinyurl.com/ftc-fdcpa.

New efforts

The problem with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is it’s old, dating to 1977. The protection bureau has said it is considering updating collection rules for the age of new communication technology. It is likely to address email, cellphones, social media and so-called robo-suing, where collectors can use technology to sue debtors quickly and easily, said Bill Bartmann, who operates CFS2, what he calls an ethical debt-collection agency in Tulsa, Okla., that has collected from some 4.5 million people.

Statute of limitations

This is a fancy term that means time ran out for the creditor to collect the money from you, and it probably can’t sue you in court.

Still, it’s tricky for consumers because the time varies by state and type of debt, the FTC said.

For example, the statute of limitations for credit card debt in a few states may be as long as 10 years, but most states impose a period of three to six years.

Should you pay “time-barred” debts? Though ethically you might feel you still owe an old debt, legally you do not. Even so, collectors can continue to contact you about debts after they are legally “time-barred,” unless you send a letter to the collector demanding that communication stop, according to the FTC.

In some states, if you pay any amount on a time-barred debt or even promise to pay, the debt is revived, resetting the clock on a new statute of limitations period.

That means the collector can sue you to collect the full amount of the debt. See the FTC guide at tinyurl.com/olddebts.

Credit effect

The time that collections stay on your report, affecting your ability to get the best loan rates or get a loan at all, is seven years.

It’s better to contact a creditor before it contacts you, Bartmann said. That way, you might avoid being reported to the credit bureau or being turned over to a collector. You might even be able to lower the interest rate on your account. And it helps to send some money, even if it’s not the minimum amount required on your statement, he said.

“It demonstrates that you’re not running. … It causes creditors to be more sympathetic and be more willing to work with you.”

When you get a call, tell the collector that you are recording the call, and that by staying on the line he or she agrees to the recording.

“I would tell them that, even if you weren’t recording the phone call,” Bartmann said. It’s likely to put the caller on his best behavior.

For the same reason, also insist on getting the name of the agent and collection company, along with a return telephone number.

Get it in writing

Insist on written verification of the debt before you have a conversation. That not only verifies the debt, but it gives you time to figure out a strategy for dealing with the collector when he or she calls back.

During the conversation. Briefly explain the circumstances that brought about your delinquent debt — divorce, job loss, health issues. Rather than offering a payment plan, ask the collector what your options are.

Terms might be more favorable than what you might have offered, Bartmann said.

Dealing with abuse

If you get an abusive collector, tell him or her to calm down or you will hang up, Bartmann said. If they don’t remain civil, hang up and call back to get a supervisor and lodge a complaint. Then complain to your state attorney general’s office, naag.org, and the protection bureau.

If it gets so bad you need an attorney, you can contact the National Association of Consumer Advocates, naca.net, and it can connect you with a lawyer.

If you don’t owe

People who don’t owe debts are often also harassed too, a protection bureau analysis found.

The bureau offers sample letters that consumers can use to deal with debt collectors, one of which tells collectors to stop contacting you unless they can show evidence that you are responsible for the debt. Go to consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb and type “debt collector” in the search box.

“People should pay their bills,” Bartmann said, “but collectors should be civil in the process.”

Gregory Karp, the author of “Living Rich by Spending Smart,” writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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Stocks ending week up as Ukraine tensions ease

LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets were on course to end a solid week higher on Friday as investors continued to put their recent caution behind them amid further hopeful signs of an easing of tensions in Ukraine.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 advanced 1 percent to 4,245, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.9 percent to 9,307. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.7 percent higher at 6,729. Wall Street was poised for solid gains at the open, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.3 percent.

ASIA’S DAY: Earlier, Asian capped one of their best weeks in months with further gains across most of the main indexes. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 0.6 percent to 24,954.94 and China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.9 percent to 2,226.73. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended little changed at 15,318.34, but still ended up higher over the week.

ANALYST TAKE: “This week is a powerful answer to the question of whether equity markets had run too far and were still vulnerable,” said David White, a trader at Spreadex. “Investors still have confidence, but are now more price sensitive as capital becomes less cheap.”

EASING TENSIONS: The main reason ascribed to the solid performance this week has been an apparent easing in Ukraine tensions. On Friday, it’s been helped by suggestions that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin appears to be toning down his rhetoric on the situation in Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are waging an insurgency in Ukraine’s east. In addressing hundreds of lawmakers Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Yalta in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March, he said Russia’s goal was “to stop bloodshed in Ukraine as soon as possible.” Russia has also let Ukrainian officials inspect an aid convoy and agreed to let the Red Cross distribute the aid around the rebel-held city of Luhansk, easing concerns that the aid operation is a ruse to get military help to separatist rebels.

CURRENCIES/ENERGY: Currency markets were fairly subdued, with the euro up 0.2 percent at $1.3388 and the dollar 0.1 percent higher at 102.56 yen. In the oil markets, a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude was up 7 cents to $95.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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