Sweet Jesus Asked To Change ‘Blasphemous’ Name By Christian Petitioners

A petition asking a Canadian ice cream chain to change its “blasphemous” name has nearly 30,000 signatures.

The Toronto chain Sweet Jesus, which first opened in 2015, announced plans to expand into the U.S. in October. But some Christians aren’t thrilled with the company’s presence down South.

“The company’s name and logo are seriously offensive,” the petition on Christian site Return To Order says. “The first S in the word Jesus is a lightning strike, reminiscent of the Nazi style used by the SS, and the T in “SWEET” is often shown as an inverted Cross on the company’s various products … We cannot remain silent while Our Lord is blasphemed!”

Another petition, by Canadian site CitizenGo, has almost 8,000 signatures. It calls the company’s branding “totally offensive and revolting.”

If anything could qualify as ‘hate speech’, this is it!CitizenGo petition

It goes on: “Even if this were some innocent faux-pas, it would still be unacceptable! However, this is anything but a mere mistake. Both in their promotional materials and menu selection, it is plain to see that [owners] Richmond and Todai have every intention of mocking Christ and Christianity. If anything could qualify as ‘hate speech’, this is it!”

Others took issue with one of Sweet Jesus’ advertisements, because the child posing with ice cream running down her face looks similar to Jonbenét Ramsey, a child beauty pageant contestant who was murdered at age 6.

Another video posted by Christian YouTube account On Point Preparedness, that calls the company the “anti-Christ,” has more than 50,000 views and 2,500 likes.

The company’s co-founder told BlogTO that he’s aware of the anger.

“While we understand some may find our name offensive, we see it as an expression of joy,” he said in a statement. “At the end of the day, we don’t take ourselves too seriously – we’re all about creating unique desserts that taste really good.”

Also On HuffPost:

Elon Musk Deletes Facebook Pages Of Tesla, SpaceX

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk waves as he leaves the stage after speaking at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, R.I., July 15, 2017. The verified Facebook pages of Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla Inc disappeared on Friday, minutes after the Silicon Valley billionaire promised on Twitter to take down the pages when challenged by users.

(Reuters) — The verified Facebook pages of Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla Inc disappeared on Friday, minutes after the Silicon Valley billionaire promised on Twitter to take down the pages when challenged by users.

“Delete SpaceX page on Facebook if you’re the man?” a user tweeted to Tesla Chief Executive Musk. His response: “I didn’t realize there was one. Will do.”

Facebook pages of SpaceX and Tesla, which had millions of followers, are no longer accessible.

Musk had begun the exchange by responding to a tweet from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton on the #deletefacebook tag.

The hashtag gained prominence after the world’s largest social network upset users by mishandling data, which ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica — a political consultancy that worked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

“What’s Facebook?” Musk tweeted.

Many users also urged the billionaire to delete the profiles of his companies on Facebook’s photo-sharing app Instagram.

“Instagram’s probably ok … so long as it stays fairly independent,” Musk responded.

“I don’t use FB & never have, so don’t think I’m some kind of martyr or my companies are taking a huge blow. Also, we don’t advertise or pay for endorsements, so … don’t care.”

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:

Musk has had run-ins with Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg in the past.

Last year, a war of words broke out between Musk and Zuckerberg over whether robots will become smart enough to kill their human creators.

When Zuckerberg was asked about Musk’s views on the dangers of robots, he chided “naysayers” whose “doomsday scenarios” were “irresponsible.”

In response, Musk tweeted: “His understanding of the subject is limited.”

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Also on HuffPost:

Marijuana grower Green Organic Dutchman said to raise $100 million in IPO

Medical marijuana grower Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TGOD) raised $100 million (US$78 million) in its initial public offering, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The raise by the Mississauga, Ontario-based pot producer came in at the high end of the previously disclosed range of $75 million to $100 million. The company priced its shares at $3.65 apiece and is expected to begin trading next week in Toronto.

The sale was several times oversubscribed and the over-allotment is also expected to be exercised, bringing total proceeds to about $115 million, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

A spokesman for the company couldn’t be reached for comment.

The IPO follows the January listing by pot producer MedReleaf Corp., which fell 22 per cent on its first day of trading. That was the largest decline in 16 years for a Canadian IPO larger than $100 million.

Green Organic’s IPO was led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and PI Financial Corp. The company intends to use the proceeds from the offering to fund its ongoing operations, according to a a regulatory filing. It said that will include completing its facilities in Hamilton, Ontario, and Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, as well as funding various licensing and approvals, it said.


Trump steel tariff threat back on for Canada, Mexico after U.S. sets deadline on NAFTA talks

U.S. President Donald Trump has put new pressure on NAFTA negotiations with an order saying he’ll impose steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico on May 1 if he’s not satisfied with talks.

Trump’s presidential proclamation Thursday sets tariffs for some countries as of Friday while excluding others such as Canada and Mexico. The document specifies for the first time when those exclusions will run out, adding to pressure for a deal to be reached on the North American Free Trade Agreement around the same time.

A White House statement said Trump will decide by May 1 “whether to continue to exempt these countries from tariffs, based on the status of discussions.” Mexico has said it needs a deal by the end of April, or that talks might as well stretch past the country’s summer election, and then U.S. midterm elections this fall.

Canada and Mexico continue to push for permanent exemptions from the tariffs, which have been set at 25 per cent for steel and 10 per cent for aluminum. Canada is the leading source of U.S. imports of steel and aluminum. Steel is closely tied to the auto sector, one of the core disputes in NAFTA in which there’s been progress recently.

A White House statement said President Donald Trump will decide by May 1 “whether to continue to exempt (Canada and Mexico) from tariffs, based on the status of (NAFTA) discussions.”

“The United States is continuing discussions with Canada and Mexico,” along with the European Union, South Korea and others, “on satisfactory alternative means to address the threatened impairment to the national security by imports of steel articles from those countries,” Trump’s proclamation said.

Trump pledged to apply them unless “I determine by further proclamation that the United States has reached a satisfactory alternative means” to address “threatened impairment” of the steel sector.

The move comes after recent signs for optimism on NAFTA talks. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week “there seems to be a certain momentum around the table” and that “a win-win-win deal is not only possible but likely.” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday the countries are “finally starting to converge” on the critical issue of auto sector rules, but warned Thursday time was running out.

“I believe that substantial progress is being made but we are quickly running out of time if we are going to have this congress vote on a final passage,” Lighthizer said during a Senate hearing on Thursday in Washington.



Canadian dollar jumps half a cent as inflation hits three-year high, boosting chances of rate hike

TORONTO — The Canadian dollar strengthened to an 11-day high against the greenback on Friday as oil prices rose and hotter-than-expected domestic inflation data raised the chances of a further Bank of Canada interest rate hike over the coming months.

The annual inflation rate rose to 2.2 per cent, a three-year high, from 1.7 per cent in January, Statistics Canada said. Economists had forecast a rate of 2.0 per cent.

The Bank of Canada’s three measures of core inflation also all strengthened. “I think it will reinforce the view that the bank will keep slowly grinding rates higher,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The central bank has hiked rates three times since July even as it worried about a more uncertain outlook for trade. Chances of a hike in May rose to 82 per cent from 74 per cent before the data, the overnight index swaps market indicated. Still, separate data showing a weaker-than-expected 0.3 per cent rise in January retail sales added to the picture of a domestic economy that has lost some momentum in recent months.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, rose after the Saudi energy minister said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would need to keep coordinating supply cuts with non-member countries including Russia into 2019.

U.S. crude prices were up 1.1 per cent at US$65.02 a barrel. Friday morning the Canadian dollar was trading 0.7 per cent higher at 77.85 U.S. cents.

The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of major currencies as investors weighed escalating global trade tensions. Canada’s commodity-linked economy could be hurt if global trade slowed. But the loonie has benefited this week from optimism about a deal to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

Earning the big bucks: Why money managers are paid so much is a mystery

Why do workers in the financial industry get paid so much? There are many possible explanations, none of them completely satisfying. The financial industry commands a much larger share of the U.S. economy than in the past, causing some to worry that the industry gets more money than its economic contributions merit. The question is also important to workers thinking of going into finance, but for a different reason: Everyone wants to know how to get the big bucks.

The really big bucks, of course, go to people who start successful fund companies — titans such as Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates or Ken Griffin of Citadel LLC. But well below those lofty heights, there are many thousands of people making a comfortable living doing things like managing mutual funds.

The mutual-fund industry, to put it mildly, is big.

What are all those people getting paid to do? One possible answer is that they’re getting paid to earn market-beating returns. If you just want to do an average job, you don’t really need a trained investment professional to pick your assets — just invest in an index fund. And if you want to beat the market, a mutual fund probably isn’t your best bet. While there is evidence that active managers do beat the market before fees are deducted, after fees they tend to underperform. That’s unsurprising, since mutual funds tend to be big, and beating the market gets much harder as the amount of assets under management increases.

Even if investors don’t realize how difficult it is to outsmart the market, mutual-fund companies seem to get it. New research indicates that a fund manager’s performance probably isn’t even that big of a factor in determining his or her pay.

A recent paper by economists Markus Ibert, Ron Kaniel, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh and Roine Vestman looked at the mutual-fund industry in Sweden. Sweden has both a large, well-developed fund industry and highly detailed tax records. Ibert et al. connect managers with funds, and with families of funds, and try to figure out what accounts for the differences in their compensation.

Fund performance, they found, has a very weak relationship to manager pay. Managers’ returns vary a lot, as one might expect in an industry where performance is subject to the vagaries of the stock market. But the authors estimated that a one-standard-deviation increase in fund returns, relative to a benchmark, netted the manager only a 2.9 per cent increase in compensation — meaning that even very strong outperformance doesn’t get rewarded much at all.

Fund size, the authors found, is related to pay, but the relationship is again weaker than one might think — on average, only about 15 per cent of the fee revenue a fund gets from managing more assets gets passed through to the manager. And the relationship is even weaker for larger funds. Most of those enormous management fees are captured by mutual-fund companies, not by the people managing the funds.

So what do managers get paid for? Another recent paper, by Galit Ben Naim and Stanislav Sokolinski, offers one possible answer. Ben Naim and Sokolinski looked at Israeli mutual funds, using extremely comprehensive data collected by the Israeli government. Like Ibert et al., they found that market-beating performance was only weakly related to compensation — a one-standard-deviation increase in the amount that a manager beats his or her benchmark meant only a 5 per cent boost in pay, slightly better than what Ibert et al. found, but still pretty small.

Interestingly, Ben Naim and Sokolinski found that manager pay is more strongly related to overall fund performance, without the benchmark subtracted. That’s odd, because benchmarks are ostensibly just a bunch of things managers don’t really have control over, like the performance of the broader market.

Ben Naim and Sokolinski found a larger effect of fund size on manager pay — about 30 per cent, or roughly twice the size of what Ibert et al. found. Furthermore, they found that managers captured 40 per cent of the fee revenue that comes from investors putting more money in the fund (rather than increases in size that come from market returns, or from the company handing the manager more assets to manage).

These findings suggest that mutual-fund managers are paid less for beating the market than for marketing — i.e., the ability to collect assets. High passive returns, even if they aren’t due to skill, attract new investor money, which gets the company more management fees. And when more investor money comes in, managers get rewarded.

This bolsters the notion of “money doctors” — the idea that managers mainly add value by building trust with investors. Investors are naturally wary about putting their money in stocks and other risky assets, and want a qualified professional to tell them it’s safe to do so. This could potentially be a win-win relationship; investors pay fees, but get higher returns than they would if they had stayed out of the market. Or it could be a potentially toxic relationship, if managers use personal or cultural affinity to sell investors on a bad deal. More research is needed in order to tell how many money doctors are really quacks.

But the new research into fund-manager pay also shows that a large percentage of compensation remains unexplained, having apparently little to do with fund size or returns. There is a lot of money sloshing around in the financial industry, and much of how it gets divvied up remains a mystery.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Noah Smith is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.


China urges America to pull back from the ‘brink’ as trade war looms

BEIJING/SHANGHAI — China urged the United States on Friday to “pull back from the brink” as President Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs on up to US$60 billion in Chinese goods moved the world’s two largest economies closer to a trade war.

The escalating tensions sent shivers through financial markets as investors foresaw dire consequences for the global economy if trade barriers start going up.

Trump is planning to impose the tariffs for what he says is misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property. A probe was launched last year under Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act.

“China doesn’t hope to be in a trade war, but is not afraid of engaging in one,” the Chinese commerce ministry responded in a statement.

“China hopes the United States will pull back from the brink, make prudent decisions, and avoid dragging bilateral trade relations to a dangerous place.”

In a presidential memorandum signed by Trump on Thursday, there will be a 30-day consultation period that only starts once a list of Chinese goods is published. That effectively creates room for potential talks to address Trump’s allegations on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

U.S. President Donald Trump signs trade sanctions against China on Thursday, March 22, 2018, in the White House, imposing about $60 billion in Chinese goods imports.

Though the White House has said the planned tariffs were a response to China’s “economic aggression,” Trump said he views China as “a friend” and the two sides are in negotiations.

A Chinese commerce ministry official said both sides were in touch.

Still, it is unclear under what terms China and the U.S. are willing to talk, with Beijing adamant that the U.S. tariffs constitute a unilateral move that it rejects.

China has always said it will not hold talks with the U.S. within the framework of the Section 301 probe, Chen Fuli, director-general of the commerce ministry’s department of treaty and law, told reporters.

“Currently, we are not looking to get in a negotiation again,” a senior U.S. official told reporters in Beijing.

If China wants to avoid U.S. tariffs, it needs to start taking concrete action, the official said, adding that Washington has not given Beijing any to-do list to remedy trade ties.

Ready to retaliate

China showed readiness to retaliate by declaring plans to levy additional duties on up to US$3 billion of U.S. imports including fruit and wine in response to U.S. import tariffs on steel and aluminum, which were due to go into effect on Friday.

The inevitable fall in demand from a full-blown trade war would spell trouble for all economies supplying the United States and China.

Stocks plunged Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrials down more than 700 points, as investors feared that trade tensions will spike between the U.S. and China.

Feeling the chill, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 2.5 per cent, tracking heavy losses on Wall Street. China’s main indexes tumbled the most in six weeks, skidding up to 3.6 per cent.

“Today’s (U.S.) tariffs amount to no more than a slap on the wrist for China,” Mark Williams, Chief Asia Economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note. “China won’t change its ways. Worries about escalation therefore won’t go away.”

Williams estimated that the US$506 billion that China exported to the United States drove around 2.5 per cent of its total gross domestic product, and the US$50-60 billion targeted by the U.S. tariffs contributed just around 0.25 per cent.

Trump, however, appears intent on fulfilling election promises to reduce the record U.S. trade deficit with China. A commentary published by the official Xinhua news agency said the United States had adopted a “Cold War mentality,” and “panic” over China’s economic rise was driving Washington’s confrontational approach.

U.S. multi-nationals at a business gathering in Shanghai were warned by Stephen Roach, a Yale University economist, “to prepare for the worst” and make contingency plans until calmer heads prevail.

Roach said he could foresee “the Chinese government moving to restrict, in some form or another, the financial as well as the supply chain activities of American companies operating in this country.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China would not hold back in retaliating.

“It’s impolite not to give as good as one gets,” Hua told reporters.


Alarm over Trump’s protectionist leanings mounted earlier this month after he imposed hefty import tariffs on steel and aluminum under Section 232 of the 1962 U.S. Trade Expansion Act, which allows safeguards based on “national security.”

On Friday, Trump gave Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea and the European Union temporary exemptions. China was not exempted even though it was a far smaller supplier than Canada or South Korea.

Also omitted from the exemption list was U.S. ally Japan, though a government spokesman said Tokyo would press to be included. And Finance Minister Taro Aso expressed empathy with Washington over protecting intellectual property.

China’s retaliation against the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum appeared restrained.

China has drawn a list of 128 U.S. products that could be hit with tariffs if the two countries are unable to reach an agreement on trade issues, the ministry said.

Without giving a timeframe, the commerce ministry said China was considering implementing measures in two stages: first a 15 per cent tariff on 120 products including steel pipes, dried fruit and wine worth US$977 million, and later, a 25 per cent tariff on US$1.99 billion of pork and recycled aluminum.

U.S. wine exports to China last year were US$79 million, according to the U.S. Wine Institute, which represents Californian wine makers.

Fruit growers in California, Florida, Michigan and Washington all stood to lose as China’s list also included close to 80 fruit and nut products. The U.S. exported US$669 million of fruit, frozen juice and nuts to China last year, and it was the top supplier of apples, cherries, walnuts and almonds.

“With the restrained response, China hopes Trump can realize his errors and mend his ways,” said Xu Hongcai, deputy chief economist at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, a Beijing think tank.

“If we really want to counter, the strongest response would be to target soybean and automobiles. China is drawing its bow but not firing. We still have some cards to play.”

© Thomson Reuters 2018

CRTC calls for cheaper data-only wireless plans, but doesn’t open up networks to smaller players

Canada’s telecommunications regulator won’t require the Big Three wireless carriers to open up their wireless networks to smaller players yet, but it will make them come up with cheaper, data-only cell phone plans.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued a decision Thursday on wholesale wireless services after the federal government asked it to reconsider its rules in the name of affordability.

At stake was whether the regulator would force incumbents to open up their networks to smaller players that offered service over Wi-Fi first, but relied on the incumbents’ infrastructure when customers lost Wi-Fi connections. These providers don’t build complete facilities-based networks. As it stands, the Big Three may enter into agreements to provide such services, but it is not mandatory.

The CRTC did not change its existing rules. Instead, it promised to launch a review of the entire wholesale mobile wireless framework within a year. It said this is necessary given upcoming deployment of 5G networks and limited resale competition since the rules were first announced in 2015.

It also lowered mobile wholesale roaming rates by between 44 and 99 per cent, and will retroactively decrease prices paid since 2015. (Incumbents are required to provide roaming services to other wireless carriers.)

To address calls for affordability before its review of the entire wholesale system, the CRTC launched a consultation on lower-cost, data-only plans. It will give BCE Inc., Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc. one month to come up with such plans. It will then publish their proposals for the public to comment.

“Canadians are demanding greater choice of innovative and affordable mobile wireless services,” CRTC Chairman Ian Scott said in a statement.

“Today’s decision will see the introduction of lower-cost data-only plans throughout Canada as well as reduced final rates for wholesale roaming. As a result, Canadians stand to benefit from more investment in wireless networks and innovative and reasonably priced services.”

The federal government said it will review the decision, which it expects will result in new, more affordable wireless plans.

“Today’s decision by the CRTC is a step in the right direction, but more must be done: true affordability can only come from true competition,” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navarro Bains said in a statement.

Consumer advocacy group OpenMedia criticized the decision as “frustrating” for Canadians fed up with high wireless prices.

Requiring network access “would allow smaller providers to enter the market with more affordable options, which is the key to encouraging competition and providing relief from the Big Three,” Katy Anderson, OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist, said in a statement.

“Instead, today we saw more of the same: A lack of action to address affordability through competition.”

Officials from Telus, Rogers and Bell said the companies supported the CRTC’s decision to support facilities-based operators.

Telus said the wholesale rates were lower than desired, but have been accounted for in its plans. It also noted it already offers low-cost plans through its flanker brand Public Mobile.

“Canada has some of the world’s fastest and most extensive telecommunications networks in large part because government and regulators have stayed true to longstanding government policy that has supported facilities-based competition as the only sustainable form of competition,” Telus said.

Rogers Senior Vice-President David Watt said the company also supported the decision.

“We believe the Commission made the right decision today by supporting innovation for Canadians and competition through facilities-based investment. We look forward to participating in the follow-up proceeding.”

Bell spokesman Marc Choma said the company would file its proposal for low-cost plans.

“We support the continued commitment to the government’s successful policy of facilities-based investment and competition in wireless.”