Value of U.S. commercial property slashed by 27%, Financial Times reports

September 27, 2020

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The economic effects of the coronavirus are battering the U.S. commercial-backed securities market, raising the question of the value of hotels, malls, and other buildings that act as collateral for mortgages, according to a report in the Financial Times on Sunday.

Wells Fargo estimates that U.S. properties that have gotten into trouble are being written down by 27% on average, according to the report. (

Declining appraisal values could hammer portfolio managers that have moved into the commercial mortgage-backed securities market in search for yield at a time when the Federal Reserve has indicated that it will keep benchmark yields near zero until 2023 at the earliest.

(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Revolution eye another road win in D.C.

The New England Revolution aim to ride the momentum of their strongest offensive showing of the season into their road match against D.C. United on Sunday night.

The Revolution (4-3-6, 18 points) flipped the switch and secured their first home victory with a galvanizing 3-1 win over Montreal on Wednesday. Gustavo Bou joined Henry Kessler and Diego Fagundez in providing the offense against the Impact.

“He’s a goal scorer. He’ll score goals,” New England coach Bruce Arena said of the 30-year-old Bou, who is tied with Teal Bunbury for the team lead in goals (four).

“The last couple of games I think he’s backed off from a couple chances, so (Wednesday’s) goal I think will give him a little confidence. And if he can be a little bit more aggressive, he should score goals.”

Bou liked what he saw from his team’s ability to generate offensive opportunities vs. Montreal.

“I think we created about five or six solid chances (Wednesday) and scored three, so as a forward and as an attacker I’m really happy with that, and I think this is really going to help us moving forward,” Bou said through a translator.

Bou and Bunbury each scored a goal in the first half of the Revolution’s 2-1 road win over D.C. United on Aug. 25.

Ola Kamara converted a penalty kick in that match vs. New England. Kamara shares the team lead in goals with two for D.C. United (2-6-5, 11 points), who saw their winless streak extend to four matches (0-2-2) with a 1-0 decision to expansion Nashville SC on Wednesday.

“We were a bunch of frauds in the first half of that game and it was an unacceptable performance from us,” D.C. United midfielder Russell Canouse said. “It was uninspiring. We looked like we were still on Sun Country Airlines or whatever we flew here this morning and it just wasn’t cutting it.”

Federico Higuain, who joins defender Frederic Brillant and Kamara with two goals apiece, scored D.C. United’s lone goal in a 1-1 draw with the Revolution on July 17.

–Field Level Media

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Voucher Scheme Rolled Out for Specialty Timbers Stimulus

The state government has introduced a voucher system to support the specialty timbers industry through the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $7.5 million scheme, equivalent to the first tranche of the tourism vouchers, was welcomed by the seven people who work in the industry who each pocketed a million dollars. Another half a million went to a blind, deaf, three-legged dog called Boof who has been the industry’s spokesperson for the last ten years.

“Um, yeah, it’s great,” said Boof from his home in the deep south, which he’s currently insulating with fading Robert-Armstrong-for-Huon election signs. “Would have preferred to use orange-bellied parrot feathers but those greenie bastards won’t let us get any permits to shoot vermin.”

The vouchers were snapped up in ‘just’ four months, having taken that long for Boof to finish his oral submission to the Legislative Council’s Everything Bad In Tasmania Is Because of TreeHuggers Inquiry.

“But seriously, this money is sorely needed. Along with the rest of the forest industries we’ve only squandered a billion dollars over the last three decades, so more handouts are overdue.”

“At least those backscratchers we make have come in handy,” he said with a wink.

The state government clarified that the million dollar vouchers can be spent on flanellette shirts, bile-laden Facebook rants, fake coffins, bad dentistry, adult diapers, and 1950s agricultural textbooks about how to conquer nature until it’s begging for its goddam life.

Boof dismissed concerns that it was unethical to log old-growth forests for timber during a climate emergency.

“Can the world economy survive without sheltered workshops for hairy man babies hand-carving letter openers out of rare tiger myrtle?

I think not.”

Pausing to display a fine pair of hand-made, artesan-sculpted, mastercraftsman-slobbered black sassafras massage balls on sale for $1,995 on, Boof noted that there were few employment opportunities in rural areas.

“Apart from local retail, and services, and agriculture, transport, rural education, health, consulting, tourism and hospitality, engineering, processing, road maintenance, manufacturing, automotive and equipment provision and service, land rehabilitation and monitoring, renewable energy, government jobs, and sustainable niche industries, it’s a wasteland out here.”

Boof said the specialty timbers industry would also benefit from a new federal scheme called JobGrifter.

“I understand it’ll be used to prop up any deadbeat industry that should have used its luxury taxpayer handouts of like forever to develop its own resources, but has instead descended into a gimme-gimme rabble of squealing party donors bog rats.”

Boof argued that the specialty timbers industry deserved special consideration, given its commitment to stop using native forest products by at least 2850.

“We’re confident we can make that date work, as long as we get adequate government support until then,” he concluded. “Otherwise it may be around 2970, who knows?”

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent=”no” parentcategory=”writers” show = “category” hyperlink=”yes”]

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Police Shove, Spray and Arrest Protesters in Belarus

Belarus police cracked down on protesters in the cities of Homel and Hrodna on Sunday, September 27, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Demonstrators against President Alexander Lukashenko have erupted across Belarus since the president’s administration announced his victory in country’s presidential election on August 9. The results were denounced by opposition politicians who claimed the election was rigged, and the vote was criticized abroad. Many of Lukashenko’s opponents have since been forced to flee the country. This footage from Sunday shows police shoving, spraying and arresting several people during demonstrations in the cities of Homel and Hrodna, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty via Storyful

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Japanese prisoner of war artworks shine light on dark period of WWII history in Australia

Art historians are only just discovering the trove of artworks made by Japanese war prisoners and internees detained in camps throughout Australia and New Zealand during World War II.

On August 5, 1944, more than 1,000 Japanese prisoners of war staged an audacious escape from a camp in one of the deadliest events on Australian soil at the time.

Decades later, artworks made in the camp began to emerge in the central western New South Wales town of Cowra.

“The Japanese POWs had given these particular items to the Australian guards at the Cowra POW camp,” secretary of the Cowra Breakout Association Graham Apthorpe said.

Mr Apthorpe said the preservation of such artworks was evidence of the amiable relationship between former rivals.

“To see that the Japanese, who basically were a hated enemy during World War II, there was a human side to them,” he said.

“These artworks were just an example of how that peace was kept up there.”

But Mr Apthorpe said it was a wonder how the detailed pieces were actually made.

“While there were some basic art supplies given to prisoners, they must have considerable initiative in putting their skills together in fairly basic conditions,” he said.

Cowra, in central western New South Wales, is where the Japanese prisoners of war were held during World War II.(Supplied: Australian War Memorial)

Rich period of Japanese art

Flinders University art historian Tets Kimura has been studying artworks created by Japanese prisoners of war and civilian internees.

“They were actually encouraged, rather than discouraged to make the art products,” Dr Kimura said.

He collaborated with associate professor Richard Bullen from University of Canterbury to publish an article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art.

A group of civilian Japanese internees in front of a building.
Historians say more than 5,000 Japanese people were imprisoned at camps throughout Australia and New Zealand during WWII.(Supplied: Australian War Memorial)

More than 5,000 Japanese people were held in camps at Cowra and Hay in NSW, Tatura in Victoria, Loveday in South Australia and in other locations throughout New Zealand.

While the artworks created may lack in monetary value, Dr Kimura said they provided an insight into the lives and desires of those held captive.

“Studying of art objects is another way of learning their narratives,” he said.

A drawing of a woman wearing a dress.
Some of the artwork include those drawn by detainee Ryo ‘Akira’ Kanazawa while awaiting trial for his leading role in the Cowra camp breakout in 1944.(Supplied: Cowra Regional Art Gallery)

Recurring visual motifs

The researchers observed works made in civilian internment camps, which held women and children, differed from those made in all-male facilities.

Internees at the camps in South Australia had access to native hardwoods for carving works, Dr Kimura said.

“They could actually use those timbers to make some wooden [objects] such as boxes or some sculptures,” he said.

Meanwhile, imprisoned soldiers often created artworks displaying strong nationalistic symbols, he said.

“Works made by them carried strong Japanese identity in their paintings: Japanese castles, or the popular choice of Mount Fuji,” Dr Kimura said.

Japanese POW wooden sculpture Barmera
A wooden sculpture of kissing figures carved by a Japanese internee held in South Australia during WWII.(Supplied: Barmera Visitor Information Centre)

Images of the red and white rising sun flag, along with depictions of women wearing kimonos and western dresses were common themes throughout the all-male environments, he said.

In his research Dr Kimura found other detainees made game pieces and playing cards using medicine, instead of paints, for colouring.

Call for public support

When the war ended in 1945, the majority of prisoners and interns were returned to Japan, with only about 100 civilians remaining in Australia, Dr Kimura said.

After their departure, there was no record of art being made by Japanese people in Australia until the mid-1980s, the researchers wrote.

Dr Kimura said his aim was to catalogue the wartime artworks throughout Australia, when pandemic restrictions finally ease.

He believes there are more similar items scattered throughout communities where war prisons and internment camps once existed.

A set of playing cards decorated with images of flowers.
A group of detainees sent home to Japan at the end of WWII left ‘hanafuda’ (flower cards), made from cigarette packets, on a train seat in Sydney.(Supplied: Australian War Memorial)

“They may not be valuable to you, but they are valuable for art historians like us.”

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Ontario reports 491 new cases of COVID-19, highest daily increase since early May

Ontario reported that the province had 491 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest number since May 2.

Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and York Region led the daily case count, according to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Elliott said in a tweet that there are 137 new cases in Toronto, 131 in Peel Region, 58 in Ottawa and 58 in York Region.

A full 63 per cent of cases are among people under the age of 40.

The province processed more than 42,500 tests on Saturday.

As of Sunday at 10:30 a.m., a total of 2,839 people in Ontario had died of COVID-19, according to provincial figures.

A total of 112 are hospitalized, a number that is on the rise. On Saturday, the province reported that there were 100 people in hospital. 

Of the people in hospital, the province says 28 are in intensive care units and 16 of them are on ventilators. The number of people on ventilators has increased by one since Saturday.

Ontario has a cumulative total of 49,831 cases, of which 42,796 are marked as resolved. 

Rise in new cases ‘of great concern,’ province says

Ivana Yelich, spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, said the provincial government is concerned about the increase in the daily case count.

“The rise in cases continues to be of great concern. That is why our government took action to tighten public health measures on private social gatherings as well as restaurants and bars. It’s important to note that the results of these actions will not be seen immediately,” Yelich said on Sunday.

“It is, however, critical that Ontarians continue to do their part in controlling the spread of COVID-19 by following the rules that are in place,” she added.

“We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and act on the public health advice of the Chief Medical Office of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table.”

The tightening of public health measures to slow the spread of the virus took effect in the last 10 days in Ontario.

Ontario’s bars and restaurants, for example, can no longer serve alcohol after 11 p.m. as of this weekend. Strip clubs have also been closed.

As well, private social gatherings across Ontario are now limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. That limit was imposed on Sept. 19.

In a separate statement, the Ontario health ministry said it is keeping a close eye on the number of hospitalizations and is continuing to build capacity in the health care system.

“We are in the process of rolling out our comprehensive fall preparedness plan, which includes public health measures to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19,” the health ministry said.

A closed sign is visible in the window of MARBL restaurant in downtown Toronto. Toronto Public Health has ordered three King Street West restaurant, including this one, to close as it seeks to protect the public from the spread of COVID-19. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Toronto Public Health closes 3 restaurants

In Toronto, where 1,178 have died of the virus as of Friday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) has temporarily closed three downtown restaurants to protect the public from COVID-19.

MARBL, King Taps and Casa Mezcal received orders on Friday night to close. A fourth is being served with an order.

TPH is notifying staff and patrons of two other establishments, Yonge Street Warehouse and Regulars Bar, this weekend that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Seven cases are linked to Yonge Street Warehouse, while three cases are linked to Regulars Bar.

Individual protective measures matter, health officer says

On Sunday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement that, as of Friday, an average of 1,175 cases were being reported daily across Canada over a seven-day period.

She said labs across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of nearly 70,000 people tested daily last week and 1.4 per cent of these testing positive.

“As we head into another week, we need to be vigilant about rising cases and increasing hospitalizations, particularly in areas where cases are increasing most rapidly,” Tam said.

“Surges in cases, leading to increases in hospitalizations can quickly overwhelm public health and healthcare system resources in localized areas, while increasing the likelihood of spread to more areas.”

People wait in a line for COVID-19 testing in Toronto. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said abs across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of nearly 70,000 people tested daily last week. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Tam said every protective measure that Canadians can take matters to lower the overall rate of infection in communities because every person that people encounter brings a “whole network of contacts history with them.”

Reducing the number, duration and closeness of encounters makes a difference, she added.

“The quickest and safest way for Canada to get back on the slow burn is for us all to for us to take every measure during every moment of our day, and always act in a way that can prevent the spread of illness to others,” Tam said.

That means keeping a two metre distance from others outside of individual bubbles, frequent hand washing, wearing a mask where appropriate, limiting the amount of time and number of people in close contact, choosing lower risk settings or situations where public health measures are in place whenever possible.

Still have questions about COVID-19? These CBC News stories will help.

Is another lockdown coming in Ontario? What do we know about the Ford government’s fall plan?

CBC Queen’s Park reporter Mike Crawley obtained a draft copy of the plan

What’s the latest on where I should get tested?

It’s confusing, but here’s an explainer complete with a flow chart

What’s the most recent guidance on mask use?

Reporter Lauren Pelley took a look at what the experts are advising

What should I do about my COVID bubble?

With cases going up, even small gatherings are getting riskier

Who is getting COVID-19?

CBC News crunched the data from across Canada to get the clearest picture possible




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NTPC seeks bids for biomass pellets to fuel thermal power plants

NEW DELHI: India’s top power utility NTPC Ltd has sought bids for procuring biomass pellets to fuel its thermal power plants, the government statement said on Sunday, in an effort to cut down air pollution from burning of crop residue.

The state-owned power producer aims to use 5 million tonnes of pellets, made from crop waste, to fuel 17 of its power plants in the current year, the statement said.

Farmers across the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana burn off vast swathes of paddy stalk and straw between mid- to late-October and early November, to prepare ground for winter planting.

“The power producer will give preference to bids from suppliers from Punjab and Haryana,” the statement said.

Every winter, a thick blanket of smog settles over northern India as a combination of factors such as the burning of crop waste, industrial emissions and vehicle exhaust brings a sharp spike in air pollution levels.

This year, India expects to reduce crop waste burning by as much as 80% in Punjab and Haryana states, part of the country’s farm belt that borders the capital New Delhi, government officials said.

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‘There’s a danger if you come from a working class background… that the establishment will absorb you’ – Diane Abbott on getting into politics

Diane Abbott has been making history and headlines throughout her career.

She was the first black woman to be elected to parliament and the first black MP to represent her party at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Now a new authorised biography details her rise from working-class roots to Labour front bencher.

And it explores the thorny issues around that crushing defeat in last December’s election.

We went to meet her in her constituency.

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