Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90, meets Britain's queen in new book

2016-05-26 15:13:05

LONDON Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90 this year and the much-loved children's character returns for a new adventure in which he meets someone else celebrating the same significant birthday -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth. "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday" sees the popular bear from A.A. Milne's children's stories travel to London with friends Christopher Robin, Piglet and Eeyore, where they take in the famous sites and arrive at Buckingham Palace.The short illustrated and audio story, which can be downloaded for free, has been released to celebrate both birthdays. Elizabeth turned 90 last month while Milne's first Winnie-the-Pooh book came out in October 1926. "There's such a wit and a style to the stories that adults enjoy reading them to children," British actor Jim Broadbent, who narrates the audio story, said in a video release. "... The children love them and they then love them and want to pass them on to the next generation and they carry on." (Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

2016-05-18 14:13:04

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Canadian oilfield workers readying return after wildfire

2016-05-12 04:13:05

CALGARY/LAC LA BICHE, Alberta Workers for one of the largest oil sands companies affected by a wildfire in northern Canada will begin returning to the shuttered facilities on Thursday, a union official said, the latest indication the key petroleum production area was slowly coming back online.Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the premier of the province of Alberta and the head of the Canadian Red Cross announced that residents of Fort McMurray, the oil-boom town that was evacuated last week because of the fire, would be offered direct financial aid.In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau established an ad hoc cabinet committee to coordinate federal relief efforts. Trudeau will tour the fire zone on Friday. Ken Smith, president of Unifor Local 707, the union that represents 3,400 Suncor Energy Inc workers, said the company would start to fly employees back to its oil sands base plant from Thursday. "It will take a few days to get the plant up and in condition to start handling feed," Smith said. Facilities north of Fort McMurray that had been shuttered largely because of heavy smoke rather than fire were likely to come back on line first, in a matter of days in many cases. Roughly 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of output were shut down during the fire, about half of the oil sands' usual daily production.Late Wednesday, Enbridge Inc said it had restarted its 550,000 bpd Line 18 pipeline, which carries crude from the company's Cheecham terminal 380 kilometers (236 miles) south to the regional crude trading hub of Edmonton. Enbridge also said crews were on site at its facilities in the Fort McMurray region and confirmed its terminals were not damaged by the wildfire.Royal Dutch Shell Plc was the first company to resume operations in the area, restarting its Albian Sands mines at a reduced rate. The facility can produce up to 255,000 bpd. Syncrude, controlled by Suncor, restarted power generation at its oil sands mine in Aurora, north of the city, on Tuesday as it began planning to resume operations. The site has a total capacity of around 315,000 bpd.Dozens of repair trucks and other vehicles headed for the oil fields on Wednesday, driving north along the main highway into the area, a Reuters eyewitness said. Some were towing heavy equipment.Still, some projects to the south and east of Fort McMurray remained unreachable as the fire threat persisted. The town remained shut to residents."The area is still very ... dangerous with some hot spots still throughout the city and areas of concern," said Kevin Kunetzki of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.Around 300 RCMP members are patrolling the town and have found 100 homes showing signs of break-ins. This could be a result of concerned residents trying to check on neighbors, rather than burglars, he told a news conference in Edmonton.The size of the fire was little changed on Wednesday at roughly 229,000 hectares (566,000 acres) and moving away from the community. There are 700 firefighters, 32 helicopters, 13 air tankers and 83 pieces of heavy equipment units working on the Fort McMurray fire, the government said.Alberta is making cash available immediately to the 90,000 evacuees from the fire zone. The funds, C$1,250 per adult and C$500 per child, would be distributed by debit cards beginning immediately to evacuees in Edmonton, Calgary and Lac La Biche.Canadian Red Cross Chief Executive Conrad Sauve said his agency was making C$50 million in funds available to the relief effort now, out of C$67 million that had been raised so far. The money will be distributed as electronic funds transfers of C$600 for each adult and C$300 for each child, he said."This is the most important cash transfer we have done in our history and the fastest one," he told a news conference with Alberta premier Rachel Notley. The local government council held its first meeting since the evacuations in Edmonton on Thursday. The mood was somber and defiant.Authorities in Lac la Biche, a small town south of Fort McMurray where many evacuees are staying, opened its fishing season four days early to provide temporary residents "with a well-deserved family recreational opportunity," a statement said. (Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Liz Hampton in Calgary and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Dan Burns in Toronto; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Officials encouraged by how much of Canada city spared by wildfire

2016-05-10 10:31:06

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta Canadian officials who got their first glimpse on Monday of the oil sands boomtown of Fort McMurray since a wildfire erupted said they were encouraged by how much of it escaped destruction, estimating almost 90 percent of its buildings were saved.But a tour of the fire-ravaged city also revealed scenes of utter devastation, with blocks of homes reduced to blackened foundations, front steps and metal barbecues. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said 2,400 structures had burned within the city while almost 25,000 were saved.The fire that has ravaged some 204,000 hectares (504,000 acres) of the western Canadian province moved far enough from the evacuated town of 88,000 people to allow an official delegation led by the Notley to visit."We were really encouraged today to see the extent of residential communities that were saved," Notley said. "That of course doesn't mean there aren't going to be some really heartbreaking images for some people to see when they come back."Reporters on the tour viewed the charred rubble of the community's Beacon Hill neighborhood, where some 80 percent of the homes had been burned to the ground and the wreckage of blackened and melted cars remained on roads.Notley said it was not safe for residents to enter the city unescorted, with parts still smoldering and large areas without power, water and gas. She said repair crews will have weeks of work ahead of them.Fire Chief Darby Allen told reporters that 85 percent of the buildings in Fort McMurray had survived the blaze, offering a slightly lower estimate than Notley. All schools except one that had been under construction were intact. Notley credited the efforts of firefighters who battled the out-of-control blaze for days.The assessment by officials came a few hours after insurance experts revised sharply downward their estimates of the cost of damage from the blaze, which began on May 1. Canada's largest property and casualty insurer Intact Financial Corp expects to suffer losses ranging from C$130 million to C$160 million ($100 million-$123 million) from the wildfire. Intact used satellite imagery and geocoding technology to see if buildings were a total loss or partially destroyed.Analysts said Intact's forecast implied overall industry losses of between C$1 billion C$1.1 billion, much less than one earlier forecast of C$9 billion.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed a multi-year commitment by the national government to rebuild Fort McMurray but gave no details.Fire officials said the blaze was still large, growing and dangerous. But they noted cooler weather had slowed the fire's spread and would help in the coming days. High temperatures and winds accelerated the blaze last week. RAIN NEEDED TO TAME 'BEAST'The cool weather was expected to linger through Thursday, according to Environment Canada. Still, much of Alberta is tinder-box dry after a mild winter and warm spring."This beast is so big, we need rain to fix it," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.Government weather forecasts show the first possibility of rain on Wednesday with a 30 percent chance. Notley said she expected to be able to provide a schedule within two weeks for the return of residents. Thousands of evacuees are camped in nearby towns.Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region. About half of its crude output, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate.In one encouraging sign for industry, Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it restarted production at a reduced rate at its Albian oil sands mining operation in Alberta, and it plans to fly staff in and out.But Statoil ASA said it will suspend all production at its Leismer oil sands project in northern Alberta until midstream terminals needed to transport crude oil via pipeline reopen.And Imperial Oil said it completed a controlled shutdown of its Kearl oil sands mining project due to uncertainties associated with logistics.Other shutdowns include Nexen Energy's Long Lake facility, Suncor Energy's base plant operations, a Syncrude project and Conoco Phillips' Surmont project.Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the fire safely, although two teenagers died in a car crash during the evacuation. (With additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa, Nia Williams in Calgary and Matt Schuffman, Ethan Lou and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)

Alberta officials to inspect town ravaged by Canadian wildfire

2016-05-09 18:52:05

LAC LA BICHE, Alberta Canadian officials on Monday planned to take their first look at the oil boom town ravaged by the nation's most destructive wildfire in recent memory as the blaze turned away from populated areas and cooler weather slowed its spread.Alberta's premiere, Rachel Notley, was set to lead local officials and media on an inspection of oil sands boomtown Fort McMurray, whose 88,000 inhabitants barely had time to flee the blaze that broke out on May 1.Notley warned the nation to brace for grim images, with entire neighborhoods destroyed, though the flames had moved far enough away from the town to make an inspection safe, officials said."The head of the fire is well away from the community. There's been some growth, but limited growth, and that's due to the change in weather," said wildfire information officer Matthew Anderson on CBC television. Firefighters hoped that cooler, possibly rainy, weather would aid in the battle against the blaze.Temperatures cooled on Monday, with a forecast high of 10C (50°F), down from Sunday's high of 17 C (63°F), with Environment Canada forecasting a 40 percent chance of showers in Fort McMurray. The cool weather was expected to linger through Thursday. Still, much of the province of Alberta in western Canada is tinder-box dry after a mild winter and warm spring. Alberta's government said Monday the fire had consumed 161,000 hectares (395,000 acres), an estimate unchanged from Sunday. It had expanded to within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the border of Saskatchewan, a province east of Alberta, but was not expected to cross into the neighboring province, said Travis Fairweather, an Alberta wildlife information officer.Officials said it was too early to know when the thousands of evacuees camped out in nearby towns could go back to Fort McMurray, even if their homes were intact. The city's gas has been turned off, its power grid isdamaged and the water is undrinkable.Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands region.About half of its crude output, or 1 million barrels per day, has been taken offline, according to a Reuters estimate. U.S. oil prices fell 1.8 percent on Monday morning. The inferno could become the costliest naturaldisaster in Canada's history. One analyst estimated insurancelosses could exceed C$9 billion ($7 billion). Nearly all of Fort McMurray's residents escaped the firesafely, although two people died in a car crash duringthe evacuation.In a Sunday evening message, Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen sent condolences to the families of the two teenage cousins who died in the crash. One victim, 15-year-old Emily Ryan, was the daughter of a fireman in the city. (With additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Ethan Lou and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Richard Pullin and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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