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Japan Olympics Tokyo Stadium

Japan scales back Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium plans

TOKYO — Japan’s government has approved a plan to reduce the seating and slash the construction cost of the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after public opposition to the initial design. The cabinet approved the revised plan Friday, which would cap the price tag at 155 billion yen ($1.3 billion), down from the plan for a 252 billion yen stadium that the government abruptly scrapped in July. The plan calls for a 68,000-seat stadium for the Olympics, down from the initially-required 80,000, though it would be expandable to that size for later events. The earlier design was scrapped following a public outcry over the hefty price tag, which was nearly double the original estimate and would have made it the most expensive sports stadium ever. The plan for the new facility calls for a stadium to “convey Japan’s exquisite tradition and culture to the rest of the world” and blend well into the historical environment and aesthetics of a traditional Shinto shrine in the neighborhood, with ample use of wooden materials. It calls for a “realistically best plan” while pursuing the cost-cutting effort, and the stadium, which will be primarily used for athletics events during the Games, will have a partial roof just above spectator seats. The contractors for designing and construction will be chosen in late December ahead of the start of construction by December 2016. “We must make sure to get the new national stadium completed in time for the opening of the 2020 Games,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the outset of Friday’s meeting. The government will issue tenders for construction of the stadium based on the new parameters. The revised construction schedule will be extremely tight. The stadium will not be able to accommodate the 2019 World Cup rugby as originally planned. The plan approved Friday says the stadium must be ready by April but calls for further effort to speed up the construction for a completion as early as the end of January 2020 to meet the deadline proposed by International Olympic Committee. During his visit in Tokyo last week, IOC vice president John Coates made the timeline request to Japanese Olympic officials while saying the IOC did not insist on an 80,000 capacity, the size for the earlier design.


Claims for jobless benefits fall to three-week low

WASHINGTON — Filings for jobless benefits declined to a three-week low, indicating persistent demand is encouraging employers to maintain headcounts. Unemployment applications dropped by 6,000 to 271,000 in the week ended Aug. 22, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 274,000 jobless claims. Demand for skilled workers as the unemployment rate falls is convincing hiring managers to keep staffing levels consistent with sales. Pay raises, alongside strengthening job security, would help provide a bigger boost to consumer spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy. “Companies are concerned that if they let people go, even if they’re not their star employees, that it’ll be difficult to replace them,” Aaron Smith, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “Wage pressures should be picking up, supporting the positive outlook for consumer spending.” Another report Thursday from the Commerce Department showed a bigger advance in household purchases in the second quarter than previously estimated. A 3.1 percent increase in spending helped boost gross domestic product to a 3.7 percent gain in the three months ended in June. Business spending, government outlays and homebuilding were also revised higher for the quarter. Estimates in the Bloomberg survey of 50 economists for jobless claims ranged from 260,000 to 280,000 after an initially reported 277,000 filings a week earlier. Applications for benefits dropped to 255,000 in mid-July, the lowest level since November 1973. No states were estimated last week and there was nothing unusual in the data, according to the Labor Department. The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, rose to 272,500 from 271,500 in the prior week. The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 13,000 to 2.27 million in the week ended Aug. 15. Since the beginning of March, claims have held below the 300,000 level that economists say is consistent with an improving labor market.

Economy GDP

Economy grows 3.7 percent in second quarter

WASHINGTON — The economy grew more than previously estimated in the second quarter on bigger gains in consumer and business spending that show the U.S. expansion got back on track. A surge in inventories also signals such strong growth will be difficult to sustain in the short run. Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 3.7 percent annualized rate, exceeding all estimates of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and up from the 2.3 percent the Commerce Department reported last month, figures showed Thursday in Washington. American households, bolstered by gains in employment, rising home prices and cheaper fuel costs, will probably continue to spur the economy in the second half of the year. At the same time, a record surge in stockpiles represents another headwind for manufacturers already contending with a rising dollar and slumping emerging markets that have hurt exports. “The economy was on firm footing coming into the second half,” Millan Mulraine, deputy head of research and strategy at TD Securities USA in New York, said before the report. “The outlook going forward has more to do with global markets.” The report comes as Federal Reserve policymakers debate whether growth is strong enough to withstand the first increase in the benchmark interest rate since 2006. While the job market has made strides since the recession ended, inflation remains well short of the central bank’s goal. Additionally, the global plunge in stocks also could argue for a delay. The median forecast of 79 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 3.2 percent gain in GDP, or the value of all goods and services produced. Forecasts ranged from 2.3 percent to 3.6 percent. A report Thursday from the Labor Department showed fewer Americans applied for unemployment insurance benefits last week. Jobless claims declined by 6,000 to 271,000 in the week ended Aug. 22. That’s just above a four-decade low of 255,000 reached in mid-July. The latest GDP estimate is the second of three for the quarter, with the third release scheduled for late September when more information becomes available. The economy grew at a 0.6 percent pace from January through March, restrained by harsh winter weather, a labor dispute at West Coast ports and a slump in energy-industry investment after oil prices dropped. Thursday’s report also offered a first look at corporate earnings. Before-tax profits rose 2.4 percent in the second quarter, after dropping 5.8 percent in the prior period. From the same time last year, profits were down 0.5 percent. The biggest driver of the upward revision for second- quarter GDP was a bigger gain in business investment, which included stronger readings on construction, research and development and inventories. The 8.6 percent advance in spending on intellectual property was the largest since the last quarter of 2007. The surge in stockpiles is a double-edged sword because, while it boosted growth last quarter, companies will probably need to trim the amount of goods on hand from July through September, leading to cuts in production that will restrain GDP. Stockpiles climbed at a $121.1 billion annualized pace compared with an initially estimated $110 billion, and added 0.2 percentage point to economic growth. Following the first quarter’s $112.8 billion increase, it marked the biggest back-to-back gain in inventories since records began in 1947. “It does raise the risk that at some point later in the year we might see a little bit of pullback in inventories” as companies cut production, Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities in New York, said before the report. Household consumption, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy, grew at a 3.1 percent annualized rate, revised from an initial estimate of 2.9 percent and following a 1.8 percent advance from January through March. Gains in consumers’ purchasing power cooled last quarter, with disposable income adjusted for inflation rising at a 1.3 percent rate from April through June after a 3.9 percent gain in the first quarter. The saving rate decreased to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent in the first three months of the year. Still, “the U.S. consumer is looking healthy,” Jennifer Lee, a senior economist in Toronto for BMO Capital Markets, said before the report. “Employment is strong. The housing recovery is going to continue.” The report also included revisions to first-quarter personal income. Wages and salaries rose by $49.8 billion, revised up by $5.6 billion. They climbed by $47.7 billion in the second quarter. Gross domestic income, which reflects all the money earned by consumers, businesses and government agencies climbed at a 0.6 percent annualized rate in the second quarter after a 0.4 percent advance, the report showed. Government spending also was a standout last quarter, increasing at a 2.6 percent pace, the most in five years. State and local outlays increased at the fastest rate since late 2001. Fed policy makers, considering raising the benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006, are monitoring the global stock-market turmoil. “From my perspective, at this moment, the decision to begin the normalization process at the September FOMC meeting seems less compelling to me than it was a few weeks ago,” New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said Wednesday, cautioning it’s important not to overreact to short-term developments. He also described the economy as “performing quite well.” Dudley said one important way that market volatility could influence the U.S. economy was though the so-called wealth effect, in the event that stock market losses lead Americans to cut back their spending. Another key channel is what happens to inflation, which has been running below the Fed’s two percent target for over three years.

Hong Kong Financial Markets-11

Chinese stocks bounce back strongly

BEIJING — Chinese markets rose dramatically Thursday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index soaring quickly in less than an hour of late afternoon trading to finish up a significant 5.3 percent. The Shenzhen Composite also closed up 3.58 percent. The Shanghai index rose on opening, and then was down .65 percent in the last hour of trading before shooting up in the last 46 minutes, staging an enormous, quick turnaround of 6.11 percent. Trading volumes were heavier than usual, which could point to some sort of state intervention. The Chinese government did intervene to shore up the stock market ahead of a Sept. 3 military parade celebrating the country’s World War II victory over Japan, Bloomberg News reported, citing unidentified sources. The government bought blue-chip stocks, Bloomberg reported. It said the sources asked not to be identified because the move was not publicly announced. Other Asian markets — in Japan, South Korea and Australia, for example — were also up. The gains followed a solid rebound on Wall Street on Wednesday and ended six days of stomach-turning losses linked mostly to questions about China’s economic health. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed more than 600 points Wednesday, its third-largest points gain. The Dow, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Nasdaq each climbed close to 4 percent. The bearish sentiment was bolstered by comments from William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve, who said Wednesday that the prospect of a September interest rate hike “seems less compelling” given the recent market turmoil. Wall Street’s recovery came after a wild day of whipsaw trading in Asia on Wednesday, despite monetary easing by China’s central bank. China’s central bank cut interest rates Tuesday and lowered the reserve requirement for banks in an apparent effort to ease stock panic and rev up the real economy. But analysts worry that was not enough and predict ongoing volatility in the days and weeks ahead. “The downward trend has not changed. The market is on track to bottom out,” said Shenzhen-based Yang Delong, chief strategy analyst at China Southern Asset Management. “The rebound [in China] is a technical rebound. It is the market self-correcting after several recent big drops.” The easing by the People’s Bank of China “may have halted the panic stock market selling but we think it’s too early to expect a lasting relief from the global market volatility,” echoed ING’s Prakash Sakpal in a note dated Wednesday. Li Keqiang, China’s premier, stressed this week that despite ongoing market swings, the economy as a whole is sound and should meet its year-end targets. “Fundamentally, the overall stability of the Chinese economy has not changed, and positive factors sustaining a turn for the better in the real economy are accumulating,” Li said in a meeting Tuesday, state media reported. The country’s state-controlled press quickly backed the view — and slammed foreign observers for “hype” about an economic slowdown. “Some people around the world have rather impatiently spoken of the so-called end of the China model, or of a hidden financial crisis in China,” read a comment in the People’s Daily, signed Zhong Sheng. “China is devoting rarely seen courage to comprehensively deepen reform. The world also needs to reform its perspectives on China.”

National Business

APTOPIX GOP 2016 Trump

Trump slammed by Univision CEO as Megyn Kelly and Jorge Ramos have a heart-to-heart

The man behind the network behind the news anchor that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tossed out of a news conference Tuesday is not happy with Trump’s behavior. Univision chief executive criticized the Donald — and praised news anchor Jorge Ramos — in a statement released this week. “The recent treatment that Jorge Ramos received at Mr. Trump’s press conference in Iowa is beneath contempt,” Univision CEO Randy Falco said in a statement. “As a Presidential candidate, Mr. Trump is going to get tough questions from the press and has to answer them.” Trump had Ramos removed from the press conference after claiming Ramos asked a question without being called on. “I’m a reporter, an immigrant, a senior citizen,” Ramos said. “I have the right to ask a question.” “Go back to Univision,” Trump replied, having a bodyguard remove Ramos — only to have him return and ask his questions five minutes later. Trump later said Ramos was “ranting and raving like a madman.” Falco called Ramos “one of the most professional, dedicated and respected journalists I have seen or worked with in my 40 years in media.” “He always asks hard questions of candidates and elected officials, regardless of party or issue,” the CEO wrote. “Mr. Trump demonstrated complete disregard for him and for the countless Hispanics whom Jorge seeks to represent through press questions that are at the heart of the First Amendment.” Falco concluded by expressing his gratitude to Ramos and other reporters at Univision who “bring all points of view to the 57 million Hispanics in this country.” It should be noted that Falco and Trump have battled before. Indeed, Trump sued Univision for $500 million earlier this year when the network refused to air the Miss USA beauty pageant after the candidate made disparaging remarks about immigrants. “Nothing that I stated was different from what I have been saying for many years,” Trump said at the time. “I want strong borders, and I do not support or condone illegal immigration.” Univision didn’t think much of that. “We just reviewed Mr. Trump’s complaint for the first time, and it is both factually false and legally ridiculous,” the company said in a statement. “We will not only vigorously defend the case, but will continue to fight against Mr. Trump’s ongoing efforts to run away from the derogatory comments he made.” Ramos, meanwhile, criticized Trump further on Wednesday in an interview with another Trump foe: Fox’s Megyn Kelly. Kelly started off by asking Ramos how it felt to be the target of Trump’s ire. “You know exactly how it feels,” Ramos said, referencing Kelly’s testy exchanges with Trump during the first Republican presidential debate about his comments about women. Ramos said he went to the news conference seeking answers to important questions about Trump’s “empty promises” on immigration. Kelly, perhaps playing devil’s advocate, tried to present Trump’s point-of-view. She asked Ramos: “Can you understand Trump’s side of it, which is: ‘This is not the outlet I want to take these questions from because their mind is made up about me.‘” “I understand that,” Ramos said, “but he is talking about the fastest-growing electoral block in the United States. He’s talking about 16 million Latinos that will go to the polls and might decide the next election. So it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t like it.” Ramos added: “He doesn’t like uncomfortable questions. It happened with you . . . he hates it when he is being confronted.”

China Financial Markets

Chinese authorities escalate blame game as stock slide worsens

BEIJING — Faced with a renewed stock market slide that has wiped out $5 trillion in trading value, China is again on the prowl for scapegoats. Authorities announced a probe of allegations of market malpractice involving the stocks regulator on Tuesday, while the official Xinhua News Agency called for efforts to “purify” the capital markets. The news service also carried remarks by a central bank researcher attributing the global rout to an expected Federal Reserve rate increase. The Shanghai Composite Index has plunged more than 40 percent from its peak, after concerns over the Chinese economy helped snap a months-long rally encouraged by state-run media. Authorities have repeatedly blamed market manipulators and foreign forces since the sell off began in June and led officials to launch an unprecedented stocks-support program. Now, after suspending that program, the administration has embarked on a new round of allegations and fault-finding. “The authorities have been too involved in the stock market and now they’re trying to pass the responsibilities to others,” said Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology. “In fact, they have to be responsible for the market crisis. It’s the authorities trying to act like a referee and a player at the same time.” Police are investigating people connected to the China Securities Regulatory Commission, Citic Securities Co. and Caijing magazine on suspicion of offenses including illegal securities trading and spreading false information, Xinhua reported. They’re probing suspects linked to the CSRC, including a former employee, over insider trading and forging official document stamps, Xinhua said. Eight people at Citic Securities are suspected of illegal securities trading and the Caijing employees are under investigation for allegedly fabricating and spreading fake stock and futures trading information. Citic Securities said Wednesday in a statement posted to the Shanghai stock exchange that it hasn’t received notice related to the report and said the company’s operating as normal. Caijing in a statement Wednesday confirmed a reporter had been summoned by police. The magazine said it didn’t know the reason and would cooperate with authorities. Calls and a fax to the CSRC went unanswered. Meanwhile, Xinhua published a commentary urging stricter enforcement to cleanse the markets. “We have reason to believe that more criminals and their hidden crimes will be exposed,” it said. “We also believe judicial departments will investigate thoroughly and impose punishments no matter who is involved in crimes.” The probes will help make the “Chinese stock market a just place and give the market a future that is healthy and stable,” it said. Another Xinhua report, citing Yao Yudong, head of the People’s Bank of China’s Research Institute of Finance, attributed the global market rout to expectation of a Fed rate increase in September, not concern about the Chinese economy. Separately, Haitong Securities, GF Securities, Huatai Securities and Founder Securities -- four of China’s largest brokerages -- said they’re being investigated by the CSRC on suspicion of failing to comply with identity verification and “know-your-clients” requirements, according to statements to the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges Tuesday. “The company will fully cooperate with the CSRC and strictly fulfill any obligations of information disclosure under regulatory requirements,” Haitong said in its statement. “So far, the business of the company is under normal operations.” GF, Huatai and Founder made similar pledges of cooperation with the probes in their filings. The actions ease investors’ concerns by showing that the government will pursue activities that could destabilize the market, said Han Meng, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Economics in Beijing. “At this volatile moment, it’s very important for authorities to demonstrate the determination to crack down on illegal activities that could disrupt the market,” Han said. In July, the Ministry of Public Security said it would help the CSRC investigate evidence of “malicious” short selling of stocks and indexes. Vice Public Security Minister Meng Qingfeng visited the regulator’s offices in Beijing, in a pointed message to violators. Hu, the economics professor, said government cheerleading for the rally helped push the market to an unreasonable level. “The authorities carry the greatest responsibility for the crisis because they tried to push forward the market by intervening and encouraging the public to go mad in the stock market,” Hu said.

brad larsen new print sig.jpg

17 strategies for a happy and successful school year

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” — Jane D. Hull After 31 years as an educator I learned that each school year brings new challenges. There is a lot for families to adjust to when going to a new school or a new grade. It’s hard for many kids to be separated from parents and friends. It’s also hard for both parents and kids to bond with new teachers. Parents have to learn to let go a little, trust the teachers, and support their children’s independence and embrace their differences. They must recognize that their kids may not approach school and learning the way their siblings did or the way they did. Everybody adapts and learns in their own way at their own pace. These first weeks are a time to help your child get comfortable with routines, get excited about learning, make new friends, adapt to a new teacher and become more independent. To help you and your kids settle happily into the new school year, try these strategies I used to share with parents: 1. Create a learning environment. Make sure your kids have what they need for academic success at home and school: supplies, a quiet place for homework, good sleeping and eating habits, and ample physical exercise. 2. Support good work habits. Build a strong foundation for learning, including organizational and time management skills, effort, and persistence. When kids are organized, they stay focused instead of always hunting things down. 3. Teach study skills. Studying for a test can be scary and parents can help a lot with this. Teaching your child study skills will pay off with good learning habits throughout school and life. 4. Support homework. Homework reinforces and extends classroom learning and helps kids practice study skills. It helps them develop responsibility and a work ethic that will benefit them beyond the classroom. 5. Re-establish family routines. Starting the school routine helps both parents and children make a smooth transition. Regular dinner times, bedtimes and wake-up times and unhurried healthy breakfasts are good places to start. 6. Talk about school. Make time to talk with your kids every day so they know that school is important to you. When they know parents are interested in their academic lives, they'll take school seriously as well. 7. Problem solve together. It’s common for kids to worry about playing on the playground with bigger kids, or getting picked on. Help them learn how to solve problems that may arise. If necessary get the teacher involved. 8. Be positive. Provide the reassurance your kids need as they encounter academic challenges, new teachers and making new friends. Help them learn to trust that (with your support) they can find their way through tough times. 9. Seek help. If adjusting remains stressful after a few weeks, meet with the teacher, the guidance counselor and/or principal. Schedule a separate meeting with your child present so everyone can be involved in the plan. 10. Make connections. Your kids will be more engaged in learning if they see the relevance of what they are being asked to do. Talk about why the subject they’re learning matters in the real world. 11. Encourage exploration. Look for ways to expand your kid’s world, whether it’s sports, cultural activities, second languages, museum trips, etc. Encourage them to ask questions, and to find answers from various sources. 12. Make time for play. Unstructured play is where children consolidate learning and discover their interests and talents. Talk together about making enough time for free play in their schedule. 13. Find a balance. Kids need challenge, stimulation, and a broad range of physical activities and learning opportunities. They also need time for reflection and daydreaming, even if it means limiting technology time. 14. Communicate often. Communication between student, parent, and teacher is crucial. Keep teachers informed on special needs your children may have. Utilize technology to talk with teachers and access grades and attendance. 15. Take attendance seriously. Sick kids should stay home only if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. Kids should arrive at school on time. Catching up is stressful and hinders teaching and learning. 16. Get involved. Find volunteer opportunities that fit your schedule. Even giving a few hours a year can make an impression on your child. It also helps you see your child’s world and meet and associate with the people in it. 17. Build bridges. The faster you establish a positive relationship with teachers, the faster children find success. Help your children form that important bond with the teacher, as well. The safer they feel, the better they learn. Our children’s education is too important to be left solely to educators. Parents' guidance, involvement and support play a critical role in helping kids adjust and succeed in school. Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from northern Utah. He can be reached at

North Korea Airport Internet

New airport's Internet room a closed window on North Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Pyongyang’s shiny new airport building has all the features international travelers have come to expect, though some lose their luster upon closer examination. Case in point: Its Internet room appears to be missing the Internet. On two recent trips through the airport by The Associated Press, the room’s three terminals were either occupied by North Korean airport employees, making it impossible for others to use them, or were completely empty, with their keyboards removed. Attempts to open any browser with a mouse resulted in a failure to connect. Maybe it was a temporary glitch. It’s hard to say, since airport officials have refused to comment to the AP. But a quick check of the history on two of the terminals showed one was either empty or had been cleared, and the other had a record only of a visit to Naenara, the North’s official website. At first glance, Internet at the airport would seem like quite a concession for a country that is almost completely sealed off from the World Wide Web. Hardly any North Koreans have personal-use computers and most of those with online access can see only the country’s domestic version of the Web — an intranet that has only websites that are sanctioned by the government and is for internal use only. The Internet itself can be seen only by a small number of elites, IT experts or others with a clear need to use it, and always under close supervision. The Internet room at the airport, which opened a few months ago, is just part of efforts there to give visitors the sense that North Korea is just like any other modern travel destination. Arriving passengers see coffee and well-stocked souvenir shops, a DVD stand, information desk and a slickly produced billboard showing a crew of the nation’s flag-carrier, Air Koryo, looking sharp in their blue and red uniforms. There are even two chocolate fountains, one for white chocolate and the other for dark. Another nod to international norms can be seen right behind the Internet room, in the smoking room. In something almost never seen in the North, where just about every adult male who can afford it, including leader Kim Jong Un, is a smoker, the room has a big sign warning that the habit is hazardous to one’s health.