Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit against New York art dealer

4b3607e02c6af96e62457ecbe5e62e7f Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit against New York art dealer

FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2017 file photo, actor Alec Baldwin attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Gala in New York. Baldwin has settled a lawsuit in which he had accused a prominent New York City art dealer of fraud. The actor tells The New Yorker that gallery owner Mary Boone agreed to write him a ‚Äúseven-figure check‚Äù to settle his allegation that she sold him a copy of a 1996 Ross Bleckner painting called "Sea and Mirror," rather than the original. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — Alec Baldwin has settled a lawsuit in which he accused a prominent New York City art dealer of fraud.

The actor tells The New Yorker magazine gallery owner Mary Boone agreed to write him a "seven-figure check" to settle his allegation she sold him a copy of a 1996 Ross Bleckner painting called "Sea and Mirror" rather than the original.

Baldwin paid $190,000 for the painting. The parties informed a court of the agreement on Monday.

Boone told the New York Post’s "Page Six" column the dispute was fueled by sexism.

Baldwin tells The New Yorker he plans to donate half of the settlement to help rebuild a Long Island cinema that was destroyed by fire.


Trump names former drug exec as new health secretary

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FILE – In this June 8, 2006 file photo, then Deputy Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar meets reporters at the HHS Department in Washington. Azar was a top HHS official during the George W. Bush administration. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — Turning to an industry he’s rebuked, President Donald Trump on Monday picked a former top pharmaceutical and government executive to be his health and human services secretary, overseeing a $1 trillion department responsible for major health insurance programs, medical research, food and drug safety, and public health.

The nomination of Alex Azar is unusual because HHS secretaries have tended to come from the ranks of elected officials such as governors, leaders in academia and medicine, or top executive branch managers — not industries regulated by the department.

"He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices!" Trump tweeted in announcing the nomination Monday morning. Trump has a track record of making industry-friendly nominations, such as tapping former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce.

But Trump also has been a scathing critic of the pharmaceutical industry, both as a candidate and as president.

Azar, 50, a lawyer by training, has spent most of the last 10 years with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, rising to president of its key U.S. affiliate before leaving in January to start his own consulting firm. He’s seen as an expert on government health care regulation.

As secretary, Azar would be returning to HHS after serving in senior department posts in the George W. Bush administration. Now he’d have to scrupulously avoid conflicts with Lilly’s far-reaching interests, from drug approval to Medicare reimbursement. The drugmaker has drawn criticism from patient advocacy groups for price increases to one of its biggest products: insulin.

Azar’s nominations to HHS in the Bush era sailed through the Senate. This time, he’ll face Democrats wary of the administration’s unyielding quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"The Trump administration’s track record on health care to date is objectively abysmal," said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, which would send Azar’s nomination to the full Senate. "I will closely scrutinize Mr. Azar’s record."

Sen. Patty Patty Murray, D-Wash., flagged a potential conflict of interest. "I am … interested in how, given Mr. Azar’s professional background, he believes he can fairly execute any significant effort to lower drug prices for patients," she said in a statement. Murray is the ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will also hold hearings.

Americans consistently rank the high cost of prescription drugs as one of their top health care priorities, putting it ahead of divisive issues like repealing "Obamacare" in public opinion polls.

Trump has been a sharp critic of the industry. "The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder," he said at a Cabinet meeting this fall. Prices are "out of control" and "have gone through the roof," Trump said.

In the spring, a Trump tweet sent drug stocks tumbling after the president said he was working on a new system that would foster competition and lead to much lower prices. In meetings with industry executives, however, Trump has focused on speeding up drug approvals, a cost-reducing tactic they would back.

Professionally, Azar has another set of skills that may be valuable to the president.

In his previous service at HHS, the Yale law graduate developed an insider’s familiarity with the complex world of federal health care regulation, serving first as the department’s chief lawyer and later as deputy secretary.

Frustrated by fruitless efforts to overturn the Obama-era health law in Congress, Trump might see the regulatory route as his best chance to make a mark on health care.

Congressional Democrats are likely to pounce on Azar’s drug ties, reminding Trump of his promise to "drain the swamp" of Washington influence peddling.

If confirmed, Azar would join the club of Trump administration officials from big business. Ross was chairman of a private equity firm he founded and later sold. Mnuchin was a former Goldman Sachs executive and hedge fund manager. Tillerson came from the oil industry, starting as an engineer and rising to CEO of ExxonMobil.

Azar admirers say Azar’s drug industry experience should be considered an asset, not a liability.

"To the extent that the Trump administration has talked about lowering drug prices, here’s a guy who understands how it works," said Tevi Troy, who served with Azar in the Bush administration and now leads the American Health Policy Institute, a

focused on employer health insurance.

"Would (Azar) have been better off if he had been meditating in an ashram after serving as deputy secretary?" asked Troy.

Azar spent his formative years in Maryland. He got his bachelor’s degree in government and economics from another Ivy League institution, Dartmouth. He once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a revered figure for conservatives. During the Bill Clinton years, he served a stint with independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

If confirmed, Azar would be Trump’s second HHS secretary, replacing former Georgia congressman Tom Price, who stepped down after just seven months, when his use of private charter planes for government travel created a public controversy that displeased the president.


Cominar looking for Sears replacements after toiling to fill Target locations

a8c141b33f8544616aff7df8bac009ae Cominar looking for Sears replacements after toiling to fill Target locations

A Sears Canada outlet is seen Tuesday, June 13, 2017 in Saint-Eustache, Que. After making good progress filling empty retail spaces left behind by Target Canada, Quebec’s largest commercial property owner is yet again facing the challenge as Sears prepares to vacate all its stores in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL — After making good progress filling empty retail spaces left behind by Target Canada, Quebec’s largest commercial property owner is yet again facing the challenge as Sears prepares to vacate all its stores in Canada.

"We were recovering well from Target and unfortunately we are now being hit by Sears," incoming Cominar REIT CEO Sylvain Cossette said Friday during a conference call about its third-quarter results.

The Quebec City-based company owns properties that held seven Zellers stores whose leases were taken over by Target.

There are also six Sears stores in its malls that represent 0.6 per cent of its current operating revenues. It is trying to buy a seventh smaller location in Trois-Rivieres, Que., owned by Sears.

"We’ve been very proactive in trying to market the space and we are having discussions with certain tenants," he said.

The efforts are coming after Cominar (TSX:CUF.UN) said it made steady progress chipping away at filling the Target locations by adding Marshalls and other retailers.

The spaces are now 75 per cent leased and it is in discussions with prospective tenants for another 19 per cent of the space.

Cossette said the new leases are generating much higher rents than was paid by the U.S. giant before it fled Canada in 2015.

"At 75 per cent (occupancy), we are approximately 10 per cent above our total target revenue," he told analysts.

Still, the prospective loss of Sears and challenges with the rest of its Canada-wide portfolio of retail, office and industrial space caused it to reduce its annual distribution to unitholders.

Cominar is also in the process of selling 100 properties outside Quebec and the Ottawa region, announced in August following a ratings downgrade.

It has hired RBC Capital Markets Realty and CBRE and hopes to have buyers for most locations by mid-2018, likely starting first with the Greater Toronto Area.

"We are aiming for an initial meaningful block of properties to be under contract in the first quarter of 2018," CEO Michel Dallaire told analysts in his last call before Cossette takes over the role in January.

Cominar expects to allocate more than $1.2 billion in expected proceeds primarily to reduce its debt. The remaining $325 million will be used to repurchase units and for acquisitions in core markets.

Cossette said the company has been fielding calls from interested buyers as market conditions are holding up, although Calgary remains challenging.

"We still have very strong interest and demand for the portfolio," he added.

Cominar said its third-quarter profit decreased 17 per cent from a year ago when it received payment from the settlement of a claim against Target Canada.

It earned $64 million during the three months ended Sept. 30, compared to $77.5 million a year earlier.

Last year’s results included $10.7 million in proceeds from the settlement with the U.S. retailer as well as from the sale of some properties.

Cominar said recurring funds from operations were $65.3 million, down from $68.5 million a year earlier. That translated into 35 cents per unit, down from 40 cent per unit last year, but three cents below analyst forecasts, according to Michael Markidis of Desjardins Capital Markets.

The REIT sold four non-core assets for $6 million in the quarter, Markidis wrote in a report.


CAE profits soar on gain from sale of Chinese flight training centre

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CAE corporate headquarters are shown in Montreal, Wednesday, August 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Flight training and simulator provider CAE Inc. says its earnings soared 35 per cent in its latest quarter on proceeds from the sale of its stake in a Chinese training centre.

The Montreal-based company says its net income attributable to shareholders was $65.2 million or 24 cents per share in the three months ended Sept. 30. That compared with $48.3 million or 18 cents per share a year earlier.

Excluding a gain from the sale of a 49 per cent stake in the Zhuhai Flight Training Centre for US$96 million, CAE (TSX:CAE) earned $58.2 million or 22 cents per share, up from $55.5 million or 21 cents per share.

The adjusted profit was two cents per share below analyst forecasts, says RBC Capital Markets analyst Steve Arthur.

Revenue for its fiscal second quarter was $646 million, up from $635.5 million a year earlier.

CAE says it received $931 million in orders in the quarter, with more than half coming from defence customers.

The company says that former CGI chief executive Michael Roach is joining its board of directors.


Magazine apologizes to Lupita Nyong’o over altering her hair for cover image

Grazia’s U.K. edition issue apology after the actress Tweeted before and after pictures and accused it of altering her hair “to fit a more Eurocentric notion” of beauty

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Lupita Nyong’o accused Grazia UK of editing out her hair on their latest magazine cover "to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like."

LONDON — British magazine Grazia U.K. has apologized to Lupita Nyong’o after the actress accused it of altering her hair on its front cover "to fit a more Eurocentric notion" of beauty.

The Academy Award winner tweeted before-and-after images, saying the magazine "edited out and smoothed" her hair. She added the hashtag "dtmh (don’t touch my hair)."

On Instagram, the Kenya-raised star of "12 Years a Slave" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" said "there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women’s complexion, hair style and texture."

The magazine said Friday that it "apologized unreservedly to Lupita Nyong’o." It said it had not altered the images itself or asked the photographer to do so, and "is committed to representing diversity throughout its pages."

9d8647ff6621aee32422e8c0a263050a Magazine apologizes to Lupita Nyong'o over altering her hair for cover image


The Academy Award winner expanded on the issue on her Instagram account.