I Want My Car Simple Again

Today’s high tech cars have centre console mounted displays that allow anyone (including the driver) to play around with while in motion; should be against the law. Some cars even need to have the driver touch a screen to change the radio volume or station; a dangerous practice. Older car radios you can FEEL the knobs without taking your eyes off the road. I think vehicles are going the wrong direction these days with their gadgetry.

This opinion was delivered to the DriveSmartBC Inbox last week along with a wish that I would write about it so that other drivers might learn the risks. Even though in car systems are legal, they do present a significant risk for distracted driving. Manufacturers are quite happy to provide the things that we want in our vehicles even when they have not evaluated risk, or worse yet, know of the risk but choose to provide them anyway.

Probably the worst outcome from distracted driving that I was called on to investigate was a fatality where a driver was parked on the side of the highway, well to the right of the single solid white line. I’m guessing that he had stopped to have a bite to eat and enjoy the view from what I discovered inside the passenger compartment. An passing vehicle’s front seat passenger had been having difficulty inserting a CD into the stereo, so the driver intervened to help. The vehicle drifted to the right, which was the direction the driver was looking in, and collided with the parked car.

The driver in the parked car did not survive the collision.

Inserting a CD into a slot in the dash is not a complicated task, but as the e-mail writer observes, using a touch screen or finding the controls on some modern vehicles can tie up your attention for a significant period of time. At 120 km/h on our freeways, one second translates into just over 33 meters of travel. A lot can happen in a couple of seconds.

As part of its Center for Driving Safety and Technology, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned the University of Utah to carry out research to address three important questions:

  1. Which task is the most demanding to complete while driving: calling/dialing, sending a text message, tuning the radio or programming navigation?
  2. What level of demand is associated with completing these tasks using voice commands, touchscreens or other interactive technologies (e.g., buttons, rotary dial, writing pad)?
  3. How does demand from these interactions vary across the infotainment systems found in different vehicle makes and models?

The findings are probably not a surprise for you:

  1. Overall, navigation was found to be the most demanding task.
  2. All tasks were associated with higher levels of cognitive demand.
  3. Of 30 vehicles tested 23 vehicles generated high or very high levels of overall demand on drivers. None of them yielded low overall demand.

The most important piece of information to take away from this is that motorists should remember that just because technologies come installed in a vehicle does not mean automaker testing has proven they are safe to use while driving.

Links:

This Remote Facility on Lake Ontario Was Home to Canada’s Top-Secret Spy School

BY LYNN PHILIP HODGSON, OUR CANADA

Camp X

Camp X’s sole purpose was to develop and train agents in every aspect of silent killing, sabotage, partisan work, recruitment methods for the resistance movement, demolition, map reading, weaponry and Morse code.

This top-secret Second World War spy training school was unofficially known as Camp X. It was established December 6, 1941, in Whitby, Ont., through a cooperative effort between the British Security Coordination (BSC) and the Canadian government. The BSC’s chief, Sir William Stephenson, was a Canadian from Winnipeg and a close confidant of the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, who had instructed him to create “the clenched fist that would provide the knockout blow” to the Axis powers. One of Stephenson’s successes was Camp X.

The camp was designed for the sole purpose of linking Britain and the United States. Until the direct attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States was forbidden by Congress to get involved with the war. How timely that Camp X should open the day before that attack by the Japanese.

Even the camp’s location was chosen with a great deal of thought: a remote site on the shores of Lake Ontario, yet only 30 miles straight across the lake from the United States. It was ideal for bouncing radio signals from Europe, South America, and, of course, between London and the BSC headquarters in New York.

The choice of site also placed the camp only five miles from Defence Industries Ltd. (DIL), currently the town of Ajax. At that time, DIL was the largest armaments manufacturing facility in the Commonwealth.

Other points of strategic significance in the camp’s locale include the situation of the German Prisoner of War Camp in Bowmanville, and the position of the mainline Canadian National Railway, which went through the top part of Camp X.

Spies in Training

The commanding officers of the camp soon realized the impact and importance of Camp X. Requests for more agents and different training programs were coming in daily from London and New York. Not only were they faced with training agents who were going to go behind enemy lines on specialized missions, but now they had been requested to train agents’ instructors as well. These would be recruited primarily from the United States for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and for the FBI. Soon there were trainers training trainers for new camps that would be set up in the U.S.

To ease the demand for experienced trainers, a very successful program of weekend courses for OSS executives was established.

The psychological aspect of the training was most critical. Equally as crucial as the agent’s training in silent killing and unarmed combat was the development of his ability to quickly and accurately assess the suitability of a potential “partisan.” He had to be able to recognize a would-be recruit by being alert at all times and in any situation. He was trained to listen for a comment about the government, the Nazis or how the war was progressing, and to subsequently engage the individual in conversation, perhaps offer him a drink or buy him a meal. In this manner, he could further identify the individual’s philosophy and thoughts about the war.

Paramount among the objectives set for the operation, including the training of Allied agents for the entire catalogue of espionage activities (sabotage, subversion, deception, intelligence and other special means) was the necessity to establish a major communications link between North and South America and European operations of SOE. Code-named Hydra, the resulting short-wave radio and telecommunications centre was the most powerful of its type. Largely created by a few gifted Canadian radio amateurs, Hydra played a magnificent role in the tactical and strategic Allied radio networks.

When you step back and look at the 1940 big picture, you can see exactly why Canada was so important to the SOE as a base for their agents. If the agents were to be recruited in Canada, why not train them there? Soon the BSC had large populations of French Canadians, Yugoslavs, Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, Chinese and Japanese at their disposal and in a concentrated geographical area. It was easier to send a few instructors over to Canada than it was to send 500 or 600 potential agents to Britain only to find that they were not secret agent material.

The agents who trained at Camp X would have no idea as to their future mission behind enemy lines, nor, for that matter, would the instructors or the camp commandant. Camp X’s sole purpose was to develop and train agents in every aspect of silent killing, sabotage, partisan work, recruitment methods for the resistance movement, demolition, map reading, weaponry and Morse code.

It was not until the agent completed the ten-week course that the instructors and commanding officers would assess each individual for his particular expertise and subsequently advise the SOE in London of their recommendations. For example, one agent might excel in the demolition field, while another might be better at wireless telegraph work.

Upon their arrival in Britain, the agents would be reassessed and would be assigned to a finishing school where their expertise would be further refined. Once this task was completed, another branch of the SOE would take over and develop a mission best suited for each individual agent.

A Mysterious Death

There were many inexplicable events that occurred at Camp X, including some strange and disturbing deaths.

One involved 29-year-old political warfare instructor, Kenneth Wilson, who was sent to Toronto and told to register at The Royal York Hotel, where on the morning of June 18, 1942, a staff car from Camp X would drive him to a secret location. This same staff car would return him to the hotel at the end of the day. He spent long hours at the camp, training agents, and that evening, he returned to the hotel. After dinner, he retired to his room and, exhausted, was soon asleep.

Early the next morning he telephoned the assistant manager and asked if there was a doctor in the hotel. He was told that there was no doctor present, but one could be sent very quickly. He then said not to bother because he thought he was feeling a little better.

At about 9:30 a.m., he again telephoned and asked for a doctor who was immediately sent for. The doctor stayed with him for about an hour. By this time he appeared to have recovered completely, so the doctor left. Meanwhile, an assistant had gone down to the hotel to stay with Wilson, and at about 11:15 a.m. he suddenly became much worse. Two nurses were called immediately, but before the doctors who were called had arrived, Wilson died. At age 29, the brilliant BSC executive had died from sudden heart failure, leaving behind a wife and an 18-month old daughter. Was he poisoned? Was he murdered by German Abwehr agents operating in Toronto?

Questions Abound

Another incident involved one of the most talented silent killers in the world, the great William Fairbairn. Fairbairn was 59 when he was sent to Camp X to train men 30 years his junior.

One night, after he retired early, a fire broke out in the mess, just down the hall from Fairbairn’s room. Guards were quickly at his window where flames were now climbing the wall outside his room. Two of the guards managed to pull Fairbairn through the window. Within five minutes the entire building was razed to the ground. Could this possibly have been a coincidence, the fire happening on the same night that the building was occupied? Or was there a more cynical explanation?

The strange occurrences continued. Another involved 25-year-old Howard Benjamin Burgess, who was excited about his new position as chief instructor in Canada when he arrived in late May 1942. On June 3, the young, healthy Burgess suddenly dropped to the ground, unconscious, while on camp property. Everyone was in shock. The camp doctor was immediately summoned. Dr. Millman quickly placed the now bleeding Burgess into the back of his car and raced him to hospital. A guard was posted outside of Burgess’s room and told that no one was to enter the room other than Dr. Millman and the head nurse who had now been sworn to secrecy under the Official Secrets Act.

Three days later, Burgess succumbed to his injuries. The official cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage.

Years later, while writing my book Inside Camp X, I decided to investigate this strange death of someone who appeared to be in excellent health. Exhaustive research found some very disturbing facts. The official records on file at Camp X did not agree with the official cause of death. The death certificate and burial permit showed the cause of death as acute glomular nephritis—a severe kidney disease. I took a copy of the death certificate to a doctor who advised that a person succumbing to such a disease would have been very sick, weak and emaciated, hardly the strong, healthy man that was Howard Burgess. I was also able to track down the then-retired head nurse who confided that the injury was caused by a gunshot wound to the right temple.

There were other mysterious deaths at Camp X as well—proving that fact really can be stranger than fiction.

Source: Reader’s Digest

Canadian and American companies clearly want to do more business together

Despite continued geopolitical risks to global trade seemingly at every turn, Canadian export performance has grown at a rate higher than expected – 8 per cent this year over the projected 6 per cent, according to Export Development Canada’s (EDC) latest semi-annual Global Export Forecast released today.

In particular, stronger demand from US companies and consumers for Canadian products and services is playing a big part in that increase, just as NAFTA negotiations reach a critical juncture.

The energy sector’s return to growth is the main reason that Canada’s exports are picking up, as the oil patch rebounds from devastating forest fires and an ongoing lower price environment. The major buyer of that energy? You guessed it: the US. As the US economy perks up and industry begins to churn, energy demands have followed suit.

At the same time, ores and metals will see a big jump as the US and global industrial sectors begin to slowly increase production. That resurgence in production is also driving up Canadian exports of Canadian machinery and equipment in the strengthening U.S. market.

Canada’s export engine is revved up and firing on all cylinders,” says Peter Hall, EDC Vice President and Chief Economist. “Despite the political signals coming out of the U.S., Canadian and US companies are clear: they want to do more business together. We are seeing more Canadian companies making new business investments in the US and we’re already measuring its impact on boosting demand for Canadian exports, specifically machinery and equipment.”

Highlights: 

Sectors posting double-digit growth include:

  • Energy 31%
  • Ores & Metals 14%
  • Industrial Machinery & Equipment 11%
  • Energy exports stand at $77 billion and are forecast to grow by an astounding 31 per cent in 2017. However, the intense growth will be short-lived as gains flat line in 2018.
  • Services, a key driver in the Canadian export story, will post a positive gain of almost 6 per cent this year and maintain that level of momentum in the longer-term outlook.
  • The forestry sector remains in positive territory with gains of 4 per cent, but growth will slow due to the ongoing softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the US.

Overall, Canadian export growth is expected to level out to 4 per cent in 2018 after its 8 per cent gain this year, pushing export growth above the pre-recession high water mark. “We might very well have finally put our feet on the bottom of this long export stagnancy period,” added Hall.

Globally, EDC is projecting world growth to rise from 3.6 per cent this year to 3.8 per cent in 2018, fuelled by robust growth in emerging markets, specifically ChinaIndia and Brazil. However, developed markets have turned a corner with major economies recording stronger performances this year.

Developed markets are also providing growth opportunities in the long-term, particularly in the EU as a result of the new Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The free trade agreement opens up a market of approximately 500 million people worth $20 trillion to Canadian exporters.

“It’s been a long time coming, but global growth is back,” Hall adds. “Canada’s exporters are poised to gain from this growth throughout 2017 and 2018.”

For the full report, visit EDC’s Global Export Forecast: Fall 2017

EDC helps Canadian companies go, grow, and succeed in their international business. As a financial Crown corporation, EDC provides financing, insurance, bonding, trade knowledge, and matchmaking connections to help Canadian companies sell and invest abroad. EDC can also provide financial solutions to foreign buyers to facilitate and grow purchases from Canadian companies.

For more information about how we can help your company, call us at 1-888-434-8508 or visit www.edc.ca.

SOURCE Export Development Canada

‘Murder insurance’ or protection in self defence cases?

By Lisa Marie Pane

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATLANTA _ The National Rifle Association is offering insurancfor people who shoot someone, stirring criticism from gun-control advocates who say it could foster more violence and give gun owners a false sense of security to shoot first and ask questions later.

Some are calling it “murder insurance,” and say that rather than promoting personal responsibility and protection, it encourages gun owners to take action and not worry about the consequences. And, they say, it’s being marketed in a way that feeds on the nation’s racial divisions.

Guns Down, a gun-control group formed last year, is running an ad campaign to criticize the NRA’s new insurance. It’s just the latest group to take aim at the NRA’s offering.

“The reason I call it murder insurance is because if you look at the way this is marketed, it’s really sold in the context of ‘There’s a threat around every corner, dear mostly-white NRA member,’ and that threat is either a black man or a brown man or some other kind of person of colour,” said Guns Down director Igor Volsky.

“So when you inevitably have to use your gun to defend yourself from this threat around every corner, you have insurance to protect you.”

Carry Guard insurance was launched this past spring by the NRA. Rates range from $13.95 a month for up to $250,000 in civil protection and $50,000 in criminal defence to a “gold plus” policy that costs $49.95 a month and provides up to $1.5 million in civil protection and $250,000 in criminal defence.

The NRA isn’t the only gun lobbying group offering such insurance. The United States Concealed Carry Association has been in the business much longer and provides up to $2 million in civil costs and $250,000 for criminal defence. But the NRA is the most prominent gun-rights group in the country and it offered similar insurance previously. And Carry Guard is more comprehensive and being marketed more aggressively than it has been previously. It’s drawing attention to a type of policy that was relatively obscure until now.

Guns Down’s advertising campaign casts a spotlight on the policies and asks the two insurance companies involved with it Lockton Affinity, which administers it, and Chubb, the underwriter to drop it. The campaign includes a video message from Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen shot and killed in 2012 by a neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman whose case drew nationwide notoriety.

The video featuring Fulton begins with images showing some of the most racially divisive moments in recent history _ from the white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville, Virginia, to surveillance footage showing Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine African-Americans in 2015 during a prayer meeting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

“They spend millions lobbying for laws that allow them to ‘shoot first’ and ‘stand their ground.’ But that just makes it easier to get away with murder,” Fulton says. She criticizes the insurance and implores viewers to tell Chubb and Lockton Affinity to drop the insurance and to not purchase their products until they do.

Lockton declined to comment to The Associated Press. In a statement, Chubb told the AP that it provides insurance for a wide range of risks and when customers are engaged in “lawful activity,” including hunting, shooting at gun ranges or when a firearm accidentally discharges. It noted that Carry Guard includes training and safety courses.

Neither Chubb nor Lockton would provide data on the number of policies sold or the claims filed.

Carry Guard was aggressively promoted during this year’s NRA annual meeting, with life-sized posters featuring spokeswoman Dana Loesch holding a card that offers three tips for what to do after shooting someone: Call 911, wait for police to arrive and then call the Carry Guard number for legal assistance. It advises gun owners to not speak with police about the incident until speaking first with an attorney.

The NRA insurance doesn’t require policyholders to take any safety or tactical training courses but encourages them to do so. Initial training courses cost $850 per student for a three-day session.

Peter Kochenburger, an insurance expert at the University of Connecticut School of Law, has been following the emergence of gun insurance. There’s no way to track the number of policies sold or the number of claims filed, though he suspects the latter is fairly small.

Such insurance might benefit society, he said, because it could compel the industry to research ways to make gun ownership and storage safer or by providing discounts to gun owners who take safety courses.

But it could also lead to a “moral hazard” of unintentionally emboldening a gun owner to shoot someone by offering a false sense of security. And the potential backlash against the insurance companies involved might not be worth the revenue such a niche policy could generate, he said.

“Is the potential public relations mess worth the small amount,” Kochenburger said. “‘Murder insurance’: That’s terrible p.r.”

What investors should look for to spot fraudsters before it’s too late

By David Paddon

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ When former financial planner Daniel P. Reeve was convicted this month of defrauding 41 investors out of about $10 million, it was a bitter lesson.

As with many financial frauds, the victims didn’t see it coming, and there’s little to no chance they will recover their money.

At the outset, Reeve sold legitimate products such as mutual funds and insurance. However, unbeknownst to clients, in 2007 he lost his insurance license and by 2008 he was no longer presenting himself as a financial planner, although people at his offices did have official designations.

Impressed by past performance, clients stuck by him.

In the meantime, Reeve begain directing investors to other investments, such as restaurants and hotels that he was developing, often promising little or no risk, despite the shakiness of his failing ventures.

“Yet, Daniel (Reeve) continued to flog his investments in the summer and fall of 2008 either knowing that the investors would never get their money, or not caring whether they would,” Justice Toni Skarica wrote in an Oct. 13 ruling.

Reeve pleaded not guilty to the charges of fraud and theft against him, but the judge did not believe his testimony and convicted him.

“This had a devastating impact on the victims,” says Crown prosecutor Fraser McCracken, who presented the case against Reeve through a trial in Kitchener, Ont., that spanned 18 months.

“That’s why we remind people to take steps to avoid fraud in the first place,” says Tyler Fleming, director of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Investor Office.

Fraud which depends on deceiving the victim comes in many forms and can be difficult to detect.

“The unfortunate reality is that the bad guys are always thinking up new ways to separate you and your money,” Fleming says.

But he says there are several warning signs that should raise red flags for investors:

_ Promises of big returns for little or no risk. (Generally low-risk investments have low potential returns.)

_ Advice based on “hot tips” and “insider
information.”(They’re usually false and potentially against the law
to act upon.)

_ Pressure to buy or decide quickly. (Haste is usually not in the investor’s best interest.)

_ Lack of registration with a provincial securities commission or other financial service regulator.

McCracken says the victims represented a cross-section of people with varying levels of education, investor sophistication and occupation.

Among the dozens of people who trusted Reeve’s record as a money-maker were:

_ A retired teacher who attended one of his investment presentations in early 2007. She and her husband wanted safe investments but lost at least $250,000.

_ The owner of an international trucking firm, who had been advised by Reeve since 1993 with good results until things began to unravel. He lost $683,000 in principal plus unpaid interest.

_ A nurse who asked in 2007 for safe investments, shortly before her husband died of pancreatic cancer. She lost $775,000.

Andrew Kriegler, CEO of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, stresses investors should always ask advisors who they are regulated by , and what their disciplinary history is.

He acknowledges that it’s not always clear where to look, but insists it’s always worth the time and effort..

“If it’s under our jurisdiction, then we can look into it. If it’s under somebody else’s jurisdiction, we will send that person to the right place,” Kriegler says.

IIROC operates two call centres in Toronto and Vancouver that take questions from the public.

The provincial commissions have a national registration search
for individual advisers and investment firms at
CheckBeforeYouInvest.ca

New Brunswick to impose new measures for drunk drivers starting November 1

FREDERICTON _ New Brunswick will seize drunk drivers’ cars for up to two months under a law that comes into force Nov. 1

Public Safety Minister Denis Landry says the new law will make the province one of the country’s toughest on impaired driving.

Anyone convicted of drunk driving will have their vehicle impounded for up to two months and have a mandatory ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle when they get their licence back.

The mechanism is similar to a breathalyzer and won’t allow a vehicle to start if the driver is over the limit for alcohol.

The changes also include longer suspensions for drivers with a blood alcohol level within the warning range of 0.05 and 0.08, and those suspensions will remain on their driving record.

Police officers will also have the discretion to suspend a driver for 24 hours if they have any concerns about his or her safety.

Danielle Cole of MADD Canada says the changes are welcome news that will help reduce the number of impaired drivers.

Cole, who survived a crash with a drunk driver in 2012, says impounding vehicles is a great move.

“Looking back at B.C. they imposed impoundment in 2010 and it reduced impaired driving crashes by 50 per cent. The same was done in Alberta and it reduced crashes by 43 per cent,” she said.

Erin Norwood of the Insurance Bureau of Canada says the changes send a strong message.

“If you drink and drive, you will face severe penalties. Your car may be seized, you may be arrested, charged and sent to jail. On top of that your insurance premiums may increase dramatically,” she said.

Norwood says that according to Statistics Canada, New Brunswick is one of only two provinces where the number of impaired drivers under the age of 20 has actually decreased in the last six years.

Chris O’Connell, New Brunswick’s registrar of motor vehicles, says about 1,000 people are convicted of alcohol-impaired driving in the province each year. He says that will mean about 1,000 ignition interlock devices will have to be put into use.

The cost of the interlock devices about $95 per month  will have to be paid by the drivers using them.

Landry also says he’s confident the province and police will be ready to deal with drivers who may be under the influence of marijuana.

The federal government plans to make recreational cannabis legal by July of next year, and Landry says there’s a lot of discussion underway across the country to ensure police have the regulations and equipment they need.

 

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