Canadian automakers to share information with small auto repair shops

Let’s hope that the agreement between the Canadian automakers and small independent auto repair shops would put a dent into auto dealers’ monopoly of information practice.
Nowadays, a car has lots of computerized equipment, that makes very often the diagnosis a pretty elaborate process. It’s not sufficient to have a diagnosis tool – very expensive by the way- you have to have access to information. This vital information has been,until now, the ‘privilege’ of dealerships.

The agreement will give customers the chance to have the repairs done by shops charging $60/hour vs $130/hour charged by auto dealers. More business for small shops and more money into our pocket.

Following is the article, courtesy of The Star.
“Canadian automakers and repair shops say they have reached an agreement that will give consumers more choice on where to fix their vehicles and lower bills.

The deal, which will avoid federal legislation, includes a standard that will give repair shops access auto manufacturers’ service and repair information plus tooling and training information before next May.

“This agreement ensures that all auto manufacturers will provide access to service and repair information which will increase competition in Canada’s service and repair industry for the benefit of Canadian consumers,” said Dale Finch, executive vice-president of the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA) which represents more than 5,000 repair shops across the country.

“This agreement will provide the flexibility needed to address concerns of local repair facilities and our customers, given the increasingly complex nature of motor vehicles and rapidly changing vehicle technology.”

However the deal did not include support from the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, a bigger trade group which represents parts makers, distributors, wholesalers and repair outlets.

Repair shops have complained for years that manufacturers were withholding information, which made it difficult for them to repair some models and forced consumers to fix their vehicles at new auto dealerships.

Industry Minister Tony Clement had urged the automakers and repair shops earlier this year to find a voluntary solution, adding that existing practices “were no longer an option.”

In supporting today’s voluntary agreement, Clement said it will improve competition and lower bills for consumers.

“The agreement will make information and tools available to independent repair shops . . . for the repair of all vehicles,” he said.

“Often, fixing vehicles today is more about the car’s computer system than it’s about nuts and bolts and so, in order to repair and service newer vehicles, there are highly specialized and specific tools that require technical training and diagnostic information.”

The industries association had supported a private member’s bill to address the issue last spring. The House of Commons voted to send the bill from Brain Masse of the NDP to the federal industry committee for review.”

Young girl dies after getting Cervarix made by GlaxoSmithKline

For the second time in less than two months, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) makes the news again.
Previously it was the diet pill Alli, under investigation by FDA.

Now it’s Cervarix, the cervical cancer vaccine developed by GSK and chosen by the Brits for its cost which was more appealing to them than Gardasil, the version offered by Merck.

I still found it mind boggling that a national health authority will have a mandatory campaign for vaccinating girls for something that it should be better approached like a good sexual education (safe sex anyone?), rather than jumping on the big pharma boats.
Now a young life was lost for what? For making GSK guys richer?
The girl was only 14 for God’s sake. She was given a vaccine she did not really need it. It’s true that Human Papilloma Virus may – emphasis on ‘may’ – lead to cervical cancer later on in life, but are the young girls so promiscuous these days to need a vaccine against this virus? Or is the HPV pandemic to justify the need to make the vaccination mandatory? I don’t think so.
Maybe the schools and parents should start giving the kids a better sex education; maybe if they are told that it’s not really ‘cool’ to start having sex at 12 because it does not make you smarter or more popular, they would start paying attention and instead of getting drunk and engaging in stupid ‘get pregnant competition’ they would choose to enjoy life without taking extra responsibilities they are not prepared to deal with at 12 or 14 year old.

The truth is that mass vaccination programs are just money grabbing schemes.
Side effects including multiple seizures and some deaths after the use of HPV vaccines (both Cervarix and Gardasil) have been reported from around the world.
Still, the official position is that it’s necessary and the benefits outweight the risks.

Maybe the governments should spend money on nicely designed condoms and offer them for free to school kids.

Lotto Max is the new Canadian game of chance

When you are out of job and having lots of troubles coming over you like a mad torrent, you may think that somehow the Universe is due to give you a break. Not any kind of break, but a very pleasant one. Say that you are up for hitting the jackpot.
If you can only figure out which one of the many games around you should play.

Although I have been playing lotto on and off for the past years, I have never been particularly lucky playing 6/49. When Super 7 came around I decided to give it a shot and I won numerous free plays and occasionally $10.
In my mind it was pretty clear that 6/49 it’s not the game for me. Now, considering that the odds of winning Super 7 were 1:20 million compared to 1:14 million on 6/49 it’s surprising that I have won something so often.
Everything is about to change.

Super 7 has been replaced by the mysterious Lotto Max. I noticed it in the morning, while out doing some grocery shopping, that the jackpot is $10 million. Intrigued by the new name I googled it and managed to get some info.
Based on what I have read and compared to 6/49, it looks like I am not going to be a Lotto Max aficionado.

The odds of winning 6/49 are much better. Yeah, I know!!!! It sucks.
Following is a comparison between 6/49 and Lotto Max.

Ticket Cost: $5 for Lotto Max for three seven- number selections (it used to be $2 for on Super 7) and $2 for 6/49 for one six- number selection. I guess it’s no Extra on any of them.
Odds of winning: 1: 28 million on Lotto Max, 1: 14 million on 6/49

Match Prize Odds/$2 Play
6 of 6 80.50% of Pools Fund 1: 13,983,816
5 of 6 + Bonus 75% of Pools Fund 1: 2,330,636
5 of 6 75% of Pools Fund 1: 55,491
4 of 6 9.00% of Pools Fund 1: 1,032
3 of 6 $10 1: 57
2 of 6 + Bonus $5 1: 81

Lotto Max
Match Prize Odds of Winning/ $5 play
7/7 Jackpot Win or share of 87% of Pools Fund 1: 28,633,528
6/7 + Bonus Win or share of 4% of Pools Fund 1: 4,090,504
6/7 Win or share of 4% of Pools Fund 1: 99,768.4
5/7 Share of 5% of Pools Fund 1: 1,583.6
4/7 $20.00 1: 71.3
3/7 + bonus $20.00 1: 76.7
3/7 Free Play 1: 8.1

Maxmilllions (7 of 7)(exact match only)1 : Win or share $1 million each draw , odds are 1: 28,633,528 (WTF is that?! I don’t quite understand)

Let’s hope for the best regardless the game to play. Good Luck to me!

Was September 11 an inside job?

People characterized as ‘conspiracy theorists’ will say ‘absolutely yes’. The nay sayers will say ‘get the f*ck out of here’.
Now Charlie Sheen is taking a stance demanding in the name of the victims and their families, the reopening of the investigation.
And as much as I would like to believe that it was not an inside job, more and more proofs concur to the same conclusion. That it was an inside job. Probably some day the truth would come out, but unfortunately it’s not going to happen in our lifetime.
It’s horrible to imagine that the U.S government would sacrifice its own people. The same people that chose them to run the country and decide upon their destiny. This is exactly what they did.

As a reminder, there were a few ‘anomalies’ the Bush government did not bother addressing with regards to the investigation of WTC and Pentagon attacks:

– After the WTC attack, rescue services claimed that huge explosions took place in the basement of both buildings before and after the collapse
– The BBC broadcast the collapse of the third building that housed the CIA and Secret Service offices (and it was not hit!) 20 minutes before it happened. The building collapsed 5 hours after the twin towers in what looked like a controlled demolition
– There is no footage of any plane hitting the Pentagon and apparently, the Pentagon defense system was not activated, meaning that the typical emergency protocol to be followed when a plane enters restricted airspace became a moot point.
– Armed fighter jets stood down for over an hour.
– 60% of the commission investigating the tragedy has gone public basically accusing the government for not telling the truth
– FBI reported that a paper passport of one of the alleged attackers had been found in the ruins of the WTC. Considering that at least a third of the WTC victim’s bodies were vaporized and many of the victims of the Pentagon incident were burned beyond recognition, it’s extremely suspicious that a piece of paper surfaced intact.

Following are abstracts from Charlie Sheen imaginary letter ‘Twenty minutes with the President’, addressed to President Obama and hosted by Prison

‘Sir, I’d like to direct your attention to the stack of documents in the folder I just handed you. The first in from the top is entitled “Operation Northwoods”, a declassified Pentagon plan to stage terror attacks on US soil, to be blamed on Cuba as a pretext for war.’

‘The next document reads “Declassified staged provocations.” Now, Honestly Mr. President I wish I was making this stuff up. I’m certain you are familiar with the USS Maine Incident, the sinking of the Lusitania, which we all now know brought us into WW1, and of course the most famous, the Gulf of Tonkin incident.’

‘In early 2008, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh and MSNBC, both reported that Cheney had proposed to the Pentagon an outrageous plan to have the U.S. Navy create fake Iranian patrol boats, to be manned by Navy Seals, who would then stage an attack on US destroyers in the Strait of Hormuz. This event was to be blamed on Iran and used as a pretext for war. Does any of this information worry you Mr. President? Should we just ignore it, until these realities can be dismissed years from now by our children, as ancient history as well?’

‘In April 2004, USA Today reported, “In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.” One of the targets was the World Trade Center.’

‘On September 12th 2007, CNN’s ‘Anderson Cooper 360’, reported that the mysterious “white plane” spotted and videotaped by multiple media outlets, flying in restricted airspace over the White House shortly before 10am on the morning of 9/11, was in fact the Air Force’s E-4B, a specially modified Boeing 747 with a communications pod behind the cockpit; otherwise known as “The Doomsday Plane”.’

Happy reading.

A stock market guide for newbies

Playing the stock market is very much like swimming with sharks. It can be an exciting experience if the sharks mind their own business and ignore you, or you may end up being their meal.

Being a newbie I made my own mistakes and now I am more cautious before jumping and taking positions in any security. What I have noticed recently was that some stocks move up extremely fast without any good news. Or any news for that matter.
In today’s catastrophic global economic conditions, people are losing jobs at an alarming rate, or get reduced work week or pay cuts. Meaning that most of them- myself including- will consider playing the stock market as a way to supplement a diminished or lost income.

As opposed to the popular adage ‘Ignorance is bliss’, in the stock market ignorance means trouble if you don’t do your homework. Even if you do your due diligence, the risk is still there. Stock market is highly speculative and very much in the hands of unscrupulous individuals: money makers, pumpers and dumpers, bashers and the list goes on.

So instead of the old adages you grew up with- the only one I am still considering may be ‘Patience is virtue’- you have to learn the new ones, strictly related to stock market:

– Buy on rumors, sell on news- seems to be the most popular one
– As goes January, so goes the year
– Sell in May and go away

Buy on rumors; sell on news- that is the one mostly used by pumpers and day traders. If you have the guts to move fast, you can make money. Day trading is not for everybody. It’s very stressful and you need to have special software to monitor the market movement every minute basically. You have to be prepared to enter and exit a position in matters of seconds.
Fresh in mind is Vonage (NYSE: VG). The pump and dump on this stock was brutal. I was watching the stock going from $0.50 on August 25 to $2.40 the next day. Today, September 3, 2009 it was trading at below $1.50. Some people got caught into the pumping frenzy and probably took position closer to the artificial top of the pump. Whoever did the pumping was in and out within the same day with a good profit. The rest of the suckers are whining on various boards that the stock is manipulated by market makers (possibly) or kept artificially low because it’s subject to a buyout (less probable). This actually is a common denominator on every forum I have been. Dissatisfied investors/traders are speculating that any given stock that won’t perform according to expectations is subject to a hostile take over.

I started trading late in May, so basically I lost the most important part of the year. My understanding is that the best months to take new positions are November and December, when fund managers are selling securities to cover the profit requests from their customers. As well, it looks like most funds close their books in September, making this month a notorious one for a market ‘correction’.

Stay tuned, more to come.