Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cyclist fractures pedestrian’s skull, gets $400 fine

A cyclist who was going the wrong way on a one-way street when he struck a 56-year-old woman and fractured her skull will be fined $400, whether the woman lives or dies.

In a case that raises questions about the strength of the province's traffic laws, the 49-year-old man — whose name was not released — was charged with careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act. He faces no criminal charges or jail time.

The incident occurred Tuesday, before 11 a.m., in Chinatown at the intersection of Dundas and Huron Sts., just east of Spadina Ave. The woman, who was crossing Huron on the south side, fell back after she was struck by the cyclist, hitting her head on the road. She suffered severe head trauma and was rushed to hospital, where she remains.

Police say they lay charges based on the offence, not the outcome, and there was no criminal intent on the part of the cyclist.

“If [the woman] dies that’s going to be handled in civil courts,” said Toronto police Const. Hugh Smith.

But critics charge the province’s careless driving law should distinguish careless acts that cause serious injury or death from those that don’t.

“People that are driving carelessly need to realize that when they kill another human being that person is gone forever,” said Daryl Bowles, whose father was killed in a careless driving accident in 2008. “And it’s not fair the person that’s responsible gets a slap on the wrist.”

Careless driving carries a fine ranging from $400 to $2,000, licence restrictions and potentially up to six months of jail time. It is the highest charge under the Highway Traffic Act.

Motorists and cyclists are treated equally under the act, though a cyclist does not suffer any penalties against their licence, such as demerit points or a suspension.

Motorists who injure or kill someone can be charged under the Criminal Code if they are deemed to have been driving dangerously. The difference between dangerous driving, a criminal offence, and careless driving, a traffic offence, lies in intent.

To be charged with dangerous driving, police must prove a driver planned and intended to do something dangerous, such as race or dart in and out of traffic. Careless driving, defined as driving “without due care and attention,” refers to a lapse of judgment.

A cyclist could not be charged with dangerous driving because the offence only covers motorized vehicles. But if there was evidence of intent, Smith said a cyclist could still be charged with assault or another appropriate criminal offence.

Police say the cyclist in Tuesday’s incident travelled southbound on Huron through the intersection with Dundas — where Huron becomes a one-way street in the opposite direction — and struck the woman, who was crossing the road on the south side with two other people.

A motorist committing the same act may have been charged criminally with dangerous driving causing bodily harm, Smith said, because it would be a more obviously dangerous situation. But recent cases of careless driving deaths suggest drivers are, in general, treated similarly.

An 18-year-old Mississauga man, who killed Eduardo and Fernandina Pascoal with his car last year, pleaded guilty to careless driving earlier this month and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

In May, a 39-year-old truck driver in Brampton pleaded guilty to failing to yield and was fined $500 for the death of Tina Kuipers, 65, who was killed as she tried to cross Queen St. in Brampton last year.

“There are a lot of variations of careless driving, and if you actually kill someone there should be a much steeper penalty,” said Bowles, who created an online petition pushing for tougher penalties at

Bowles’ petition — which has more than 2,000 signatures — calls for a new law specifically for careless driving causing death, which would include automatic jail sentences and a spectrum of stiffer penalties.

Although the cyclist in this case was given the minimum fine, the injured woman or her family may pursue a civil litigation, Smith said.

“He may escape the provincial court for this offence; it doesn’t mean there’s not going to be thousands of thousands of dollars later.”

Tickets given to cyclists

2008 – 3629

2009 – 4010

2010 – 6773

2011 – 2464 (as of May 31)

Source: Toronto police (tickets include equipment infractions)

Silver Miners Attempting To Bottom: AMEX:EXK, AMEX:GPL, SLV, SLW

Silver finally began a correction in late April after a parabolic spike through most of the beginning of the year. The correction was brutal over the first few days in May, but silver basically found some footing and started trading in a tight sideways range. In looking at theiShares Silver Trust (NYSE:SLV) ETF, one can see that the $32.50 level held on the initial down thrust and appears to have held as support on the latest test in late June. Volume has dwindled back to normal levels after a huge spike during the correction. While it is too early to know whether SLV is done correcting, it does appear ready for an attempt at a bounce. The first level to watch would be near $37.50 which has held as resistance on a few attempts. SLV looks like it is headed for a at least a test of this level.

Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE:SLW) is a silver miner that just survived its own test of support near the $30 level. SLW has been one of this group’s leaders over the past few years. It understandably corrected along with the base metal after hitting new all-time highs earlier this year. SLW recently cleared a wedge it was following on the way down and is currently testing its 50- and 200-day moving average near $35. A successful break of this level could lead to a potential bottom being put in for SLW. (For more on trading silver, seeTrading Gold And Silver Futures Contracts.)

Endeavour Silver Corporation (AMEX:EXK) is another silver miner that is attempting to find a floor. EXK came back to test the $7.50 level, which it had cleared earlier this year on its way to all-time highs near $13. While the correction has been steep in percentage terms, the structure has remained typical of a stock in an uptrend. The one thing to keep an eye on has been the increased volume throughout the base. This is typically a warning sign and traders will need to keep an eye on volume during any negative days.

Great Panther Silver Limited (AMEX:GPL) is another silver miner that could be ready for a rally attempt. GPL also had above-average volume during its recent consolidation, and did dip under a support level near $3. However, it rebounded off its 200-day moving average recently and is in the process of attempting to clear a trendline, marking the top of the channel it has been drifting lower in. It is also back above its 20 and 50-day moving averages and could be ready for an attempted breakout.

The Bottom Line
While Silver still has a lot of work ahead, the miners appear to be showing some relative strength to the metal. Neither can be safely assumed to have bottomed, but there are signs that an intermediate low may be in. Traders should closely monitor the recent lows as a line in the sand, and more importantly, watch to see how the miners deal with any selling pressure in the coming days. If selling pressure is light, the miners could attempt a move towards their recent highs.

McAlvany Weekly Commentary

Felix Zulauf: Marching Full Speed into Calamity

A Look At This Weeks Show:
Austerity measures cannot work in a democracy.
-Gold is a currency, not a commodity.
-Prepare for an inflationary depression over the next 3 to 5 years.

About the Guest:
ZULAUF ASSET MANAGEMENT AG was founded in 1990 and is fully owned by Felix W. Zulauf as an independent investment manager seeking absolute return. The firm manages a global fund seeking absolute return in a conservative way and invests worldwide in liquid assets only.

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Taking Another Look At Auto Stocks: HMC, DDAIF, TM, GM, TSLA, F

The automotive industry has taken a beating since the financial crisis of 2008. Increasing fuel costs discouraged purchases of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, known for their lack of fuel efficiency. Automakers had focused so much on these models because of their popularity and their 15-20% profit margin (compared to 3% or less for cars) that, when consumers wanted fuel-efficient vehicles to balance the rising costs gas, auto makers had little to offer. Sales began to drop and many automakers suffered double-digit percentage declines in sales.

In late 2008, the U.S. government provided controversial bailouts to auto makers General Motors (dubbed Government Motors) and Chrysler to avoid bankruptcy and layoffs. Ford ultimately declined any bailout funds, a move that boosted Ford's reputation and helped the automaker earn new customers. Figure 1 compares six auto stocks; Ford, represented by the blue line, dipped the lowest during 2008-2009, and since has had the most significant rebound.

Figure 1 Compares six auto stocks: Honda Motor Corporation (NYSE:HMC); Daimler (Nasdaq:DDAIF); Toyota Motors (NYSE:TM); General Motors Company (NYSE:GM); Tesla Motors Inc (Nasdaq:TSLA); and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F). Chart created with Google Finance.

Fall from Grace
Prior to the economic crisis, owning an auto stock was considered a relatively safe bet. General Motors, for example, held an esteemed spot on the Dow Jones list of 30 top U.S. companies since 1925 - until 2009 when it filed for bankruptcy protection, disqualifying GM from being among the 30 Dow components. In addition, GM was delisted from the NYSE as its stock shares fell below the one dollar minimum in mid- 2009. Amid the financial crisis, stock prices for all of the auto manufacturers plunged along with sales, jobs and reputations.

Power of the Underdogs
A powerful Chrysler ad campaign was unveiled during this year's Super Bowl. The ad, featuring famous Detroit-native Eminem, shows a struggling Detroit - and in essence the American auto industry - geared up to make a comeback. Detroit is home to the Big Three, the three major American auto companies - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - more recently called the Detroit Three. The emphasis on underdog Detroit, a city that has suffered deeply throughout the financial crisis with record unemployment and foreclosures, is intended to exemplify the resiliency of the American people and the auto industry as a whole.

2011 Sales
Sales in the U.S. are still struggling against increased fuel costs, vehicle shortages following the March disaster in Japan and reduced incentives. Analysts expect automobile sales in the U.S. to average 12.5 to 13.5 million units for 2011. The first quarter of 2011 saw encouraging sales for most auto makers, with May being the first slump month since last August. June, however, is showing increased demand for cars and trucks as gas prices drop off. Retail sales for new cars are forecast to be around 884,800 units (a 9.9 million annualized rate), an improvement over May's 9.3 million annualized rate.

Good Buy or Good Bye?
Automakers are developing new cars and technology to meet consumer desires and needs. Their new focus on smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles is a step in the right direction. The fall of GM's Hummer brand proved that Americans no longer feel the need to drive oversized, inefficient vehicles, especially for everyday driving. The higher demand for smaller cars has actually caused vehicle shortages, made worse by the tragedy in Japan. As long as automakers continue to research, develop and manufacture fuel-efficient vehicles, demand for these types of cars should continue to be strong.

The auto industry is perhaps poised to make a slow, steady recovery. Along with that, in theory, stocks for these companies could make a comeback. While auto stocks are no longer a safe bet like they used to be, there is certainly the chance that these companies will continue to recovery from the devastating lows and near-bankruptcies of 2008.

The Bottom Line
Most stocks have endured tough times since 2008. Many of the huge companies that weathered this economically challenging period showed tenacity, dedication and, in some cases. luck. Some of the automakers have managed to show strong growth over the past three years, evidence that it is possible to climb out of the financial crisis whole. Investors who are interested in automobile stocks will have to consider each company's fundamentals, the current economic climate and their own risk tolerance before choosing to buy and hold any particular stocks.

20 Not So Good Categories That The United States Leads The World In

Is the United States "number one"? Many Americans take deep pride in their nation and the truth is that the U.S. has a lot going for it. The United States has the largest economy in the world. The United States also has the most powerful military on the entire planet. The United States has produced most of the greatest movies that the world has ever seen. But the United States is also number one in a lot of categories that are not go great. If we ever want to turn this country around, we need to be very honest with ourselves. We need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that it is not a good thing that we are number one in divorce, drug addiction, debt, obesity, car thefts, murders and total crimes. We have become a slothful, greedy, decadent nation that is exhibiting signs of advanced decay. Until we understand just how bad our problems really are, we won't be able to come up with the solutions that we need.

A lot of people that write articles like this have a deep hatred for America. But that is not the case with me. I love the United States. I love the American people. America is like an aging, bloated rock star that has become addicted to a dozen different drugs. America is a shadow of its former self and it desperately needs to wake up before it plunges into oblivion.

If you do not believe that America is in bad shape, just read the list below. The following are 20 not so good categories that the United States leads the world in....

#1 The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe.

#2 According to, the United States has the highest percentage of obese people in the world.

#3 The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe by a wide margin.

#4 The United States is tied with the U.K. for the most hours of television watched per person each week.

#5 The United States has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.

#6 There are more car thefts in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world by far.

#7 There are more reported rapes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.

#8 There are more reported murders in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.

#9 There are more total crimes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.

#10 The United States also has more police officers than anywhere else in the world.

#11 The United States spends much more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other nation on the face of the earth.

#12 The United States has more people on pharmaceutical drugs than any other country on the planet.

#13 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higherthan in any other country in the world.

#14 Americans have more student loan debt than anyone else in the world.

#15 More pornography is created in the United States than anywhere else on the entire globe. 89 percent is made in the U.S.A. and only 11 percent is made in the rest of the world.

#16 The United States has the largest trade deficit in the world every single year. Between December 2000 and December 2010, the United States ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars with the rest of the world, and the U.S. has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976.

#17 The United States spends 7 times more on the military than any other nation on the planet does. In fact, U.S. military spending is greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATOcombined.

#18 The United States has far more foreign military bases than any other country does.

#19 The United States has the most complicated tax system in the entire world.

#20 The U.S. has accumulated the biggest national debt that the world has ever seen and it is rapidly getting worse. Right now, U.S. government debt is expanding at a rate of $40,000 per second.

So are you convinced that we are in trouble yet?

The truth is that America has changed. Most of us don't even say hello to our neighbors anymore.

In fact, we have become so self-involved that many of us don't even notice when someone around us dies.

Just consider the following two examples.

*USA Today recently reported on the body of a dead woman that was not found for approximately a year even though a whole bunch of people walked right past the car where she died....

Bank contractors, inspectors and even the new owner of a foreclosed home walked past the silver Chevy Nova in the garage numerous times before discovering the former homeowner — dead on the front seat.

*In an even more shocking case, the CBS affiliate in Boston recently reported that a dead woman was lying on the bottom of a public pool for two days while large numbers of people swam right over her. How in the world could something like this possibly happen?....

It’s a mystery as murky as the water at Veteran’s Memorial swimming pool in Fall River public pool: how did swimmers, lifeguards, or inspectors not notice a woman’s body at the bottom of the pool for a few days?

Marie Joseph, 36, was last seen at the pool on Sunday. The pool was open to the public Monday and Tuesday with six lifeguards on duty, and no one noticed the body under 12 feet of water.

Most Americans have become so self-involved that they barely even notice anyone other than their family and close friends.

The love of most Americans is growing cold and when the collapse of the U.S. economy happens it is just going to make things worse. Instead of working as a community, most Americans will only be concerned with making sure that their own needs are taken care of.

The United States was once the most blessed nation on the face of the earth, but now we are literally falling to pieces.

Does anyone have any ideas about why this could be happening?

If the Dollar Were Backed by Gold An Ounce Would be Just Under $10,000

The seasonal summer doldrums may still be underway, but as only CDS spreads and uncertainties are rallying these days, Erste Group's gold analyst Ronald Stöferle could well hit the black spot, forecasting a gold price of $2,000/oz by the end of 2011.
Sorry for not delivering a summary, but this gold standard setting 47-page report is a full must-read for all gold investors and especially all those who still have doubts about a golden future for the oldest universally accepted currency in the world.
Only so much for a teaser: If the US money stock were to be backed by gold again, one ounce would cover 9,942 single dollar notes. Now go read the rest for a multitude of research gems.

Technically Speaking, U.S. Dollar Flirts With Trendline Support

After tagging a short-term downside whipsaw reversal target of 74.35 last Thursday, the US Dollar is just a whisker away from (TLS) trendline support on the daily bar chart.

US Dollar Chart - Near Term Outlook

Near-term, if daily TLS fails, it elects a bearish downside sell trigger upon breach of this nearby support trajectory. From such a breach, we're looking at a downside risk potential in excess of 3-pts.

Short-term, Dollar bulls have their work cut out as they must first defend horizontal support at 74.19 then run price back up well north of the recent pivot high at 74.69. If they fail, 73.92 is the nearest downside price target vs. that pivot.

Technically Speaking Video

I trust and hope that you have extracted something of actionable value from this syndicated distribution of Technically Speaking.

Drag In 2012, And A "Perfect Storm" In 2013

Nouriel Roubini was just on CNBC.

Some notes:

  • He thinks the second half of the year could be slightly better than the first half.
  • He expects massive fiscal drag in 2012.
  • The perfect storm will be in 2013, because everyone is kicking the can down the road. Greece will kick the can to the. The US fiscal issues will be kicked until then (after the election).
  • Job creation will continue to be weak.
  • Expect a correction.

About what you'd expect: The 2013 "perfect storm" part is probably the scariest.

4 Stocks Approaching Oversold Status: AMD, INTC, OI, RS, STLD

The market is coming off of one of its biggest weeks of the year, but there are still plenty of good buying opportunities out there. With the exception of a couple of decent days last week, some stocks remain fairly beaten down. Here are four stocks that may already be oversold.

A Tale of Two Tapes
In just the last three months, Intel(Nasdaq:INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) have seen their stockprices head in very opposite directions. INTC shares have spiked 14.3% while AMD shares have declined by 15.0%.

AMD now sits at a forward P/E of 9.5 and has said that it is seeing strong demand for its Fusion accelerated processing units. In Q1, its non-GAAP revenue inched up slightly on a year-over-year basis. Potential investors should keep in mind that AMD has been fighting a decline in the average selling price for its microprocessors and this trend may have yet to bottom out.

The glassmaker Owens-Illinois (NYSE:OI) recently lowered its Q2 outlook saying that operating profit margins may be 3% to 6% below what they were a year ago. The reaction to this news seems to be a bit overdone as the stock has fallen about 14% in the past month. The stock now rests at a forward P/E of 8.4. (To get a better understanding of what all these numbers mean, read What Are A Stock's "Fundamentals"?)

Nerves of Steel
Steel Dynamics (Nasdaq:STLD) is in a similar situation to Owens-Illinois. The company recently announced that its Q2 EPS would come in below analyst estimates as it has been experiencing tighter margins in its metals recycling business. STLD shares are now over 11% lower than where they began the year and trade at a forward P/E of 7.5.

It does not appear that Steel Dynamics is in all that bad of shape. Its shipments continue to trend upwards and pricing has improved dramatically for the company. The company has reported weakness in the non-residential construction market for steel, but has a diverse portfolio of operating segments. STLD also sports a relatively high dividend yield for a steel company at 2.4%.

One other steel stock that may already be oversold is Reliance Steel (NYSE:RS). The stock has dropped almost 16% during the past three months and carries a forward P/E of 8.5. At this point, it would not take much favorable news in the steel markets to give RS shares a quick bounce, but investors may need to be a little bit patient with either of these steel plays.

The Bottom Line
Even as the market has roared back, they are still a number of stocks worthy of consideration for value oriented investors. Knee-jerk reactions to the slightest bit of negative news can send a stock into a tailspin where it can take some time for investors to realize that the sell-off was unwarranted. These are four stocks that might fall into such a category.

Who Bid on the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Two questions: why did they bid about $10 per barrel higher than the then spot price, and what did the government do with the money?