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Put That Phone Away, OPP Says ‘No Excuses, No Exceptions’

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Orilla: As the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) readies for the final week of its four Distracted Driving campaigns conducted periodically over the last year, they are warning drivers about the “no excuses, no exceptions” approach they’ll be taking as they target distracted drivers throughout Ontario.

From February 13-19, 2012, the OPP will be conducting highly-visible enforcement of distracted driving laws in an effort to protect drivers, their passengers and other road users from the needless loss of life on our roads.

The OPP is also warning drivers that any activity that takes your attention away from driving is dangerous. This isn’t just about using a phone or texting while driving.  Even day dreaming can create a situation where the driver misses something important which results in a bad decision behind the wheel.

“We’re only five weeks into the new year and eight (8) people have died already in distraction-related collisions on OPP patrolled roads and that’s more than impaired driving and speeding fatalities combined,” said Chief Superintendent Don Bell, Commander of the OPP Highway Safety Division.  “Whether you’re texting, talking, reading or shaving, a diversion – any diversion of attention that lowers one’s ability to focus on driving can happen and within seconds, someone else could die,” added Bell.

Sydney and Suzanne Soulière are far too familiar with the dangers of distracted driving. Sadly, they lost their 18 year-old son Damon in a distracted driving incident on May 28, 2011. Damon was on his way home from North Bay, Ontario when he began texting while driving. His vehicle crossed the centre line, collided with a tractor-trailor and Damon died as a result of the collision.

“For the love of our son and his accomplishments, please don’t be distracted and drive – no more excuses!  We know it kills or injures and you’re risking your life and the lives of others on the road.  We hope the death of our son and those who have died, young and old, due to distracted driving show you that it’s not worth it.  Believe us, it’s not!  Our son was going into the Armed Forces to serve his country and help people. He was a good boy who made a mistake and now, getting the message out about the dangers of distracted driving is the only way he can help.”

Using a cell phone or device capable of texting while driving can result in a fine of $155 under Section 78.1 of the HTA.  Just watching an entertainment device (like a movie on your tablet) can result in a fine of $110 under Section 78 of the HTA. Other forms of distracted driving can result in a charge of Careless Driving with fines ranging from $400 to $2,000, a possible licence suspension of up to two years and/or a jail term of not more than six months depending on the circumstances.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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SOUTH ASIA

Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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