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Reduce Your Debt by 80%, But There’s a Catch; Consider All Options

Alpine Skiing USA New Updates

If you find yourself unable to pay the bills, you need to carefully consider your options before jumping into a financial arrangement. TeamOktopus / Getty Images/iStockphoto There is no quick or easy way to deal with debt, and that 80-per-cent-off
'If you find yourself unable to pay the bills, you need to carefully consider your options before jumping into a financial arrangement. \t\t\t\t\t\tTeamOktopus / Getty Images/iStockphoto\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tThere is no quick or easy way to deal with debt, and that 80-per-cent-off offer comes with its own burdensQ: I remember my parents arguing about money a lot when I was growing up. There never seemed to be enough to pay all of the bills all of the time. My dad was adamant that he would never go bankrupt because he personally knew a lot of the people he had borrowed money from. My mom just wanted the stress to stop. I vowed that when I grew up I would do better, however, a few months ago the bill collectors started calling. I don’t have enough money to pay them all. I’m so frustrated with myself that I got into this position, especially because I do make good money and I think I’m only about 15 years away from retirement. I’ve seen ads from trustees that say they’ll reduce my debt by up to 80 per cent; is that really an option to deal with debt? ~RichardA: Realizing that you’ve got more debt than you can afford is one of the most stressful situations you can find yourself in. The ironic thing about stress is that we need a little to get us motivated, but a lot of stress grinds us to a halt. It affects our sleep, all of our relationships, our ability to function day-to-day, our work suffers and, importantly, our ability to objectively evaluate options and solutions to deal with our stress drops dramatically. When we are stressed our decision-making skills are at their weakest, which can have drastic long-term consequences for us.There is no quick and easy way to deal with debtOne common thing we find with consumers who are experiencing financial difficulty is that they tend to put off dealing with their situation as long as possible. Unfortunately, this can mean that someone has fewer options about what to do about their debt. It can also mean that someone is more easily tempted by solutions that look quick and easy.Let me assure you, there is no quick or easy way to deal with debt; reducing debt by up to 80 per cent comes with its own conditions and limits. I would encourage you to do your due diligence with any debt-relief option before you commit to a course of action.Here are some things to keep in mind as you explore debt-reduction options:What does ‘reducing debt by up to 80 per cent’ mean?When you want a quick fix for your financial trouble, an ad that promises to eliminate most of what you owe can sound very appealing. What many consumers fail to appreciate is how this actually works. The only people in Canada who can make such an offer through a legal process are licensed insolvency trustees, formerly called trustees in bankruptcy. The debt-reduction program is a Consumer Proposal, which is different than bankruptcy, but it is still a legal process under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act .For older Canadians in particular, who take the responsibility of managing their financial affairs very seriously, the word “bankruptcy” still has a negative implication. This may be one reason why we have seen a shift in how insolvency trustees advertise their services. Terms for Consumer Proposals such as “alternatives to bankruptcy” and “reduce debt by up to 80 per cent” are more appealing options. This shift in advertising has been effective; over the past decade the number of Canadians in Western Canada who elected to resolve their financial problems by establishing a Consumer Proposal increased by over 400 per cent while consumer bankruptcies declined by over 25 per cent.Have Canadians become better at managing their money?Given these statistics, one might be tempted to wonder if the financial circumstances of consumers have improved dramatically in the past 10 years, making it easier for Canadians to repay more of their debt through a Consumer Proposal versus filing for bankruptcy. However, if we look at income levels in relation to the amount of consumer and mortgage debt people are carrying, as well as low personal savings rates, it’s clear that we are not in better financial shape today than we were a decade ago. Seven Myths and Misconceptions About Bankruptcy Explained What is a Consumer Proposal?A Consumer Proposal is a legal agreement between you and your creditors to repay part of the debt that you owe. The arrangement is governed by Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, can only be proposed to your creditors by a licensed insolvency trustee and is an alternative to you declaring personal bankruptcy. The amount that the trustee will propose you repay is largely based on your income and assets. What makes Consumer Proposals attractive is their potential to significantly reduce the amount of debt you are required to pay your creditors; however, this comes at a cost.Fees to file a proposal are laid out in the Act, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. It costs about $750 to file a proposal, and if it’s accepted by your creditors, it costs another $750 to proceed. The trustee is also allowed to retain 20 per cent of future payments as a fee for administering the proposal. To be legally binding, the creditors who hold the majority of your debt must agree to the proposal. Once they do, you repay the agreed amount typically within about four years, but in no more than a maximum of five years. If your creditors don’t agree, the proposal is defeated and you will need to make a higher offer or consider bankruptcy instead. What to Watch Out for When Filing for a Consumer Proposal Don’t overlook these three considerations:Zero to 80 per centIf you have assets that you can sell, income to support significant debt payments and no extenuating circumstances (e.g. a medical condition that precludes long-term payments), it is not reasonable to expect creditors to agree to reducing your debt by 80 per cent. The percentage will be less, and you could end up even repaying all of what you owe.Privacy issuesA Consumer Proposal is a legal arrangement and is therefore filed as a permanent public record. A proposal is not a private matter — it must be approved by the court and is included in an online searchable database. Confused by the Lingo? Insolvency Terms and What They Mean If you can’t afford the paymentsAs with any debt-repayment arrangement, an important consideration is your ability to follow through and maintain the monthly payment required under the terms of a Consumer Proposal. If you miss more than two payments, the proposal could be annulled and you may need to file for bankruptcy. If you do end up needing to file for bankruptcy, it can impact current and future employment opportunities depending upon the professional requirements of different positions. Even needing to be bonded for work might not be possible if you’ve declared bankruptcy. Five Instances When Declaring Bankruptcy May Not Be Right for You The bottom line on what it means to reduce your debt by up to 80 per centThe term “bankruptcy” has received a bad rap over the years; it’s the right option for some people to resolve their financial difficulties, but not a good first option for most people. Due to this stigma, Consumer Proposals, advertised under any number of slogans, have risen in popularity. When you are looking for the best way to deal with your debt, choose your course of action carefully after weighing the long-term implications and pros and cons of each option.Before electing to enter into a Consumer Proposal, get all of the facts. Find out about other little-known ways to resolve your financial problems including debt-consolidation options, a debt-management program or even if debt settlement is right for you. The best first step is usually to balance your budget ; then the right solution will be the one that allows you to regain your financial well-being and stability.Related reading: Consumer Proposal versus Bankruptcy, What is the Difference? Can I Keep My Car if I File for Bankruptcy? What to Do When You Can’t File Bankruptcy Scott Hannah is president of the Credit Counselling Society, a non-profit organization. For more information about managing your money or debt, contact Scott by  email , check  www.nomoredebts.org  or call 1-888-527-8999.'

Backcountry skier dead after being struck by rock, falling down slope

Alpine Skiing USA New Updates

A skier is dead after falling down a rocky slope on Mount Haig, marked by a red pinpoint. The 22-year-old man was reportedly from Lethbridge, visible on this map. Map courtesy Google Maps. One person is dead after being struck by a rock while skiing
'A skier is dead after falling down a rocky slope on Mount Haig, marked by a red pinpoint. The 22-year-old man was reportedly from Lethbridge, visible on this map. Map courtesy Google Maps. \t\t\tOne person is dead after being struck by a rock while skiing in the backcountry.The skier, a 22-year-old man from Lethbridge, was hit by a loose rock around 2 p.m. Saturday, according to RCMP. He then fell down a rocky slope on Mount Haig, near Castle Mountain Resort, approximately 250 kilometres south of Calgary.Two skiers with the man and other hikers who were nearby attempted first aid. The RCMP, Pincher Creek Emergency Services, conservation officers, Alpine Helicopters, and STARS responded.The man was declared dead at the scene.According to the RCMP, the man’s family members were at the scene.The RCMP and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are investigating.'

Rome instills new rules for tourists banning everything from bare chests, love padlocks and bad behaviour

Alpine Skiing USA New Updates

Visitors to Rome have been hit with a range of new rules that ban everything from jumping in fountains to eating snacks in public.Exasperated by the bad behaviour of tourists, city authorities have introduced stern new measures.Touts who dress as
'Visitors to Rome have been hit with a range of new rules that ban everything from jumping in fountains to eating snacks in public.Exasperated by the bad behaviour of tourists, city authorities have introduced stern new measures.Touts who dress as Roman legionaries and demand money for photos are also targeted. They are now banned from popular attractions such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain.Men can expect a fine if they are caught strolling around bare-chested, while attaching “love padlocks” to monuments will also attract a fine.Tourists who behave really badly will be hit with Asbo-style orders that will ban them from the area in which they committed the offence.However, some of the new rules seem hard to enforce — such as a decree that tourists must not let their lips touch the spouts of public fountains.Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Rome, said she would ask embassies to make citizens aware of the new regulations.“Rome is, and always will be, welcoming, but that does not mean tolerating bad behaviour and damage being done to our city,” she said.'

Robust.AI launches to build an industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots

Alpine Skiing TechCrunch

Despite the seemingly fantastical demonstration of walking and jumping robots, today’s robots are often stupid, brittle and inflexible, only capable of working in carefully-engineered environments, and unable to respond dynamically and sensibly in
'Despite the seemingly fantastical demonstration of walking and jumping robots, today’s robots are often stupid, brittle and inflexible, only capable of working in carefully-engineered environments, and unable to respond dynamically and sensibly in unexpected circumstances. Deep learning has been spectacularly successful in certain problems (facial recognition, object recognition, etc) but the “smart robots” that we have promised still haven’t arrived. The promised robotic future is still a long way off. New Silicon Valley robotics startup Robust.AI aims, firstly, to build the world’s first industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots. Secondly, it will aim to help companies in a wide range of areas, from construction to eldercare and domestic robots, towards the goal of making robots that are smarter, safer, more robust, more context-aware, and more collaborative. Initially located in Palo Alto, California, Robust.AI has secured a “substantial” undisclosed seed round from Playground Global , among other undisclosed investors. The market for intelligent robots is worth potentially several hundred billion dollars a year, once robots can enter new markets (e.g., construction, eldercare, to-the-door delivery) that historically have been too challenging for traditional robotics. Robust.AI plans to make money by licensing its cognitive platform, and by helping companies solve robotics problems that would otherwise be out of reach of current technology. To create this vision, the company has two stellar founders: Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and Rethink Robotics, co-inventor of Roomba, the best-selling consumer robot of all time, and former chair of the MIT AI lab (CSAIL); and Gary Marcus (CEO co-founder of Geometric Intelligence, acquired by Uber, bestselling author and cognitive scientist at NYU). Brooks will be CTO, Marcus will be the CEO. Coming from different perspectives, Marcus (cognitive science) and Brooks (robotics) have been writing for the last several years about the perils of deep learning, and why it had been overhyped; they also independently reached similar conclusions about the need for developing machine-interpretable common sense as a prerequisite for reaching the next level of AI. When Marcus decided to take the plunge into robotics, he says he realized immediately that Brooks, a legend in robotics, would be the perfect collaborator, and Marcus spent months recruiting him. The two say they are excited by the mission and the commercial potential. “We are building an industrial-strength cognitive platform — the first of its kind — to enable robots to be smart, collaborative, robust, safe and genuinely autonomous, with applications in a very broad range of verticals from construction and delivery to warehouses and domestic robots,” Marcus told me. “We will be synthesizing a wide range of advances in AI, including both deep learning and classical approaches, with a focus on building machines with a toolbox for common sense,” he continued. As for competitors, Marcus seems to think there aren’t many: “We don’t know anyone else trying to do this. Most often what happens nowadays is that when one wants to build a robot, one hacks together a mixture of ROS [Robot Operating System] and TensorFlow or PyTorch, tailored to a very specific problem. We don’t know of anyone building the kind of general-purpose cognitive tools we have in mind. There is no extant tool that can deliver the kind of complex, flexible cognition that we are focusing on.”'

With foldable phones in limbo, foldable display laptops are on the horizon

Alpine Skiing TechCrunch

With the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X currently in limbo for very different reasons, PC makers are apparently jumping at the chance to make their own foldable display ambitions known. It’s been clear, of course, for as long as flexible screens have
'With the Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X currently in limbo for very different reasons , PC makers are apparently jumping at the chance to make their own foldable display ambitions known. It’s been clear, of course, for as long as flexible screens have been a viable technology, that hardware manufacturers would be experimenting with any and all form factors. In just the past week, two key players have talked up their plans for how it might be utilized on the PC front. Last week, Lenovo showed off a prototype ThinkPad X1 . The company’s been no stranger to experimental convertibles, and utilizing a foldable display could further blur the line been tablets and PCs. The technology allows for a large screen in a compact form factor. Here it’s 13.3 inches that can be collapsed into half the size, making it a lot easier to take with you. It’s a slick prototype, and obviously folding form factors are already the standard in the laptop world. But like Lenovo’s past attempts at dual-screen devices, the on-screen removes the tactile keyboard, one of the biggest pain points in moving consumers away from more traditional laptops. Perhaps that’s something that could be addressed with the sorts of overlays provided by companies like Sensel. Dell, too, recently told Gizmodo that it’s experimenting with a similar form factor. No surprise on that front, really. One expects that any PC maker worth its weight in netbooks is, at the very least, playing around with the concept as we speak. All of this is complicated by the fact that the foldable phone category has been plagued with issues — though not necessarily the ones most people predicted. Samsung indefinitely pushed back the launch date of the Galaxy Fold after several reviewers ran into issues with their units. We’re still waiting for official news on that front. Huawei, meanwhile, had a wrench thrown into its stratospheric ascendancy when the company was blacklisted by the Trump White House, leaving aspects of its future in jeopardy. Neither of these are direct indictments of the concept — though Samsung’s model certainly failed in real-world testing. For that reason, it’s probably safe to say that the jury’s still out on consumer demand, though many of the major concerns, including pricing, would likely carry over to the PC category.'