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Ignorance is no excuse

Re: Drivers ignoring cellphone message (Oct. 8). While Winnipeg police Insp. Jim Poole says that he truly believes that some people are uneducated on what the actual laws are for using mobile devices, I think it is common sense that anything other than concentrating on driving is a distraction.

Laws should not be necessary for us to know and understand the potential consequences of taking our eyes off the road or taking our concentration off driving. Whether you are texting on your cellphone or talking through a hands-free device, your mind is not completely focusing on the road and on your surroundings, which is putting yourself, your passengers and people outside the vehicle at risk.

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Statistics that show "a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash" are scary and should be taken seriously. Why is our society in so much of a rush that our texts and calls cannot wait until we get to our destination or until we pull over?




The only prudent and appropriate thing to do with these lawbreakers is to seize their phone when they are caught and ensure that they cannot sign up with another cellphone provider for a predetermined time period.

This parallels impaired drivers who receive a driving suspension, which prevents them from using their vehicle, or anyone else's, for a prescribed time as determined by a judge.




Off-loading the costs

The photo accompanying your Oct. 3 article Planners lose on subdivision shows a broadly smiling Michael Falk. No wonder. The Terracon development manager has received the go-ahead from Mayor Sam Katz and his executive policy committee to proceed with yet another sprawling subdivision, without covering more than a fraction of the costs of extending city services. Even the provision of adequate recreation facilities will be off-loaded onto adjacent subdivisions.

Falk also rules out putting a bus route through the development. Escalating fuel costs for commuters and concerns about environmental damage and a viable public transit system are all deemed irrelevant when placed against Terracon's bottom line.

As a taxpayer helping fund Terracon's profitability, I'm not smiling at all.




Increasing potholes

Re: Another nod to snow-clearing changes (Oct. 9). More snow left on the street curbsides will simply increase the proliferation of potholes.

The freeze-thaw cycle rapidly deteriorates the roadway and increases the potholes and surface delineation. More snow equals increased deterioration. We're just moving money from one budget to another.




Temperatures have risen

In his Oct. 7 letter, CO2 cannot warm the oceans, Gerald Machnee simply repeats frequently debunked climate change denier talking points that have no basis in fact.

First, Machnee states that "only a few years of ocean measurements" showed hundredths of degrees of warming. This is not true. Ocean-temperature data have been measured using a vast network of buoys for over four decades and have shown a five-fold increase in 0-700-metre heat content and a tripling of 700-2,000 metre heat content. As for his assertion that a warmer atmosphere cannot warm the ocean, this betrays a serious lack of knowledge of the physics of conduction and convection.

Machnee also claims the sea-ice data collection started in 1979, but the data set actually began in the 1950s. He conveniently neglects to say that Arctic sea ice cover has seen about a 40 per cent reduction since the 1960s, from about 8.5 million square to about five million square kilometres by 2010.

Machnee also stated that the recent IPCC report isn't based on measurements and is politically charged. This shows a serious case of wilful blindness. There are hundreds of graphs of measurements and data, as well as projections within the report. He is grasping at straws and refuses to accept the overwhelming evidence that humans are primarily responsible for global warming.




Gauging appropriate care

Having dealt with a chronic schizophrenic sister and a severely disabled brother for many years, I feel my thoughts are warranted on the most recent commentary on the Manitoba Developmental Centre.

We all have a right to see things differently, but it is difficult for anyone who has not lived with and experienced the limitations of severely disabled persons to gauge the level of care that is appropriate.

I would argue that there is a need in society for institutions that provide around-the-clock care in a building large enough to accommodate special equipment and services for severely disabled persons and that overall the MDC has done an exemplary job of doing so.




The key concern around the closing of the Manitoba Development Centre remains: Who will provide services to people with mental disabilities to ensure that every person lives in conditions that promote self-worth and dignity?

If the government (that is, the taxpayer) continues to be the major service provider, it is important to ensure that money is in place to keep up with the high costs of integrating people with mental disabilities into the community.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 10, 2013 A14

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