Did you know there's going to be a partial lunar eclipse on June 4, 2012?
Did you know there's going to be a partial lunar eclipse on June 4, 2012?
JANSEN, Sask. - A freight train jumped the tracks in southeastern Saskatchewan Tuesday and spilled more than 91,000 litres of oil.The accident happened as the Canadian Pacific Rail (TSX:CP) eastbound train was rolling through an area near the village of Jansen, about 150 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.The company said five cars derailed, but only one leaked its contents. A total of 575 barrels hit the ground, said spokesman Ed Greenberg."There is one car that was leaking product," Greenberg said. "It has been contained into the area around the car."Story continues after slideshowThe leaking car was well back in the 64-unit train and remained upright. The other four cars were on their sides.Excavation equipment was being sent to the site to build a wall of dirt to further contain the spill.Reeve Bruce Elke with the rural municipality of Jansen was content with the way the situation was being handled, although he noted he was seeding his farmland and had not been to the scene."My understanding was that it wasn't that big a spill and everything is going well," Elke said.Oilspills of any sort have been increasingly under the microscope as debate rages over how best to get Canadian oil to foreign markets.CP Rail has been increasing crude shipments as production ramps up from the oilsands and pipeline companies struggle to increase capacity quickly. Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) moved more than 30,000 carloads of crude to various North American markets last year and believes it can double that business in 2013.However, in New York earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper suggested rail was a riskier way to go while stumping for U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.Tuesday's spill marked at least the third involving a CP train in the last few months.In April, about 20 freight cars, including two that were carrying light sweet crude oil, went off the tracks near White River, Ont., about halfway between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. While it was initially thought that only 630 litres of oil leaked, the total was revised to about 63,000 litres.In March, a Canadian Pacifictrain derailed in Minnesota. At the time, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said 76,000 litres leaked onto the still-frozen ground.In January a Canadian National train collided with a road grader near the community of Paynton in Saskatchewan. Police said at the time that about 1,000 litres of oil leaked from two tankers in that crash.Greenberg said the train that detailed Tuesday was carrying other products besides oil, but there was no indication they were hazardous."It was a mixed freight train, so there were other rail cars with other commodities on it."Firefighters from Jansen were called in as a precaution.The Transportation Safety Board of Canada was sending an investigator to the site.
On a typical day, Oklahoma Shelters fields about 50 to 75 phone calls from customers inquiring about having a safe room or underground shelter installed on their property. But after a devastating tornado tore through Moore, Okla., on Monday, around 600 people contacted the company on Tuesday. Most people are not calling from areas that were directly hit by the tornado, said Jason Avery, a salesman who has been with the company for seven years. Rather, he said, "most are calling from areas that just got missed." When a tornado like the one on Monday -- which is estimated to have killed 24 people -- hits, companies in the business of installing or producing storm shelters know to expect a surge in the number of clients who are eager to shield their families. But the business of installing storm shelters can be as unpredictable as the weather the products are designed to protect against -- it's difficult to prepare for ups and downs, as circumstances can change remarkably quickly. On average, Avery said, there's a two-week wait year-round to a get a storm shelter installed. But when a tornado with the magnitude of the one earlier this week hits an area, the wait grows, he said. After a big storm, customers can be looking at 6- to 12-week waits for installation. "By the time that comes around, we'll be in the heat of the summer, and most of these people will turn around and cancel their orders because they spent their money on other things," Avery said. Avery said that the numbers can vary, but as many as 20 to 30 percent of the people who schedule installations following a huge tornado can end up canceling, or postponing to the following spring to wait for tax refunds that can help defray the costs. Safe rooms through Oklahoma Shelters start at $3,750 for a 4-by-6-foot space that's installed within a home. They are windowless constructions with protections in place, like a steel door and metal walls. An underground shelter, on the other hand, is usually made of concrete. Those start at $2,450. Jeff Olsen, the owner of Missouri Storm Shelters, said the number of phone calls he has received has quadrupled since the tornado struck Moore. Though his showrooms are based in Joplin and Springfield, Olsen sells shelters to customers in 24 different states. About 75 percent of his business comes from people requesting safe rooms, with the rest interested in underground shelters, he said. Olsen noted that the tornado that devastated Joplin in 2010 prompted above-average business for two years. But prior to this week, 2013 had been a terrible year for the industry. "Three weeks ago, we had snow here. We wound up laying off two employees because it was so slow," he said. Within 24 hours of this most recent tornado in Oklahoma, Olsen found himself with a showroom full of customers, a phone ringing off the hook and not enough staff. "It’s a tough business because people procrastinate. We've been doing this for 10 years, and we can't figure out how to get people motivated in the off season," Olsen said. "You can't have a million dollars in inventory sitting around hoping a storm will hit. We advertise heavily in the winter and spring You can just about stand on your head in the middle of the street and it wont do anything." Laura Rhodd is one of the owners of Hausner's, a company based in Oklahoma that makes storm shelters and has been in her family since 1954. Hausner's produces about 150 storm shelters a week, but Rhodd estimated they might make a third more this season because of this week's events. After a massive tornado struck central Oklahoma in 1999, Rhodd said she was consistently busy for two years straight. "Back then we were the only player, the only big player," Rhodd said. "We'll work six to nine months off of this. You never can tell." Rhodd said that people's interest in storm protection has been influenced in part by the 24-hour news coverage of tornado devastation. But an increase in dangerous weather events has also forced the industry to expand, she said. "It has just steadily grown, because the weather has gotten worse," Rhodd said.
With this year's home buying season off to a strong start, due in large part to tight inventories and low interest rates, many prospective homebuyers may find securing financing an obstacle. In fact, the Fed reported a drop in purchase mortgages — loans for buying a home rather than refinancing an existing loan — has been most pronounced among borrowers with low credit scores. Originations have dropped by 90% for borrowers with credit scores between 620 and 680. Regardless of where you fall on the credit score spectrum, here are some tips on how to secure financing to help make the mortgage process easier. Get an Appraisal Earlier in the Process To protect yourself from appraisal issues, it is important to order the appraisal as soon after offer acceptance as possible. Not only will it allow you time to get the appraisal to lender for review but, it can also help you re-negotiate the purchase price if value comes in low. Line Up Your Down Payment Early Have a conversation with your loan officer about how you plan on putting together the funds required for down payment and closing. In the months leading up to close, avoid moving money from account to account. If you do move money, keep a detailed "paper trail" of all withdrawals and subsequent deposits. If you are self-employed, it pays to think ahead and take your salary draw well in advance of loan application. Changing Jobs? Keep the bank up to date on any changes in your financial situation, especially in regards to your employment. If you change jobs during the course of your application, alert the bank immediately. The bank will likely need to see a current pay stub and to contact the new company for verification. If you are no longer working where your application says you're working, your bank is going to put the brakes on your transaction. Get Your Monthly Debt In Check If possible, pay off debts with smaller balances (e.g., under $1,500), or — even better — loans with bigger monthly payments (keep in mind that car loans with less than 10 months remaining won't be counted), so they don't get calculated into monthly debt service. An important calculation in mortgage underwriting, debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the percentage of a consumer's monthly gross income that goes toward paying debts. Lenders generally like to see all monthly payments — including the new mortgage payment, property taxes and insurance — reach no more than 38% of gross monthly income. Think Carefully About New Credit Refrain from opening or even applying for new credit. New credit accounts for as much as 10% of your credit score. Newly opened trade lines and credit inquiries can have a negative impact on your credit score. Every point in your credit score matters and even a small drop in your credit score could cause you to receive a higher interest rate for your loan or, worse yet, cause your loan to be denied. Go Easy on the Credit Cards Credit utilization is the percentage of your credit cards' limits that are currently being used. High credit utilization can have a significant impact on your credit score even if you pay your credit cards in full each month. Avoid large purchases that could increase your credit utilization in the 30 days that lead up to your mortgage application. A general rule of thumb is to stay under 30% utilization, but the lower the better.
The Senate dragged Apple Inc., the world's most valuable company, into the debate over the U.S. tax code Tuesday, grilling CEO Tim Cook over allegations that its Irish subsidiaries help the company avoid billions in U.S. taxes.
The price of corn fell after U.S. farmers planted record amounts of corn last week, easing concern that earlier planting delays would harm this year's crop.