Living in the Moment as a Mom

I am officially going into my ninth year of starting a business. I can’t believe how time has flown by. Looking back recently at pictures from when I first started my business in my basement with a baby on my nipple, I got teary-eyed. If time goes by this fast, am I able to hold on to the memories as vividly as I’d like? I already find myself struggling sometimes to fill in all the details of where and when something happened, even if I have a photo in front of me to help tell the story. Being a busy work-from-home mom, I’m always multitasking. I’m busy always, which means a lot of things happen on auto-pilot. Sometimes I’ll forget what I was doing just 30 seconds ago. Sound familiar? 

Am I forgetting to stop and smell the roses? Am I staying in front of my memories long enough to register them more permanently? Here’s the truth: I’m not. I’m guilty of dangling the carrot always out of reach — once the summer is over, once we get to October, once this round of activities is over… there’s always a finish line at which point things will slow down, but that finish line is never crossable because before I can get there, I’ve moved it beyond reach. Why am I in such a rush? What am I chasing, or better yet, what’s chasing me?

Sometimes I’ll take a moment to sit and watch the people around me. Often I witness others conversing slowly, giving all the attention they have to the person in front of them. There’s no phone in hand, no fidgeting, just one person absorbing all of the energy of the person in their presence. And here I am, twitching as I wait for my latte to be ready, answering two emails at the same time, texting my 8-year-old, fixing my lipstick, planning what’s for dinner. There has to be a better way. 

Life isn’t a race. No one dies saying they wished they’d answered one more email. But here’s the catch for me: I love to work. I love it so much that I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t. But what I love more than working, what’s always able to quiet my busy mind for at least a few moments, is the sight of my kids. When my 8-year-old reads a book to me in bed, I’m mesmerized by the shimmering highlights in her hair, her little bushy eyebrows, her delicate voice. Sometimes these moments catch me so off-guard, they bring me to my knees. I’m surprised all the time now by my son’s strength, his intelligent arguments about politics, the size of his hands. What happened? Where is my little boy who used to incessantly ask “Annem nerde?” in Turkish (where is my mom?), even as I sat next to him. My daughter’s need to touch me anytime she sits near me is passing as well. I cherish their independence as they make their own way in the world, but I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss how much they’ve needed me. 

I’ve challenged myself to be more aware of how I’m spending my time. To keep my engagement in perspective. To enjoy these milestones with my children, to stand in front of my life long enough to take that forever picture in my heart and mind.

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FDA to startup: Your vegan mayonnaise can’t be called mayonnaise

A San Francisco food-tech startup has received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saying that the company’s eggless mayonnaise cannot be called “Just Mayo.”

Hampton Creek Foods, which was founded in 2011, aims to use various plants instead of animal products as substitutes in common foods—such as replacing eggs in pre-packaged cookie dough or mayonnaise.

The company’s products, including “Just Mayo,” are commonly sold at Whole Foods, Safeway, and other major supermarkets.

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Planned Parenthood sues to stop funding cuts in Louisiana

(Reuters) – Planned Parenthood asked a federal court on Tuesday to block Louisiana’s efforts to defund its clinics in the state in reaction to the release of secretly recorded videos about how the group handles the tissue of aborted fetuses.

Fox News: Republican Trump should apologize after latest Twitter outburst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of Fox News on Tuesday called on Donald Trump to apologize after a string of posts on Twitter lambasting Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, the latest in an ongoing flap between the network and the leading Republican presidential candidate.

Oshkosh wins $6.75 billion deal to replace U.S. Army, Marine Humvees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. specialty truck maker Oshkosh Corp has won a $6.75 billion contract to build 17,000 light tactical vehicles to replace the aging Humvees used by the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, the U.S. Army announced on Tuesday.

Family of former Centerra Gold CEO fears he will be ‘kidnapped’ to Kyrgyzstan

The family of former Centerra Gold chief executive Len Homeniuk says he has been re-arrested in Bulgaria and fears he may be spirited away to Kyrgyzstan.

Homeniuk, who last week spoke with the Financial Post, spent 11 days in prison after he was arrested on July 27 in the Bulgarian town of Vidin, near the border of Romania. He was later transferred to house detention in a small apartment in the capital, Sofia.

Family members now say Homeniuk was re-arrested at that apartment at 9:30 local time Monday night, then whisked back to Vidin on Tuesday.

It’s the latest twist in a saga in which the former mining executive, who holds dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, seems to be a pawn in on-going talks over the fate of a gold mine in Kyrgyzstan, a rugged Central Asian republic located along the Silk Road.

Marina Stephens, Homeniuk’s wife, was with him when the police came Monday night, and was able to visit him at the police station a short while later. She returned early Tuesday to visit him at the police station, but was told he had already been moved to Vidin.

Stephens believes her husband will face a rapid-fire extradition hearing, perhaps as early as Wednesday, then be immediately extradited to the Kyrgyz Republic. She has been told representatives from both the U.S. and Canadian embassies will try to attend legal hearings in Vidin. But she fears they may not make it in time.

“It’s very possible they’re going to hold this before anyone gets a chance to arrive there,” she said in a phone interview from Bulgaria on Tuesday. “I fully expect now that despite the efforts of the U.S. embassy, despite any kind of rationale or reason or legality, that Len is going to be extradited to Kyrgyzstan by the Bulgarians.”


BloombergLen Homeniuk, 68, was on a cruise on the Danube River with his family when Bulgarian authorities detained him in late July.

Homeniuk, 68, was CEO of Toronto-based Centerra Gold from 2004 until his retirement in 2008. He now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif. He had been on a Danube cruise with his wife and son when he was arrested in July.

Centerra was founded in 2004 after it was spun off from Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp. Just before the spin-off, Cameco and the Kyrgyz government negotiated a deal governing the ownership of the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan.

“The company is disappointed that the Bulgarian authorities have redetained Mr. Homeniuk and we will continue to assist him in his efforts to review the legality of his detention so that he can return to his home in North America as soon as possible,” said John Pearson, a vice-president with Centerra, in an email.

Centerra is in the midst of fresh talks with Kyrgyzstan over control of the mine. The Kyrgyz Republic has meanwhile brought corruption charges against Homeniuk and had the retired mining executive placed on Interpol’s wanted persons list. That’s what got Homeniuk arrested in Bulgaria.

Kyrgyzstan has requested that Bulgaria extradite Homeniuk. Yet Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan have no bilateral extradition treaty, and the family insists there is no valid legal reason for Bulgaria to grant Kyrgyzstan’s request.

“Things are pretty crazy over there,” said Dan Mirkin, Homeniuk’s brother-in-law, in a phone interview Tuesday from his home in California.

“It looks like we’re in the middle of some sort of James Bond caper,” Mirkin said. “There’s a kidnapping of a U.S. citizen that looks like it’s about to take place in broad daylight.”

In an interview with the Financial Post last week, Homeniuk said the corruption charges are untrue and politically motivated.

“In my opinion, the only reason for this action is to put pressure on Centerra in the ongoing negotiations,” he said.

Ownership of the mine is a hot topic within Kyrgyzstan. While Centerra is 100% owner of the mine, the Kyrgyz Republic holds just under one-third of Centerra’s shares.

In 2012, a state commission investigated allegations of “environmental, industrial and social damage” caused by the mine and recommended ownership talks be reopened. Centerra and the Kyrgyz Republic signed a non-binding agreement that would split ownership of the mine 50-50, but the parties have yet to reach a definitive deal. Meanwhile, a parliamentary decree earlier this year requested the Kyrgyz government submit a draft law on nationalizing the mine.

In early August, Centerra issued a statement denying any of the allegations made by Kyrgyz authorities. “Centerra is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr. Homeniuk while on a family holiday, and supports his efforts to review the legality of his detention.”

The mine is located about 350 kilometres southeast of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, and about 60 kilometres north of the Chinese border. Production at the mine began in 1996. Since then, it has produced more than 9.9 million ounces of gold.

Trump’s lead grows as Bush slips in Republican White House race: Reuters poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Jeb Bush’s support is slipping in the race for the party’s presidential nomination, and front-runner Donald Trump has opened a 20-point lead over his closest rivals, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed on Tuesday.

Driver beware: UberX drivers may find themselves without insurance in the event of an accident

New technologies can be awfully exciting —  but one not-so-sexy industry that’s being drastically affected by them is auto insurance, as self-driving cars, surveillance devices and Uber transform its business model. Today, in the final part of the series, the debate over insuring Uber drivers.

TORONTO • UberX drivers have a lot to worry about these days: angry taxi drivers, ticket-happy bylaw officers, even whether they’ll be allowed to continue operating in some cities. But perhaps the most pressing concern is one many aren’t even aware of: Their personal auto insurance is unlikely to cover them in the event of accident.

Take the case of Tawfiqul Alam, an UberX driver in Toronto who was T-boned by a red-light runner while transporting a passenger on June 9. The accident sent both him and his passenger to hospital and totalled his minivan.

But the real shock came later, when Alam went to file a claim with his insurance company and was told that his personal policy was invalid because he was driving passengers for pay.

The worst part, according to Alam’s lawyer, was that Uber Technologies Inc. specifically told him not to worry about insurance when he first applied to work for the company.

“He asks them specifically about insurance and they say, ‘Don’t worry, we’re a $1-billion company and we have $5-million of insurance so you’re fine,’” said Isaac Zisckind, a personal injury lawyer at Diamond & Diamond.

“What they did is basically willfully push him into a misrepresentation contract for somebody who’s not educated. Uber should have known — they should have done their research.”

The issue is that personal auto insurance policies don’t cover drivers who are transporting passengers for commercial purposes. Taxi drivers are required to get a special kind of commercial insurance that is significantly more expensive than personal insurance, but the vast majority of UberX drivers — Zisckind estimates 95 per cent — don’t have any coverage beyond their personal insurance.

Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia NetworkFormer Toronto UberX driver Tawfiqul Alamon was involved in a collision in June that injured him, a passenger and damaged his vehicle. His insurance won't pay the costs and Uber's coverage has not kicked in.

This means that when a driver is injured or his car is damaged in an accident that occurs while he’s carrying a passenger, his personal insurance policy will most likely be invalidated, leaving him without coverage.

“The worst thing you can do is not tell your insurance company (that you’re driving for Uber), because in that situation they have the right to say your policy is void in its entirety and there is no coverage for you,” said Daniel Mirkovic, CEO of Square One Insurance and former head of the British Columbia Automobile Association’s insurance operations.

Uber spokeswoman Susie Heath declined to discuss Alam’s case, but she did acknowledge that Uber only requires its drivers “to carry personal auto insurance.”

However, she stressed that every ride on the UberX platform is also backed by $5 million of contingent auto liability insurance covering bodily injury and property damage.

“In the event of an accident during an UberX trip, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and the community at large can rest assured knowing that ride-sharing partners are well covered by commercial auto insurance in addition to any insurance coverage maintained by the driver,” Heath said in an emailed statement.

It is not at all clear whether the $5 million of coverage that Uber often cites will cover its own drivers, however.

On July 27, Alberta’s Superintendent of Insurance issued a warning that Uber’s supplemental coverage doesn’t meet the requirements of the province’s Insurance Act.

“If you’re using Uber, you are at risk. That doesn’t mean in every circumstance a claim will not be paid, but that risk is high,” superintendent Mark Prefontaine told the Edmonton Journal at the time.

This is why insurance broker Stefan Tirschler recommends that potential Uber drivers hold off until regulators and insurance companies figure out how to deal with the new generation of ride services. Several insurers say they’re looking into developing new policies for Uber drivers, but nothing is available in Canada yet.

“Right now, my advice would be to wait and see what kind of coverage becomes available in the future,” said Tirschler, an account executive at Rogers Insurance, the largest independent brokerage in Alberta.

Commercial auto insurance of the kind taxi drivers are required to carry can cost up to five times as much as personal insurance, he said, and may require the driver to obtain a commercial license as well — something very few UberX drivers have.

Waterloo, Ont., is the first Canadian city to propose a new bylaw that would require Uber drivers to prove they have commercial auto insurance covering up to $2 million in damages — an expensive prerequisite that may discourage drivers from signing up.

Tirschler also warned that Uber drivers who lease their vehicles could find themselves in violation of their contracts, as some leases stipulate that the vehicle can’t be used to transport passengers for pay.

“The best way to avoid potentially serious consequences is to get clear answers from the right sources,” he said.