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Murphy meets with 7 Palestinian business leaders in 1st step to increase economic ties

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Gov. Phil Murphy met with seven Palestinian business leaders Tuesday afternoon in East Jerusalem, with hopes of creating a new relationship between the region and New Jersey.

Murphy’s actions Tuesday are a departure from the tradition of previous governors, who have not visited the Palestinian region — but he is not the first governor in the U.S. to do so.

Officials from the Palestinian American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem said governors from Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin are among those that have visited in the last three years.

Murphy heard from businessmen in the technology, life sciences and retail sectors, who explained the restrictions they face in expanding or operating business in the West Bank and Gaza areas, as well as the cumbersome process in sending employees from one location to another.

One businessman said he has not visited his operations in Gaza in 18 years and was finally able to get the required permit this year.

ROI-NJ was asked by officials from the U.S. consulate to not identify the companies or the business leaders who attended, due to the sensitive nature of relations between Israel and Palestine over the recent announcement of the U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem.

During the meeting, Murphy highlighted the strong Palestinian-American presence in Paterson and talked about opening a channel for greater economic collaborations.

Most of the companies do not have a U.S. presence, but have done business with U.S. companies, such as Jeep, Chrysler, Hyundai, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Eli Lilly, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Nokia.

One CEO of a medical equipment company told the New Jersey delegation he was looking to expand in the U.S. in 2019, and now that he has met the governor and heard the pitch for New Jersey, he wanted to take a trip in the near future to see the Garden State.

Said Baransi, chairman of the Palestinian American chamber, said the biggest way New Jersey can help the region thrive is by encouraging its capabilities in the innovation economy, as well as encouraging more partnerships.

“For the outsourcing industry, we can offer services for software engineering, for these American companies in New Jersey and others. If it is hardware, we can import these products,” he said. “There is a lot, on the bilateral level, between American companies and Palestinian companies. We have tens of American businesses that are represented and are doing very good business in Palestine for the last two to three decades.”

Baransi said the industries that Palestine excels in include information technology, food and agribusiness, and pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

Choose New Jersey CEO Jose Lozano said the meeting was hard to set expectations for, unlike other business meetings on the trip, because it was the first time a governor of the state has had such a meeting.

“It’s the first of many,” Lozano said. “So, we planted a really good seed.”

Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan said the significant presence of Palestinians in the state is a big motivator of better economic ties to the region.

“We’re excited to begin that dialogue,” Sullivan said. “It’s not something that emerges overnight, but it paves the way for a long-term relationship between New Jersey and the Middle East.”

Mark Levenson, chairman of the New Jersey-Israel Commission and a member of Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark, said Murphy was right to meet with the Palestinians.

“As he should,” Levenson said. “He is governor of the state of New Jersey, which has a significant Palestinian population. He should look to serve all the constituencies in the state. That is perfectly appropriate.”

Levenson spoke in the days leading up to the meeting.

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Read all of ROI-NJ’s coverage of Gov. Murphy’s trip:

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Ontario’s new automated speed enforcement explained

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(NC) To wage the war against speeding, many municipalities across Ontario have turned to automated speed enforcement. Most recently introduced in Toronto, speed cameras are a high-tech solution to reduce speeding and are considered one of the most effective ways to create safer roads and save lives.  

Recognizing police officers cannot catch all speeders, these cameras fill the gap, providing monitoring in specific locations around the clock. When a car’s speed is even one kilometre over the posted amount, it will take a picture of the offending vehicle’s license plate, using the captured photo as indisputable evidence. A ticket is then served to the vehicle’s owner, regardless of who was driving. 

With a focus on high-risk areas, Ontario’s automated speed enforcement cameras are located in two specific municipal areas: school and community safety zones. School zones are designated streets close to a school, featuring reduced speed limits as dictated by local bylaws. Community safety zones are high-risk corridors and intersections, subject to increased fines and penalties.  

While the Ontario Highway Traffic Act outlines the use of automated speed enforcement, municipalities can decide when and where to use cameras to curb speeding. The act does dictate financial penalties for speed violations captured with cameras, which vary depending on the number of kilometres caught over the speed limit.  

Speed enforcement is not new, but part of a broader, integrated road safety strategy that includes infrastructure improvements, awareness campaigns and new uses of technology. City officials hope for a halo effect, inspiring better driving behaviour across entire communities, not only in areas with cameras. A controversial topic, some critics take exception to speed cameras, labelling them as sneaky cash grabs for municipalities. Governments think the opposite. 

Safety advocate and auto insurance provider Onlia is hopeful that the cameras will provide drivers with a reminder to slow down, especially in high-risk areas like school and community safety zones.  

For those who obey the speed limit, automated speed enforcement shouldn’t change anything about your driving style, says Alex Kelly, Safety Ambassador at OnliaDrivers have fair warning as they approach areas with speed cameras, as mandatory signs provide reasonable notice of upcoming automated speed enforcement. Regardless of warnings, the best speed is the posted speed. 

You can start to understand your speeding style by downloading the insurance provider’s new safe driving app that coaches and rewards for you for safe driving habits.

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Online banking: How to protect yourself from fraud

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(NC) Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, a growing number of consumers are regularly using mobile and online banking to paybill payments, transfer money and make purchases.

Although these tools can give you easy access to your personal finances on demand, there are also some risks involved. For instance, your banking information—such as your debit or credit card number, user name, or personal identification number (PIN)—could be stolen. If criminals have access to your online banking information, they can steal your money, which is why it’s so important to be  vigilant when you bank online.

Follow these tips to help protect your personal and banking information:

  • For your online bank accounts, use a strong password that can’t be easily guessed, and never share your user name or password with anyone.
  • Check your accounts regularly to make sure there are no transactions you didn’t make or authorize.
  • When making online purchases, never authorize a website to save your credit card information, password or other personal information. Giving websites this permission will save you some time the next time you access the site, but it poses a real threat if a hacker manages to access your information.

Most financial institutions have policies to protect you from transactions that you didn’t make.

However, you are responsible for protecting your online and mobile banking information. If you give your details to anyone—including your spouse or partner, a family member or a friend—your financial institution may hold you responsible for any unauthorized transactions in your account, and even strip you of protection from unauthorized transactions in the future.

If you suspect your information may have been compromised, change your passwords immediately, and check your account and credit card statements for anomalies and report any suspicious transactions to your financial institution.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has created resources to help you protect your online banking information.

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Payday loans: Not the best way to borrow money

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(NC) Payday loans are a very expensive way to borrow money. Even if you’re struggling financially, think twice—and crunch the numbers—before getting this type of loan.

Depending on the rules in your province, payday lenders can charge fees of $15 to $25 per $100 that you borrow.

As an example, let’s say you borrow $300 for home repairs. The payday lender charges you $51 in fees, or $17 for every $100 borrowed. Your loan balance is therefore $351, which amounts to an interest rate of 442 per cent.

There can be serious consequences if you don’t repay your loan by the due date. These may include the following:

  • The payday lender may charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • Your financial institution may also charge you a fee if there isn’t enough money in your account.
  • The total amount that you owe, including the fees, continues to increase.

There are better options out there

Payday loans should be your last resort to borrow money. Consider cheaper ways of borrowing money, such as:

  • Cashing in vacation days or asking for a pay advance from your employer.
  • Getting a line of credit, a cash advance on a credit card or a personal loan from your financial institution.
  • Getting a loan from family or friends.

Before getting a payday loan and to avoid getting stuck in a debt trap, consider other, less expensive ways to borrow money.

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