Thursday, April 26, 2018

Not Ready For Prime Time?

Given the current dearth of leadership within both the Trudeau government and the rudderless Conservative Party of Canada, this one really hurts:

Where Is The Walk?

Justin Trudeau's increasing propensity for talking the talk but not walking the walk has been noticed by the anti-poverty organization One Campaign, led by Trudeau's good 'friend,' U2's Bono, in a rather unflattering video:
Stuart Hickox, One’s Canada director, said the decision to “poke” Trudeau wasn’t taken lightly. But One and other organizations are worried that Trudeau’s gender agenda will fail because his government isn’t coming up with a firm plan that he can sell to his fellow G7 leaders in time for their meeting.

“It’s a missed opportunity if we get through the G7 with a just mere declaration or more framing language or more aspiration,” Hickox said in an interview.

Hickox said One is an activist organization that tries to end extreme poverty by providing options for government, and that’s what it is trying to do with Trudeau so he can “own the space that he has claimed for himself.”

“So this is a moment of pushing.”

Seasoned observers of our peregrinating prime minister will realize that the issue raised by the One Campaign is but one of many in which his rhetorical flourishes and promises have far outpaced his actions. This gross disparity between appearances and reality, one hopes, is something increasing numbers of people will be able to discern as time goes on.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

It's Time To Ask The Right Questions

The old myth that tax cuts, especially of the corporate kind, create jobs, continues to be circulated. Indeed, here in Ontario, PC leader Doug Ford is promising to reduce the corporate rate from the already historically-low 11.5% to 10.5% "to bring jobs back to Ontario."

In Australia The Canberra Times' Ben Oquist says it is time to reframe the tax discussion by posing a series of questions aimed at showing the destructive nature of such cutting:
Every proponent and lobbyist for the policy should be asked what social program or infrastructure project should be cut, or what other tax should go up to pay for boosting post-tax profits of large business. Indeed Treasury’s own modelling - often cited to support the tax cut legislation - assumes that either personal income taxes will increase or government services will be cut.

We hear almost exclusively from the "winners" of a company tax cut. But the public cannot be expected to make an informed choice as to whether this is the best way to create ‘jobs and growth’ if we do not know, specifically, where the off-setting cuts will be made. Will it be billions less for schools, or hospitals? Or will it be the infrastructure spend for our fast growing population that misses out?
Only the untutored mind will accept Doug Ford's bromide of tax cuts with no pain:
... while Ford likes the tax cuts, he doesn’t like the carbon tax (or any other tax), leaving a $10-billion hole in his budget.

Not to worry, says the self-proclaimed stopper of gravy trains. Ford insists the better part of the shortfall – about $6 billion – could be covered through the elimination of so-called inefficiencies.
In Australia, by contrast, some of the corporate sector is beginning to understand the folly of such short-sighted tax measures:
This week a survey of Australian company directors found that infrastructure spending, not tax cuts, should be the priority in this year’s federal budget.

Many company directors also know that ultimately business can only flourish if a decent society is maintained and that this requires a strong role for government providing quality services, training, education and modern infrastructure. This of course requires a strong revenue and taxation base to fund it.
Why don't corporate tax cuts work in creating jobs, jobs, jobs?
History shows that corporate tax cuts are largely spent on stock buybacks, increased dividendsand acquisitions, all of which only helps to benefit wealthier shareholders – not workers or the community.
That has been the Australian experience, and the same reality is unfolding in Trump's America:
Figures already released following Trump’s tax cut show that investment is down but there has been a frenzy of share buybacks, increased dividends combined with mergers and acquisitions that increase CEO power and drive inequality even higher.
For more discussion of the above, check out this New York Times article, which observes that
American companies have announced more than $178 billion in planned buybacks — the largest amount unveiled in a single quarter, according to Birinyi Associates, a market research firm.
Informed and serious discussion of taxation is hard to come by these days. Instead, shrill pronouncements from demagogues predicting financial Armageddon if fair taxation is imposed hold sway.

Clearly, it is time for all of us to put on our thinking caps, pierce through the hysterical proclamations and begin behaving like adults, not children who favour sweet lies over bitter truths.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

More Information On Yahoo/Rogers Email Accounts

Following up on yesterday's post, a friend of mine sent me the following, one that clearly demonstrates the ultimatum Yahoo and Rogers email account holders are being given. The parts I have bolded are especially noteworthy and may be all you need to read to understand the nefarious intent:
Dear Member,

In June 2017, Yahoo and AOL joined forces to create Oath, a media and technology company with a dynamic house of global brands, and a part of Verizon. It’s an exciting venture that we believe will bring a host of new innovations and digital experiences for our users. With Verizon, Oath can provide you with better experiences and services.

As part of this collaboration, we’re asking all users of Oath owned sites and services to agree to the new unified Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which will help us continue to deliver and build on great digital experiences for you.

Please take some time to review and agree to the new unified Terms of Service and Privacy Policy by clicking on the button below. If you have already agreed, no additional action is needed.

Review and agree now

To help you understand some of the key updates, we’ve provided a summary below as well as a description of what tools are available to you to manage your data and experience within Oath’s house of brands. Please note that this summary is not exhaustive and we encourage you to review the updated versions of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Those terms and not this summary will govern your relationship with Oath. To learn more about our approach to privacy, click here.

Terms of Service Updates Summary

-We’ve specified the legal entity that provides each service to you. For some services, this may be a different entity than the entity that previously provided the service. We’ve also reserved the right to transfer the providing entity for each service in the future.
-General provisions that apply to billing, auto-renewal, and refunds have been added. Unless the additional terms for a service override the - -Terms of Service, these provisions apply to your use of our paid services.
-Applicability of Terms. If you are using our services on behalf of another account owner (e.g., as an administrator, consultant or analyst) or on behalf of a company, business or other entity, the Terms of Service apply to your activities and are binding on the account owner or entity.
-Indemnity for Non-Personal Use. If you are using our Services on behalf of a company, business or other entity, or if you are using our Services for commercial purposes, we’ve added an indemnity provision, which requires you and the entity to protect us against certain legal actions.

Privacy Policy Updates Summary

We’ve made it more readable! We took care to make it easier for you to understand our services and our privacy practices.
We’ve updated how we collect and use data. We’ve updated some of the ways we collect and analyze user data in order to deliver services, content, and relevant advertising to you and protect against abuse. This includes:
-Analyzing content and information (including emails, instant messages, posts, photos, attachments, and other communications) when you use our services. This allows us to deliver, personalize and develop relevant features, content, advertising and services
-Linking your activity on third-party sites and apps with information we have about you
-Providing anonymized and aggregated reports to other parties regarding user trends
-We’ve joined Verizon. By joining Verizon, Oath and its affiliates may share the information we receive among Verizon. Learn more about Verizon’s privacy practices.
-New information regarding personalization. We’ve included new information explaining how we combine data among our services and across your devices and Oath accounts. This allows us to provide more personalized content and services.
-We’ve updated user choices. We’ve provided additional information about your choices when using our services, and given you control in our Privacy Controls section.

What You Need to Do

We have designed these changes to help improve your experience with Oath and its brands. To review and agree to the new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, please click the button below. These changes go into effect as soon as you consent.

Review and agree now
Please note that although our services will continue to be available under the existing terms for now, you will eventually need to agree to the new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy in order to continue to use our services. If you have any questions or need additional help, please refer to this link.

Thank you for your continued loyalty and support.


Monday, April 23, 2018

A Little Lighter Fare

For Luddites and nostalgia buffs everywhere:

UPDATED: If You Have A Yahoo Or Rogers E-Mail Account

... you should be very, very concerned about the extortionate play they are making for your data, including your emails, your contact lists, indeed, your very identity.

Over the past week, Rogers and other Yahoo e-mail users have been receiving pop-up messages when they log in, outlining new unified terms of service that will apply to all Oath-owned sites. One of the terms specifies that Oath analyzes “content and information,” including e-mails, photos and attachments “when you use our services.” It explains, “This allows us to deliver, personalize and develop relevant features, content, advertising and services.”

The message concludes by stating that users “will eventually need to agree to the new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy in order to continue to use our services.” [Emphasis added]
If that last part sounds like extortion, that's because it is. Clearly, in attempting an end-run around future crack-downs on digital privacy, the company that administers both services, Oath, thinks it is being clever.
Stephen, a Rogers internet subscriber from Toronto who did not want his last name used because it could jeopardize his employment, said in an interview he has not been able to get satisfactory answers from Rogers on whether he could continue to use his e-mail account without being tracked.

“My concern is more about my data being fodder for behaviour manipulation, as we’ve seen with Cambridge Analytica.”
While Oath claims that account-holders will be able to opt out of this intrusion, there is nothing on its site to suggest it; likely they are hoping for a measure of indifference or forgetfulness as this story fades from the public view.

Globe and Mail letter-writer Jacques Soucie of Newmarket, Ontario, is not likely to be one who simply shrugs her shoulders:
After reading Christine Dobby’s article about Rogers’s invasive e-mail terms-of-service changes, I attempted to “adjust [my] customer preferences and settings” as the Rogers spokesperson you quoted suggested (Rogers E-Mail Users Hit With New Service Terms That Allow Data Monitoring, April 20). No way could I manage to find out how to do this, even after several Internet searches. I did, however, find this appalling item in the terms of service for Oath, the company to which Rogers has outsourced its e-mail service:

“Personal Data of Friends and Contacts. By using the Services, you agree that you have obtained the consent of your friends and contacts to provide their personal information (for example: their email address or telephone number) to Oath or a third party, as applicable, and that Oath or a third party may use your name to send messages on your behalf [emphasis added] to make the Services available to your friends and contacts …”

Daring to send messages on my behalf to my friends and contacts? This is an incredible invasion of privacy that should never be permitted. How can we fight back against this kind of intrusion?
My wife, who has a Yahoo account, is now in the process of migrating to Gmail. I would strongly suggest that others who take their privacy seriously consider similar measures.

UPDATE: Over at the Star, Ellen Roseman has this advice for Rogers Yahoo customers:
Rogers Yahoo email customers need to press for more information. What is the deadline for agreeing to Oath’s updated terms? Will they be cut off without access if they don’t agree? Can they get help moving all their emails to another provider?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Man Of Courage And Principle

In a world given to self-interest, self-promotion and devastating cruelty, it is heartening to know that there are still giants who remind us of the goodness and principle our species is capable of. Colin Kaepernick, about whom I have written previously, is one such exemplar.

Time magazine reports that Kaepernick has won Amnesty International's highest award:
Amnesty International, the global human rights organization, gave Kaepernick its highest honor — the 2018 Ambassador of Conscience Award — in Amsterdam on Saturday. Past winners of the award, which “celebrates individuals and groups who speak out for justice,” include former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, the education activist from Pakistan who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, and rock group U2.

The organization recognized Kaepernick for his protest against police violence: his action, kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games, sparked a movement replicated across America and the world, starting a debate about free speech and patriotism that was inflamed by the President of the United States, one of Kaepernick’s most relentless critics.
The former footballer's words are stirring and convey a brave truth that no state, however repressive, can ever really suppress:
“This is an award I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force,” Kaepernick said in statement released by Amnesty International. “To quote Malcolm X, when he said that he, ‘will join in with anyone — I don’t care what color you are — as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth,’ I am here to join with you all in this battle against police violence.

“While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people,” said Kaepernick. His former teammate Eric Reid, who knelt in solidarity with Kaepernick during the anthem — and remains unsigned as a free agent this NFL offseason — presented Kaepernick with the award.

God forbid we ever forget that resistance in its many forms is something to be admired, embraced and emulated.