Alarmist tax watchdog intentionally distorted FNs politico salaries AFN

first_imgAPTN National NewsOTTAWA-The Canadian Taxpayers Federation “intentionally” manipulated chief and band councillor salaries to make First Nations leaders look bad, the Assembly of First Nations said in an analysis aimed at discrediting information recently released by the tax watchdog group.The AFN took aim at claims by the group that 50 reserve politicians were being paid more than the prime minister and that 160 made more than provincial premiers. The AFN said no reserve politician makes more than the prime minister’s $315, 462 salary and only 21 make more than premiers, mostly in Alberta.“Certainly by focusing on the exceptions, the CTF (Canadian Taxpayers Federation) is intentionally working to create negative impression about First Nation salaries,” said the AFN analysis. “Grand comparisons with the salaries of premiers and the prime minister help to further distort the reality.”The AFN said the CTF’s decision to include revenue sources outside of remuneration, including travel and per diem allocations, distorted the true picture of chief salaries. With those categories excluded and only using salary and honoraria, the AFN said the country’s highest paid reserve politician made $247,000.“Did former (Newfoundland and Labrador) premier Danny Williams’ fortune get calculated into his salary as premier?” said the AFN analysis, titled Straight Goods on First Nations salaries.  “Did revenue from Canada Steamship Lines get calculated into former prime minister Paul martin’s salary? Of course not and it’s not appropriate to do so with First Nations elected officials either.”The CTF could not be immediately reached for comment.The analysis also tried to poke holes in the CTF’s attempt to measure on-reserve salaries by calculating their equivalent taxable amount. By doing this, the CTF concluded that 600 reserve politicians “received an income that is equivalent to over $100,000 off-reserve.” The AFN said on-reserve tax free salaries have their roots in the “original relationship” between First Nations and the Crown under the treaties and is part of the Indian Act.“It is inaccurate and unnecessarily alarmist to calculate First Nations salaries in this way,” said the analysis.The AFN analysis also concluded that the average salary for reserve politicians fell at about $36,845, below the $46, 345 national average in Canada.“It’s important to be clear about what the facts are,” said AFN national Chief Shawn Atleo, who spoke to reporters Tuesday on the first day of the special chiefs assembly at the Hilton Hotel-Casino complex in Gatineau, Que.Atleo also backed a resolution expected to be debated by chiefs as early as Tuesday calling on all reserve politicians to publish their salaries.“The chiefs are clear that we will not be distracted from our focus to transform the lives of people in our communities,” said Atleo. “We will just confront it directly.”last_img read more

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Hollywood landing on Yellowknife runway for Ice Pilots airline

first_img(Buffalo Airways Lockheed Electra. From website)By Jorge BarreraAPTN National NewsAn airline currently featured in a reality television program about northern bush pilots saw one its aircraft land at the Yellowknife airport Monday with its right landing gear jammed.The Buffalo Airways plane skidded to halt off the runway after its pilots spent an hour trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the malfunctioning landing gear.Joe “Buffalo” McBryan, owner of Buffalo Airways, said the pilots made a “textbook” emergency landing with just two of three landing gears working.The two pilots and three crew members aboard walked away unscathed from the Lockheed Electra aircraft, said McBryan.“It was something that was precautionary and very well practiced because you have an experienced crew,” said McBryan. “Nobody is hurt or upset. It is more an inconvenience to the disruption of (air) traffic.”The captain of the plane “has been flying Electras out of Yellowknife his whole life,” said McBryan. The co-pilot has been with the company for nine years, he said.Buffalo Airways is featured in the History Television reality series, Ice Pilots NWT, which, according to the show’s website, follows “the adventures of maverick Arctic airline, Buffalo Airways.”A spokesperson for the Northwest Territories’ Department of Transportation initially said there were six people aboard. Earl Blacklock said he believed the sixth individual was a camera operator for the reality television series.Omni Film Productions would not comment on the incident.McBryan said there was no sixth person aboard and no cameras on the aircraft.“There was no Ice Pilots on board today,” he said.McBryan said the flight was on its way to Yellowknife from a camp in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, when the pilots discovered there was a problem with the right landing gear about an hour before its scheduled landing at 11:30 a.m. local time.“They called me on the radio and I called the engineering brains to make sure we did every drill,” he said. “We talked to three different people on the phone, we got all their advice and it didn’t work.”The pilots attempted two “bounced” landings to try and dislodge the malfunctioning landing gear before deciding to land, said McBryan.In a bounced landing, pilots try to land hard on the working landing gears in hopes the impact will pop the malfunctioning wheels.“They bounced the aircraft twice on the runway,” said McBryan. “The third option was to land without it.”The landing wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds, he said. The plane landed with its two working landing gears which kept it stable until it lost speed. Once the right side dropped, the plane “did a big arc” and went off the runway.“Hollywood can make it dangerous if you want to put John Wayne in there,” said McBryan. “It is not a dangerous situation. The airplane was down before I realized it was down…It’s happened many, many times before. We have a very well trained crew that went through all the drills.”McBryan said the airline will now work with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to find out what went wrong.“There’ll be lots of paperwork,” he said.The North, however, has been hit by several deadly crashes in recent months.Last October, an Air Tindi Cessna crashed about 200 kilometres east of Yellowknife, killing two people, including the pilot.A month earlier, an Arctic Sunwest Twin Otter crashed in Yellowknife’s Old Town neighbourhood, killing the pilot and co-pilot.In August, a First Air 737 crashed near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, killing 12 of 15 people aboard.jbarrera@aptn.calast_img read more

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Ottawa cop left only a voicemail in pursuit of weapon that allegedly

first_img(Above is an exhibit of what Ottawa police think looks like the axe Adrian Daou allegedly used in the murder of Jennifer Stewart as no items were ever recovered during the investigation. Photo/court handout.)Kenneth Jackson APTN National News OTTAWA – Besides leaving a voicemail, no other attempts were made by an Ottawa police detective to contact the father of the man accused of killing a Cree woman.This despite the accused telling police his dad found – and threw away – the alleged murder weapon that was hidden in a bedroom closet for two years after the murder.Adrian Daou, 24, allegedly confessed to killing Jennifer Stewart, 36, but has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. The jury heard Wednesday the lead detective in Stewart’s murder never confirmed with Daou’s father that he found the axe allegedly used to kill the Indigenous mother in August 2010.Det. John Monette testified he called and left a voicemail with the father and defence lawyer Annik Wills never questioned him further on the matter.But during a videotaped confession on Feb. 26, 2013 Daou tells Monette his father found the axe hidden in a closet around October 2012 when the dad was moving to Toronto.“Have you told your dad anything about this?” Monette asks Daou in the interview.“No, no. I told … one time my dad… my dad found a (sic) axe, right,” replies Daou. “And he didn’t tell me until I asked him about it.”“Was it ‘the axe?’” Monette asks.Daou confirmed it was.He said his dad cut the axe up and put in the garbage after finding it.“So it wasn’t really me that done it. It was him,” says Daou.The day prior, in the first confession at the local jail in Ottawa, Daou told Monette then that he was the one that chopped up the axe and threw it in the garbage.During the cross-examination of Monette Wednesday, Daou’s defence team tried to highlight apparent discrepancies in the confessions, including Daou first saying it was a military knife used in the killing before changing it to an axe.Wills also questioned Monette on details of the case including the coat Stewart was wearing. Daou told investigators she was wearing a black jacket he thought was a rain coat.“You would agree with me it’s a light blue coat with..,” Wills asks Monette before he jumps in.“I’d describe it as a medium blue coat … it was a rain coat, however,” said Monette, who earlier had to be told by the judge to let Wills ask a question before saying he didn’t agree with it.APTN reported on portions of the two confessions Monday – that story can be read here.Monette said of the 107 murders he has investigated over his 20 years as a homicide detective, only three people had confessed when there was no physical evidence tying them to the crime.Daou is one of them.Daou said he put the clothes he was wearing in a bag and threw them away.The Crown has submitted an axe police think Daou used, as well as goggles and a painter’s mask.The jury heard Tuesday Monette was convinced Daou was the killer because he knew the location of the where the body was found and where Stewart was wounded.The defence submitted newspaper articles published just days after the crime that detail those exact things. Daou also said he read all the stories, especially those done by the Ottawa Sun.The trial has heard from a pathologist Stewart fought for her life as she had deep cuts to both her wrists.Daou told police in his alleged confessions Stewart never tried to protect herself.The trial continues.Kjackson@aptn.calast_img read more

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Algonquin First Nation in Quebec gets money to improve its police force

first_img(The province of Quebec announced money to help the Algonquin community of Lac Simon improve its police force. Photo: Tom Fennario/APTN)Tom Fennario APTN National NewsLAC SIMON, QUE — After three violent deaths involving police since February, the Algonquin First Nation of Lac Simon in Quebec will receive increased funding from the government of Quebec to improve its police force.“Today we received the confirmation of three aspects [of help], in the realm of prevention for the youth in our community and we received the services of a consultant who will help our police corps,” said Vice Chief Pamela Papatie.In a news press conference held Sunday in the community, Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley announced that Lac Simon will see the return of its own Aboriginal police force in June.Members of Lac Simon First Nation march April 8 after a third violent incident involving police.The police will have additional help from retired provincial police officer turned consultant Réjean Hardy.The announcement follows the events of February, when Lac Simon police Officer Thierry LeRoux, 26, was shot and killed by community member Anthony Raymond Papatie.Papatie, 22, took his own life after confessing to the shooting on facebook.Then in April, Sandy Michel, 23,  was shot and killed by local police after brandishing a knife.Since then the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), the provinces police force, has been patrolling the community.Sandy Michel, 23, was shot and killed by local police in Lac Simon after brandishing a knife.“We remain concerned about the situation in Lac Simon, I think it’s very important that the local police force, the Anishnabe police force, go back to work,” said Kelley.Vice Chief Papatie said that despite the Michel shooting, the local police force is preferred to the SQ.“They know the addresses, they know who to go see if someone needs someone to listen to them, or even a place to bring them if someone just needs a place to sleep.”But the band council is on record stating that an additional $300,000 is needed to adequately police the community.And they’re not the only ones that think the local police is underfunded.“We were handed today a report that was given to the band by the CSST, the workman’s safety board, so we’re going to be looking at that to see if there are other measures that are necessary, but some of those adjustments can only be done working with the federal government because they’re part of the shared policing agreement that we have with this community,” said KelleyThe SQ’s union has also called for equipment such as tasers to decrease the likelihood of shooting death.“We have some pilot projects going on and we will learn from those pilot projects and we will see how we can incorporate these new technologies in the particular context of First Nation communities,” said Coiteux.Other measures announced today include $625,000 over five years for a program aimed at youth crime prevention, and $30,000 to improving security at the elementary school through the installation of cameras and a better access control system.A makeshift memorial sits outside Anthony Ramond Papatie’s Lac Simon home.Over crowded housing, substance abuse, and poverty are listed by residents as issues that plague the First Nation of around 1800, which sits about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.For now, Papatie said Sunday’s announcement is a start.“I’m satisfied,” she said “There remains work to be done, we’ll stay in communication, and the rest we’ll have to see.”Tfennario@aptn.calast_img read more

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Kashechewan mother says she was told to give daughter a bleach bath

first_imgKathleen MartensAPTN NEWSA Kashechewan First Nation mother says she has been given several remedies to cure her daughter’s painful skin sores including the latest, a bleach bath.Arlene Nakogee shared a number of photos of her young daughter who has open sores covering much of her body, and face.The bleach bath is one of several solutions the family has heard as it struggles to treat the 10-month-old’s red, itchy rash.The latest diagnosis is impetigo, said Muskego, who has also been told her daughter has eczema.But she says prescription drugs and creams have failed to clear up the lesions she blames on mould in their 30-year-old home.Grandfather William Nakogee said he did his own experiment and sent the toddler to spend a night with her other grandparents who have a new home.He said she seemed to improve and then things got worse when she came back to his house, he said.It’s not the first case of skin lesions in Kashechewan.In 2016, 16 children were airlifted to hospitals in southern Ontario to be treated for skin lesions.Chief Leo Friday said at the time he was considering declaring a state-of-emergency.Friday was out of the community Wednesday and not available for comment.Kashechewan sits on a flood plain and was twice evacuated in recent years when the Albany River spilled its banks.Arlene says she’s been told to prepare for another evacuation due to spring breakup and will use that opportunity to take her daughter to a hospital in Timmins, Ont.Her NDP-MP called that “third world” medical care.“The only way she can get out is on a flood evacuation flight,” said Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay).“Is this how we do emergency medical treatment for children?”The health situation highlights the difference in medical care on and off First Nations.Arlene says a nurse at the community’s health centre told her her daughter was quite ill and should be seen every day.Yet the girl doesn’t seem to be sick enough to rate an emergency flight out.“One doctor said not to medivac her out. He said it wasn’t that serious,” Arlene said.APTN News contacted the medical centre in Kashechewan but calls were not returned.Back in 2016, APTN visited another family whose home had mould issues.Angus said the young patient needs to be assessed by a skin specialist.“She has to get out of that environment and get a proper diagnosis. The Benadryl’s not working,” he said.William agreed.“I’m not going to soak my granddaughter in bleach,” he said.An online dermatology site does say mild bleach baths are an accepted way to combat moderate to severe eczema.kmartens@aptn.ca@katmarelast_img read more

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Tougher rules needed for healing lodges Tori Staffords dad tells APTN InFocus

first_imgAPTN InFocusThere has been a lot of talk about healing lodges after Tori Stafford’s killer was transferred to one from a traditional prison.Moving Terry-Lynne McClintic, 28, to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Saskatchewan from Grand Valley outraged many  Canadians.But Marlene Orr, the director of the Stan Daniels Healing lodge in Alberta, said a healing lodge is an important option in the rehabilitation of some offenders.She said an inmate is closely vetted and must show she really want to make changes in her life.“They have to have good behavior while they are in the institution,” she told InFocus host Melissa Ridgen.“They can’t be affiliated with any security threat groups, they can’t have been breaking the rules while they’ve been in prison. They have to demonstrate a commitment to working with us in addressing those root issues.”Maximum security inmates are currently eligible to enter Stan Daniels healing centre, if they have worked their way to a medium- or minimum -security designation – regardless of the crime they were originally sentenced for.That means they can become eligible to transfer to healing lodges, Orr added.“And we very clearly lay out the expectations,” she said. “They also have to be supported by their team the institution which includes their parole officer and other correctional staff.”But Matt Willan, who works with offenders through Ogijiita Pimatiswin Kinamatwin in Manitoba, thinks some crimes are too serious to work off in a healing lodge.“There are some crimes you commit that you can’t come back from,” he said.Tori, 8, was walking home from school in Woodstock April 8, 2009, when McClintic approached her, promised to show her a puppy and lured her into a car driven by Michael Rafferty.McClintic pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2010 and testified at Rafferty’s trial in 2012, where he was convicted of first-degree murder.Tori’s father, Rodney, remains opposed to McClintic’s transfer.“I do believe it is a good situation for some people who warrant going back out on the streets,” he said.“But when it comes to the heinous acts behind a monstrous killer, of a child at that, how does somebody even remotely of this magnitude get into one of these facilitates?”The Stafford family has started a petition to have McClintic returned to prison.last_img read more

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Husky pleads guilty over oil leak into North Saskatchewan River

first_img40 per cent of 225,000 litres of diluted heavy oil from Husky’s pipeline made into the North Saskatchewan River. APTN fileThe Canadian PressHusky Energy has pleaded guilty in a pipeline leak that sent oil spilling into a major river and fouled the source of drinking water for thousands of people.The spill into the North Saskatchewan River in July 2016 forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.Calgary-based Husky entered guilty pleas on one provincial and two federal environmental charges in provincial court in Lloydminster, Sask.The two federal charges under the Fisheries Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act relate to the deposit of a harmful substance into water frequented by fish and birds.The provincial conviction is for “allowing the discharge of a substance … into the environment” causing an adverse effect.The federal Crown withdrew seven other charges.About 40 per cent of 225,000 litres of diluted heavy oil from Husky’s pipeline near Maidstone in west-central Saskatchewan made it into the river.It caused an oil plume that flowed hundreds of kilometres downstream.The charges were announced in May 2018 after a 19-month joint federal-provincial investigation.Husky had already apologized for the spill and said it accepted full responsibility.The company said the pipeline buckled and leaked because of ground movement.The pipeline was allowed to restart in October 2016 after being repaired and inspected.The company pegged the cleanup cost at more than $107 million. Husky said more than 90 per cent of the oil was recovered.A victim impact statement filed Wednesday by three Indigenous communities in the area said the cleanup wasn’t good enough.Chief Wayne Semaganis spoke on behalf of his Little Pine First Nation and also for the Sweetgrass and Red Pheasant bands.He said birds, wildlife and fish such as walleye and northern pike still suffer the effects of the oil contamination.As a result, the First Nations have lost traditional use of their land.“We no longer fish in the river. We no longer trap on or near reserve lands. We no longer farm on or near reserve lands,” he said.“We no longer drink water drawn from reserve lands. In fact, many will only drink bottled water.”Semaganis said the Indigenous communities are still feeling the impact of the spill and residents remain anxious, fearful and psychologically stressed.“We are absolutely clear about two facts … the cleanup of the contamination is inadequate and incomplete.”The cities of North Battleford and Prince Albert also filed victim impact states with the court.Prince Albert’s statement, read out by the Crown, said the spill caused significant disruption and stress for many parties and considerable losses to individuals and businesses.Spray parks were closed at the peak of the summer holidays. Laundry mats were shut down. Car washes couldn’t operate and businesses had to close.“The city was forced to implement its emergency operations centre.” said the statement ready by provincial prosecutor Matthew Miazga.In addition, the city had to add temporary lines to two nearby rivers for drinking water.Judge Lorna Dyck was expected to sentence Husky later Wednesday.last_img read more

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Storms surge and US retail sales surge most in 2 12 years

first_imgWASHINGTON – Americans increased their spending at retailers last month by the most in two and a half years, driven by strong auto sales as residents of hurricane-ravaged areas replaced destroyed cars.Retail sales rose 1.6 per cent in September, after slipping 0.1 per cent in August, the Commerce Department said Friday.Auto sales jumped 3.6 per cent, the most since March 2015. Gas sales climbed 5.8 per cent, the most in four and a half years, reflecting price spikes after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The storms damaged oil refineries and pushed up gas prices 13 per cent last month.Even excluding the volatile auto and gas categories, sales rose a solid 0.5 per cent, up from a 0.1 per cent gain in August.Neil Saunders, managing director of Global DataRetail, said that many analysts worried higher gas prices would lead Americans to spend less elsewhere.“This did not materialize, and consumers used modest gains in wages … to carry on buying,” Saunders said.Americans are optimistic about the economic outlook. A measure of consumer sentiment released Friday by the University of Michigan rose to its highest level since 2004. The U.S. unemployment rate has hit a 16-year low, and wages have ticked up in recent months. That should boost spending and broader economic growth in the coming months.Most of the gains last month were likely fueled by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which slammed into Texas, Florida and other southeastern states in late August and September.Sales at home and garden supply stores rose 2.1 per cent, probably lifted by hurricane preparation, as well as repairs and renovations in the aftermath of the storms. Grocery store sales increased 0.8 per cent, the most since April 2016, likely boosted by restocking after the hurricanes hit.Sales at general merchandise stores, which include big box retailers such as Walmart and Target, rose 0.3 per cent.Online retailers reported another healthy gain of 0.5 per cent. E-commerce sales have jumped 9.2 per cent in the past year, more than double the overall sales increase of 4.4 per cent.Not all stores saw a boost: Sales at furnishers, electronics and appliance stores, and sporting goods stores fell.The retail sales report is closely watched because it provides an early read on consumer activity each month. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 per cent of the economy.U.S. economic growth likely slowed in the July-September quarter as the hurricanes shut down thousands of businesses, people were forced to miss work, and power was cut to millions of homes. Analysts forecast that the economy expanded at a 2 per cent annual pace in the third quarter, down from a 3 per cent gain in the April-June quarter.Yet the economy is expected to rebound in the final three months of the year as rebuilding and repair work accelerates. Construction and engineering firms are expected to step up hiring as homes, commercial buildings and roads and bridges are fixed. Economists expect growth will pick up to a 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent pace.last_img read more

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Top court Unions cant force government workers to pay fees

first_imgWASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labour unions that represent them in collective bargaining, dealing a serious financial blow to Democratic-leaning organized labour.The court’s conservative majority, re-empowered by Justice Neil Gorsuch, scrapped a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join.The 5-4 decision not only will free non-union members in nearly two dozen states from any financial ties to unions, but also could encourage members to stop paying dues for services the court said Wednesday they can get for free.Union leaders said in reaction to the ruling that they expect to suffer some loss of revenue and also predicted that the same anti-union forces that pushed to get rid of the so-called fair shares that nonmembers had to pay will try to persuade members to cut their ties.“There are already plans,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. “They are going after our members.”But American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said unions would not be dissuaded: “Don’t count us out.”The labour leaders spoke after the court ruled that the laws requiring fair share fees violate the First Amendment by compelling workers to support unions they may disagree with.“States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees,” Justice Samuel Alito said in his majority opinion in the latest case in which Gorsuch, an appointee of President Donald Trump, provided a key fifth vote for a conservative outcome.Trump himself tweeted his approval of the decision while Alito still was reading a summary of it from the bench.“Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!” Trump said in the tweet.In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote of the big impact of the decision. “There is no sugarcoating today’s opinion. The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this Nation’s law — and its economic life — for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance. And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy.”The court’s three other liberal justices joined the dissent.In one sense, Wednesday’s result was no surprise and merely delayed by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. The court split 4-4, after Scalia’s death, when it considered the same issue in 2016.When Trump was elected, opponents of the fees hurried a case back to the court. And fearing what would happen, unions strongly opposed Gorsuch’s nomination to the high court.The unions say the outcome could affect more than 5 million government workers in about two dozen states and the District of Columbia.The case decided Wednesday involved Illinois state government worker Mark Janus, who argued that everything unions do, including bargaining with the state, is political and employees should not be forced to pay for it.The unions argued that fair share fees pay for collective bargaining and other work the union does on behalf of all employees, not just its members. More than half the states already have right-to-work laws banning mandatory fees, but most members of public-employee unions are concentrated in states that don’t, including California, New York and Illinois.A recent study by Frank Manzo of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and Robert Bruno of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign estimated that public-sector unions could lose more than 700,000 members over time as a result of the ruling and that unions also could suffer a loss of political influence that could depress wages as well.Alito acknowledged that unions could “experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term.” But he said labour’s problems pale in comparison to “the considerable windfall that unions have received…for the past 41 years.”Billions of dollars have been taken from workers who were not union members in that time, he said.“Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely,” Alito wrote.Kagan, reading a summary of her dissent in the courtroom, said unions only could collect money for the costs of negotiating terms of employment. “But no part of those fees could go to any of the union’s political or ideological activities,” she said.The court’s majority said public-sector unions aren’t entitled to any money from employees without their consent.last_img read more

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Tech giants still stumbling in the social world they created

first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – Who knew connecting the world could get so complicated? Perhaps some of technology’s brightest minds should have seen that coming.Social media bans of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have thrust Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others into a role they never wanted — as gatekeepers of discourse on their platforms, deciding what should and shouldn’t be allowed and often angering almost everyone in the process. Jones, a right-wing provocateur, suddenly found himself banned from most major social platforms this week, after years in which he was free to use them to promulgate a variety of false claims.Twitter, which one of its executives once called the “free speech wing of the free speech party,” remains a lonely holdout on Jones. The resulting backlash suggests that no matter what the tech companies do, “there is no way they can please everyone,” as Scott Shackelford, a business law and ethics professor at Indiana University, observed.Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and crew, and Google’s stewards of YouTube gave little thought to such consequences as they built their empires with lofty goals to connect the world and democratize discourse. At the time, they were the rebels aiming to bypass the stodgy old gatekeepers — newspaper editors, television programmers and other establishment types — and let people talk directly to one another.“If you go back a decade or so, the whole idea of speech on social media was seen as highly positive light,” said Tim Cigelske, who teaches social media at Marquette University in Wisconsin. There was the Arab Spring. There were stories of gay, lesbian and transgender teens from small towns finding support online.At the same time, of course, the companies were racing to build the largest audiences possible, slice and dice their user data and make big profits by turning that information into lucrative targeted advertisements.The dark side of untrammeled discourse, the thinking went, would sort itself out as online communities moderated themselves, aided by fast-evolving computer algorithms and, eventually, artificial intelligence.“They scaled, they built, they wanted to drive revenue as well as user base,” said technology analyst Tim Bajarin, president of consultancy Creative Strategies. “That was priority one and controlling content was priority two. It should have been the other way around.”That all got dicier once the election of President Donald Trump focused new attention on fake news and organized misinformation campaigns — not to mention the fact that some of the people grabbing these new social-media megaphones were wild conspiracy theorists who falsely call mass shootings hoaxes, white nationalists who organize violent rallies and men who threaten women with rape and murder.While the platforms may not have anticipated the influx of hate speech and meddling from foreign powers like Russia, North Korea and China, Bajarin said, they should have acted more quickly once they found it. “The fact is we’re dealing with a brave new world that they’ve allowed to happen, and they need to take more control to keep it from spreading,” he said.That’s easier said than done, of course. But it’s particularly difficult for huge tech companies to balance public goods such free speech with the need to protect their users from harassment, abuse, fake news and manipulation. Especially given that their business models require them to alienate as few of their users as possible, lest they put the flood of advertising money at risk.“Trying to piece together a framework for speech that works for everyone — and making sure we effectively enforce that framework — is challenging,” wrote Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice-president of policy, in a blog post Thursday. “Every policy we have is grounded in three core principles: giving people a voice, keeping people safe, and treating people equitably. The frustrations we hear about our policies — outside and internally as well — come from the inevitable tension between these three principles.”Such tensions force some of the largest corporations in the world to decide, for instance, if banning Nazis also means banning white nationalists — and to figure out how to tell them apart if not. Or whether kicking off Jones means they need to ban all purveyors of false conspiracy theories. Or whether racist comments should be allowed if they are posted, to make a point, by the people who received them.“I don’t think the platforms in their heart of hearts would like to keep Alex Jones on,” said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School. “But it’s difficult to come up with a principle to say why Alex Jones and not others would be removed.”While most companies have policies against “hate speech,” defining what constitutes hate speech can be difficult, he added. Even governments have trouble with it. One country’s free speech is another country’s hate speech, punishable by jail time.Facebook, Twitter, Google, Reddit and others face these questions millions of times a day, as human moderators and algorithms decide which posts, which people, which photos or videos to allow, to kick off or simply make less visible and harder to find. If they allow too much harmful content, they risk losing users and advertisers. If they go too far and remove too much, they face charges of censorship and ideological bias.“My sense is that they are throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks,” Persily said. “It’s a whack-a-mole problem. It’s not the same threats that are continuing, and they have to be nimble enough to deal with new problems.”___AP Technology Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this story.last_img read more

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Survey US companies added a solid 163000 jobs in August

first_imgWASHINGTON – U.S. businesses added 163,000 jobs in August, a private survey found, a decent gain that suggests that employers are confident enough to keep hiring.Payroll processor ADP said Thursday that the job gains were the fewest since October. But last month’s pace of hiring is still enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.Solid economic growth is underpinning an optimistic outlook among businesses. Growth reached 4.2 per cent at an annual rate in the April-June quarter, the fastest pace in four years, spurred by tax cuts and robust consumer spending.ADP’s hiring figures come a day before the government will release its official jobs data for August. Economists have forecast that Friday’s report will show that employers added a solid 189,000 jobs last month, according to data provider FactSet.The job gains ADP reported for August were much lower than the 217,000 that it said were added in July. Hiring by small businesses — defined as those with fewer than 50 employees — remained sluggish last month and depressed overall job growth.Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that with the unemployment rate at a low 3.9 per cent, smaller companies are having a harder time finding workers. Larger firms are typically able to offer high pay or more benefits and can pull in more employees as a result.Hiring was particularly strong last month for medium-sized companies, with 50 to 499 employees.Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, lowered his forecast for August hiring to 170,000 after the ADP report was issued.“This is a bit disappointing but hardly a disaster,” Shepherdson said.ADP compiles hiring data from millions of companies that are clients of its payroll services. Its figures frequently diverge from the government’s data but tend to approximate them over time.__The extended headline for this story was corrected to show that August’s job gains was the fewest in 10 months, rather than nine months.last_img read more

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GlaxoSmithKline to spend 51B on cancer drugmaker Tesaro

first_imgShares of Tesaro soared early Monday after GlaxoSmithKline said it would pay about $5.1 billion in cash to buy the cancer drugmaker.Glaxo plans to pay $75 per share for Tesaro, which makes the ovarian cancer treatment Zejula. That represents a premium of more than 60 per cent to the stock’s $46.38 closing price Friday. The total deal price includes Tesaro’s net debt.Glaxo CEO Emma Walmsley said in a statement that the deal will accelerate growth of the British drugmaker’s oncology business.Zejula brought in $166 million in revenue in the first nine months of this year, with third-quarter sales growing more than 60 per cent.Glaxo expects the deal to close in the first quarter.Shares of Waltham, Massachusetts-based Tesaro Inc. jumped nearly 60 per cent to $73.97 in premarket trading.The Associated Presslast_img read more

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How major US stock indexes fared Wednesday

first_imgU.S. stocks couldn’t hang on to a big gain Wednesday, but they still finished broadly higher as technology and health care companies rose. That helped reverse some of the market’s big losses from the week before.On Wednesday:The S&P 500 index rose 14.29 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,651.07.The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 157.03 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 24,527.27.The Nasdaq composite jumped 66.48 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 7,098.31.The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 15.19 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 1,455.32.For the week:The S&P 500 is up 17.99 points, or 0.7 per cent.The Dow is up 138.32 points, or 0.6 per cent.The Nasdaq is up 129.06 points, or 1.9 per cent.The Russell 2000 is up 7.23 points, or 0.5 per cent.For the year:The S&P 500 is down 22.54 points, or 0.8 per cent.The Dow is down 191.95 points, or 0.8 per cent.The Nasdaq is up 194.92 points, or 2.8 per cent.The Russell 2000 is down 80.19 points, or 5.2 per cent.The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Security worries hobble ambitions of China tech giant Huawei

first_imgBEIJING — While a Huawei executive faces possible U.S. charges over trade with Iran, the Chinese tech giant’s ambition to be a leader in next-generation telecoms is colliding with security worries abroad.Australia and New Zealand have barred Huawei Technologies Ltd. as a supplier for fifth-generation networks. They joined the United States and Taiwan, which limit use of technology from the biggest global supplier of network switching gear. This week, Japan’s cybersecurity agency said Huawei and other vendors deemed risky will be off-limits for government purchases.None has released evidence of wrongdoing by Huawei, which denies it is a risk and operates a laboratory with Britain’s government to conduct security examinations of its products. But the accusations threaten its ability to compete in 5G as carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars.The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Waning iPhone demand highlights consumer anxiety in China

first_imgBEIJING — Apple’s $1,000 iPhone is a tough sell to Chinese consumers jittery over an economic slump and the trade war with Washington.CEO Tim Cook told shareholders Wednesday that iPhone demand is waning, mainly in China. That makes the tech giant the latest global company grappling with Chinese consumer anxiety.Other brand names from Ford Motor Co. to jeweler Tiffany & Co. already have reported abrupt declines in sales to Chinese consumers.China’s 2018 economic growth is forecast at about 6.5 per cent. But China’s tariff fight with the U.S. and tumbling auto and real estate sales are undermining consumer confidence.The spending slump in the world’s second-largest economy is a blow to global industries from autos to designer clothing that are counting on China to drive revenue growth.Joe McDonald, The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Sears confirms chairmans hedge fund wins bid in auction

first_imgNEW YORK — Sears is confirming reports its chairman and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund has won a bid to buy roughly 400 stores and other assets for $5.2 billion.The move, announced Thursday, preserves 45,000 jobs and is subject to court approval on Feb. 1. Creditors will have the opportunity to object before then.The deal will then close Feb. 8.The agreement follows marathon negotiations that started early Monday as Lampert was fending off demands from creditors who were pushing for liquidation.Lampert’s ESL Investments was the only one to put forth a proposal to rescue the floundering company in its entirety. He had sweetened his bid multiple times.Still, many experts believe a smaller version of the retailer will not be viable as it faces increasing competition.Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Fort St John Canada Post employees join rotating strike

first_imgCanada Post said Monday that the backlog of mail and parcels is “severe” and expected to “worsen significantly” once online orders from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are processed.In a statement, the post office said it is experiencing delivery delays across the country and that’s expected to continue throughout the holiday season and into January.The union wants better pay and job security, guaranteed hours for its 8,000 rural and suburban carriers, and equality for those workers with the corporation’s 42,000 urban employees.CUPW also wants Canada Post to adopt rules that it says would cut down on workplace injuries — an issue the union has said is now at a “crisis” level. UPDATE – Workers are back to work following the Senate vote.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Canada Post employees in Fort St. John have joined the rotating strike after the Senate voted in favour of back to work legislation.With the vote Monday night, mail service is supposed to resume at noon Tuesday.  Royal assent was granted late Monday shortly after senators approved Bill C-89 by a vote of 53-25. Four senators abstained. Under the new legislation, the union said postal workers will be forced to go back to work under the old collective agreement, which it asserted would result in at least 315 disabling injuries and thousands of hours of forced, unpaid overtime.The previous Conservative government forced an end to a lockout of postal workers during a 2011 dispute by enacting back-to-work legislation, which was later declared by a court to be unconstitutional.But the Liberal government argues Bill C-89 is different, in that it does not impose immediate outcomes affecting postal contracts.Whereas the 2011 bill imposed a settlement that favoured Canada Post, the current legislation would give a mediator-arbitrator appointed by the government 90 days to try and reach contract settlements. Failing that, a settlement could be imposed either through a decision from the arbitrator or by choosing from one of the final proposals put forward by Canada Post or CUPW.(THE CANADIAN PRESS) The government had deemed passage of the bill to be urgent due to the economic impact of continued mail disruptions during the busy holiday season. It rushed the bill through the House of Commons last week. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers issued a statement declaring that it is “exploring all options to fight the back-to-work legislation.”“Postal workers are rightly dismayed and outraged,” said CUPW national president Mike Palecek. “This law violates our right to free collective bargaining under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”Some senators — independents, Liberal independents and even some Conservatives — agreed with that assessment and voted against the bill.But the majority either disagreed or concluded that it’s up to the courts, not senators, to rule on constitutionality.Negotiations have been underway for nearly a year, but the dispute escalated more recently when CUPW members launched rotating strikes Oct. 22.last_img read more

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Road blocked due to spinout on South Taylor Hill

first_imgUPDATE – The hill is open in both directionsFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – We have just received a news tip, at 2:00 p.m., that both southbound lanes on the South Taylor Hill are currently blocked due to a spinout involving two commercial vehicles.It is reported that there are no emergency crews at the scene at this time. We will continue to post updates as they become available.last_img

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