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Prince William’s wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, co-hosted a fashion reception at Buckingham Palace with Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward, William’s uncle. The two were acting on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II at the glittery event.
As a taxpayer, you have a couple of choices when it comes to filing your upcoming return: You can take the standard deduction, or itemize deductions in the hopes of snagging a better deal on your taxes. If you opt for the former, you won’t need to sink tons of time into calculating your various expenses and figuring out what each individual deduction you’re entitled to is worth. Rather, you’ll simply take a deduction based on your filing status. For example, single filers can claim a $6,350 standard deduction on their 2017 returns, while joint filers get a standard deduction of $12,700.
“Since 1912,” said L.L. Bean in a posting on Facebook last week, the company has offered “one of the best guarantees in retail,” by accepting returns for any purchases that customers aren’t satisfied with — basically forever. The problem is, says the company, “a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent,” even buying old L.L. Bean products at “yard sales” and then attempting to return them for full refunds of the original price.
Unlike 3D Systems, Stratasys has been doing a good job at meeting or beating Wall Street’s earnings estimates so far in 2017. In both the second and third quarters, it easily beat the consensus, while in the first quarter it met expectations. The company did, however, fall short of Wall Street’s revenue expectation last quarter, with CEO Ilan Levin saying “Our revenue for the third quarter was partially impacted by several large, multi-system orders that were deferred until October.” This revenue should be in the Q4 results.
Apple unveiled the new iMac Pro at its World Wide Developer Conference last June, and the high-end AIO desktop subsequently shipped in small volumes — more or less on schedule — towards the end of December last year. But, aware of the unease among its professional customers following the mixed reception for the most recent MacBook Pro updates, and the admission that it is “completely rethinking the Mac Pro” range, Apple has kept this new workstation-level iMac closely under wraps and has only allowed limited access to the press.
But, in early February, just as the most powerful 18-core configuration began to reach customers, Apple provided more detailed briefings to ZDNet and other publications. The burning question is whether this latest incarnation of the veteran iMac can win over demanding professional users — or at least hold the fort until Apple’s plans for a revamped Mac Pro bear fruit.
Fade to (space) grey
Superficially, the iMac Pro is virtually identical to the standard 27-inch models that have been available for several years, with the same physical dimensions and 5K Retina display, and only the new ‘space grey’ colour scheme to set it apart from its predecessors.
Internally, though, the iMac Pro is a completely different beast. Apple claims that removing the conventional hard drive used in previous models has saved a lot of space inside the unit, which is now devoted to an enhanced cooling system for the high-end CPU and GPU configurations that are available.
Rather than the three configurations Apple normally offers, the iMac Pro starts with one ‘standard’ configuration that costs £4,082.50 (ex. VAT; £4,899 inc. VAT, or $4,999). For this, you get an 8-core Xeon W processor running at 3.2GHz (up to 4.2GHz with TurboBoost), along with 32GB of ECC RAM, a 1TB solid-state drive, and a Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8GB of HBM2 (High-Bandwidth Memory) video RAM.
That standard configuration can then be modified with 10-core, 14-core and 18-core versions of the Xeon W, with up to 128GB of memory, 4TB of SSD storage, and a Vega 64 GPU with 16GB of HBM2 video RAM. Ticking all the boxes on those upgrades brings the price of a top-of-the-range iMac Pro to a startling £10,232.50 (ex. VAT; £12,279 inc. VAT, or $13,199).
‘A good computer’
We’ll report back with independent benchmark results in our forthcoming full review, but Apple claims that even the standard configuration of the iMac Pro is considerably more powerful than any of the existing quad-core iMac models, offering 3.4x performance for 3D graphics and visualization, 5x improvement for scientific modelling and simulations, as well as the ability to edit eight streams of 4K video at full resolution and in real time.
Watching the iMac Pro handling real-time 3D visualisations and lighting effects in architectural apps such as Twinmotion is certainly impressive, as is 360-degree video editing for VR content in Apple’s recently updated Final Cut Pro X. And, at long last, Apple has quite pointedly been offering journalists the chance to wear the HTC Vive headset during demo sessions with the iMac Pro, as a way of letting everyone know that it has indeed released ‘a good computer’ that can actually handle VR.
One disadvantage of the new design is that the back-panel slot that allowed access to the memory modules for user upgrades on previous models has now gone, so you’ll need to budget for as much RAM as you can afford at the time of purchase.
On the plus side, Apple has announced that it is planning an update for the current macOS High Sierra that will support the use of external GPUs for the first time. That will provide an important upgrade path that the iMac has previously lacked, helping to ensure that this expensive piece of kit continues to earn its keep for years to come.
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The Trudeau government is reaching out to mend fences with an Indian politician who has accused it of including Sikh separatists in its cabinet.
Capt. Amarinder Singh is an Indian war hero and chief minister — or head of government— of the state of Punjab. Singh is a Sikh, and he runs India’s only majority-Sikh state. But he’s also an implacable enemy of the separatists who have tried to break away from India to form a Sikh nation they called Khalistan.
Last year, Capt. Singh refused to meet Canada’s Punjabi-born defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, accusing him of Khalistani and “anti-India” sympathies.
A week before this trip to India began, Sajjan shot back.
“I find that absolutely ridiculous, and us being sucked into some internal politics,” the minister said. “I’ve been a police officer. I’ve served my country. Any allegations like that are absolutely ridiculous, and I find it extremely offensive as well.”
Although Capt. Singh appeared to relent, saying he was now willing to meet the Canadians, the Trudeau delegation appeared ready to return the snub of the previous year, announcing that they would visit the Punjab, but not the man who runs it.
But it soon became apparent that India’s discomfort with Canada over Khalistan is very much still an issue. Indian media stories invariably raise the matter in reports on the Trudeau visit.
Sikh influence in Trudeau cabinet
A decision by Canada’s gurdwaras, or Sikh temples, to bar Indian diplomats has spread to the Sikh diaspora in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries, alarming the Indian government and creating the impression that Sikh diaspora separatism is on the rise.
And so the Trudeau government has decided to mollify the irascible chief minister. Sources say Canada’s high commissioner is reaching out to him to set up a meeting with Sajjan and Prime Minister Trudeau later this week.
On Monday, Singh tweeted that he’s meeting Trudeau on Wednesday in Amritsar.
“I’m hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries,” he said.
Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I’m hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries.
Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says the Indian media have blown the Khalistan issue out of all proportion.
“I think this is a perceived issue within the Indian media. I was asked about this when I was in India on a business trip last year. and I was very clear that this is not an issue for Canadian people. This is not an issue for the Indo-Canadian community in Canada at all.”
Some of the tension between Canada and India is a matter of demographics. Sikhs make up less than two per cent of India’s population. But among Indian-Canadians, they are the largest group, and have the greatest political clout; all four of Trudeau’s Indian-Canadian ministers are of Sikh origin.
In the background is the election of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi as Prime Minister in 2014.
Sikhism was born 500 years ago in opposition to the religious intolerance of Islamic fundamentalists, and the rigid caste system of Hindu fundamentalists. Sikhs were never going to get along with a government that sees India as a fundamentally Hindu country.
But two other events have inflamed tensions in the past year. The first is the banning of Indian diplomats from gurdwaras, a ban that began in Brampton, Ont., and spread around the world. Gurdwara officials said it was in response to Indian attempts to use access to visas and other pressure tactics to interfere in their operations.
The second issue was the arrest of Scottish Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal in Punjab last November. Indian police claim to be able to link Johal to killings of members of Hindu fundamentalist groups sympathetic to India’s government. Johal’s family and supporters have launched a #FreeJaggiNow campaign that has attracted strong support from the diaspora, including prominent Canadian Sikhs such as NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who was denied a visa to India.
Dilemma for Trudeau
On a trip that was undeniably intended partly to score points with Indian-Canadians voters back home, Justin Trudeau now finds himself pulled in two directions.
He wants to build ties with Modi and show progress on trade, but that may hinge on stronger disavowals of Sikh separatists, and that in turn might alienate Sikh-Canadian voters.
It’s a similar dilemma to that faced by many Canadian politicians who’ve made the same trip, ever since Preston Manning visited the Golden Temple in 1998.
Stephen Harper handled it when he came here by saying Khalistan “may be an issue that both the government of Canada and the government of India disagree with,” but added that Canadian Sikhs are free to talk about it:
“We can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression,” he said.
But what was enough in 2012 may not be enough in the India of Modi’s Hindu nationalist followers.
Last week, Canada’s national security advisor Daniel Jean was here for talks ahead of Trudeau’s visit, and the Trudeau government has said Canada supports a strong and united India.
One prominent Canadian Sikh and Liberal says it’s time for the government to go further.
“This is Canada’s problem, it’s no longer India’s problem,” says former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh. “The Indian government is saying directly and indirectly, we’re not putting up with it anymore.”
Dosanjh says it’s no excuse for Canadian politicians to plead ignorance when they appear at Sikh events that celebrate separatist martyrs
“If they don’t care about it, they shouldn’t visit India,” he said.
Golden Temple tensions
Jatinder Singh Grewal is a Canadian supporter of the Referendum 2020 movement that wants Punjabis to be able to vote on independence. He says it’s Trudeau’s job to stand up for Sikh-Canadians against Indian government pressure tactics.
“India uses fear against family members, people that are in Canada, they deny them visas, and family members in India are intimidated over their jobs, their personal safety, and various methods are used so people become silent in the diaspora.”
“Members of my organization have been charged with trying to break apart India, and I do believe that one day I may be charged with some false accusation, although I’m a law-abiding citizen.”
The Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, is at the epicentre of all these tensions.
That is where pro-Khalistan militants made their last stand in a bloody battle with Indian troops in 1984 that killed many Sikh civilians. Prime Minister Indira Ghandi was assassinated in revenge by her own Sikh bodyguards.
That in turn sparked massacres of innocent Sikhs on the streets of New Delhi that killed thousands. Sikh separatists in Canada retaliated by bombing an Air India flight, killing 329 people.
That bloody history casts a long shadow over Canada-India relations.
All eyes will be on the temple, and on Trudeau, when he visits it on Wednesday.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Doctors of B.C. are raising concerns after a physician was told he had to be fingerprinted to prove he wasn’t a sex offender with a similar identity.
Dr. Joseph Copeland said he was told that if he refused, he would face professional sanctions, including the loss of his right to practise medicine.
Copeland believes he’ll soon have company.
He predicts all doctors and nurses in Canada will be required to be fingerprinted in the near future — a suspicion the RCMP appears to confirm in an email to CBC News.
Why are we being pulled aside as if we were criminals?– Dr. Joseph Copeland
“Why are we being pulled aside as if we were criminals?” said Copeland. “I don’t think the doctors know this. I think this is gonna come as a big surprise.”
Copeland, 52, is an emergency room physician at both B.C. Children’s Hospital and Richmond Hospital.
In that role, he said, he has willingly complied with a “vulnerable sector check” every five years.
But he discovered there has been a change in the standard criminal record check for medical professionals and others working in the vulnerable sector — especially doctors who treat children or vulnerable adults, including the elderly.
He said since almost all doctors have patients who could be deemed “vulnerable,” he predicts the fingerprinting requirement will soon apply to all medical professionals in the country. And, he said, that’s an infringement of their civil rights.
“We all have an interest in protecting the kids of British Columbia — nobody more so than the doctors and nurses at B.C. Children’s Hospital,” said Copeland.
“But we also have an interest as professionals and citizens in protecting our own civil rights, and any infringement should be really justified in order to do this.”
Fingerprint request sent by mail
In the past, Copeland said, his identity and clean criminal record were easily established with a simple check of his passport and provincially issued medical and driver’s licences.
This fall, he received a “fingerprint request” letter in the mail from B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety.
When he demanded an explanation, a followup letter in late December from the ministry stated its Criminal Records Review Program had implemented the RCMP’s Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS) “vulnerable sector policy.”
“As of November 30, 2017, any applicant that shares a similar combination of name, gender and date of birth as a pardoned sexual offender will be requested for fingerprints,” wrote Meghan Oberg, deputy registrar of the CRRP. (In a subsequent email to CBC News, the ministry revised the inception date to November 2013.)
In the letter to Copeland, Oberg warned that failure to comply with the request would result in his file being closed and his clearance not being issued.
Since his criminal record check would be incomplete, Copeland was advised the body that regulates the province’s medical profession — the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. — “may take further action.”
The college has the power to impose professional sanctions, including limiting or revoking medical licences, but says it “plays no part in determining which doctors should be fingerprinted.”
Copeland said he “felt sick” when he first got the fingerprint notice — “like someone wrongly accused of a crime.”
“My identity is well known, my height, my weight, my gender, my eye colour, my passport, my licence. None of that has changed, so what’s new that suddenly I have to come in and be fingerprinted like in a criminal lineup?” said Copeland.
“To me this is a case of government overreach without adequate oversight.”
‘We’ve got a problem here’
The BCCLA agrees with Copeland’s concerns.
“I think he’s right, the sense of we’re not exactly sure what’s happening behind the curtain here,” says policy director Micheal Vonn.
“The RCMP have got a problem on their hands when ordinary law-abiding individuals think that they’re being ganged up on, that this is merely an exercise to normalize the process of broad-based biometric screening,” Vonn said. “Completely non-conspiratorial people have asked this question. So, yes, we’ve got a problem here.”
The BCCLA said it will “absolutely consider” challenging the provincial government over the fingerprinting requirement.
The Doctors of B.C., an advocacy organization which represents 14,000 physicians, residents and medical students in the province, is also concerned about some aspects of fingerprinting of its members.
Association president Dr. Trina Larsen Soles says the process “is not without its flaws.”
“We would like the RCMP process to be more transparent — sometimes it’s not clear the specific reason for the fingerprinting request,” said Larsen Soles. “If in the future the RCMP … deems it necessary to fingerprint everyone, then doctors should comply. If it is beyond what would be considered a good reason, then problems may arise.”
‘Fingerprints will be required’: RCMP
The RCMP seemed to back up Copeland’s belief that fingerprinting of all medical health professionals will be mandatory in the near future.
When question by CBC about the fingerprinting of doctors, national RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Marie Damian said “the [current policies] will be updated once the RCMP criminal records systems are fully automated and fingerprints will be required for all criminal record and vulnerable sector verifications.”
Copeland, faced with possible disciplinary action, has now complied with his notice.
He recently walked into the Vancouver Police Department and was fingerprinted — then quickly cleared of any connection to the sex offender with a similar identity.
Besides the $60 charge for the fingerprinting, he says there was another cost.
“If I spend a half day here, that’s 10 or 12 more kids that I’m not seeing in the emergency department while I take time off work to come down here to prove one more time who I am,” Copeland said.
“So it’s kinda crazy.”
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered three generations of Canadian Forces veterans who wondered why they have received far less than veterans who came before them: “Because they are asking far more than we are able to give right now” Trudeau told an Edmonton town hall.
The prime minister is wrong, obviously: the government could give more, if it wanted to. But Trudeau can nevertheless be congratulated for finally admitting that the government’s aim is ultimately to minimize its liability to care for all veterans, but particularly those with disabilities and their families. One-time cash infusions, such as the government’s forthcoming $622 million bailout of the military’s chronically underfunded disability pension plan, shouldn’t distract us from that fact.
Veterans need to understand the fact that this government — just like its Conservative predecessor — is in effect bargaining: battling on a multitude of fronts (legal, political, media, academia, and stakeholder manipulation) in an effort to lessen its financial obligation to those in uniform. And veterans need to wake up and face this reality if they stand to make any gains.
So, are veterans asking too much? Well, let’s look at what governments of the past have been able to scrounge up.
For at least the last 200 years, whenever veterans required care, government provided, sometimes begrudgingly, regardless of its economic circumstances. The first pension plan for disabled Canadian veterans and their survivors was passed by the government of Upper Canada in 1816 and 1817.
Upper Canada took the brunt of the U.S invasions and, at the end of the war, large sections of the province (including its capital York) had been devastated by fighting. Farms had been burned and the economy was in tatters. Added to this was the fact that 1816 was also an abnormally cold and rainy year, which ruined much of the crop.
But these severe economic circumstances did not prevent Upper Canada from putting in place an easily accessible pension scheme for those who served during the war and their surviving family members.
Compared to the bureaucratic labyrinth and delays that veterans have to navigate through today, the amount of paperwork required to receive a pension in 1816-17 was laughably but effectively scant. A one-page declaration from the soldier’s commanding officer was sufficient testimony to a soldier’s disability. (Today, Veterans Affairs demands a separate medical opinion than the one provided by military doctors, who are undoubtedly the most qualified to attribute an injury to a soldier’s time in uniform.)
One century later, Canada was in the midst of a post-war recession with a massive cohort of newly released servicemen who needed help. The government at the time passed the Pension Act, which set in place the means and the financing to grant military pensions to all disabled veterans. The same year, veterans benefits represented more than 21 per cent of total government spending.
Other rehabilitation programs at the time included vocational training, clothing allowances, interest-free loans, health and dental care, as well as preference for veterans in civil service appointments. Dedicated veterans hospitals and rehabilitation centres were established, making veterans’ care the precursor of Canada’s highly regarded universal health care system.
Fiscal commitment was not smooth by any means, but Canada remained financially devoted to its veterans throughout the 1921 depression, as well as the Great Depression of the 1930s. In fact, economic hardship forced government to care for struggling and destitute veterans through the creation of the War Veterans Allowance, a financial safety net provided in addition to the Pension Act that compensated for pain, suffering and incapacity. At the height of the Great Depression, veterans’ benefits reached 18 per cent of the federal budget.
The original “Veterans Charter” emerging from World War II was truly universal. Every veteran was offered assistance to re-establish life back at home, with programs offering farming equipment and animals, land, homes, education, financial assistance and priority job placements. By 1947, veterans benefits were twice the expenditures of national defence and 16 per cent of the federal budget. Canada invested 2.3 per cent of its entire GDP into assisting veterans. This investment in veterans, both economists and historians largely agree, contributed to Canada being one of the most successful post-war economies.
Since then, appreciation for Canadian veterans has markedly declined. We seem to have very little regard for what it means to wear a military uniform, to defend the freedoms and rights most Canadians take for granted while risking life, limb and soul for a government that treats sacrifice with condescending platitudes. Current spending on veterans represents a mere 1.2 per cent of the federal budget and 0.2 per cent of GDP. Is this really “far more than we are able to give right now?”
Trudeau’s answer to veterans’ questions about pension gaps unfortunately reflects the shift in modern government philosophy (shared by all parties) that younger veterans, regardless of disability or sacrifice, simply do not have the same value to the nation as previous generations. That in mind, perhaps we should assess how much we can afford in caring for our veterans before we ask them put on a uniform and send them off to war.
If you are one of the majority of Canadians celebrating Family Day today, maybe you thought the day’s plans were based on an amicable consensus with each member having an equal voice.
That’s not how the proponents of a growing branch of study called “family economics” see it.
Instead, harmonious decision disguised a battle.
Rather than being the bosom of warmth and joy illustrated in modern storylines,the family is more like a Grimm’s fairy tale or a scene from Game of Thrones — a seething hotbed of conflict between members with different power based at least partly on their financial contribution to the clan.
“Traditionally what … economics did is it assumed that households acted as if they were a single individual that had one set of preferences,” said Shelly Lundberg a leading light in the burgeoning field.
Lundberg, a transplanted Canadian who teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of recent paper called Canadian Contributions to Family Economics, said research shows the concept of household unanimity is flawed.
“What I did in my work and other people have done as well is to say, ‘Wait a minute, that’s just not how things happen,'” said Lundberg. “Households contain more than one person and we have to look explicitly at how do they trade off their potentially different interests.”
The concept of family economics as a separate branch of study is usually attributed to the late Nobel-winning economist Gary Becker. Becker saw the inner workings of the family as a crucial component of the wider economy.
A conservative who did his work at the University of Chicago, Becker examined the family in the context of heterosexual marriage of the 1960s, when increasingly educated women were working outside the home.
The celebration of family as an institution is often seen as the territory of conservatives and the religious right. But family economics has been widely adopted by liberal scholars, its concepts are applied to family relationships of different kinds.
Divorce threat bargaining
In the difficult process of trying to look inside the power dynamic of family decision-making, family economics contains some prickly sounding concepts — such as “divorce threat bargaining,” an attempt to calculate who would be better off in the event of marital breakdown.
Research has shown that in the tradeoff between competing interests, the person with the potential to earn the largest income also gets the biggest say in family decisions. Applying concepts related to feminist economics, researchers have theorized that a partner who stays home to look after kids can lose clout in the family power dynamic as their professional skills atrophy while the other partner rises through the earnings ranks.
Lundberg has demonstrated that who controls the money really does matter. Her research in the U.K. showed that once family allowance was switched from an income tax benefit on the principal wage earner to a cheque to moms, spending on children’s clothing rose.
Of course, in many cases, decisions are made cooperatively. But sometimes a family relationship can reach a non-cooperative equilibrium short of divorces that one wit at an academic conference described as “harsh words and burned toast.”
The price of love
It’s pretty clear that whether conscious or not, decisions we make about choosing a partner, forming a family and raising kids are based on considerations of our own advantage. But as with a lot of economics, trying to dig down to the profit and loss of relationships seems to twist warm and cozy feelings like altruism and benevolence into mechanistic game theory.
“Love has a price,” said Aloysius Siow, a family economics specialist at the University of Toronto. He points to studies that show people willing to give up an organ for a family member, but not to a stranger.
Despite the fact that it may make us uncomfortable, Siow said understanding the economic forces at work are important for making good policy decisions.
“We think that many of these policy issues are serious and we should discuss them more openly,” he said.
The fact that couples and families are in a constant state of internal bargaining does not necessarily take the romance out of a relationship, said Elisabeth Gugl, an economics professor at the University of Victoria in B.C. and a specialist in family economics.
“There is plenty of room for love, selflessness, and altruism,” she said.
“The way bargaining works is that both people agree that they are much better off being married to each other than being single or married to another person.”
And what happens within a family does not stay in the family. Gugl pointed out decisions about how Canadian families spend time or money, whether to work outside the home or within it, or how children should be raised and educated all have an effect on the wider Canadian economy.
“Families are the producers of labour, so we need to understand what is going on in the family,” she said.
But don’t let that wreck your day.
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