Dr. Robert Van Exan, former director of health and science policy at Canadian pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, said tracking with barcodes in Canada “should have been written in the pandemic plan.”There was a plan to make these barcodes central to Canada’s public-health system, and there was a time when Canada was ahead in digitizing its health system “by a decade,” Dr. Van Exan said. Canada’s 1998 vaccine strategy first proposed barcoding vaccines to promote efficiency and accuracy. The 2003 SARS epidemic, and the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada, hastened that work.In normal times, Canada administers millions of vaccines a year for diseases such as mumps and influenza. Provinces slowly adopted digitized immunization records in the early 2000s, but continued entering all the data manually: Audits of some provincial systems found fully 15 per cent of immunization records were incomplete, nearly a quarter had inaccurate information, and crucial data was missing from one in five adverse-reaction reports.In 2007, Ottawa tapped an advisory group made up of industry experts, including Dr. Van Exan, to plan the implementation of these barcodes. The total cost, the advisory group found, would have then been around $265-million, but they projected savings of $1-billion in the decades to come. They handed Ottawa a plan to start barcoding vaccines in warehouses, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies by 2014.This barcoding capability was an integral part of a broader digital infrastructure project known as the Vaccine Identification Database System (VIDS). Ottawa set up VIDS as a proof of concept for a single, national digitized public-health system to track infectious disease outbreaks and vaccination campaigns.Story continues below advertisementOttawa contracted IBM Canada to build a permanent vaccination version of VIDS, called Panorama. That’s where things “fell off the wagon,” Dr. Van Exan said. “IBM built a system that can’t read barcodes.”Beset by delays and cost increases, some provinces dropped the project. Even some provinces that stuck with Panorama have still not installed crucial components of the system. None of the provinces’ systems work with one another.“This is one of the big flaws in the whole damn system,” Dr. Van Exan said.
With school boards across the continent struggling with planning for the most tumultuous school reorganization in anyone’s memory, it seems a bit far-fetched to protest possible reductions to French immersion
L’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario denounced talks about French programs in a tweet Wednesday night, calling it “totally unacceptable.”
“In a bilingual country, to propose the elimination of the teaching of one of the official languages is unthinkable,” the organization representing Franco-Ontarians wrote. “We also ask the Toronto District School Board to stop using official languages as a means of pressure to reach its goals. It’s damaging for the country.”
Individual actions to tackle climate change, even when added together, achieve so little because cheap and reliable energy underpins human prosperity. Fossil fuels currently meet 81% of our global energy needs. And even if every promised climate policy in the 2015 Paris climate agreement is achieved by 2040, they will still deliver 74% of the total.
When climate campaigners urge people to change their everyday behavior, they trivialize the challenge of global warming. The one individual action that citizens could take that would make a real difference would be to demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development.
More bastards! Several years ago, before Google Maps, I bought a TomTom GPS unit with “lifetime maps”, thinking that I would get free map updates for ever. Or at the very least, for the life of the TomTom company. Not so, I found out today.
From the TomTom websitetomtom.com/lifetime (which redirects to TomTom site in the UK)
What does “lifetime” mean?
Lifetime is the useful life of the device, which means the period of time that TomTom continues to support your device with software updates, services, content or accessories. A device will have reached the end of its life when none of these are available any more.
TomTom has an offer for the dozens of models affected: 20% off two of their newer models, bringing the prices down to $250 – $350. Double Hah!
Big Juice: Canadian Juice Council |
Gee…I didn’t see this coming…. Companies Use Tax Cut Savings to Buy Their Own Shares
By MATT PHILLIPS
FEB. 26, 2018
President Trump promised that his tax cut would encourage companies to invest in factories, workers and wages, setting off a spending spree that would reinvigorate the American economy.
Companies have announced plans for some of those investments. But so far, companies are using much of the money for something with a more narrow benefit: buying their own shares.
Those so-called buybacks are good for shareholders, including the senior executives who tend to be big owners of their companies’ stock. A company purchasing its own shares is a time-tested way to bolster its stock price.
But the purchases can come at the expense of investments in things like hiring, research and development and building new plants — the sort of investments that directly help the overall economy. The buybacks are also most likely to worsen economic inequality because the benefits of stocks purchases flow disproportionately to the richest Americans.
The tax overhaul is the cornerstone of Mr. Trump’s economic plan. It has been a big win for companies, offering lower corporate rates and a permanent break on overseas profits. Warren E. Buffett said in his annual letter to investors on Saturday that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, enjoyed a $29 billion gain thanks to the new tax law.
What companies do with the trillions of dollars they’re bringing back to the United States, and the money they will save each year on their tax bills, will in large part determine whether the plan is a success or a failure.
As the tax cuts kick in, companies have laid out a variety of uses for the money. Some are paying out one-time bonuses to employees. Others are raising salaries. Others plan to open new factories.
In the fourth quarter, American companies’ investments in things like factories and business equipment grew by 6.8 percent. That was the fastest growth rate since 2014, but far from a giant the surge in capital spending that was promised ahead of the tax overhaul.
But the buying back shares is also at record levels.
Almost 100 American corporations have trumpeted such plans in the past month. American companies in the 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.
Such purchases reduce a company’s total number of outstanding shares, giving each remaining share a slightly bigger piece of the profit pie.
Cisco said this month that in response to the tax package, it would bring back to the United States $67 billion of overseas cash, using $25 billion to finance additional share repurchases. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, authorized up to $8.6 billion in stock purchases. PepsiCo announced a fresh $15 billion in planned buybacks. Chip gear maker Applied Materials disclosed plans for a $6 billion program to buy shares. Late last month, home improvement retailer Lowe’s unveiled plans for $5 billion in purchases.
On Monday, Mr. Buffett said on CNBC that Berkshire might be open to buy some of its shares. The remarks helped send Berkshire’s stock — and the broader market — higher.
More buybacks are almost certainly on the way. UBS analysts covering Apple said the iPhone maker might authorize another $30 billion in share purchases when it reports its next quarterly earnings in April. That would be on top of the $30 billion it already spends each year to buy back its shares.
“I’m expecting buybacks to get to a record for 2018,” said Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst with S.&P. Dow Jones Indices. “And if I’m disappointed, there’s a lot of people with me.”
Cisco said it may spend as much as $25 billion for additional share repurchases. Credit Sergio Perez/Reuters
The flurry of planned buybacks has been good for the stock market. Early this month, stocks were down more than 10 percent from their January peak. The prospect of companies flooding markets with “buy” orders helped the market recoup some of its losses.
The broader impact on the economy is less clear. Economists believe a rising stock market benefits the economy, helping support consumer and business confidence. But the vast majority of the billions of dollars in planned share purchases will benefit the richest 10 percent of American households, who own 84 percent of all stocks. The top 1 percent of households own about 40 percent of all stocks.
Ultimately, the effect of the rising stock market depends on how those wealthy investors use their windfall. It helps the economy more, for example, if they put the money toward a productive new companies than if they invest in government bonds.
Companies typically decide to make long-term investments in things like new workers and factories based on whether they will make the company more profitable — not merely because the companies are sitting on a pile of money that they otherwise would have paid in taxes.
At a news conference Thursday, the head of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, acknowledged that many companies were spending their money on buying their own shares.
“Right now we’re going to have an adjustment where you see probably more dividends and share buybacks than wage increases,” Mr. Hassett said. “But going forward we’re going to see a lot of capital formation and wage growth.”
That is not what happened in 2005, when a one-time tax holiday allowed companies to repatriate money on the cheap. That plan, championed by President George W. Bush, was sold as a way to get American companies to invest more in the domestic economy.
Some $300 billion came back to the United States that year. But economists estimated that as much as 92 percent of it may have been paid out to companies’ shareholders — mostly in the form of buybacks.
Studies have shown that the tax change lifted companies’ stock prices but did not expand their American work forces.
Until the early 1980s, the practice of buying shares with corporate money was considered borderline illegal because it was thought to potentially open the company up to charges of manipulating share prices.
But in 1982 the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule that gave the green light to most share repurchases, as long as they followed certain rules.
Historically, American companies had paid out profits with a quarterly check, known as a dividend. But after the S.E.C.’s rule change, companies started using more of their profits to buy their own shares, in the process giving their shareholders a bigger piece of the company.
Buybacks soon soared. By 2016, the most recent year for which there is complete data, companies spent $536 billion on purchasing their own shares, according to data from S. & P. Dow Jones Indices.
That was about 5 percent less than those companies spent on new plants, research and development and other investments. By contrast, 20 years ago, companies spent four times as much on such investments as they did on buybacks.
Some economists think the surge in share buybacks has something to do with the relative decline in capital investments, which recently have been lower than expected.
“We have some causal evidence that because of short-termism companies are doing some stock repurchases that maybe they shouldn’t do,” said Heitor Almeida, a professor of corporate finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “And maybe that’s causing them to reduce investment.”
This is depressing. I that thought that “clean coal” was commercially non-viable because of the costs to scrub the noxious gases and particulates from the combustion product. Here’s a new perspective. “Clean coal” in this instance means removing impurities from waste coal before it is burned. The combustion products from the coal itself are presumably unaffected. Cleaning the coal before combustion enables the mines to use waste coal that would have been uneconomic in current plants. “It just makes sense to further remove the impurities from coal before burning it,” OMNIS Chairman Simon Hodson said in a statement. “This is truly clean coal production in our view.” And they get a $50 million grant from a new program announced last month by the US Dept. of Energy.
CNX Coal Resources LP and OMNIS Bailey this week announced they will partner to develop “a first-of-a-kind solid energy refinery” that will process waste coal at CONSOL’s Bailey Mine Complex.
The Pennsylvania refinery will ultimately turn waste coal into a clean carbon fuel.
CNX said the project, which began as a pilot earlier this year, aims to generate a clean fuel that can be used to enhance the energy content and performance characteristics of its coal product.
The quest for “clean coal” continues, now by utilizing a process to remove impurities from waste coal that would have been discarded.
- “First, they must use all their powers of political, economic, and social persuasion to shine a bright light on the “post-truth” fabrications fuelling [sic] the new authoritarianism;
- “Second, they must examine their own glasshouses to see how the so-called Washington Consensus liberal order has produced too many losers, too many corporate robber barons, while creating a level of social inequality, job loss, and poverty that begs the title “neo-feudal.”
- “Finally, progressive leaders, parties, and governments must use the human rights agenda to promote the lives and interests of all.”