U.S. in deal to reform Baltimore police after Freddie Gray death

BALTIMORE (Reuters) – The city of Baltimore will enact a series of police reforms including changes in how officers use force and transport prisoners under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department filed in federal court on Thursday.

Wildcard Trump makes predicting what will happen in 2017 anyone’s guess

President-elect Donald Trump dominated the conversation as pundits and experts debated what the future holds at the National Post and Canadian Club Toronto’s annual Outlook Luncheon. Here are their predictions for the coming year.

Trump can only do so much
Andrew Coyne, Postmedia columnist

Trump has promised sweeping changes to everything from trade deals to health care, but Coyne said it’s important to remember he’ll be operating within significant constraints. Senators and Congressmen will be up for re-election in two years and the mood of the American public may be significantly different by then, Coyne said.

“There was no sweeping mandate of Trumpism, whatever Trumpism is,” Coyne said, referring to the fact Trump lost the popular vote by a bigger margin than any other president in U.S. history. “People may have been in the mood to throw a brick through a window this election. They may still be in that mood two years from now, but with a different target.”

In addition, Trump will have to work with Republicans in Congress, many of whom disagree with him on important issues. “The stuff that’s going to get through congress will be of a somewhat more cautious or conservative frame of mind,” Coyne predicted.

Like Congress, the American public is often described as divided or polarized, with mistrust of the media helping Trump find a path to victory. Coyne said his biggest hope for the coming year is that people regain the ability to treat people with different opinions with respect.

“There is a generalized contempt for facts, for expertise, for elites, for people who know stuff,” Coyne said. “Being skeptical is a different thing from saying, ‘Anyone who knows anything, I’m going to reject.’”

 

Misplaced optimism
Amanda Lang, Bloomberg TV Canada
anchor

Lang said she was concerned by the market’s euphoric reaction to Trump’s victory. Trump won’t be able to influence the economy as much as people think, she said.

“People are very bullish on the U.S. market, more bullish than I think they ought to be,” Lang said. “I think it’s overdone.”

Lang was similarly pessimistic about the political prospects of her former CBC co-host Kevin O’Leary, who is often compared to Donald Trump. O’Leary has been making campaign-like statements and musing about entering the race for the leadership of the federal Conservative party.

“I don’t think he’ll put his hat in the ring in the end,” Lang said. “I think the impediments, especially the French language, are just too big.”

America in charge
Diane Francis, Financial Post columnist

Francis said she doesn’t think Trump’s promise to “rip up NAFTA” will be as disastrous for Canada as some have predicted. The Trump administration is likely to do some things that will be beneficial for Canada, such as approving the Keystone XL pipeline, but won’t forget we owe them a favour, she said.

“We’re going to get along nicely,” Francis said. “But they’re going to be the boss.”

Francis said her biggest concern about Trump is his temperament. “At 3 a.m. in his penthouse apartment, he may tweet something that destroys a sector,” she said. “He has a mean streak and he’s a bully.”

Meanwhile, in Canada, deficits here to stay
Jean-Francois Perrault, chief economist, Scotiabank

Perrault turned his attention domestically, predicting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will run deficits for the duration of its mandate.

“This is a government that’s still in the process of identifying what it wants to do economically,” Perrault said. “Unfortunately that probably means a bigger government than we’re used to and that means bigger deficits.”

Meanwhile, the risk of a trade war with the U.S. is growing, Perrault said. He pointed out Trump is constrained by the World Trade Organization’s rules when it comes to implementing tariffs, but said he can do a lot of damage to Canada’s economy.

“What he may or may not do can have a very significant impact, even indirectly,” Perrault said.

NDP done in Alberta
Claudia Cattaneo, western business columnist, Financial Post

Cattaneo made a forecast even further into the future than the coming year, predicting the NDP will not be re-elected in Alberta.

“There is incredible frustration in Alberta with the NDP,” Cattaneo said. “It’s seen as an illegitimate government that’s out of touch with reality.”

Cattaneo also predicted Jason Kenney will win the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party by channeling Albertans’ frustrations with the current government. She also forecast a modest recovery in oil prices, but no return to triple digits.

“Nobody thinks it’s going to back to $100 or more, certainly not in the short term,” she said.

Financial Post

cbrownell@nationalpost.com

twitter.com/clabrow

Consumer Reports Reverses Course, Recommends MacBook Pro Following New Testing After Apple Bug Fix

Consumer Reports is out with an updated report on the 2016 MacBook Pro, and following retesting, the magazine is now recommending Apple’s latest notebooks.

In the new test, conducted running a beta version of macOS that fixes the Safari-related bug that caused erratic battery life in the original test, all three MacBook Pro models “performed well.”



The 13-inch model without a Touch Bar had an average battery life of 18.75 hours, the 13-inch model with a Touch Bar lasted for 15.25 hours on average, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar had an average battery life of 17.25 hours.

Now that we’ve factored in the new battery-life measurements, the laptops’ overall scores have risen, and all three machines now fall well within the recommended range in Consumer Reports ratings.

Consumer Reports originally denied the 2016 MacBook Pro a purchase recommendation in late December due to extreme battery life variance that didn’t match up with Apple’s 10 hour battery life claim.

Apple worked with Consumer Reports to figure out why the magazine encountered battery life issues, which led to the discovery of an obscure Safari caching bug. Consumer Reports used a developer setting to turn off Safari caching, triggering an “obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons” that drained excessive battery.

The bug, fixed by Apple in macOS Sierra 10.12.3 beta 3, is not one the average user will encounter as most people don’t turn off the Safari caching option, but it’s something done in all Consumer Reports tests to ensure uniform testing conditions. A fix for the issue will be available to the general public when macOS Sierra 10.12.3 is released, but users can get it now by signing up for Apple’s beta testing program.

Each of the three 2016 MacBook Pro models, including the 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, and the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bars, are advertised as achieving 10 hours of battery life on a single charge when watching iTunes movies or browsing the web.

Real life Battery usage can vary significantly, however, based on factors like screen brightness and the applications being used.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tag: Consumer Reports
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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Exclusive: Morgan Stanley cuts bankers, bonuses as deals, IPOs stall – sources

(Reuters) – Morgan Stanley laid off a number of senior investment bankers last week and cut bonuses by roughly 15 percent because of a decline in revenue from dealmaking and capital raising across…

WestJet wants ‘more fuel-efficient’ aircraft for overseas expansion, CFO says

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is thinking about adding yet another aircraft type to its fleet as it evaluates “more fuel-efficient” options for its international expansion plans.

Since 2013, WestJet has grown its fleet from one type of aircraft — the Boeing 737 — to three, with the addition of 45 new Bombardier Q400s for its Encore regional airline and four used Boeing 767s for its first wide-body overseas flights.

But the 767 is an “old plane,” the airline’s chief financial officer told an investor conference Thursday.

“Is it the fleet type of the future? No,” Harry Taylor told the AltaCorp Capital and ATB Financial investor conference in Toronto. “We’d like to have a more fuel-efficient wide-body engine. We’re just conscious of the capital investment, so whether it’s new or newish is one of the things that we’ll consider.”

Taylor described the 767s, which were plagued with early reliability issues, as a “test.”

“We liked the results so it’s no longer a test and we’re going to expand,” he said. “But we’re going to take some time to do that. You don’t want to go too far or too fast.”

The airline’s pilots voted in December to approve expanded wide-body operations after rejecting an earlier offer. Chief executive Gregg Saretsky said the vote would allow WestJet to turn its attention “to acquiring additional wide-body aircraft.”

Currently, the 767s are used on flights to London’s Gatwick Airport from Toronto and Calgary and to Hawaii from Edmonton and Calgary, as well as some domestic routes.

Taylor said the airline’s network planners are now looking at other possible destinations in both Europe and Asia.

“We believe we’ve got some good business cases to go both east and west, and the question is when and how?” Taylor said. “We don’t want to establish too many different isolated beachheads and lose our economies of scale, so we’re going to work through where we see the most profitable, most attractive opportunities and pursue them.”

BMO analyst Fadi Chamoun downgraded WestJet to market perform from outperform Thursday and lowered his price target to $24 from $26, arguing that the airline’s wide-body expansion will weigh on its balance sheet.

“We believe that WestJet is likely to underwrite a major wide-body expansion initiative in the near term, which is likely to weigh on balance-sheet metrics and free cash flow and perhaps even raise the operational risk profile in the short term, albeit with attractive long-term growth potential assuming it is successful,” Chamoun wrote in a research note.

WestJet has said it’s talking to both Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE about possible aircraft purchases.

Bombardier Inc., meanwhile, said it has no plans at present to build a CS500, the rumoured stretch variant of its CSeries aircraft.

“At this point in time there’s no plan for a larger CSeries, that is not part of the strategic conversation,” chief financial officer John Di Bert told the AltaCorp conference. “The conversation on a bigger platform would only evolve if the market demanded it, if the supply chain was willing to get behind it, and if the customers were willing to step forward on it.”

Bombardier will make a decision on its next major project in the next 12 to 24 months, Di Bert said. That could include federal government investment if a deal is reached on the company’s 14-month-old request for US$1 billion in aid.

We Need To Change How We Educate Our Health Experts

Canada has a mismatch between the world class quality of research we produce on health every year and how that research is implemented into our health-care system.

Canadians can be proud that our doctoral graduates are among the most productive and respected researchers in the fields of health services, health policy and health economics — and Canadian universities are often in the global top 10 for these areas of study. Yet our own health system continues to under-perform.

Where’s the disconnect?

The Commonwealth Fund ranks comparable health systems around the world on a number of quality performance indicators and continually places Canada as one of the worst performers across a number of categories, such as timeliness, safety and efficiency of care. Only the United States routinely performs worse than Canada, sitting at the overall last place in the rankings.

It would be easy to point to health-care funding as the culprit, but it’s largely not the case.

Canada spends roughly 10.4 per cent of its GDP on health, more than the United Kingdom New Zealand and Australia which rank 1st, 4th and 7th respectively, in the same rankings, well ahead of Canada’s dismal 10th place finish.

So if funding isn’t the primary issue, it must mean management is to blame. The truth is, we often don’t manage our health system well. But the good news is that there is much that can be done to lift Canadian health care out of its current poor standing.

Over the last several decades, a wide number of studies from experts inside and outside of Canada have pointed out the gap between the current performance of our system and the level of performance we should be able to expect.

In what ways can the system improve?

There are the landmark reports from Manitoba and Ontario showing that a patient’s likelihood of getting needed surgery depends heavily on where they live. Multiple studies have shown a huge gap between what we know to be effective and appropriate care and what people have actually received. And a study from over a decade ago shows that nearly one in 13 hospital visits resulted in adverse health events with nearly nine per cent of these ending in preventable death; a follow-up study last year shows that little has changed over the last decade. We can do better.

How?

Health system changes require greater input by people trained to create and use evidence to design, implement and evaluate them. That’s not happening right now in Canada.


It’s time to move health research out of the academy and into the community.

Every year funders in Canada invest more than $3.5 million in supporting the training of health care-related PhDs, but for the majority of them, the likelihood of academic employment is low and declining over time. In fact, the vast majority will go on to work in health services and management related fields and not academia. Yet our doctoral programs in health sciences do not prepare them for such work.

An extensive interview-based study found that our recent health PhDs in Canada are not having the impact they could have on the health system — the sort of impact that many of our most advanced graduates with PhDs see as the goal of their careers and the reason for their training. While well prepared in academic terms, they lack preparation in the types of managerial and leadership skills necessary to make tough decisions based on evidence with a relentless commitment to evaluation and improvement across the system.

We can change this — and we’ve started to.

Over the past two years, the Canadian Health Services and Policy Research Alliance has worked with experts from across the country to improve the impact of Canadian PhDs on the quality and sustainability of our health system — by changing the training and preparation they receive.

It’s time to move health research out of the academy and into the community.

We now provide experiential learning opportunities during and after PhD training, where individuals get the opportunity to work with hospitals, government agencies and other health-care providers in the community — to apply their skills and findings directly in the service of health system improvement.

We are building an open source curriculum to teach health PhDs in Canada essential managerial and leadership skills that they will need to make sure their expertise gets translated into better decisions across our health care system.

Discussions about health-care funding will always be important, but we need to make sure that we have the personnel needed to make the health system better, regardless of the dollars transferred between levels of government.

We have a great resource in the university-based training programs in health services across the country and PhD graduates who want to make a difference. Now we need to make sure that they have the opportunity to do so.

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Court Rules Apple Can be Sued for Monopolizing iPhone App Market

appstoreA U.S. Appeals Court today ruled that App Store customers can move forward with a lawsuit claiming Apple created an illegal app monopoly because it did not allow users to purchase iPhone apps outside of the App Store, reports Reuters.

The decision reverses a 2013 ruling that dismissed the lawsuit, originally filed in 2012. The case, Pepper et al v. Apple Inc., alleges that by not letting users purchase apps from third-party sources, there was no price competition, leading to higher app prices.

When the lawsuit was originally filed, Apple requested that it be dismissed because developers, not Apple, set prices for App Store apps. Apple simply provides the platform developers use to sell apps to customers.

According to today’s ruling, because iPhone users purchase the apps directly from Apple, they have the right to file a lawsuit against the company.

An attorney for the plaintiffs in the case told Reuters that the aim of the lawsuit is to allow people to shop for iPhone apps wherever they want, an outcome that’s unlikely due to security implications.

But if the challenge ultimately succeeds, “the obvious solution is to compel Apple to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices,” Mark C. Rifkin, an attorney with Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz representing the group of iPhone users, told Reuters in an interview. “The other alternative is for Apple to pay people damages for the higher than competitive prices they’ve had to pay historically because Apple has utilized its monopoly.”

The Appeals Court ruling does not address the specific monopoly allegations levied at Apple and pertains only to whether or not Apple can be sued for this issue.

Tag: App Store

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Apple Seeds Fourth Beta of iOS 10.2.1 to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Apple today seeded the fourth beta of an upcoming iOS 10.2.1 update to developers and public beta testers, a few days after seeding the third iOS 10.2.1 beta and a month after releasing iOS 10.2, the second major update to the iOS 10 operating system.

Registered developers can download the fourth iOS 10.2.1 beta from the Apple Developer Center or over-the-air with the proper configuration profile installed.

ios-10-2-1-beta

It isn’t yet known what features are included in iOS 10.2.1, but as a minor 10.2.x update, it appears to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements rather than major outward-facing changes. No new features were discovered in the first three iOS 10.2.1 betas, but we’ll update this post if any changes are found in the fourth beta.

iOS 10.2.1 follows the release of iOS 10.2, a significant update that brought Unicode 9 emoji, a new TV app, Messages Screen Effects, Music improvements, and a whole slew of bug fixes.

Related Roundup: iOS 10

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