9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt | TIME

Good working tips:

  1. Respond quickly
  2. When writing an email, every word matters, and useless prose doesn’t. Be crisp in your delivery.
  3. Clean out your inbox constantly.
  4. Handle email in LIFO order (Last In First Out). Sometimes the older stuff gets taken care of by someone else.
  5. Remember, you’re a router. When you get a note with useful information, consider who else would find it useful.
  6. When you use the bcc (blind copy) feature, ask yourself why. The answer is almost always that you are trying to hide something, which is counterproductive and potentially knavish in a transparent culture.
  7. Don’t yell. If you need to yell, do it in person. It is FAR TOO EASY to do it electronically.
  8. Make it easy to follow up on requests. When you send a note to someone with an action item that you want to track, copy yourself, then label the note “follow up.”
  9. Help your future self search for stuff. If you get something you think you may want to recall later, forward it to yourself along with a few keywords that describe its content.

9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt | TIME.

The Barbarians Within Our Gates – Hisham Melhem

A thoroughly depressing article on the failure of Arab states, unfortunately one that rings all too true:

Almost every Muslim era, including the enlightened ones, has been challenged by groups that espouse a virulent brand of austere, puritanical and absolutist Islam. They have different names, but are driven by the same fanatical, atavistic impulses. The great city of Córdoba, one of the most advanced cities in Medieval Europe, was sacked and plundered by such a group Al Mourabitoun in 1013, destroying its magnificent palaces and its famed library. In the 1920s the Ikhwan Movement in Arabia no relation to the Egyptian movement was so fanatical that the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who collaborated with them initially, had to crush them later on. In contemporary times, these groups include the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Yes, it is misleading to lump—as some do—all Islamist groups together, even though all are conservative in varying degrees. As terrorist organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State are different from the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative movement that renounced violence years ago, although it did dabble with violence in the past.

Nonetheless, most of these groups do belong to the same family tree—and all of them stem from the Arabs’ civilizational ills. The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, is the tumorous creation of an ailing Arab body politic. Its roots run deep in the badlands of a tormented Arab world that seems to be slouching aimlessly through the darkness. It took the Arabs decades and generations to reach this nadir. It will take us a long time to recover—it certainly won’t happen in my lifetime.

My generation of Arabs was told by both the Arab nationalists and the Islamists that we should man the proverbial ramparts to defend the “Arab World” against the numerous barbarians imperialists, Zionists, Soviets massing at the gates. Little did we know that the barbarians were already inside the gates, that they spoke our language and were already very well entrenched in the city.

The Barbarians Within Our Gates – Hisham Melhem – POLITICO Magazine.

Employers say temporary foreign worker figures are not accurate

Never good when the numbers are wrong:

But six employers contacted by The Globe on Thursday contended the information is inaccurate, raising questions about the accuracy of some of the data the government used to support its case for sweeping reforms to the temporary foreign worker TFW program.

The federal list is set to become political fodder in Alberta on Friday, when the Alberta Federation of Labour plans to release a copy that it obtained through a separate information request.

“There are lots of employers using the program very aggressively,” said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan. “A lot of these [TFW] jobs are some of the best in our economy and we shouldn’t be cavalier about allowing them to slip through our fingers.”

Three of the largest employers included on the list said the figures were not accurate.Shaw Cablesystems, which was listed as employing 4,354 temporary foreign workers more than 30 per cent of its work force, said it had provided incorrect figures to Employment and Social Development Canada. The correct figure is 169 TFWs, or one per cent of its work force, the company said in a statement.

…. Alberta Labour Minister Ric McIver noted Alberta has a severe labour crunch. He said business owners are inundating him with concerns about restrictions to the foreign worker program.

“Canada is a big country and sometimes one size does not fit all,” Mr. McIver said. “Our goal is to work with our partners in the federal government and look for a program that actually meets the needs of Alberta business, puts Canadians first to get jobs, but doesn’t put businesses out of business by denying them absolutely essential labour.”

Mr. Kenney doesn’t appear to be wavering. In an e-mail Thursday, he noted 110,000 Albertans are looking for work and the changes will affect about 8,000 low-paying jobs currently filled by foreign workers. “There are also still too many people capable of working who are not in the labour force,” Mr. Kenney wrote.

Employers say temporary foreign worker figures are not accurate – The Globe and Mail.

Sept. 26: When jihadis ‘R’ Us – my letter in The Globe

My letter to The Globe on How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – Margaret Wente (tighter version than my post):

The cancellation of passports is not the same as the revocation of citizenship. Cancellation of passports potentially applies to all Canadians, whether born here or naturalized, whether dual national or not. Revocation applies only to those with dual nationality or with the right to another nationality.

Take an example from a Calgary terrorism cell. Canadian-born extremist Damian Clairmont would not have been subject to revocation while “cell mate” Pakistani dual national Salman Ashrafi, who came to Canada as a child, would have been. Both are dead, but there are comparable cases.

Two different punishments for the same crime. Hard to see how this would not be successfully challenged before the courts.

Far better to use the Australian approach, as stated by Prime Minister Tony Abbott: “If you fight with a terrorist group, if you seek to return to this country, as far as this government is concerned, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be jailed for a very long time indeed.”

Sept. 26: When jihadis ‘R’ Us – and other letters to the editor – The Globe and Mail.

A tale of Tory, tories and the torah

Emma Teitel’s well-argued rebuke to Conservative targeting of Jewish voters:

In a larger context, the Tory Pride comments are a microcosm of a fallacy to which well-meaning conservatives who support Israel’s right to exist are prone. I’ve mentioned before that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ongoing defence of Israel, genuine though it appears to be, is so automatic and unreserved, it can be, for someone who’s Jewish, almost a bit creepy. No Israeli I know is as one-sided in his analysis of his homeland. Usually, when you live in a place for a while, you have at least a few critical things to say about it. I love Toronto, but I don’t like T.O. fixtures Rob and Doug Ford.

Conservatives love to deride knee-jerk liberals who can’t take a joke—the kind of liberals in whose company you dare not make off-colour remarks about sexuality or ethnicity. But conservatives are equally skewed by their own PC touchiness. Their breed simply takes a different form: Israel these days is one of their sacred cows, an object of their guaranteed optimism and goodwill. By this formula, Tel Aviv isn’t allowed to be just a gay-friendly city; it has to be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. Israel can’t just be an admirable, resilient country with flaws, it has to be, in its current form—in every form—irreproachable. To suggest that Israel can act immorally is to reveal your true colours: that you’d rather it didn’t exist.

These are false equivalencies, and they put Jews like me in an awkward position—the position, for instance, of having to defend the QuAIA (which I wish would disappear) from John Tory (for whom I’ll probably vote).

When everything constitutes anti-Semitism, nothing is anti-Semitism; words like holocaust and racism lose their meaning, and the resulting fog of moral relativism is bad for more than just Jews. And so, Mr. Tory and attendant candidates running for office, if we’re not part of the story, please leave us alone.

A tale of Tory, tories and the torah.

How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – Margaret Wente

Wente conflates cancellation of passports with revocation of citizenship.

Not the same at all. Cancellation of passports potentially applies to all Canadians, whether born in Canada or naturalized, whether Canadian citizens only or dual nationals.

Revocation on the other hand, applies only to those with dual nationality (or with the right to another nationality).

So take some examples from the same Calgary terrorism cell. The Canadian-born extremist Damian Clairmont would not be subject to revocation while his “cellmate” Pakistani dual national Salman Ashrafi, who came to Canada as a child, would be.

Both are dead, but there are other comparable cases among the known and likely unknown extremists.

Two different punishments for the same crime. Hard to see how this would not be successfully challenged before the courts.

Far better to use the Australian approach, as stated by PM Abbott, “If you fight with a terrorist group, if you seek to return to this country, as far as this government is concerned, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be jailed for a very long time indeed.”

Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Leader, has said he opposes the Conservatives’ new measures, and that homegrown terrorists should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. “I think that a lot of Canadians, including very conservative Canadians, should be worried about the state willing to, and taking the power to, arbitrarily remove citizenship from people,” he said. “That’s a slippery slope that I don’t think we want to go on.”

But Mr. Trudeau – who is now out of step with the rest of the world – will not be eager to raise the subject again. After all, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has allied himself not only with Britain and Australia, but with Barack Obama and the UN.

It’s a very serious matter for governments to revoke the passports of their citizens, restrict their freedom and deprive them of their citizenship. And people who warn that states might abuse their new powers are right. Without vigilance, they probably will.

Finding the balance between national security and personal liberty is always tricky. But our first obligation is to protect ourselves – and the world – from bad Canadians. The virus of murderous fanaticism hasn’t gone away. And it will be around for a long time to come.

How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – The Globe and Mail.

Jason Kenney faces foreign-worker fallout in own backyard – Politics – CBC News

More on the changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program, the political repercussions:

Like most government decisions, the clampdown on temporary foreign workers has come with a political price.

Last spring, as media reports swirled about questionable use of the scheme by companies small and large, Employment Minister Jason Kenney met for days on end with his staff, hearing hours of briefs and brainstorming a solution, according to a senior government source.

Kenney knew he was walking a political tightrope, trying to maintain the program in industries and regions where employers face legitimate labour shortages, while clamping down — and crucially, being seen to clamp down — on companies that are allegedly displacing Canadians to get cheaper labour.

The minister had long been troubled by reports that included such examples as a coal mine in northern B.C. which listed fluency in Mandarin as a job requirement when requesting foreign temporary workers. The case was the subject of a union-led federal court challenge, but was dismissed.

But the final straw, according to an official who helped craft the government response, was a report that two waitresses were laid off in Estevan, Saskatchewan, only to be replaced by foreign workers.

“That was the kryptonite moment for us,” the source recalls. “This is one of the hardest places to find Canadians to work and yet, they were laying off Canadians.”

Kenney’s decision: phase in a 10 per cent cap on the number of low-wage workers coming in, ban their use in areas where unemployment is six per cent or higher, and increase processing fees and fines for those who abuse the program.

The result: applications to the program were down by 75 per cent this summer over last, Kenney told the Commons last week.

But the result is also growing anger among employers in sectors as far-flung as the fashion and film industries, to fish packing plants, to the hospitality sector and restaurant industry, to mines in remote northern regions.

…Kenney, for his part, is standing firm on the new policy.

His office has argued that businesses, small and large, need to do a labour market assessment as part of their business plan. If they have to offer higher wages to attract people, so be it.

Still, concern about the repercussions could explain the government’s haste to offer a break to small business on EI premiums announced earlier this month by Finance Minister Joe Oliver.

Some Conservatives seem to feel the pot needs sweetening, as they march into election season running on their banner theme: economic prosperity for all.

Jason Kenney faces foreign-worker fallout in own backyard – Politics – CBC News.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia threaten both our communities – Jewish News

More on the parallels between antisemitism and islamophobia by Fiyazz Mughal, Director, Faith Matters, along comparable lines to  my earlier Mirror Images: Antisemitism and Islamophobia:

Others promoted anti-Semitic tropes involving the Rothschilds and blood libel stories, with ‘Zionism’ also used as a catch-all word in much the same way as ’Islamism’ is used by some individuals who try to promote anti-Muslim hatred.

Sadly, some social commentators downplay this anti-Muslim trend and like to suggest it is in no way similar to anti-Semitism.

This is nonsensical.

Let me take the similarities. After the murder of Lee Rigby and the recent Rotherham grooming trials, Muslim women and Islamic institutions suffered hate incidents and law-abiding citizens were affected by being targeted because of their faith.

The blame, it seems, has been laid at the feet of innocent Muslim men and women going about their business, with hate rhetoric involving language associating Muslims with paedophilia, cockroaches, vermin, rats and bacteria.

Much of this language will resonate with those who have studied anti-Semitism and there are clear similarities between anti-Semitic discourse, relations between powerful countries and impacts on victims with anti-Muslim prejudice.

The triggers may be different, but it is clear national or international incidents trigger spikes in reporting.

…Yet, we must also admit some elements of rhetoric, trigger factors and historical interpretations of events between anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Muslim prejudice are different.

Downplaying and denigrating anti-Muslim hatred therefore helps no community, since there is a need to tackle both prejudices collectively.

…Therefore there are issues of community education that need to be addressed. We cannot have prejudice being targeted at a community because of the actions of the Israeli government, nor can Muslims be caricatured as terrorists, extremists or de-facto homophobes.

We have to have these honest conversations.

It is right and important to do so, so those who seek to sow divisions between Muslims and Jews are not given the opportunity.

Our safety and security collectively matter.

With this in mind, there is much work to be done together; without it, the virus of prejudice and bigotry will continue to mutate.

OPINION: Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia threaten both our communities – Jewish News.

I was terrified we’d lose all our money: banks tell US customers they won’t work with Americans

Good profile on the American dual national expatriates being caught up by FATCA:

Angry Canadians are rare. But Patricia Moon qualifies. Until 2012, Moon was actually an American – albeit one who had lived in Canada for 32 years. She settled in so well that in 2008, she added Canadian citizenship to her US one.

But Moon cut ties with America three years ago, after new banking laws aimed at tax evaders required expats like her to file more thorough US tax returns. She was five years behind on the news. “I was terrified we’d lose all our money,” she says.

After back-filing years of tax returns, Moon renounced her US citizenship in 2012. It was a defiant act she describes as being one of the first canaries to leave the coalmine as US banking laws make life more difficult for American expatriates. She wasn’t pleased she had to do it.

“It was like cutting off my right arm,” to not be American any more, says Moon, who only became a Canadian citizen in 2008. “Now, I’m simply angry.”

….On a Skype call with a reporter, Victoria Ferauge sits in her sunlit Paris house, smoking the occasional cigarette, and following the day’s French Parliament session with particular interest. Ferauge, a Seattle-born American married to a Frenchman, has been following and blogging about US tax laws for the last three years.

On this Thursday afternoon, France’s parliament is voting to approve an inter-governmental agreement with the US on Fatca compliance.

“A vast majority of Americans suddenly woke up to what’s going on,” Verauge says. She relates stories of fellow expatriates who have had to take their names off joint accounts – some holding small family inheritances – because banks would not accept US customers.

“My bank will not answer questions,” she says about her enquiries regarding their Fatca compliance.

Verauge is preparing to move to Osaka, but she has doubts how the law will play out in Japan. She is infuriated to be put in the position of suddenly finding herself in a foreign country and not having a dollar she can spend.

“I will give up my citizenship if it came to that.”

I was terrified we’d lose all our money: banks tell US customers they won’t work with Americans | Money | theguardian.com.

In New York, the Prime Minister talks about winning immigrant votes

The “fourth sister” of Canadian politics to use Tom Flanagan’s phrase.

Most of the analysis I have seen (2011 Canada Election Study and related articles) have a similar nuanced understanding of the Conservative Party’s success, but all acknowledge the “showing up” aspect of the outreach by Jason Kenney as having an impact on some communities.

Healthy for Canadian democracy that all parties actively engage new Canadians:

Harper emphasizes his ability to position his party as closer to new Canadians in terms of policy ideas on the economy and crime, and in terms of underlying social attitudes. But how to disentangle those factors from his undeniable success in the past two elections in simply presenting himself as a more resolute, confidence-inspiring leader?

And then there’s this further point the Prime Minister also made today, after he proposed the inherent attraction of Conservative thinking to immigrants: “But we began our appeal first and foremost by showing up, by making sure we’re present at their events, by making sure they have a home in our political party.”

There can be little doubt he’s right that making personal connections, on some level emotional ones, matters greatly. Again, Kenney is widely credited with getting out among various immigrant groups. But isn’t Justin Trudeau proving a huge draw among similar communities? In Trudeau’s case, though, it’s less often a matter of making sure to be present at somebody else’s event, than drawing throngs to his own.

Listening to Harper today, there could be no doubt he’s betting heavily on the immigrant vote when it comes to his re-election chances next fall. No wonder. It’s a major part of what brought him to office. The question is whether his assertion of a deep bond between Conservatives and immigrants, based on enduring ideas and attitudes, is accurate—or if, like so much of our electoral politics, it turns out that this strategic swath of votes responds more to a given leader’s persona than anything else.

In New York, the Prime Minister talks about winning immigrant votes.