1. Solitary confinement
“A youth has been held in solitary confinement in the adult Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Pictou for an entire year, severely compromising his treatment and rehabilitation, and negatively affecting his fragile mental health,” reports Robert Devet:
In a recent decision Justice Anne Derrick argues that the young man should be returned to the Nova Scotia Youth Facility in Waterville, where he can get treatment. However, in her decision Derrick expresses fears that the Department of Justice will ignore that recommendation and continue the status quo.
2. The perils of the internet
The Equifax hack is bigger than previously known, reports the Wall Street Journal:
Hackers roamed undetected in Equifax Inc.’s computer network for more than four months before its security team uncovered the massive data breach, the security firm FireEye Inc. said this week in a confidential note Equifax sent to some of its customers.
FireEye’s Mandiant group, which has been hired by Equifax to investigate the breach, said the first evidence of hackers’ “interaction” with the company occurred on March 10, according to the Mandiant report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Equifax had previously disclosed that data belonging to approximately 143 million Americans was potentially accessed in May. It isn’t known when Equifax learned from Mandiant that the hacking activity began in March, not May. Equifax wasn’t available for comment.
What does this have to do with Halifax?
There are people out there in the world who are trying to hack elections, and behind even the most sophisticated electronic voting system are fallible humans, vulnerable to phishing and other social engineering schemes. It’s not a matter of if electronic voting will be hacked, but rather of when. And yet, Halifax city council just voted to make the next byelection entirely electronic.
Does anyone really think Halifax’s security measures are better than Equifax’s?
3. Mumford Terminal
“The 11 potential sites for a new Mumford Terminal were unveiled to the public during two open-house sessions in Halifax on Wednesday,” reports Yvette d’Entremont for Metro. The sites are:
Joseph Howe Drive at Superstore
Bayers Road Centre (on-street)
Mumford Road opposite Sears
Mumford Road opposite Sobeys
Bayers Road and Connaught Avenue
Bayers Road and Oxford Street
Bayers Road Centre (off-street)
Expansion on existing site
Adjacent to Chebucto Road
Some of those described sites are a little vague, and there’s no map of them that I can find posted on the city’s horrible website.
If the city is serious about extending commuter rail from the peninsula to Bedford, then the new Mumford Terminal should be built adjacent to (or above) the rail line. There’s no sense in having thousands of people (supposedly) taking the train, only then to have them walk a kilometre or more to get to connecting buses.
After driving on the 401, or the New Jersey Turnpike, or even the Boston ring highway, I’m a bit amused when Haligonians complain about traffic. But I’m told things have been a mess the last couple of weeks. Still…
But that’s coming as cold comfort for commuters like Trudy Dyer, who keeps leaving earlier for work every day.
“I think (Wednesday) was probably one of the worst days I’ve had commenting (sic) in from Beaver Bank. It was about two hours and 15 minutes,” Dyer says.
I think she meant “commuting in from Beaver Bank.”
People make living choices for a variety of reasons — school and work concerns, affordability, ties to the community, personal preference, etc. — and I’m not going to criticize someone for where they decide to live. But even in the best of times, driving from Beaver Bank to downtown is a 45-minute proposition. Add another 15 minutes to deal with parking… don’t traffic delays come with the territory?
More to the point, we can’t allow uninhibited development and expect to have no disruptions. The reported traffic nightmares of the last two weeks are the inevitable result of the irrational building frenzy. Don’t like traffic? Slow down the development train.
6. Housing prices
Speaking of the development boom, I listened to Mayor Mike Savage plugging Halifax as a potential Amazon HQ site on The Current podcast while driving through Pennsylvania last week.
Savage said a couple of times that Halifax is in a much better position than it was “five to seven years ago,” which just happens to coincide with the start of his term as mayor.
#AmazonHQ2, #Halifax is on it: port, rail, air, talent, ambition: https://t.co/n9UiPCJMPH
— Mayor Mike Savage (@MikeSavageHFX) September 7, 2017
When Savage first tweeted out that Amazon should come to Halifax, I didn’t think this would be a serious proposal. I wrote:
A tweet, of course, isn’t policy. But if Savage is serious that Halifax is “on it,” he’s saying that the city and province will now embark on producing a Request for Proposal, an undertaking that will cost us at least $100,000, and if it’s more than half-hearted feint, much more. That’s money that could instead be used to fill potholes or extend rec services or pay firefighters. Savage may as well stand in Parade Square and light $100 bills on fire.
But, sigh, Savage told Anna Maria Tremonti that the city, the Halifax Partnership, NSBI, the universities, and “a ton of companies” have formed a “working group” to put together an Amazon bid. I can’t wait to FOIPOP the cost of that effort, and to read what will certainly be hilarious and befuddled communications about it.
Beyond that, however, I was struck by this comment from Savage:
You can buy a pretty nice house in Halifax for $300,000 — you can’t do that in a lot of other cities, and, um, as Halifax grows I expect those prices will go up. Right now it’s a bargain.
Well, it’s a bargain to those selling their Toronto condos and moving to Halifax. And it might even be a bargain for a politician pulling in $176,033 a year. But try telling someone working one of those hundreds of jobs contracted out by the city to avoid paying a living wage that their rent is a “bargain.” Tell someone in even a bottom-rung union position at the province that they can find a “bargain” house on their salary. Tell a university student seeing skyrocketing tuition and the accompanying soaring student debt load that this is a cheap place to live.
Savage talks a good game when it comes to affordable housing, but it’s now clear that by “affordable housing” he means growing the stock of subsidized housing for the very poor, and nothing at all for working people. Working people will continue to see their pay diminished — by contracting out city jobs, by wage freezes at provincial jobs that effectively lower salaries as inflation eats more of workers’ pay, by corporations continuing their downward slide of salaries and increasing use of temp work, by the “gig economy” becoming the main source of income for an ever-growing number of people. At the same time, Savage and other city politicians are doing everything they can to see that housing prices go up.
The squeeze between lower pay and higher housing prices is the exact opposite of “bargain” housing prices, and Savage admits outright that bringing Amazon to Halifax (an impossible dream, but still) will result in still higher housing prices.
1. Cranky letter of the day
For over a month Orangedale’s water system has been on a boil water order. It started August 17. I work in the Orangedale area and I’m shocked that this order has been going for so long. How long would this order have lasted in another community? Maybe a few days, if that. But here we are a month later and still boiling water every day to drink, wash food, and cook. What the heck is going on with the Orangedale Water Society?
Nevada Valley, NS
While driving through Pennsylvania:
A few miles down the road, I passed a store selling the giant cut-outs and other Trump-branded merchandise.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm, City Hall) — the committee will discuss the Cogswell Interchange redevelopment.
No public meetings.
Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House) — Pomp! Circumstance!
Legislature sits (Friday, 9am–1pm, Province House)
New Voices, Masterclass for Singers (Thursday, 11:30am, Room 121, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Soprano Martha Guth, baritone Tyler Duncan, and pianist Erika Switzer will perform.
Associative Algebras (Thursday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Mayada Shahada will speak on “Relationships Between the Canonical Ascending and Descending Central Series of an Associative Algebra Combinatorial Method Using the Verbal and Marginal Properties of Associative Algebras.”
Rules of Engagement: Molecular Arms Races Between Host and Viral Genomes (Thursday, 3pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Harmit Malik from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle will speak.
Capturing Conservation: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Conservation with Photography (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain Building) — Nick Hawkins will speak:
Nick Hawkins is a Canadian conservation photographer and photojournalist specializing in natural history, science and conservation related issues. A biologist by training, Nick believes that photography and storytelling are key components of conservation. Nick is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, an elite group of the world’s top wildlife, nature and culture photographers who have demonstrated a deep commitment to conservation efforts around the globe. Nick’s work has received awards in the Windland Smith Rice International photography awards as well as the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. As an assignment photographer working in Canada and Central and South America, Nick has produced feature articles for Canadian Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Canadian Wildlife Magazine.
When the War Came Home: A Dartmouth Perspective on the 1917 Harbour Explosion (Thursday, 7:30pm, Auditorium, Museum of Natural History) — MA History candidate Liam Caswell will speak, sponsored by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.
Composition and Improvisation Involving Non-western Influences (Friday, 9:30am, Room 409, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Dinuk Wijeratne, Symphony Nova Scotia’s Conductor in Residence, will perform.
The Transition from Actor to Writer (Friday, 1pm, Studio Two, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Beverley Cooper will read from a selection of her plays, and speak about the transition from actor to playwright, creating new work, and what it means to be a working playwright/theatre creator in Canada today.
Algal Toxins (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226) — Christopher O. Miles will speak on “The Microcystin Group of Freshwater Algal Toxins and the Role of the Thia-Michael Reaction in Their Toxicology, Metabolism and Analysis.”
‘Profits, Savings, Health, Peace, Order’: Prostitution, Urban Planning and Imperial Identity in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1898-1912 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Katherine Crooks will speak.
Mystery of Neumes (Friday, 5pm, Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Hendrik Vanden Abeele and Psallentes will lead an introductory workshop on the singing of chant from original notation.
In the harbour
5:30am; Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,180 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Saint John
7am: Rotterdam, cruise ship, with up to 1,685 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney
9:30am: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship with up to 3,000 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Saint John
1pm: Akademik Sergey Vavilov, cruise ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea
3:30pm: Rotterdam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 20 for Bar Harbor
4:30pm: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
6:30pm: Carnival Sunshine, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for New York
We’re recording Examineradio today. And I’m trying to catch up on email.
Excellent article from former governor of Delaware regarding enticements like the Amazon farce.
There are plenty of secure and safe options for e-voting, for website security, and for data protection.
But what has happened is a continued de-investment in IT Security, IT staff and outsourcing everything. What happens is those outsourced contracts go to the lowest offer, and they provide pre-packaged “custom” software that is riddled with security holes, custom/proprietary software and awful design.
It’s quite interesting that as security is becoming more important, that companies/organizations/governments continue to show a great disinterest in actually investing in proper security. Is it because they figure it’s just cheaper to cover the costs should something go wrong, and just wing it, and hope for the best?
Just two days ago, Heather Adkins from Google was at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco and said that everyone will be hacked sooner or later. She’s right.
Just today, the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US admitted they were hacked last year, and that the stolen data was likely used to place trades.
Until all these various organizations and companies start taking network security as a top priority, Tim, you’re right, this is only going to get worse. Much worse.
Who pays the price? Certainly not a company like Equifax, which will just pay a penalty and move on. It’s the hundreds of thousands of people who’s credit history is destroyed, identities stolen, and lives ruined.
Your points are well taken Ian. I can’t say I disagree with any of that.
Two things though.
1. The New York Times isn’t certain that Equifax will see any penalties for this breach, citing the “minimal government regulation” around credit rating bureaus in the US: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/business/equifax-hack-penalties.html?mcubz=1
2. To Tim’s suggestion that Halifax’s cyber security controls are likely not better than Equifax’s – this may be the case. That said, many media outlets have highlighted the fact that after being warned of deficiencies within their cyber networks, Equifax still failed to act. Wired has a good roundup: https://www.wired.com/story/equifax-breach-no-excuse/
It’s possible that Halifax’s cyber security controls are worse than Equifax’s, but you’d have a hard time finding a great lapse in cyber security controls, going on the details that have already leaked out.
“Too big to fail” should mean “Too big not to fail and cause a massive catastrophe at the same time”.
The data security of voting systems is only one problem.
I’ve scrutineered under the current paper ballot system, and while it’s costly and ponderous but when its correctly managed there is rarely doubt about the result. If there ever is a concern over say a very close vote, all the original ballots can be pulled out of secure storage and re-counted and reconciled with the voting office and poll clerk who activated them (although not the voter, of course).
Now imagine Dad is a die-hard Liberal, but mum and the 2 kids of voting age couldn’t care less. So Dad strong arms all of them into giving him their PINS then proceed to vote 4 times (even though that’s illegal).
I’d love to see electronic voting perhaps in more frequent referenda as well as for elections. It could give more ongoing and granular voter consultation (and hopefully involvement) than “pick the local franchisee of one party then go away for another 4-5 years”.
However not just the security but the integrity of the vote must be paramount. Without that, the whole exercise is rendered worthless.
Something I’d like to see, which would constitute high quality journalism in my opinion, is an investigation into how much it would cost (the price of land aside) to build housing complexes for people – not lousy vertical warehouses for poor people, but say, small apartment buildings, no more than three stories, with a range of unit sizes from bachelors to 3-bedroom apartments.
The idea would be to control housing prices by controlling the supply of buyers or tenants.
Student loans are an outrage – of course, the reason tuition is skyrocketing is because student loans cannot be dissolved by bankruptcy and in the US are backed by the government – it’s a very secure investment. So tuition goes up because of the market distortion caused by bad policy. Of course, there’s also the issue that many university degrees have negative economic value – the student will never find a job in a related field, because the jobs don’t exist – while spending tens of thousands of dollars on tuition and four of their best years at school. Of course, I don’t mean to say that education for the sake of education is worthless, but there are very real human costs associated with the current way of doing things.
100 years ago high schools offered courses in Greek and Latin, today universities teach remedial English. What’s changed?
According to a local architect the construction cost for a bare minimum house is $150 sq ft.
Yeah, but then what’s the $/sqft to maintain it and provide energy and stuff?
There are a couple of schools of though with respect to owning one’s own home.
One is buy a home as soon as you can afford one, do not worry if it is smaller than you might want, you can always trade upwards; but in the meantime, one is gaining equity which can be used in the future as collateral for other required/desired purchases or even be a alternative option to contributing to an RRSP… since your primary home is not capital gains taxable when sold.
The other thought is to rent forever and commit oneself to a personal savings accumulation plan that also involves retirement planning.
The first option requires little other than making the payments until one hopefully owns the property, the other requires the steely-will to save and not touch one’s savings as they hopefully grow.
They do little in schools today to teach the young about the financial perils of the future. Many do not seriously consider retirement requirements until too late in life to make any real difference in their financial profile.
Amazing how our investment-industrial complex has warped our perceptions of what our lives should be. We are more than our finances.
That’s the evil of neo-liberalism. It has eroded our sense of collective good and collective welfare.
“taking the train, only then to have them walk a kilometre or more to get to connecting buses” – this is the whole problem with the bridge terminal. it should be attached to the ferry terminal.
… and it doesn’t have free parking.
This thing should be a gateway to Halifax where people swap from cars to public transport. Forcing them to pay the Sportsplex for monthly parking makes that far less attractive.
This nails it. Evrytime there is an incentive to ditch the cars, there is a greater disincentive.
Thee current park-and-ride at Mic Mac should be expanded and the third lane on the MacDonald bridge should be restricted to buses and high occupancy/high efficiency vehicles. This car culture is killing the downtown and while there is lots of talk about reducing use of single cars, there is no action.
Re. Item number 1 – It should be added that after pleading guilty of second-degree murder for stabbing someone to death, the youth in question led a riot and assaulted three guards at the youth facility, all of whom sustained serious injuries (one required surgery to repair a broken jaw). Rehabilitation is important but in this case there are other factors at play, such as the safety of staff and other youth at the facility.
Land rent is a huge issue. Unlike a house or a piece of factory equipment land requires no maintenance and lasts forever. It’s paradoxical that you can pay a finite amount of money for something once and make money from it forever.
Thank you, Tim, for your ‘cranky letter’ spotlight, which has just brought me back the warmest memories of working with Thom Oommen at the Ecology Action Centre. Thom shared my love of games and Dune, and he and his partner were absolutely lovely. I’m happy to know where he has landed! 🙂
Deep down really shallow?
That Trump cut-out is so realistic. It really captures the depth of the man.