The Daily Visionary: Monday, November 26, 2018

Photo Credit: National Post

Photo Credit: National Post

Canadian PM Trudeau Gives CAD $595 Million Tax Relief to ‘Eligible’ News Media

 

Less than a year ahead of Canada’s next national election, and as part of the federal government’s economic update last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government will give CAD $595 million over the next five years in a fifteen percent non-refundable tax credit to “eligible” news outlets. Eligibility is to be determined by the government and government-established panels, which critics argue will erode journalistic independence, and political and news media figures described as corrupt.

 

The tax credit will take effect January 1, 2019 and apply to the labour costs associated with producing original content and will be open to both non-profit and for-profit news organizations. It includes tax breaks for consumers who purchase subscriptions from news media outlets, refundable tax credits for news media outlets’ operational costs, and the extension of charitable status to non-profit news media organizations. Registered charities with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can issue charitable receipts to donors and benefactors for donations.

 

Highlights:

 

·         A temporary, non-refundable 15 percent tax credit for qualifying subscribers of “eligible” digital news media to help support digital news organizations achieve a “more financially sustainable business model”;

·         A new tax category of “qualified donee” for non-profit journalism organizations allowing them to issue receipts for donations from both individuals and corporations and foundations to provide financial support;

·         A refundable tax credit for qualifying news organizations that “produce a wide variety of news and information of interest to Canadians.”

 

There was nearly unanimous positive response from mainstream media, who praised the announcement. Chair of Torstar, which owns the Toronto Star, John Honderich said, “I am very encouraged by these positive steps. They should significantly help the media sector as it transforms to a sustainable digital future.” John Hinds, president and CEO of News Media Canada, which represents 800 daily, weekly, and community newspapers, called the measures “substantive” and said, “They listened to us in terms of the types of investments, they focused it on journalism. There’s lots of details to be worked out and we will continue to do that. The biggest issue was recognizing the challenge.” Hinds praised the government for not “picking out business models.

 

The Conservative Official Opposition were critical saying government aid would taint journalistic independence. Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Kent, a retired journalist, said, “It certainly gives the impression of potentially affecting, not necessarily individual journalists, but the organizations, the companies, the employers that they work for. When the media, or media organizations, or in fact, individual journalist jobs are dependent on government subsidies that is the antithesis of a free and independent press." MP Pierre Poilievre said taxpayers’ money should not be used to support media organizations, especially in an election year. “We think that media should be independent from the government, we should not have a situation where the government picks a panel that then decides who gets to report the news,” he said on Parliament Hill, and “The media should be free and independent from the government.”

 

China’s President Jinping aims to expand China’s influence in Central America and the G20 meeting

 

 Next week, China’s President and Leader of the Communist Party Xi Jinping will visit Panama to expand his regime’s growing influence over the Americas, China’s foreign ministry announced Friday. From November 30 to December 1, President Xi and United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump will meet at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires and are expected to discuss their ongoing trade war as each of the world’s two largest economies assert their dominance for geopolitical influence of the region.

 

On December 3, President Xi will meet with Panama’s President Juan Carlos to sign over two dozen agreements on sectors including science, technology, commerce, and infrastructure. China’s decision to strengthen diplomatic ties comes after Panama’s government announced last year that it would abandon its allegiance to Taiwan and support the one-China principle, which does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country. China recently hosted leaders from the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, promising increased investment and generous aid packages after both countries also announced they would cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of supporting the one-China principle.

 

The number of university students studying Spanish and Portuguese in China has increased dramatically, indicating the nation’s growing strategic interest in the region. Panama, for example, is widely considered an area of strategic importance to U.S. influence the western hemisphere, with the eighty-two kilometer/fifty-one-mile Panama Canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. China’s government has long considered the continent full of opportunities to expand its own influence, mainly by using its economic and financial power to forge predatory relationships with some of the continent’s most impoverished nations and ideologically sympathetic governments.

 

Last week, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned smaller countries not to be seduced by China’s promises of economic security, arguing that such packages lead to countries experiencing “serious debt problems from accepting loans that are not transparent.”

 

Latin America studies expert at Taiwan’s Tamkang University Francisco Luis Perez told the South China Morning Post that Panama may be less willing to bow down to China because of fears of damaging their relationship with the U.S. Perez said, “Following the stern warnings from the United States, Xi’s trip keeps on being a potential bargaining chip to get things from the US, but it also constitutes a serious risk of creating tensions with a geographically close power. “I do not expect Panama to risk and make strategic or political pacts with China during the trip, but instead to focus on economic issues without much military or strategic impact.”

 

Tijuana Mayor declares a humanitarian crisis and criticizes the federal government’s response

 

Tijuana, Mexico Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum Buenrostro declared a humanitarian crisis in response to more than five thousand migrants who are part of the caravan attempting to seek asylum in the United States. Mayor Buenrostro said the federal government has failed to provide adequate aid for the migrant caravan that flooded into the city, and additional migrants are expected to arrive daily.

 

I am not going to compromise Tijuana’s public services,” said Mayor Buenrostro, who vowed not to bankrupt his city to care for the thousands of migrants. The mayor called on international groups including the United Nations to assist with the migrant crisis in the absence of a response from the federal government of Mexico.

 

Mayor Buenrostro has been praised by Tijuana citizens for his hardline approach in handling the migrant crisis. According to local media reports, the mayor was observed wearing a red hat that read, “Make Tijuana Great Again”, a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign slogan. Tijuanans recently took to the streets to protest the growing influx of Central American migrants.

 

Additional caravans are about to arrive. Government authorities in nearby Mexicali announced fifteen buses escorted by federal police arrived late last week, with seven hundred and fifty migrants primarily from Honduras, plus an additional four hundred migrants. Local media reports indicate that three hundred of these migrants decided to leave Mexicali on foot and head towards Tijuana.

 

Facebook increasingly used for human trafficking and illegal animal trading

 

In yet another scandal for Facebook, a seventeen-year-old child bride from South Sudan was just sold through Facebook to become a man’s ninth wife, and Facebook only took the post down two weeks after the auction had taken place. The girl was sold by her family to a man three times her age following a bidding war with “at least four other men” including “the state’s deputy governor” in exchange for “Five hundred cows, two luxury cars, $10,000, two bikes, a boat and a few cell phones.”

 

When Facebook finally responded two weeks after the auction had taken place, they claimed it had permanently suspended the account that made the auction post. “Any form of human trafficking — whether posts, pages, ads or groups is not allowed on Facebook. We removed the post and permanently disabled the account belonging to the person who posted this to Facebook,” stated a Facebook spokesman, “We’re always improving the methods we use to identify content that breaks our policies, including doubling our safety and security team to more than 30,000 and investing in technology.” Plan International’s South Sudan Country Director George Otim declared, “This barbaric use of technology is reminiscent of latter-day slave markets. That a girl could be sold for marriage on the world’s biggest social networking site in this day and age is beyond belief.”

 

This is not the first time Facebook has had problems with human trafficking on its platforms. In October, four Indonesians were arrested after they allegedly sold babies on Facebook-owned Instagram, on an account that gained over seven hundred followers. The Vice-Chairman of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission, Rita Pranawati, claimed that some people attempt to buy babies when they want to adopt, but do not meet the adoption criteria and that children have also previously been bought for “underage sex work.”

 

Facebook’s policies clearly prohibit the sale of live animals, pets, livestock, and pelts on their platform, however, the website’s Marketplace has been used to trade drugs, weapons, sex, and humans before the social network eventually discovered such listings and shut them down. Both Facebook and Instagram have also been used by the black market for illegal animal trading, including endangered animals which are banned from sale internationally. Over 1,500 illegal animal listings were discovered on twelve Facebook groups in one month, including animals such as the Eurasian otter, the black spotted turtle, the helmeted hornbill, the Siamese crocodile, the Asiatic black bear, the palm civet, and the slow loris — the most common listing. “Facebook does not allow the sale or trade of endangered species or their parts, and we remove this material as soon as we are aware of it,” said a Facebook spokesman.

 

Hungary votes No to the U.N.'s Migration Compact for attempting to ‘legalise illegal immigration’

 

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó confirmed Hungary will be voting “No” to the United Nations’ (U.N.) Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration in Marrakesh, Morocco, next month, saying the government’s main issue with the Compact is “whether or not it is mandatory, and in view of the fact that the document contains the word ‘obligation’ on eighty occasions, the claim that it only includes recommendations is a false one. A legally not binding document would not prescribe the establishment of national action plans, and accordingly it is ‘clearer than day’ that, just like the originally voluntary mandatory quota, the Global Compact for Migration will become a point of reference, mandatory, and the basis for international judicial decisions.

 

Minister Szijjártó said the UN Migration Pact for attempting to “legalise illegal immigration. The goal of the UN Global Compact for Migration is to legalise illegal immigration, which is totally unacceptable and violates the sovereignty of member states, including that of Hungary. The UN is making the same mistake as the European Union, which wants to base its own migration policy on mandatory resettlement quotas.” He continued, “The UN Compact is more dangerous, however, because it is a global initiative, meaning it will have a greater effect than [European] policy, and represents a risk to the whole world.

 

Several other countries, including the United States, Australia, and Israel have said that they will not sign the document. Dutch Member of European Parliament (MEP) and Co-President of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group Marcel de Graaff said, “it is still the legal framework on which the participating countries commit themselves to build new legislation.” Calling it “a legalisation of mass migration” and “It’s declaring migration a human right.”

 

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is responsible for the European migrant crisis that started in 2014, made an impassioned defence of the U.N. Migration Compact, saying there should be “no compromise” on global mass migration and condemned opposition as “nationalism in its purest form.”

 

Belgian law professor Pierre d’Argent warned that the migration document, like other U.N. agreements, could be used by lawyers in interpreting laws and as a basis for making criticism of mass migration illegal, saying, “One basic element of this new agreement is the extension of the definition of hate speech … Criticism of migration will become a criminal offence. Media outlets that give room to criticism of migration can be shut down.” de Graaff added, “In fact, it will become impossible to criticize Merkel’s ‘welcome migrants’ politics without being at risk to be jailed for hate speech.” German law professor Matthias Herdegen noted the U.N. compact occupied a “legal grey area” which “gives the impression of [state] liability.”