Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Speaks at Harvard Law School

Thursday, 25 May, 2017

WaPo, “Sally Yates tells Harvard Law grads why she defied President Trump

Harvard Magazine, “COMMENCEMENT What’s Worth Fighting For: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Speaks at Harvard Law School

Harvard Gazette, “‘When the law and conscience intersected’ At Law School, Sally Yates explains why she refused to enforce travel ban, even if it cost her job

Sally Yates speaks at Harvard Law School’s 2017 Class Day Ceremony

P.S. The above are some of my favourite moments (with linked time codes) that I want to remember. Thanks Ms. Sally Yates for a great speech and your service to your country!

7:00 “We are all better than our worst moment but sometimes we are not quite as good as we think we are either.”
11:44 “You never know when a situation will present itself when you’re going to have to decide who you are and what you stand for. The defining moments in our lives often don’t come with advanced warning.”
19:04 “The safest course is not always the best course. Be bold.”
21:52 “And it is seems it is the times in my life that I haven’t acted thats when I’ve regretted the most. Being willing to be wrong also requires that you willing to own it. We’re all wrong at times. Its going to happen to all of you as well. And there is nothing worse than the person who never wants his/her fingerprints on anything controversial. And who try to slip out a responsibility when things hit the fan.”
22:43 “Being bold, taking a risk isn’t easy to do. And the instinct for self-preservation may continually draw you to the safe risk-free course. But I urge you to resist that instinct. Not only its a life of hedging your bets, unsatisfying. But it means you are unlikely to make much of a difference. You can either glide across the world or impact it. Its your choice.”

P.P.S. Highly recommend this May 29 New Yorker profile of Yates.


TICO Clarifies NewLeaf Offers Ontario Flyers Limited Protection

Wednesday, 27 July, 2016

July 29, 2016 report: “Ontario law governing NewLeaf internet sales has “deficiency”, Statutory Registrar acknowledges
July 28, 2016 report: “NewLeaf Travel blocks reporter after TICO Clarifies report
July 23, 2016 report: “Chat with Air Passenger Rights Advocate Lukacs re: urgent NewLeaf injunction
====

20160726 Bloomberg TV Canada - Jim Young, CEO NewLeaf, Screen capture

Jim Young, CEO NewLeaf, Bloomberg TV Canada (Screen capture)

Passengers on NewLeaf Travel Company (“Canada’s Ultra Low-Cost Travel Choice“) first flight (see CBC, Global News, CTV) seem excited but should NewLeaf passengers worry about its “financial woes” and how much/little are they protected when flying with NewLeaf?

Financial woes take centre stage

Financial Post reporter Kristine Owram wrote an insightful article, “NewLeaf Travel Co’s financial woes take centre stage as first flight takes off“. Let me highlight and expand on two points.

NewLeaf is not actually an airline but rather a reseller of seats. It has partnered with Flair Airlines, a B.C.­based charter service, to provide its aircraft and crews.

How many Canadians know that NewLeaf is actually NOT an airline?! We will explore more what this means later.

Last week, Lukacs [an air passenger rights advocate] took his challenge one step further and asked the court to shut down NewLeaf unless it can post a $3.74 million performance bond to compensate passengers in the event it folds, calling it a “shell company without significant assets.”

This reporter has interviewed Air Passenger Rights Advocate Dr. Lukacs extensively in this earlier article (with video interview) and won’t repeat the rationale Dr. Lukacs laid out clearly in why he requested the “$3.74 million performance bond to compensate passengers in the event it folds“. (Note: Dr. Lukacs currently has an ongoing Federal Court of Appeal re NewLeaf and CTA see directory Federal Court of Appeal – Court File Number A-242-16 for more public court files.)

“Kinda like Expedia … but with wings” ?

Bloomberg TV host asked Young asked in this TV interview (video clip),

So just explain that to viewers, you are not buying the airlines, you are not leasing the airlines, you are effectively acting as what? The intermediary between Flair and the consumer?

Young’s answer on TV was ad slogan worthy: “we are kinda like Expedia … but with wings”.

In terms of passengers’ protection, this is comparing booking Air Canada or WestJet on Expedia  to booking NewLeaf on NewLeaf’s own website which is two different matter completely.

You see, all Canadians that book their Air Canada or WestJet flights on Expedia, since these two airlines are full fledge airlines which strict licensing requirements refunding by the federal government, the passengers are much more protected.

When under oath and compelled by the Federal Court of Appeal, Young was less poetic and didn’t answer “Expedia … but with wings“. Young gave an essentially two words answer in his July 23 affidavit, NewLeaf is a “travel agent“.

2016-07-23--NewLeaf--affidavit--Donald_James_Young--PAGES_WITHOUT_CONFIDENTIAL_INFO

2016-07-23–NewLeaf–affidavit–Donald_James_Young–PAGES_WITHOUT_CONFIDENTIAL_INFO

As you can read in the above affidavit (a sworn statement of fact made under oath), Young was advised by NewLeaf CFO Brian Reddy that Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), the legislated regulatory body tasked to protect the traveling Canadians in Ontario, considers NewLeaf a “travel agent for the purpose of contributing to its compensation fund“. In short, NewLeaf is seen as a “travel agent” in the eyes of TICO.

List of questions/problems with NewLeaf’s TICO registration and other issues:

  1. What is NewLeaf’s TICO registration status? Let this reporter repeat something that is legally important, according to Young’s sworn affidavit filed with the the Federal Court of Appeal, “[…] Travel Industry Council of Ontario (“TICO) considers Newleaf to be a travel agent […]”And s. 4 (1) (a) of the Travel Industry Act, 2002 states that,Prohibition against acting as a travel agent or travel wholesaler unless registered
    4. (1) No person shall act or hold himself, herself or itself out as being available to act,

    (a) as a travel agent unless the person is registered as a travel agent under this Act

    NewLeaf so far does not have a “TICO registration” and is applying for one according to NewLeaf’s court filings with the Federal Court of Appeal.

    In an extensive phone interview on Monday (July 25) with Ms. Dorian Werda, Vice President of TICO, Operations,  confirmed for this reporter that NewLeaf still does NOT have a TICO registration and there is no fixed/guarantee date of when NewLeaf can obtain registration, possibly “in a couple of weeks” but there is no guarantee.

    Now, it is only fair to ask what prior permission and from whom at TICO or other government bodies or authorities did NewLeaf obtain an exemption to the s. 4 (1) (a) legal requirement for NewLeaf to operate as a Travel Agent in the Hamilton Airport? Quoting the Travel Industry Act, 2002, there is a “Prohibition against acting as a travel agent or travel wholesaler unless registered“.

    Does laws in Ontario still need to be followed? Or NewLeaf, because of its ultra-low-cost business model, is allowed to operate above the law without providing legislated legal protections to Canadians’ dealing with travel agencies in Ontario?

  2. How precisely TICO registration protects or fails to protect NewLeaf passengers?In the same extensive Monday interview with Ms. Werda from TICO, this reporter was told the “protection” applies in a very limited sense only to transactions occurred right at the physical Hamilton Airport NewLeaf check-in counters! Yes, those feet square metres of space! TICO registration is required only for the Hamilton Airport NewLeaf check-in counters!Lets use a specific example, 120 Hamilton passengers purchased their tickets online via NewLeaf website, how many of those 120 Hamilton, Ontario air passengers’ ticket purchases do you think are protected by TICO’s travel compensation funds?The right answer is not a single one of the 120 passengers. Because those 120 passengers bought their tickets online and TICO considers NewLeaf as a company domiciled outside of Ontario. A key point TICO clarifies for this reporter is that since NewLeaf’s ticketing, receipt issuing, call centre, etc all still reside in Manitoba, therefore NewLeaf’s domicile will still be Manitoba thus outside of the protection offered by Ontario’s compensation fund.

    What would be covered are the costs (and cost ONLY) paid by NewLeaf passengers at the physical location of the Hamilton Airport NewLeaf check-in counters. For example, checked or carry-on bag fees or a plane ticket actually purchased NOT online but at the airport check-in counters. Thats it. And again, the protected portion is just the cost only.

    According to Young’s July 23 affidavit again, this time paragraph #5 & #6. Only three provinces in Canada have enacted travel industry legislation – B.C., Ontario and Quebec. NewLeaf only flies in B.C. and Ontario. If TICO’s explanation is any guidance, this reporter has no reason to expect B.C.’s travel compensation funds would cover NewLeaf because it is a company domiciled outside of B.C.

    In fact, one can ask, and it is clear from NewLeaf CEO Young’s own  July 23 affidavit that there is NO travel industry legislation in Manitoba, the province NewLeaf is domiciled in! Thus it seems there are no travel industry legislated compensation funds available to NewLeaf flyers to cover “repatriation costs”.

    NewLeaf suggested in Young’s  July 23 affidavit that they rely on credit card issuers to hold the funds and that would “include holding all funds for any repatriation on any return flight booked by the passenger“. But it seems this view may not be well justified as Ultra Low-Cost and deeply discounted (compare to major airlines as NewLeaf advertised) one way return flight cost (the cost paid by the customers using credit card) will not likely be sufficient to buy a last minute Air Canada or WestJet plane ticket home.

    And Dr. Lukacs argued similarly in his July 22 reply (PDF),

    Credit cards can refund only the fare paid by passengers to NewLeaf. They do not cover repatriation costs. For example, a passenger who paid NewLeaf’s low fare of $99 would have to pay 5-10 times that amount for a last-minute one-way Air Canada or WestJet ticket in order to get home.

    20160725 //Here's what passengers on #Newleaf should expect to pay for bags// - Screen capture of photo by Kristine Owram

    20160725 //Here’s what passengers on #Newleaf should expect to pay for bags// – Screen capture of photo by Kristine Owram

    Launching from @flyyhm (Hamilton Airport YHM), @YWGairport and @ylwkelowna, @newleaftravel is Canada's first ULCC

    Launching from @flyyhm (Hamilton Airport YHM), @YWGairport and @ylwkelowna, @newleaftravel is Canada’s first ULCC (Screen capture from @flyyhm)

  3. The potential troubling implication of “customers paying for a seat and a seat belt”

    Young said in the Bloomberg TV interview, “The unbundling of products and services such that customers choose and only pay for the things they want. NewLeaf Travel Company with our partner Flair sell you a seat and a seat belt and let you choose everything after that.

    The potentially troubling implication is whether passengers are risking being stuck away from their home city or in a far away “sun destination” if NewLeaf fails as a business. It seems that it makes sense for NewLeaf to come up with a better way other than credit cards or the insufficient TICO registration protection funds (given NewLeaf is a company domiciled outside of Ontario)  to try to protect flying Canadians.

  4. Affordable but also safe and protected travelIn the Bloomberg TV video interview, Young shared the romantic story of meeting passengers who hadn’t flown for the last 15 years because they couldn’t afford to! Yes, giving Canadians across the country Ultra Low-Cost options to travel is great and commended.But when these Canadians who couldn’t afford to travel otherwise except on ultra-low-cost options, if something financially bad happen to NewLeaf as a company, wouldn’t they be facing a bigger nightmare as they will then be stranded away from home and try to rush to buy last minute expensive Air Canada or WestJet tickets to fly home?

Note 1: This reporter has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to arrange an interview with NewLeaf CEO Jim Young in order to let him answer various concerns and clarify things directly. Instead, Mr. Young sent his representative Mr. Orvel L. Currie, a partner at NewLeaf’s law firm, to talk to me. Unfortunately, Mr. Currie did not keep his promise to be interviewed today (Wednesday 3:30pm).


Uber, Hong Kong gov profiled ‘success story’, raided by HK police, Uber drivers arrested

Tuesday, 11 August, 2015
Uber, Hong Kong gov profiled ‘success story’, raided by HK police, Uber drivers arrested

Uber, Hong Kong gov profiled ‘success story’, raided by HK police, Uber drivers arrested

Uber, a controversial taxi alternative that connects private drivers with riders, has its Hong Kong office raided by Regional Crime Unit of Kowloon West today as reported by ABC news. Three Uber Hong Kong employees (age 21 to 29) and five Uber drivers were arrested according to the Hong Kong Chinese media Apple Daily news.

While Uber has run into various legal troubles in different parts of the world including Canadian cities like Calgary (brief operation in 2014, currently halted), Edmonton (pending court case), and Ottawa (taxi drivers released vigilante-style video, Ottawa police and bylaw officers laying 32 charges against Uber drivers), this may be the first time Uber employees and Uber drivers have been arrested in a high profile police sting operation. Especially considering the fact that Uber was just recently in May 2015 featured in an investHK Success Story (PDF file) (investHK is a Hong Kong government department tasked “to attract and retain foreign direct investment which is of strategic importance to the economic development of Hong Kong”.) (2015/05 investHK Success Story 投資推廣署 – 成功個案 PDF)

According to the HK government official May 2015 investHK Success Story (PDF) ,

“InvestHK provided Uber with significant support, including information on public transportation and advice on market entry strategy prior to its launch.”

Let’s think about it for a moment. A government department helping a multi-billion foreign high-tech company with “significant support” including “advice on market entry strategy prior to its launch” sounded like a perfect task and job well done for investHK. And that would fit HKSAR Chief Executive CY Leung‘s often talked about desire to establish an Innovation and Technology Bureau (創新及科技局) very well.

It is not like Uber has changed its business model since May 2015 when Hong Kong government talked about her “significant support” including “advice on market entry strategy prior to its launch” in its investHK Success Story. This reporter is not a lawyer but to many casual observers, the Hong Kong government’s prior “significant support” including “advice on market entry strategy prior to its launch” might be seen by some, fairly or unfairly, as potentially a form of entrapment.

Does Hong Kong still have a stable business environment where innovative entrepreneurs can work under a fair legal system where rule of law still matter? Will the Hong Kong government explain what rules, laws, or regulations have changed between May 2015 (a “success story”) to August 11th where people were arrested and equipment and records confiscated as part of a criminal case investigation?

An earlier version of this report is cross-posted to examiner.

Note 1: Uber is not operating in Calgary even it operated briefly in 2014 before insurance concerns halted the service. In separate polls conducted by the city and the company finds majority of Calgarians embrace idea of Uber. And more importantly, officials from cities like Calgary are willing and working with Uber to try to bring more choices to citizens in a manner that protect the safety of riders.

Note 2: This reporter has uploaded saved copies of the English version of investHK Success and Chinese version of investHK Success Story 投資推廣署 – 成功個案 as part of this news reporting as per fair dealing provisions of copyright law for readers to read and research for themselves. At press time, it appears that both the English and Chinese “success story” files have been deleted from the investHK website. Some Hong Kong Facebook users voiced their suspicion that the HKSAR government might have deleted the files to avoid embarrassment or incriminating evidences.

20150811 Uber Sucess Story deleted - English

20150811 Uber Sucess Story deleted – English

20150811 Uber Sucess Story deleted - Chinese

20150811 Uber Sucess Story deleted – Chinese

11th August 2015 Update: On the night of August 11th, Uber Hong Kong stated “Uber ensures that all trips have insurance coverages” and they will “fully support their drivers” and “fully cooperate with government officials, work to improve current legislation, putting safety and benefits of passengers and drivers first.” (rough translation from Chinese).

For the record, here is the media in Chinese as reported by Apply Daily,

「一直以來,香港市民已明確、清楚的表達,欲享有更多元化和更完善的交通方式。Uber 致力提供安全、可靠及優良的服務,以滿足市民對高效交通服務的需求。與 Uber 合作的司機,使用創新科技平台,提升工作安排的彈性並增加收入。Uber 亦確保所有行程都有保險保障,每位 Uber 司機都必須通過全面的背景審查。我們百分百支持與我們合作的司機,亦期待與有關當局通力合作,推動完善現行的法例,將乘客及司機的安全和利益放在首位。」

Further report here (首次放蛇搗信用卡收費白牌車 警打擊Uber 拘5司機3職員) and here (警檢控 料將案件作測試個案).


James Cameron Wins Yet Another ‘Avatar’ Theft Lawsuit

Tuesday, 21 January, 2014

Copyright law is actually not that boring if you put the right context and mindset when you try to understand it. Have a read of this THR article, “James Cameron Wins Yet Another ‘Avatar’ Theft Lawsuit” and the summary judgement ruling.


Cantonese interviews with HK Legislative Council members Claudia Mo & Alan Leong Kah-kit

Sunday, 27 October, 2013

The following are two Cantonese interviews with HK Legislative Council members Claudia Mo & Alan Leong Kah-kit.

立法會 毛孟靜 議員政總十月二十一曰訪問

立法會 梁家傑 議員政總十月二十一曰訪問


Remembering Prof. Ronald Coase (1910 – 2013)

Tuesday, 3 September, 2013

Ronald H. Coase

I’m deeply saddened of the passing of Professor Ronald Coase . Quoting The Telegraph (emphasis & link added), “Professor Ronald Coase, who has died aged 102, won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics by injecting a note of reality into the world of market theories; in a 60-year career he wrote only about a dozen significant papers and used little or no mathematics, yet his impact on his discipline was profound.” The Verge is not too far off the truth when using the title, “Ronald Coase, the ‘father’ of the spectrum auction, dies at 102” as you can watch Coase explained how he first read the key idea from a student note and then adopt the idea of using prices to determine radio frequency spectrum use in this video clip.

Earlier this afternoon, in an exclusive video interview with Prof. Ning Wang, co-author of Prof. Coase’s last book “How China Became Capitalist” (published 2012),  Wang talked about visiting Coase last week, working with Coase from 2008-2012 on “How China Became Capitalist“, Coase’s love of China, and more.

On a personal note, while I’ve never met Prof. Coase in person, I was lucky to be exposed to Coase’s insightful economic ideas since the mid 1980s,  including those ideas in “The Lighthouse in Economics” via Prof. Steven Cheung‘s Chinese articles and Coase’s original English articles. For Coase’s 99th birthday in 2009, I spent many hours converting the 2003 Coase Lecture into a 6 parts YouTube with annotated time codes in the video description allowing easy access to specific sections.

I love the following quotes by Coase,

You don’t know what you can learn until you try to learn.”– from a 2010 interview  when he was 100 years old.

new ideas are most likely to come from the young who are also the group who are most likely to recognize the significance of those ideas.” – from his 2003 lecture.

Goodbye Prof. Coase.

Other articles:

Ronald H. Coase, Founding Scholar in Law and Economics, 1910-2013, University of Chicago
Ronald Coase, 1910-2013, The Ronald Coase Institute
Ronald Coase, Nobelist Who Studied Corporations, Dies at 102. Bloomberg
Ronald Coase Was The Greatest Of The Many Great University Of Chicago Economists, Forbes
Remembering Ronald Coase, Harvard Business Review
* “The Man Who Resisted ‘Blackboard Economics’ – Nobel laureate Ronald Coase taught that economists should study real markets“, WSJ
* “Ronald H. Coase, retired U. of C. professor won Nobel Prize, 1910-2013“, Chicago Tribute
* “RONALD COASE AND THE MISUSE OF ECONOMICS“, New Yorker

Sept 16th update:

* “The man who showed why firms exist – Anyone who cares about capitalism and economics should mourn the death of Ronald Coase“, The Economist

* “Ronald Coase, a Pragmatic Voice for Government’s Role“, New York Times

P.S. 1: In the coming days, I will try to update and add more contents to this article. Last update: Sept 4th, 2013

P.S. 2: In case you wonder what is “Coase Theorem”? Here is an excerpt from a 1997 Reason magazine interview with Coase.

Reason: Could you state the Coase Theorem? How do you explain it to people?

Ronald Coase: It deals with questions of liability. Read the rest of this entry »


Calgary ParkPlus multi-million lawsuit and ownership settlement – An exclusive inside look at a “key” piece of evidence

Tuesday, 9 April, 2013

ParkPlus settlement with Dale Fraser, former CPA General Manager

Background of the “key” piece of evidence

Now that Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) has settled the Parkplus parking management system ownership dispute and disclosed some key information (see endnotes), this reporter feels comfortable in sharing an exclusive inside look at one piece of evidence against Mr. Dale Fraser’s ownership claim without risking harm to the city and CPA’s legal case.

This key piece of evidence (you can judge for yourself to see if you agree it is “key” or not) was an August 2008 video interview with Mr. Dale Fraser conducted by this reporter. In the extensive August 2008 interview (where Alderman Dale Hodges was also interviewed), a variety of ParkPlus topics (including patents) were discussed. This video evidence was almost “lost” at one point as it was originally uploaded and stored on the now discontinued Google Video service!

Fortunately, after some help from a Google engineer friend, the August 2008 interview was recovered along with a few hundred uploaded videos. The video interview was useful enough that Calgary Parking Authority licensed it to help its case which is why I’m claiming this as an “exclusive inside look“.

Unlike the parties involved in the legal settlement (Calgary Parking Authority, City of Calgary, Mr. Dale Fraser, and Mr. Allan Bazar), I am an independent reporter and not bound by any confidentiality agreement.

An exclusive inside look at a key piece of evidence

In the August 2008 interview, former Calgary Parking Authority General Manager Mr. Dale Fraser told this reporter,

”Calgary Parking Authority did create the proprietary approach to this new parking system. And we [CPA] do have a patent-pending on this approach at this time.”

During the 30+ minutes interview, at NO point did Mr. Fraser leave this reporter with the impression the pending Canada/US ParkPlus patent was his (or his & Mr. Allan Bazar’s) personal invention or intellectual property. In fact, Mr. Fraser seemed to me quite clear in explaining the system was developed by MTS Allstream with the funds/resources from Calgary Parking Authority.

As suggested in “The Patents” section in the 2008 August report “ParkPlus by Calgary Parking Authority – Reimagining the Wheels“,

US patent is one of the most important ones to apply for, simply because the US is one of the largest markets and it has a reasonably strong patent protection regime.

Here is my 2008 interview video (pay attention to time code ~3:40 to ~3:50).

[Please note that the interview is protected by copyright. License and use requests (including for press and media) are to be submitted via email and will be handled promptly.]

This article is cross-posted by me to examiner.

Endnotes: Although the settlement agreement has confidentiality clauses, the parties agree to disclose the following information (emphasis added) and I quote from the Media Release – ParkPlus Settlement – April 2013,

(1) The Defendants, Dale Fraser, Allan Bazar and 1707626 Alberta Ltd., (now Intelli-Park Corporation) acknowledge that the City of Calgary and CPA are the exclusive owners of the ParkPlus SystemTM and that none of the Defendants has any right, title or interest whatsoever in the ParkPlus SystemTM;
(2) While the ParkPlus SystemTM is valuable and all necessary consideration for settlement is acknowledged, there is no payment by the City of Calgary or CPA of any money whatsoever to any of the Defendants or any other person;
(3) The claims and counterclaims in the action will be wholly discontinued without costs; and
(4) The parties release each other from all claims and counterclaims in the action including any claims relating to the ParkPlus SystemTM or the employment of Dale Fraser and Allan Bazar with the City of Calgary and CPA.


%d bloggers like this: