Top 10 Good News To Come

Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen

Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen

2016 was full of bad news, so let’s hope the new year is going to bring more good tidings, particularly for us boomers! Based on some of the developments last year, here are my anticipated top 10 good news for the new year:

  1. Canada Continues to Be The Shining Light Of the World: Canada graced the October 29 cover and feature story of The Economist magazine last year. The publication said that our nation is uniquely fortunate in many ways – but its liberalism and tolerance hold lessons for other Western countries and went on to explain why Canada is still at ease with openness. Under Justin Trudeau’s leadership, we might not be perfect, but Canada will continue to be a champion of immigration, open trade and the fight against climate change. For 2017, I have to quote retired Global TV journalist, Tom Clark, as he said farewell to his career on December 31, “For all of our troubles, all of our scandals and disagreements, we should try to keep things in perspective. In global terms, our problems are small. Our country works better than most, perhaps better than any other. We should always aim higher. But let’s remember how blessed we really are.”
  2. Canada officially kicked off our 150th Anniversary of the Confederation on December 31: In addition to a special commemorative 150th Anniversary coin series produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, there will be numerous special celebratory events and festivities in local communities and urban centres across the country throughout the year. Under the umbrella theme of “Diversity, Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, the Environment and Youth,” the Department of Canadian Heritage has budgeted $180 million for a variety of initiatives across the country and $20 million for special events such as the New Year’s Eve party on Parliament Hill.. According to a recent government-commissioned poll, nearly nine in 10 respondents expressed a lot of pride in being Canadian, and they felt strongly attached to their country. Nearly the same number said they would visit a national park in 2017 or attend a Canada 150 event. But, as of last summer, few had heard much about what the government was doing to celebrate. Looks like the government has a lot of marketing and promotion work to do on upcoming celebrations.
  3. From brain drain to brain gain for Canada in a Trump presidency: Canada’s tech firms are hoping Donald Trump will help keep Canadian graduates from skipping town for Silicon Valley and perhaps lure some of the talented expats who have gone south for work. According to CTV News, Canadian companies large and small have quietly bemoaned the exodus of talent for decades, and agencies like Communitech and the City of Toronto have been trying to woo them back. That’s why billboards have been placed on well-travelled Route 101 in Silicon Valley promoting “GoNorthCanada.ca,” a website extolling the values of tech jobs in Ontario. Communitech said that the site has seen spikes since Trump’s victory. “People are reaching out and letting us know they are ready to come home,” said Communitech’s vice-president Heather Galt. With the growth of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry and the important research role that Canada has been playing, the nation can further benefit from a brain gain. Last year, Google has announced that it is investing $4.5 million in the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, the latest sign of Google’s growing interest in AI. As part of the deal, Google will open an AI research group in Montreal. The company believes the city has the potential to become a “super-cluster” of machine learning knowledge. Some large companies have also recently moved their AI divisions to Toronto, including Thomson Reuters and General Motors, with the intention of hiring hundreds of data scientists. According to The Globe and Mail, many of Canada’s largest companies have also stated a desire to hire thousands more data scientists in the coming years. Demand for talent already outstrips supply, and the gap will only grow. Now is the opportune time for Canadian AI companies to spread their recruitment net wider to include the U.S. so that we can benefit from a larger pool of AI research talents.
  4. The Paris climate change agreement was signed by 194 countries and ratified by 121 members, including the U.S. and China, by the end of last year: In spite of what Donald Trump said, it would not be easy for him to repeal this accord. With the enforcement of this agreement, nearly 200 governments will become obliged to meet emissions-cutting pledges made before the deal. The agreement would also commit the countries to aspire to keep temperatures below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement went into effect on November 4, 2016, which means that 2017 will see a lot of countries starting to move in the direction of reducing greenhouse gases. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau and most of the premiers (except for Saskatchewan and Manitoba) signed a historic pan-Canadian framework last month to fight climate change and meet the country’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.
  5. Self-Driving cars from science fiction to science fact: after the first series of successful pilot-tests of self-driving vehicles in both the U.S. and Canada last year, these autonomous cars will hit the street in larger numbers in 2017. Last month, Alphabet, the owners of Google, spun off the research and development of self-driving technology into a separate company with the name of Waymo. The company has partnered with Chrysler to develop self-driving Pacific Hybrid minivans. Test units will hit the road over the next several months. According to technology news website Dice.com, expect Uber and Tesla to speed up with making their autonomous-driving offerings as advanced as possible in 2017. This development will drastically improve the quality of lives for aging populations across North America.
  6. On the health front, 2017 will be a breakthrough year for the fight against Ebola. An Ebola vaccine developed by Canadian researchers and considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be the first effective treatment against the virus has already started a new phase of clinical trials. The vaccine’s safety and effectiveness were tested on volunteers infected with HIV, starting in Ottawa and Montreal last November, and followed by trials in the new year in Senegal and Burkina Faso. According to the principal investigator Cecile Tremblay, “It is particularly important to study the effectiveness of this Ebola vaccine in vulnerable populations, such as those living with HIV. These populations can often be most at-risk during outbreaks, because of their compromised immune systems.” The Ebola vaccine, originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, provided blanket protection in a field trial in Guinea in 2015. Health Minister Jane Philpott said that the next phase of clinical trials in 2017 is an important milestone in the development of the world’s first proven, effective vaccine against the Ebola virus.
  7. A revolutionary blood test that can detect cancer can become part of an annual physical in five years. Liquid biopsies, as the blood tests are known, can give physicians a telltale sign of the presence of the disease in almost all types of cancer mutations. For cancer patients undergoing treatment, liquid biopsies could spare them some of the painful, expensive and risky tissue tumor biopsies and reduce reliance on CT scans, which must be limited because of the danger posed by overexposure to radiation. Medical experts say that the liquid biopsy has come a long way in the past year and a half. According to CNBC, doctors and medical researchers are excited by the prospect that liquid biopsies would be a way to help people already fighting the disease. The new year will bring even more research and development in cancer centres across the U.S. on how a non-invasive blood test could be appropriate in many cases to identify the DNA mutation driving cancer forward.
  8. New eye drops can dissolve cataracts with no need for surgery. We’ve all read about a new study that used eye drops to shrink cataracts in dogs may have made an important step in overcoming them. According to Professor Kang Zhang, from the University of California San Diego, whose research team developed the eye drops, this new drug could play an important role in the prevention of cataracts in those showing early signs. Although at this stage eye drops have the potential to overcome a number of limitations of surgery, they won’t be able to replace it yet. According to Dr. Manuel Datiles, a senior investigator and attending ophthalmologist at the U.S. National Eye Institute in the National Institutes of Health, eye drops will become key in treating cataracts, as surgery will not be able to cope with the growing needs of the world’s aging population. The new year will also bring more research and development to investigate whether there can be more medical breakthroughs in this area.
  9. On the arts and culture front, we could not have asked for a better year than 2017 when Canadian musicians took the Grammy nominations by storm and two Canuck male lead actors were nominated for the Golden Globe Awards. After a year of Canadian dominance on the international music scene, Drake, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd were nominated for many categories in the 2017 Grammy Awards. Drake leads with a whopping eight nominations while Bieber fares well with four. Other Canucks on the list include R&B singer Tory Lanez, Vancouver-formed and now Brooklyn-based duo Bob Moses, jazz musician and composer Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Toronto-based record producer Nineteen85, and the renowned classical music conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin in the Best Opera Recording category. We all look forward to awards night on February 12 when we will see how much hardware these artists will bring home! On the big screen, two Canucks will go head-to-head in the best actor category for a musical or comedy. Ryan Gosling, from London, Ontario, was nominated for his lead role in La La Land while Vancouver-native Ryan Reynolds is also up for his comedic performance in Deadpool. (Gosling eventually took home the Golden Globe and will, almost for sure, be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar!)
  10. Canada tops The New York Times‘s 52 Places To Go in 2017. On January 4, The New York Times put Canada number one on its annual list of places to go in the new year. According to the publication, Canada has it all – from cosmopolitan cities to barely explored natural wonders and everything in between. It also mentioned that all of the country’s more than 200 national parks and historic sites are offering free admission through our 150th Anniversary year, “from the turquoise lakes and mountain peaks of Banff in Alberta to the rolling dunes and red sandstone cliffs of Prince Edward Island along the Atlantic Coast to the newest reserve, the glacial-rounded Mealy Mountains in Labrador.” Looks like Tourism Canada did a better job in marketing our country as a travel destination to our neighbours down south than to fellow Canadians!

With all these good news, let’s move forward into the future with more positive thinking and cast away all the bad news of 2016. A new year is always a new beginning with new hope!

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Year Of Living Dangerously

Photo Credit: www.adweek.com

Photo Credit: www.adweek.com

I’m usually a very positive and optimistic person, but given the turn of events on the global stage in the past year and as we enter this season of contemplation and reflection, I have to conclude 2016 and usher in 2017 with some major concerns.

The biggest concern, of course, is the potential impact of erratic, impulsive decision-making, particularly in foreign policy, by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump. His newly appointed cabinet consists of retired military generals and pro-oil corporate executives with little knowledge of and experience with diplomacy and government positions. Since his elections victory, Trump has provoked China with Taiwan; befriended Russia and continued with his showering of praise for Putin; denied the CIA’s and FBI’s conclusive intelligence and evidence that Russia has hacked and influenced the U.S. elections and facilitated Trump’s victory; and endangered peace in the Middle East by vowing to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His protectionist rants – including his vow to rework or ditch NAFTA – are big concerns in Canada and Mexico. Trump’s tough immigration talks and alt-right supporters have already generated hate speeches and behaviours across North America since the election results.

In Europe, apart from the recent loss of the far-right Freedom Party in Austria’s presidential election on December 4, trouble seems to be looming everywhere else. Britain is still figuring out how to officially start the Brexit process after taking the whole world by surprise, including former Prime Minister David Cameron who resigned after the referendum loss. In Italy, former Prime Minister Mario Renzi dealt another major blow to the European political status quo having lost the referendum by a huge margin, with close to 60 percent of people voting “No” to his proposed constitutional referendum. As Bloomberg noted, the scale of the loss and how quickly it happened cast a huge shadow on the fate of the continent heading into the new year. “Italy is in for a period of high instability. The prospect of a prolonged, bitter electoral campaign won’t do any good to the country’s already anemic recovery. Not to mention its battered banks which may have to ask for public aid,” according to Bloomberg.

In the Netherlands, general elections are planned to be held on March 15, 2017. Geert Wilders, leader of the most popular far-right Dutch party, Party for Freedom, has said he wants to ban all Islamic symbols, mosques and the Koran from the country. The party has been leading the polls for several months following a string of Islamist terror attacks across Europe and a growing frustration in many countries about a perceived lacklustre response to extremism from mainstream politicians. When you hear Wilders talking about closing the borders of the European Union and giving all the billions they save back to the people, it feels like hearing Donald Trump all over again! Similarly, in France, all eyes are on whether former Prime Minister Francois Fillon would be able to stop the far-right Front National’s Marine Le Pen from becoming the next president in April 2017. Even if he won, Fillon still shares some of Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim views.

The stalwart of democracy in Europe, Angela Merkel of Germany, will be seeking a fourth term as Chancellor in the October 2017 general election. The 62-year-old, who is regarded as the most powerful woman in the world, had presided over Europe’s strongest economy since 2005. Although still enjoying a popularity with close to 60 percent of favourability according to a recent poll, Merkel faces the challenges of a surge in far-right extremism, terrorism attacks and an influx of more than one million migrants. If Merkel falls, the EU would certainly be a lost cause.

The Middle East also continues to be a hotbed of unrest. With Basshar al-Assad’s total control of Aleppo now, Syria will be under autocratic rule for many more years to come. While Moscow insists its involvement in Syria is mainly humanitarian, Human Rights Watch alleges that the Syrian-Russian coalition has committed war crimes during a month-long bombing campaign in Aleppo during September and October. Even though thousands of civilians have fled Aleppo into Idlib, experts predict that the sieges and barrel bombs will follow them who were already living in desperate conditions in Aldana, Idlib.

Ever since the Arab Spring movement in Egypt, the country has been swept with deadly bombs and explosions one after another. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the December 11 explosion at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, killing 25 people and injuring dozens. This explosion came just two days after two bombs killed six police officers and a civilian in the district on the street leading to the city’s famed pyramids. Turkey is no better. Following a failed coup d’etat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country has literally been transformed into an almost totalitarian state. In addition to numerous terrorist attacks either by ISIS or by the Kurds, the country is rampant with security fears. Today, the tension further escalated with the assassination of the Russian Ambassador by an off-duty police officer at an art gallery in the capital, Ankara.

2017 also promises to be a turbulent year in Asia. Hong Kong’s much-hated Chief Executive, C.Y. Leung, has just resigned and all eyes are now on who would take over from him to maintain the supremacy of China over its Special Administrative Region (SAR), as well as addressing the increasing concerns of Hong Kong citizens to maintain the one-country, two-systems policy promised by China upon Britain’s return of the territory to China in 1997. In South Korea, a key U.S. ally in Asia, a vote was passed 10 days ago to impeach President Park Geun-Hye. Her downfall throws both her country and American policy in the region into deep uncertainty, as North Korea’s nuclear program advances and the incoming administration of Donald Trump deliberates over whether to adjust Washington’s stance on how to best contain Kim Jong-Un’s aggression. In the Philippines, it has been estimated that over 6,000 people have been killed since President Duterte took office in June. The President has also been increasingly provoking and distancing himself from the U.S. and befriending China instead. Furthermore, he has been living up to his reputation as a lose cannon by admitting that he has been using fentanyl and encouraging civilians to participate in extra-judicial killings of drug addicts and dealers.

2017 will truly show whether democracy in the world is in danger. As The New York Times pointed out, no democracy as rich or as established as America’s has ever collapsed. But there are clear warning signs – all upholders of democracy around the world should be vigilant in the year ahead, particularly in turbulent times and geopolitical crises. Now is the time to even get more politically engaged and involved. Make your views known and express your opposition in writing and protest, if necessary, should you experience or witness discrimination, or should you feel that democracy might be compromised.

To end with a positive note, Canada will continue to be a breath of fresh air – our multiculturalism and public-private sponsorship of Syrian refugees have become a shining example for the world. When borders are closed elsewhere and other governments chant protectionist measures, Canada continues to fight for free trade and climate change. When the new U.S. Administration vows to repeal Obamacare and even Medicare, Canada’s universal healthcare system, in spite of its shortcomings, continues to be our national pride.

The new year also brings in many good tidings for the boomer and senior cohorts. The rise of autonomous driving will impact every corner of society, but particularly the aging population. Self-driving cars are already undergoing successful pilot tests in many North American cities including Canadian ones. It is almost certain that new technologies and improved modes of transport will change the way we live as we age. On the healthcare front, IBM’s Watson for Genomics is contributing to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative to find a cure for cancer and customize treatments for cancer patients. I may be labeling 2017 as The Year of Living Dangerously, but hopefully, it will not be entirely doom and gloom in the year ahead! Happy Holidays!

 

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Fifth Anniversary of Act II

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This month marks the fifth anniversary of my retirement and I thought this would be a good milestone to take a pulse on how my second act in life has been evolving.

In my blog post titled “Practising What I Preach” on November 14, 2011, I’ve listed several retirement goals focusing on some of my greatest passions in life such as short-haul travel, theatre and blogging. A check mark against all three although I went on more long-haul trips than I liked – Milan, Paris, Rome, the Greek islands, Ephesus, Madrid, Istanbul, London, Prague and Vienna in addition to North American sojourns such as Quebec City, Montreal, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and, of course, Naples, Florida. In addition to being a continued staunch supporter of The Stratford Festival, I’ve also made it occasionally to a couple of plays produced by The Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage and Soulpepper. It also went without saying that all my trips to London and New York included a West End or Broadway performance respectively.

I could only claim half a check mark for blogging because I managed to continue with this blog regularly without fail, but could not find time to continue with my other two. Since 2007, I’ve been sharing my insights on marketing to baby boomers via boomerwatch.ca. Throughout the years, business associates and friends from my previous life have renewed their acquaintances with me after accidentally discovering my blog on the Internet. Whether they were compliments or criticisms, I’ve always enjoyed their feedback. Funny enough, I’ve also had a few chuckles whenever I received news releases from public relations firms touting their clients’ services and products. Now that I’m on the other side as part of the social media, I can see what information is relevant and which efforts are plain “marketing speak.” Mainstream media, too, continue to be intrigued by boomers and when they decide to dedicate a special report on this demographic, they very often come to me as a resource and I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts with them via telephone or email interviews.

Check marks also against my learning and snowbird goals. I didn’t end up studying “Love and Relationships in Shakespeare” because the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies eventually cancelled the course due to lacklustre response. Instead, I spent two years learning a new language – after attending classes at both The Spanish Centre and the University of Toronto, I now have an intermediate level of comprehension in Spanish.

Although I’ve spent every other January in Naples, Florida, my enthusiasm as a snowbird has been gradually waning. The impact of global warming has made Florida a less desirable place for winter vacation – last January, for instance, was the wettest winter month ever in South West Florida and we were hit by three tornadoes!

Apart from continuing as a Liturgical Minister at my local parish, I also took pride in helping two very dear American friends with their respective marketing and web projects. However, volunteering and giving back to the community are never enough and it is my intention to aim higher with my efforts in the coming years.

Upon retirement five years ago, I said that nothing would give me greater satisfaction than mentoring the younger generation. In addition to offering advice when sought by former colleagues, I’ve also conducted a number of career information sessions for a few millennials. It’s always rewarding to see many of my former proteges, many of whom continue to seek my advice, moving on and achieving great success. I believe that you are always remembered not by what you’ve accomplished, but by what you’re leaving behind.

The greatest joy that retirement brings is the boundless freedom to do anything I like – the freedom of time with preferably no more alarm clocks to set in the morning, setting the pace of each day to my own liking with no more time sheets to complete; the freedom of choice to embark on any activities and hang out with whomever I like without the necessity to network or “shoot the breeze” anymore; and the freedom to pursue personal passions such as travelling to overseas destinations in off-peak seasons and going to movie theatres on weekdays to beat the crowds. The challenge of having so much freedom all of a sudden is that I have to constantly ask myself to slow down. When every day could be treated as a weekend, I try to savor every moment I have to enjoy life – eat well, exercise regularly, appreciate the arts and enjoy the company of quality friends – and only focus on one thing at a time. No more multi-tasking, stress, deadlines and multiple appointments!

What surprises me most after five years of retirement is my continued hunger to learn. I’ve always been an avid reader throughout my life, but ever since retirement, I’ve read even more books than before. From classics to biographies to economic and foreign policy books, I’ve become a ferocious reader with my Kindle! If there is one goal that I’m adamant to keep throughout my retirement years is my determination not only to remain relevant but, as much as possible, to be ahead of time. So, not only do I read both The Globe and Mail and The New York Times (via my Kindle subscription) from cover to cover on a daily basis, but I also watch most of the newscasts from all major networks whenever possible. I prefer in-depth analyses and op-ed pieces to quick updates from web-based media such as The Huffington Post. I’m proud to say that there is hardly any new pop culture or business phenomenon that I’m not familiar with. Simply put, I’ve got the insatiable desire and curiosity to learn at middle age which is a typical characteristic of baby boomers.

So when fellow boomers ask me about how to happily retire, my response is usually short and simple: assuming that everybody has achieved financial independence when they retire, one should have a variety of friends and lots of personal interests in order to enjoy retirement life. It’s not about how to kill time, but rather how to make time work for you so that you can enjoy the most out of every single activity you embark on every day without stress and obligations. Just remember: retirement is not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter in life!

 

 

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America Has Picked Poison

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It’s been exactly a week that the whole world has still been digesting Donald Trump’s shocking win in the U.S. Presidential Elections. I went to bed at around 1 a.m. on elections night when Hillary’s loss was inevitable. On Wednesday, the day after the elections, together with many of my American, Canadian and Asian progressive friends, I felt despondent and depressed. It was a sad day for America, for democracy and for us women!

Six months ago, I was so confident of Hillary’s win that I booked my condo’s party room and a caterer for an all-women celebration party to take place on the evening of November 11. I figured that a celebration on elections night would have been impossible due to how late usually the voting stations closed and the time difference between the West and East coasts. I also thought that two days after elections night would have been perfect because that would have given us one day to catch up with our sleep and in the very low probability of Hillary’s loss, I could still have canceled the party and caterers with 24 hours’ notice.

In spite of FBI Director James Comey’s announcements regarding the so-called new evidence that might be linked with Hillary Clinton’s email investigation, twice within two weeks leading up to the elections, all mainstream media, pollsters and political pundits still predicted that Hillary would have a huge win. The New York Times‘s editorial and OpEds in the week leading up to the elections not only predicted that Hillary would be the winner, but began speculating on who President Clinton would pick as members of her cabinet. Even The Globe and Mail followed the same train of thought. On the day before the elections, the reputable statistics-driven news website FiveThirtyEight, which never got their predictions wrong in previous Presidential elections, forecast that Hillary’s chance of winning was 71.4 percent versus Trump’s 28.6 percent.

Only two people were right with their predictions – journalist Henry Louis Mencken about a century ago and filmmaker Michael Moore in July 2016. Mencken said in The Baltimore Evening Sun, on July 26, 1920, “As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.” That day has finally come some 96 years later!

Michael Moore first predicted Trump’s victory in July during an interview on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher. He repeated his prediction on his website, writing: “This wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president. President Trump.” In an open letter titled, “Midwest Math, Or Welcome To Our Rust Belt Brexit,” Moore said Trump will win the hearts of voters in the Upper Midwest by attacking Clinton’s stance on free trade and policies that have “royally screwed the people of these four states – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” Moore was bang on even though he said never in his life has he wanted to be proven wrong more than he did four months ago.

The world’s biggest nightmare eventually happened as a bombshell – not only did Trump win, but he managed to sweep the swing states as well as break the Democratic firewall in traditionally blue states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin! I went to bed on Wednesday morning with a broken heart and a last image of John King’s electoral map on CNN before I switched off my TV – a sea of red against patches of blue. I woke up just in time to watch Hillary’s concession speech. It was difficult to hold back tears but I didn’t lose it.

What really got me was that this election’s results have made me lose faith in the mainstream media, in pollsters and in the U.S. electorate! How could everybody be so wrong? In spite of Trump’s lewd remarks and his track record of sexually groping women, Hillary Clinton was unable to galvanize female voters any more than previous Democratic nominees. According to The Globe and Mail based on exit polls conducted by Edison Research on behalf of a consortium of U.S. media organizations, women voted for Hillary at a similar rate to their support for President Obama in 2012. They gave her a 12-point margin, 53 percent to 41 percent. Among her own demographic group, white women, 53 percent voted for Trump while 43 percent voted for Hillary. Trump’s distasteful remarks and allegations of inappropriate touching did not seem to have hurt him at all with that demographic.

In spite of Trump’s blatantly racist remarks and his promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico and crack down on immigration, Hillary’s support among Latino voters actually declined slightly at 65 percent compared to 71 percent for President Obama in 2012. Hillary dominated with black voters, tallying 88 percent versus Trump’s eight percent. But it was still a decline compared with the 2008 and 2012 elections, when African Americans supported Obama at 95 percent and 93 percent respectively.

Hillary didn’t do that badly with young people, but could not match the excitement generated in previous campaigns by President Obama or perhaps even Bernie Sanders. At 55 percent among 18-29-year-olds, she trailed President Obama’s 2008 numbers by more than 10 percentage points. Boomer and seniors voters, aged 45 and up, were solidly for Trump, but at rates comparable to the results for Mitt Romney in 2012.

With so many retirees in Florida, more than one in five voters are over 65 and voted 57 percent to 40 percent in favour of Trump. The youngest group, the Millennials, opted for Hillary at 63 percent versus 27 percent for Trump. But this group only constituted 10 percent of electors in Florida.

There was no surprise that the divide between urban and rural was a big part of the national result. In cities larger than 50,000 people, Hillary won 59 percent of the vote, while her share declined to 45 percent in suburbs and 34 percent in smaller or rural communities. Even though white people may compose a declining share of the U.S. population, they still make up by far the largest group, and they were key to Trump’s victory – white people favoured Trump by a margin of 58 percent to 37 percent. His margin among whites without a college degree, 67 percent to 28 percent, is the largest since the election of 1980.

Another surprise came when everybody thought that Trump’s victory represented a revolt of the economically marginalized. But, in fact, Hillary had a health lead among lower-income voters. Those who earn less than $30,000 voted for Hillary by a margin of 53 percent to 41 percent over Trump. Trump led at all levels of annual income above $50,000. Who would have thought that his margin was largest at the middle-income level, $50,000 to $100,000?

We can analyse why Hillary lost to the most minute detail after the elections, but according to early exit poll results, 42.1 percent of eligible American voters stayed at home and only 57.9 percent voted. If these early numbers stay the same during the final tallying, the voter turnout was slightly higher than the 57.5 percent in the 2012 Presidential election. Hillary’s numbers continue to rise among the popular votes, but they did not matter because Trump won convincingly in the electoral college votes. The polling industry is facing difficult times right now having been proven so wrong over and over again – Trudeau’s win in the Federal elections in Canada last year, Brexit and now the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections!

Among the many mea culpas from the mainstream media, the most convincing excuse I’ve heard so far is that their arrogance has led them to underestimate Trump’s chances of victory. Jonathan Kay, Editor-in-Chief of The Walrus magazine, explained on CBC’s The National earlier this week that the entire mainstream media considered Trump and his crazy remarks as a side show which, in fact, had so tragically taken over as the main show. The media’s arrogance also led them to totally miss what the American people have been saying. The mainstream media, most of whom are progressive liberals, underestimated the anger of white American voters. They might have sent reporters to the Rust Belt and the swing states, but they were not really listening! Once again, the coastal states of the Eastern Seaboard and California do NOT represent America and Trump’s win was a wake-up call.

I believe that Van Jones of CNN best summed up the biggest reason for our despondence after the elections – how could parents wake up the morning after Trump’s victory to explain to their kids why a bigot, a bully, a misogynist and a rapist has won the elections to become the 45th President of the world’s most powerful country? With his victory, America has just lost its moral compass – perhaps Trump was right when he once said during the campaign that “I could stand on New York’s Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I still wouldn’t lose any voters!”

But the fight for democracy, equality for all and women’s rights must go on! As Kate McKinnon, who played Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live, said after singing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, “I’m not giving up and neither should you.” Vermont  Senator Bernie Sanders also advocated a positive approach, “What you do now is get heavily involved in the political process. When millions of people stand up and fight back, we will not be denied.”

Already, the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America have teamed up to form a new national group of leading Jewish and Muslim Americans – The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council – to jointly advocate on issues of common concern. Americans are also pouring cash into organizations that could be under threat during the Trump administration, or that support minorities that could be the target of hate crimes. Forbes magazine reported that the American Civil Liberties Union pledged to contest Trump if his administration follows through on campaign pledges to deport undocumented immigrants, ban the entry of Muslims, and punish women for abortions. Since Trump’s win, the organization and its affiliates have seen more than 33,000 donations totaling over US$1.9 million to aid its fight. The fight for moral justice has just begun. Let’s hope that our U.S. neighbours down south will show Trump and the world that America is much better than this ugly election!

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Checklist For Canadian Snowbirds

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It’s that time of the year again! Fall has suddenly arrived without any warning and the Farmer’s Almanac has warned of a very severe upcoming winter for Canada. Many Canadian snowbirds are getting ready to drive or fly south in November to escape the harsh winter and many won’t return until next April or May.

Most financial institutions and insurance companies offer tips for snowbirds prior to their departure to the U.S. The Canadian Snowbird Association, a not-for-profit organization that positions itself as the voice of travelling Canadians, also offers its members tips ranging from vaccinations, medications, vitamin supplements, camper vans, taxes, vehicle insurance, Florida highway traffic, to the use of credit cards while in the U.S.

A brand new website called snowbirdadvisor.ca, launched five months ago, also provides “the Canadian Snowbird’s Checklist – Everything You Need to Do Before You Go.”  According to the website’s President, Stephen Fine, “There’s a lot to think about when you’re leaving for four to six months each winter. We provide snowbirds with a complete checklist detailing everything you need to think about including travel insurance, booking flights, preparing your home and vehicle and updating all of your documents.” The website positions itself as the one-stop online resource for Canadian snowbirds who can sign up on the website to become members for free and receive exclusive snowbird tips, tools, offers and services.

As a part-time snowbird myself, I’ve glanced through the various checklists from difference sources and below are the most useful top 10:

  1. Renting in Advance: Book as early as possible. Most long-term rentals in snowbird destinations are booked a year in advance, often by people who rented them last season. Useful websites include VRBO.com and HomeAway.com.
  2. Travel Documents: Make sure your passport and/or Nexus card don’t expire until well after you return. I would recommend that Canadian snowbirds enter their Nexus card instead of their passport as their travel documents when checking-in with airlines for boarding passes because the former documentation would qualitfy them for a much shorter security line-up for TSA PreCheck boarding.
  3. Driver’s Licence and Health Card: Check your provincial health card and driver’s licence to make sure they don’t expire before you return.
  4. Vehicle Registration and Insurance: Many snowbirds bring their own cars to the U.S., so if you choose to do so, it is imperative that you ensure your vehicle registration and insurance are up-to-date.
  5. Insurance Policy and Emergency Contact Card: Bring a copy of your travel medical insurance policy and the emergency contact card your insurer provides you with.
  6. Banking: Make sure all your credit cards (both Canadian and U.S.) don’t expire while you are away. Set up online banking and bill payment so that you can do all your financial transactions online while you’re out of the Canada. However, be extra careful about where you get your WiFi when you’re in snowbird destinations to protect yourself from hackers and internet thefts.
  7. Home Insurance: Most home insurance policies require every other day inspection by someone while you’re out of your home. Also, turn off all your water supply and drain all pipes before you leave home.
  8. Mail and newspapers: Arrange for someone to collect your mail or have it held at the Post Office.If you have physical newspaper subscriptions, consider changing them to online subscriptions instead or suspending them before you go.
  9. Cell Phone Plan: Research and buy a value-for-money cell phone plan best suited to your use in the snowbird destination. Most cell phone providers such as Rogers and Bell Mobility offer U.S. monthly travel passes for voice, texts and data. Negotiate with your provider should you plan to stay longer than one month.
  10. U.S. Property Insurance: Whether you own a home or rent a property in the U.S. during the winter months, you might still need some sort of home/property insurance while you are there. Talk to your real estate agent, your insurance agent or your U.S. landlord.

The rest is just common sense while travelling outside the country. For further tips and more detailed information, you might find the following resources useful: www.snowbirds.org, www.snowbirdadvisor.ca, www.readersdigest.ca, www.insurancehotline.com, www.sunlife.ca, www.rbcbank.com and www.bluecross.ca.

 

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