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Category: My Views/Rants (Page 1 of 3)

TheStar.com – Aeroplan’s loyalty goes only so far, readers find

This is my friend’s mother and father.   As from Michelle:

I share this story with you because I believe it’s important that everyone’s aware of the Aeroplan Policy; and because I’m incredibly proud that my Mom (Judi Landis) has fought the battle and won – she received her points credit (thanks to author Ellen Roseman, CIBC and not Aeroplan) earlier this week.”

You must fight for your rights and make sure that stupid policies in businesses are rectified.  Watch your points.  Defend your rights.

TheStar.com – Business – Aeroplan’s loyalty goes only so far, readers find.

April 18, 2009
Ellen Roseman

When Joel Landis died last August, he had collected more than 180,000 frequent-flyer points on his CIBC Aeroplan Visa card.

His widow, Judi, was hoping to take her grandchildren to Disney World a few months later.

She didn’t book the trip using his points, despite having his account number and password. “Wanting to do the right thing, I called Aeroplan to officially advise them of my husband’s death,” she says.

Joel’s account was shut down within 48 hours. She opened her own account and submitted a request in writing to have her husband’s points transferred to her.

Only then did she find out she would have to pay $1,897.06 to transfer the points.

“Aeroplan miles or rewards are personal and cannot be assigned, traded, willed or otherwise transferred,” the loyalty program’s terms and conditions say.

“However, reflecting its desire to express compassion, Aeroplan’s practice is to allow the transfer of miles.”

But compassion only goes so far. The transfer cost for surviving spouses of a deceased member is 1 cent a mile, plus a $30 administration fee (and GST).

Another Aeroplan member, a recent widower, thinks the policy is unfair.

“Most of the points we accumulated were through a joint CIBC Aerogold Visa account,” he says.

Since his wife was the primary cardholder, all the points were credited to her. But most of the charges were on his credit card, because he handled the accounts.

He called after her death and was told Aeroplan’s bereavement policy would restore the unused points to her account for a trip she was too sick to take.

When he asked to transfer the 60,000 points to his account, he was told there was a $600 charge.

“Excuse me? I said you have a `bereavement policy’ that protects her points, but that doesn’t extend to moving them to her widower’s account? I found this astounding.”

Judi Landis tried calling CIBC Visa to ask about restoring the points without a transfer cost.

“They had a hands-off approach,” she says, adding that the bank refused to intervene in a dispute with Aeroplan.

Still, I figured that CIBC had more “wiggle room” than Aeroplan in trying to keep a disgruntled customer happy.

CIBC competes fiercely with other credit-card issuers. Its Aerogold card, once the gold standard, is under pressure from other reward cards that are more flexible.

Aeroplan spokesperson JoAnne Hayes did not provide a comment, but deferred to Rob McLeod, spokesperson for CIBC Visa.

CIBC will work with the readers who contacted me to have their Aeroplan miles reinstated at no cost, McLeod said.

Landis wrote several times to Aeroplan’s chief executive Rupert Duschene. She never got a reply.

“When my husband died suddenly at age 62, we had just finished renovating the house. Everything was paid by credit card because we wanted to get the points,” she says.

“This is just an added bitter touch. For Aeroplan, loyalty only goes one way. It just doesn’t have a soul.”

Aeroplan should advise couples with two credit cards opening a single account to protect their assets in case one of them dies, she believes.

Even better, it should have a true bereavement plan.

“It would be reasonable to deduct a small portion of points or pay a flat fee of $135, as was the case for many years,” Landis says. “I should not be penalized for reporting my husband’s death, instead of surreptitiously using the points we jointly amassed.”

Write to onyourside@thestar.ca

No Warrent needed to see online activities.

Canadian judge: No warrant needed to see ISP logs

A Superior Court in Ontario, Canada has ruled that IP addresses are akin to your home address, and therefore people have no expectation of privacy when it comes to their online activities being accessed by law enforcement. This means that, in Canada, police can potentially request information from your ISP about online activities, and can do so without a warrant.”

ARRRGH!  The courts have it all wrong, yes the IP address can be associated to a street address, however the items accessed through that IP address is like mail delivered to the home.  If the police want to look into the mail that is delivered to my home they need to get a warrent.  Same goes with what I surf.

Death of the newspaper

My good friend Joe wrote a lovely little piece on the joys of being at the cottage and ultimately on the death of the newspaper.   I think he’s a bit off on his prediction, simply because of the timing.  He thinks that the newspaper will be gone in 10 years.   I think that he is a technophile (and one of the best) but does not realize that the majority of the population are technophobes.  How does one open a laptop to read a newspaper on the bus or subway (no wi-fi down there)?   Reading on an iPod?  Please.   Squinting and moving your finger around a tiny screen is nothing compared to the feel and ease of a paper.   I love reading online, but I also thoroughly enjoy the paper as well.   You can “stumble on” to an article you wouldn’t normally read in a paper.

So Joe, although you may eventually be right, I think that Mark Twain had it accurate when he said “Rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

Swearing at work

Now it is acceptable, apparently, to swear at work. This British study states that people are more relaxed and happy at work when they are allowed to swear. I wonder if that means the email filters that check our outgoing and incoming emails will be adjusted for all the fucking swearing that’s going to be taking place.


On the same note, there is a great parody on the word “fuck” that is really worth listening to. It goes over the history and it’s usage. My favorite part of the audio is the following: “In fact it can be used as almost every word in a sentence: Fuck the fucking fuckers.”

I flew this plane

My wife is awesome and she set up with my amazing friend John  the chance for me to fly and Air Canada simulator.  It was through John’s good friend, and now mine, Gary.  What an amazing experience.


That’s the plane I flew.  Amazing.

Thank you Angie, John and especially Gary!

Impeach Bush or Get Rid of the Impeachment Clause


by Dave Lindorff

What is it about impeachment that has the Democratic Party leadership so frightened? Talking with members of Congress, one hears the same refrain: “I know Bush and Cheney have committed impeachable crimes, but impeachment is a bad idea.”

The rationales offered are many, but all are either specious or based upon flawed reasoning. Let’s consider them separately:

Excuse one, offered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is that impeachment would be a diversion from Democrats’ main goals of ending the Iraq War, and passing important legislation. The reality, of course, is that many of the administration’s impeachable acts relate directly to the war, so hearings would only build support for ending it. Meanwhile, with the slim majorities in both houses, Democrats cannot pass any significant progressive legislation that could survive a veto (or a presidential signing statement) and the record shows it. Excuse two is that impeachment is divisive. This seems the height of absurdity. When voters handed Congress to the Democrats, they knew they were setting the stage for divided government. That was the whole point. Moreover, divisiveness in Washington has largely emanated from the White House, not from Congress. Anyhow, given administration intransigence on all the issues that matter to Democrats, they have no alternative but to take a stand.

Excuse three is a claim that the public opposes impeachment. This is simply wrong. The few straightforward scientific polls done on impeachment, such as one published by Newsweek last October, show a majority of Americans to want it. Furthermore, if Bush has committed impeachable acts, it is inappropriate for House members, all of whom swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, not to act.

Excuse four is that old canard that impeaching Bush would mean making Cheney president—a deliberately scary prospect but one which any politician in Washington knows is garbage. Firstly, if Cheney were to become president because of a Bush impeachment or resignation, it would only be for a few months, and given his stunning lack of support among the public—currently about 9 percent and falling—he would be the lamest of lame ducks, unable to do anything. But more importantly, his own party would be certain to remove him before any removal of Bush, and for exactly that reason—they would not want to be going into the 2008 election with Cheney as party leader. This is exactly what happened to Spiro Agnew, whom a Republican attorney general managed to indict and remove before the collapse of Nixon’s presidency. The same thing can be expected to happen to Cheney, who would surely face either a sudden health crisis, or an indictment for corruption.

Finally, excuse five is that the president’s crimes and abuses of power need to be proven before any impeachment bill. This is completely backwards. An impeachment bill can be filed by any member of Congress who believes the president has violated the Constitution. At that point, it is up to the House Judiciary Committee to consider the bill’s merits and decide whether to ask the full House to authorize impeachment hearings. It is at an impeachment hearing where investigations should proceed. After all, only after the Judiciary Committee votes out an impeachment article can the full House consider whether to actually impeach. Calling for investigations before an impeachment hearing is like asking for an investigation before a grand jury investigation. It’s redundant, simply a dodge.

Besides, some of this president’s high crimes are self-evident. Take the case of Bush’s ordering the National Security Agency to spy on Americans’ communications without a warrant. A federal judge has already labeled this violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act a felony. There is no denying this felony occurred, or that Bush is responsible. The only question the House needs to vote on is whether the felony is a “high crime” warranting impeachment.

The same applies Bush’s refusal to enact over 1200 laws or parts of laws duly passed by Congress. Bush doesn’t deny that he has usurped the power of the Congress, as laid down in Article I of the Constitution. Rather, he asserts—with no basis in the wording of that document—that as commander in chief in the war on terror, he has the “unitary executive” authority to ignore acts of Congress. Again, there is no need for an “investigation” to establish whether this happened. What Congress must do is decide whether this usurpation of its Constitutional role is an impeachable abuse of power.

Likewise the president’s authorization of kidnap and torture. We know the president okayed torture. We know too, that he used his “unitary executive” claim to refuse to accept a law passed overwhelmingly by the last Congress outlawing torture. Finally, we know the president did not, as required by US and international law, act to halt torture and punish those up the chain of command who oversaw systematic, widespread torture.

There are many impeachable crimes by this president (and vice president), such as obstruction of justice in the Valeria Plame outing case, conspiracy (or treason) in the Niger “yellowcake” document forgery scandal, conspiracy to engage in election fraud, lying to Congress, criminal negligence in responding to the Katrina disaster, bribery and war profiteering, etc., which would require Judiciary Committee investigations.

In the meantime, though, Democrats need to step up to their responsibility.

If this president is not to be impeached, Congress may as well amend the Constitution to remove the impeachment clause. It will, in that case, have become as much an anachronism as prohibition.

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and due out in paperback later this month). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

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