EDITORIAL sATURDAY, FeBRUARY 10, 2018 4 Acting Editor & Publisher : Jobaer Alam Telephone: +8802-9104683-84, Fax: 9127103 e-mail: email@example.com saturday, February 10, 2018 spoon feeding state sector banks It appears the country's state run banks have become like a bottomless pit devouring huge public resources year after year to keep them artificially afloat. Needless to say, the monies are being poured into these institutions just to cover up fearful capital shortages they have been incurring without a pause or a turnaround. The injection of public resources progressively have been going into an endless black void. The deficits of these banks cosmetically made up with taxpayers' money would make sense if their management showed any sign that the continuous loss making had at last stopped and a strong comeback was noted. But this is not the case which raises inexorably the question :why go on spoon feeding these banks without a structured plan and its execution to ensure that their management are truly streamlined, made accountable and obliged to work towards ways and means to cut losses, really improve credit management and attempt swiftest recoveries of bad debts. As it is, it appears that none of these goals are being pressed with any great enthusiasm. Only at every fiscal year's end, fresh additions of public funds are made into these banks to give them an apparent look of normalcy and perpetuate in their loss-making culture. A recent media report quoting an official study said Taka 2,000 crore has been already pumped into the ailing state sector banks in the on going fiscal year. It further says the government has provided some 10,000 crore Taka to these banks for the window dressing of their balance sheets in the last five years. All these figures are not only head-spinning but outrageous surely for the reasons that inefficiencies, corruption and sheer thievery are being so unconscionably allowed by the very guardians of our financial system namely the Finance Ministry and the Bangladesh Bank (BB). The Finance Minister at times have admitted to these gross irregularities in the state run banks. In characteristic fashion he heaped scorn on their management, political interference, cronyism and other ills for the situation in the state run banks. But the obvious question that cannot help but arise is :what he himself, as the supreme regulator of the financial system in this country has done so far to ensure the stemming of the rot in the state run banks. As it is, he is presiding over the entire financial sector and cannot disown or distance himself from any grave mal functioning in it just saying that he is powerless to do anything about it or it's not his business. He must take responsibility for any major pitfall in the financial sector. Nor he can pass the buck explaining that BB also as the regulator is not delivering as expected. All insiders know that independence of the BB is a theoretical construct. The Banking Division of the Finance Ministry remains to curb the independent moves of the BB as it choses. And successive Governors of BB are on record for stating to the media how their specific directives for taking curative and punitive actions against unscrupulous elements in the management tiers of the state run banks were thwarted by the busybodies in the Ministry. The state of affairs in the state run banks have crossed the threshold of risk affordability and reasonableness. The same must be addressed immediately and decisively with unsparing measures set in motion from the highest level of the government. World must pressure Philippines on drug war accountability The buzzwords "bloodless," "transparent" and "accountability" are being deployed by Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa and his colleagues in a bid to rebrand President Rodrigo Duterte's murderous "war on drugs" with a veneer of lawfulness. The government officially relaunched "Oplan Tokhang" (Operation Knockand-Plead), the flagship police operation of Duterte's anti-drug campaign, on January 29. Reliable nongovernmental groups and the Catholic Bishops' Conference estimate that the campaign has killed more than 12,000 people, mostly urban slum dwellers, since June 2016. The buzzwords "bloodless," "transparent" and "accountability" are being deployed by Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa and his colleagues in a bid to rebrand President Rodrigo Duterte's murderous "war on drugs" with a veneer of lawfulness. The government officially relaunched "Oplan Tokhang" (Operation Knockand-Plead), the flagship police operation of Duterte's anti-drug campaign, on January 29. Reliable nongovernmental groups and the Catholic Bishops' Conference estimate that the campaign has killed more than 12,000 people, mostly urban slum dwellers, since June 2016. The relaunch lifts a suspension of police anti-drug operations that the government imposed in October after mass protests in response to the alleged summary execution by police of 17- year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos. However, the police admitted last week that despite that suspension, officers RECENTLY newspapers reported that Higher Education Commission (HEC) officials had stopped several Quaid-i-Azam University departments from admitting fresh student batches. The issue, even at these QAU departments, is that the latter do not have the minimum number of qualified faculty needed to run the programmes they were running. QAU is one of the highest-ranked universities in the country. They will, one can be certain, scramble and make up the deficiencies pointed out. If the same audit lens was used to scrutinise programmes across the 200- odd universities and degree-awarding institutions of the country, a lot of other programmes and departments would have to be shut down as well. I am sure the HEC is not going to embark on any such endeavour soon. But should it not? There is a crisis in higher education. Demand for higher education has expanded a lot and the supply side is scrambling to keep up. This is not unusual. It happened in school education as well. When demand for education, especially demand for better quality education, expanded and the public sector was not able, by design or default, to cater to the rise in demand, the private sector responded. There is a crisis in higher education. Demand has vastly outstripped supply. The rise of private schooling continues The 1918 Representation of the People Act granted votes to all men aged 21 and above and some women aged 30 and above who met property qualifications or held a university degree. In all, 8.5 million women qualified, comprising 40 per cent of the female population. While it was largely younger workingclass women who grafted during the First World War and formed the activist vanguard for women's suffrage from the 1880s, it was primarily middle-class and aristocratic women who benefited. The legislation did not remove sex discrimination or establish equal suffrage. It entrenched class prejudices designed to prevent the popular majority - the workers - from voter registration. Enfranchisement was extended to women ungraciously, in grudging spirit, in a fearful atmosphere. Middle-class women, it was hoped, would provide a bulwark against advancing threats of social unrest, Bolshevism and socialism escalated by the horrendous death and deprivation caused by the war. Voting patterns demonstrated this to be the case. Between 1918 and 1928 women overwhelmingly voted Conservative. So what are we celebrating? In a nutshell, the birth and infancy of modern British democracy. As only 58 per cent of men were previously eligible to vote, 1918 was a watershed in the universal suffrage struggle, finally achieved in 1928. Though we cannot pretend that this symbolic victory established the principle of killed 46 suspected "drug personalities" between December 5 and February 1. Dela Rosa won't dwell on the "drug war" death toll. He prefers an upbeat narrative of vows that the police "aren't hiding anything" and commitments to equip police with body cameras and even to allow "human rights advocates" to accompany police on anti-drug operations. He portrays a future antidrug campaign spearheaded by police brandishing Bibles and rosaries rather than pistols and assault weapons. That strain of magical thinking appears to be contagious. Last week, James Walsh, a US State Department official overseeing American police on international narcotics and law enforcement, said the conduct of the Philippine National Police indicated that "we are seeing some of our humanrights training working." Walsh didn't comment on the drug war's steadily mounting death toll or its near-total absence of accountability. Dela Rosa likewise won't discuss accountability. Instead he makes vague even today. But the response was very haphazard and it took decades before the shape of private sector engagement in school education became clear. Even today, though almost 40 to 50 per cent of enrolled students are estimated to go to private schools in the country, the expansion phase is not over. Notwithstanding the weak and rather counterproductive efforts to cap tuition fees, we are neither in a position to regulate the private sector nor are we, yet, in a position to know what the shape of school education will be in the decades to come. Though we do not know the exact numbers, anecdotal evidence suggests that some 100,000-odd children take 'O'- Level examinations in Pakistan every year. Some 40,000 or so of them go on to PheLIm KIne promises that the anti-drug campaign's "mistakes of the past will not be repeated." And he attributes any allegations of unlawful conduct by police personnel to a minority of "scalawags" in the ranks. That rhetoric is part of a multipronged government disinformation effort of denial and distraction to deflect growing evidence that many of the killings have been extrajudicial executions that dela Rosa, Duterte, and The relaunch lifts a suspension of police anti-drug operations that the government imposed in october after mass protests in response to the alleged summary execution by police of 17-yearold Kian Loyd delos santos. however, the police admitted last week that despite that suspension, officers killed 46 suspected "drug personalities" between December 5 and February 1. senior government officials have actively incited and instigated. It ignores damning evidence of police involvement in extrajudicial killings linked to the "drug war" documented by Philippine journalists, foreign correspondents and international human rights organizations over the past 18 months. The rare exception to the lack of accountability for "drug war" killings was the move by prosecutors on January 30 to file murder charges against three police officers implicated in the death of delos Santos. The Undergraduate blues FAIsAL BARI take 'A'-Level examinations. These are clearly children who come from households who are able or willing to pay a fair amount for education. There will be tens of thousands more from the matriculation stream who will also be in the same position, but even if we leave them aside for the moment and take just the numbers appearing for 'O'- There is a crisis in higher education. Demand for higher education has expanded a lot and the supply side is scrambling to keep up. This is not unusual. It happened in school education as well. When demand for education, especially demand for better quality education, expanded and the public sector was not able, by design or default, to cater to the rise in demand, the private sector responded. women's equality, we must recognise that Votes for Women was the campaigning vehicle of a feminist movement fighting for justice across all areas of women's lives - health, home, maternity, marriage, education and equal pay. The struggle started with the first petition to parliament in 1832 and ended in 1928 when women could vote on the same terms as men. It was most intensive during the early 20th century. As activist momentum powered a relentless national mobilisation as fiercely fought in the Glasgow Gorbals as the groves of Godalming, Liberal governments blocked the women's vote by objecting that this was not a mass movement. In 1908, Herbert Gladstone said: "On the question of women's suffrage, experience shows that predominance of argument ... is not enough to win the political day ... Men have learned this and/or 'A'-Level examinations, the total number of places for undergraduates in decent to good quality programmes, and including medical or engineering school options, would not be more than 15,000 or so. Where are the other students supposed to go? Why has decent quality undergraduate education not expanded as private schools did? Providing decent quality undergraduate education is more lesson, and know the necessity for demonstrating the greatness of their movements, and for establishing ... force majeure." The women's movement responded by delivering the largest popular uprising in British history since the Chartists. Newspapers and police estimated three major demonstrations of 1908 at 250,000; 500,000; and - for the legendary Suffrage Sunday convening on Hyde Park, 750,000. The Daily Express praised the suffragettes for providing London with "one of the most wonderful and astonishing sights that has ever been seen since the days of Boadicea ... It is probable that so many people never before stood in one square mass anywhere in England". It was a festive, ingenious and physically hardy movement - from "women's parliaments" in Caxton Hall to heckling, stunts and ambushing political handful of previous prosecutions of police personnel implicated in drug war killings have not resulted in convictions. Instead, the police and the Duterte government have in effect institutionalized impunity for police involvement in summary killings. Dela Rosa has dismissed calls for independent investigation into police drug-war killings as "legal harassment" and said that the demand "dampens the morale" of police officers. In August, Duterte vowed to pardon and promote any police personnel implicated in unlawful killings. The government has also hobbled public pressure to provide accountability for the killings by subjecting critics of the government's "drug war" narrative to withering harassment, intimidation or worse. Targets have included the official Commission on Human Rights, United Nations officials, and Senator Leila de Lima. On February 24, 2017, after a relentless government campaign against her, police arrested de Lima on politically motivated charges - she has remained in detention ever since. Last month, the government ratcheted up its attack on domestic media outlets that have exposed police involvement in "drug war" abuses by threatening to shut down the Rappler.com media platform by revoking its operating license. Duterte and his supporters have also targeted the news channel ABS-CBN as well as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, both known for their in-depth investigative reporting. Source: Asia Times expensive and more heavily dependent on quality faculty than school education. This is definitely part of the answer. But the other part of the answer is to be found with the HEC itself. The HEC came into action around the same time that the demand for higher education started expanding. Being the main regulatory body, the HEC set up incentive structures in higher education. And, right from the beginning, it prioritised graduate- and doctoral-level programmes. Undergraduate education was ignored. Solid and decent quality four-year Bachelor's programmes were what was needed. But, in the quest to leapfrog and reach some dream world where Pakistani universities would be doing 'cutting-edge' research in every field, the HEC incentivised a) opening up Master's and doctoral programmes, b) subsidised graduate education, c) offered overseas scholarships for graduate education, and d) brought in a tenure system for faculty that focused attention on research and graduate supervising. All of the above were at the cost of developing goodquality undergraduate programmes in the country. The 'market failure' in undergraduate education that we see today is, hence, not just the result of lagging supply. It is a consequence of the HEC's own policies. Source: Dawn Which branch of feminism won women the vote? We all did RAcheL hoLmes The struggle started with the first petition to parliament in 1832 and ended in 1928 when women could vote on the same terms as men. It was most intensive during the early 20th century. As activist momentum powered a relentless national mobilisation as fiercely fought in the Glasgow Gorbals as the groves of Godalming, Liberal governments blocked the women's vote by objecting that this was not a mass movement. meetings and social events, electoral hustings, and the besieged Westminster palace. There was music, theatre, art, festivals, dance, fashion, exhibitions, Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) pop-up shops selling banners, bags and badges; there was a hot air balloon dropping 56lb of pamphlets, and a suffragette steamship patrolling the Thames streaming purple, white and green pennants, taunting Lloyd George as he took tea on the Commons terrace. It was the greatest political theatre since the French Revolution. In 1910 alone, there were over 4,000 demonstrations. The feminist movement comprised several wings. The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), presided over by Millicent Fawcett; the Pankhurst-led WSPU; the splinter Women's Franchise League (WFL); the emerging Labour party and trade unions led by pro-suffragette Keir Hardie and socialistfeminists such as Margaret Bondfield and George Lansbury; and - smaller numbered - "respectable" Conservative suffragists and the right-wing Primrose League. There's been an unedifying, centurylong tug of war between pro-suffragists claiming it was gradualist constitutional reform that won it; and those who maintain that the alliance with radical franchise and socialist movements and - crucially - militant direct action , is what shifted the ground. Source : Gulf News
SCIENCE & TECH SaturDay, february 10, 2018 5 What is mark’s new year’s resolution Julia carrie WonG Amid unceasing criticism of Facebook's immense power and pernicious impact on society, its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced Thursday that his "personal challenge" for 2018 will be "to focus on fixing these important issues". Zuckerberg's new year's resolution - a tradition for the executive who in previous years has pledged to learn Mandarin, run 365 miles, and read a book each week - is a remarkable acknowledgment of the terrible year Facebook has had. "Facebook has a lot of work to do whether it's protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. "We won't prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools." At the beginning of 2017, as many liberals were grappling with Donald Trump's election and the widening divisions in American society, Zuckerberg embarked on a series of trips to meet regular Americans in all 50 states. But while Zuckerberg was donning hard hats and riding tractors, an increasing number of critics both inside and outside of the tech industry were identifying Facebook as a key driver of many of society's current ills. The past year has seen the social media company try and largely fail to get a handle on the proliferation of misinformation on its platform; acknowledge that it enabled a Russian influence operation to influence the US presidential election; and concede that its products can damage users' mental health. By attempting to take on these complex problems as his annual personal challenge, Zuckerberg is, for the first time, setting himself a task that he is unlikely to achieve. With 2 billion users and a presence in almost every country, the company's challenges are no longer bugs that can be addressed by engineering code. Facebook, like other tech giants, has long maintained that it is essentially politically neutral - the company has "community mark Zuckerberg sets a personal challenge each year. Photo: noah berger standards" but no clearly articulated political orientation. While in past years, that neutrality has enabled Facebook to grow at great speed without assuming responsibility for how individuals or governments used its tools, the political tumult of recent years has made such a stance increasingly untenable. The difficulty of Facebook's task is illustrated in the company's current conundrum over enforcing of US sanctions against some world leaders but not others, leaving observers to wonder what rules, if any, Facebook is actually playing by. Zuckerberg acknowledged that the problems facing a platform with 2 billion users "touch on questions of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government, and of course technology" and said that he planned to consult with experts in those fields. But the second half of Zuckerberg's post, in which he discusses centralization and decentralization of power in technology, reveal Zuckerberg's general approach: proposing technological solutions to political problems. If Zuckerberg is interested in decentralization of power, he might wish to address his company's pattern of aggressively acquiring its competitors - or simply copying their features. Instead, the executive introduced a non sequitur about encryption and cryptocurrency, neither of which will do anything to address Facebook's role in, for example, stoking anti-Rohingya hatred in Myanmar. If Zuckerberg truly intends to spend a year trying to figure out how the blockchain can solve intractable geopolitical problems, he would be better off just doing Whole30. escaping from social media for a year an investment is something that has intrinsic value, not speculative value. Photo: Getty images be informed about investing in bitcoin tecHnoloGy DeSK I've been watching this bitcoin situation for a few years, assuming it would just blow over. But a collective insanity has sprouted around the new field of "cryptocurrencies", causing an irrational gold rush worldwide. It has gotten to the point where a large number of financial stories - and questions in my inbox - ask whether or not to "invest" in BitCoin. Let's start with the answer: no. You should not invest in Bitcoin. The reason why is that it's not an investment; just as gold, tulip bulbs, Beanie Babies, and rare baseball cards are also not investments. These are all things that people have bought in the past, driving them to absurd prices, not because they did anything useful or produced money or had social value, but solely because people thought they could sell them on to someone else for more money in the future. When you make this kind of purchase - which you should never do - you are speculating. This is not a useful activity. You're playing a psychological, win-lose battle against other humans with money as the sole objective. Even if you win money through dumb luck, you have lost time and energy, which means you have lost. Investing means buying an asset that actually creates products, services or cashflow, such as a profitable business or a rentable piece of real estate, for an extended period of time. An investment is something that has intrinsic value - that is, it would be worth owning from a financial perspective, even if you could never sell it. To answer why bitcoin has become so big, we need to separate the usefulness of the underlying technology called "blockchain" from the mania of people turning bitcoin into a big dumb lottery. Blockchain is simply a nifty software invention which is open-source and free for anyone to use, whereas bitcoin is just one well-known way to use it. Blockchain is a computer protocol that allows two people (or machines) to do transactions (sometimes anonymously) even if they don't trust each other or the network between them. It can have monetary applications or in sharing files, but it's not some instant trillionaire magic. As a real-world comparison for blockchain and bitcoin, take this example from the blogger The Unassuming Banker. Imagine that someone had found a cure for cancer and posted the step-by-step instructions on how to make it online, freely available for anyone to use. Now imagine that the same person also created a product called Cancer-Pill using their own instructions, trade marked it, and started selling it to the highest bidders. I think we can all agree a cure for cancer is immensely valuable to society (blockchain may or may not be, we still have to see), however, how much is a Cancer-Pill worth? Our banker goes on to explain that the first Cancer-Pill (bitcoin) might initially see some great sales. Prices would rise, especially if supply was limited (just as an artificial supply limit is built into the bitcoin algorithm). But since the formula is open and free, other companies quickly come out with their own cancer pills. Cancer-Away, Cancer- Bgone, CancEthereum, and any other number of competitors would spring up. Anybody can make a pill, and it costs only a few cents per dose. Yet imagine everybody starts bidding up Cancer-Pills to the point that they cost $17,000 each and fluctuate widely in price, seemingly for no reason. Newspapers start reporting on prices daily, triggering so many tales of instant riches that even your barber and your massage therapist are offering tips on how to invest in this new "asset class". Instead of seeing how ridiculous this is, more people start bidding up every new variety of pill (cryptocurrencies), until they are some of the most "valuable" things on the planet. That is what's happening with bitcoin. This screenshot from coinmarketcap.com illustrates this real-life human herd behavior: You've got bitcoin with a market value of $238bn, then Ethereum at $124bn, and so on. The imaginary value of these valueless bits of computer data represents enough money to change the course of the human race, for example, eliminating poverty or replacing the world's 800 gigawatts of coal power plants with solar generation. Bitcoin (AKA Cancer-Pills) has become an investment bubble, with the complementary forces of human herd behavior, greed, fear of missing out, and a lack of understanding of past financial bubbles amplifying it. To better understand this mania, we need to look at why bitcoin was invented in the first place. As the legend goes, in 2008 an anonymous developer published a white paper under the fake name Satoshi Nakamoto. The author was evidently a software and math person. But the paper also has some inbuilt ideology: the assumption that giving national governments the ability to monitor flows of money in the financial system and use it as a form of law enforcement is wrong. This financial libertarian streak is at the core of bitcoin. You'll hear echoes of that sentiment in all the pro-crypto blogs and podcasts. The sensiblesounding ones will say: "Sure the G20 nations all have stable financial systems, but bitcoin is a lifesaver in places like Venezuela where the government can vaporize your wealth when you sleep." The harder-core pundits say: "Even the US Federal Reserve is a bunch 'a' crooks, stealing your money via inflation, and that nasty fiat currency they issue is nothing but toilet paper!" It's all the same stuff that people say about gold - another waste of human investment energy. Government-issued currencies have value because they represent human trust and cooperation. There is no wealth and no trade without these two things, so you might as well go all in and trust people. The other argument for bitcoin's "value" is that there will only ever be 21m of them, and they will eventually replace all other world currencies, or at least become the "new gold", so the fundamental value is either the entire world's GDP or at least the total value of all gold, divided by 21m. People look at me with disbelief when i explained that i did not use Whatsapp. Photo: lionel bonaventure Knut traiSbacH At the end of 2016, I sent a message to all my contacts: "After 31 December, I will not use WhatsApp any more. Instead, I will use Threema and Signal. On New Year's Eve, I closed my WhatsApp account and deleted the app from my phone. A few clicks later, I'd left all my family, friend and work groups, the school groups of my children and all my individual contacts. During the first minutes of 2017, I saw my friends typing on their phones while mine remained unusually silent. Suddenly I was not available anymore. It felt strange, uncomfortable, daring and good. My initial reasoning for such a drastic step had little to do with mindfulness or the want of being disconnected. I had installed WhatsApp in 2012 only because all my friends had it. By the end of 2016, the ubiquitous chat app started to send me annoying periodical reminders that it would stop working because the operating system of my beloved Nokia phone was no longer supported. The notifications made me wonder whether I should be using non-Facebook-owned alternatives and stop spending so much time on convenient but seldom meaningful chats. My defiance turned into a social experiment: I bought a smarter phone but uninstalled the application that, Facebook says, "one billion people around the world use … every day to stay in touch with their family and friends." My app-stinence had a promising start. Good friends sent text messages during New Years Day, called or responded to my calls. Instead of typing and recording messages, I returned to having actual conversations on the phone. My family and closest friends even installed one of the new non- Facebook messaging apps I had suggested, but suddenly I went from having 70 contacts to just 11 on my list. At the beginning, I often felt isolated and as if I had abandoned friends. Some contacts ebbed away, while I had to withstand the odd awkward look of disbelief and discontent from others when I explained that I did not use WhatsApp. After a few weeks, I noticed that I checked my phone less, did not scroll through my contact list to look for updated profile photos or send messages to people low on the conversation list just to say hello. I began to read more. But I also learned what it meant to miss out and not to be part of groups anymore. When I met friends, I needed to be updated about earlier group exchanges. I had to continually ask my wife about discussions in our kids' school groups. She became understandably annoyed when forced to scroll through 94 new messages about the next birthday party or unexpected drama in the kindergarden of our two toddlers. In the ensuing discussions over the past year, it became more difficult than I thought to defend my step in terms of privacy and data stinginess. Those sympathetic with my decision often said that for work and social reasons they had no alternative. A colleague pointed out that he had no Facebook account, so the matching between accounts for advertising purposes was not possible. I knew that in Europe Facebook had been asked to "pause" the data sharing from WhatsApp. "But what happens with the data of up to one billion people that has been matched and shared already?" I asked Facebook has not been obliged to delete this data. That we do not know precisely how this data is used to nudge and influence us without us noticing, worried me. "Anyways, I have nothing to hide," several friends told me, hardly concealing their annoyance. The main question that I started to ask then was: why do we trust private companies more than we trust our governments? Our default position is to mistrust strangers and governments, but we trust convenient services without really knowing anything about them. We trust that private companies use our data to "improve our lives", but we hardly reflect on where our lives are taken. Facebook paid $19bn for a company that has encrypted the contents of messages since 2016 and does not advertise. Clearly there is value in information about our habits and contacts, not just the content of our conversations. Companies create personal profiles with our data, but these profiles are about who we are, not about who we want to be. During the last year I realised how little we know and how little we care. We do not regard our data as a scarce and valuable commodity. Data seems like time; we just assume it is there. Over coffee I asked a friend: "If you had only one piece of personal data left to spend, how would you spend it?" He laughed, paused and then his phone whistled. How to stop ads using Google tools Samuel GibbS Google is rolling out a new tool that will stop so-called reminder ads from following you around the internet, typically used to try to get users to come back after virtual window shopping. The new settings will allow users to "mute" these reminder ads, but only on a case-bycase basis, not as a setting to stop them in their entirety. Jon Krafcik, group product manager for data privacy and transparency at Google, said: "You visit Snow Boot Co's website, add a pair of boots to your shopping cart, but you don't buy them because you want to keep looking around. The next time that you're shopping online, Snow Boot Co might show you ads that encourage you to come back to their site and buy those boots. "Reminder ads like these can be useful, but if you aren't shopping for Snow Boot Co's boots anymore, then you don't need a reminder about them. A new control within Ads Settings will enable you to mute Snow Boot Co's Google's reminder ad muting tool. reminder ads." The new tool allows users to view all the reminder ads currently tracked to your profile from one of the over 2m sites that use Google's advertising services. Users can then choose to mute individual reminder ads and view those that they've already muted with their Google Ads settings. Once on the page, users can click the X Photo: Google next to the companies they no longer want to see ads from. "We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months," said Krafcik. Muting lasts for 90 days, but Google is quick to point out that it only affects sites and services using its ads platform and that other ad services also provide similar reminder ads, meaning this will not be a magic bullet for all irritating ads. Google has also beefed up its general ad muting tool to allow users to mute more ads on more apps and sites. When users mute an ad they don't like on one device, that preference will now be carried over to other devices on which they are logged in.