Showing posts from June 23, 2015

Nikki Haley, South Carolina Governor, Calls for Removal of Confederate Battle Flag

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[Public opinion and political pressure pushes South Carolina governor, previously disinterested, to call for the removal of the Battle Flag. *RON*]

By Frances Robles, Richard Fausset and Michael Barbaro, New York Times, 22 June 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Nikki R. Haley called on Monday for South Carolina to do what just a week ago seemed politically impossible — remove the Confederate battle flag from its perch in front of the State House building here. She argued that a symbol long revered by many Southerners was for some, after the church massacre in Charleston, a “deeply offensive symbol of a brutally offensive past.”

“The events of this week call upon us to look at this in a different way,” said Ms. Haley, an Indian-American, who is the first member of an ethnic minority to serve as governor of the state as well as the first woman.

She spoke at an afternoon news conference, surrounded by Democratic and Republican lawmakers including both of th…

The simple idea that could transform US criminal justice

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[Great piece on procedural justice. "Judge Victoria Pratt looks defendants in the eye, asks them to write essays about their goals, and applauds them for complying – and she is getting results." *RON*]
Tina Rosenberg, The Guardian, 23 June 2015

Municipal court in the US works like this: the accused stands with his attorney in front of the bench, looking up at the judge on high. The accused is effectively invisible, a bystander to the back-and-forth between judge, prosecutor and defence attorney, who speak in jargon that ordinary people do not understand. The judge may wish the accused good morning when he is first brought in, but he will not be addressed again until the end, when the judge announces his decision and what happens next. Do you understand? Yes, the accused says, although he might well not. Do you agree? Yes.

“If you’re lost in a big-city court, you’ll stand there until you’re kicked out at the end of the day by the security…

Google eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission

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[Privacy has become obsolete, and perpetual surveillance is the new norm. Privacy advocates claim always-listening component was involuntarily activated within Chromium, potentially exposing private conversations. *RON*]
Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian, 23 June 2015
Privacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer.

First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.

It was designed to support Chrome’s new “OK, Google” hotword detection – which makes the computer respond when you talk to it – but was installed, and, some users have claimed, it is activated on computers without their permission.

“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to it…

Harper Government Slammed Over New Rules For Safe Injection Sites

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[Ideology and politics versus science. This, despite the finding of the Supreme Court that safe injections sites save lives and improve health without increasing drug use or crime in the neighbourhood. Harper will do absolutely anything to get his own pig-headed way, and reality be damned. *RON*]
By Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press / Huffington Post, 23 June 2015

OTTAWA - The federal government has made it nearly impossible to obtain approvals for new supervised drug-injection sites, opposition parties and health groups said Monday as they came to grips with a controversial new law.

The Respect for Communities Act establishes 26 criteria for the government to consider when reviewing an application for a drug-injection site, and allows sites to operate only in exceptional circumstances.

The government argues the bill, which received royal assent late last week, brings clarity and transparency to the application process, and requires information to b…

Harper government rejects calls to make voting system fairer

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[Our politics interferes with our democracy. "In the May 2011 federal election under the first-past-the-post electoral system, the Conservatives won 39.62 per cent of the vote, 54.22 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons, and 100 per cent of the power." *RON*]
By Brent Patterson,, 23 June 2015

The Council of Canadians has long supported proportional representation.

We have consistently stated over the years that proportional representation is more democratic than our current first-past-the-post electoral system. It ensures a fairer representation of votes cast and prevents a governing party from holding total power after earning only a small percentage of the popular vote.

The Globe and Mail now reports, "Pressure is growing to change Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, in which candidates can win their ridings -- and parties can form government -- with fewer than 50 per cent of the votes. Both of Cana…

Who profits from austerity?

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[Banks, profits in the bond market, and austerity. *RON*]
By Duncan Cameron,, 23 June 2015

On Saturday, London rocked to the sounds of 250,000 marchers protesting austerity in the U.K. Organized by The People's Assembly Against Austerity, the day's events (marches were also held in Liverpool and Glasgow) announce the beginning of a campaign against the cutbacks to services by the Conservative government headed by David Cameron.

Recently returned to power with an unexpected majority, the Conservatives wants to resume the tight spending policies -- temporarily suspended in the run-up to the election -- that have worsened unemployment all over Europe.

Health care, education, public housing -- all services that matter to people -- are to be cut; and the U.K. economy weakened as a result.

It is not enough that the 19 Eurozone economies have an unemployment rate of 11 per cent and permanent recession, the already slow-growing U.K. (secon…

Footprints found on a remote B.C. island could be 13,000 years old — the oldest in North America

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["Often in Canada and North America the history of the land is glossed over as being very recent, but if you look at the archaeology it’s showing there’s a very long-term history of occupation and land use going back 13,000 years." *RON*]

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press / National Post, 23 June 2015
VICTORIA — Evidence of what could be the oldest footprints in North America has been discovered below the shoreline of a remote British Columbia island.

Fossilized human footprints believed to be of a man, woman and child and estimated to be more than 13,000 years old were discovered at Calvert Island, which is located on B.C.’s central coast and is accessible only by boat or float plane.

Remnants of an ancient campfire were found nearby.

Archeologist Duncan McLaren said radiocarbon dating indicates the charcoal materials are 13,200 years old, and he is preparing to duplicate those tests to confirm the results.

“We’re very excited about it,” h…

Executives urge Canada to diversify beyond natural resources

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[Even the corporatocracy is starting to turn against them. "...almost two-thirds of Canadian corporate executives – including those in the west – feel Canada’s economic policy relies too much on Alberta and its natural resources.You are starting to see that even the equity markets are starting to focus on non-resource-based companies." :-) *RON*]

Richard Blackwell, The Globe and Mail, 22 June 2015
It is beginning to sink in among the Canadian business elite that the economy is going to have to start weaning itself off oil.

The latest quarterly C-Suite Survey shows that almost two-thirds of Canadian corporate executives – including those in the west – feel Canada’s economic policy relies too much on Alberta and its natural resources. Fewer than one out of five say the economy currently has a good mix of industrial sectors.
As the next decade unfolds, priorities must change, they said. Information technology, renewable energy and services w…