Showing posts from July 7, 2017

Today's Trumpery


The holes in the Access to Info system

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[Another election promise gutted by Trudeau. With Bill C-58, the federal government has left the heavy lifting on access to information reform for another day/year/government. *RON*]

Vincent Gogolek, Policy Options, 6 July 2017

It never bodes well when a government puts out a major piece of legislation late in the day, and Bill C-58 certainly met those lowered expectations when it came out a few weeks ago.

Transparency was a major theme for the Liberal Party of Canada, not just during the 2015 election campaign but well before it. Justin Trudeau put forward Bill C-613, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Access to Information Act (transparency), when he was leader of the third party in the Commons, so Bill C-58 is not something the Liberals produced on a whim.

In their 2015 platform, they promised these five things that would happen “to make government information more accessible” if they were elected. They would:
Ensure government …

A lot of Americans got very angry at NPR for tweeting ‘propaganda.’ It was the Declaration of Independence

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[On the Fourth of July, NPR tweeted America’s founding document in 140-character increments. It was 'controversial'. *RON*]

Amy B Wang, Washington Post / The Star, 5 July 2017

For about 20 minutes Tuesday, NPR travelled back to 1776.

To echo its 29-year on-air tradition, the public radio network’s main Twitter account tweeted out the Declaration of Independence, line by line.

There — in 113 consecutive posts, in 140-character increments — was the text of the treasured founding document of the United States, from its soaring opening to its searing indictments of King George III’s “absolute tyranny” to its very last signature.

Who could have taken issue with such a patriotic exercise, done in honor of the nation’s birthday?

Quite a few people, it turned out.

Perhaps it was the Founding Fathers’ capitalization of random words or the sentence fragments into which some of the Declaration’s most recognizable lines were broken. But plenty of Twitter …

Surveillance in Canada: Who are the watchers?

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[Pretty good overview of Bill C59 and the issues surrounding it, minus the weird introduction focused on the surveillance of communists in public toilets Canada in the 1930s. *RON*]

Michael Petrou, Open, 2017

The Trudeau government announced new security legislation last month, including the creation of a “super” watchdog that will oversee existing agencies. But do we still lack an understanding of what these agencies do? Michael Petrou runs through the evolution — and surveillance capabilities — of the RCMP, CSIS and CSE.

In January 1937, as the Great Depression drove increasing numbers of young men into desperate unemployment and, often, political radicalization, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police tasked informers with hanging around the bathroom of Manor Hall in Winnipeg, an informal gathering place for the city’s unemployed.

The RCMP was worried about Communists, especially immigrant ones. And it was worried those foreign Communi…

Home sales in Greater Toronto Area plunged 37.3% last month

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[Apparently, Ontario has also demanded to know the identity of the persons behind any home purchases made via numbered corporations, which would presumably, severely reduce the amount of purchases made for money laundering. The actual number of listings rose 15.9% year over the year. *RON*]

Canadian Press, CBC, 6 July 2017
The number of homes sold last month in the Greater Toronto Area plunged a whopping 37.3 per cent compared to the same month a year ago, the city's real estate board said Thursday, weeks after Ontario introduced measures aimed at cooling the housing market.

The Toronto Real Estate Board said 7,974 homes changed hands in June while the number of new properties on the market climbed 15.9 per cent year over year to 19,614.

The average price for all properties was $793,915, up 6.3 per cent from the same month last year.

In April, the Ontario government implemented rules intended to dampen Toronto's heated real estate market, wh…

The Brave New World of Gene Editing

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[A fearful account of our seemingly inevitable drift from genetic engineering to eugenics. Tests for genetic diseases are commonplace; the cost of sequencing a human genome has plummeted; techniques for gene-editing are proven. We can "deliberately change the frequency of certain human genes in the population." Only laws and ethics constrain experimentation. "With the best of intentions and, for the moment, the best of outcomes, we have drifted across a line in the sand" *RON*]

Matthew Cobb, New York Review of Books, JULY 13, 2017 ISSUE

The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have by Bonnie Rochman Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 272 pp., $26.00
DNA Is Not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship Between You and Your Genes by Steven J. Heine Norton, 344 pp., $26.95
A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolu…