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CANADA : Against The Wall with JJink

Canadian Government Says Free Speech is for Offending Muslims — Not Opposing Israel

May 14, 2015 by  
Filed under General News

source:By Glenn Greenwald

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, January 8, 2015, on Charlie Hebdo shootings:

“When a trio of hooded men struck at some of our most cherished democratic principles, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, they assaulted democracy everywhere . . . They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act . . . . they have declared war on any country, like ourselves, that values freedom, openness and tolerance.”

CBC, today:

“Ottawa threatening hate charges against those who boycott Israel”

The Harper government is signaling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions.

If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government’s lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. . . .

The government’s intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a “zero tolerance” approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada’s updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws “anywhere in the world.”

Has a #JeSuisBDS hashtag started trending yet on Twitter? Under the new Charlie Hebdo standard — it’s not enough to defend free speech; one must praise and even express the speech targeted with suppression — have all of the newfound free speech crusaders begun organizing pro-Israel-boycott rallies in order to defy these suppression efforts? In a zillion years, could anyone imagine the popularity-craving officials who run PEN America bestowing one of their glamorous awards on advocates of the Israel-targeted Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement? The answer to all of those questions is and will remain “no,” because (as I discussed last week here with Bob Wright) the Charlie Hebdo ritual (for most, not all) was about many agendas having nothing to do with the free expression banner under which it paraded.

In that regard, Stephen Harper is the perfect Poster Boy for how free expression is tribalistically manipulated and exploited in the West. When the views being suppressed are ones amenable to those in power (e.g., cartoons mocking Islam), free speech is venerated; attempts to suppress those kinds of ideas show that “they have declared war on any country, like ourselves, that values freedom, openness and tolerance.” We get to celebrate ourselves as superior and progressive and victimized, and how good that feels. But when ideas are advocated that upset those in power (e.g. speech by Muslims critical of Western nations and their allies), the very same people acquiesce to, or expressly endorse, full-scale suppression. Thus can the Canadian Prime Minister pompously parade around as some sort of Guardian of Enlightenment Ideals only, three months later, to act like the classic tyrant.

As I’ve argued many times — most comprehensively here — all applications of hate speech laws are inherently tyrannical, dangerous and wrong, and it’s truly mystifying (and scary) that people convince themselves that their judgment is so unerring and their beliefs so sacrosanct that it should be illegal to question or dissent from them. But independent of that, what we see here again is the utter foolishness of endorsing such laws on pragmatic grounds: they will inevitably be used against not just the ideas you hate but the ones you like, and when that happens, if you cheered when such laws were used to suppress the ideas you hate, then you will have no valid ground to object.


Canada threatens to withdraw from G8 summit in Russia

March 2, 2014 by  
Filed under General News

Canada threatens to withdraw from G8 summit in Russia (via AFP)

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened Saturday he may join Washington in snubbing June’s G8 summit in Russia over the country’s military incursion into Ukraine, and recalled his ambassador to Moscow. The Russian parliament’s decision to…

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Little-known federal monitoring centre tracked bee protest

February 16, 2014 by  
Filed under General News


Canada’s little-known global monitoring nerve centre, which has moved to share more data with the United States government, turned its formidable surveillance powers on an Idle No More protest where people dressed up as bees, documents show.

The Oct. 16, 2013 protest, called a Bee Die In, was meant to demonstrate how “bees are dying at an unprecedented rate around the world,” according to the event’s Facebook page. Some people at the rally dressed up as food, flowers or animals.

The protest, held on the same day as the throne speech and a suspicious package delivery at the prime minister’s office that caused the evacuation of the block nearby, attracted around 30 people.

But the Canadian Government Operations Centre, a round-the-clock “monitoring and reporting” enterprise, felt it fit to monitor the event, according to documents released to Embassy under Access to Information legislation.

The disclosure comes as the GOC, which draws up “risk assessments” and co-ordinates federal emergency responses, has maneuvered to share more information with the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency and other US agencies, under the Beyond the Border Action Plan.

A recent Public Safety report said that by 2011-12, “100 per cent” of these “US strategic-level operations centres” were connected with the GOC “to facilitate information flow and sharing.”

Embassy asked Public Safety, the department in charge of the GOC, why it monitors protests. This newspaper also asked for the full list of the US centres, as well as an explanation of how Canada is connected with these US centres, how information flows between them, and whether and how information about protests was shared.

In response, Jean Paul Duval, a spokesperson for Public Safety Canada, wrote in an email that “the mandate of the GOC is to, on behalf of the government of Canada, support response co-ordination of events of national interest.”

The GOC is in contact “daily” with several US “operations centres” like Homeland Security and FEMA, Mr. Duval wrote, as well as others “depending on the nature of the event.” It stays in contact with US partners, he added, through “periodic conference calls and the exchange of information products.”

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Canada grants new identity, passport to Mossad assassin

February 16, 2014 by  
Filed under General News

The Canadian government has granted a new identity and passport to an agent of the Israeli spying service Mossad who had been involved in an assassination plot in 2010.

The Mossad agent, whose identity was not revealed, received the new identity and passport after his participation in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in 2010, Canadian news agency QMI quoted Arian Azarbar, a businessman, as saying.

“The girl who was in charge of that file at Passport Canada… told me about it,” Azarbar said.

Al-Mabhouh was killed in his hotel room by a team of ten assassins carrying European passports.

“The Canadian government has said we had nothing to do with this, but it is a lie,” Azarbar added.

Azarbar has also provided the QMI agency with the name of the Israeli spy and the location of his residence in Canada. The agency, however, has declined to disclose the information, saying it would “endanger the safety and security” of the Mossad agent.

Alexis Pavelich, the spokesman for Canada’s Immigration Ministry, has refused to talk about the passport issue.

Back in 1997, Jordan arrested two Mossad agents carrying fake Canadian passports following a life attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Mashal.

Canada is closely allied to the Israeli regime.

Canada was one of the few countries that opposed the successful Palestinian bid in November 2012 to upgrade its status at the United Nations from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.”

In October 2011, Canada also opposed the Palestinian effort to win membership within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).



Tar Sands Drones Are On Their Way

August 24, 2013 by  
Filed under General News


The energy industry wants to use unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor pipelines.

BY Cole Stangler

It isn’t all that difficult to imagine a scenario in which hundreds of pipeline drones are actively working to block direct action across the continent.

North American energy companies are planning to use drones to monitor their pipelines—in part to check for potential gas or oil leaks, but also to limit “third-party intrusions,” a broad range of activity that includes anything from unwanted vehicles entering restricted areas around pipelines to environmental activists.

The Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI), a multi-national organization funded by some of the world’s largest pipeline operators like BP, Shell, TransCanada and Enbridge, is leading efforts to research and develop unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology for pipeline monitoring. The PRCI has been working with the American Petroleum Institute and the Interstate Natural Gas Association on drone research for the last two years, according to PRCI President Cliff Johnson. He says researchers are currently running test flights.

“It could be a more efficient and more cost-effective tool … than a manned system,” Johnson says.

Today, companies often rely on piloted aircraft for pipeline monitoring. That involves surveillance of the pipeline’s “right of way,” a strip of land surrounding the pipeline whose rights are typically shared by pipeline operators and landowners. In the right of way, which can range from about 25 to 125 feet, companies check for unauthorized vehicles, people and anything else that’s not supposed to be there. Meanwhile, companies engage in additional environmental monitoring to check for potential threats to the integrity of the pipeline, such as leakage.

Drones may ultimately be able to accomplish both of these monitoring tasks more effectively than humans, says Peter Lidiak, pipeline director at the American Petroleum Institute (API). Lidiak believes that pipeline operators will start adopting drones in the next five to 10 years.
These drones will probably be deployed in the United States before taking off in Canada. In 2015, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) will release its regulations for commercial drones, paving the way for thousands of UAVs to enter domestic airspace. Canada, on the other hand, does not yet have any such plans. The country’s FAA equivalent, Transport Canada, does issue licenses for commercial drones, but the existing regulations are stringent.

But this doesn’t mean Canada will miss out on all the action—especially once multi-nationals like TransCanada, which operate on both sides of the border, start using drones on the American segments of their network.

“Given that Canada and the United States, in terms of energy, are very closely connected, I can’t see but that once the restrictions are lifted in the States, there won’t be pressure to do so in Canada,” says Angela Gendron, a national security expert and senior fellow at Carleton University’s Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies.

The use of drones to monitor pipelines, like any other form of domestic surveillance, raises an array of privacy concerns.
In the eyes of the energy industry, anything entering the pipeline’s right of way is ultimately considered a security threat. The logic behind drone surveillance is focused on making it easier for companies to detect those threats—an ambiguous concept that can refer to animals, vehicles, non-violent protesters, violent protesters or unauthorized developers.
Paul Drover, the executive director of Unmanned Systems Canada, the nation’s top drone lobby, advertises the benefits of pipeline UAVs by pointing out their ability to scan for environmental activists. At the international drone lobby’s annual convention in Washington last week, Drover told In These Times that aerial surveillance from UAVs would enable pipeline companies to better detect “folks setting up camp.” When asked if he was referring to activists, Drover replied “that’s the left side of the arc.”

The API’s Lidiak insists that concerns about environmental activism are not driving industry interest in developing drones. Yet he acknowledges that protesters could be covered as potential intruders.

“The primary reason for those monitoring for any kind of intrusion, whether it’s individuals that are potentially protesting or for construction equipment, is really to find out if there’s anyone doing anything on the right of way that might be harmful for the pipeline,” Lidiak says. “The primary purpose wouldn’t be monitoring for activists. You might be able to detect that activity as a result of doing your patrols, but that’s not the primary reason for any kind of patrolling.”

Angela Gendron, who wrote a December 2010 report for Canada’s Department of National Defence about the need to protect the nation’s “critical energy infrastructure,” says that monitoring activists makes a lot of sense from the energy industry’s perspective.

“You do get security officers at private-sector energy companies who are very concerned about environmental activists and I can see that they would feel that a UAV sitting up there hovering for 19 hours or whatever [it may be] would be quite useful,” Gendron says. “As it now stands, they have to rely on police reports and anything else they have on hand to monitor where those activists are going to demonstrate next and so on. Having a UAV up there would be much a more economic measure.”

While the industry appears to only be interested in using drones on completed pipelines for now, UAVs could potentially be used in the future to monitor pipelines under construction. The technology may not be ready today, but if industry enthusiasts are to believed, drones could be a fixture of pipelines 10 to 20 years from now. And with the expansion of the natural gas industry combined with an oil industry eager to link Albertan tar sands to global export markets, pipeline construction doesn’t exactly show signs of slowing down.

As those plans face increased pushback from climate justice activists—whether it’s from radicals in the Great Plains or First Nations groups in western Canada—it isn’t all that difficult to imagine a scenario in which hundreds of pipeline drones are actively working to block direct action across the continent.

Catherine Crump, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, says that “narrowly-targeted” pipeline monitoring isn’t necessarily problematic in itself, but warns about its potential for abuse. “I think drones raise the prospect that Americans will be subjected to constant aerial surveillance in ways they’ve never experienced before and that poses the possibility of changing our ability to engage in political protest,” Crump says.

Jesse Coleman, a Washington, D.C.-based researcher for Greenpeace, points to the fact that TransCanada recently colluded with law enforcement officials to infiltrate a Tar Sands Blockade activist camp in Oklahoma to block a protest from taking place.

“To think they would do that and not use drones to spy on their opposition, I think that’d be a little naïve,” Coleman says. “You are flying over all these miles of pipeline and picking up all this information. What happens when you do see things that are interesting to you? There are so many ethical considerations.”

Drones could also infringe on the privacy of residents who sign agreements with energy companies to allow pipelines to cross their property.

“I would suggest that folks did not sign up for video surveillance when they signed easement contracts,” says Ron Seifert, spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade, an activist group trying to prevent construction of the Keystone XL’s southern segment in Texas and Oklahoma. “Of course, keep in mind that a lot of these easements go right through landowners’ front yards and backyards. Does that mean that every time they go outside they have to worry that TransCanada, a multinational corporation who is known to share information with the federal government, might be filming them? Does that mean in signing a contract with TransCanada folks are subjected to surveillance and sharing information with the government?”

But Seifert says he wouldn’t expect drone surveillance to dissuade climate justice activists, many of whom are already unafraid of engaging in civil disobedience and risking arrest.
“Regardless of the type of surveillance, I think folks have come to the conclusion that those risks are necessary to take,” he says. “Because to not take action is far more dangerous than to set up a blockade or participate in direct action. We all know that tar sands infrastructure is too dangerous to exist. It’s a threat to the future of the planet.”


Cole Stangler is an In These Times staff writer based in northeast D.C., covering Congress, corruption and politics in Washington. His reporting has appeared in The Huffington Post and The American Prospect. He’s also the keyboard player for Betsy & The Bicycles, proud to be a former In These Times intern and recovering from his senior history thesis. He can be reached at cole[at]inthesetimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @colestangler.

Occupiers Steal $300,000 from Hurricane Sandy Victims

June 25, 2013 by  
Filed under General News


After the hurricane, I was telling people not to donate to Occupy Sandy, despite all the glowing press they were getting. Aside from the ideological issues, Occupiers are the least trustworthy people in the world.

And in shocking news, that proved to be the case.

As relief turns to long-term recovery, community activists have their eyes on a group they know has some money left unspent: Occupy Sandy.

After Superstorm Sandy hit New York last October, Occupy Wall Street—the global protest movement against economic inequality that started in downtown Manhattan—set up a new group, Occupy Sandy, and mobilized thousands of supporters to raise more than $1.37 million, according to finances made public on their website.

But here’s the thing: Roughly one out of every five dollars raised—nearly $300,000—remains unallocated. According to interviews with Occupy Sandy organizers, it’s been more than three months since the group began the process of giving this remaining money over to community groups in the hardest-hit areas. Only a fraction of the $150,000 that has already been allocated to the Rockaways has so far been disbursed.

Mind you, it’s already June. The hurricane hit in October 2012. A fifth of the cash is up in the air.

So far, there’s no clear picture of how nearly $240,000 of funds already allocated have been, or will be, spent. Bre Lembitz, an original Zuccotti park occupier, now Occupy Sandy’s bookkeeper, attributes the delay mostly to paperwork snags beyond the group’s control: “The documentation has fallen by the wayside,” she says. “It hasn’t been a priority for people.”

How much paperwork do you have when you claim to be an ad hoc organization?

Some Rockaway residents say that Occupy Sandy is keeping them in the dark about how they will dish out its remaining money, and that the group, which has no one central location in the city but operates from several hubs, isn’t including them in decision-making.

A secretive and controlling left wing group? I’m shocked.

Occupy Sandy has now convened a panel of nine people to serve the specific needs of the Rockaways, including 4 residents affiliated with Occupy Sandy, and to decide how their chunk of money gets spent. There is no timeline for this, but organizers say some grants might begin to flow in another month’s time. As for the nearly $300,000, Lembitz says Occupy Sandy is “in the process” of having open meetings “where the community can come together and decide how best to allocate the rest of the money.” But apart from one debrief session, the group’s public calendar is bare through the end of the year.

There’s a meeting. Totally. It’s just taking place in a basement somewhere in Canada… and you’re not invited.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” says Robyn Hillman-Harrigan, who runs Shore Soup Project, a group that provided more than 50,000 hot meals door-to-door in the aftermath of the storm. She goes out of her way to say she’s supportive of the bigger Occupy Sandy principles, and thinks its efforts have been largely commendable. But she can’t help but see the irony of a small group making decisions about money meant for the many. “It feels like a club,” she says.

Or a Soviet.

Terri Bennett defended the makeup of the new Rockaway panel. “There’s a really fine line between inviting enough people to participate, and inviting too many,” she says. She also says the group wants to avoid being overwhelmed by requests and repeating the mistakes of the past: “I also think that those [community] groups are kind of the same people over and over again that are already involved in these processes, but if we invite people who aren’t normally invited to the table, then it builds a bunch of peoples’ capacities.”

And apparently half those people have to belong to Occupy Sandy.

If Occupy Sandy doesn’t tell the Rockaways community how it plans to spend the rest of the money, “I personally believe they have outstayed their welcome,” Taylor  says.

Idle No More spreads beyond border as aboriginal activists ramp up pressure

January 1, 2013 by  
Filed under General News

MONTREAL – The aboriginal movement known as Idle No More continued to gain strength beyond Canada’s borders on Tuesday as activists embarked on a public relations blitz in the United States.

Pamela Palmater, one of the leaders of the movement, travelled to Washington, D.C. to give interviews to the U.S. press. She said the goal of the media campaign was to raise awareness internationally and force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act.

“The idea is to put pressure on the Canadian government to pay attention and come to the table,” Palmater said by phone.

“I was invited to come down and do some media about Idle No More, basically answer questions about why it’s spreading into the United States.”

In addition to recent events held across Canada, rallies have already been staged as far off as Texas, Hawaii and New Zealand with plans for more in the coming days.

Palmater said Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike, now in its fourth week, is part of a much larger protest movement.

The initial spark was the federal government’s omnibus budget legislation but it has now become about broader issues like inequality and treaty rights, she said.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Idle+More+spreads+beyond+border+aboriginal+activists+ramp/7762753/story.html#ixzz2GlyadgCD

Private prison companies looking to profit from Canada’s new asylum rules

December 2, 2012 by  
Filed under General News

There’s a good chance that Canada’s detention system is going to see a huge influx of asylum seekers over the coming months and years.

That’s because new rules, that come into effect in December, mean that any refugee designated as an ‘irregular arrival’ will undergo mandatory detention in one of Canada’s four immigration holding centres (IHCs).

According to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, international private security and prison firms are salivating at the opportunities that this could present.

To date, Canada does not have any private detention centres, but we do have private detention services.

Full Article

sourUS soldier who refused to go back to Iraq arrested on return from Canada

September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under General News


The first female American soldier to seek refuge in Canada rather than return to duty in Iraq was arrested at the U.S. border Thursday after losing her appeal against deportation, according to an advocacy group that had campaigned on her behalf.

Kimberly Rivera, a 30-year-old private who served three months in Iraq and came to Canada while on leave in 2007, was taken into custody at the Thousand Islands Bridge border station about 30 miles north of Watertown, N.Y., Reuters reported.

The War Resisters Support Campaign said on its website that Rivera’s partner and four children crossed the border separately as “Kimberly did not want her children to have to see her detained by the U.S. military, as this would be traumatic for them.”

“During a Federal Court hearing in Toronto on Monday, lawyers for the Department of Justice argued that Kimberly would not be detained when she crossed the border,” the War Resisters statement said.

“… Just as the Rivera family’s lawyer argued in court and as was predicted by her Canadian supporters, Kimberly was detained immediately upon crossing the border into the United States of America,” it added. “Kimberly now awaits punishment for refusing to return to Iraq, a conflict which Kimberly and Canada determined was wrong.”

‘Not genuine refugees’ During the Vietnam War, Canada was a haven for tens of thousands of draft dodgers and deserters, but soldiers from Iraq, who were volunteers, have been met with little sympathy from the Canadian government.

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s spokeswoman, Alexis Pavlich, told The Star newspaper in an emailed statement that U.S. military personnel who had moved to Canada to avoid being deployed to Iraq were “not genuine refugees under the internationally accepted meaning of the term.”

“These unfounded claims clog up our system for genuine refugees who are actually fleeing persecution,” she added.

read more:http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/21/14008027-us-soldier-who-refused-to-go-back-to-iraq-arrested-on-return-from-canada#comments

Though business sits on $500 billion, workers’ salaries are under seige

August 30, 2012 by  
Filed under General News


Now that we’ve discarded our garbage workers by the side of the road, I guess we can all feel better.

The lime green private garbage trucks rolling through the western half of the city allow us to send a powerful message to all public sector workers: in these tough economic times, don’t expect to enjoy niceties like job security.

Mayor Rob Ford’s determination to privatize Toronto’s garbage service — even though the real savings are likely to be minimal — suggests the actual goal isn’t saving the public money, but attacking unions.

This would certainly fit with the anti-union ferocity on display since the Harper government won its majority last year, and the McGuinty government’s apparent keenness for a showdown with teachers and college faculty.

Mayor Ford and his sidekick brother Doug like to denigrate “jobs for life.” As Doug put it: “We’re going to target ‘jobs for life’ whenever we can, because nobody should have a job for life.”

Hold on there, Ford brothers. Why such venom at the notion of a “job for life”?

Don’t we want to encourage people to work all their lives? That used to be considered part of the work ethic. It’s not as if anyone is seeking “welfare for life.”

Employees can always be fired for just cause. The point of job security — a key right won by unions — is to give employees security against arbitrary firing.

But removing that sort of security — leaving workers fearful and therefore malleable to the demands of their employers — has been a central aim of the right and segments of the business community.

Perhaps the attack on unions isn’t surprising, given the ongoing recession caused by the 2008 financial crash. Better to turn the 99 per cent against each other — union against non-union, private sector against public sector — rather than allow that anger to boil up against the 1 per cent.

It’s reminiscent of the tale about the capitalist and the worker who order a pizza together. When the pizza arrives, the capitalist reaches in and helps himself to eleven of the twelve slices, then whispers in the ear of the worker: “Watch out for that union guy over there. He’s got his eye on your slice.”

As long as the right can keep workers envious and suspicious of each other, the focus won’t be on those at the top, where the benefits have actually gone. As Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney noted last week, corporations are sitting on $500 billion in cash, reflecting the growing share of business revenue in recent years that has gone to profits, not wages.

(Labour’s share of Canada’s national income has fallen from 65 to 60 per cent since 1990, partly because of policies like privatization and deregulation, the OECD’s Employment Outlook reported last month.)

And so a photo of a napping TTC collector was used in 2010 for an Internet campaign against unionized workers. After the humiliating public attacks, the worker, who had a flawless 29-year TTC record (including saving the life of a disabled man), took a medical leave and died ten months later.

read more:http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1247823–though-business-sits-on-500-billion-workers-salaries-are-under-seige

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