Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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Oh Canada, glorious and free*

(* from Canada’s national anthem.  No irony intended, I assume).

Just revealed by The Intercept: Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet Over File Downloads

This marks a new low in Canada’s data hoovering as a junior partner in the US-run War on Terror TM.

Maple leaf, dead

More detail here, at CBC News.

According to OpenMedia.ca, “The data they’re collecting can identify everything from your sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs, to your medical history. This sensitive information is being shared with the spy agencies of several other countries, without our knowledge or consent.”

If you oppose secretive, ever-expanding, high-cost, out-of-control spying on all of us, say so now.

This week, the Harper regime introduced dangerous new anti-terrorism legislation that will give spy agencies even more powers.

Michael Vonn, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association: “Canada has utterly failed to respond to the urgent need for national security oversight and instead, proposes an unprecedented expansion of powers that will harm innocent Canadians and not increase our public safety.”

Tell the Harper regime: Cease and desist, back off, quit spying on us.

For more on the steady advance of the national security state in Canada, see Bold Scientists. Scroll down to chapter 6, The cloud.

For further details and resources, check out Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada.

(Photo: http://www.pxleyes.com)

 

 


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Google? Use at your own risk.

How did they manage to turn Google into a verb? Here’s a clue:

A longish (10 – 15 minute read), eerily fascinating fragment from Julian Assange’s new book, When Google Met Wikileaks.  In this excerpt Assange documents his bizarre encounter with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, one of the most powerful managers of information – our information – on the planet.

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO. Photo: Business Insider.

From the excerpt:

“I began to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very U.S. foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington.

“I was wrong.”

How wrong Julian Assange was, and how tightly enmeshed Google is in the US national security apparatus, he documents in meticulous, chilling detail. Here. Or here.

But all is not lost. There are alternatives to Googlism, created by people who value freedom – the real thing, not the flags-and-guns kind – over profit and power.

For common sense on options, check out the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Surveillance Self Defence Index.

For deeper insight into the global shroud of state/corporate surveillance that’s tightening over us even as it seduces us into complicity, meet David Lyon, a world authority on surveillance and population control, in The Cloud, chapter 6 in Bold Scientists, here.  (Scroll down to The Cloud.)

 


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“An attempt to guarantee public ignorance”

“A recent New York Times editorial, referencing the rapid development of the Alberta oil sands, went so far as to describe new communications restrictions on government scientists as ‘an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.’” – from an open letter to the current Canadian government, signed by more than 800 scientists from 32 countries.

ed-nease12

Image: Steve Nease, The Toronto Star

The international roster of scientists called on the Harper government to end “burdensome restrictions on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists.” More detail on the story here.

The call was made in an open letter drafted by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.  UCS represents U.S. scientists, and fosters “rigorous science to build a healthier planet and a safer world.”

The need for this unusual intervention is strongly reinforced in a new report from the Canadian organization Evidence for Democracy.  It  assesses the communication and media policies of 16 Canadian federal government departments.

For more on the fight for open science and democracy, see chapters 9 and 12 in Bold Scientists. Read an excerpt here.

 


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CSEC: We pay for it. It spies on us.

“An ultra-secretive government agency is collecting hugely revealing information on thousands of law-abiding Canadians.”

csec

Communications Security Establishment Canada.  We pay for it, they spy on us. That’s the deal.  They spy on all our communications, all the time: phone, email and internet, contacts, conversations, relationships, religious and political affiliations, medical records, financial transactions….

OpenMedia.ca is on the case.  But they can’t do it alone. The Canadian government needs to hear a very loud NO from everyone of us who cares.

David Lyon, world authority on surveillance and social control: “Indifference is appropriate only for those who think that efficiency, convenience and speed qualify as values to be placed over openness, fairness, and the accountability of those whose task it is to process personal data.”

Add your voice here: https://openmedia.ca/CSECisWatching?src=156782.

More on David Lyon, our very Transparent Lives and ‘social sorting’ in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

And pass it on, far and wide.


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Gay ‘conversion’ on trial in China

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of our own choosing.   George Orwell, 1949, in 1984.

Gay 'conversion therapy', China protestProtest: “Homosexuals don’t need treatment,” Haidian court, Beijing, July 31, 2014.              Photo: Li Hao/Global Times.

A young man in China, Xiao Zhen, has taken a courageous public stand against the forced ‘conversion’ of gay people in his country.  (Xiao Zhen is a pseudonym, to protect himself and his family from harassment.)

“I was electro-shocked at a gay ‘cure’ center. Doctors hypnotized me and said they would ‘shock the gay’ out of me.

In families like mine, being gay is still seen as something that can be cured, and scam clinics prey on that fear. Now, I want my friends, my family and everyone in China to understand that being gay is normal.”

Though I’ve never met Xiao Zhen, I think of him as a younger brother. In 1968 I underwent the same electro-shock ‘treatment’ in Canada, for the same reason. Then it was called ‘aversion therapy,’ now it’s rebranded more positively as ‘conversion therapy.’ Either way, it’s torture. This should not happen to anyone, anywhere.

Remarkably, not only has Xiao Zhen taken the clinic to court, in a landmark case for China, now he has also taken an even bolder step: a petition to the World Health Organization.

“If we can get the World Health Organization (WHO) to join in and speak out against gay ‘cures’, it could help convince officials to finally ban these dangerous gay ‘cures.’

Will you sign my petition asking WHO Director Dr. Margaret Chan to speak up now and condemn gay ‘cures’ in China?”

More than 87,000 people have already signed the petition.  Please add your voice here, and pass this message on to others.

Psychiatry and psychology are among the many tools marshalled by the powerful to repress nonconformity and dissent.  More on this, and the resistance, in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, available September 4 from Between the Lines.