Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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How low can we go?

October 19, 2015.  Election day in Canada.

Engineered illusions have fueled the Harper regime’s dangerous grip on power.  Here’s good insight into how some of these illusions are collapsing along with international crude oil prices.

Tar sands blight

Stephen Harper’s toxic legacy. (Photo: via PriceofOil.org)

The tar sands corporations and the Harper regime are hard to tell apart.  Both believe that plunder is their right, even their duty.  Both are obsessed with greed and power, their religion.  Both do harm on an almost numbing scale, and call it “good management.” Both depend on each other in myriad ways for their survival.  Both hate democracy.

In addition to the tar sands nightmare, the Harper regime has presided over a full spectrum of unnatural disasters, including: systematic assaults on environmental protections and honest science, starvation of the national health care system, massive surveillance, escalating military budgets and eager participation in criminal wars wherever US authorities choose to attack.

In a sane society, all of these would be considered major crimes.  In Canada, the current regime hopes they will be grounds for their re-election.

I have no illusions about elections as a solution to the enormous problems we face.  I know that once in power, none of the parties on offer will go nearly as far as I think they should to address these vital issues honestly, fairly, and adequately.  But:

By now we know from bitter experience that if the Harper regime can fool enough Canadians into voting for it in October, the disasters will only deepen and multiply.

Question is: How low can we go?

October 19, 2015.  A fateful day for Canada.


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The right to know

A new blog from Scientists for the Right to Know confronts an insidious threat to Canadian democracy.Scientists for the Right to Know, protest

The current regime in Ottawa acts on the premise that the less we citizens know, the easier we are to   manage. They don’t need objective evidence to make policy with impact on every aspect of life, only guile and brute force.

The resulting assault on the public right to know, here and internationally, takes many devious forms, detailed here.

Scientists for the Right to Know arises in direct response to this ominous assault.  “Please join us,” they invite, “in the fight to maintain Canada as a country in which policies are based on scientific knowledge, not uninformed ideology.”

The new SRK blog is here.  Full disclosure: Recently they published a piece by me, Questions need to be asked.  In any case, judging by the several posts they’ve put up so far, this looks to be a valuable voice – collection of voices – in defence of knowledge and democracy.

Others: Evidence for Democracy, and Write2Know.


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Panic in the Palace

Update on that Wednesday protest in Belleville:

C51 protestors, Belleville

Conservative MP’s office calls police on C-51 protesters for singing and being “noisy”.

Best comment, from Gary Magwood: “Daryl’s office called the police because we were ‘disruptive’, we were ‘noisy,’ and – here’s the best part – we were distracting the office staff from attending to constituents’ concerns. Now don’t you love that for double-speak? Aren’t we constituents?”

Which is exactly why so many Canadians regard Bill C-51 and its authoritarian authors as a threat to national security.

After participating in the Belleville protest, I reported having mixed feelings, even doubts, about its value.

Now I have none.

 

 

 


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Whole food for free-range minds in Winnipeg: a reminder

Wednesday, March 25

1:30 pm.  Bold Scientists, a talk at the University of Winnipeg.  Room 5L25, Department of Geography, Lockhart Hall.  Map.

7:30 pm.  Bold Scientists, a talk at the McNally-Robinson bookstore, Grant Park, 1120 Grant Avenue.  In the Travel alcove.  Map.

Pass it on.

 cropped-bold-scientists-front-cover8.jpg


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Bold Scientists in Winnipeg

Wednesday, March 25

1:30 pm.  Michael Riordon at the University of Winnipeg.  Room 5L25, Department of Geography, Lockhart Hall.  Map.

7:30 pm.  Michael Riordon at the McNally-Robinson bookstore, Grant Park, 1120 Grant Avenue.  In the Travel alcove.  Map.

Unspun science for dangerous times.

BTL BS poster, U of Winnipeg, March 2015


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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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“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.