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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“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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“They cannot stop me from talking.”

Scientists Biased, Talk Too Much: Confidential government memo.

Details here, in Blacklock’s Reporter: minding Ottawa’s business, August 11, 2014.

Tar sands 2Tar sands, Alberta, Canada.  Photo: The Nation.

The primary target of the confidential memo, John Smol, is a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, a widely acclaimed paleolimnologist (fathoming the life stories of lakes), and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change.

Why does the Harper government want to silence John Smol and his co-researchers?  Because they know too much.  The current regime in Ottawa is an aggressive booster of the enormously destructive tar sands colossus, and is determined to keep Canadians strictly on message: tar sands = good for Canada, with minimal harm.  Period.  Trouble is, their message keeps getting shredded by the findings of honest science.

Why won’t John Smol shut up?  He knows too much:

“The huge problem is that many environmental problems are long scale.  They can take years, decades to show up – or longer, sometimes I work in centuries, even millennia.  But politicians think in terms of four years, at best.  Look at the tar sands – go ahead, pump it out as fast as you can, we’ll be out of here in four years, what do we care?  Industry is even worse, they think in quarters, 90-day intervals.  Costs for the future are horrendous, but they’re not in this fiscal cycle.  When things go extinct, they’re extinct forever.  You destroy a river system, it’s gone. Destroy a fish population, it’s gone.  How do you gauge what that’s worth?”

Delve into John Smol’s research, paleolimnology, and why he speaks out, in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science.  Available September 4, 2014, in print and e-book from Between the Lines.


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Weather report: no climate change.

extreme weatherPhoto: National Geographic

This week in Canada, the Harper regime decreed:

Henceforth, there will be no talk of climate change from any meteorologist employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service (a division of Environment Canada).

Investigative reporter Mike De Souza revealed the new ban here.

A government official who is permitted to talk to the media – but not to say anything of substance – told De Souza that meteorologists are qualified to talk about extreme weather, but not climate.

The ban – officially known as a “communications protocol” – extends the Harper regime’s aggressive silencing of scientists whose research might provoke questions about the regime’s pro-corporate, anti-environment agenda.  True to the most insidious forms of censorship, the boundaries of what’s forbidden are not specified.

Apparently this ongoing reign of terror works.  De Souza reports that, since the government’s 2007 decree that all federal scientists must obtain management approval before giving any interviews on their research, an internal Environment Canada analysis noted an 80 per cent drop in media coverage of climate change issues.

Fortunately, scientists are resisting.  Follow their stories in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, autumn 2014 from Between the Lines.