Whoa! Canada

laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Posts Tagged ‘Flickr

An Open Letter to Canada’s Industry Minister James Moore

with 6 comments

“Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.” That from Federal Minister of Industry James Moore who is also the Member of Parliament for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam. He says it’s the responsibility of the provinces to deal with child poverty, and Ottawa has no plans to step in.

Federal minister says child poverty not Ottawa’s problem


Dear Minister Moore:

Uncivilized societies expel the aged, the infirm and the poor, leaving them to their fate. Civilized societies are supposed to care for all their members, including the poor and the weak.

In the days before Income Tax, Canadians made donations and contributed to charitable organizations; many paid tithes to our churches with the expectation they would look out for the poor. Many more simply fed the unemployed folks who showed up at our doors looking for food.

Over time, as we spread out and diversified, it seemed like a good idea for the government to take on this work.  Canadians pay a great deal of money to the Government of Canada in the form of Income Tax, which was supposed to be a temporary War Measure.  This money is supposed to pay for infrastructure as well as social programs,  because we want a civil society.    We pay our taxes with the expectation the government will ensure all Canadians, children and adults, will have the necessities of life.

As Corporate Tax rates have declined, Canadian Income Tax rates have risen. But even with the high proportion of taxes we pay, our governments at all levels are letting the most vulnerable Canadian citizens down.

Food banks, once thought to be a temporary emergency measure, have become a staple. Instead of our government making adequate provisions for the welfare of all Canadians, working Canadians must increase our support of Food Banks — in addition to our high levels of Income Tax — because the government is NOT doing its part.

What does our high rate of Income Tax support if Canadian Children are still going hungry?

The argument that child poverty is exclusively a provincial concern doesn’t wash. If Provincial Governments lack the wherewithal to deal with child poverty, it is because the Federal Government has failed to provide sufficient funding. The reality is that all levels of government are funded by the very same taxpayers.

Canadians are rapidly learning all Federal Government control is centralized in the PMO and Cabinet under our current political system.   You enjoy the privilege of being a Cabinet Minister, but that job  carries with it a responsibility to your constituency.  While your MP constituency may be limited to citizens of the Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam electoral district, your Ministerial constituency encompasses all Canadians.   Even me.

Tell you what, Mr. Moore, if the Harper Government stops collecting Income Tax, Canadians will step up and reclaim the task of caring for our poor.  Then we can decide for ourselves if our money would be better spent on corporate welfare — like giving banks bail-outs and paying for Tar Sands advertising —  or on human welfare — like feeding needy Canadians – most of whom are children.

Until that happens, though, it *is* your job, as a Federal Minister, as a Member of Parliament, as a Canadian PUBLIC SERVANT, to make sure that Canadian children have the necessities of life.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm


James Moore, Minister of Industry
The real question is why do the citizens of James Moore‘s electoral district, Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam keep feeding James Moore?

This petition calling for James Moore’s resignation suggests I am not the only Canadian offended by this powerful Harper Government Minister’s cavalier dismissal of the needs of Canadian children.



Update

Today James Moore issued an apology on his website for “an insensitive comment.” He regrets making such a comment.

It almost sounds as though he might have read my letter, as he talks about how all levels of government and society need to care for those in need.

But then he goes on to talk about the great work that has been done to tackle poverty and its associated challenges. That’s where he lost me. In November of this year, CBC reported that the province which sent James Moore to Parliament, B.C. has highest child poverty rate in Canada: report

Yes, many hardworking selfless individuals have struggled mightily to battle the poverty that engulfs so many Canadians, most of them children. But it will not improve so long as the Federal Government fails to provide real funding.

First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition noted [in a July, 2013] press release that when you delve deeper into family types the numbers get worse. For lone-parent mothers the poverty rate soared moving from 16.4% to 24.6%, representing 27,000 children. For two-parent families with children the numbers experiencing poverty grew as well by 10,000 to a total of 61,000 children. This is shocking for a one-year time period.

While the BC government is reticent to implement a provincial poverty plan, they did attempt to work with seven cities across BC to establish local poverty strategies. No funding was given to the cities and regions were left to develop their own initiative based on local services. Since this announcement in April 2012, there has been no update from the BC government on the status of these ‘plans’ or poverty in these communities. Looking at the recent numbers, the patchwork anti-poverty programs and focus on jobs is not enough to address poverty.

Canada Without Poverty: Updated Numbers Released

Clearly, there will be no meaningful improvement until all levels of government — starting at the Federal Level — do more than mouth meaningless platitudes. That a Federal Cabinet Minister could even think such a thing, let alone say it aloud to a reporter demonstrates insensitivity and a shocking disconnect from the real world where the rest of Canada lives.

Mr. Moore has apologized for his personal insensitivity, but has he reversed his position? When Ebenezer Scrooge had his eyes opened, he demonstrated his change in attitude with concrete actions. James Moore offers only hollow words instead of any concrete actions.

I am sorry such a man is a Canadian Cabinet Minister. That’s why I urge every Canadian to sign the petition:

change.org: James Moore, MP, Minister of Industry: Resign as MP

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves
Image Credit:

James Moore by Heather/Kashmera released inder a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Of Masks and Freedom

with 2 comments

child in Zorro costume outside theatre

Arrested for wearing a mask?

As a child, I spent many an hour watching shows like “The Lone Ranger” and “Zorro” with my dad. My father made sure we were all grounded in super hero lore, where you will find ample justification for secret identities.

When I progressed from comics to real books I continued on in the same vein, reading the Scarlet Pimpernel books when I could get hold of them in high school. Maybe that’s why I have never questioned the validity of the idea that anonymity is so important for freedom.

Anonymity offers protection; we can say what needs to be said Without anonymity, fear of repercussion can silence the truth. Without a shield of anonymity, people must first weigh the harm speaking out can cause themselves and their families. For many the risk is too great.

It is the goal of repressive government to silence dissent, but it is positively disturbing to find this in our democratic governments.

Whistle blowing is an act of valour undertaken for the public good. Yet today we see Bradley Manning incarcerated and WikiLeaks under unremitting attack from nations that used to trumpet freedom.

Byron Sonne

Yellow Square bearing the words Free Byron in black text

Meanwhile, in Canada, our own Byron Sonne goes to court again this week. Byron was the Toronto G20 protester arrested before the G20, and held without bail for nearly a year.

In case you’re new to Byron’s story, he was a young man who had everything: a beautiful wife, a beautiful home, and a challenging security business. He lost all those things, along with his liberty for nearly a year, because he chose to protest the G20. Byron is fortunate, however, because he hasn’t lost everything, he still has the trust and strong support of his friends and family. The crown has dropped almost all the charges against him. Yet although the remaining charges appear dubious, they keep the sword of Damocles hanging over his head, with the possibility of possible further incarceration. As well the charges provide the basis for keeping Byron restrained under onerous bail conditions which compromise Byron’s ability to work in his chosen profession to earn needed funds to pay for his defence, among other things. And making things harder still, PayPal summarily closed Byron’s donation account, but it is still possible to make donations.

Byron Sonne did not wear a mask. He went about his business openly, broadcasting words and images on publicly accessible Internet venues like Flickr and Twitter. I very much doubt Byron was trying to hide his identity online; he certainly had the technical expertise to do so had that been his intent. He wouldn’t have lasted two minutes in the computer security business without the ability to cover his digital tracks online. I believe that it is telling that he made no real effort to do so.

The way our legal system has dealt with Byron Sonne raises disturbing questions:

  • Is justice blind, or are some Canadian citizens treated differently under the law?
  • Are Canadian citizens allowed to question what our government does?
  • Are we allowed to observe the actions our government and its representatives?
  • If we take photographs of police will we be arrested?
  • Are citizens allowed anonymity or can we be compelled to provide identity papers without cause?
  • Are we allowed to hold our government accountable?
  • Do citizens still have any civil liberties?
  • Are Canadians even allowed to discuss such things?

wooden African mask

Masks

In Canada Private Member’s Bill 309 seeks to criminalize the act of covering your face. There are many legitimate reasons to cover a human face. Hallowe’en masks are common today, but human beings have found cause to wear masks much longer, over centuries, religions and cultures.

Sometimes actors wear masks.

Allergy sufferers often wear masks to protect themselves from airborne allergens.

There are many cultures and religions requiring the covering of various parts of the human head.

Let us not forget, this is Canada. Many Canadians have had cause to wear hoods, hats and scarves to protect our heads from the elements.

All of these are excellent reasons for this Private Member’s bill to fail. After all, how often do Private Member’s Bill’s get passed, anyway? But Canada currently has a majority government, so it is very likely that this law will be passed.

If the wearing of a mask ~ or more telling, the covering of a face ~ in itself becomes a crime, it will be a horrendous blow to free speech in Canada. Some might feel that this law isn’t so bad, because Bill 309 would only make it illegal in certain circumstances. Except that the definition is broad enough it can be applied to any circumstance.

And the government gets to decide. The result of such legislation will make it far more dangerous for citizens to attend any sort of political protest at all. Even if you attend a peaceful protest without wearing a mask, things might get out of hand. You might not even be attending such a protest, but walking along the public streets minding your own business, yet may find yourself swept up and kettled by the police. This happened to many uninvolved Toronto residents during the G20.

If Bill 309 becomes law, the simple act of covering your face with your sleeve against tear gas in the air could lead to criminal charges.

Ironically there have been far too many instances of police officers removing their badges – and thus, choosing anonymity – prior to exceeding the scope of their legal authority and behaving in a criminal manner. Yet this far more dangerous behaviour (and evidence of premeditation)  has resulted in little if any repercussion and is not covered in this bill.

It isn’t possible to have a healthy democracy unless citizens have the right to free speech and peaceful protest.

gold masks from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

The Emperor Has No Clothes ~ FreeByron

with 2 comments

What would you call a professional security consultant who tests the vaunted security apparatus of the billion Dollar G20 Summit that descended on Toronto like a pall last year?

You’d call him Byron Sonne.

A Canadian flag flies at half mast against a blue sky

In the children’s story I reference in the title, the child that pointed out the deficiencies in the Emperor’s wardrobe was listened to.

In Canada, for doing much the same thing — pointing out the deficiencies of the G20 security apparatus — Byron Sonne was arrested, incarcerated without bail for nearly a year, and is now undergoing the rigors of a trial.

the trial

Three days were scheduled for the Charter arguments — to decide whether the protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been breached by law enforcement in this case. The Charter argument has stretched into two weeks.

The Toronto Star has released a video of one of Byron’s interrogations by Detective Tam Bui a day after his arrest on June 22nd last year. Watching this video is an up close and personal look at the Canadian justice system.

The reason citizens need some kind of protection from the law is that the law is far more powerful than most citizens will ever be.

In the video, we see the detective ask Byron about a whole host of things that he did.

  • Taking photographs in public places and posting them on Flickr.
  • Posting comments about the increased police presence for the G20 on Twitter.
  • Owning a potato cannon and air guns.
  • Possessing a variety of chemicals for various purposes that might be combined to make bombs.

“…why don’t you go down to Canadian Tire, why don’t you arrest them because they have all the ingredients…”

—Byron Sonne interrogation video released by the Toronto Star

I’m not a lawyer, but I didn’t think that any of these things are illegal.

Taking photographs in the public spaces of the municipality where you live isn’t illegal. Or, it didn’t used to be.

And when did taking photographs of law enforcement officers become illegal?

Back when I was in the seventh grade, I was on a class trip with my first camera when I happened across an RCMP officer dressed in the distinctive Red Serge “Review Order” dress uniform. I asked him to pose for me. And he did.

Now I’m an adult who takes plenty of photographs everywhere I go with my digital camera. And I post photographs on Flickr too. But these days, when I find myself photographing police officers, at the KW Multicultural festival for instance, I wonder: is this going to get me arrested?

I post comments about things that I perceive to be threats to democracy on Identi.ca, Twitter and Facebook all the time. I blog a lot, too. Is this going to get me arrested?

Personally, I’ve never owned anything like a potato cannon or an air gun. My older brother wanted an air rifle, just like Ralphie, when he was a kid. When he didn’t get one, he built himself a slingshot that I lacked the strength to use. But I’ve seen children using working trebuchets built by amateur enthusiasts at medieval festivals. The incredibly popular “Angry Birds” computer game involves shooting birds out of catapults to knock things down. How many people like playing shoot’em-up video games? . Clearly, people like shooting things.

Years ago I allowed my brother-in-law to put a plaster head I’d sculpted in my high school art class on a cedar rail fence and shoot it into plaster dust with his real hunting rifle. You know, one of those long guns that the Federal Government doesn’t want to have registered?

As a life long mystery buff. I’ve been reading and watching mysteries my whole life. I recall a Columbo episode that involved a chef killing someone with a frozen fish, then defrosting it and feeding the murder weapon to the guests at a dinner party. Most anything can become a murder weapon.

And if we are going to start talking about possessing chemicals that are legal to own, but that can then be combined to make a bomb, that covers an awful lot of ground. If you know anything about chemicals, you know that cleaning supplies can be used in many ways their manufacturers did not intended. I know never to mix bleach and ammonia because combined they make poison gas. Many perfectly useful things can be combined to make explosives.

Detective Bui:
This is a very structured, organized shelf of chemicals you have here. My understanding is that ammonium nitrate can be used in the construction of an incendiary device or an explosive device, is that correct?

Byron Sonne:
Yeah, but so can lighter fluid, so can your barbeque tank in your back yard, so can cooking oil in your house.

Detective Bui:
You’re a chemist, or an engineer or you definitely have a chemical background…

Byron Sonne:
not a licensed engineer

Detective Bui
OK. Do you have elements here that could be combined to make an explosive device?

Byron Sonne:
Ah, No, because I would not combine them into an explosive device.

Detective Bui:
But that wasn’t exactly my question. I’m asking do the elements exist. When we take a laundry list of items out of your house, and if we combine them in a certain manner could create an explosive device.

Byron Sonne:
I think that this interview might be over officer.

interrogation video released the Toronto Star

Boing Boing said it best: Law prof and cop agree: never ever ever ever ever ever ever talk to the cops about a crime, even if you’re innocent

If you watch the interview closely, you will see that Byron and the Detective are in agreement that none of the bits of “evidence” the detective asks Byron about are in and of themselves illegal. The detective doesn’t question that, instead, what he does is to try to get Byron to agree that the chemicals could be used to make a bomb, and that the cumulative effect of the evidence is how bad things look, and what other people might think of this or that.

Have I missed something? I thought that our legal system was based on facts and evidence, not innuendo.

What did Byron Sonne actually do?

He took photographs documenting the G20’s massive influx of security cameras, the deployment of security fences around public buildings, and police officers visible on public streets.

Byron Sonne pointed out security flaws in the G20 security apparatus.

And now he’s pointing out flaws in the Canadian justice system.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

further reading

For an idea of what has been happening in court, read the notes published here: colah / ByronTrialNotes

Read Byron Sonne’s Twitter stream @torontogoat

See Byron Sonne’s toronto_goat’s photostream on Flickr.

P.S. Follow

The Daily Ruse

as it chronicles the story of law and democracy in Canada.

~ laurelrusswurm, 19 November, 2011

#Flanagan again

with 4 comments

Tom Flanagan  in front of a Fraser Institute backdrop

Is it just me?

Am I the only one angry that the current administration of the University of Calgary doesn’t think Tom Flanagan has done anything wrong?

In case you missed it, Tom Flanagan, formerly a mentor/adviser to our sitting Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, currently a Political Science professor at the University of Calgary, broke the law while on the CBC news program “Power and Politics with Evan Solomon” when he “counsel[ed] other persons to commit offences.” The indictable offence he advocated was the assassination of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

at New Media Days

Some people think Tom Flanagan’s remarks are a joking matter.

Julian Assange does not

find this assassination threat amusing, particularly in light of other threats of physical harm leveled at himself and his family.

Some, like the National Post’s George Jonas, think Tom Flanagan can be excused because they say he intended it as a joke.

Maybe it could be taken as a joke if Tom Flanagan was a telephone lineman, a museum curator, or a manicurist.

But he’s not. The media is downplaying Tom Flanagan’s strong ties to the Canadian government. Flanagan wasn’t just “a Harper aid.”

Tom Flanagan was a chief of staff and policy adviser for the Prime Minister of Canada.

Jack Bauer is played by actor Kiefer Sutherland, pictured holding a gun, standing in front of a California map, with digital clock style numeral 24 inset

Tom Flanagan has been described as a mentor/adviser/strategist to the Prime Minister.  He ran political campaigns and walked the halls of Parliament.

This is a man who most certainly knows better.

Tom Flanagan would very likely know and be known by the Canadian CSIS equivalent to Jack Bauer, and almost certainly have contacts within the American government security forces.

I do not know Tom Flanagan, but he comments regularly on CBC and Evan Solomon clearly took Tom Flanagan’s statements seriously, in fact giving Flanagan an opportunity to back down by making it a joke. That an astute political player like Flanagan did not strongly indicates how serious he was.

Evan Solomon was not soliciting a man-in-the-street opinion from a computer programmer or a supermarket cashier or a priest, he was conducting an expert interview with one of his “regular cast of star panelists“.  Tom Flanagan was on the program to provide credible expert commentary.

Tom Flanagan’s commentary is credible BECAUSE he is a professor of Political Science, employed to teach some of the best and brightest Canadian students, at the University of Calgary.

Tom Flanagan’s commentary is credible BECAUSE of his strong ties to the sitting government.

THIS is what qualifies him as an expert, and this is WHY he must be charged for this crime.

ethics & reputation

The only response offered by the University administration has been this weak statement made December 7:

“The University of Calgary’s position remains that the opinions expressed by Dr. Tom Flanagan on CBC news last week were made as an individual. Dr. Flanagan spoke on a matter unrelated to the university, and his comments, for which Dr. Flanagan has expressed regret, do not represent the view of the University of Calgary. “

Yet the University of Calgary has declined to administer even a slap on the wrist to Tom Flanagan for his unacceptable behavior. The University’s position of refusing to make the barest of reprimands to Flanagan implies University support of Flanagan’s crime. A school that unquestioningly supports an educator who blatantly commits a crime television is simply not qualified to speak about “ethics.”

My child will not attend a school that condones assassination.

What does Tom Flanagan teach at the University of Calgary:  Assassinate the opposition? 
His words have certainly assassinated the University’s reputation internationally.

Left unchallenged, Canada’s reputation both at home and abroad is seriously damaged. As a citizen, I am furious.

If you have any doubt about whether there has been damage to our national reputation as a result of Flanagan’s crime, all you need do is watch the animated video titled Wikileaks Keeps Publishing despite arrest” published on YouTube December 7th, 2010. I first saw it on a Dutch web page. Two weeks later the video has had nearly 300,000 page views. That doesn’t count the web pages like this one that have embedded it. That’s a lot of of page views, particularly considering that it doesn’t top the WikiLeaks list:

For those with accessibility issues, I am also hosting the OGG version here.
crest above words University of Calgary Alumni with woman's hands above and below

Reading the comments on the YouTube page, and all over the Internet, citizens around the world have expressed dismay and outrage over this reprehensible incident.

U of C Community Outrage

Clearly, the University of Calgary community is not happy with the current state of affairs. 60 U of C alumni along with 25 others (current U of C students/staff/supporters across Canada & abroad) sent an open letter asking the University to address the situation. To date there has been none.

You can read their original letter and the follow up on the dedicated blog: Censure Tom Flanagan: Open letter to University of Calgary President Dr. Elizabeth Cannon regarding Dr. Tom Flanagan’s remarks

There is also an online Petition that anyone can sign here:

Graffiti portrait on a brick wall

To: University of calgary

Dr. Elizabeth Cannon
University of Calgary

Dr. Cannon,

The last time there was a live televised order to assassinate someone was the religious edict issued by Ayatollah Khomeini to kill Salman Rushdie, the Author of Satanic Verses. Unfortunately in November 2010, Dr. Tom Flanagan called for the assassination of Mr. Julian Assange, the Founder of the Wikileaks website. Based on Canada’s criminal code incitement to commit murder is a crime, not to mention a gross unethical and immoral act.

We, signatories of this petition, demand Dr. Flanagan’s immediate expulsion from University of Calgary. We hope that University of Calgary does not squander its reputation by associating with someone who condones murder in the name of politics.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned
PETITION: Dr. Tom Flanagan’s immediate expulsion from University of Calgary

And there’s a FaceBook page:

Facebook Page: Investigate Tom Flanagan for inciting murder against Julian Assange

People feel strongly about the issue because the University’s implied support casts a pall on the reputations of staff, students and alumni. The institution’s inexplicable silence is only making things worse.

Letter: Dismiss Tom Flanagan

Peter Bowal: Double standard on free speech at U of C

If you wish to write a personal letter, you may do so by writing to:

Elizabeth Cannon, the President of the U of Calgary. Her email is
president@ucalgary.ca
and you might wish to CC this suggested list:
chair@ucalgary.ca
senate@ucalgary.ca
jim.dinning@senate.ucalgary.ca
alumni@ucalgary.ca
eosler@ucalgary.ca

sitting in front of a wine rack and Fraser Institue banner

Compounding the Situation

Because Tom Flanagan said these things on CBC, and because of who he is, his remarks have been heard around the world.

Canada used to have a reputation for being a good world citizen. Allowing these remarks to go unchecked makes us all look bad.

Tom Flanagan didn’t just make an empty threat on CBC, he didn’t just encourage the assassination of someone he disagrees with, he also threatened a woman who sent him an email he didn’t like. One may have been a mistake.  Two makes it a whole different ballgame. I have to wonder, what other things has Tom Flanagan said or done that went away because of his powerful friends and allies?

Tom Flanagan’s “joke defense” goes up in smoke when you add the threatening email into the mix.

This is world class bullying.

Either Flanagan doesn’t get the point, or else is confident he may act as he pleases with impunity.

Apparently he’s right.

All he had to do is say “I’m sorry” and all is well with the world.  Why do we waste money on a criminal justice system if all that’s necessary to get out of criminal charges is an apology? The Toronto Star reports that the Toronto Woman Gets Apology from former Harper Aid

So all is well, right? Except it is not.

The Pirate Party of Canada is planning a “Rally To Support Wikileaks”
Saturday, January 15, 2011 · 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Location University of Calgary, outside the social sciences building.
Calgary, AB
“Join with the Pirate Party of Canada and Pirate Parties around the world in peaceful assembly to support WikiLeaks, open government, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. Take a stand against calls to assassinate journalists and whistleblowers.”
For more information contact mikkel@pirateparty.ca
https://www.pirateparty.ca/

implications of not charging Tom Flanagan

Friendly Media Relations

The law is written clearly and specifically to provide for prosecution whether or not the counseled indictable offence is ever carried out. Counseling assassination breaks the law as much as actually carrying out an assassination.

The media is downplaying Flanagan’s crime as a joke.

And perhaps his friends in our government don’t want him inconvenienced.

Was this “joke” was made with the blessing of our government. Was this a way to publicly threaten WikiLeaks with political deniability?

No one should be above the law.

Since politicians are the usual targets of assassination, I would have thought our governments would be very careful about allowing such cavalier advocacy.

Tom Flanagan has broken the law.  That’s clear enough. Tom Flanagan should NOT be able to break the law on National Television with impunity.

Tom Flanagan must be charged.   If he’s not, it makes a mockery of Canada’s criminal justice system.

A court of law must decide.

“Something has to be done to let the people who have received his message know that assassination is murder, and a crime in every country of the world,”

–Gail Davidson, The Montreal Gazette: Charge ex-Harper aide for ‘assassinate Julian Assange’ comment: lawyer

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves


Image Credits:

Tom Flanagan at OPUS Hotel photo by Urban Mixer / Raj Taneja on Flickr released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Julian AssangeThis photo by New Media Days / Peter Erichsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

“Jack Bauer” – Wallpaper by Tim Norris under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

University of Calgary Alumni photo by damclean under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Ayatollah Khomeini by travfotos / Terry Feuerborn under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License on Flickr

Tom Flanagan at OPUS Hotel photo by Urban Mixer / Raj Taneja on Flickr released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Tom Flanagan at OPUS Hotel photo by Urban Mixer / Raj Taneja on Flickr released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

OGG conversion via TinyOgg

Robert Redford, the Newsmedia and the WikiLeaks’ Cablegate

with 4 comments

2009 portrait of the actorI fell in love with Robert Redford in The Sting when he was young and I was younger. Redford is one of the cinema’s greatest undervalued comedians; his timing is flawless as showcased in early work like “Barefoot In The Park” or later “Legal Eagles”. He even brought humour to his portrayal of “the Sundance Kid,” for whom his film festival is named.

But Redford has put in some brilliant performances in political films over the years.

He turned in a brilliant performance in a cautionary tale called “The Candidate,” which demonstrates clearly how degraded democracies can become.

But there are two movies I was reminded of when I read about today’s WikiLeaks story.

At the end of the movie “Three Days of the Condor,” the inadvertent hero Redford plays achieves freedom the only possible way:

by releasing the classified information to the media.

Because we know that even though he is a whistle blower, once the world knows he will be safe.
And we know the news media will ensure that the story gets out.

We know that.

WikiLeaks "hourglass leaking earth" logo
Robert Redford also played Bob Woodward in “All The President’s Men,” the film version of the true story of the “Watergate” scandal that brought down the Nixon administration.

There are countless stories of the bravery of reporters who risked, and in many cases lost– their lives in pursuit of a story that was important to them and the public. And it still happens.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that the world has changed a lot in the last few decades. In many cases, the News Media is not doing the job we believe it is. Citizens around the globe have NOT been told about the dangers of ACTA or the importance of Net Neutrality to free speech and democracy.

Part of it is, I am sure, that technological advances, in particular the Internet, has caused great upheavals in the Media business. As ownership has been increasingly centralized, downsizing, “dumbing down” and decimation of staff has left many newsrooms in very reduced and weakened states. The agendas of the corporate masters more often determines what is reported and how.

So we are very fortunate to have WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks was gifted with a heap of really important information. In order to ensure dissemination, they passed them around to five major news outlets located in 5 different countries. Each were aware the others had the story, so they ALL had no CHOICE but to publish, with or without corporate or government approval.

In this way, WikiLeaks guaranteed that the story broke and spread.

UK: The Guardian US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis

SPAIN: El Pais The greater infiltration of history reveals the secrets of American foreign policy (Google translation to English)

USA: New York Times: Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels

FRANCE: LeMonde WikiLeaks: Behind the Scenes of American diplomacy (Google translation to English)

der Spiegel: Greatest Data Leak in US Military History

Now that it is out, there is no stopping it.

Al Jazeera: Secret US embassy cables revealed

Perth Now: Australia on WikiLeaks ‘cablegate’

boingboing: Wikileaks secret US Embassy cable site live

Mobile Tribune: 1128-“When the Head is Rotten, It Affects the Whole Body” WikiLeaks Cable Quote from Saudi King Abdullah

ANTIWAR.com: State Dept: FDP Makes Germany a ‘Difficult Partner’ in Terror War -Cable Says FDP Too Interested in Personal Privacy to Be Responsible Partner

This will go on for months. Maybe years.

@glynmoody

US ambassador to the UK complains about the loss of *privacy* of those writing the cables – http://bit.ly/eHlQWC #wikileaks

Guardian: US diplomats spied on UN leadership

There is a huge amount of information, and it will take time to digest, but at least it has gotten out. That’s a good thing.

Der Spiegel also has an interactive map.

@DougSaunders

Have you noticed that you can hit the “play” button on the Spiegel map and it shows the cable-bubbles appearing year after year?

– Doug Saunders, European Bureau Chief, The Globe and Mail

The map shows Canadian cables for:

  • Vancouver 44
  • Calgary 14
  • Ottawa 1948
  • Montreal 82
  • Quebec 52
  • Halifax 136

Of course, no Canadian news outlet was selected as a recipient of any of these WikiLeaks cables.

@kady

I mean, at least if there was a Canadian media partner, there would be someone to bully/entreat over upcoming Cdn coverage. #wl

–Kady O’Malley, CBC reporter

Canadian Coverage

red maple leaf graphic

CBC: WikiLeaks reveals undiplomatic U.S. critiques

Canada’s government funded public broadcaster, the CBC, uses an American “Licensing” scheme which doesn’t allow even purely non-profit fair dealing reuse of their publications by Canadian citizens. So why would WikiLeaks even CONSIDER releasing this story to CBC?

Clearly, just like in “Three Days of the Condor,” WikiLeaks wants to spread the story as far and wide and as fast as possible. So that it can’t be stopped.

Globe & Mail: Released WikiLeaks documents shed light on diplomatic dispatches

The Globe likes to call itself “Canada’s National Newspaper,” but like that other television broadcaster, the Globe is owned by Bell Canada Enterprises. I assume that this corporate connection would be the reason why the Globe has been first so quiet and about the  fact  Canadian Internet rates are shortly to go through the roof due to Usage Based Billing.  It is only recently that it’s been possible to find UBB on their website at all.  Now  that they are, the bias is thick enough to cut with a knife.

As a blogger I prefer not to link to Globe articles because in the past they’ve broken links by placing articled behind a paywall.

So I can’t imagine the Globe standing up to government pressure to suppress the WikiLeaks story.

Having a Canadian Government in the process of pushing through Bill C-32 in the face of Universal opposition to appease the American Government, it’s easy to imagine our government buckling at the first sign of American disapproval.

So WikiLeaks released the Cables to 5 dispersed news outlets as a strategy to ensure that the story will break.  Because that is the reason for the very existance of WikiLeaks: to get the story out.  Even if it means the end of WikiLeaks.

Which is, of course, why WikiLeaks is so incredibly dangerous to governments who want to act without oversight or scrutiny.  And why Wikileaks is the destination of choice for whistleblowers with politically sensitive leaks go.  Because WikiLeaks is in it to get the story out.  Period.

Last Hurrah?

Even so, WikiLeaks has been down every time I’ve attempted to visit their site today.

I saw an unsubstantiated report that they were suffering a DDoS attack. And it isn’t hard to imagine where such an attack may have originated.

Of course, their servers may simply have gone down under the onslaught of un-official media outlets (like me).

Of course there have been tales of military personnel wishing for the demise of WikiLeaks. If they didn’t like WikiLeaks before this…

This story is out. It can’t be put back in the bottle. And that’s good.

If WikiLeaks is targeted, or taken down, what I worry about is the next story.

we are ALL in this together

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my concerns.

When Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative gets referendum approval, they are aiming to be good to go by 2012.

ICELAND TO BECOME INTERNATIONAL TRANSPARENCY HAVEN

“I am proud to advise the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative’s proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism. I believe this proposal is a strong way of encouraging integrity and responsive government around the world, including in Iceland. In my work investigating corruption I have seen how important it is to have have robust mechanisms to get information out to the public. Iceland, with its fresh perspectives and courageous, independent people seems to be the perfect place to initiate such an effort towards global transparency and justice.”
—Eva Joly MEP – Icelandic Modern Media Initiative

That will be good for us all. Lets keep our fingers crossed that WikiLeaks can last that long.

Just In: WikiLeaks is Live!

Now you can peruse the Secret US Embassy Cables yourself.

Get ‘em while they’re hot.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

 



Image Credits:
Robert Redford photo by Public Citizen published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Thanks @nomalab, @satipera and Glyn Moody and Jérémie Zimmermann

Human Rights and the TSA

with 6 comments

Embossed United Nations symbol engraved or etched on white on a copper colored plaque,

United Nations HQ, behind the podium, General Assembly Hall

The United States is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I would think that should afford their citizens a reasonable expectation that the American Government would take these human rights into account when drafting government policy.

Before stripping these inalienable rights from citizens.

Of course I’m not a lawyer.
I’m just a mom.
A person.
But I can read.
And watch Youtube.
(At least as long as I can afford it… until Usage Based Billing is implemented.)

What is happening under government auspices at TSA (Transit Security Administration) checkpoints in airports across the United States is wrong.

At best, the “BS Scanners” are an invasion of privacy, at worst, a serious health risk.

Clearly what is being done to citizens by the TSA contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Here, for your information, is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting some of the bits both the American Government and the TSA need to remember:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”

PREAMBLE
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

  • Article 1
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2
    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 3
    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.
  • Article 4
    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
  • Article 5
    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 6
    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
  • Article 7
    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against all types of discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to any form of discrimination.
  • Article 8
    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
  • Article 9
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
  • Article 10
    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
  • Article 11
    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
    (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
  • Article 12
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 13
    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
    (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
  • Article 14
    (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
    (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 15
    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
  • Article 16
    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
    (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
  • Article 17
    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
  • Article 18
    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  • Article 19
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • Article 20
    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
    (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
  • Article 21
    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
  • Article 22
    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
  • Article 23
    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
  • Article 24
    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
  • Article 25
    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
    (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
  • Article 26
    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
  • Article 27
    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
  • Article 28
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
  • Article 29
    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
    (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
    (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
  • Article 30
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Wikipedia

a live turkey with the stars and stripes flying overhead

To my American friends
and family:

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope none of you need to fly.

 

Additional Resources:
The United Nations Association in Canada: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Guide

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations



Credits:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is excerpted from an official document of the United Nations. The policy of this organization is to keep most of its documents in the public domain in order to disseminate “as widely as possible the ideas (contained) in the United Nations Publications”.

UN crest photo by Sunil Garg on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Vintage Thanksgiving Greeting Card licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC by-nd) License by riptheskull on Flickr

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,658 other followers