Hudson's Bay blankets, a centuries-old tradition


The Hudson's Bay 6 Point Blanket is a centuries-old Canadian classic of comfort and wool and stylish stripes, and, as I discovered, it's kind of a pain in the ass to source from outside of Canada. Now there's a US distributor (based in the UK!) that's selling them on Amazon, at a price that's competitive with Ebay and other non-official (and sometimes unreliable) sources. Warning, that price is high: $437 (but Prime shipping is included). There really is no blanket like it.

Hudson Bay 6 Point Blanket (via Canopy)

Must-see: Michael Geist on the state of surveillance in Canada

Here's a riveting talk by Michael Geist on the state of Canadian surveillance. Geist broke the story that Canadian telcos hand over personal information to government agencies every 27 seconds, without a warrant. Canada is one of the "Five Eyes" countries that participated in the NSA's surveillance build-out, and the Canadian government is once again considering a massive expansion of warrantless surveillance powers for police, government agencies, and even private companies working for the government.

Judge to feuding rich Toronto families: you need a kindergarten teacher


In the matter of Morland-Jones v. Taerk -- two rich Toronto families who've tormented one another for years, Ontario Superior Court judge E.M. Morgan suggested that the parties do not need a judge; they need a rather stern kindergarten teacher. There's poop. There's fake video-cameras. There's more.

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Rob Ford: a night of drunk driving, racism, drugs, beating friends and demeaning his wife


In the Toronto Star, Kevin Donovan reports a night in the life of Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, shortly after an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel: Ford drives drunk, says fantastically racist things, buys drugs, beats up a friend of his, and then comes home and presents his friends to his wife, offering to let them have sex with her, saying that she lets him "f--k girls in front of her all the time... It's okay, my kids are not home." Parts of this are transcribed from recordings, others appear to be taken from witnesses.

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16 year old Canadian arrested for over 30 "swattings"


A 16-year-old Canadian male has been arrested for calling in over 30 "swattings," bomb threats and other hoax calls to emergency services in North America. The young man is alleged to be the operator of @ProbablyOnion on Twitter, which had previously advertised swattings (sending SWAT teams to your enemies' homes by reporting phony hostage-takings there, advising police that someone matching your victim's description is on the scene, armed and out of control) as a service, and had bragged of swatting computer crime journalism Brian Krebs twice. Krebs had previously caught a kid who swatted him, and outed him to his father -- this may have made him a target for other swatters.

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The Shop: Toronto's new inclusive makerspace

Toronto's great wealth of makerspaces continues to grow: now there's The Shop, an "all-inclusive makerspace with a focus on woodworking, metal and ceramics."

They offer members access to well-stocked workshops with metal/woodworking tools and ceramics equipment; and they run regular classes on making various useful and lovely things at all levels of mastery, and they have a retail shop where makers can sell their creations.

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Glenn Greenwald and Michael Hayden debate surveillance

Every year, Canada's Munk debates feature high-level, high-profile debates on burning policy issues. This year, they debated surveillance, and the participants were Glenn Greendwald and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on the anti-surveillance side and former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on the pro-surveillance side. Although the debating partners do a lot in this, the real freight is carried by Hayden and Greenwald, both of whom are more fact-intensive than the others.

I have a bias here, but I think that Greenwald wiped up the floor with Hayden (the post-debate polls from the room support this view). It was particularly useful to have Hayden being grilled by a well-informed opponent who was allowed to go after the easy dismissals and glib deflections. Normally, he gets to deliver some well-polished talking points and walk away -- this was something I hadn't seen before.

This is just about the best video you're going to watch on the surveillance debate. It kicks off around the 30m mark.

Watch Live: Glenn Greenwald Debates Former NSA Director Michael Hayden

Aurora Award nominees, including a performance from actual outer space

Brooke Abbey writes, "The 2014 Prix Aurora Award nominees have been announced! [Ed: this is the Canadian popular science fiction prize]. I am one of the nominees, in the fan music category, which this year also includes A MOTHERFUCKING ASTRONAUT - Chris Hadfield's awesome Space Oddity cover IN ACTUAL SPACE is nominated. Canadian SF fans, please take a moment to look smug about how cool we all are. Canadians with $10 can join CSFFA to get the voter package with delicious literature & more, coming out soon, and to, y'know, vote." Cory 2

Telcos gave spies unfettered, deep, warrantless access to Canadians' digital lives

Michael Geist writes, "The recent revelations regarding massive telecom and Internet provider disclosures of subscriber information has generated a political firestorm with pointed questions yesterday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons. While Harper tried to provide reassurances that warrants were obtained where necessary, the reality is that the law includes a massive exception that permits voluntary, warrantless disclosure of subscriber information."

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Mayor Rob Ford recording: drunken, sexist, racist, homophobic, abusive rant


The recording of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack (again) isn't the only recording to emerge of the mayor; he was also recorded making drunken, racist, homophobic, misogynist remarks at a bar where he was also abusive to the bartender and said rather revolting things about his wife.

Of note in the recording was the mayor's vulgar remarks about Karen Stintz, one of his electoral rivals. Ford previously called another female political rival a liar after she accused him of drunkenly grabbing her ass and propositioning her at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.

In other news, the mayor also allegedly participated in an all-night, coke-fuelled drunken sex party at a nightclub where he vomited in the toilets in between verbally jousting with Justin Bieber and entertaining a group of "party girls" with his entourage.

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New Rob Ford crack-smoking video emerges, Ford takes "break" from re-election campaign


Rob Ford has announced a "break" from his re-election campaign for mayor of Toronto, after a video of him smoking crack last weekend surfaced, being offered for sale by a drug-dealer for seven figures:

In one of the clips shown to The Globe and Mail on Wednesday, the mayor rapidly shifts his weight back and forth on the spot, talking into his cellphone and his right arm swinging at his side. When the camera pans around the room, a man that looks like Alessandro “Sandro” Lisi, the mayor’s former driver and an accused drug-dealing extortionist, can be seen in the background. Mr. Ford’s sister, Kathy, who has admitted in media interviews to being a drug addict, is sitting in front of her brother. In the last of three clips, Mr. Ford is holding the pipe and speaking to his sister.

Rob Ford takes leave as new drug video emerges [Robyn Doolittle and Greg McArthur/The Globe and Mail]

Every 27 seconds, Canadian telcos hand over subscriber data to cops (mostly without a warrant)

Michael Geist writes, "These stunning disclosures, which were released by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, comes directly from the telecom industry after years of keeping their disclosure practices shielded from public view. Every 27 seconds. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month. Canadian telecommunications providers, who collect massive amounts of data about their subscribers, are asked to disclose basic subscriber information to Canadian law enforcement agencies every 27 seconds. In 2011, that added up to 1,193,630 requests. Given the volume, most likely do not involve a warrant or court oversight (2010 RCMP data showed 94% of requests involving customer name and address information was provided voluntarily without a warrant).

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Rob Ford's mayoral career considered as a reality TV show - straining suspension of disbelief


If Rob Ford's mayoralty had been a scripted reality show, it would have strained credulity, as this trenchant Marcus Gee column reminds us. Gee rounds up some of Ford's greatest hits -- including a few I'd missed, like Ford's vote against naming a street after Nelson Mandela; his failed bid to distribute 10,000 Easter eggs at a parade where he wasn't welcome, his appointment of disgraced, drug abusing athlete Ben Johnson to his campaign team, and his profane rant against a security guard who denied him entry to a VIP lounge at a hockey game.

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Canada in decline

The Harper regime has dealt blow after blow to the values Canada holds dear: environmental responsibility, humanitarianism, fairness, transparency, and pluralism. But when you see it all laid out in one devastating indictment, it's still jarring. The fact that this indictment appears in a sober-sided journal like The Lancet only makes the barbs sink deeper. O, Canada. Cory 23

Drunk 18 year old girl rushed to hospital from Canadian PM Stephen Harper's residence

An unnamed, drunk 18-year-old girl was taken to the hospital by ambulance from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's official residence. The RCMP confirmed the basic facts of the story and stated that she was not a member of the Harper family. PM Harper has two teenage children, including a son who is nearly 18. The Harper regime has refused to comment on the story at all, prompting criticism from reporters about the PM's unwillingness to "address an issue every parent of teens struggle with" and instead going "into information lockdown." Glen McGregor from the Ottawa Citizen has lots more about this, including the allegation that the drunk teen had been swimming in the PM's pool.

‘Intoxicated’ 18-year-old girl reportedly rushed to hospital from Prime Minister Harper’s residence (via Reddit)