Canadian scolding of Saudi Arabia's human rights violations means nothing if they continue to sell them weapons

I’m a proud Canadian. I’m proud that my nation took a stand against the human rights practices in Saudi Arabia. Maybe you’ve read about it. Earlier this week, Canada’s Minster of Foreign Affairs tweeted that our nation was less than impressed with Saudi Arabia’s arrest of a woman’s right activist. It’s a sentiment echoed by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.

From The Guardian:

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested the women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah. The arrests were the latest in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists. More than a dozen women’s rights activists have been targeted since May.

Most of those arrested campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the country’s male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

On Friday, Canada said it was gravely concerned about the arrests, including Badawi’s. Her brother Raif Badawi, a dissident blogger, has been imprisoned since 2012. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

As a result of Canada commenting on the Saudi treatment of these individuals, the Saudi Arabia kind of lost its shit: After tweeting that no one would be allowed to dictate how the nation administrated its people, the Saudi government called its ambassadors to Canada home and gave Canada’s ambassador to the nation 24 hours to get out of Dodge. The Saudis followed up by ordering many of its citizens who were attending university at Canadian institutions home and messing with established trade deals it holds with Canada. Read the rest

Canada increases biometric monitoring of foreign nationals

If you’re from just about anywhere in the world, with the exception of the United States, beginning this week you'll find that visiting Canada will feel a whole lot more invasive. Moving forward, it will be necessary for all foreign nationals to provide Canadian Immigration officials with their fingerprints and photographs, if they're applying for a visitor's visa, work permit, want to attend a Canadian university, or if they wish to apply for a work permit or status as a permanent resident.

From The Daily Hive:

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told Daily Hive that “new regulations will support the expansion of biometric collection to all applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa who are applying abroad for a temporary resident visa, work permit, study permit, or permanent residence.”

The spokesperson noted that IRCC currently collects biometrics from “in-Canada refugee claimants, overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from Canada, and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.”

Now, here’s the creepy part. Canada will be sharing the data they collect on each person entering the country with the Migration Five/Five Country Conference: The United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. For those keeping track at home, these same nations also comprise the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, which, as Edward Snowden was kind enough to warn us about back in 2013, has been spying on one another’s citizens as a way of circumventing laws that keep Five Eyes member countries from spying on their own people. Read the rest

Toronto's aural panic: why we need digital rights now

Last week, my city became a garbage fire. Within 48 hours of a mass shooting on Toronto's Danforth Avenue, City Council had passed a motion to purchase the American acoustic surveillance system ShotSpotter, making Toronto the first Canadian municipality to adopt the technology. As Americans already know, the system is designed to monitor "at risk" (read: poor and black) neighbourhoods for potential gunshots, which it geolocates and pushes to local law enforcement personnel for a substantial fee. Of course, ShotSpotter would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy on the Danforth and there are real questions about its effectiveness as a gunshot detection system, but why let facts get in the way of a rash political decision?

Toronto councillor praises gerrymandering plan to silence "left-leaning" voices in the city

Robbo Mills writes, "Speaking at a press conference at the Provincial Parliament in Queen’s Park on Monday, Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said Premier Doug Ford’s plan to gut Toronto City Council is a good move because it would silence 'left-leaning' voices on council. Read the rest

Calgary malls caught secretly using facial recognition to characterise shoppers' age and gender

Calgary's Chinook Centre and Market Mall -- operated by Cadillac Fairview -- have been caught running background software that analysed the footage from the CCTVs in the malls' electronic directories to guess at the age and gender of visitors, without consent or notification. Read the rest

Trumpian Ontario premier Doug Ford will gut Toronto's city council to punish his Tory rivals

Doug Ford, AKA Laughable Bumblefuck II, won the Ontario provincial elections with a cowardly, trumpian campaign that kicked off with a bitter leadership race within his own party, whose top spot was up for grabs because the previous leader was accused of getting young party activists drunk and then having sex with them. Read the rest

New laws are forcing Canadian drug dogs into early retirement

In Canada, on October 17 of this year, it’ll be legal to use pot medicinally or for recreation, without having to worry about getting into trouble with the cops. This is great news for users of marijuana products, those looking for a legal route to selling them, and for the police, as the possession of legal dope means that they can forget about it and deal with higher priority issues. Unfortunately, not everyone’s gonna come out of this with a win: a number of cops will lose their jobs as a result of decriminalization.

From the CBC:

Earlier this month, the RCMP threw a retirement party in St. John’s, N.L., for a Labrador retriever named Luke.

As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and as cannabis legalization approaches, that puts Luke and other dogs like him out of work.

Luke, who sniffed more than five million of dollars’ worth of drugs during his time on the force, is one of 14 canines across the country who will be out of a job before October 17.

Traffic and interdiction dogs like Luke are trained to detect cannabis, but once the substance is legal, they can no longer be used to establish grounds for search in a traffic stop.

Luke and his fellow former police service pups will no doubt be trotted off to caring homes where they’ll be able to enjoy their retirement from active duty. In the meantime, the RCMP are going to have one hell of a time training new drug dogs with marijuana excluded from their nasal vocabulary. Read the rest

Kayakers take an intentional 100 foot drop off a water fall

Ram Falls is about 20 minutes from where we're staying for the summer. It's a lovely patch of outdoor beauty. We have a lot of that here. As with the provincial parks that surround the cities of Jasper and Banff, It's a great area to camp in, hike or, you know, fall the equivalent of a 10-storey building off a waterfall in your kayak.

Last week, whitewater kayakers Edward Muggridge and Aniol Serrasolses decided that the time was right to take the 100 foot plunge over the falls. Apparently, the conditions were right.

From The Calgary Herald:

“With whitewater kayaking, you want to have a waterfall that has a combination of a deep enough pool and enough volume of water flowing over the actual lip of the falls,” Muggridge said.

“You want to be able to have enough aeration in the landing and a deep enough pool where you can safely descend the drop. It’s definitely a really risky game and it takes some serious precision and mental focus to be able to pull something off like that.”

I'd rather walk, thanks. Read the rest

White Helmet rescue workers evacuated from Syria by United Nations

Since 2013, the Syria Civil Defense, better known to the world as the White Helmets, have been putting themselves at risk in one of the most dangerous regions in the world. During the Syrian Civil War and throughout the campaign against ISIL in the war-torn country, the White Helmets could always be found working to save whoever they could in the wake of aerial bombardments, artillery barrages and secondary explosions. Their rescues, often made during pitched battles, were completed under great personal risk.

Of late, however, the White Helmets have been facing a new threat: The Syrian government. The Syrian government has taken back control of the majority of the areas that the White Helmets operated in – areas once held by anti-government factions. While the White Helmets recused anyone who needed their help, the government sees them as being associated with the rebels. That’s bad news for for the volunteers – bad enough that the United Nations and a number of member states worked together to get them and their families the hell out of the country.

From The BBC:

Some 422 volunteers and family members were taken to Jordan via the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overnight. The UK, one of the nations requesting Israel's help, hailed the operation and will assist with resettlement. The White Helmets describe themselves as a volunteer workforce that acts to save people in Syria's war zones.

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian allies, say the White Helmets support the rebels and also have links to jihadist groups.

Read the rest

Pay what you like for DRM-free, award-winning Canadian sf

The Aurora Award Bundle 4 includes ten books that were finalists for, or won, Canada's Aurora Award for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, including the outstanding Napier's Bones and Sean Stewart's monumental Resurrection Man. (Thanks, Derryl!) Read the rest

This lynx became buddies with cameraman after spending months together in the Canadian north

It's an accomplishment to find and photograph a lynx: they want little to do with humans and make an effort to keep themselves to themselves. It's an even bigger accomplishment to not only find a lynx to photograph, but to also spend enough time with it that it comes to see you as a hunting buddy. Read the rest

Hackers say they stole tens of thousands of health records of Ontario home-care patients and they want to get paid

CBC reporters have verified health record files provided by hackers who say they acquired them by breaking into the computers of CarePartners, a company that contracts with the Ontario government. Read the rest

Poverty grounds for separating kids from their families in Canada

British Columbia is a rich Canadian province. As with most places where money flows freely, not everyone is allowed a taste of privilege.

British Columbia has one of the highest rates of child-poverty in the whole nation. This lack of wealth to buy the basics of life that most of us take for granted has been giving B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development the excuse it needs to remove kids from their parents. The premise for doing so, sounds logical: If you can’t pay to properly feed, clothe and house your child, you’re neglecting your child. The government will step in to do what you can’t and, in the process, take your child away from you. But once you start picking apart the apparatus that serves to ‘protect’ the kids separated from impoverished families, it’s easy to see that provincial government’s methodology is based in cruel madness, masquerading as concern.

Last year, it came to light that a teen removed from his family lived in 17 different foster placements under the watch of 23 different social workers and caregivers over an 11 year period. His final placement: being kept in a hotel room: a practice that was employed on a regular basis, due to the number of children in B.C.’s child protection system and the difficulty in finding suitable foster families. Unsupervised and suffering from a number of mental health issues, he jumped from his hotel window, to his death. In a feature published this week by The Globe & Mail, it was revealed, that this teen, Alex Gervais, was being “sporadically” checked in on by a caregiver paid $8,000 a month. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes - Colter Wall

No matter where you live, it's going to be too hot this weekend. You could head out to bomb the trails on a mountain bike, wander the canyons and valleys of a major city in search of new experiences or hit the open road. But honestly, this heat: you're best served by plunking down in front of an air conditioner or, lacking that, a breeze-filled porch. Invite a few friends, watch the sun set and down a few brews.

Colter Wall's music is made for this. Read the rest

Code For Canada fellowships: get paid to hack better public services

Ren from Code for Canada writes, "We launched last year and, among other things, fund "fellows'--i.e. tech-savvy, civic-minded professionals who get embedded in government agencies for 10 months (ed: at a pro-rated salary equivalent to CAD75,000/year) and help make services more efficient, intuitive, and accessible. We are now accepting applications for our second cohort of fellows! If you know of any great coders, big data nerds, designers, or project managers who might be interested the application link is here." Read the rest

Canadian border guards have secret access to a US "anti-terror" database of 680,000 names

Canadian border guards' terminals give them secret access to Tuscan, a database maintained by US spy agencies of suspected terrorists; the database has some 680,000 names in it and if you match one of those names, Canadian border and immigration officials are empowered to "detain, interrogate, arrest and deny entry" to you. Read the rest

Rare cotton candy-colored lobster named "Lucky" escapes pot, now lives in an aquarium

A 2 lb. cotton candy-colored lobster was discovered last November by a Canadian fisherman and it's just making the rounds on social media now.

The Portland Press Herald reports:

Canadian fisherman Robinson Russell, 38, caught the lobster off Grand Manan Island in December and decided to donate the 2-pound crustacean to an aquarium in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick.

“Lucky” the lobster will be on display at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre’s aquarium for the remainder of the summer and fall seasons, Russell said.

“I really didn’t know what to do with it at first, so I decided to give it to the aquarium,” Russell said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

His 5-year-old daughter, who was thrilled to see such a unusual lobster, will now be able to visit Lucky whenever Russell takes her to Saint Andrews. The aquarium opened May 19 and will remain open until Oct. 14.

Russell said he posted a photograph of the lobster on Instagram [last year], soon after he caught Lucky, but it wasn’t until this month that the picture created a stir on Instagram. Russell said a Maine lobsterman spotted the unusual colored lobster and reposted it on Instagram.

The CBC on its rarity:

According to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, the chances of finding an albino lobster are one in 100 million. But Robert C. Bayer, executive director of the institute, said this is just an estimate.

"There is no firm statistic on that," he said. "It is strictly a guess."

Bayer said it is easier to win the lottery than find a white lobster.

Read the rest

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