The border between Canada and the United States has been closed to everything but essential travel, for some time now. This means that Canadians and Americans can't enter each other's nations in the name of entertainment, tourism or recreation: doing what everyone can to stem the spread of COVID-19 is the right way to go if any of us want to get out of this plague alive. On the Canadian side of things, our border service lets Americans into the country, provided they're traveling for an essential purpose (bringing produce into the country, for example), have no COVID-19 symptoms, and, if they are required to stay in Canada as part of their visit, have a plan to quarantine themselves for 14 days before carrying on their merry way.
Recently, I learned that Americans are also allowed to travel on through to their home or business in Alaska, so long as they take the most direct route to the state and, in an effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading, stay the hell away from everyone else at rest stops and eateries. The majority of those headed north to Alaska have been honoring these conditions. Apparently, there are a few that are not. This past week, a few dickheads who didn't feel that the laws designed to keep us all safe apply to them, got caught.
From The CBC:
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Alberta RCMP issued seven tickets to Americans who stopped in Banff National Park to see the sights last week despite rules observed by the Canada Border Services Agency...at
Wow, two CGP Grey videos in one month? I'll take it! In his latest one, he talks about the United States' federally-owned land and the complexities of what that actually means.
Previously: Who owns the Statue of Liberty? CGP Grey explains Read the rest
This vintage-style map of the USA puts the titles of songs that mention place names onto their corresponding geographical spot. So, for example, the Beasties Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" is placed right on top of Brooklyn.
Some of our favourite song choices are the ones which require you to think a little harder about connections, such as Space Oddity (David Bowie) which signposts Cape Canaveral, After the Gold Rush (Neil Young) which references Sutter’s Mill, and Homecoming (Kanye West) which is placed near the rapper’s home town of Chicago.
You can get the map for £30 (~$39) at UK-based studio Dorothy. They also have a world song map (also £30/~$39) and a special edition world song map (£35/~$45). Head to Spotify to see the accompanying playlist.
(The Awesomer) Read the rest
On April 18th, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, announced that changes would be made to the country’s social security system: workers would be forced to pay more but would receive fewer benefits, despite their increased contributions. Understandably, people were pissed. They staged peaceful demonstrations. Then came the not so peaceful ones: the outrage the nation’s citizens felt over the changes to a system they had paid into the whole of their working lives, spilled over into resentment for the Nicaraguan government as a whole.
Since then, 300 civilians have died.
On July 14th, Nicaraguan police and pro-government paramilitary types trapped a group of student protestors inside of a church and commenced firing on those inside with military-grade arms. The whole, bloody, terrifying show was captured on video and in Twitter posts from inside of the church. One young man named Gerald, was from the city of Masaya. He was in Managua, Nicaragua's capital, attending university. Gerald was shot in the head—dead at 20 years old. His last rites delivered by a priest who was trapped in the church with him. Those trapped in the church have since been allowed to go free. Its said that there is at least one other dead and several wounded as a result of the incident.
Daniel Ortega’s been in office as the President of Nicaragua for 11 years. To get there, he ran for the position from 1990 until 2007. It was with a promise to improve the lives of the poor, to end the rampant corruption that infected Nicaragua’s political elite. Read the rest
Today, the US State Department published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on a plan to require 15,000,000+ foreigners who get a US visitor visa to disclose all their social media identities as a condition of entry.
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Last March, a Nevada court indicted April Parks, proprietor of A Private Professional Guardian, which had secured court guardianship over four hundred elderly Nevadans, working with crooked doctors and social workers to find the identities of old people who had considerable assets, then using a streamlined court process with no checks and balances to have those people declared to be unable to care for themselves. Read the rest
The five Volkswagen executives who were criminally charged in the USA for their role in the Dieselgate scandal have been advised not to travel to the USA because they are liable to arrest there: they've also been told that leaving Germany is risky because they might be arrested and extradited to the USA. Read the rest
Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "A California official removed an artwork by skateboarding icon Scott Olson from a public building because he said it was 'obscene.' Sorry, the First Amendment exists to prevent this kind of thing. Read the rest
The new licenses can be read from up to 30' away and at the last minute, nearly all privacy protections were stripped from the bill mandating them. Read the rest
Oliver Bienkowski, a guerrilla "light-graffiti" artist, splashed a projection of a caricature of Barack Obama's face on the side of the US embassy in Berlin, along with the phrase, "NSA IN DA HOUSE." Read the rest
During video testimony to the Council of Europe, whistleblower Edward Snowden reiterated that the NSA targets human rights groups, including those in the USA, for surveillance. It uses its Xkeyscore technology to "fingerprint" communications from these groups and targets them for deep surveillance. Groups that have been targeted in this way include UNICEF and many others. Read the rest
Sulka sez, "A Finnish MEP (Anneli Jäättenmäki) visited US and got told that given ACTA has been prepared entirely outside of Congress and isn't ratified, it's probably not legally binding towards US. The process has also been similar in other countries (Finland included), so it's questionable if the treaty has any power."
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I visited Washington in the European Parliament, the Liberal andCentre Group Presidency with the beginning of the week. We met with U.S. Congressional representatives and financial experts. One of the most talked subjects had anti-counterfeiting agreement, Acta.
We heard some unexpected information. U.S. Congress senator responsible for ACTA foreign trade committee chairman Ron Wyden, said he'd tried to find out if Acta is binding towards US or not. Congress has been kept outside of the process for forming the treaty, and the senator has received no response to his inquiries.
We also got to hear that the U.S. government does not intend to give Congress a vote on the agreement as it would collapse in Congress, which is a pretty worrying rationale. According to the U.S. law, Congress always deals with international agreements.
The U.S. government characterized in a reply to Wyden that ACTA is a bilateral trade agreements and as such has no effect on U.S. law. The big question remains as to whether the Acta at all binding on the United States.
The European Commission assumes that Acta is binding on the signatory countries. ACTA's credibility is seriously at stake if its signatories can apply it as they see fit.
Michael Geist sez, "The U.S. government just concluded a consultation on whether it should support Canada's entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. The TPP raises significant concerns about extension of copyright and overbroad protection for digital locks, so staying out might be a good thing. However, the IIPA, which represents the major movie, music, and software lobby associations, sees this as an opportunity to force Canada to enact a Canadian DMCA and to implement ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It has told the US government to keep Canada out of the talks until those laws are passed, adding that any exception to protect Canadian culture will not be included in the TPP."
TPP is the second coming of ACTA, the last round of incalculably evil, back-room copyright shenanigans. This seems like a pretty big miscalculation from America's copyright-pushers: "If you don't pass the crazy, awful copyright laws we've demanded, we won't let you be a part of our suicide-by-copyright-pact." Say it ain't so!
US Copyright Lobby Wants Canada Out of TPP Until New Laws Passed, Warns of No Cultural Exceptions Read the rest
On the eve of the enactment of Spain's harsh new copyright law, El Pais has published a leaked letter from the US Ambassador to the outgoing Spanish president ordering him to enact the copyright law America's industry wants to see, or face trade sanctions.
Spain's new law establishes a Syrian/Chinese style censoring firewall that blocks websites on the basis of unproven copyright claims, and mirrors the matching provisions of the proposed US Stop Online Piracy Act, making censorship into one of today's leading American exports.
In a letter dated 12 December and obtained by Spanish newspaper El Pais, US ambassador Alan Solomont wrote to the outgoing Spanish president expressing his concern about the lack of movement on a online piracy bill, known as the Sinde law.
"The government has unfortunately failed to finish the job for political reasons, to the detriment of the reputation and economy of Spain..." In his letter, Solomont issued veiled threats, reminding its recipients that Spain is on the Special 301, the US trade representatives' list of countries that do not provide "adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights. Spain risks having its position on the list "degraded", and could join the real blacklist of "the worst violators of global intellectual property rights."
US pressured Spain to implement online piracy law, leaked files shows Read the rest
The Guardian reports on life for visible minorities under Alabama's new "immigration" law that allows the police to detain and question "suspicious" (that is, brown) people and arrest them if they don't have immigration papers -- even if they're American-born US citizens. Many people of Hispanic origin have walked out of their jobs in protest, while others are fleeing the state:
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Even families legally entitled to be in the country are being caught. Cineo Gonzalez was shocked a few weeks ago when his six-year-old daughter came home from school carrying a printout. It gave details of HB56 and its implications, under the heading: "Frequent questions about the immigration law."
Gonzalez is a US permanent resident, having come from Mexico more than 20 years ago. His daughter is an American citizen, having been born in Alabama. Both are entirely legal. Yet she was one of only two children in her class – both Hispanic in appearance – who were given the printout.
Why was she singled out, Gonzalez asked the deputy head teacher. "Because we gave the printout to children we thought were not from here," came the reply.
Gonzalez is a taxi driver. Soon after the law came into effect, he began getting calls from Hispanic families. "People started asking me for prices. How much would it cost to go to Indiana? How much to New York? Or Atlanta, or Texas, or Ohio, or North Carolina?"
According to the US Dept of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child in a middle-income family has increased by 40 percent over the past ten years. Every major category of child-rearing expense has seen steep increase: day-care, education, food, gas, medical insurance, and so on. At this rate, childrearing may become a luxury item for America's increasingly wealthy super-rich.
"It takes half of my paycheck to pay for my child care -- you start to feel like, Is this even worth it?" said Anna Aasen, a mother of two from Roseburg, Ore.
In 2010, the cost of putting two children in child care exceeded the median annual rent payments in every single state, according to a recent report by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, or NACCRRA.
"It defies logic," said Linda Smith, NACCRRA's executive director. As more families are priced out of licensed child care services, the health and safety of those children are put in jeopardy, she said.
For Stephanie Serafini, 38, licensed day care for her two children comprises about 30% of her $39,000 annual income. Serafini pays a particularly high rate for care because her oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD.
It is by far Serafini's largest monthly expense, but also the one with the least flexibility. "Other bills don't get paid," she admitted. "If you don't have day care you don't work."
The rising cost of raising a child
(via Consumerist) Read the rest