Sept. 18, 2014

 Toronto Star – Alex Boutilier
Ottawa admits to tracking hundreds of protests 

A request by Liberal MP Scott Brison to the Government Operations Center brought a revelation that the Conservative government has collected information on over 800 demonstrations and events using a variety of agencies such as RCMP, CSIS and various government ministries.  Allegedly for reasons of public safety, the reports contain much more detail and are pre-occupied with a wide variety of organizations and events.   Related article: Toronto Star – Debra Black     Heritage minister denies political interference with rights museum   Related article:  – Linda McQuaig    Harper ramps up his war on independent thought

 Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Legal observers worry future judicial appointments will be done in secret

Government documents have revealed that the process of appointment for federal and supreme court judges has  acknowledged that government, in the case of Justice Clément Gascon, has not used a panel of MP’s to pare down the list of candidates as usually happens.  The exclusion of parliament in the selection process is alarming the legal community and the Canadian Bar Association in the face of the retirement of Justice Lebel from the SCC in December.    Related article: Globe and Mail – Editorial   Supreme Court process, abused   Related article: Globe and Mail –  Kim Mackral and Sean Fine   –   Tories changed tack on Supreme Court appointment after Globe report

 CBC News – Connie Walker
Assembly of First Nations says its proposals on missing women ‘tossed aside’ by Ottawa 

Interim National Chief Ghislain Picard still wants a national inquiry but Ottawa is pushing its community safety plan.   One advocate for the missing women, Audrey Huntley – a co-founder of No More Silence, suggested that the strategy is to blame the Aboriginal communities themselves for the problem.  National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples which represents urban Aboriginals approved the government plan.

 Global News – Laura Stone
‘These guys have to get out’: Prison guards union to campaign against Conservatives 

Canada’s prison guards have decided to prepare for the next federal election with an ABC – Anything But Conservative – campaign.  Says Jason Godin, National Vice President of the Union of National Corrections Officers:  “They’ve done more damage in three years than any government has done in our entire history.”

 Toronto Star – Tami Abdollah, Associated Press
Grenade launchers in schools? U.S. school police stock up on free military gear 

This article brings the issue of the militarization of police forces to new heights of absurdity: school police forces are now in line to collect war surplus from the Pentagon.  The Los Angeles Unified School District leads the absurdity by returning several grenade launchers but deciding to keep a mine resistant armoured personnel carrier.  Schools in California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, Texas and Utah have all obtained surplus military gear.

 CBC News
Fingerprint, retina scans considered for border crossing security 

US and Canadian border authorities are discussing the use of high tech when the new Detroit-Windsor bridge comes into service.  The question for them is how to share information more efficiently and whether to install wireless on the bridge.  Retina scans and fingerprinting are under consideration while critics are wondering what is wrong with passports.

 Huffington Post (US) – Ginger Lerner-Wren
The Time Has Come to End Stigma and Fund Mental Health Care in America 

World Health Organization has prompted a campaign to extent over 2013 – 2020 on the theme “No health without mental health.”  WHO has produced a target set of guidelines and will monitor the member countries for implementation.  Though the US is a member of WHO, response to the targeted goals has been neither stellar nor urgent.  Canada is also a member country.

Irish Times – Conor Lally
Fine defaulters make up more than half of those jailed 

This article raises the spectre of debtor’s prison for Ireland.  Over half of those in jail are committed – often for weekend only – for default on the payment of fines.  Since 2009 until 2013, the rate went from 31% to 52%.  Further, while the prison population is declining, the number of women committed to prison is increasing, and creating more overcrowding conditions in women’s prisons.  A new report called Strategic Review of Penal Policy is calling for more sophisticated forms of community service.

 Washington Post – Charles Lane
The Fed’s policies may have fed income inequality   

It would appear that for Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve, the unemployment numbers as a control on fed banking policy have yielded somewhat to the income inequality numbers.  Income for the top 10% has increased or held steady while income for the bottom 90% has declined to just over 52%.  Yellen also fears a shrinking labour force.