Stopping cats from attacking birds


This video from Britain says about itself:

Save the Birds #PeckishCat

9 December 2013

Up to 55 million birds are killed by cats every year in the UK. So whether you are a cat lover or just want to protect your garden birds from cats, you can do your bit to help as well as having a little fun with our #PeckishCat video.

From BirdLife:

17 May 2017

Five neat tricks to keep your cat from attacking birds

In Canada, as in many countries, domestic cats are a major cause of garden bird mortality. But with a little adjustment, it’s possible to create an environment that is safer and healthier for felines and finches alike. BirdLife Partner Nature Canada’s Cats & Birds campaign shows you how.

By Alex Dale

For cat owners, is there a more comforting sound in the entire world than the satisfying ‘ker-chunk’ of the cat flap?

After hours of worrying what Tiddles has been up to while she roams around the neighbourhood, that reassuring clack-clack indicates that your beloved has finally returned to the warmth and safety of your home. But sometimes, she doesn’t return alone. Sometimes, to the horror of the owner, Tiddles bears in her teeth an unwanted gift – a dead (or worse, half-dead) garden bird.

Cats are born predators, so there’s no point in chastising them for doing something that comes naturally for them. Instead, owners have to accept that they are responsible for bringing a domesticated animal into their home and feeding it, and thus they are responsible for its actions.

Putting a bell on your cat’s collar is a simple and well-known way to limit the mischief your pet gets up to while it frolics outside, but Nature Canada (BirdLife Partner) suggests that cat owners should consider going further still, and wean their cats away from roaming around outdoors unsupervised altogether.

Sacrilege?  To many cat owners, putting limits on their pets’ freedom will seem exactly that. But, as Nature Canada’s Cats & Birds campaign is keen to impress on the Canadian public, reigning in your cat doesn’t just saves birds’ lives – it also helps keep your pet safe and healthy, too. “We partner with organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies,” says Project Manager Sarah Cooper, “precisely because they’ve been recommending keeping cats from roaming unsupervised for years, purely for the well-being of the cats.”

The Cats & Birds initiative was set up to increase public awareness of the risks to cats and birds of the common practice of allowing cats to roam unsupervised. Outdoor cats are exposed to disease, vehicle collisions and scraps with other cats and wildlife, not to mention the risk of getting lost. Cats are more often abandoned by their owners, and there are twice as many cats as dogs in Canada’s shelters. While an estimated 30% of dogs are reclaimed by owners, the same can be said of less than 5% of cats. More than 17,000 cats were euthanized in Canada in 2015 because they could not find homes.

And that’s just the toll in the shelters. In 2012 alone, more than 1,300 dead cats were collected from the streets of Toronto, Ontario. That’s why author Margaret Atwood, (former co-chair of BirdLife’s Rare Birds Committee) published a graphic novel series in tandem with Nature Canada’s campaign. Atwood describes Angel Catbird as a “walking, talking carnivore’s dilemma” whose conflict – “do I save this baby robin, or do I eat it?” — illuminates both sides of the issue.’

All things considered, preventing your cat from going outside unsupervised seems a win-win situation – saving the lives of both birds and, potentially, Tiddles. But cats are notorious free spirits. Can they ever be convinced to embrace the indoor life? The answer is yes, and Nature Canada has five tips to help you get started.

507-million-year-old fossil arthropod discovery


This video from the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada says about itself:

4 July 2012

Associate Curator, Jean-Bernard Caron presents an overview of the fossil collection from the Burgess Shale, B.C., highlighting a number of specimens.

From the University of Toronto in Canada:

Paleontologists identify new 507-million-year-old sea creature with can opener-like pincers

Discovery points to origin of millipedes, crabs and insects among other species

April 26, 2017

Summary: Paleontologists have uncovered a new fossil species that sheds light on the origin of mandibulates, the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on Earth, to which belong familiar animals such as flies, ants, crayfish and centipedes. Named Tokummia katalepsis by the researchers, the creature documents for the first time the anatomy of early mandibulates, a sub-group of arthropods with specialized appendages known as mandibles, used to grasp, crush and cut their food.

Paleontologists at the University of Toronto (U of T) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) have uncovered a new fossil species that sheds light on the origin of mandibulates, the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on Earth, to which belong familiar animals such as flies, ants, crayfish and centipedes. The finding was announced in a study published today in Nature.

The creature, named Tokummia katalepsis by the researchers, is a new and exceptionally well-preserved fossilized arthropod — a ubiquitous group of invertebrate animals with segmented limbs and hardened exoskeletons. Tokummia documents for the first time in detail the anatomy of early “mandibulates,” a hyperdiverse sub-group of arthropods which possess a pair of specialized appendages known as mandibles, used to grasp, crush and cut their food. Mandibulates include millions of species and represent one of the greatest evolutionary and ecological success stories of life on Earth.

“In spite of their colossal diversity today, the origin of mandibulates had largely remained a mystery,” said Cédric Aria, lead author of the study and recent graduate of the PhD program in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at U of T, now working as a post-doctoral researcher at the Nanjing Institute for Geology and Palaeontology, in China. “Before now we’ve had only sparse hints at what the first arthropods with mandibles could have looked like, and no idea of what could have been the other key characteristics that triggered the unrivaled diversification of that group.”

Tokummia lived in a tropical sea teeming with life and was among the largest Cambrian predators, exceeding 10 cm in length fully extended. An occasional swimmer, the researchers conclude its robust anterior legs made it a preferred bottom-dweller, as lobsters or mantis shrimps today. Specimens come from 507 million-year-old sedimentary rocks near Marble Canyon in Kootenay national park, British Columbia. Most specimens at the basis of this study were collected during extensive ROM-led fieldwork activities in 2014.

“This spectacular new predator, one of the largest and best preserved soft-bodied arthropods from Marble Canyon, joins the ranks of many unusual marine creatures that lived during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolutionary change starting about half a billion years ago when most major animal groups first emerged in the fossil record,” said co-author Jean-Bernard Caron, senior curator of invertebrate paleontology at the ROM and an associate professor in the Departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Earth Sciences at U of T.

Analysis of several fossil specimens, following careful mechanical preparation and photographic work at the ROM, showed that Tokummia sported broad serrated mandibles as well as large but specialized anterior claws, called maxillipeds, which are typical features of modern mandibulates.

“The pincers of Tokummia are large, yet also delicate and complex, reminding us of the shape of a can opener, with their couple of terminal teeth on one claw, and the other claw being curved towards them,” said Aria. “But we think they might have been too fragile to be handling shelly animals, and might have been better adapted to the capture of sizable soft prey items, perhaps hiding away in mud. Once torn apart by the spiny limb bases under the trunk, the mandibles would have served as a revolutionary tool to cut the flesh into small, easily digestible pieces.”

The body of Tokummia is made of more than 50 small segments covered by a broad two-piece shell-like structure called a bivalved carapace. Importantly, the animal bears subdivided limb bases with tiny projections called endites, which can be found in the larvae of certain crustaceans and are now thought to have been critical innovations for the evolution of the various legs of mandibulates, and even for the mandibles themselves.

The many-segmented body is otherwise reminiscent of myriapods, a group that includes centipedes, millipedes, and their relatives. “Tokummia also lacks the typical second antenna found in crustaceans, which illustrates a very surprising convergence with such terrestrial mandibulates,” said Aria.

The study also resolves the affinities of other emblematic fossils from Canada’s Burgess Shale more than a hundred years after their discovery. “Our study suggests that a number of other Burgess Shale fossils such as Branchiocaris, Canadaspis and Odaraia form with Tokummia a group of crustacean-like arthropods that we can now place at the base of all mandibulates,” said Aria.

The animal was named after Tokumm Creek, which flows through Marble Canyon in northern Kootenay National Park, and the Greek for “seizing.” The Marble Canyon fossil deposit was first discovered in 2012 during prospection work led by the Royal Ontario Museum and is part of the Burgess Shale fossil deposit, which extends to the north into Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies. All specimens are held in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum on behalf of Parks Canada.

The Burgess Shale fossil sites are located within Yoho and Kootenay national parks in British Columbia. The Burgess Shale was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Parks Canada is proud to protect these globally significant paleontological sites, and to work with leading scientific researchers to expand knowledge and understanding of this key period of earth history. New information from ongoing scientific research is continually incorporated into Parks Canada’s Burgess Shale education and interpretation programs, which include guided hikes to these outstanding fossil sites.

Kill African child soldiers, Canadian general says


This video from the USA says about itself:

World News: Somalia’s Child Soldiers | The New York Times

14 June 2010

More and more children are being recruited to become soldiers by Somalia’s transitional government, which is partially funded by the U.S. taxpayer. Some of them are as young as nine years old.

By Laurent Lafrance in Canada:

Canadian Armed Forces’ document calls for “heavier weapons” to confront child soldiers in Africa

25 March 2017

A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) directive, published at the beginning of the month, calls on the military to better prepare personnel—both psychologically and in terms of equipment—to confront child soldiers. The paper has been prepared as Canada’s Liberal government prepares to send hundreds of troops to Africa to participate in counter-insurgency operations.

The “joint doctrine note,” drafted in collaboration with Roméo Dallaire, a retired CAF Lieutenant-General and well-known proponent of “humanitarian” military interventions who served in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, is the first time the Canadian military has produced a document specifically outlining strategic guidelines concerning child soldiers.

The document begins by warning that “Encounters with child soldiers during operations can have significant psychological impacts for the personnel involved” and that Canadian soldiers “must be prepared for the possibility they will have to engage child soldiers with deadly force to defend themselves or others,” i.e. to kill them.

The directive then explains that troops are likely to face child soldiers “on an increasing basis” in future UN or NATO-led missions. Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 300,000 child soldiers—recruited as suicide bombers, fighters, spies, manual labourers or sex slaves—are involved in conflicts around the world. They are widely used in African countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia and Mali.

In the case of Mali, the children’s rights group Humanium reported in 2014 that children make up more than half of the country’s population and that “their recruitment has been coupled with the destruction and closure of schools” resulting from the bloody war that has raged in the country between Islamist forces and the US and French-backed Malian government since 2012.

But the directive argues the Canadian Army should not be disturbed by such a reality and, on the contrary, should respond with more brutality. Dallaire declared, “These kids are under duress, a lot of them are drugged up, a lot of them are indoctrinated … You may in certain circumstances still have to use lethal force.” Dallaire went on to say, “Pulling away … has been so much the norm and gives the advantage to the guy who is recruiting these kids.”

The document also underlines that if soldiers are not sufficiently armed they could be vulnerable to “human wave attacks” using child soldiers, i.e. frontal assaults where the target is overrun. It therefore concludes that “consideration should be given” to providing Canadian troops with “heavier,” i.e. more deadly, weapons.

The doctrine says child soldiers taken prisoner should be handled differently from adult combatants, such as by placing “greater focus on rehabilitation.” The real concern of the ruling class and the military brass, however, is not the fate of the child soldiers, but the potential loss of Western troops and fears that the Canadian military’s implication in atrocities will fuel antiwar sentiment at home.

“What caught a lot of these guys by surprise—the Dutch, the Germans and the Italians and the Chadians—in Mali was they were facing these Boko Haram kids and they didn’t know what the hell to do,” said Dallaire.

While government officials have not yet confirmed where the next Canadian deployment to Africa will be, Mali is high on the list of potential locations. France has been pressuring Canada for military support in Western Africa, including in Mali, where France, the United States and Germany are seeking to eradicate Islamist rebels they themselves armed and financed back in 2011 to oust Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

The UN had held open command of its “peacekeeping mission” in Mali for a Canadian officer, but the UN planners, impatient and uncertain about Canada’s involvement, recently announced that Maj.-Gen. Jean-Paul Deconinck of Belgium will take over.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has made two separate trips to Mali in the last year. An anonymous source recently told the Toronto Star that personnel from the Defence Department and Global Affairs Canada have made “non-stop” visits to the African country in recent months. The most recent visit came several weeks ago when officials attached to the newly formed Peace and Stabilization Operations Program in Global Affairs Canada spent several days in Bamako.

One of the reasons for the delay in finalizing a new Canadian military intervention in Africa is that the Trudeau government wanted to make sure the Trump administration approved of the deployment. According to the Globe and Mail, the Trump administration has now given the “green light” to Canada to dispatch troops to Mali. However, the Trudeau government, which seeks to camouflage an aggressive imperialist foreign policy in “humanitarian” rhetoric, has become concerned that the CAF’s implication in atrocities that involve children will alienate the population, expose the real, imperialist character of such “peace-keeping” missions, and undermine it plans to hike overall Canadian military spending.

As the CAF directive notes, if an engagement with child soldiers “is not well-handled, and communicated effectively, there is strong potential for significant negative impact on the mission, locally, in Canada, and at the international level.”

The Liberals are also concerned over how to sell to the public a combat mission that will likely involve a high number of civilian and Canadian casualties —more than 110 UN “peacekeeping” troops have been killed in Mali during the past four years—and one that is likely to prove only the prelude to a far broader military adventure across the region.

The intervention in Mali, where 13,000 troops and 2,000 police from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and various other countries are active, is being conducted under the United Nations umbrella. But it is also part of the broader French-led Operation Barkhane, which includes missions in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.

Although the various African missions, whether under the banner of the UN, France, or the US-led AFRICOM, are presented as counter-terrorism or even peace-keeping missions, they are part of a new scramble for Africa, in which the major powers are seeking to gain control over resources, markets and strategic countries.

Canadian imperialism is determined to have its share of the spoils. Canadian businesses, most of all the mining companies, have billions of dollars in investment throughout Africa and are eager to see the CAF increase its presence on the continent. The Canadian Army has been increasingly involved in West Africa. In 2011, Canadian Special Forces began attending the annual US-led Operation Flintlock exercise in West Africa, which brings together Special Forces from a number of neighbouring countries to undergo training.

When France sent troops to Mali in 2013, Canadian military transport planes were sent to ferry in French weaponry and supplies. The Liberal government agreed to similar assistance following its election in 2015.

A small contingent of 25 Canadian soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment, based in the French-speaking province of Quebec, will soon take part in a revamped Canadian Armed Forces’ mission to train security forces in Niger, which shares a border with Mali. These new forces will take over from an ongoing deployment, known as Operation Naberius, that was kept secret for almost three years and involved Canadian Special Forces providing similar training.

To fund increased military deployments, the Trudeau government is significantly hiking military spending. In its first budget it maintained the commitment of its Conservative predecessors to increase defence spending by 3 percent annually for a decade. More recently, it has repeatedly signaled, including in Wednesday’s budget, that bigger increases, aimed at moving Canada far closer to the NATO goal of a military budget equivalent to at least 2 percent of GDP, will be announced once the Liberals complete a year-long “defence policy review.”

Trump xenophobia bars Canadian nurses from the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

30 January 2017

Donald Trump’s presidency was too much to bear for one woman so she died the day after his inauguration. The tongue and cheek obituary for Robin Porch was posted in the local St. Louis, Missouri newspaper. Her family wrote, “With Trump as president, Canada wasn’t far enough, so she moved to Heaven.” Robin was a retired registered nurse at a hospital. The 62-year-old enjoyed reading and spending time with her grandchildren.

By Shannon Jones in the USA:

US immigration bars Canadian nurses employed at Michigan hospitals

18 March 2017

At least 30 Canadian nurses working at US hospitals in the state of Michigan were told last week that they could not enter the country because of changes to immigration policies under the Trump administration.

According to a CBC report, Canadian nurses employed at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital were not able to renew their working visas. Immigration officials told one Canadian nurse new hire that advance practice nurses and nurse anesthetists no longer qualify for working visas because of the changes. All Canadian nurses employed in the US have non-immigrant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional (TN) visas.

The nurses are being told by US immigration that they no longer qualify under the NAFTA TN category and that they must apply for H1B visas status, a more specialized category. Those applications can cost $3,000-4,000.

According to the CBC, some 30,000-40,000 Canadians work in the US under TN visas, which allow experts in certain fields a more expedited visa as long as they have a job offer.

Kathy Macki, the human resource director at Henry Ford Health Systems, reported at a press conference Thursday that 30 nurses have been affected so far by the changes. Hospital officials say they are working with the nurses to facilitate their being able to continue on the job in the US.

To apply for H1B status, Henry Ford would have to apply for expedited status, which could take up to three weeks.

Henry Ford hospital alone has hundreds of Canadian nationals on its staff and about 25 advanced nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists.

Mark Topoleski, an immigration lawyer employed by Henry Ford Hospital, told the CBC “We really question the motives. All the immigration executive orders and all the things being rolled out have been focused on national security first, and this is clearly not an issue of national security whatsoever. Livelihoods are at stake.”

US immigration officials say that they are suspending their fast track-program for processing H1B visas as of April 3. Applications for work visas typically take six months or longer. The suspension of premium H1B processing could last six months or longer and is in line with the virulently anti-immigrant stance of the Trump administration, which includes the recent travel ban on immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries. The courts have blocked that ban, at least temporarily.

At the Thursday press conference Topoleski said, “It will have a drastic impact on Henry Ford’s ability to provide patient care. This change in policy was not announced and has yet to be put out in any written format, so we really don’t understand the rationale behind this policy change.” He said he had also heard reports of a case involving a Canadian nurse working in Washington state.

At the same press conference, Patti Kunkel, a Canadian nurse practitioner who commutes daily from Ontario to work in Henry Ford’s cardiac surgery acute care unit, said she was anxious. “I worry I’ll be turned away at the border. This puts stress not only on me but on my team. We have high-acuity patients, and there’s a critical shortage of staff.” Kunkel has practiced nursing in Michigan under terms of NAFTA since 2000.

H1B visas last for three years and can be renewed for another three years. There were an average of 140,000 H1B visas issued annually between 2006 and 2015. There are no official statistics on the number of people working on H1B visas, but the number is said to be close to 1 million.

TN visas give certain Canadian professionals, such as nurses, the right to work in the US with little paperwork and unlimited renewals. Mexican nationals also qualify for TN visas under NAFTA, but must apply for a visa at a US embassy or consulate first.

In a statement issued Thursday, Customs and Border Protection public affairs officer Kris Grogan claimed there had been no change in policy relating to TN status.

The move to restrict work visas for nurses comes as the United States continues in the throes of a nursing shortage that promises to get worse as the population ages. There are some 3 million nurses in the US and nurses comprise the largest sector of the health care workforce.

According to a report in the Atlantic, a large portion of the US nursing workforce is over the age of 50 and 700,000 are expected to retire by 2024. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will open for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022, creating a shortage as large as any experienced in the US since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid.

At the same time the supply of trained nurses is not keeping pace due to the chronic underfunding of the US education system. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “U.S. nursing schools turned away 79,659 qualified applicants in 2012 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.”

An amicus curiae brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in relation to a lawsuit directed against the Trump administration’s travel ban calls foreign-born health care providers a “critical pillar of American health-care infrastructure.” According to the brief, some 28 percent of physicians in the US are immigrants, as are 15 percent of registered nurses and nearly 21 percent of direct-care workers. These include home health aides and personal-care assistants. The brief also notes “immigrant doctors and health-care workers are especially concentrated in medically underserved areas such as poor and rural communities.”

Lack of trained nurses can lead to the reduction of the number of hospital beds or to overwork of nursing staff. According to the Atlantic, “Overworking leads to fatigue and burnout, which threatens the quality of care and increases the incidence of error. Past research has found links between insufficient nursing staff and higher rates of hospital readmission and patient mortality.”

There is a high turnover rate in the nursing field related to stress. According to the journal Nursing Economics, some 30 to 50 percent of new registered nurses change jobs or leave the field within the first three years of clinical practice.

Canadian woman banned from USA for prayers on her phone


Fadwa Alaoui, a Canadian citizen, says she was turned away from the U.S. border after being asked detailed questions about her religion and her views on U.S. President Donald Trump. (photo: Salimah Shivji)

From CBC radio in Canada:

Wednesday February 08, 2017

Canadian woman denied entry to U.S. after Muslim prayers found on her phone

Fadwa Alaoui is a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen living in Brossard, Quebec. Like a lot of Quebecers, she sometimes drives down to Vermont to take advantage of the deals. But on Saturday, when her family pulled up at the border, Alaoui encountered something new.

After the usual set of questions, Alaoui says she was asked about her religion and her thoughts on U.S. President Donald Trump. She says border agents took her phone and fingerprints. Four hours later she was told that her family wasn’t welcome and she was forced to turn back.

Alaoui spoke with As It Happens guest host Helen Mann about her ordeal and why she is struggling to explain what happened to her son. Here is part of their conversation.

Helen Mann: Ms. Alaoui, what kind of questions were you asked by U.S. Customs when you got to the border on Saturday?

Fadwa Alaoui: The usual questions like what is the reason of your visit and what is the place of your birth? I answered that I was born in Morocco. He told me: How long have you been here in Canada? I said that I was here more than 20 years. He told us okay you can park your car and come with us in our office. Once there, he asked us about our phone and the PIN number to open the phone.

HM: Now, they were also asking you other questions, as I understand it, about your religion?

FA: Yes, exactly. After that they came and interviewed us one by one. The first question he told me: You are Muslim, right? I responded, yes. He told me: Do you practise? I told him yes. He told me: Which mosque do you go? So I started to explain the mosque where I go. What is the name of the imam? Where do you pray? Where do the women pray? Does the imam come talk to you directly? What is the speech the imam gave? What is the frequency that you go to the mosque?

HM: And you answered all the questions?

FA: Yes. I answered all the questions, the best that I know. I was calm. I collaborate. I give him all the answers he wanted to know. He told me: Are you part of any group? Muslim group? I told him no. I told him it’s not my first time that I’m going to the United States. I have family there. I have my parents, my brothers, everyone is there. Today, especially, I want to bring my son with me because he is sick. I want to change his mind and give him a treat because he was sick, he had cancer. He asked me about the mosque: Do you know the last name of the imam? If he is always present? If someone replace him? The name of the person who replaced him? He told me: What do you think about the shooting in Quebec? Do you have relatives in Quebec that was one of the victims?

HM: I understand he also asked your thoughts on President Donald Trump?

FA: Yes. He asked me: What do you think about Donald Trump? I told him, what? He told me: [What’s] your opinion about his policy. I told him, listen, he has the right to do whatever he wants in his country. I don’t expect that. I’m not following the news. I’m not following what happened. I have a busy life. I have busy schedule with my son, with all these appointments at the hospital, with my kids.

HM: Now, after some time I understand they emerged and asked you about some videos they found on your phone. What were you asked about?

FA: They asked about prayers that I receive on my phone. I told him I’m not aware about it. I’m not the one who sends it. But he wanted to know what does it mean to you? It’s more prayers that we have to say. I’ve received from groups, from friends, because they know what I have been through with my kids. They send me prayers to say that it’s going to help you or something like that.

HM: Eventually you were told that they were not going to let your family into the United States. What did they say?

FA: They took our fingerprints, our pictures. The lady came to the front desk and she told me: “Okay, we’re not let you in.” I said, “What is the reason? Why?” She told me because you have videos and concerns against us. I was shocked. I told her, what? Is that my phone, my cousin’s phone — what phone? She told me it’s a combination of both phones.

HM: Do you have any idea what she might have meant by that?

FA: I don’t know, no. I signed the form. I was sick. I was shocked. I was tired so I just drove back home.

HM: And what did the form you signed say?

FA: It’s not saying the reasons that she said verbally. The form says: “Withdrawal of application for admission. Subject is inadmissible to the United States. An immigrant not in possession of a valid and expired immigrant’s visa.”

HM: You’re a Canadian citizen right?

FA: Yes. I’m a Canadian citizen. I travel with my Canadian passport. My passport is still valid until June 2018.

HM: Have you ever needed a visa to travel to the United States before?

FA: No. Not with my Canadian passport. I go there like every month. It’s the first time they react like that.

HM: So what do you say to your son? How do you explain this to him?

FA: I didn’t find the words to explain to him. I don’t want him to feel like we were discriminated because I raise my kids that we are all the same. We are Canadians. Yes, we have different names, but we are all the same. But I couldn’t find words to explain to him why.

‘Your rights are significantly narrower’: Lawyer’s advice to Canadians travelling to U.S.: here.

‘We didn’t have anything to hide’: Canadian heading to Women’s March refused entry to U.S.: here.

Canadian photojournalist detained for hours, refused entry to U.S.: here.

‘Give and receive love’: Friend of Quebec mosque attack victim finds strength in community: here.

Iranian student grateful to return to U.S. after federal judge halts travel ban: here.

Canadian barred from U.S. for life because he admitted he smokes pot: here.

A three-judge Appeals Court panel issued a unanimous ruling Thursday afternoon rejecting the Trump administration’s claim of “unreviewable” presidential power and sustaining a judicial order that bars enforcement of Trump’s temporary ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as his temporary ban on the entry of refugees from any country: here.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the central Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Wednesday afternoon seeking to block the detention of long-time US resident and undocumented immigrant, Guadalupe García de Rayos. Wednesday’s visit to the local ICE office in Phoenix was part of García de Rayos’ regularly scheduled check-in with the office, which has taken place every year, and more recently every six months, following a 2008 felony conviction for having false ID papers: here.

Bison are back in Canadian national park


This video says about itself:

Bison reintroduced to Banff National Park

6 February 2017

Parks Canada has successfully relocated 16 bison from Elk Island National Park to the remote Panther Valley in Banff National Park. This video by Parks Canada shows how the process worked.

By Lisa Monforton, CBC News in Canada:

Wild bison roam Banff National Park for 1st time in more than century

‘It’s one of the great days for wildlife conservation in the history of North America’

Feb 06, 2017 8:01 PM MT

The first wild bison to roam Banff National Park in more than a century have been airlifted into a remote valley in a “historic homecoming” aimed at re-establishing a thriving herd, Parks Canada said Monday.

The 16 bison — primarily pregnant two year olds — were loaded onto shipping containers on trucks in Elk Island National Park, about 35 kilometres east of Edmonton, and transported to the park in the past week.

The shipping containers were ferried by helicopter over the slopes and lowered into an enclosed pasture in Panther Valley near Sundre on the eastern slopes of the park.

The bison were let out into the pasture, where they’ll stay for 16 months while being closely monitored by Parks Canada using radio collars.

Eventually, in the summer of 2018, they’ll be released into a 1,200-square-kilometre area on the eastern slopes of the park, where they can interact with other native species, forage for food and integrate into the ecosystem.

Harvey Locke, a conservationist, writer and trustee with the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation in Banff, deemed the day a historic moment.

“This is a great day for Banff National Park. It’s a great day for Canada and frankly, it’s one of the great days for wildlife conservation in the history of North America,” Locke said.

Local conservationists involved in the relocation said they were relieved the moving process went so smoothly after years of research, preparations and consultations with various groups.

Karsten Heuer, a conservationist and adviser in the project, hailed it as a “big first step in bringing bison back to Banff National Park.”

“It’s a huge relief to actually have hooves on the ground,” Heuer said.

The longer-term goal is to re-establish a new wild population of bison in Banff National Park and help the conservation of the animal nationally and internationally. …

Locke said it’s only natural the bison should be roaming the park again.

“Restoring wild bison … is the righting of wrong that was caused in the 19th century when we almost eliminated wild bison as a species.… Banff Park was involved in saving the species from extinction 100 years ago, and today it’s involved in restoring this species as part of the landscape, as a wild animal, and that is really exciting,” Locke said.

Locke doesn’t think the bison will have any trouble adapting.

“I don’t think the challenges for this herd are very large, because we know from the archeological record that bison were in this park for over 10,000 years.… I think it’s going to go very, very well, because it’s a native species in its native habitat.”

Heuer called the move just the beginning.

“As we move forward, one thing we are really going to play close attention to is bringing Canadians along on the story,” Heuer said.

Ideas include continuing public education and awareness, with a chance for volunteer opportunities to learn more about the bison, Heuer said.

Murder Edward Snowden, Canadian spying bigwig says


This 2 December 2016 Amnesty International video says about itself:

Edward Snowden – Whistleblower

When Edward Snowden shared USA intelligence documents with journalists in June 2013, he revealed the shocking extent of global mass surveillance.

He showed how governments were secretly hoovering up huge chunks of our personal communications, including private emails, phone locations, web histories and so much more. All without our consent.

His courage changed the world. He sparked a global debate, changing laws and helping to protect our privacy. For the first time in 40 years, the USA passed laws to control government surveillance. Globally, technology companies including Apple and WhatsApp are now doing more to protect our personal information.

None of this would have happened without Edward Snowden. A former US Attorney General admitted that Snowden’s revelations “performed a public service”. Even President Obama said that this debate about surveillance “will make us stronger”.

Edward Snowden is a human rights hero. Yet he faces decades in prison, accused of selling secrets to enemies of the USA. With no guarantee of a fair trial in his home country, he is living in limbo in Russia.

By Roger Jordan in Canada:

Canada’s top spy “watchdog” says Edward Snowden should be shot

15 December 2016

Michael Doucet—the director of the government “watchdog” agency tasked with ensuring the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) doesn’t violate Canadians’ rights—has publicly declared that US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden should be shot.

Far from being an individual outburst, Doucet’s remarks exemplify broad sentiments within establishment circles. More than three years after Snowden lifted the veil on the NSA’s illegal activities, including the major role that Canada plays in the NSA-led “Five Eyes” global spy network, the Canadian ruling elite remains outraged at his exposures.

The head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), Doucet responded to a question at a recent talk he gave at Toronto’s Ryerson University on what Snowden’s fate would have been had he been Canadian by saying, “Do you want my opinion on that? Do you really want it? I’ll give it to you. If Edward Snowden had worked for CSIS and did what he did, he should be shot.”

Doucet’s outburst underscores the fraudulent character of the SIRC and like government “oversight” bodies charged with ensuring CSIS, Canada’s premier intelligence agency, and other parts of the national-security apparatus don’t violate Canadians’ civil liberties. Such “watchdogs” are in fact lapdogs—state bodies committed to defending, and covering up for, the police and intelligence agencies and upholding the capitalist social order.

The Liberal government response to Doucet’s inflammatory comments is no less revealing. Asked about them, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale noted blandly, “That remark strikes me as highly inappropriate.”

Beyond this, there has been no official government response, let alone any suggestion that Doucet should be removed or otherwise sanctioned. Nor have the opposition parties seen fit to raise the issue. As for the corporate media, only the Globe and Mail reported Doucet’s remarks and Goodale’s tepid criticism of them.

The indifference among ruling circles to Doucet’s effective call for Snowden’s execution reflects the ruling elite’s general contempt for basic democratic rights. In the name of the “war on terror,” successive Liberal and Conservative governments have erected the framework of a police state over the past 15 years, including sanctioning the intelligence agencies to systematically spy on Canadians. They would rather see figures like Snowden, whose courageous actions brought some of the state’s illegal practices to public attention, silenced, or even eliminated, than lift a finger in defence of democratic rights.

No country’s national security apparatus is more closely integrated with that of the US than Canada’s. As a key Washington ally for over three quarters of a century, Ottawa is deeply implicated in US imperialism’s aggressive pursuit of its geostrategic interests around the world. Canada has participated in virtually every US-led war over the past two decades, is playing a major role in the US military-strategic offensives against Russia and China, and through the “Five Eyes” surveillance network both assists the Pentagon in its wars and helps monitor the political beliefs and activities of the world’s population.

In 2013, Snowden revealed that the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE), Ottawa’s signals intelligence agency, functions as a veritable arm of the NSA. This includes: assisting the NSA in developing surveillance programs; carrying out operations, especially in countries where US citizens have limited access; and training personnel. It also conducts economic spying to benefit Canadian corporate interests, as shown by Snowden’s revelation that CSE eavesdropped on mining companies active in Brazil.

Other documents revealed by Snowden provided evidence that the CSE systematically collects the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications, a blatant violation of their constitutional rights, not to mention the mandate of CSE, which is authorized to spy only on foreign targets.

CSIS has been no less aggressive in its law-breaking activities. The domestic spy agency has been combing Canadians’ metadata since 2004 and has lied to the courts about its actions. Federal court judges have repeatedly chastised CSIS and CSE for deliberately withholding information from them.

Doucet, who is ostensibly the top watchdog tasked with holding CSIS to account, was himself deeply implicated in the CSE-NSA partnership and as such, no doubt, in the development of the mass surveillance of North Americans’ electronic communications and internet use. He told his student audience that in the mid-2000s, when he worked for CSE, he served as the embedded liaison officer at NSA headquarters.

From the outset, Canada’s ruling elite made no secret of its hostility to Snowden. Like all other Western governments, Canada refused to grant Snowden asylum, despite the fact that he faces almost certain execution or incarceration for life should he return to the United States. He currently resides in Moscow, where he was stranded in 2013 after the US made clear that it was determined to seize him. This included forcing down the Bolivian president’s plane, because they believed it might be carrying Snowden to asylum in South America.

Canada’s then foreign minister, John Baird, declared his full support for the US efforts to bring Snowden to “justice,” publicly demanding Snowden surrender to US authorities. For his part, Jean-Pierre Plouffe, the government-appointed commissioner tasked with overseeing CSE’s activities, denounced Snowden’s exposures of the illegal activities of the NSA and CSE, saying they had led “to a lot of misinformation.”

In his Ryerson appearance, Doucet continued in this vein, asserting that Snowden’s actions had damaged “national security.” Immediately following his declaration that Snowden deserves to be shot, Docuet claimed that if Snowden had concerns about the scope and legality of the NSA’s spying he should have raised them with his superiors.

“(I)f he worked for CSIS, there are all the mechanisms there, as there were in the States, to raise the issues that he felt needed to be raised,” claimed Doucet. “If he really cared about the US, the US system, he would have exhausted every avenue … he would not have released so much information that would have placed Americans, allies and others in risk of harm.”

This is a pack of lies. In the first place, the spying operations of the NSA, CSE and the “Five Eyes” alliance are not directed at safeguarding the population, but at upholding the predatory interests of US and Canadian imperialism and their British, Australian and New Zealand allies. Not Snowden, but the national security apparatus, which functions as a state within the state to spy on and suppress political opposition, constitutes the real threat to the population, as demonstrated by their systematic violation of basic democratic rights.

Second, bodies like SIRC and their counterparts in other countries have proven worse than useless at preventing the erection of a police state apparatus and the embrace of illegal surveillance methods by the agencies that they are supposed to oversee.

While Doucet boasts that in Canada “there are all the mechanisms” for would-be whistle-blowers to come forward, his call for Snowden’s death (subsequently qualified to include his criminal prosecution) constitutes—to say the least—a chilling warning as to how the SIRC and Canadian elite would receive any internal complaints of illegal activities by the national security apparatus.

Since Snowden’s revelations were made public, the Canadian ruling class has further strengthened the repressive powers of its state. In 2015 the Conservatives and Liberals collaborated to ram through parliament legislation (Bill C-51) that guts privacy protections, creates a new “speech crime” of “promoting terrorism,” and empowers CSIS to break virtually any law when “disrupting” vaguely-defined threats to national security.

Although they ensured Bill C-51’s speedy passage, the Liberals, recognizing it was highly unpopular, promised during last fall’s election campaign that they would amend it. Predictably, this promise has proven to be a fraud. To date, the only amendment they have introduced is to create a parliamentary oversight committee, a move, which as the populations of Britain and the United States can testify, will do nothing to hinder the intelligence agencies’ illegal mass surveillance.

The silence of the smaller opposition parties, the New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois, and Greens, on Doucet’s call for Snowden’s execution should come as no surprise. All of the established parties accept the “war on terror” narrative as good coin and refuse to challenge the intelligence agencies’ practices.

The muted reactions to Doucet’s comments underscore that as the deepening capitalist crisis heightens already explosive social tensions, the ruling elite is preparing to use the most ruthless measures to suppress opposition to its program of austerity and imperialist war. Earlier this month, Liberal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr revealed the government is ready to use the military to suppress “non-peaceful” anti-pipeline protests.

The author also recommends:

Canadian spy agency concealed mass data intelligence-bank from courts
[10 November 2016]

Canada’s Liberals defend “war on terror,” spy agencies in Bill C-51 consultation
[17 September 2016]

Canada’s foreign minister calls on Edward Snowden to surrender to US authorities
[23 December 2016]

Amid a barrage of anti-Russian hysteria whipped up by the US government and media, a House committee report declassified on Thursday alleges that former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden stole information both for his own personal gain as well as for foreign governments, including Russian intelligence agencies with whom he had purportedly been in close contact. This report also comes amid popular demands to the Obama administration that Snowden be pardoned: here.

Canada’s Liberal government expands spy agencies’ powers in “reform” of Harper’s Bill C-51: here.