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Fri, 30 Oct 2020
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What Happened to Canada?

G20 Protest Photos 2010
© G20 Protest Photos
Police confront protesters outside 2010's G-20 meeting in Toronto, Canada, June 25, 2010.
What happened to Canada? It used to be the country we would flee to if life in the United States became unpalatable. No nuclear weapons. No huge military-industrial complex. Universal health care. Funding for the arts. A good record on the environment.

But that was the old Canada. I was in Montreal on Friday and Saturday and saw the familiar and disturbing tentacles of the security and surveillance state. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Accords so it can dig up the Alberta tar sands in an orgy of environmental degradation. It carried out the largest mass arrests of demonstrators in Canadian history at 2010's G-8 and G-20 meetings, rounding up more than 1,000 people. It sends undercover police into indigenous communities and activist groups and is handing out stiff prison terms to dissenters. And Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a diminished version of George W. Bush. He champions the rabid right wing in Israel, bows to the whims of global financiers and is a Christian fundamentalist.

The voices of dissent sound like our own. And the forms of persecution are familiar. This is not an accident. We are fighting the same corporate leviathan.

Family

US: Faces of Poverty: Childhood Sexual Abuse (Trigger Warning)

Image
© unk
I grew up poor in the late seventies and early eighties. My mom stayed home with my two sisters and me until I went to kindergarten, our family couldn't afford childcare. Kindergarten was a half day affair so Mom asked my aunt, who lived across the street, if she would babysit in the afternoons. She had no way of knowing she was making a decision that would change my life forever.

My mom went to work at a sewing factory for piece work, meaning that her hourly wage was based on how many items she sewed. In order to make a decent wage she had to work her ass off, and she indeed worked her ass off. She was one of the fastest operators the company ever had and when she came home she was exhausted. Kaput. My dad was welder who was also a decorated Vietnam Vet, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross twice for bravery and courage in combat. He was distant and didn't say much, he was too busy reliving his own private horrors. There was a lot of stress and tension in the house due to financial worries; no matter how hard they worked they never could seem to get ahead.

I remember being really excited about school, I badly wanted to be like my big sisters who were the coolest girls ever! But once I stood in front of that huge building? Uh-uh. No, no, no, no. No way was I going into that creepy building where everyone was a stranger. Enter epic 6-year-old little girl fit. Complete with howling and begging. I'm sure Mom was horrified, she despised being embarrassed, and making a scene was guaranteed to embarrass. (I'm equally sure I knew this and tried to use it to my advantage). At some point she left and I made that long, lonely walk into unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar faces staring at me.

Card - MC

US: Old Mortgages Rise From the Dead, Haunt Homeowners

Jennifer Wilson, a former nursery school teacher
© Reuters/Tim Shaffer
Jennifer Wilson, a former nursery school teacher from Philadelphia, poses with bank papers in front of her residence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania January 20, 2012.
In July 2009, Roy and Sheila Bowers refinanced the mortgage on their suburban ranch home in Topeka, Kansas. The couple wanted to take advantage of the low interest rates that were all the rage at the time.

Roy, a truck driver, and Sheila, a former hotel housekeeping supervisor, knew their new loan from Wells Fargo would enable them to save $198.86 a month - a nice chunk to help with gas and groceries.

But what the Bowers never imagined was that their old loan, the one Wells Fargo told them was paid off, would resurrect itself, trashing their credit report, scotching their son's student loans and throwing the whole family into foreclosure. All, they say, even though they didn't miss a single mortgage payment.

The Bowers are not alone.

More and more, homeowners say that mortgages they thought were dead and buried are springing back to life, sometimes haunting them all the way into foreclosure.

Handcuffs

Uganda Bill Punishes Homosexuality with Life in Prison

Uganda's Parliamentarian David Bahati
© n/a
Uganda's Parliamentarian David Bahati
A Ugandan member of parliament has reintroduced a bill that increases criminal penalties for some homosexual acts, but dropped a provision that allows homosexuals to be executed by the state.

Parliamentarian David Bahati on Tuesday reintroduced the so-called "kill the gays" bill that he had first introduced in 2009. It was later shelved in 2011 after an international outcry.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but under the original bill, some homosexual acts would have been punishable by death. The latest iteration of the bill increases current punishments for certain acts to life in prison.

Ugandans would also face criminal prosecution if they failed to report homosexuals to authorities.

In 2010, President Barack Obama called the first version of the bill "odious."

Chalkboard

US: Los Angeles Miramonte school suspends entire faculty over sex abuse claims

Police guard Miramonte elementary school in Los Angeles
© Krista Kennell/AFP/Getty
Police guard Miramonte elementary school in Los Angeles.

Two teachers are accused of committing lewd acts on children, leading to extraordinary move by distric

The entire teaching staff has been suspended at Miramonte elementary school in Los Angeles, where two teachers have been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing children.

The Los Angeles school superintendent, John Deasy, announced the extraordinary move, telling parents that replacement teachers would be taking over classrooms and psychiatric social workers would be placed with each class to help students and staff.

Heart - Black

Israel: Ethiopian students? Not in our school

Students of Ethiopian descent living in Netanya are sent to 'their own' school; municipality: Registration areas determined years ago

In the Azorim neighborhood in Netanya 40% or residents are of Ethiopian descent. Most of them live on Motzkin and Eshkol Streets. The local Rambam elementary school is on Eshkol Street. The school has a student body that consists of mostly Ethiopian students.

In its website, the municipality made a statement that more than anything underscores the separation that exists within schools. On the same street, but in different 'blocks' there are two separate registration areas.

Evil Rays

Australia: No opt-out rule for airport body scanners

body scanner
Civil libertarians are worried by proposed legislation meaning passengers will not be able to opt out of undergoing full body scans at Australian airports.

The Federal Government will introduce legislation this week so the technology can be rolled out in all of Australia's international airports.

The move follows a trial in Sydney and Melbourne.

Except for travellers with serious medical conditions, all passengers will have to go through the scanners if asked by airport staff.

Eye 1

UK Government 'may sanction nerve-agent use on rioters', scientists fear

UK riot
Leading neuroscientists believe that the UK Government may be about to sanction the development of nerve agents for British police that would be banned in warfare under an international treaty on chemical weapons.

A high-level group of experts has asked the Government to clarify its position on whether it intends to develop "incapacitating chemical agents" for a range of domestic uses that go beyond the limited use of chemical irritants such as CS gas for riot control.

The experts were commissioned by the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of sciences, to investigate new developments in neuroscience that could be of use to the military. They concluded that the Government may be preparing to exploit a loophole in the Chemical Weapons Convention allowing the use of incapacitating chemical agents for domestic law enforcement.

The 1993 convention bans the development, stockpiling and use of nerve agents and other toxic chemicals by the military but there is an exemption for certain chemical agents that could be used for "peaceful" domestic purposes such as policing and riot control.

Extinguisher

'Apocalyptic' blast at Russian power plant stops motorists in their tracks

An accident at power station in Russia lights up the sky above a busy highway and knocks out electricity in south St Petersburg.


A video recorded on the dashboard camera of a car has captured a the moment an apocalyptic flash of light filled the Moscow sky.

Bad Guys

Hundreds of 9/11 Cops Diagnosed with Cancer

NYPD
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center took the lives of 23 NYPD officers who responded to the scene that day.

In the decade since though, the number of cops that have died from cancer is more than double that number, and the link, experts say, is astounding.

Before the 9/11 tragedy, an average of six NYPD cops filed claims for cancer-related disability each year. Around 12,000 men and women were dispatched to Ground Zero on September 11, and a decade down the road, the number of annual cancer claims has nearly tripled. Today there around 16 police officers each year in New York that are applying for cancer-related disability insurance, and the statistic has some saying that it is more than a coincidence.

In all, 297 cops that came to the scene of the September 11 terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan have been diagnosed with cancer since late 2001. 56 of them have passed away from their illnesses and the average age of diagnosis is only 44 years old. Less than half of that number - 23 police officers - were actually killed on the scene at Ground Zero.