Saturday, October 19, 2013

Spy watchdog launches probe into alleged CSIS intimidation

Douglas Quan, Postmedia News

Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013

The watchdog overseeing Canada's spy agency is investigating a complaint by a Hamilton man who says he received an unannounced visit at his home by two agents earlier this year after making public statements that were critical of the Harper government's position on Iran.

Ken Stone, a longtime antiwar, social justice and environmental activist, said the agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service wanted to ask him more about his views on Iran and his travels there.

Stone said Friday the visit was a clear attempt at intimidation.

"I was startled. I was not amused.... The more I thought about it, the angrier I got," said Stone, 67. "Canadians should be very worried about CSIS. We have Charter rights, freedom of speech and association."

In June, Stone wrote to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the external body that examines the activities of the spy agency, demanding a formal apology from CSIS, as well as the release of all records related to the visit.

Stone had previously filed an access-to-information request for those records but was told by CSIS that all information was exempt from disclosure "as it relates to the efforts of Canada toward detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities."

This month, Stone received a letter from SIRC confirming that it would open an investigation into his complaint and that he would be contacted in the near future about scheduling a prehearing conference. Tahera Mufti, a spokeswoman for CSIS, said Friday it would be "irresponsible" to comment on Stone's accusations now that an investigation is underway.

According to the CSIS website, the agency is barred from investigating lawful advocacy, protest or dissent unless they're carried out in conjunction with threats to national security.

Stone said he poses no security threat and is asking the government to clear his name.

He said when the agents asked to speak to him about his views on Iran, he told them that he didn't feel the need to do so as his views were already well-known because he had expressed them in various public forums.

One of those forums was a January 2012 letter published in the Hamilton Spectator newspaper in which Stone criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for labelling Iran as "the world's most serious threat to international peace and security." Stone wrote that the statement had "contributed to Islamophobia, the fear of Muslims and of Islam." He referenced a visit he had made to Iran in 2011 for a conference on Palestine and said Iran "lives in peace with its neighbours."

Canada formally severed all diplomatic ties with Iran in September 2012.

Stone said while his interaction with the CSIS agents lasted only a few minutes, it caused him and his family a "considerable ... anxiety."

Mediastan documentary film now online for viewing

Mediastan is a 2013 documentary film about the 2010 United States diplomatic cables leak, directed by Johannes Wahlström and produced by Julian Assange, Rebecca O'Brien, and Lauren Dark. "Stan", also spelt "sthan" is a word that means place or region.

Its release was timed to challenge that of The Fifth Estate, a film dramatization about Wikileaks which Assange has described as a "propaganda attack" against the organization.


Ottawa Public Dialogue, November 12, 7-9:30 pm @UOttawa

From: Steve Sullivan <>

You are invited to participate in a public dialogue open to all people living in Ottawa to hear about the rising justice costs from Kevin Page, former Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada; and then explore this important question: 
Are you getting what you need from the ‘Justice’ you are paying for?
The Smart Justice Network of Canada (SJNC) 
and the 
Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP)
invite you to join us
on Tuesday, November 12, 2013
7:00 to 9:30 pm

This location is wheelchair accessible

Steve Sullivan, the Executive Director of Ottawa Victims Services will moderate the evening. 

Along with brief presentations by Kevin Page, now the Jean-Luc Pépin Research Chair at the School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa and Justin Piché, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, there will be ample opportunity to share your ideas and hear from others in this community.

We welcome you to be part of this Ottawa conversation.
Please refer to the online backgrounder here for more information about this community dialogue and why we think it will interest you.   Please click here for more information about us.
You may also contact SJNC through the website to register for this event, and if you have questions or other accessibility needs. One of us will get back to you within a day by phone or email if you provide your contact information.  

We hope to see you on November 12!

Planning Committee Members:
Sheila Arthurs                                                     
Lorraine Berzins
David Daubney                                                                   
Susan Haines
Ed McIsaac                                                                                          
Justin Piché
Steve Sullivan
George Thomson
Linda Markowsky (SJNC National Coordinator)

Egypt coup regime hires Israel-linked Washington lobby firm

Egypt’s military regime, which overthrew elected President Muhammad Morsi on 3 July, has hired a Washington, DC public relations firm with close ties to the Israel lobby and President Obama’s Democratic Party.

Last week, the Glover Park Group (GPG) filed lobbying registration forms with the US Department of Justice, stating that the firm will “provide public diplomacy, strategic communications counsel and government relations services” for the Egyptian regime headed by General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, The Hill reported.  


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Daily Show: Extended Interview: Malala Yousafzai

Sen. Sanders: 'Global Warming a Far More Serious Problem Than Al Qaeda'

In a newly published interview, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasts the "unfettered capitalism" that has collapsed the middle class, and the corporate power fueling climate change, which poses a "far more serious problem than Al Qaeda." READ MORE....

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr won’t be moved from federal prison

by The Canadian Press on Friday, October 18, 2013

EDMONTON – An Edmonton judge has denied former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr a transfer from a federal prison to a provincial jail.

Justice John Rooke dismissed an application from Khadr’s lawyer that his 27-year-old client be moved out of the Edmonton Institution.

Dennis Edney had argued that his client should be treated as a young offender and be moved out of maximum security.

“Mr. Khadr’s placement in a federal penitentiary is lawful and the … application is denied,” Rooke wrote in his decision released Friday.

The Toronto-born Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to five war crime offences, including murder, for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15.

A U.S. military commission sentenced him to eight years, but did not specify if it was a youth or adult sentence.

Khadr was transferred to Canada from Guantanamo Bay last fall.

Edney had argued that an eight-year sentence for the murder and four other crimes only made sense as a youth sentence.

But the federal government argued that Khadr was given eight years as a youth for murder and the sentences on the four remaining offences were to be served concurrently as an adult.

Rooke agreed that Khadr was sentenced as a youth on the murder charge and as an adult on the four other charges. The issue then became where best to serve the sentence.

“Mr. Khadr obviously cannot be in an adult provincial facility for adults and a penitentiary at the same time,” Rooke wrote.

“Therefore, the question is where is the offender sentenced to youth and adult sentences to serve that sentence?”

Given that part of Khadr’s sentence is being served as an adult, Rooke found placement in a penitentiary is lawful.

Edney said his client plans to appeal.

Israel's New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land

Here is the New York Times’ whitewashed version of Israel

NCCM Presents: "Fostering Fear: Examining the Roots of Anti-Muslim Discourse" -- Saturday, October 26, 2013 @ 6:30 PM Sheraton Centre Toronto

VIDEO: NCCM's Oral Arguments @ Supreme Court of Canada - Harkat Case

NCCM Legal Counsel Faisal Bhabha Presents Arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada | Mohamed Harkat Case

If you would like to read NCCM's Factum (written argument) authored by the NCCM legal team, please see:

The Composition of the Saudi Middle Class: A Preliminary Study

A recent study ​by the Gulf Research Center ​revealed that 27.5% of Saudis live under poverty line (about 5 million), ie having under $800 US monthly, including more than 3 million in absolute poverty (under $400 US per month).

The main objective of this study is to understand the status quo of the middle class in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The study begins by attempting to construct a theoretical framework for understanding the concept of the new middle class, its constituents and various categories, as well as its importance within the socio-economic and political structure. It also explores how the Saudi middle class has emerged historically, its size within the Saudi socio-economic structure, and delineates its different sections, the upper, basic (middle) and peripheral (marginal).

See also​ other papers at​:

Could principles of Islamic finance feed into a sustainable economic system?

The sharia principle that no one should profit purely from loans might contribute towards a sustainable economy

Timothy Spangler

Guardian Professional, Friday 18 October 2013

Is your mortgage halal? How about your pension?

Islamic finance has been a significant global force for the past few decades, but in recent years sharia-compliant saving and investing have become more common in the United States. For example, in June, Goldman Sachs provided a loan to Arcapita Bank, an Islamic investment company, that in compliance with sharia law did not charge interest. In July, a US-based trade association, the World Council of Credit Unions, published a manual explaining to would-be community financiers in developing countries how to operate sharia-compliant credit unions.

Western discussions of sharia law often focus on extremist groups imposing brutal interpretations of these legal codes on unwilling populations. But sharia law, which derives from the Qur'an and the religious teaching of Islam, can also be applied to the finance sector. Importantly, Islamic finance can be seen as part of a wider movement towards the promotion of sustainability as a key element of economic life.

The sharia establishes distinctly Islamic concepts of money and capital, focusing on the relationship between risk and profit, and the social responsibilities of financial institutions and individuals. As is widely known, the payment or receipt of all forms of interest (or riba) is strictly forbidden by the Qur'an. This prohibition is intended to prevent exploitation from the use of money and to share profit and loss. Money is a means of exchange – not an asset that grows over time. Islam also forbids followers from dealing in prohibited goods – alcohol, pork products, tobacco, pornography, and weapons.

The basic premise under sharia law that no one should profit purely from money leads to a shift in both parties' perspective away from the short-term transaction and towards the longer-term relationship and its consequences.

In short, the structures that have evolved do away with classic debt – and the banks that provide such financing – in exchange for direct participations in risk and reward. For example, an ijara can be used to purchase real estate for the purpose of leasing it out to tenants and the rental income is distributed pro rata to subscribers. A sukuk is a fully negotiable certificate that can be bought and sold on the secondary market, and allows the new owner to "step into the shoes" of the original holder, taking all the rights, obligations and liabilities relating to the underlying assets that accompany the certificate.

Importantly, participants in an ijara and holders of a sukuk have no guaranteed return and are all economically aligned in the long-term success of the project. If the project fails, they cannot simply take their profits to date and sell of the loan collateral to make themselves whole. As a result, Islamic finance encourages the creation of social value alongside economic value.

Because it has at its core the concept of both parties to a transaction explicitly sharing the risk, the argument has been made that Islamic finance is, in fact, more sustainable than its western counterpart. And as questions still remain over whether the banks that were pushed to the brink during the recent financial crisis, have actually changed their ways and become more responsible in their investment activities, the continued growth of Islamic finance demonstrates the growing acceptance in the market of radically different approaches.

Today, lenders provide sharia-compliant mortgages that do not charge any form of interest to the borrower and instead permit the bank and the borrower to share in the risks of the repayments. Notably, these mortgages are eligible for purchase through Freddie Mac. The Amana Mutual Funds, based in Bellingham, Washington, have invested more than $3bn in accordance with Islamic investment restrictions listed above. A Dow Jones Islamic Index has been constructed that screens out companies that violate these restrictions, allowing people to track the performance of the universe of potentially sharia-compliant investments.

The increased presence of sharia law in the US, however, has not been without controversy. In particular, a number of high-profile domestic law and family court cases has provoked a strong backlash in many states. In addition, some feared Islamic finance could be a dangerous risk, arguing that money entrusted to these firms could eventually be used to finance terrorism.

Because of these concerns, several state legislatures, including in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee, have since 2010 tried to ban – or at least severely curtail – any application of sharia law in their state courts.

But Islamic finance is a legitimate expression of an economic philosophy of the use of money. This shouldn't be stigmatised or criminalised – especially in light of the excesses and abuses that preceded the recent global financial crisis.

Islamic finance is becoming an important part of important emerging economies in the Middle East and Asia – high-growth markets where American businesses will want to compete and succeed. And the Muslim population in the United States is continuing to grow and can be an engine for further growth here at home.

Ignoring these developments at a time when sustainable banking and responsible investing still has ground to gain in the financial markets will be harmful to American banks and investors, as well as to the American economy itself.

WATCH / READ: Journalists Find 12-Year-Old Girls Making Old Navy Jeans for Gap in Bangladeshi Factory

WATCH / READ: Journalists Find 12-Year-Old Girls Making Old Navy Jeans for Gap in Bangladeshi Factory

See also: 

Made in Bangladesh (CBC's Fifth Estate)

Why sweatshop owners may start sweating

Bangladesh garment workers strike for higher wages 

Retailers split over how to protect Bangladesh garment workers

84% Muslim women are totally against under-18 marriage

Oct 18, 2013

The Times of India-Ipsos Survey shows that most Muslims in Kerala are categorically against underage marriage. The majority of respondents in the survey consider it nothing less than sacrilegious to insist, as the clergy and a conservative minority within the community do, that attaining puberty is the main criterion for a girl's marriage. They also inextricably link the extent of a girl's education, job prospects and financial independence with a meaningful married life.

As many as 83% of the respondents oppose the proposition that attaining puberty makes a girl ready for marriage, with a gender-based break up showing that 84% women and 81% men are against it. Significantly, the mixed gender percentage which opposes underage marriage is around 90% in Muslim-majority Malappuram. READ MORE.....

EVENT: Solidarity event / film with Frist Nations this upcoming Tuesday -- October 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm at 251 Bank Street, 2nd floor, Ottawa

Greetings from Muslims for Progressive Values MPV Ummah Ottawa

This upcoming Tuesday - please join us to watch the film, "The People of Kattawapiskak", the first film in the series,Divine Interventions and ask Andrea Landry of the UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus and other First Nations activists how we can stand in solidarity behind First Nations in Canada.

Please share with your networks. 


Pakistan has third highest percentage of slaves in world, report says

By Bailey Cahall, Friday, October 18, 2013 

 (visit hyper links)

The Walk Free Foundation, an Australian-based human rights organization, released its "Global Slavery Index 2013" survey on Thursday, which shows that approximately 54 percent of the 30 million people living in slavery worldwide reside in India and Pakistan (AP, Dawn, Post, RFE/RL,VOA). According to the report, which looks at practices including forced and bonded labor, human trafficking, forced marriage, and the use of child soldiers, nearly 14.7 million slaves reside in India and 2.2 million are in Pakistan, placing the countries at 4th and 3rd place, respectively, on the list - Mauritania and Haiti were 1st and 2nd. The foundation also criticized Pakistan for its lack of organization in tackling slavery, and noted that India's inefficient legal system frequently discourages victims from seeking help (AJAM).

The NSA's New Code Breakers

America's using front companies, break-in artists, and hacktivists to spy on everyone -- and only North Korea seems able to resist.


There was a time when the code breakers of the National Security Agency actually took the lead in solving enemy encryption systems. These days, not so much. In today's NSA, it's hackers, break-in artists, corporate liaisons, and shadow salesman using front companies who are at the forefront of this effort. Even so-called "hacktivists" play an unwitting role in helping the NSA gain access to computer networks -- both hostile and friendly.
Just about the only place that's somewhat immune to the NSA's new style of code-breaking attacks? North Korea, because it's so disconnected from the rest of the world's networks.
Former U.S. intelligence officials confirm that the more than 1,500 cryptanalysts, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and computer technicians who comprise NSA's elite cryptanalytic unit, the Office of Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (S31), have had a remarkably large number of code-breaking successes against foreign targets since the 9/11 attacks. But these wins were largely dependent on clandestine intelligence activities for much of their success in penetrating foreign communications networks and encryption systems, and not the more traditional cryptanalytic attacks on encrypted messages that were the norm during the Cold War era. Prior to 9/11, the NSA's cryptanalysts used their huge stable of supercomputers to break cipher systems using what is referred to as "brute-force methods" -- using the supercomputers to run every cipher permutation until the message or messages in question become readable. It was a long, tedious, and extremely costly process (today the NSA spends over $247 million a year to buy and maintain its state-of-the-art supercomputer systems just for cryptanalytic use). But it did work if there were inherent vulnerabilities or structural weaknesses in the cipher being attacked or if the system's users did not practice proper communications security procedures, such as changing the cipher keys and passwords frequently.
The NSA today has more supercomputers than ever, and the agency still employs a number of puzzle-solvers, linguists, and math geeks. But these classic cryptanalysts have, in part, given way to a new breed.
You won't learn this in the files leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden -- at least not directly. According to individuals who have reviewed the entire collection of 50,000 documents provided to the media by Snowden, what is missing from the papers is any document which lays out in detail just how successful the agency's code-breaking efforts have been. There are numerous documents in the Snowden collection describing individual NSA cryptologic programs, such as the NSA's mostly unsuccessful multiyear effort to crack the encryption protection used by the anonymizer service Tor. But no reports describing the agency's cryptanalytic successes and failures have been found in the Snowden collection to date.
Interviews with current and former intelligence officials conducted over the past two months have revealed that since 9/11, the NSA's computer scientists, electronic engineers, software programmers, and collection specialists have been remarkably inventive in finding new and innovative ways to circumvent the protections supposedly offered by encryption systems by compromising them through clandestine means. Among these clandestine means are CIA and FBI "black-bag jobs," as well as secret efforts by the U.S. intelligence community to interdict the shipment of advanced encryption technology to America's enemies around the world and insert "back doors" into commercially available computer, communications, and encryption technologies that allow the NSA to covertly access these systems without the users knowing it.
But the most sensitive of these clandestine techniques, and by far the most productive to date, is to covertly hack into targeted computers and copy the documents and message traffic stored on these machines before they are encrypted, a process known within the NSA as "Endpoint" operations. Responsibility for conducting these Endpoint operations rests with the computer hackers of the NSA's cyberespionage unit, the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO).
According to sources familiar with the organization's operations, TAO has been enormously successful over the past 12 years in covertly inserting highly sophisticated spyware into the hard drives of over 80,000 computer systems around the world, although this number could be much higher. And according to the sources, these implants are designed in such a way that they cannot be detected by currently available commercial computer security software. It has been suggested to me by a reliable source that "this is not an accident," with the insinuation being that many of the biggest commercially available computer security software systems made in the United States and overseas have been compromised by the NSA, either covertly or with the knowledge and consent of the companies that manufacture these systems.
Former agency personnel confirm that in innumerable instances, these TAO implants have allowed NSA analysts to copy and read all of the unencrypted documents stored on the targeted computer's hard drive, as well as copy every document and email message produced and/or transmitted by the machine. But more importantly, TAO has helped NSA cryptanalysts solve several hundred foreign government and commercial encryption systems because these spyware implants, if properly inserted into the computer, can covertly alter its security software as well as copy the encryption system's technical parameters, especially the system's encryption algorithm and access passwords, in a way that cannot be detected. These implants can compromise the encryption systems used by not only the targeted computer, but also by all other computer systems that it communicates with using encryption technology.
According to confidential sources familiar with TAO's operations, many of the NSA's cryptanalytic "success stories" against high-priority targets such as Russia and the People's Republic of China in recent years have been the direct result of TAO's cyberespionage efforts. For example, sources confirm that much of what the U.S. intelligence community knows about China's computer-hacking efforts against targets in the United States, Europe, and Asia stems from TAO's intelligence collection efforts since 2005, when TAO reportedly achieved a major technical breakthrough against a Chinese target.
But TAO doesn't just spy on America's rivals. In 2012, the group reportedly compromised the encryption system used by an important G-8 country to transmit sensitive diplomatic communications via satellite to its embassies around the world. The same is true with a number of countries in the Middle East and South Asia, including Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Pakistan, although the details of these successes are not yet known. And finally, sources report that TAO has successfully compromised the privacy protection systems currently used on a range of 4G cell phones and hand-held devices, thanks in large part to help from a major American telecommunications company.
There are high-profile targets that have proved resistant to TAO's cyberespionage efforts over the years, however. For example, TAO has reportedly had virtually no success penetrating North Korean government computer systems or networks because there are so few of them and they are heavily protected from access to the outside world.
Over time, TAO has become increasingly accomplished at its mission, thanks in part to the high-level cooperation that it secretly receives from the "big three" American telecommunications companies (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint), most of the large U.S.-based Internet service providers, and many of the top computer security software manufacturers and consulting companies. According to a February 2012 budget document published this year by ProPublica, these companies "Insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, networks, and endpoint communications devices used by targets" on behalf of TAO.
TAO is also very active in the global computer security industry marketplace, using the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and State Department to help it keep close tabs on the latest computer security devices and software systems being developed around the world. And while details are lacking, informed sources report that TAO has been active in covertly buying up commercially available "hacker tools" or spyware software systems from individuals and companies in the United States and overseas, particularly in Western Europe, to help facilitate its ever-growing computer network exploitation efforts.
The extreme sensitivity of TAO's collection efforts has required the NSA to take extraordinary steps to try to disguise its computer-hacking activities. For instance, current and former intelligence sources confirm that TAO increasingly depends on clandestine techniques, such as commercial cover, to hide its activities. TAO uses an array of commercial business entities, some of them proprietary companies established specifically for this purpose, to try to hide its global computer-hacking activities from computer security experts in a maze of interlocking computer servers and command-and-control systems located in the United States and overseas that have no discernible link to the NSA or the U.S. government.
These sources also say that TAO gets a lot of help from politically motivated hackers, or "hacktivists," who unintentionally help the NSA by providing ideas to improve TAO's collection efforts. (Exactly which hacktivists have been particularly helpful, these sources wouldn't say.) Working closely with the NSA's computer security experts at the NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center, TAO personnel perform detailed forensic postmortem studies of every major successful computer penetration operation around the world. Some of these are pulled off by criminal outfits, some by government-backed groups, and others by political actors. In each case, the agency's personnel look for new techniques or procedures that they can use to get inside computer systems around the world.
There is no question that TAO's future looked incredibly bright before the first newspaper articles began appearing in the British and American press in June 2013 based on documents leaked by Snowden. Now, industry sources familiar with TAO say that the organization's future prospects have dimmed somewhat.
A number of foreign-based computer systems and IT networks that formerly were major producers of intelligence information for TAO have over the past three months changed security procedures and encryption systems, routed traffic to more secure computer nodes or servers, erected new firewalls, or have gone offline altogether. According to recent press reports, the Russian government for a time reverted back to using manual typewriters rather than commit sensitive information to its computer systems. And a number of European countries and Brazil have begun shifting their most sensitive data and communications traffic to secure networks that they hope will be resistant to the NSA's intrusive surveillance activities.
But this is, I am sure, just the tip of the iceberg. I have no doubt that the damage to TAO's foreign intelligence collection capabilities and its ability to facilitate the solution of foreign encryption systems by the NSA's cryptanalysts has been substantial. The big question that will determine TAO's future prospects is whether the damage done so far proves to be irreparable.

The End of OPEC

Forty years after the Arab oil embargo, new technologies are dramatically reshaping the geopolitics of the Middle East. READ MORE....

Homegrown terror here to stay, expert warns

By Jeff Outhit - Oct 18, 2013

WATERLOO REGION — More murderous plots are likely in Canada even as strong police work and watchful residents foil homegrown terrorism, a leading scholar warns.

"Homegrown terrorism is here to stay," said Lorne Dawson, a professor who studies terrorism at the University of Waterloo. "The conditions that give rise to it are not going away."

Dawson has a secret security clearance, meets with international security officials and helps direct a national network for terrorism research. He spoke to the Confederation Club Thursday about Canadians who become terrorists after subscribing to an extreme version of Islam.

Canada has not suffered a terror attack but has seen four foiled plots since the 9/11 terror attack in the U.S. in 2001, Dawson said. Radicalized Canadian Muslims are also being linked to terrorism abroad, including some from nearby London, ON.

UW has seen Tamil students convicted in the U.S. of supporting terrorism abroad. Their cause is ethnic nationalism, which differs from Islamic terrorism.

Dawson is researching factors to help explain why a few aggrieved Canadian Muslims turn to violence.

Terrorists typically believe that Muslim culture and civilization is under U.S.-led attack, he said. However, that grievance does not explain terrorism because it is shared by others who do not plot violence.

Homegrown terrorists typically do not have a history of mental illness, are not poor and do not have backgrounds linked to criminal behaviour, he said. For example, most do not come from broken homes or from troubled neighbourhoods.

Other factors are more typical. Homegrown terrorists tend to be immigrants or children of immigrants, male and young.

Typically they're struggling to find their identity in a society that's shedding traditional codes of behaviour that might otherwise guide them, Dawson said. They're susceptible to hateful internet material, behave differently in groups than as individuals, and see their behaviour as virtuous.

"They want to matter," Dawson said in an interview. "They want to do something that's consequential."

He credits strong community outreach by the RCMP and helpful observance by the Muslim community for Canada's success in foiling homegrown terror plots.

"More people in these communities are willing to be watching for the radicalization, and call it out and notify authorities," he said.

Food bank volunteers fed up with government inaction

"The issue of poverty, and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is a growing problem. While the federal government is content micromanaging people's cable bundles, there are many of us who look for true leadership on serious issues, like poverty and income inequality." - James Clancy, NUPGE National President. 

Ottawa (17 Oct. 2013) - On October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, food bank volunteers will walk away from their lunch lines to serve up food for thought on street corners in major cities across the country. They are asking everyday Canadians to re-consider food charity as the solution to hunger and are calling for a federal plan to address poverty.

Chew on This! events taking place across Canada on October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Impromptu lunch lines will be popping up from Whitehorse to Halifax from noon until 1 p.m.—including sites at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and at Bay and King Street in Toronto’s financial district. But instead of handing out free lunch, volunteers are brown bagging a call to action for the Prime Minister. They want him to take a proactive approach to eradicating poverty and hunger for the 882,000 people who resort to food banks each month and millions of others struggling to get by. Chew on This!volunteers are joining the thousands who have endorsed Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty Free Canada.

Ottawa Chew on This! participant Karen Secord is the Coordinator of the Parkdale Food Centre, one of the most innovative food banks in the Ottawa area. She agrees that Canada can do more.

"Poverty is the reason why people are hungry. It is why they eat poor quality food in a country that is rich in good food. It is a drain on health care and education resources," says Secord. "No one wants to be poor. As a caring society we can do so much better."

Action plan needed to reduce poverty and income inequality

Food banks were launched in the early 1980s as a temporary solution to hunger but were never meant as a permanent measure.

“Hunger in Canada is now clearly more than a food issue: it’s about the general cost of living in light of insufficient incomes and social supports,” says Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty. “We’re never going to solve hunger and poverty in Canada through charitable acts like food donations – we need federal leadership and an action plan.”

James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) couldn't agree more. "The issue of poverty, and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us is a growing problem. While the federal government is content micromanaging people's cable bundles, there are many of us who look for true leadership on serious issues, like poverty and income inequality."

"Without a modern industrial strategy to create good jobs that allow people to earn a living wage, and without developing quality public services to help families in times of need, more and more families will be turning to food banks as a staple rather than an interim measure. We expect more from our elected leaders, and they need to start delivering." 

When the federal government plays a role in poverty reduction, it makes a difference

A national poverty action plan is the main recommendation in “Poverty Trends Highlights: Canada 2013,” a report by Citizens for Public Justice.

“The statistics show that when the federal government makes it a priority, poverty can be reduced,” says Executive Director Joe Gunn. “We need a comprehensive poverty plan. The House of Commons has called for one, the Senate has called for one, and the United Nations has called for one, but we haven’t seen any action.”

Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada, headed by Canada Without Poverty and Citizens for Public Justice, is a multi-year, non-partisan campaign supported by over 10,000 individuals and 600 local and national organizations calling for a comprehensive federal plan to eliminate poverty. 


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

Solidarity With Mi'kmaq Nation in New Brunswick -- Ellen Gabriel

Published on Oct 17, 2013

Ellen Gabriel on the situation facing the Mi'kmaq in Elsipogtog New Brunswick as RCMP use force of arms against peaceful protesters.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Muslim Americans more popular than the Tea Party

Thursday, 17 October 2013 -- by Joyce Karam

Tea Party favorites Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and Larry Klayman spent most of last week bashing Muslims and introducing the “Quran” and “Allah” to the shutdown and debt ceiling debate that they are losing in Congress.

Unfortunately for them, Muslims are in fact more popular and viewed more favorably by Americans than the far right movement.

Having failed at governance and the basic task of securing an operational government, the Tea Party leaders had to retreat to ugly screams of Islamophobia in order to distract attention from their downfall and to drum up support with fear tactics. Larry Klayman, a clownish figure who started the Tea Party group Freedom Watch, brought a whole new dimension to the budget and debt ceiling debate last weekend, claiming that the U.S. is “ruled by a president who bows down to Allah” and who needs to “put the Quran down.” Klayman is not alone, 17 percent of Americans -mostly his constituency, according to a Pew poll - believe that U.S. President Barack Obama is a Muslim.


Muslims in China fed pork sold as Halal beef

By: World Bulletin

Police in Xi’an, the capital of China’s Shaanxi province, have seized more than 20 thousand kilograms of porkbeing sold off as halal beef products. The pork had been treated with chemicals such as paraffin wax and industrial salts to make it look like beef.

Taiwan’s Want China Times reported that the factory sold between up to 2,000 kg to local markets. A police statement revealed that the factory processed the pork at night and sold it as beef the next day.

This news has infuriated many Muslims in the region who bought the meat believing it was halal. Islam forbids Muslims from eating pork and other non-halal food.

Scandals like this are not at all uncommon in China. Earlier this year the Medical Daily said that 904 people were arrested for “meat-related offences”.

According to China‘s public security ministry. more than 22 meat products were found to have E. coli levels that “seriously exceeded standards”.

Information watchdog says Canadian democracy threatened by deterioration of federal transparency

Information watchdog says Canadian democracy threatened by deterioration of federal transparency


OTTAWA — Canada’s information commissioner has put Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s point man for transparency issues on notice that he must answer for significant failures within government in respecting Canada’s freedom-of-information law.

Releasing her annual report to Parliament, Suzanne Legault slammed the government for a deteriorating record in providing information to the general public, explaining that it was now the responsibility of Treasury Board President Tony Clement to clean up the mess.

Without a quick fix, she said the situation was threatening the health of Canada’s democracy.

“I think it’s really time to actually (attribute) accountability where it lies,” Legault said at a news conference.

Legault said she spoke to Clement in recent days to warn him about her report’s findings. She also dismissed his previous claims that the government could tout its record on transparency, simply because it was dealing with an increasing number of requests for information.

Her report registered a nine per cent increase in the number of new complaints for 2012-2013, adding up to a total of 1,596 cases for the year, including a 42 per cent jump in complaints related to basic requirements such as meeting deadlines or following the proper procedure for an extension.

“The minister (Clement) cannot say that this is the most transparent government simply based on the fact that we have more access requests if we’re simply not responding to them or not responding to them before a year has elapsed,” Legault told reporters. “That’s not transparency. That’s simply breaching the law and I think that’s what the minister has to respond to.”

But speaking outside of the House of Commons, Clement repeated his previous arguments about an increase in the volume of documents that are released, noting that he was also encouraged to see more requests for information from the general public.

“I’m very proud of our record,” Clement said. “If there are some staffing issues that we can deal with, we can deal with those, but the fact of the matter is, given the exponential nature of inquisitiveness of both the media and ordinary citizens, we are doing more than pulling our weight.”

Legault also said that the government, which she noted had used its new throne speech to highlight its ongoing response to the Lac-Megantic runaway train disaster, is demanding one year extensions at Transport Canada for information requests related to the tragedy, prompting a series of new investigations by her office.

Canada’s access-to-information legislation, introduced in 1983, requires the release of federal records within 30 days of a request from someone who pays the $5 fee, with exceptions in cases such as secrets of cabinet or matters of national security. The legislation also allows for delays or extensions in exceptional circumstances.

But while she acknowledged that departments can be flooded with requests following major events, such as the train disaster, she had suggested that Clement introduce a special “SWAT” team at the Treasury Board Secretariat to help out in those cases so that Canadians can get pertinent information in a timely fashion. Clement said he was interested in this proposal and asked his deputy minister to look into it.

Legault, who started in the information commissioner’s office as an assistant in 2007, said overall deterioration in transparency started about 10 years ago, before the Harper government was elected, but she believes it is now worse than ever before, prompting her to sound the alarm.

Her report also noted that one organization had taken months to acknowledge requests, while another took a three-year extension. Meanwhile, she said some others are simply ignoring recommendations from her office to meet deadlines.

Legault said that both ministers and deputy ministers in the public service must show leadership to create a culture of transparency within their departments, explaining it is fundamental to Canada’s system of government, and a key tool that allows Canadians to engage in the democratic process and learn about the government’s actions and decisions.

“When the access system falters, not only is Canadians’ participation in government thwarted but ultimately, the health of Canadian democracy is at stake.”

Top 15 institutions with administrative complaints in 2012-2013 related to basic obligations such as meeting deadlines and responding to requests:

Canada Revenue Agency: 109

Royal Canadian Mounted Police: 76

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: 35

Transport Canada: 34

Citizenship and Immigration Canada: 33

National Defence: 31

Privy Council Office: 31

Health Canada: 25

Canada Border Services Agency: 23

Correctional Service of Canada: 21

Public Works and Government Services Canada: 21

Canadian Food Inspection Agency: 19

Environment Canada: 14

Department of Justice Canada: 11

Treasury Board Secretariat: 11

Former foreign minister Cannon faces examination in Abdelrazik lawsuit

By: Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Posted: 10/14/2013 

OTTAWA - Former foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon recently spent more than two hours answering questions under oath as part of a lawsuit filed by a Montreal man seeking compensation and an apology from the federal government for his prolonged detention in Sudan.

Abousfian Abdelrazik, who was imprisoned by the Sudanese before being stranded in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, put questions to Cannon — now Canada's ambassador to France — through his counsel during a closed-door examination process, a precursor to trial.

Abdelrazik's lawyer, Paul Champ, says while particulars of the session — which took place in Ottawa last Thursday — are confidential at this point, his client found the experience both cathartic and challenging.

"He sat across the table from Mr. Cannon which was, I think, quite a difficult moment for him," Champ said in an interview.

"It was a very powerful moment for him."

Abdelrazik, 51, launched the lawsuit against the federal government and Cannon in September 2009 over his detention and torture due to alleged terrorist ties.

He denies any involvement in terrorism.

Abdelrazik came to Canada from Africa as a refugee in 1990 and attained citizenship five years later.

He was arrested but not charged during a 2003 visit to see his ailing mother in Sudan.

Abdelrazik says that while in Sudanese custody the Canadian Security Intelligence Service interrogated him about suspected extremist links.

He also claims he was tortured by Sudanese intelligence officials during two periods of detention, but Canada says it knew nothing of the alleged abuse.

Days after Abdelrazik's second release from prison, in July 2006, his name turned up on a United Nations Security Council blacklist that prevented him from flying back to Canada.

Five years ago he was granted haven in the Canadian Embassy in the Sudanese capital, but Canada refused to issue him a travel document to fly home. Finally, it said Abdelrazik must have a valid plane ticket before a passport could be provided.

Even after a group of Canadians chipped in to buy him a ticket, no travel document was forthcoming.

Cannon was foreign minister at the time.

"We wanted to ask Mr. Cannon why — why did he turn down that emergency passport despite the fact that Canada had repeatedly promised to Mr. Abdelrazik that he would be allowed to return to Canada," Champ said.

"Mr. Abdelrazik became seriously depressed and even suicidal when he was in the embassy and embassy were very concerned about his mental health and arranged to have him see medical professionals.

"So we wanted to know to what extent Mr. Cannon was aware of Mr. Abdelrazik's personal circumstances, and therefore what the personal toll on him was of being left there and stranded in Khartoum."

Amid blaring headlines about his case, Abdelrazik, who has four children, returned to Montreal in June 2009. That same month, the Federal Court of Canada concluded CSIS was complicit in Abdelrazik's 2003 detention

Still, the federal government denies CSIS knew he would be abused in Sudanese custody. It also tried unsuccessfully to have Cannon removed as a defendant in the case.

Cabinet ministers have been sued before, but usually they're able to get their names struck from the file, Champ said. "It's extremely exceptional and rare that a minister of the Crown is called to account and required to go through these discovery procedures in civil litigation."

When Abdelrazik lived in makeshift accommodations in the embassy reception area, he would gaze up at an official photograph of Cannon on the wall, Champ said. Last Thursday the former Conservative cabinet stalwart became more than just a politician an ocean away.

"Now he had this person across the table from him."