Canada -10 years in prison if you wear a ‘mask” at a protest #WTFnews


By Jeff Blagdon on June 20, 2013 

 

Gallery Photo:

Canada’s controversial Concealment of Identity Act banning the wearing of masks during riots and “unlawful assemblies” has just gone into law, carrying with it a 10-year maximum sentence, reports CBC News. The private member’s bill was introduced in 2011 by MP Blake Richards in response to the increasing prevalence of vandalism at political protests and sporting events.

 

 

WHAT DISTINGUISHES AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY FROM A LAWFUL ONE?

It’s noteworthy that there is already a federal law in Canada that prohibits wearing a disguise “with intent to commit an indictable offence” and carries the same 10-year maximum. The distinction in language is deliberate: Richards has criticized the existing law for its high burden of proof. Now, instead of requiring intent to commit a criminal act in order to charge a protester, he or she only needs to be in attendance at an unlawful assembly. Richards has insisted that the law is necessary for dealing with protesters “pre-emptively,” before a protest escalates. And what distinguishes an unlawful assembly from a lawful one? The CBC points out that it’s “an assembly of three or more persons who, with intent to carry out any common purpose, assemble in such a manner… as to cause persons in the neighbourhood… to fear… that they will disturb the peace tumultuously.”

Many, such as Osgoode Hall Law School Professor James Stribopoulos, have pointed to the possible “chilling effects” posed by making it unlawful to disguise one’s identity at a protest, say to prevent against reprisals from your boss or coworkers, or to avoid facial recognition software. The CBC notes that exceptions can be made for “lawful excuses” for face covergings, like religion or medical conditions, but Stribopoulos has countered that most judgments about an excuse’s “lawfulness” will fall to police in the field.

Canada:”Significance Level 1 “incident at nuke reactor–Public not Alerted!!


Title: Atomic Energy of Canada says no danger during nuclear ‘near-miss’
Source: OTTAWA CITIZEN
Author: IAN MACLEOD
Date: May 15, 2013
h/t Anonymous tip

[…] a Chalk River nuclear operator mistakenly closed a vital pumping system that cools the immense heat generated within the NRU reactor’s core […]

[…] the Crown corporation said the Feb. 27 event — which the official report characterized as a “near-miss” — needs to be taken very seriously. […]

[Randy Lesco, vice-president of operations and chief nuclear officer for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd] said that further categorizing the incident as at “Significance Level 1,” the highest order, means AECL is treating it with appropriate importance […]

CNSC President Michael Binder questioned why AECL and CNSC staff did not alert the public to the incident, which the Citizen first reported on May 8. […]

Full report here

 

 

A Song of Protest from Northeast – #India, Your Constitution Has Nothing for Me #AFSPA


Ronid Chingangbam

© Divya Adusumilli 2013
Pic courtesy- Divya Adusumilli 2013

Blood soaked streets

That’s my ground
That’s where i play around
Sound of gunshots
That’s my song
That’s my lulla- lullaby

Your revolution has snatched away
My right to education

Te te tenouwa
Kangleipakki tenouwa
angang na mullaga
tenouwa na haraoiwi
oooooh ooooooohhhh
Uhdei saba nongmeini
mana pangba makhoini

Blood soaked body
That’s my daddy
You just shot him
You just killed him…………………
We dont need your guns and bombs
We just need songs of love

Your constitution has nothing for me
All you do is kill my innocence

Te te tenouwa
Kangleipakki tenouwa
angang na mullaga
tenouwa na haraoiwi
oooooh ooooooohhhh
Uhdei saba nongmeini
mana pangba makhoini

Fallen bodies like
Fallen leaves of October
But you don’t care
You bomb a town
That’s my town
That’s where i play around

Don’t fill our lives with throes of pain
Share a smile so we can bloom again

Listen to the song

Ronid Chingangbam (Akhu) is a singer/songwriter from Imphal. He also leads the folk rock band Imphal Talkies. He holds a PhD degree in Physics from Jamia Millia Islamia.Original post- http://northeastreview.com/2013/05/01/ronid/

 

What the numbers didn’t tell – Shakuntala Devi


Priya M Menon | April 27, 2013, Times Crest

 

Long before homosexuality entered drawing room conversations, math wizard Shakuntala Devi had written a book on the subject.

She was known as the ‘human computer’ for her ability to solve complex arithmetic problems mentally. But few people know that mathematics wizard Shakuntala Devi was also one of the earliest allies of the queer community.

In 1977, the year that she calculated the 23rd root of a 201-digit number mentally, she also published The World of Homosexuals. While the book – probably the first Indian book on homosexuality in modern times – is now out of print, the Indian gay community still considers it to be a work that was ahead of its time.

Few references to the book were made in the obituaries written soon after Shakuntala Devi’s demise recently, but gay organisations paid tribute to her in their blogs. “The book, consisting of interviews with homosexual men in India and a same-sex couple in Canada, is remarkable for its progressive approach to the subject, ” writes L Ramakrishnan of SAATHI, a nongovernmental organisation, on Orinam. net, a bilingual website with information on alternate sexualities.

Ramakrishnan’s aim is to introduce the younger generation to a work that advocated social acceptance and decriminalisation of homosexuality in an age when few dared to talk about sex. “What is remarkable about the book is that she approached the community with empathy rather than condescension and sympathy, ” he says.

What made the mathematician delve into such a complex subject? It is not easy to trace people who knew the math genius and what prompted her to write the book. But the information one gathers from the few who knew her, reveals the picture of a sad, lonely but courageous woman, who decided to understand what homosexuality was after her husband came out.

Twenty-four years after her book was published, Shakuntala Devi was interviewed by Vismita Gupta-Smith for her documentary For Straights Only. In it, Shakuntala Devi talks about her marriage to a gay man. Though the couple broke up, instead of reacting in a homophobic manner, she said she felt the need to research the subject. She interviewed a number of people across the country, and this research resulted in The World of Homosexuals.

“When I was researching my documentary, I was told about Shakuntala Devi’s book, ” says Gupta-Smith, who was inspired to make her documentary about the prejudices faced by South Asian queer community after her brother came out. She met Shakuntala Devi in Atlanta in 2000. “She was very frank, progressive and compassionate as well as a scientific-minded, logical person, ” says Gupta-Smith. “What struck me as a filmmaker was that though she had been through a sad, emotional experience, she could take a balanced view. “
Shakuntala Devi’s stance on morality was advanced for her times. In her book she writes: “When we have arrived at a concept of morality and ethics in interpersonal relationships according to which the dignity of the human condition is respected, we would have ascended to a higher plane of morality in which only hatred is condemned, never love. Then we will have a saner and more healthy society and also a more enlightened sexual morality. “

Ashok Row Kavi, chairperson of Humsafar Trust and executive editor of Bombay Dost, India’s first gay magazine, was one of the people Shakuntala Devi approached to review her book. According to him, the book is remarkable in many ways. “Throughout history we have had people based on gender – napunsaka, ardhanareeshwar – but not based on sexual orientation. For the first time, she made homosexuals visible as men, who look like other men but are attracted to the same sex. She didn’t make any homosexual out to be feminine, which was a very big thing, ” says Kavi.

“But the book falls on its face when she tries to rationalise it in the Indian context, ” says Kavi. One of the people she interviewed was Srinivasa Raghavachariar, head priest of the Srirangam temple in Trichy district. “He attributed homosexuality entirely to reincarnation, ” says Kavi. According to Raghavachariar, same sex lovers must have been opposite sex lovers in a previous birth.

“We spent a lot of time discussing the reasons for homosexuality. Though she did not talk about her personal experience, there was something very sad about her, ” says Kavi.
While she did not touch upon her personal life, Shakuntala Devi did talk about marriage in her book, and how homosexuals misguidedly enter marital relationships to “cure” or escape detection. She felt marriage should not be forced upon anybody. Her words touched a chord with many members of the queer community, who were grappling with their sexuality at that time.

“The book played a very important role in my life, ” says Pawan Dhall, country director (programme and development), SAATHI. At 14, he was just discovering and coming to terms with his sexual orientation when he stumbled upon Shakuntala Devi’s book in his father’s library. “It was just what I was looking for. All of us struggle with the question – Am I the only one? For me, that was answered early on. The book made me realise that homosexuality is not a problem, that there are other homosexuals in the world. It gave me a sense of assurance, ” says 44-year-old Dhall who is based in Kolkata.

Time has rung in change. The Delhi high court ruling of 2009 decriminalised homosexuality, pride marches are being held in cities and small towns. But Shakuntala Devi’s work remains relevant as prejudices still prevail, say activists. “The history of the LGBT community in India before the 1990s is being lost very fast. Before the NGOs came and consolidated material, it existed only in people’s memories, ” says Niruj Mohan, a Pune-based astronomer, who is part of project to archive LGBT history. “Shakuntala Devi’s book is an important part of our history, which many people are not familiar with. And that is why it needs to be preserved and passed on. “

Inspiration on Investigative Journalism- How ICIJ’s Project Team Analyzed the Offshore Files


Networking in the offshore world – ICIJ used advanced tools like Nuix to see how offshore providers linked up.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’exploration of the secretive world of offshore companies and trusts began after a computer hard drive packed with corporate data and personal information and e-mails arrived in the mail.

Gerard Ryle, ICIJ’s director, obtained the data trove as a result of his three-year investigation of Australia’s Firepower scandal, a case involving offshore havens and corporate fraud.

The offshore information totaled more than 260 gigabytes of useful data. ICIJ’s analysis of the hard drive showed that it held about 2.5 million files, including more than 2 million e-mails that help chart the offshore industry over a long period of explosive growth.  It is one of the biggest collections of leaked data ever gathered and analyzed by a team of investigative journalists.

The drive contained four large databases plus half a million text, PDF, spreadsheet, image and web files. Analysis by ICIJ’s data experts showed that the data originated in 10 offshore jurisdictions, including the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore.  It included details of more than 122,000 offshore companies or trusts, nearly 12,000 intermediaries (agents or “introducers”), and about 130,000 records on the people and agents who run, own, benefit from or hide behind offshore companies.

When ICIJ further analyzed the data using sophisticated matching software, it found that about 40 percent of files and emails were duplicates.

The people identified in ICIJ’s analysis of the data are shareholders, directors, secretaries and nominees of companies and trustees, “settlors” or “protectors” of offshore trusts, as well as power-of-attorney holders who direct the actions of third parties. Many of the structures are designed to conceal the true ownership and control of assets placed offshore.   Their identified addresses are spread across over more than 170 countries and territories.

A large number of positions are held by so called “nominee directors,” whose names appear again and again, sometimes in hundreds of companies.  Nominee directors are people who, for a fee, lend their names as office holders of companies they know little about.  It is a legal device widely utilized in the offshore world – akin to having your motor vehicle registered in the name of a stranger.

The records indicated that company directors and shareholders were often nominee companies, law firms or other types of “corporate persons,” some of which were managed and owned by still other nominees and companies.

ICIJ’s data analysis showed that the people setting up offshore entities lived most often in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Another important group of clients comes from Russia and former Soviet republics.  This helps explain why the second-largest source of capital investment flowing into China is the tiny offshore tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.  Similarly, a large source of investment flowing into Russia is from Cyprus, a country that also features heavily in the data – and whose financial stability was recently undermined by a crisis precipitated by Cypriot-based banks being bloated by Russian money.

ICIJ’s team of 86 investigative journalists from 46 countries represents one of the biggest cross-border investigative partnerships in journalism history. Unique digital systems supported private document and information sharing, as well as collaborative research. These included a message center hosted in Europe and a U.S.-based secure online search system.  Team members also used a secure, private online bulletin board system to share stories and tips.

The project team’s attempts to use encrypted e-mail systems such as PGP (“Pretty Good Privacy”) were abandoned because of complexity and unreliability that slowed down information sharing. Studies have shown that police and government agents – and even terrorists – also struggle to use secure e-mail systems effectively.  Other complex cryptographic systems popular with computer hackers were not considered for the same reasons.  While many team members had sophisticated computer knowledge and could use such tools well, many more did not.

Tackling the data

Analyzing the high volume of information was the team’s first and central challenge.  With this much data, relevant information, and good stories, cannot be found just “going and looking.”  What’s needed is to use “free text retrieval” (FTR) software systems.

Modern FTR systems can work with huge volumes of unsorted data, many times larger than even in this landmark investigative project.  They pre-index every number, word and name, making it possible for complex queries to be completed in milliseconds. The searches are akin to using advanced features on Google or other internet search engines but are more sophisticated – and, critically, are private and secure.

The use of FTR, as well as relevant features such as timelines that tools can extract and display, have been critical to the success of the project.  It sounds complicated, but still boils down to asking one of the most important questions that investigative journalists ask: “Who knew what, when?”

In their modern form, high-end FTR and analysis systems have been sold for more than a decade, in large quantities, to intelligence agencies, law firms and commercial corporations.  Journalism is just catching up.  Many of the tools are too expensive for most journalism organizations and may be too sophisticated for most to use. Perhaps the best-known intelligence analysis system, i2 Analysts Notebook, has been used by very few journalists or news organizations.

The major software tools used for the Offshore Project wereNUIX of Sydney, Australia, and dtSearch of Bethesda, Md.  NUIX Pty Ltd provided ICIJ with a limited number of licenses to use its fully featured high-end e-discovery software, free of charge. The listed cost for the NUIX software was higher than a non-profit organization like the ICIJ could afford, if the software had not been donated.

Computer programmers in Germany, the UK and Costa Rica designed sophisticated data mining and cleaning software for ICIJ to support data research. Before it was used, though, manual analysis had established much country-by-country identification of clients and thus provided an initial look at the scope and range of clients. This painstaking work was done in New Zealand and it proved crucial in early decisions on what countries ICIJ needed reporters to work in.

ICIJ’s online search and retrieval system – named Interdata – was developed and deployed by a British programmer in less than two weeks in December 2012 to support an urgent need to get relevant documents and files out faster for research by dozens of new journalists who were joining the expanding Offshore Project.

Interdata allowed team members to access and download copies of any of the offshore documents that were relevant to their countries and interests.  Journalists using the Interdata system have to date made over 28,000 online searches and downloaded more than 53,000 documents.

Unreadable documents

Before loading Interdata or using NUIX or similar analysis tools, the team’s data experts had to deal with a major problem affecting tens of thousands of the leaked documents.  Computers could not automatically read them because they were photographs or other images that do not contain text.

The solution was large scale re-scanning of unreadable files by optical character recognition (OCR) software that identifies and writes in the names and numbers on top of the images.  This brought to the surface dozens of important new documents, including passports, contracts and letters explaining how companies were controlled.

ICIJ’s offshore 260-gigabyte data collection is more than 160 times larger in size as measured in gigabytes than the U.S. State Department cables leaked to and published by Wikileaks in 2010.  The formats of the data that ICIJ’s team worked with were more complex and diffuse than the collected U.S. State Department cables passed to Wikileaks, and needed more levels of analysis.

One specially built program has been prepared to check and match names and addresses, and has spotted thousands of cases where the same person’s data has been entered numerous times in different ways for different companies. Another special program identifies the country associated with each person and company, even when geographic data has not been entered fully or correctly.

Unlike the U.S. cables and war logs released by Wikileaks, the offshore data was not structured or clean.  As delivered, it consisted of a large and mainly unsorted collation of company and trust documents and instructions, e-mails, large and small databases and spreadsheets, personal identity documents, accounting information and agents’ and companies’ internal papers and reports.

As might be expected in any office computer network, many documents and e-mails had been shared and copied many times over.  Some of the programs ICIJ used could automatically sift out duplicates, but others could not.

Large databases detailing offshore companies and the people who had set up and operated them were found in the data.  Over three months, ICIJ recovered and rebuilt the databases in an effort to run them in their original format. When the database reconstruction was done, there were surprises.  The databases had been built to record and check who really lay behind each company and trust, as required by international regulations on money laundering and “due diligence.”   ICIJ’s journalists hoped the data as to who was behind a company was a click away.

In fact, database entries for “beneficial owners” were often empty. Often too, the offshore services providers had passed the legal responsibility for holding the information to intermediaries in other countries who had brought the client to the service provider.   The lesson was that the empty fields were not an accident; it was the design.

A frustrating but rewarding road

In the rebuilt databases, researchers were excited by occasional electronic flashes. Sometimes, on accessing a company record, an alert screen popped up over the registered data, giving a name and contact details for the person or persons who really owned the company and its assets.   A further feature in one database masked a deeper layer of secrecy, identifying thousands of people as hidden stand-ins.

ICIJ’s fundamental lesson from the Offshore Project data has been patience and perseverance. Many members started by feeding in lists of names of politicians, tycoons, suspected or convicted fraudsters and the like, hoping that bank accounts and scam plots would just pop out.  It was a frustrating road to follow.  The data was not like that.

But persistently following leads through incomplete data and documents yielded some great rewards: not just occasional and unexpected top names, but also many more nuanced and complex schemes for hiding wealth.  Some of the schemes spotted, although well known in the offshore trade, have not been described publicly before.  Patience was rewarded when this data opened new windows on the offshore world.

Duncan Campbell (U.K.), a founding member of ICIJ, is the ICIJ Data Journalism Manager for the Offshore Project and a contributing journalist.  ProgrammersSebastian Mondial (Germany), Matthew Fowler (UK), Rigoberto Carvajal and Matthew Caruana (Costa Rica) provided custom software design, programming and data support. The initial manual analysis of the client names was done by ICIJ memberNicky Hager and Barbara Mare (New Zealand). ICIJ member Giannina Segnini oversaw the work in Costa Rica.

 

25th Anniversary of Paash – A Punjabi Poet who died for opposing Fanaticism #mustshare


SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

The Most Dangerous – Poem by Paash

Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.

Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,

Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.

Most dangerous is that watch
Which runs on your wrist
But stands still for your eyes.

Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
But does not pierce your eyes like hot chilis

By Gurpreet Singh

Twenty-five years ago when leftists across the world were commemorating the hanging of Bhagat Singh—a towering revolutionary who fought against the British occupation of India—another progressive voice was silenced by the terrorist bullets in Punjab, India.

Paash, whose real name was Avtar Sandhu, was gunned down by Sikh separatists on March 23, 1988.

It was a sheer coincidence that his murder came on a historic day that commemorated the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades, Rajguru and Sukhdev, who were hanged together by the British government on March 23, 1931. But the political ideology of Paash, who was born in 1950, made him inseparable from them.


True to his commitment toward the secular and progressive ideology of Bhagat Singh and his comrades, Paash was assassinated for his writings, which opposed religious fundamentalism. 

Much like Bhagat Singh, Paash was opposed to religious fanaticism of every shade and pulled no punches while criticizing both Hindu and Sikh extremists.

Yet the terrorists, owing allegiance to the Khalistan Commando Force seeking a separate theocratic Sikh homeland, shot him dead. 

His death shocked secularist Punjabi scholars in B.C. where a Paash Memorial Trust is still active and continues to hold events in his memory once a while.

Although Paash lived in California, he never made it to Canada. He was visiting India at the time of his murder.

It was thanks to Maxim Gorky’s Mother that Avtar Sandhu came to be known as Paash. Born in a peasant family, he loved to identify himself after Pasha, the hero of the classic novel by the same name.

This pen name gave him a new identity which remained with him until his assassination. There were some striking similarities between legendary Pasha and Paash as both stood for the working class and opposed both the establishment and theocracy.


Paash started writing poetry during his early teens and was an ardent reader, who had a personal library that housed books on range of subjects including science, philosophy, and literature. Though he wrote essays and published two Punjabi journals, Haak and Anti 47, as well as a “wall newspaper“, he gained much prominence as a poet. 

His poetry was so popular that its translation from Punjabi into other languages attracted attention widely, both outside Punjab and all of India. Even some Bollywood stars were among his admirers.

In the late 1960s he became involved in the youth wing of the Communist Party of India, but slowly he became fed up with its politics and instead joined with supporters of the ultra-leftist Naxalbari movement. It believed in an armed struggle for the sake of landless farmworkers.

He borrowed the idea of publishing a wall newspaper from Chinese revolution. It is a separate matter that he was not a sectarian leftist and remained critical of the flaws within Communist parties and groups.

Paash was briefly jailed for being a Naxalite but this did not deter him from writing for poor and against state repression. His poems were frequently smuggled out of prison and published. His rebellious poetry was widely circulated among the youngsters. Even a section of police and bureaucracy was influenced by his poetry.

It is not surprising that the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party of India, opposed an attempt to include one of his highly provocative poems in the school curriculum. 

Paash also opposed the state of emergency imposed by the Congress government from 1975 to 1977, and expressed his anger at the then-Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in his poetry.

He even returned a paycheque to a Hindi newspaper that censored lines about Gandhi in his poem as a mark of protest.

It was his journal Anti 47 that provoked the Sikh separatists. Since he studied a lot, he questioned and denounced their separatist ideology by quoting from Sikh scriptures. He shamed them by arguing that the real Sikhism was all about equality and compassion—and not fascism.

The title of the journal symbolized a challenge to another attempt to divide India on religious lines like in 1947, when Muslim Pakistan was separated from India.

As a result, he was gunned down by the extremists in his native village Talwandi Salem. As one says, you can kill a person but not an idea. Paash may have been murdered physically, but his rebellious rhymes will continue to live.

Gurpreet Singh is Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He’s working on a book tentatively titled Canada’s 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings

Status of #Death Penalty Worldwide #mustshare


No death penalty

 

March 12, 2013 ,http://www.srai.org

 

According to Amnesty International, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty. In 2012, only one country, Latvia, abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In 2011, 21 countries around the world were known to have carried out executions and at least 63 to have imposed death sentences. See also U.S. Figures.

 

Death Penalty Outlawed (year)1

 

  • Albania (2000)
  • Andorra (1990)
  • Angola (1992)
  • Argentina (2008)
  • Armenia (2003)
  • Australia (1984)
  • Austria (1950)
  • Azerbaijan (1998)
  • Belgium (1996)
  • Bhutan (2004)
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina (1997)
  • Bulgaria (1998)
  • Burundi (2009 )
  • Cambodia (1989)
  • Canada (1976)
  • Cape Verde (1981)
  • Colombia (1910)
  • Cook Islands (2007)
  • Costa Rica (1877)
  • Côte d’Ivoire (2000)
  • Croatia (1990)
  • Cyprus (1983)
  • Czech Republic (1990)
  • Denmark (1933)
  • Djibouti (1995)
  • Dominican Republic (1966)
  • Ecuador (1906)
  • Estonia (1998)
  • Finland (1949)
  • France (1981)
  • Gabon (2010)
  • Georgia (1997)
  • Germany (1949)
  • Greece (1993)
  • Guinea-Bissau (1993)
  • Haiti (1987)
  • Honduras (1956)
  • Hungary (1990)
  • Iceland (1928)
  • Ireland (1990)
  • Italy (1947)
  • Kyrgyzstan (2007)
  • Kiribati (1979)
  • Latvia (2012)
  • Liechtenstein (1987)
  • Lithuania (1998)
  • Luxembourg (1979)
  • Macedonia (1991)
  • Malta (1971)
  • Marshall Islands (1986)
  • Mauritius (1995)
  • Mexico (2005)
  • Micronesia (1986)
  • Moldova (1995)
  • Monaco (1962)
  • Montenegro (2002)
  • Mozambique (1990)
  • Namibia (1990)
  • Nepal (1990)
  • Netherlands (1870)
  • New Zealand (1961)
  • Nicaragua (1979)
  • Niue (n.a.)
  • Norway (1905)
  • Palau (n.a.)
  • Panama (1903)
  • Paraguay (1992)
  • Philippines (2006)
  • Poland (1997)
  • Portugal (1867)
  • Romania (1989)
  • Rwanda (2007)
  • Samoa (2004)
  • San Marino (1848)
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (1990)
  • Senegal (2004)
  • Serbia (2002)
  • Seychelles (1993)
  • Slovakia (1990)
  • Slovenia (1989)
  • Solomon Islands (1966)
  • South Africa (1995)
  • Spain (1978)
  • Sweden (1921)
  • Switzerland (1942)
  • Timor-Leste (1999)
  • Togo (2009)
  • Turkey (2002)
  • Turkmenistan (1999)
  • Tuvalu (1978)
  • Ukraine (1999)
  • United Kingdom (1973)
  • Uruguay (1907)
  • Uzbekistan (2008)
  • Vanuatu (1980)
  • Vatican City (1969)
  • Venezuela (1863)

 

Death Penalty Outlawed for Ordinary Crimes2 (year)

 

  • Bolivia (1997)
  • Brazil (1979)
  • Chile (2001)
  • El Salvador (1983)
  • Fiji (1979)
  • Israel (1954)
  • Kazakhstan (2007)
  • Latvia (1999)
  • Peru (1979)

 

De Facto Ban on Death Penalty3 (year)4

 

  • Algeria (1993)
  • Benin (1987)
  • Brunei (1957)
  • Burkina Faso (1988)
  • Cameroon (1997)
  • Central African Republic (1981)
  • Congo (Republic) (1982)
  • Eritrea (n.a.)
  • Gambia (1981)
  • Ghana (n.a.)
  • Grenada (1978)
  • Kenya (n.a.)
  • Korea, South (1997.)
  • Laos (n.a.)
  • Liberia (n.a.)
  • Madagascar (1958)
  • Malawi (n.a.)
  • Maldives (1952)
  • Mali (1980)
  • Mauritania (1987)
  • Morocco (1993)
  • Myanmar (1993)
  • Nauru (1968)
  • Niger (1976)
  • Papua New Guinea (1950)
  • Russia (1999)
  • Sierra Leone (1998)
  • Sri Lanka (1976)
  • Suriname (1982)
  • Swaziland (n.a.)
  • Tajikistan (n.a.)
  • Tanzania (n.a.)
  • Tonga (1982)
  • Tunisia (1990)
  • Zambia (n.a.)

 

Death Penalty Permitted

 

  • Afghanistan
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Chad
  • China (People’s Republic)
  • Comoros
  • Congo (Democratic Republic)
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Qatar
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

 

NOTE: n.a. = date not available. 1. If death penalty was outlawed for ordinary crimes before it was outlawed in all cases, the earlier date is given.

 

2. Death penalty is permitted only for exceptional crimes, such as crimes committed under military law or in wartime.

 

3. Death penalty is sanctioned by law but has not been the practice for ten or more years.

 

4. Year of last execution. Source: Amnesty International.

 
Read more: The Death Penalty Worldwide | Infoplease.comhttp://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html#ixzz2Mdc8o4MN

 

 

 

#Censorship is alive and well in Canada – just ask government scientists


Canada

Elizabeth Renzetti The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Feb. 22 2013, 8:27 PM EST Freedom to Read Week begins on Feb. 24, bringing with it the perfect opportunity to kick the tires of democracy and make sure the old jalopy’s still running as she should.

 

What’s that you say? The bumper fell off when you touched it? The engine won’t turn over? That’s not so good. Better look under the hood. We like to think of censorship as something that happens over there, in the faraway places where men break into houses at night to smash computers, or arrive in classrooms to remove books they don’t like. Not in lovely, calm, respectful Canada. Here we don’t necessarily notice freedoms being eroded slowly, grain by grain, “like sands through the hourglass,” if you’ll allow me to quote from Days of Our Lives. Just ask Canada’s government scientists. Oh wait, you can’t ask them, because they’ve got duct tape over their mouths (metaphorical duct tape, but hey – it’s still painful). This week the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic and Democracy Watch asked federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault to investigate claims that scientists are being prohibited from speaking freely with journalists – and through them, the public. In a report called Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy, the UVic researchers present some chilling findings: Scientists are either told not to speak to journalists or to spout a chewed-over party line, rubber-stamped by their PR masters; the restrictions are particularly tight when a journalist is seeking information about research relating to climate change or the tar sands; Environment Canada scientists require approval from the Privy Council Office before speaking publicly on sensitive topics “such as climate change or protection of polar bear and caribou.” You wouldn’t want the average citizen to learn too much about caribou, now. Who knows how crazy he could get with that kind of information? It could lead to panel discussions about Arctic hares, town halls on ptarmigans. The report states that government scientists are “frustrated,” which is hardly surprising. It’s like hiring Sandy Koufax and never letting him pitch. The other thing that the report makes clear is how deliberate this strategy is: “The federal government has recently made concerted efforts to prevent the media – and through them, the general public – from speaking to government scientists, and this, in turn, impoverishes the public debate on issues of significant national concern.” This is not an issue that’s going away. The Harper government’s heavy-handed control of scientists’ research has raised concerns across the world for a few years, including condemnation from such bastions of Marxism as Nature magazine. A couple thousand scientists from across the country marched on Parliament Hill last July to protest cuts in research (many in the highly sensitive area of environment and climate change) and restrictions on their ability to speak freely about their work. They created what might be the best chant in the history of political protest: “What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!” Last week, Margaret Munro of Postmedia News reported that a University of Delaware scientist was up in arms over a new confidentiality agreement brought in by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “I’m not signing it,” Andreas Muenchow told the reporter. What does this mean for bilateral co-operation on research? Nothing good, that’s for sure. The Vise-Grip on information is tightening and Ottawa is the muscle. Last month, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression released a report about the dire state of freedom of information requests: “Canada’s access to information system is in a deep crisis and without urgent reform could soon become dysfunctional,” the report noted. That means fewer requests being processed, at a more glacial pace, with more of the juicy bits blacked out by the government censor’s pen. This is the good stuff, people. The stuff the government doesn’t want you to know about. The stuff that’s kept in a filing cabinet in Gatineau under a sign that says, “Nothing here. Nope. Just a three-week-old tuna sandwich. And it’s radioactive.” This is the information we need to keep an eye on the government’s internal gears – and it’s being withheld. Canada recently plummeted 10 places to No. 20 in the World Press Freedom Index, which measures how unfettered a country’s media is. Reporters Without Borders, which compiles the index, is concerned about the access-to-information issue and about the protection of journalists’ sources. The beacon we should now follow is Jamaica, whose press freedoms rank highest in the region. It’s the perfect time to welcome Freedom to Read Week. There are events all over Canada and countless ways to celebrate our precious liberties. Bring your kids to the library. Read something you shouldn’t. Even better, write something you shouldn’t. A letter to your MP, perhaps?

 

 

 

Death Penalty -Brings out basal instincts of a society


 

Irfan Engineer, Dec 1, 2012:Deccan Herald

 

 

No death penalty

No death penalty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The march of history has been from more brutal and violent societies to more humane, inclusive and less violent societies; and from authoritarian to democratic states.

The objective of punishment awarded by the society to the delinquents and non-conformists too evolved from that of retribution to deterrence and reformation of the delinquent.

 

According to “Rational Choice Theory”, objective of any punishment should be deterrence rather than retribution.

 

Punishments inflicted by the state during ancient times and medieval period included boiling to death, feeding to hungry lions, flaying, slow slicing, truncating (cutting the body below the ribs and leaving the delinquent to bleed to death), disembowelment, crucifixion, inquisitions, crushing by an elephant, stoning, blowing from the gun, burning at stakes, sawing, decapitation, guillotining, public hanging and firing squad. These are by no means an exhaustive list but only indicative.

 

These punishments were administered on those who rebelled against the state, practised a different religion or were dissidents and non-conformists. Galileo, who defended heliocentrism and questioned earth as centre of universe was also tried and inquisitioned for his belief. He, however, retracted from his discovery and submitted himself to the doctrines of the Church.

 

By 1820 in Britain, there were about 160 crimes (down from 220 crimes during its peak) that were punished by death, including the crimes like shoplifting, petty theft, being in the company of gypsies for one month and strong evidence of malice in a child aged 7–14 years of age. Many crimes punishable by death in fact protected the property of wealth. Henry VIII is reputed to have executed as many as 72,000 people.

 

In the 19th century, Roman Republic, Venezuela, San Marino and Portugal abolished capital punishment in the years 1849, 1854, 1865 and 1867 respectively.

 

Attitudes changed by World War II, class barriers came down and people felt sickened by the holocaust of Nazi Germany. In 1948, the United Nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and this was adopted by Britain in 1950. The last execution by UK was in 1964.

 

The Labour Party Government of Harold Wilson suspended death penalty for five years through an enactment in 1965. House of Commons reaffirmed its decision to abolish capital punishment for murder in 1969. On December 10, 1999, International Human Rights Day, UK ratified Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, thus, totally abolishing capital punishment in Britain.

 

Sanctity of life

 

With the strengthening of democracies, there was increasing culture of tolerating dissent and differences. Sanctity of life is increasingly accepted and believed that society did not have the right to take away anyone’s life. Eye for an eye will make the whole world blind said Gandhiji. Collective conscience of a society should not be blood thirsty. There is increasing realisation of a possibility that person condemned to gallows could be under some mistake. Once executed the mistake cannot be corrected.

 

In 20th century, Australia abolished capital punishment in 1973, Canada in 1976, France in 1981. In 1977, UN General Assembly affirmed in a formal resolution that it is desirable to “progressively restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty might be imposed, with a view to the desirability of abolishing this punishment.”

 

On November 20, 2012, UN General Assembly’s Third Committee voted in support of its fourth resolution for a moratorium on the use of death penalty with a view to abolishing it. Nine-one member states sponsored the resolution, and was approved with 110 votes in favour, 39 votes against and 36 abstentions. India voted against the resolution.

 

The world is slowly moving towards abolition of death penalty or moratorium on its use. Two-thirds of the countries have abolished death penalty or have ceased to apply it. In most Latin American countries, in Argentina, Brazil,  Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru  and Uruguay, Venezuela. In Europe – Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, Iceland, and many of the States in the United States of America, have abolished death sentence. Death penalty is considered to violate human dignity.

 

However, 60 per cent of world’s population lives in states where capital punishment is on their statutes, including China, India, US and Indonesia – the four most populous states. Fifty-eight countries actively practise, 97 countries have abolished it and the rest have not used it for 10 years, or used it in exceptional circumstances like wartime. Article 2 of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits use of capital punishment.

 

Abolition and after

 

There is no evidence of any increase in crimes after abolition of death penalty. In Greece banditry decreased after it ceased to be punishable by death and in Canada instances of rape decreased after abolition of death penalty for the offence. In England, there was no increase in crimes which ceased to be capital murders under the Homicide Act of 1957.

 

In the year 2011, 21 countries recorded executions, as compared to 31 countries 10 years ago. China executed maximum number of people, though China recently eliminated death penalty for certain economic crimes and reintroduced mandatory review of all death penalty cases by the Supreme People’s Court. Drugs, homosexuality and terrorism are issues on which some countries are expanding the scope of death penalty.

 

Abolitionists and retentionists for capital punishment argue for and against death penalty on many grounds. Generally, the right wing nationalists who are ideologically oriented to building an authoritarian state and retaining hierarchical order tend to be retentionists. Investigators and Prosecutors in criminal justice system too tend to be retentionists hoping that capital punishment would act as a deterrent.

 

Whereas those ideologically oriented towards building a more humanitarian society with emphasis on equality, equity and social justice tend to be abolitionists. They argue that as inequities and injustices increase, so do crime, irrespective of retributive punishment.

 

Cruelty in punishment

 

The person perceived as cruel criminal by a section could be fighting for justice and become a hero for others and any cruelty in punishment makes such a person a bigger martyr to be emulated by others.

 

Therefore, cruelty of punishment alone could not be burdened with deterring crime. It is a just and equitable society where compassion for a wrong doer is a value and reformation is an objective that reforms the criminal. Reformed criminal is a louder and clearer message to deter crime.

 

Disproportionate number of people from marginalised sections of the society – poor, ethnic and religious minorities and lower castes are handed down death penalty. For example, 41 per cent of death row inmates and 34 per cent of those executed in US are African Americans though they constitute 12 per cent of US population.

 

To conclude, death penalty and legal execution of any human being brings out worst retributionist sentiments and violent animal instincts of a society evident from the interviews of ordinary people on TV after execution of Kasab. The sooner the world is free from such basal instincts, the better.

(The writer is Director, Institute for Peace Studies, and member of All India Secular Forum.)

 

 

Supreme Court Canada invalidates Pfizer’s Viagra Patent


Supreme Court Voids Viagra Patent as Insufficient Disclosure Means It Fails the “Patent Bargain”

Canada’s top court has ruled that Pfizer’s patent on their groundbreaking erectile dysfunction drug Viagra won’t be valid for much longer. The unanimous decision opens the door to the production of a generic version of Viagra in the near future.

Thursday November 08, 2012 http://www.michaelgeist.ca/

The Supreme Court of Canada this morning shocked the pharmaceutical industry by voiding Pfizer’s patent in Canada for Viagra. The unanimous decision provides a strong reaffirmation of the policy behind patent law, namely that patents represent a quid pro quo bargain of public disclosure of inventions in return for a time limited monopoly in the invention. The Supreme Court describes it in this way:

The patent system is based on a “bargain”, or quid pro quo: the inventor is granted exclusive rights in a new and useful invention for a limited period in exchange for disclosure of the invention so that society can benefit from this knowledge. This is the basic policy rationale underlying the Act. The patent bargain encourages innovation and advances science and technology.

Disclosure is therefore a crucial part of the patent bargain.

The court clarifies that this involves not only a description of the invention and how it works, but rather a much more practical level of disclosure “to enable a person skilled in the art or the field of the invention to produce it using only the instructions contained in the disclosure.” In this case, the court finds that Pfizer failed to provide sufficient disclosure, concluding:

the public’s right to proper disclosure was denied in this case, since the claims ended with two individually claimed compounds, thereby obscuring the true invention. The disclosure failed to state in clear terms what the invention was. Pfizer gained a benefit from the Act – exclusive monopoly rights – while withholding disclosure in spite of its disclosure obligations under the Act. As a matter of policy and sound statutory interpretation, patentees cannot be allowed to “game” the system in this way.

Pfizer argued strenuously that this should not result in invalidating the patent, but Justice Lebel, writing for the court, found no other alternative. The Viagra patent is therefore voided in Canada (which will allow for generic substitutes) and the importance of the basic foundation of patent policy for the broader benefit of society reaffirmed.