One of the families who helped American whistleblower Edward Snowden stay safe while he was in Hong Kong have arrived in Canada. Snowden provided proof to the world that the USA spies on everyone including their own citizens. Due to his brave act he was the most wanted man on the planet and his safety was not assured by any state. During those few days in Hong Kong a couple families provided Snowden shelter since they too knew what it was like to be threatened by their own government.
It’s so nice to see that refugees who were struggling took time to help another in a similar situation get a happy next step. You can find out more about the Snowden refugees at For The Refugees.
“They are extremely brave people who have nothing, but when someone in distress needed them, they opened their doors,” said Montreal-based Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, one of the lawyers with the group.
“Instead of letting them live in a terrible situation without a future, we wanted to do something for them, as they wanted to do something for Edward Snowden.”
When someone breaks the law or acts out in a transgressive manner we often turn to punishment to correct their behaviour. We do this in families and as a society, but is it right? If take a moment to look at the roots of modern punishment we might conclude that it’s best to try something else.
One answer is that punishment evolved to promote the greater good and prevent tragedies of the commons. This is the altruistic approach. Yes, punishment might be costly for the punisher, but (so the theory goes) it generates downstream benefits for others – stabilising cooperation, enforcing just rules, deterring freeriders. Punishment is probably essential for maintaining and enforcing norms, laws and customs. Yet its origins appear to trace back to a time before robust human societies, perhaps even before we had language to articulate the rules. Recent research has identified contexts where dominant chimps seem to punish freeloaders. So perhaps punishment preceded the benefits it generates.
Canadians can get high on their own supply thanks to marijuana legalization in the country, which starts today. The motivation for making marijuana illegal in Canada is arguably based on classism and racism. Indeed, the entire war on drugs has destroyed so many lives and it’s time for us to change our approach to drugs from a criminal issues to a health issue. Canada might be setting the stage for that switch; since a serious benefit is that people who were charged for pot should have the charges repealed this week.
Now go relax by enjoying some pot in a reasonable fashion.
The prime minister has argued that Canada’s nearly century-old laws criminalising use of the drug have been ineffective, given that Canadians are still among the world’s heaviest users.
Government officials told reporters on Tuesday that they are currently considering a fast-track process to allow people who have been convicted of possession to apply for legal pardons. There are currently some 500,000 Canadians with existing criminal records for possession.
The role of schools often gets debated in places where safety and wellbeing are in doubt. Some people argue all schools should do is make kids into workers with little concern towards student’s mental and physical health. On the other hand, many argue schools should be places where kids learn about the world around them for the sake of bettering oneself and society. To me it seems that now more than ever we should encourage education to be all about self and societal improvement (particularly since robots are taking all our jobs). Indeed, over at the Conversation they’re running a piece on the importance of teaching students to question the world in order to improve it.
It is only with the opportunity and capacity to dissent that we can determine if our laws and systems guiding us are good or just. Further, in order to invoke our right to dissent, citizens have to know how to dissent, which calls into play the role of schooling.
[Students] should learn the skills of dissent, including consciousness-raising, coalition building, persuasion, public demonstration and pursuit of traditional government avenues for change. This type of instruction is happening in some schools, but not systematically enough across all schools, as courses in civics and social studies have been cut in order to focus on testing and such. Students receive even less of this kind of instruction in poorer schools.
Now that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect companies are reacting. You may have noticed new messages on websites outlining that they are collecting information on you, or maybe you’ve received emails updating you on new privacy policies. Those notices are a result of the GDPR’s rules around how companies spy on you and use your data for profit. What GDPR is doing in practice is eliminating the business models of some corporations and we might all benefit from these sketchy companies going kaput.
For companies whose entire business model was users not really understanding the entire business model, the cost of direct sunlight may just be too high. Unroll.me, a company that offers to automatically declutter your in-box (while, uh, selling the insight it gleans from your data to companies like Uber), announced that it will no longer serve E.U. customers.
If enough companies follow this lead, one practical effect might be a split internet, with one set of GDPR-compliant websites and services for the E.U. and another set with a somewhat more, let’s say, relaxed attitude toward data for the rest of the world. But even a loosely enforced GDPR creates conditions for improving privacy protections beyond Europe. Facebook, for example, has already said it will extend GDPR-level protections to all of its users — if they opt in to them.