Thursday, December 22, 2005

December 2005 Issue of Marketing Treasures Now Online

The latest issue of the library newsletter Marketing Treasures has been published.

In this issue, there is a lengthy article on what to include in Requests for Proposals seeking logo design services.

Also in the newsletter:

  • Product positioning: "Positioning an information product or service means that the marketing plans, and all the promotion and communications activities associated with it, use messages which establish a perception about the product and its relationship with other similar, competing information products. At the same time, the product itself -- its features and attributes -- indicate the product's position in the marketplace."
  • BookLetters: "Have you ever wondered if there was a way to seamlessly create a dynamic electronic library newsletter -- a web-based service that alerts library customers to the latest book and library news-- that connects to your library's web site, e-resources and catalog? BookLetters may be the service you're looking for."
  • OCLC Perceptions Report: a brief description of the findings of "Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources", a report issued by OCLC earlier this month.
  • IFLA Marketing Papers: announcement of the August 2006 meeting "Library Management and Marketing in a Multicultural World" in Shanghai.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

List of Electronic Surveillance Laws in the U.S.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a detailed list of U.S. state and federal legislation and warrant procedures in relation to electronic wiretapping and eavesdropping.

For Canadian material, one can have a look at the lawful access section of the CIPPIC website. CIPPIC is the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic based at the University of Ottawa.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:22 pm 0 comments links to this post

SirsiDynix Seminars and Word of the Week

SirsiDynix has a host of interesting online resources for professional development:

Word to the Wise is a weekly glossary of library tech buzzwords with detailed backround information. One can view the archive and subscribe to the weekly mailing list.

The company also organizes online seminars for info professionals and past presentations are available free of charge from the SirsiDynix Institute Web Seminar Archive. The archive goes back to Feb. 2003.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Impeaching the U.S. President - Online Resources

The "I" word is out in the open in the United States. "I" as in impeaching a sitting President.

Sure, for some time, the call for impeachment was making the rounds of various activist communities who oppose George W. Bush's Iraq and anti-terrorism policies. But now, the word has escaped from the political fringes into the mainstream press and it is being used in the halls of the American Congress in the context of the recent revelations about the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant. Being loose with the truth about going to war against Iraq also hasn't helped the atmosphere.

A few days ago, Newsweek magazine's Jonathan Alter used the word in his online column entitled "Bush’s Snoopgate", a clear reference to the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon.

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has asked 4 constitutional scholars whether Bush has committed an "impeachable offense".

Michigan Democratic Congressman and Black Congressional Caucus leader John Conyers has called for creating a Select Committee to investigate the Bush Administration and report on possible impeachable offenses. In a minority report of the House Judiciary Committee written at Conyers' request and released December 20, the researchers conclude:

"There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence. While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses".

To help follow the debate, here are some presidential impeachment resources:

  • Impeachment Documents Relating to a U.S. President (Ralph Brown Draughon Library, Auburn University, Alabama): the site provides access to all the main official documents relating to the impeachment of the three American presidents, namely Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. They include Congressional reports giving the reasons why each of the presidents was impeached, information about the process of impeachment in the U.S. political system and details of the outcomes in each case
  • The Federal Impeachment Process - A Bibliographic Guide to English and American Precedence, Historical and Procedural Development, and Scholarly Commentary (Cornell Law Library): orginally written in 1974, it was updated in 1998. As the preface to the original edition states: "What is provided in this compilation is a cogent path through the most important components of this process. Attention has been given to the historical development of Impeachment, the complex procedure that has evolved, the nature of an impeachable offense as revealed through specific English and American cases of Impeachment, and the various discussions of Impeachment by legal scholars and historians. This is the material that continues to be cited in practically every discussion of Impeachment, whether it be through monograph, journal article, government report, or newspaper editorial".
  • Impeachment Resources (Law Library of Congress): a detailed bibliography of books, articles, and reports
  • Guide to Impeachment and Censure Materials Online (Jurist Legal News & Research): this site was created by a team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law during the Clinton impeachment. It is divided into sections on Impeachment Primers, Constitutional and Statutory Provisions on Impeachment, Impeachments in History, Impeachment Procedures, the Senate Trial of Andrew Johnson in 1868, Censure, Academic Opinion. N.B.: the site dates back to 1998 so some of the links no longer work but most of them not directly connected to the Clinton hearings are still OK
  • Eagleton Digital Archive of American Politics (Rutgers University): maintained by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University to highlight significant political events in American history. Topics include the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton
  • Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (Harpers Weekly): This site contains the original coverage from Harpers Weekly magazine of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. It provides the details of the legal, political and constitutional arguments for the impeachment and its progress. It includes biographies of the key players in the story
  • The Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson (Library of Congress American Memory Project): The Congressional Globe, the predecessor to the Congressional Record, published a supplementary volume that provides a record of the documents and debates from the Senate trial in 1868
  • The Watergate Files (Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum): this collection of materials about the 1972-74 Watergate scandal includes declassified government documents, video clips and audio files from the Senate investigative hearings against Nixon. The site also includes a background history and timeline of events plus biographies of key individuals involved in the scandal and subsequent collapse of the Nixon presidency
  • Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas Austin): The site offers a history of the work of Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein whose investigative reporting uncovered the Watergate scandal that destroyed the career of President Richard Nixon. The site includes a selection of their working archives, notes, draft newspapers stories and interviews
  • Impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton (University of Michigan Documents Center): a very complete site about the impeachment process against Bill Clinton in 1998, it covers grand jury proceedings, House and Senate hearings, witness depositions, background documents, etc.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:48 pm 2 comments links to this post

Legal Technology Predictions for 2006

LLRX.com features an article by Dennis Kennedy of the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section on Legal Technology Predictions for 2006: Small Steps for Most Firms, Giant Leaps for a Few Firms.

Kennedy writes: "Most signs point to a lull in legal technology in 2006. With new versions of Windows and Microsoft Office on the horizon and hardware more than adequate for the needs of most lawyers, it will be easy for many firms to 'go slow' on technology this year and I expect many firms to do so. At the same time, the Internet has returned to the main stage with a vengeance and some great new legal tech tools are becoming available. A small number of firms will take some giant leaps in technology in 2006 and make the best of a great opportunity to break away from the pack, gaining new clients and more business in the process."

Among the trends he is predicting are:
  • an increased emphasis on mobility and collaboration, from webinar tools to social networking tools to online workspace tools
  • continued but slow growth toward e-discovery
  • the Internet as platform "for a variety of practical applications, from making phone calls (VOIP) to generating information feeds (RSS) to facilitating online collaboration"
  • "making better use of what you have": this will involve more emphasis on training budgets, and more software audits
  • improved productivity tools: "The emphasis at many law firms is still on what's best for the IT department or staff rather than what's best for the practicing lawyer. Technology-savvy lawyers will demand the tools they need, purchase the tools themselves, or leave."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 19, 2005

Wrongful Conviction Resources on the Web

This is a follow-up to the Nov. 23 posting The Innocence Project - Wrongful Conviction Website.

The LLRX.com website has just published a bibliography entitled Wrongful Conviction and Innocence Resources on the Internet.

It is divided into sections on current awareness, "innocence projects" (groups and research projects that help investigate cases of wrongful conviction), government commissions, case profiles and case databases, reports on wrongful conviction published by the government, academics, various organizations and the media in the United States, courses, conferences and organizations.

The site includes a few Canadian resources.

Additional Canadian resources not mentioned in the LLRX.com bibliography include:

  • Criminal Conviction Review (Justice Canada): explains the review process under the Canadian Criminal Code and links to annual reports the Justice Minister submits to Parliament
  • Report of the Working Group on the Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice (federal, provincial and territorial justice departments): In 2002, in response to a number of wrongful convictions across the country and the various reports of inquiries they generated, the Working Group on the Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice was created to develop a list of "best practices" to assist prosecutors and police in better understanding the causes of wrongful convictions and to recommend new policies and educational processes to guard against future miscarriages of justice. The report reviewed research regarding the known prevalence of wrongful convictions internationally, as well as the recommendations from recent Canadian commissions of inquiry. Also, it presented a review of the literature on the precipitating factors that have been found to lead to wrongful convictions such as police tunnel vision, faulty eyewitness identification, false confessions, jailhouse informers, botched DNA evidence, and overconfident reliance on expert testimony
  • Wrongfully Convicted (CBC News Online): this online report was prepared by the CBC in 2004. It contains profiles of the most famous Canadian cases, an archive of CBC news stories and links to various outside websites on the issue
  • Discussion paper on achieving investigative excellence (Canadian Police College): this publication looked at ways to improve investigative practices and avoid "problems related to investigative practices that have been known to lead to wrongful convictions, wrongful arrests, bungled investigations, avoidable acquittals, false prosecutions and poorly coordinated mega-cases".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:52 pm 1 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Parliamentary Website Unveils Heritage Artifacts Collection

A few weeks ago, the House of Commons launched an online exhibit of hundreds of the artifacts, paintings, stained glass, metalworks, sculptures and frescoes that are either on display or hidden away in obscure corners of the Gothic Revival style parliamentary buildings.

To view many of the 5,000 art objects in the House collection, one would normally need many different security passes to get into various "secure" parts of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's office, private opposition and government lobbies and personal offices. 900 of the 5,000 objects are included on the website along with detailed background information.

The artifacts are in the care of the Curator's Office created in 1989. Information about the objects was compiled from original purchase documents, minutes of the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy (the parliamentary committee that oversees operations of the House), records from Public Works and from Library and Archives Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 16, 2005

Data Security - Year in Review 2005

CNET News.com has prepared an in-depth review of the past year's news and trends in the area of identity theft on the Net.

The review covers phishing attacks, database break-ins, credit card and financial company security breaches, phone record hacking and more.

In 2005, more than 50 million personal records have been exposed in dozens of incidents in the United States and Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Toy Safety Surveys

My wife and I don't have kids but we have tons of nephews and nieces for whom we have to buy toys at this time of year.

The usual pattern of buying goes like this. I think of something I think is really cool for a certain kid and I get all excited and call up my sister or brother with the news. Of course, they immediately tell me to curb my enthusiasm because the toy I have in mind is dangerous for any number of reasons: a) someone might choke on it b) someone might poke someone's eye out with it or c) someone will use it to murder his little brother or sister d) someone will get electrocuted by it.

Well, thank God for government and NGO safety reports!

The reports come from both sides of the border.

  • Award-Winning Toys 2006: The best known toy report in Canada comes from the Toy Testing Council of Canada which has been testing toys since the early 1950s, evaluating their design, durability, safety and something called "play value". The testing is done by placing hundreds of different toys with a families for eight weeks. Kids - the experts - help to rate the toys.
  • Trouble in Toyland - The 20th Annual Survey of Toy Safety: This annual survey of toy safety from the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups in the United States "provides safety guidelines for parents when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards." The report discusses choking and strangulation hazards, toys that could cause hearing loss, and toys that could expose children to hazardous chemicals. It outlines many of the safety standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Industry Guide to Canadian Safety Requirements for Toys and Related Products: This guide from Health Canada "provides an overview of Canadian toy safety legislation for industry members. It conveys basic information on the legislation, as well as details on the requirements that address specific hazards associated with children's toys".
  • Hazardous Products (Toys) Regulations: Toys that make it to market in Canada have to adhere to the federal government's Hazardous Products Act and its associated regulations.
  • Top Toys 2005: The December 2005 issue of Today's Parent magazine contains its annual list of recommended toys. "Discovered, constructed, gummed, driven, dressed and combed by our testing kids, approved by moms and dads, here are the best toys on the market for kids at every age."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:47 pm 1 comments links to this post

Government Information Track at CLA 2006 Conference

At the next Canadian Library Association conference planned for June 2006 in Ottawa, there will be an entire track devoted to the topic of access to government information. The gov info sessions will be held on June 15, 2006. Conference registration will not open until February 2006. Information about the conference should appear in the New Year on the CLA website.

So far, the following sessions have been chosen:
  • What are you talking about? Interpreting, understanding and answering government reference questions: Mike McCaffrey-Noviss (University of Toronto), Ian MacDonald (Library and Archives Canada), George de Zwaan (Library and Archives Canada)
  • Preservation of Web-Based Government Information: Andrew Hubbertz (University of Saskatchewan), John Stegenga (Library and Archives Canada), speaker TBA (Legislative Assembly of Ontario), Julie Schwartz (Connecticut State Library)
  • The Future of Accessing Government Information - Programs and Partnerships: Fay Hjartarson (Library and Archives Canada), Christine Leduc (Depository Service Program, Public Works and Government Services Canada)
  • Open House: Depository Services Program

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Following the Wikipedia Controversy

As many people are aware by now, controversy over the biography of John Seigenthaler Sr. on the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia has triggered extensive debate over the reliability of Wikipedia, and more broadly, over the nature of online information. The encyclopedia, to which anyone can contribute and whose articles anyone can correct, has been presented as an example of self-correcting knowledge sharing or pooling. It contains hundreds of thousands of articles on everything from Madonna to nanotechnology, and from Belgian symbolist poetry to zambonis.

The entry on Wikipedia falsely suggested that Seigenthaler may have had a role in the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The error stood for months before it was revealed and removed.
  • A false Wikipedia 'biography' (USA Today): John Seigenthaler's tells his story in an article on Nov. 29, 2005. "Federal law also protects online corporations — BellSouth, AOL, MCI Wikipedia, etc. — from libel lawsuits. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, specifically states that 'no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker.' That legalese means that, unlike print and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens posted by others. "
  • Wikipedia and the nature of truth (CNET News.com): posted on Dec. 2, the article remarks "Purists may sniff at the elevation of Wikipedia to the rank of serious reference source. But that's what it has become for millions of people around the world. On your ride home today, try pondering a future where Wikipedia's model of competing versions of the truth becomes the norm. Will the increasing influence of the wisdom of the crowd force us to rethink the nature of knowledge? With the proliferation of the Internet, more voices inevitably will become part of that conversation. "
  • Growing pains for Wikipedia (CNET News.com): posted on December 5 - "'Wikipedia is so often considered authoritative. That must stop now, surely. Every fact in there must be considered partisan, written by someone with a conflict of interest,' blogging and podcasting pioneer Dave Winer wrote in his blog. 'Further, we need to determine what authority means in the age of Internet scholarship'."
  • Wikipedia Tightens Submission Rules (Associated Press, on Yahoo! News): December 5 - "Wikipedia will now require users to register before they can create articles, Jimmy Wales, founder of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site, said Monday. People who modify existing articles will still be able to do so without registering... While it would not prevent people from posting false information, the new process will make it easier, said Wales, for the site's 600 active volunteers to review and remove factual errors, defaming statements and other material that runs afoul of Wikipedia policy."
  • The online credibility gap - False claim on JFK murder shows vulnerability of Wikipedia (San Francisco Chronicle): December 6 - " 'In the future, people will look at an article from Britannica and say, 'This was written by two people and reviewed by two more; I want an article reviewed by hundreds of people, fact-checked scrupulously by dozens and dozens of people.' In the future, we can say Britannica can't touch these (Wikipedia's) articles; it doesn't have the manpower to do it.' [Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales] But many devotees of traditional research tools think there's a danger in relying on the accuracy of an open-source encyclopedia. 'If you look at the Encyclopedia Britannica, you can be fairly sure that somebody writing an article is an acknowledged expert in that field, and you can take his or her words as being at least a scholarly point of view,' said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and dean of library services at Cal State Fresno. 'The problem with an online encyclopedia created by anybody is that you have no idea whether you are reading an established person in the field or somebody with an ax to grind. For all I know, Wikipedia may contain articles of great scholarly value. The question is, how do you choose between those and the other kind?'."
  • Wikipedia to Require Contributors to Register (National Public Radio broadcast): guests on the December 6 show "Talk of the Nation" were John Seigenthaler and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
  • Is Wikipedia safe from libel liability? (CNET News.com): December 7 - "But people like Seigenthaler who are unhappy about an anonymous posting on the site may well find that they have no legal recourse since Congress has decided that without giving service providers protections against legal liability, only very rich and cautious media companies would be able to host third parties' content, said Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "
  • Wikipedia joker eats humble pie (BBC): Dec. 12 - "Quoted in The Tennessean newspaper, Mr Chase said: 'I knew from the news that Mr. Seigenthaler was looking for who did it, and I did it, so I needed to let him know in particular that it wasn't anyone out to get him, that it was done as a joke that went horribly, horribly wrong'." The culprit, Brian Chase, 38, ended up resigning from his job as an operations manager at a Nashville delivery company as a result of the controversy
  • There's no Wikipedia entry for 'moral responsibility' (The Register, UK): December 12 - "For sure a libel is a libel, but the outrage would have been far more muted if the Wikipedia project didn't make such grand claims for itself. The problem with this vanity exercise is one that it's largely created for itself. The public has a firm idea of what an 'encyclopedia' is, and it's a place where information can generally be trusted, or at least slightly more trusted than what a labyrinthine, mysterious bureaucracy can agree upon, and surely more trustworthy than a piece of spontaneous graffiti - and Wikipedia is a king-sized cocktail of the two".
  • Is an Online Encyclopedia, Such as Wikipedia, Immune From Libel Suits? (Findlaw.com): December 12 - "There is a strong case for giving Wikipedia at least some immunity. It would be a shame if Wikipedia were to become so cautious that it took down any content of which a person complained - no matter how meritless. This would stifle the marketplace of ideas... But should Wikipedia have total immunity? It presents itself as an online encyclopedia - which has the connotation of reliability (and, in the past, edited content). We'd be foolish not to take blog postings with a grain of salt - but what about an article that is characterized as an encyclopedia entry? Unsurprisingly, many people are relying on the content as if it were correct and using the site as a reference tool... In addition, Wikipedia is very influential. It ranks very highly in the major search engines. This means that Wikipedia's potential for inflicting damage is amplified by several orders of magnitude. Finally, because Wikipedia's content is so fluid - and is user-altered - an article can appear, do its damage, and disappear, all within a short space of time. "
  • A Vote of Confidence in Wikipedia -- A study by the journal Nature finds that the online encyclopedia is nearly as accurate as Britannica -- and is widely used by scientists (Business Week): December 14 - "There's no question that Wikipedia entries on politically charged topics such as abortion, evolution, and almost anything related to the Islamic faith reflect the efforts of a great many cooks. The resulting articles are often conscientiously bland and exhaustively footnoted. But draw back the curtain on how each article is actually produced, and you'll find a reassuring competition for accuracy, as well as a surprisingly efficient mechanism for establishing which writers have the best information. "
  • Special Report - Internet encyclopaedias go head to head - Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, a Nature investigation finds (Nature): December 15 issue - "Editors at Britannica would not discuss the findings, but say their own studies of Wikipedia have uncovered numerous flaws. 'We have nothing against Wikipedia,' says Tom Panelas, director of corporate communications at the company's headquarters in Chicago. 'But it is not the case that errors creep in on an occasional basis or that a couple of articles are poorly written. There are lots of articles in that condition. They need a good editor.' ... This criticism is common among information scientists, who also point to other problems with article quality, such as undue prominence given to controversial scientific theories. But Michael Twidale, an information scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that Wikipedia's strongest suit is the speed at which it can updated, a factor not considered by Nature's reviewers. 'People will find it shocking to see how many errors there are in Britannica,' Twidale adds. 'Print encyclopaedias are often set up as the gold standards of information quality against which the failings of faster or cheaper resources can be compared. These findings remind us that we have an 18-carat standard, not a 24-carat one'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 12, 2005

Laïcité 1905-2005: Centenary of the Separation of Church and State in France

Last Friday, December 9, marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the French law creating an active separation of Church and state, a concept known as "laïcité" and that is often translated as secularism.

Under that law:
  • The French Republic would no longer fund or lend political support to religious organisations
  • Religious symbols would not be allowed in public buildings
  • Religion was not to be taught in schools
  • People were allowed to follow a religion but no-one should be forced to

Some resources on the issue in France, plus some others offering an international comparison of the laws on Church-State relations:

  • 100th Anniversary of Secularism in France (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life): offers "a variety of resources capturing the significance of the original law and the current debate concerning its implementation. The resources include links to Pew Forum transcripts and related resource pages, as well as links to official statements on secularism and accredited news and commentary". The Forum is a project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research institute that provides information on attitudes and trends in the United States
  • The Separation of Church and State in France (BBC): an in-depth report on the history of French secularism and recent tensions involving religious minorities, most specifically certain members of the Moslem population (the "hijab question")
  • The deep roots of French secularism (BBC): "Secularism is the closest thing the French have to a state religion. It underpinned the French Revolution and has been a basic tenet of the country's progressive thought since the 18th Century... To this day, anything that smacks of official recognition of a religion - such as allowing Islamic headscarves in schools - is anathema to many French people. Even those who oppose a headscarf ban do so in the name of a more modern, flexible form of secularism. This tradition can be seen as a by-product of French Catholicism, as progressives have always seen the pulpit as an enemy, rather than a platform, unlike in some Protestant countries."
  • International Religious Freedom Report 2005 (U.S. State Department): every year since 1998, the State Department submits a report to Congress on the situation in the various countries of the world. The country descriptions provide data on the religious makeup of national populations, social attitudes toward religion, government policy as well as the constitutional/legislative framework that deals with the rights of religious organizations and individuals. Note how Americans describe the issue in terms of "freedom" (see next item also) as opposed to the way the debate is handled in France
  • Nation Profiles (Center on Religion and Democracy, University of Virginia): each country profile tries to provide information on the distribution of religious groups, a summary of legislation on the topic of "religious freedom" and a bibliography of additional sources
  • 1905-2005 - Cent ans de laïcité en France: official State website of the commemoration of the 1905 law - N.B. site is very Flash-heavy. There are links to colloquia, historical debates and legal texts, etc. The government asked the prestigious Académie des sciences morales et politiques to organize a series of seminars throughout the year to mark the anniversary. Summaries of the contents of those seminars are available. Some of the seminars were broadcast on the Canal Académie
  • La laïcité, une loi d'actualité (Libération): the Dec. 9 article in the Parisian daily draws a sharp contrast between the silence at the summit of the French state on the day of the anniversary and the proliferation of conferences, exhibitions, banquets, and publications at the local level across France
  • La laïcité : débats 100 ans après la loi de 1905 (La Documentation française): a very complete site from the official government publisher attached to the office of the French Prime Minister
  • La laïcité dans la République (French National Assembly): educational website created in the wake of the 2004 law banning the wearing of religious symbols in French schools. The site provides detailed information on the history of French secularism, and how it applies in French daily life (school, workplace, healthcare). There are examples based on real life situations, summaries of case law, quizzes.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

UNESCO Observatory on the Information Society

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created an Observatory on the Information Society in 1998 to provide information on issues such as access to information in the public domain, electronic commerce, privacy and confidentiality in cyberspace.

Visitors can browse through a thematic list of categories on the homepage that address topics like intellectual property rights, Internet governance, cybercrime, treaties, and national legislations.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:09 pm 0 comments links to this post

"Podcast" Named Word of the Year, "Blog" Chosen as Word to be Banished

You can't please everyone when it comes to new technology.

The Oxford American Dictionary has selected "podcast" as their word of the year. Among the runner-ups were: bird flu, IDP (internally displaced person), IED (a kind of bomb), persistent vegetative state, rootkit, and sudoku.

Meanwhile, over in Sault Ste.Marie (Michigan), Lake Superior State University is continuing its tradition of compiling an annual Banished Words List, or "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness" first launched in 1976. This year, many people from around the world nominated "blog" for inclusion in the list, saying it sounds like "something your mother would slap you for saying" or like "something that would be stuck in my toilet".

If you are curious, previous lists of words people have nominated for elimination from the English language are available on the university website.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:44 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gun Control Resources

On Thursday, as part of its platform in the January 23, 2006 federal elections, the Liberal Party of Canada proposed a sweeping national ban on handguns.

Among other things, according to the press release, the plan would involve:

  • Banning handguns through an amendment to the criminal code that would invite provincial and territorial government participation to make the ban national; an amnesty and buy-back program to collect existing handguns; and a national Gunstoppers Program to provide financial rewards for information leading to removing an illegal gun from the street; all at a cost of $30 million a year over 5 years
  • Toughening penalties by re-introducing legislation to crack down on violent gun crimes and gang violence, by doubling the mandatory minimum sentences for key gun crimes: trafficking of firearms, smuggling of firearms, and illegal possession of loaded handguns in public places

To understand the debate, here are various resources.

CANADA

  • Implementing the Firearms Act - the rising cost (CBC News Indepth): "When Canada's auditor general tabled her December 2002 report, she set her sights on Ottawa's controversial gun-registry program. Sheila Fraser blasted the federal government for exceeding its estimated budget, saying that, by the time the smoke cleared and all gun owners and their guns were registered, the program would have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion. Opposition critics were quick to point out that figure is 500 times more than the original $2-million estimate. A look at internal audits conducted by the Canadian Firearms Program suggests the cost of the program has been an issue from the beginning"
  • Law-Abiding Unregisterd Firearms Association: organization of Canadian gun owners fighting for the repeal of the current Firerams Act
  • Coalition for Gun Control: the website contains information about federal legislation and the degree of effectiveness of the firearms registry system, the situation in the various provinces, summaries of statistical and sociological studies on the issue of the impact of firearms control laws, a comparison of gun laws and gun deaths in various foreign jurisdictions, news, etc.
  • Canada Firearms Centre/Centre des armes à feu Canada: federal government agency created by an order-in-council in 2003 to oversee the administration of the Firearms Act and the Canadian Firearms Program. The website includes explanations of the legislation and regulations, research reports, and a detailed history of gun control in Canada since 1892

INTERNATIONAL

  • Coalition for Gun Control - International Context: information on mortality and injury caused by small arms, trends in domestic firearms controls in various countries (UK, New Zealand, Australia, Japan), international efforts
  • Canada Firearms Centre - Firearms And The Experience Of Other Countries
  • Small Arms/Firearms Education and Research Network: the website of this research group based at Ryerson University in Toronto offers country profiles (in the blue top navigation bar, click on "Regions" on the far right). The profiles include firearm ownership statistics, types of legal firearms, firearm injury and death statistics, domestic legislation
  • Internet Resource Guide - Criminal Law Resources - Firearms (Parliamentary Library - Australia): links to legislation and regulations, websites for the national gun buyback program, various parliamentary and departmental documents and press releases
  • Gun Policy News (School of Public Health, Sydney, Australia): this site offers an RSS news feed with stories from around the world, and features headlines, abstracts and Web links to gun policy-related articles published in the international, mainstream mass media
  • Home Office - Operational Policing - Firearms (United Kingdom): links to various documents and government circulars on gun control
  • Gun Control Network (United Kingdom): established in 1996 in the aftermath of the Dunblane tragedy when a man shot to death 16 very young children and their teacher in a school gym in Scotland. The founders include lawyers, academics and the parents of victims killed in Dunblane and Hungerford ( in 1987, 16 people in Hungerford 100 km West of London were mowed down by a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov, an automatic rifle and a Beretta pistol). The website provides news, research and analysis of UK legislation, from an anti-gun perspective
  • Gun Legislation in the 109th Congress (Congressional Research Service Report, hosted by University of North Texas Libraries): May 2005 overview of legislative proposals on the topic on gun control in the U.S. Congress. The issues that are likely to receive attention are proposals to give the gun industry immunity from tort liability (done in November), regulate certain firearms previously defined in statute as assault weapons, and require background checks for private firearm transfers at gun shows
  • State Gun Laws - Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (United States): all 50 states have been rated on seven types of legislation related to the right of juveniles to own firearms, the right to sell a gun to a child, whether gun owners are held responsible for leaving loaded guns easily accessible to children, whether guns are required to have child-safety locks, loaded-chamber indicators and other childproof designs, the existence of restrictions on unsafe "Saturday night specials", the right of cities and counties to enact tougher local gun laws, whether background checks are required at gun shows and between "private" parties, and whether it is legal to carry concealed handguns in public
  • Firearms - Legal Overview (U.S. Department of Justice - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives): summary information about U.S. federal gun laws, as well as regulations concerning various subtopics such as gun dealer licensing, the sale of armour-piercing ammunition, interstate gun sales, categories of people prohibited from owning weapons, etc.
  • JURIST - Gun Law/Gun Control (University of Pittsburgh School of Law): contains an archive of news stories about gun control, as well as links to pro and con gun control websites, commentary and official documents (recent bills, case law)
  • Firearms Litigation Clearinghouse (Washington, D.C.): the Clearinghouse is a program of the "Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence". The website tracks litigation relating to firearms in the United States
  • Legal Community Against Violence: San Francisco- based public interest law centre dedicated to preventing gun violence. The site provides links to federal and state firearm policies. The state policies are broken down by topic (e.g. assault weapons, concealed weapons, gun shows, imitation guns, manufacturer liability, large ammunition clips, machine guns, etc.)
  • National Rifle Association: the largest gun owner organization in the world. Legislative monitoring and lobbying are among its major activities and this is reflected on the website

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 09, 2005

Anniversary of the UN Genocide Convention

On December 9, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide . It bans acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. It declares genocide a crime under international law whether committed during war or peacetime, and binds all signatories to take measures to prevent and punish any acts of genocide committed within their jurisdiction.

For more information, see:


  • Frederick K. Cox International Law Center War Crimes Research Portal web links on genocide (Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland): the portal contains over a thousand links to websites related to international humanitarian law, arranged alphabetically by subject area; the text of research memoranda on issues pending before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the International Criminal Court; a Research Guide to international humanitarian law and tribunals; and "instant analysis" articles, written each month by the members of the American Branch of the International Association of Penal Law, on the hottest topics in international criminal law
  • War Crimes Project (New England School of Law): the project has "a unique arrangement with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, under which New England School of Law students provide legal research and analysis to the war crimes prosecutor on issues pending before the Tribunal. Issues range from the contours of command responsibility to the interpretation of the Genocide Convention"
  • Bibliography on International Humanitarian Law/Laws of War (Crimes of War Project): the Project is a collaboration of journalists, lawyers and scholars dedicated to raising public awareness of the laws of war and their application to situations of conflict. It receives funding through the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Concordia University): features the "Memoirs of Holocaust Survivors in Canada" project collecting unpublished diaries and memoirs from victims of the Holocaust. In addition, the site features a bibliography of books and a collection of occasional papers by Institute researchers. Concordia is home to major research collections among which the David Azrieli Holocaust Collection, which includes an extensive collection of North American theses and dissertations on aspects of the Holocaust; a complete set of the Nuremberg trials; and hundreds of reels of microfilm of the unpublished intelligence records of the United States and Great Britain relating to the Nazi Holocaust
  • Genocide Watch: non-governmental organization that exists "to predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder. We seek to raise awareness and influence public policy concerning potential and actual genocide". Board of advisors includes a former prosecutor of Nazi war criminals, Canadian General Roméo Dallaire and various prominent genocide and Holocaust experts. The site includes a Genocide Watch News Monitor section, and a section featuring articles by academics and international scholars
  • Institute for the Study of Genocide/International Association of Genocide Scholars: the Institute is located at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. It exists to promote and disseminate scholarship and policy analyses on the causes, consequences, and prevention of genocide. The Association, founded in 1994, promotes comparative research on the links between genocide and gross human rights violations, and on the prevention and punishment of genocide. The joint website offers access to the ISG newsletter, a bibliography of basic genocide books, the text of the UN Genocide Convention and social scientists’ definitions of genocide.
  • Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (University of Minnesota): the site contains resources such as curricula for educators of holocaust and genocide studies. A list of genocide and holocaust-related websites and a bibliographic database of relevant books and articles are also available.
  • Genocide Studies Program (Yale University): offers bibliographic, geographic, and photographic databases of resources on various projects dealing with Holocaust trauma, colonial genocides, Rwanda, Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, Bosnia etc.
  • War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, and Terrorism (University of Minnesota Human Rights Library): a collection of treaties and basic documents

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:29 pm 2 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 08, 2005

2005 - Year of the Law Podcast

An article in Law Technology News declares that this is the Year of the Podcast.

As author Robert Ambrogi writes: "Legal professionals now can find a range of high quality podcasts on a variety of topics. This column reviews 10 of them, but it is not a 10-best list. My purpose is to show a cross section of the podcasts being produced for and by lawyers. These 10 share the characteristics of quality and consistency, but there are other law-related podcasts out there equally deserving of your ear. "
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Blog on International Criminal Tribunals

The Pace University Law School in White Plains, New York has created Jus in Bello, a new blog devoted to international criminal tribunals and international criminal law.

It will feature opinion pieces by Pace Law School professors specializing in various areas of international law. It also provides news updates and links to primary and secondary resources on international criminal law put together by Margaret Moreland, Lawyer/Librarian at Pace.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Parties Surveyed on Controversial Net Issues

In the run-up to the January 23, 2006 Canadian elections, the University of Ottawa-based CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic) has has sent a questionnaire to each federal party on a number of policy issues involving the Internet.

The questions cover technical protection measures like DRM, copyright, spyware, spam, privacy protection, police access to Internet account information ("lawful access"), identity theft, and telecom reform.

CIPPIC will post party responses as they are delivered.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Anniversary of the 1989 Polytechnique Massacre

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the massacre at the École Polytechnique de Montréal engineering faculty during which 14 women were killed by shooter Marc Lépine for being women in a "men's field".

Considered one of the worst mass murders in Canadian history, the Montreal Massacre had a deep and lasting impact, leading to new programmes to deal with violence against women and to the official proclamation of December 6th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.


  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Status of Women Canada): Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada
  • Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2005 (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics): "This year, the focus is the incidence of stalking and spousal violence reported by both women and men to Statistics Canada’s 2004 General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS). In addition, for the first time the report presents an analysis of family-related homicide-suicides that have transpired over the past 40 years. The report also details other family-related homicides which did not involve the suicide of the perpetrator and an analysis of non-lethal family-related violence against children and youth and older adults."
  • Family Violence in Canada: Statistics Canada makes available annual reports on the topic for the period 1998 to 2005
  • National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (Public Health Agency of Canada): collects, develops, and disseminates information on family violence across the country and abroad
  • Centre for Research on Violence on Women and Children (University of Western Ontario) : "The Centre's role is to facilitate the cooperation of individuals, groups and institutions representing the diversity of the community to pursue research questions and training opportunities to understand and prevent abuse"
  • Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research (University of New Brunswick): one of five research centres across Canada funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Health Canada
  • RESOLVE - Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse (Univ. Of Manitoba) : "The goal of this regional centre is to undertake research which will offer practical, action-oriented ways to help end family violence. It is essential that we provide services for victims of family violence and intervention and treatment for offenders"
  • Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la violence familiale: interdisciplinary research partnership between Quebec universities and social service agencies that focuses on the social context and determinants of violence, factors that make specific groups of women and youth vulnerable to violence, and measures of the efficacy of preventive, psychosocial and judicial approaches to violence

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 05, 2005

Call for Nominations: Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL / ACBD) has opened the nomination period for the 7th Annual Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing.

The award was created "as a means of acknowledging the work that is done by publishers to provide the legal profession with high quality materials for use in understanding and researching the law".

The Award will be presented at the Awards Luncheon at the next annual CALL / ACBD conference to be held in Edmonton, May 7-10, 2006.

All nominations should include the name of the publisher, the title of the publication and the reason why it is worthy of consideration. The deadline for nominations is January 13, 2006.

Previous winners are:
Submissions should be sent to:

Iain Sinclair
Director, Information Services
Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales
P.O. Box 7289, Station A
Saint John, NB
E2L 4S6
fax: 506.652.1989
isinclair@smss.com

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Most Cited Legal Periodicals Database

I picked this up on the Slaw blog: Washington and Lee University Law Library has measured the citations of law journals and has calculated rankings by "impact factor" (average number of citations to articles in each journal) and "immediacy" (how rapidly the average article in a particular journal will be discovered and cited).

One can select results for specific countries: the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence is tied with the University of Toronto Law Journal at the top of the Impact Factor list for Canadian law journals covered. Tied for 2nd place are the Canadian Journal of Family Law and the McGill Law Journal. Third place is also a tie between Queen's Law Journal and Osgoode Hall Law Journal.

There is a full explanation of the ranking methodology on the website of the University's School of Law.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 03, 2005

La Forest Report Warns Against Merging Federal Information and Privacy Commissions

This week, a report by former Supreme Court justice Gerard La Forest concerning the future of the offices of the federal information and privacy commissioners was publicly released . Written for the federal government, the report comes out against the idea of merging the two offices.

The information commissioner is an ombudsman for citizens who request federal government files under the Access to Information Act. The privacy commissioner handles complaints about abuses concerning the handling of personal information as described under the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

For some time, there had been a lot of speculation that the federal government wanted a merger of the offices or a cross-appointment of a single commissioner to both offices in the name of efficiency.

La Forest concludes that the federal government should instead strengthen both offices to foster compliance with its legal obligations. In terms of the access to information legislation, this means developing a culture under which information should be provided unless there is a compelling reason not to do so, and providing incentives for complying. As for privacy protection, the report argues that the government needs to have better safeguards when it comes to the sharing and outsourcing to private companies of personal information about Canadians.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster

According to This Day at Law on the JURIST website [link no longer works], today marks the anniversary of the passing of the Statute of Westminster by the British Parliament back in 1931. Under the statute, Canada achieved legislative independence from the United Kingdom. Royal assent followed on Dec. 11, 1931.

Confederation (1867) had given the provinces and the Canadian government full control of all internal matters. Over the next 5 or 6 decades, there was a gradual take-over by the federal government of the responsibilities in external sovereignty that had remained in the hands of Great Britain.

The First World War accelerated the process to full external independence. Canada's significant military contribution to the Allied victory helped forge a new Canadian pride. In 1919, Canada signed the Treaty of Versailles as one of the victors and was elected as an independent member of the League of Nations.

In 1926, the Balfour resolution was adopted at an Imperial Conference. According to that resolution, Great Britain recognized that the Dominions were autonomous communities within the British Empire, "equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations".

There still remained the matter of who was allowed to amend the Canadian constitution, which was after all a piece of British legislation. A Dominion-Provincial conference in 1927 considered this issue but the provinces rejected the proposals of the federal government. There was thus no consensus on how to bring back or patriate the Constitution from the UK. The paralysis lasted another 55 years.

In other words, the Statute of Westminster granted independence to Canada except in relation to the amendment of the constitution. As we all know, the patriation of the Constitution happened in 1982, but without the Quebec government signing on to it.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federated Search Symposium in February 2006

There will be a Federated Search Symposium February 2-3, 2006 at the University of Calgary.

Plenary Speakers are Roy Tennant (California Digital Library) and Cathy Gordon (Google Scholar).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 01, 2005

This Day at Law Web Page

The JURIST legal news site run by the School of Law of the University of Pittsburgh, offers a feature called This Day at Law (it even has a RSS feed).

Every day, the site describes an important event in legal history.

Today's article marked the anniversary of the incident on Dec. 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:44 pm 0 comments links to this post

History of the Right to Vote in Canada

Well, federal elections have finally been called for January. As we all gather to celebrate this exciting and joyful "ElexMas" season, here are a few Internet resources to remind us of the many struggles to extend the franchise to those who had been historially excluded from the right to vote in this country:

  • Voting in Canada: How a Privilege Became a Right (CBC Archives): "In Canada's early days, only a select group of privileged men could vote. Now it's a fundamental right for all Canadians over 18. Women, Asians, native people and prisoners were among those who gained the right to vote in Canadian elections over the past century — often amid controversy. CBC Archives explores the evolution of voting rights in Canada"
  • Human Rights in Canada: A Historical Perspective - Voting Rights (Canadian Human Rights Commission): a legislative and political history of the extension of the franchise since 1900
  • History of the Vote in Canada (Museum of Civilization): an overview of election law and practice from 1758 to today, and of how "(D)iscrimination that had always been present in the electoral system was gradually eliminated until the right to vote was extended to virtually every Canadian citizen and, in 1982, guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:29 pm 0 comments links to this post