Sunday, February 27, 2005

Amnesty International founder dies

Peter Benenson, the founder of the international human rights organization Amnesty International, died Friday at age 83.

"The man who lit the fuse of the human rights revolution died this week, having refused all honours and leaving behind him a world changed by the countless protests and petitions he championed."

Other information can be found:

I am a member of Amnesty International Toronto Group 142.

Joining Amnesty International is one of the most effective things I have ever done. I have found that it is also one of the world's best, most reputable sources of information about the true political situation in any country. I invite everyone to explore the Amnesty virtual library , to join and to donate to the movement.

The positive power of words.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:33 pm 0 comments

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Web use fosters pseudo-ADD

I had to laugh when reading this New York Times article (requires free online registration): You There, at the Computer: Pay Attention.

Whenever I sit down to do some work at the computer, within minutes, I'm checking e-mail, surfing my favourites, clicking on all the stupid pop-ups, going to my list of news sites, opening up my RSS news reader to see if I've "missed anything important"...

Well, at least I can say, it's not me. Psychologists and computer scientists are beginning to study the phenomenon of shortened attention spans in the Internet age. Am I easily distracted? Am I just a curious kind of guy? Or is it the fault of the Internet?


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:18 pm 0 comments

Friday, February 25, 2005

Legislation Watch - Bill C-21: Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act

Something to monitor if you are involved with any federally-registered not-for-profits (there are 18,000 or so in Canada). I sit on the Board of a major literacy organization in Toronto and also on the executive of the local chapter of a librarians' professional association.

In late November, the Minister of Industry introduced the bill to modernize governance rules for the sector. Bill C-21 is intended to replace Parts II and III of the Canada Corporations Act, largely unchanged since 1917.

The proposed legislation:
  • streamlines the incorporation process by allowing for incorporation by way of right (now, the Minister has to approve letters patent)
  • introduces a new explicit standard of care for directors and new rules and defences for director liability
  • allows corporations to avail themselves of certain technological advances, such as teleconference meetings
  • provides better remedies for ordinary members to enforce their rights

The bill is in committee hearings right now. The Library Parliament has a lot of useful background information on the legislation.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:18 pm 0 comments

Censorship in Canada - Freedom to Read Week

When I was very young, my father would sometimes shock me with accounts of the books that authorities had tried to censor when he was young. It sounded like this could never happen to my generation, or if it did, it could only occur in dictatorial states, or in the more unenlightened Good Ol' Boy parts of the USA.

Unfortunately, the reality is that censorship occurs here too, even today:

1) the RCMP last year raided the home of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill, who had reported on the federal government's role in the case of Maher Arar, the Syrian-born Canadian who was deported to Syria by U.S. authorities in 2002 and jailed and tortured by the Syrian government for 10 months without charge. The police confiscated O'Neill's computer and boxes of files to discover the name of the Canadian official who had leaked information about Arar to her.

2) in 2003, the Ontario Provincial Police raided the home of writers Stephen Williams and Marsha Boulton. They confiscated the computers, files, and other materials before laying 95 new charges against Williams for violating a court-ordered publication ban of 1995. Williams has published two books about serial sex murderers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka that criticize the investigation of the killings in the early 1990s.

3) the Surrey School Board of B.C. continues its attempts to forbid three picture books — Asha's Mums, Belinda's Bouquet, and One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads — that portray same-sex families.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 26 marks the end of Freedom to Read Week, an annual celebration of the fundamental right to read put together by the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council. Members of the Committee come from the Writers' Union of Canada, PEN Canada, League of Canadian Poets, the Canadian Library Association, the Periodical Writers Association of Canada, and other organizations.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:09 pm 0 comments

Ranking of 100+ companies according to their corporate social responsibility

The February 25th edition of the Globe and Mail's ROB magazine has a feature on corporate social responsibility. The articles are available on the Globe website only to subscribers.

The information was compiled by Jantzi Research, which used a list of social and environmental indicators for these areas: community and society; corporate governance; customers; employees; environment; and human rights.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:34 pm 0 comments