Posts Tagged "dangerous"

Facebook is banning far-right political commentator Faith Goldy, white nationalist crusader Kevin Goudreau and various extremist groups, the social media company said Monday.

The company said it has long-standing policies on extremist content and organized hate groups and is barring the individuals and organizations under its “dangerous individuals and organizations” community standards policy.

Goldy’s views have been described as far-right white nationalist. She was fired from Rebel Media in 2017 after taking part in a neo-Nazi podcast.

“Individuals and organizations who spread hate, attack, or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook. That’s why we have a policy on dangerous individuals and organizations, which states that we do not allow those who are engaged in offline ‘organized hate’ to have a presence on Facebook,” reads a statement from Facebook.

“The individuals and organizations we have banned today violate this policy, and they will no longer be allowed a presence on our services. Our work against organized hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, pages, groups and content against our community standards.”

Facebook said the Canadian Nationalist Front, Aryan Strikeforce, Wolves of Odin and Soldiers of Odin (also known as Canadian Infidels) have also been banned from “having any further presence” on its services. The company said it also intends to remove content affiliated with those banned, including linked pages and groups.

The pages began to disappear from Facebook this morning.

Facebook works with various academics and organizations around the world to determine which ones are hate organizations.

Asked by CBC News for her reaction, Goldy sent an email citing her statement on Twitter about being banished from Facebook and Instagram.

“Our enemies are weak and terrified. They forget most revolutions were waged before social media!” she tweeted.

CBC News contacted Twitter to ask if Goldy would be banned from that platform but received a terse “no comment” in reply.

Last week, Goldy tweeted that she had been barred from the Airbnb home-sharing service.

A search for Kevin Goudreau on Facebook turns up this image. (CBC News)

Edmonton-based freelance journalist Bashir Mohamed, who writes about white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan in Canada, applauds Facebook’s move but said he wishes it had happened sooner.

“I would have hoped that it would have been done sooner,” Bashir said. “There’s this idea that she became white supremacist in 2017 after Charlottesville, but if you look at her articles it goes back to 2015 where she is actually talking about white-supremacist ideals like white genocide.”

Goldy failed in her bid to become Toronto’s mayor in last year’s mayoral race.

‘No place’ for divisive statements

Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould said racist and violent views should not be tolerated on social media platforms.

“There is no place in Canada for these kinds of divisive societal statements,” she said. “We are pleased that Facebook has made this decision and would hope that other platforms would look to Facebook’s actions.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould comment on Facebook’s decision to ban certain organizations and individuals for violating its terms of service. 1:28

NDP MP Nathan Cullen called Facebook’s move a “one-off” that targeted particularly hateful and high profile groups and individuals.

“We think that’s progress, but it’s inconsistent. Without any set of guidelines or rules, then we’re allowing self-regulation,” he said. “We’re allowing Facebook and Google to decide when and where and who.”

BC NDP MP Nathan Cullen comments on Facebook’s decision to ban certain individuals and organizations from its platform for violating its terms of service. 1:12

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network called the targets of today’s bans the “tip of the iceberg.” It said that groups which have made even worse comments remain on Facebook.

“Next we are calling on Facebook to remove the Yellow Vests Canada page, which shares hundreds of examples of overt racism, death threats and white nationalist sentiment,” reads a statement from executive director Evan Balgord. “We are still calling on government to enforce the Canadian Human Rights Act against social media companies, which are providing their services in a discriminatory manner.”

Asked whether it would be looking at banning other groups, such as Yellow Vests Canada, Facebook told CBC the work of determining whether posted content violates the platform’s policy on extremism is “ongoing.”

Funds for alt-right research

Last month, the Liberal government announced a special fund for research into right-wing extremism. Through it, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology got a three-year grant of $366,985 to conduct interviews with law enforcement, community anti-hate activists and former and current extremists to gain a better understanding of the beliefs, motivations and activities of extremists.

The U.K. announced plans today to fine or block internet sites that fail to stop online hate, terrorist propaganda or child abuse.

Under the plan, a new watchdog will be appointed to establish a new regulatory regime to stop revenge pornography, hate crimes, harassment and the sale of illegal goods, as well as other “harmful behaviour” such as cyber-bullying and spreading fake news.

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Honda will be recalling about one million older vehicles in the U.S. and Canada because the Takata driver’s air bag inflators that were installed during previous recalls could be dangerous.

Documents posted Monday by Canadian safety regulators show that Honda is recalling many of its most popular models for a second time. The models are from as old as 2001 and as recent as 2010.

Canadian documents say about 84,000 vehicles are involved and that number is usually over 10 times higher in the United States. 

Honda wouldn’t comment Monday, and a message was left for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeking comment after business hours.

Owners will be told to take their vehicles to dealers to have the inflator replaced.

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So what exactly is socialism, anyway, and why is U.S. President Donald Trump so alarmed about it?

In what some are calling the start of a new Red Scare of the kind that divided U.S. politics and economics in the previous century, the president used last week’s state of the union address to stoke partisan anxiety. 

“Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump declared in his speech to Congress. “America was founded on liberty and independence — and not government coercion, domination and control.”

As he spoke, network cameras panned to self-declared supporter of socialism Sen. Bernie Sanders and, by U.S. standards, the left-leaning Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

‘Socialist’ like Canada?  

But, of course, to most Canadians — and to most of the world’s other liberal democracies — the socialism of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez that advocates things like universal health care and moderating the extremes of U.S. wealth and poverty does not seem very alarming. 

To most Canadians, raised in what has been called a mixed economy for its combination of the public and private sector, that kind of socialism holds little terror.

Left-leaning member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looks down at a button with a picture of a child, as Trump talks about immigration during his state of the union address. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The discussion of who owns the means of production is one of the places where politics and economics come together in the subject area known as political economy.

When I studied economics decades ago, most of the courses analyzed the pure mechanics of capitalism. 

Political economy only raised its head in a final-year course on the history of economic thought, which came as a revelation, and in which anyone who did not follow mainstream capitalist thinking was described scathingly as “heterodox.” That included socialism.

Socialism defined 

In a short telephone call, Laura Macdonald, a Carleton University professor and former director of the school’s Institute of Political Economy, offered the following:

“Socialism is a broad ideology that has different variants, but in general is associated with greater faith in the role of the state versus the market, and a skepticism about the capacity of the market, on its own, to deliver both growth and social equity.”

As a term, she said, socialism is contextual, which means to say it depends on how you use it.

A sculpture of Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, in Chemnitz, Germany. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters) 

“I don’t think Donald Trump would call us socialist, but probably he thinks we’re dangerously close to that and that may be one of the reasons he doesn’t like Canada very much,” Macdonald said.

Stella Gaon was thrilled for a journalist to actually ask her questions on her specialty as a theorist at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, where she studies the economic and intellectual origins of political thought.

“This is just anti-commie rhetoric from the 1950s,” Gaon said of Trump’s remarks. “Nobody even knows what socialism is.”

Liberalism vs. socialism

Socialism and liberalism are both rooted in the Enlightenment values of freedom, rationality and equality, she said.

The difference between socialism and liberalism is that socialists don’t believe equality is real unless you include economic equality.

In its purest theoretical form, socialism required people to be equally rich, an ideal that Gaon said has never been attained in practice. In its original form, it also required the state to be in control of everything. No private businesses allowed.

A memorial to Karl Marx in London’s Highgate Cemetery was damaged by a vandal earlier this month. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Socialism has come a long way since the days when socialism and communism meant roughly the same thing, said Tom Flanagan, a political theorist and professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.

Socialism meant the state control of all industry and “the replacement of the markets by an administrative economy,” said Flanagan, a conservative political activist who was an adviser to former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

But since then, and especially after the creation of the Soviet top-down communist system in the 20th century, social democracy became the mainstream form of socialism outside communist countries, a kind of watered-down version we see in northern Europe and elsewhere that attempts to share the wealth and equalize opportunity without requiring economic equality.

America, the already socialist

Whereas Gaon insists Canada is purely a liberal democracy — after all, even the country’s left-leaning New Democratic Party has dropped the word socialism from its constitution — Flanagan sees many elements of socialism and administrative planning not just in Canada but in the U.S. as well.

According to that way of thinking, Trump may be too late. Socialism has already arrived.

“It’s a matter of degree,” Flanagan said. “All contemporary countries have some elements of socialism, you know, public schools are socialist, owned and operated by the state and there’s no price to get into them.”

While Flanagan doesn’t see a full-fledged socialist takeover on the horizon, he says using the term within the Democratic Party represents a major change.

“Suddenly it’s gone mainstream,” he said. “It’s an important development, because once you start using the vocabulary, it indicates receptivity to more sweeping programs of state intervention.”

Follow Don on twitter @don_pittis

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