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An agreement in principle to directly compensate Sixties Scoop survivors has been reached between the federal government and the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett announced Friday.
However, the claim will leave out groups like Métis and non-status Indigenous Peoples, said Jeffery Wilson, the lawyer who represented the Ontario survivors in the class action suit.
For those wondering if they will qualify for the settlement, lawyer Jeffery Wilson broke down some key points:
"[The claim] does not include Métis. It includes non-status [First Nations] … so long as they are eligible to be status," said Wilson. "But if they're non-status they are not, by that fact in and of itself, disqualified.
"The reason Métis are not included is because there is no records to identify Métis during the relevant period of time," he said.
Wilson has been working on the Ontario case for 13 years.
The agreement in principle will see $750 million go directly to people who were taken from their families during what is known as the Sixties Scoop, during which thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed in non-Indigenous care over a period of decades.
Another $50 million has been earmarked for a foundation dedicated to reconciliation initiatives.
Depending on how many make a claim, survivors could each see between $25,000 to $50,000.
Exact details are still in the works for applying for compensation, but Wilson said the process will be simple.
"A person will file an application saying, 'I believe that I was removed, I didn't live with my parents or my nation,'" said Wilson.
Those eligible for compensation will have to get documents to prove they were Crown or permanent wards and were adopted out.
"If the provincial authorities don't have the records — which is very possible — then the process will enable them to declare for a statutory declaration," said Wilson.
Many Sixties Scoop adoptees were sent to different provinces, while others were shipped across North America and further abroad. Adoptees sent to other countries will be eligible to receive compensation as well, said Wilson.
"It doesn't matter where you were sent to as long as you were [adopted] between 1951 to 1991. That's a 40-year period that covers eligibility," said Wilson.
'The process is going to be kept very simple. Lawyers cannot charge for any work that is done.' - Jeffery Wilson
"The process is going to be kept very simple. Lawyers cannot charge for any work that is done."
The government is putting aside an additional $75 million to cover claimants' legal fees.
Friday's announcement was an agreement in principle, which means the finer details of the settlement still need to be arranged.
There will, however, be a fund dedicated to reconciliation initiatives that will be open to anyone — including non-status First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people — who were adopted out during the Sixties Scoop.
Wilson said there is a debate about how compensation will work for adoptees who have since died.
"The question that has to be considered is — let's assume there was an adopted child who was a Sixties Scoop survivor [who] dies. You're not telling me that their adopted parents could come forward and claim?" said Wilson.
Non-First Nations adoptee parents are unlikely to be compensated for children they adopted who have since died, he added.
"There's an alternative argument that maybe this money should go to the foundation and this should be for the living people," said Wilson.
“They’re really skating on thin ice,” said Michael Bertini, a search strategist at iQuanti, a digital marketing agency. “They’re controlling what users see. If Google is controlling what they deem to be fake news, I think that’s bias.”
Despite Google’s insistence that its search algorithm undergoes a rigorous testing process to ensure that its results do not reflect political, gender, racial or ethnic bias, there is growing political support for regulating Google and other tech giants like public utilities and forcing it to disclose how exactly its arrives at search results.
Most people have little understanding of how Google’s search engine ranks different sites, what it chooses to include or exclude, and how it picks the top results among hundreds of billions of pages. And Google tightly guards the mathematical equations behind it all — the rest of the world has to take their word that it is done in an unbiased manner.
“The complexity of ranking and rating is always going to lead to some lack of understanding for people outside of the company,” said Frank Pasquale, an information law professor at the University of Maryland. “The problem is that a lot of people aren’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.” In his book, “The Black Box Society,” Mr. Pasquale warned about the potential risks from an overreliance on secret algorithms that control what information we see and how critical decisions are made.
As the dominant search engine, with an estimated 90 percent global market share, Google was criticized by both the right and the left of the political world during the 2016 election.
In June 2016, a video from the pop culture site SourceFed accused Google of manipulating automatically completed search suggestions to favor Hillary Clinton. Google denied the claim, but right-wing media seized on the video as an example that the company was tipping the scales in her favor.
In the days after the election, the top Google search results for “final election vote count 2016” was a link to a story that wrongly stated that Mr. Trump, who won the Electoral College, had also defeated Mrs. Clinton in the popular vote.
In the research that led to the creation of Project Owl, Google found that a small fraction of its search results — about 0.25 percent of daily traffic — were linking to intentionally misleading, false or offensive information. For a company that aims to deliver the most relevant information for all queries, that constituted a crisis.
Google said it had added more detailed examples of problematic pages into the guidelines used by human raters to determine what is a good search result and what is a bad one. Google said its global staff of more than 10,000 raters do not determine search rankings, but their judgments help inform how the algorithm performs in the future.
Google has often said that it cannot reveal too much or people would use that information to try to game the rankings. The opacity around Google’s algorithm has given birth to a cottage industry of search engine optimization experts who dissect the company’s comments.
To assuage criticism about that lack of transparency, Google made public its guidelines for search quality in 2013. Pandu Nayak, a Google fellow who focuses on search quality, said disclosing the guidelines is more meaningful.
“The actual algorithm is not as important as what the algorithm is trying to do,” said Mr. Nayak. “Being completely transparent of what you’re trying to achieve is the central goal because how you accomplish that can change.”
Google said hundreds of factors go into its search algorithm and the formula is also constantly evolving. The company said it conducted 150,000 search experiments and implemented 1,600 changes last year.
This is why it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why search traffic plummets for a site like the World Socialist Web Site, which calls itself the “online newspaper of the international Trotskyist movement.” Mr. North, the site’s chairman, said traffic coming in from search is down 70 percent since April, citing data from Alexa, a web traffic analytics firm owned by <a href="http://Amazon.com" rel="nofollow">Amazon.com</a>.
In an open letter to Google last month, Mr. North traced his site’s traffic decline to Project Owl. Mr. North said he believed that Google was blacklisting the site, using concerns over fake news as a cover to suppress opinions from socialist, antiwar or left-wing websites and block news that Google doesn’t want covered.
In mid-April, a Google search for “socialism vs. capitalism” brought back one of the site’s links on the first results page but, by August, that same search didn’t feature any of its links. The site said 145 of the top 150 search terms that had redirected people to the site in April are now devoid of its links.
“They should be asked to explain how they’re doing it,” Mr. North said. “If they say we’re not doing anything, that’s simply not credible.”
Mr. North said that Google has not responded to his claims. Google declined to comment on the World Socialist Web Site.
Mr. North argued the drop-off in traffic is the result of Google directing users toward mainstream media organizations, including The New York Times. The World Socialist Web Site claimed that search referral traffic had fallen since April at a variety of other left-wing, progressive, socialist or antiwar publications like AlterNet and Consortiumnews.
The New York Times could not find the same level of traffic declines at all of those publications, based on data from SimilarWeb, a web analytics firm. Traffic coming from search engines for the World Socialist Web Site was down 34 percent during the months of May to July, compared with the preceding three months, according to SimilarWeb. Traffic that did not come from search was up 1 percent during the same period.
Mr. North said his site provides critical analysis for current events and it has nothing in common with sites peddling blatantly untrue stories. But he said he is opposed to any actions taken by Google under the pretext of stopping fake news.
“I’m against censorship in any form,” he said. “It’s up to people what they want to read. It’s not going to stop with the World Socialist Web Site. It’s going to expand and spread.”Continue reading the main story
Clashes between police and protesters broke out Sunday as the Spanish National Police attempted to quash the Catalonia region’s referendum on independence, injuring hundreds of Catalan voters and protesters.
Voters throughout Catalonia went to the polls Sunday to participate in a vote for independence that the Spanish government has deemed illegal. The northeastern region of Spain, which includes Barcelona and houses 7.5 million people, is responsible for 20% of Spain’s economic output and has its own distinctive language and culture, Al Jazeera noted.
Pro-independence residents of the “autonomous community” say that the region provides more financial support to the Spanish government in Madrid than it receives in return. This is the second referendum on the question of Catalan independence, after a non-binding, unofficial vote in 2014.
“I have come to vote to defend the rights of my country, which is Catalonia,” 73-year-old retiree Joaquim Bosch told the Associated Press. “I vote because of the mistreatment of Catalonia by Spain for many years.”
Independence supporters take part in a rally to support Catalonia’s secession referendum, in Bilbao, northern Spain, on Sept. 30.Source: Alvaro Barrientos/AP
According to the Guardian, 60% of Catalonia’s 5.3 million eligible voters were expected to turn out to Sunday’s vote. Although over 70% of the population is in favor of the referendum, however, their opinions on independence are more divided. Surveys conducted two months ago cited by the Guardian reveal that 49.4% of voters were in favor of remaining part of Spain, while 41.1% backed independence.
The Spanish government has been working to prevent the vote from taking place, saying that the referendum would be illegal as Spain’s 1978 constitution has no provisions for votes on self-determination. The Guardian reported the Spanish government has not only conducted raids and seized ballot papers, polling station signs and documents for electoral officials in the run-up to the election, but also limited the Catalan government’s finances and sealed off 1,300 of Catalonia’s 2,315 polling locations. The government also dismantled the technology to count the votes and vote online, according to the AP.
“These last-minute operations have allowed us to very definitively break up any possibility of the Catalan government delivering what it promised: a binding, effective referendum with legal guarantees,” Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s senior representative in Catalonia, said Saturday, as quoted by the Guardian.
“That’s what the Catalan government had promised to deliver on 1 October. Today, we can assure people that it will not go ahead.”
When voters showed up to defy the government and vote Sunday, camping out for days in polling locations to avoid having them shut down by the government, Spanish National Police fought back. Police burst into polling places, breaking down doors to forcibly remove voters and seize ballot boxes, the AP reported.
“We were waiting inside to vote when the National Police used force to enter, they used a mace to break in the glass door and they took everything,” Barcelona voter Daniel Riano told the AP, adding that “one policeman put me in a headlock to drag me out, while I was holding my wife’s hand.
“It was incredible. They didn’t give any warning,” Riano continued.
Police fired rubber bullets at Catalans during the scuffle, the AP noted, and the Catalan government reported that 761 people had been injured as a result of the police violence. The police have also been captured on video attacking Catalan firefighters who protected voters.
Spanish National Police push away pro-referendum supporters outside the Ramon Llull school assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 1.Source: Emilio Morenatti/AP
Spanish National Police clash with pro-referendum supporters in Barcelona on Oct. 1.Source: Manu Fernandez/AP
The Spanish government’s Interior Ministry also posted a video showing protesters throwing rocks at police vehicles in return, and according to NBC News, the government agency reported that nine officers and two civil guards had been injured.
Nevertheless, voting continued in many locations despite the ongoing police presence. Catalonian government spokesman Jordi Turull said that 96% of polling locations remained open as of 2:00 p.m. local time, NBC News reported, with some left unhindered by police interference.
People queue to vote outside a school assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government at the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 1.Source: Bob Edme/AP
A woman casts her vote in a school, assigned to be a referendum polling station by the Catalan government in Sant Julia de Ramis, near Girona, Spain, on Oct. 1.Source: Francisco Seco/AP
World leaders and politicians have spoken out against the Spanish government’s violent response to Sunday’s referendum. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for “political dialogue” instead of violence on Twitter, while Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon wrote “we should all condemn the scenes being witnessed and call on Spain to change course before someone is seriously hurt.”
“Let the people vote peacefully,” Sturgeon continued.
October 1, 2017 2:23 p.m.: This story has been updated.