Friday, November 30, 2007

Karlheinz Schreiber Totally Worth All This Trouble


The Mulroney-Schreiber affair took an expected turn today, as Karlheinz Schreiber was granted a temorary stay of extradition, pending a Supreme Court decision on whether or not it will hear an appeal of his extradition to Germany.

Reportedly, he'll now be seeking bail.

The handling of Schreiber has essentially become a no-win situation for the government. Deport Schreiber immediately, and the opposition will complain that he's being suppressed. Allow him to stay, and he's apparently hell bent on monopolizing as much time in the Canadian courts as he possibly can.

Most ironically, however, Schreiber, who had promised incredible revelations regarding his relationship with Brian Mulroney has reportedly admitted that Mulroney did nothing criminal in the course of their relationship. Furthermore, he noted that Mulroney didn't lobby any government on Schreiber's behalf.

In fact, the greatest revelation he's offered to date is that he had arranged to pay Brian Mulroney as much as $500,000, but notes that he had only paid $300,000 by the time he decided that Mulroney wasn't holding up his side of the bargain.

Interestingly, a former Mulroney aid revealled that Mulroney instructed him to get cost analysis of Schreiber's Bear Head project done. The Schreiber-fronted Thyssen industries project would have built an arms factory in Nova Scotia.

When it turned out however, that the project -- which Mulroney had been promised wouldn't cost Canadian taxpayers a dime -- would have cost the government $100 million, Mulroney is said to have remarked, "In that case, the project is dead."

When was all this? 1990.

Certainly, it's impossible to applaud Mulroney's judgement in this regard. Privy Council clerk Paul Tellier had previously ejected Schreiber from his office. Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, in regards to another matter, had instructed his cabinet ministers to "have nothing to do with this guy."

While Mulroney's judgement in regards to his relationship with Schreiber is demonstarbly poor, it seems, to date, that is all Mulroney is guilty of.

Thus, we bring ourselves back to the ultimate perversity of the Schreiber-Mulroney affair. Schreiber admits that Mulroney is guilty of no crime. Yet, Canada is withholding Schreiber from Germany, where he has been charged with fraud, bribery, and tax evasion.

Actual crimes.

Karlheinz Schreiber is wasting Canada's time at the direct expense of our diplomatic relationship with Germany.

Enough is enough. While Schreiber's extradition may have been delayed, he certainly shouldn't be granted bail.

He should be reserved a seat on the next plane back to Germany.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pro-Choice, Pro-Life Camps Lack Answers Regarding Depression Risk

Theorized Post-Abortion Syndrome raises important questions, but are we really prepared to ask them?

If one needed proof that abortion has become more of a rhetorical issue than a real issue, a recent online spat between Big Blue Wave's Suzanne and Reality Check's Amanda Marcotte just might be it.

Wrapping the issue up with labels such as "pro-life" (who isn't in favour of life?), "pro-choice" (aren't we all proud to live in a free country?), "anti-choice" (who in their right mind honestly opposes freedom?), and "anti-life" (not even going to touch that one), it seems there is actually an active effort to ensure that the issue of abortion can never, absolutely ever be the subject of rational debate.

Perhaps part of it is the folly of trying to converse rationally with people who are consistently irrational -- but I digress.

At its most insidious, the rhetoricization of the abortion debate has become little more than a wedge issue between feminists (who are "about feminist supremacy") and anti-feminists (who "think through organizing against women, at least bad women, they have earned at 'Get Out Of Female Jail' card").

At the root of the Suzanne-Marcotte spat is the theorized "post-abortion syndrome", wherein women are argued to experience guilt, anxiety, psychological numbing, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Various studies have attempted to address the impact of abortion on depression risks for women, and have often disagreed.

When an issue is as controversial as abortion, it's actually natural that scientists will disagree. It's also natural that more still would feel discouraged from embarking on research in the field at all.

Last but not least, scientists are not immune to holding political opinions, which quite often can influence their work -- particularly in the emerging breed of "activist science".

It's rather unfortunate that individuals on both sides of the issue attempt to turn Post-Abortion Syndrome into merely another rhetorical wedge in what would more properly be addressed as a real issue.

Frankly, both sides of the issue are playing a very dangerous game as it relates to this issue. If Post-Abortion Syndrome is ignored as feminists of Marcotte's opinion suggest, a significant number of women could needlessly suffer. However, in the hands of the anti-abortion crowd, Post-Abortion Syndrome could be promoted as a reason to outlaw abortion outright, despite the fact that many of the alternatives to legalized abortion (for example, back-alley abortions) are every bit as dangerous as Post-Abortion Syndrome, and sometimes worse.

Even if Post-Abortion Syndrome turns out to be a scientific dud (there seems to be little or no scientific consensus on the matter), the plight of women who suffer depression after an abortion is a serious issue, and deserves to be treated as a real issue, not just as a rhetorical one.

There is little doubt that women suffering depression following an abortion vis a vis Post-Abortion Syndrome could be treated no differently than most other depression patients. But if increased risk of depression is a potential consequence of an abortion, women considering abortion certainly have the right to know that.

Most importantly, they do have the right to choose. But if feminists of Marcotte's opinion want to suppress knowledge of this potential risk in the name of protecting freedom of choice, they are certainly doing these women a massive disservice. They certainly aren't acting in the best interests of women, as one would expect as a feminist.

Just as opponents of abortion would be doing these women a disservice by potentially refusing them the right to make that choice. Freedom of choice being what it is, opponents of abortion will simply have to accept that sometimes people will make a choice they don't like.

This is the nature of abortion as a real issue, with real implications for real women. Wrapping it up in rhetoric only makes evaluating it needlessly difficult.

If each side of this polarized debate (Suzanne and Marcotte included) want to decide to soften their rhetoric so that they may in turn soften their positions, those of us who reside in a little place we like to call "the real world" will be ready and waiting for them when they do.

Surprise, Surprise: Schreiber Doesn't Talk

Expected moment of truth ironically prescient

The sad, sad farce that is the Karlheinz Schreiber affair descended even further into the realm of the farcical today, as Schreiber, as expected, refused to testify before a House of Commons committee.

Issued a historical summons to appear before the Commons Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, Shreiber told the committee he's be "delighted" to testify -- then didn't testify.

As expected, Schreiber announced he won't testify unless he's allowed to stay in Canada. He was scheduled to be extradited to Germany on December 1, but faces a Court of Appeal tomorrow. Justice Canada has decided to let the court decide whether or not Schreiber will be granted a reprieve from extradition.

"Until that time I will not speak to or answer any questions of this committee," Schreiber announced.

This would be odd behaviour from someone who insists that he isn't trying to escape justice in Germany, and who, as CTV's Bob Fife says, "wanted an opportunity to tell the truth."

Schreiber has had various opportunities to tell the truth, and, to date, has declined them all. In a country where the integrity of our legal system were deemed more important than petty partisan politics, Schreiber would already be on his way out of the country -- handcuffs, orange jumpsuit, and all.

Unfortunately, with the opposition desperate to try and make something out of this embarrassing debacle, German officials will have to wait longer still to get their hands on Schreiber.

While the opposition forces the government to dance to the tune of a known fraudster, based on claims that contradict Schreiber's earlier contentions, German justice -- matters regarding to actual crimes -- is delayed.

Most unfortunately, Canadian delays in handing Schreiber over to the Germans could porentially imperil future extraditions from Germany to Canada. Not only are the opposition parties willing to sacrifice the integrity of Canada's justice system in order to try and score cheap political points, but they're also willing to sacrifice Canada's legal relationship with a foreign country.

Karlheinz Schreiber is not worth the effort currently being expended on him. His lies (and he is, indeed, demonstrably a liar) most certainly aren't.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Canada in Need of Terrorism Insurance?

Lloyd's of London warns of greater terrorism risk

According to the chairman of one of the world's leading Insurance firms, Canada has become of greater risk of a terror attack.

“Canada's risk profile has changed in recent years and while no stranger to terrorism, intelligence suggests that its role is shifting from a hub for fundraising and planning attacks outside the nation – for example in the U.S. – to a credible target in its own right,” said Lord Peter Levene, speaking on behalf of Lloyd's in Toronto. “We are told that, by this year, there were thought to be some 60 groups operating within Canada's borders that support an extremist jihadi ideology."

Levine notes that many Canadian companies and organizations, including the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, have bought increased terror insurance from his company.

If one accepts Levene's assertions at face value, it would seem Canadians need to be very wary regarding the risk management strategies our government has in place to protect us.

In this regard, Levene notes the government has done a pretty good job, but adds a caveat. “By all accounts, Canada's domestic security services have done a first-class job. But that should not lead to complacency,” he said.

If the examples posed by both 9/11 and the Air India bombing demonstrate anything, it's that complacency -- and its requisite carelessness -- are abolustely lethal in regards to the fight against terrorism.

Part of the necessary due diligence in this regard requires addressing the evolving face of terrorism -- both international and domestic.

Levene, for example, notes that up to 20% of terrorist attacks are directed at business. Cyberterrorism, in particular, often targets business via Distributed Denial of Service attacks, wherein the bandwidth of websites are overloaded, disabling the site's ability to function, potentially causing millions, or perhaps even billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Cyberterrorism can be a difficult issue to deal with because it's difficult to distinguish cyberterrorism from more mundane forms of cybercrime. As with more violent forms of terrorism, cyberterrorism can be international or domestic.

Guarding against threats such as cyberterrorism requires numerous initiatives, possibly including regulating software companies more stringently. The security features offered by Microsoft operating systems, in particular, have proven to be extremely lax. Given that microsoft maintains a massive market share (although open-source Linus software continues to peck away at this), the lax security of Microsoft operating systems is particularly important when one considers the looming threat posed by so-called "zombie" viruses, wherein viral code infiltrates and lays dormant in a computer until activated.

If used to plot a large-scale attack on a country's economic infrastructure, millions of poorly-protected personal computers actually pose a large-scale threat to Canadian security.

Cyberterrorism is only one breed of terrorism that Canadians need to be better aware of.

Poor security continues to loom in Canada's airports (despite predictable official claims to the contrary), and the amount of black market control over Canadian seaports makes them vulnerable as well.

If Canada's truly become a credible terrorist attack, Canadians will need to lobby the government to ensure our risk management strategies (read: anti-terror legislation) are truly up to the task of contravening that threat.

Otherwise, Lloyd's of London seemingly offers some very affordable terror insurance.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Zeitgeist is an Intellectual Dead End

Online "doctumentary" lives up to its premise in the most ironic way imaginable

If you watch the online "documentary" film Zeitgeist closely enough, it isn't too hard to decode the film's central message:

Hey, you. Yeah, you. You're fuckin' stupid.

"The last thing the men behind the curtain want is a conscious, informed public, capable of critical thinking," the film's omnipresent narrator insists. "Which is why a continually fraudulent zeitgeist is outputted via religion, the mass media and the educational system. They seek to keep you in a distracted, naive bubble. And they are doing a damn good job of it."

Zeitgeist is broken down into three parts, taking aim at religion, 9/11, and banking.

In the end, however, the film falls flat on its face because of its premise: you, the viewer, are fucking stupid.

It makes this assumption, and quickly unravels in the intellectual grasp of anyone who isn't stupid: provided they bother to check the necessary facts.

In the first part of the film, entitled "The Greatest Story Ever Told", Zeitgeist takes aim at religion: specifically, Christianity. By noting a number of alleged similarities between Jesus Christ and various other religious figures throughout history.

Then, unfortunately, the claims fail to hold water. In particular, many of these claims are based on theological claims that remain largely unsupported.

In particular, the film claims that the Egyptian god Horus possesses all the characteristics of Jesus Christ. However, they have to rely on Harpur's un-anotated and unsupported work in order to do so.

The claims become even more contrived when the film claims the Greek god Attis, who castrated himself in a fit of passion and bled to death, is another Christ-tale.

Perhaps the film's producers believe they made a novel point when they relied on scholarly work that scoured the world's various religions and mythologies for figures that passed any spurious resemblence to Jesus Christ, then labelled Christianity as "plagiarism" and "fraud".

Then one remembers that what moderate Christians the world over agree is really important about Christ is his benevolent message.

Oops. Better pretend he never existed. (More on this later.)

In the second chapter of the film, entitled "All the World's a Stage", Zeitgeist portrays 9/11 as a "false flag operation" carried out against the United States by its own government.

The film predictably attempts to make the case that the World Trade Center was actually the result of a planned demolition.

Despite the persistence of these conspiracy theories, they have been consistently and chategorically disproven. Only those who are predisposed to insist that a malevolent conspiracy is the only plausible answer continue to believe them.

The less time wasted on these conspiracy theories, the better.

In the film's third part, "the Men Behind the Curtain", the film insists that central banking, and existence of the United States federal reserve, is part of a grand conspiracy theory to give international bankers control over the United States, and enslave its citizens via the distribution of currency.

In particular, the film accuses international bankers of warmongering, and various U.S. presidents (including Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt) of war mongering on their behalf, and dragging the American people into wars "they wanted nothing to do with," even insisting that the Lusitania was "sent" through German-occupied waters during WWI in a bid to force American entry into the war.

Essentially, Zeitgeist argues that belief in religion -- specifically, Christianity -- builds a foundation for people to believe the so-called "lies" the "establishment" feeds them regarding historical events.

The film concludes by raving over the so-called "North American Union" they argue is imminent, and claim that it, along with European Union, African Union, and Asian Union, will lead to a greater amalgamation, and "One World Government".

In the end, however, Zeitgeist can be reduced to nothing more than Michael Mooreism at its very best (or, depending how you look at it, its very worst). What the producers can't prove, they distort. What they can't effectively distort, they simply ridicule. What they can't prove with evidence, they simply make up.

Ultimately, however, the film finds its downfall in its online format. Thanks to the fact that the film must be watched online, every "fact" cited in the film can be checked through little more than a rudimentary Google search.

All too often, these so-called "facts" don't stand up to scrutiny.

For example, the film at one point claims that there's no evidence that Jesus Christ ever existed, noting that no active historians of the day took note of a man wandering about and performing miracles.

And certainly, this is true. If only it were the entire story.

Unfortunately for the producers of the film, there is a good deal of archaeological evidence for not only many of the historical events described in the Holy Bible, but also for the existence of Jesus himself (albeit indirect evidence in this particular case).

In the end, the film relies on the many similarities between Christianity and various pagan religions to disprove Christianity entirely. Of course, this falls intellectually flat to anyone who's so much as read The Da Vinci Code, who know that pagan traditions were adopted into and adapted to Christianity, and with good reason.

In another case, the producers claim the United States Federal Reserve is a private corporation with no culpability to the U.S. government.

False again.

The producers of the film fail to mention that the U.S. government maintains control over the Federal Reserve by appointing its Board of Governors. The board's seven members are appointed by the president, each serving 14-year terms. Theoretically, these appointments are made infrequently enough to ensure this board retains a largely non-partisan demeanor.

The chairman and vice chairman are similarly appointed by the president, to four-year terms.

The film sustains yet another factual black eye when it claims the pre-Vietnam war Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened.

Which, if you refer only to the second attack alleged during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which would actually be true. However, the initial naval battle on August 2, 1964 did occur. This being said, the entire incident was demonstrably manipulated in order to support overt American entry into the Vietnam war.

For the average commentator eager to denounce American foreign policy, this alone would be enough. Unfortunately for the producers of Zeitgeist, they didn't simply need to demonstrate that the truth regarding the Gulf of Tonkin was twisted, they needed to pretend it never happened, so they could link it to what is clearly their prime target: 9/11.

Sometimes, the claims made in the film don't even stand up to the most basic scrutiny, such as the case wherein a 9/11 survivor claims that he felt a massive explosion from the World Trade Center's basement mere moments before feeling the impact from the plane hitting the building.

This despite the fact that the tower took more than an hour to collapse, making the implied theory that the so-called "basement explosion" was part of a planned demolition entirely untenable.

Perhaps the most telling image within Zeitgeist, however, is the constantly-displayed image of the Earth in a cage, suggesting Earth has become something of a Prison Planet -- one may draw their own conclusions in regards to this.

Zeitgeist clearly leans heavily on the half-boiled "revelations" offered by self-aggrandizing would-be conspiracy messiah Alex Jones. It's very plausible the film may be more than merely a convenient platform for his ideas.

Zeitgeist is a film so eager to cut away the so-called "fallacies" that it targets that it ultimately falls on its own sword. In the end, its own premise becomes its downfall, as anyone prepared to do even a precursory amount of critical thinking can quickly dismiss the film as sheer garbage.

"The more you educate yourself, the more you understand where things come from, the more obvious things become, and you begin to see lies everywhere," the film insists.

This is actually a very fitting quote for the film. The problem with Alex Jones and his breed of conspiracy theories is that they see lies everywhere, even where they don't exist. Worse yet, they aren't above a little dishonesty themselves in order to "prove" the fallacy of these so-called lies.

People used to agree that such dishonesty was a bad thing.

The convenient thing about dealing with ignorant people, however, is that they generally don't bother to double-check what they're being told. They accept it at face value.

The producers of Zeitgeist assume the viewer is stupid. As such, they make themselves easy prey for those who aren't.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Roughriders

Their fans certainly deserve it.

18 years is a long time for a team to wait for a championship win in an eight-team league.

Unfortunately, my fellow Eskimos fans and I will have to figure out joke to denigrate the 'Riders that doesn't refer to a bra.

Back to the old drawing board...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Just Love it When He Gets All Dishonest Like That...


Martin Rayner apparently has a bone to pick with Joanne over at Joanne's Journey.

Quick! Someone alert the press!

This time, however, it has to do with a post wishing success to Ken Epp, who has reintroduced Leon Benoit's fetal homicide bill.

Of course, considering the fact that Bill C-484 is not only designed to not affect abortion laws, and explicitly excludes abortion from the act in question, it seems Marty can't even bring himself to quote the entire ammendment to the bill.

"Quick though… Just at first glance... even as a non-legal type, what’s quite immediately wrong with the proposed amendment to subsection 238.1(1) of The Criminal Code as conceived by the right honourable Ken Epp:

Every person who, directly or indirectly, causes the death of a child during birth or at any stage of development before birth…"

Of course, quoting the entire passage could be a good deal more enlightening; like so:

"Every person who, directly or indirectly, causes the death of a child during birth or at any stage of development before birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother of the child, who the person knows or ought to know is pregnant..."

Emphasis in boldface mine. It's comforting to know that some things, like Martin Rayner's compulsive intellectual dishonesty, never change.

Update - Looks like someone's mad that I caught him misrepresenting the bill in question.


For the record, Marty: no. I never get tired of picking your idiocy apart. I just wish you'd make it a little more of a challenge.

Folks, feel free to join me in directing a hearty "fuck off, Randy" in the "esteemed" Mr Rayner's general direction.

Update 2 - In the words of Mr Rayner, my "contention that I was being "intellectually dishonest" because I only excerpted the first few lines of the proposed legislation is absurd. Everyone knows what it relates to and what the gist and ostensible purpose of it is. I only did it that way to focus in on the particular wording that I took exception to — specifically, those five words ("at any stage of development")."

Of course we know what the real purpose of the bill is, Marty. It's right there in the section that you omitted from your quotation.

On that note, there's really only two explanations for your omission of the most important portion of the clause in question: you either didn't think people would open the link you provided and read it, or just expected all your readers to be slavish enough enough to stop reading right where you clearly wanted them to (hmmm...).

Martin Rayner just isn't all that hard to figure out. In the words of Donnie Shulzhoffer, this isn't exactly rocket surgery.

Saskatchewan Party Already Savng Province's Hash

Fiscal mismanagement by NDP cut off at the pass

Mere weeks after taking office, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is already getting set to fix an emerging leak in the province's finances.

"We are going to have to make some decisions to get things under control on the spending side," Wall announced. "What the previous government has left behind financially is fairly stark and will need to be dealt with in the long term," he continued. "There's a reason why we didn't get a four-year projection on the budget this spring and we found that out early on in the transition."

According to Saskatchewan's new Finance Minister Rod Gantofoer, the NDP may have made it's long-term spending plans based on short-term revenues.

"If the implication of that is that the long-term state of the affairs of the provincial economy are not very good, then that's a grave concern," he said. "We will then have to systematically and responsibly and professionally deal with the issues."

Of course, this is nothing new. The province's outgoing NDP government actually forwarded a budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year in which a withdrawal from the provinces Sustainability Fund was necessary in order to call the budget a "surplus".

Which would actually mean the province was spending more money than it was recieving in revenues, intentionally borrowing against its own savings, and actually incurring a deficit.

The slings and arrows of realpolitik aside, there are some who remain less-than-convinced. "Can you explain, Mr. Gantefoer, how we're suddenly in a financial crisis at $95-a-barrel oil and with the Loonie soaring above the U.S. Greenback?" asks Murray Mandryk, a columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.

Of course, with oil prices proving to be a good deal more volatile than Mandryk is clearly giving them credit for, one might actually forgive Gantefoer for declining to plan a four-year spending spree based on a single quarter's oil prices.

In the meantime, the Saskatchewan party is already well on its way to getting the province of Saskatchewan back in ship shape.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dosanjh Reveals War on Terror's Missing Link

Domestic terrorism matters. It's time to start addressing it

Today Liberal MP Ujal Dosanjh testified before the Air India Inquiry today, and what he had to say spoke volumes about Canada's anti-terrorism record.

During his testimony, Dosanjh noted the response -- or, rather, lack thereof -- by the Canadian officials he addressed his concerns to while he was the subject of a "reign of terror" consisting of arson, various threats, and a 1985 beating. He had previously spoken out against Sikh extremism.

"I believe that the institutions of our society were unable to understand or comprehend it to any great degree at that time and were not able to deal with it," he asserted. "We were left to fend for ourselves."

Dosajh even addressed his concerns to then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and did so two months before the bombing of Air India Flight 182.

Unfortunately, all too many people would probably be as swift as the authorities of the day to dismiss Dosanjh's plight as a problem internal to an immigrant community.

They're wrong.

The fact is, that Dosanjh's experiences reveal a much-ignored facet of the war on terror: the war on domestic terror.

Certainly, some may argue, Canada's Sikhs are an immigrant community. But as immigrants, they have, in a sense, petitioned to be included in the Canadian community, and we have accepted them. As such, the ****** directed at Dosanjh, and those Sikhs who shared his sentiments and outspokeness, very much qualify as domestic terrorism.

Many people believe that Canada is demonstrating its support for the war on terror merely by being in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban, who harboured terrorists and allowed them to plot their attacks with impunity. This may be the case, but the war on terror abroad is only half the battle. We must fight this battle on the home front as well.

We need not necessarily fight the battle on the home front by cracking down on civil liberties (although we will need to decide to what extent -- if any -- we are willing to sacrifice such liberties in exchange for improved security).

We do, however, need to fight this war by cracking down on terror groups within our own borders. Whether or not Stephane Dion sidetracked this process when he defeated the renewal of sunsetting anti-terror legislation is actually largely immaterial. We have various laws on the books that would allow us to investigate and dismantle thesegroups.

Where, for example, are the crackdowns on organizations like the Ku Klux Klan? What have we done about Babba Khalsa? How about Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam?

They were all judged to be active in Canada as recently as 2002, when a CSIS reported stated, "…with the possible exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere in the world. This situation can be attributed to Canada's proximity to the United States which currently is the principal target of terrorist groups operating internationally; and to the fact that Canada, a country built upon immigration, represents a microcosm of the world. It is therefore not surprising that the world's extremist elements are represented here, along with peace-loving citizens. Terrorist groups are present here whose origins lie in regional, ethnic and nationalist conflicts, including the Israeli Palestinian one, as well as those in Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, the Punjab, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia."

Groups like Calgary's Final Solution Skins and Terry Long's Heritage Front must, of course, be given equal attention.

Unfortunately, domestic terrorism is something that has been as ignored north of the 49th parallel as it has been south of it, and often these ignored warning signs have resulted in tragedy -- as was the case with Air India.

"We felt abandoned by the political leaders, by the government," Dosanjh testified. "We felt that nobody really cared very much."

He's entirely justified in feeling this way. Tragedy could have been prevented if the terror campaign propagated against him and those like him had been propery investigated and addressed.

Worse yet, Dosanjh's experiences with domestic terrorism are not yet over. "The fear and the reign of terror is still there," he said, and noted he still recieves threats to this day.

It's time to start addressing domestic terror now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tories Getting Tough on Drugs?

Not really

If one were to believe the voices of the hapless left, they would believe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is fighting some sort of ill-advised war on drugs.

And he is. But not in the way they think.

The most recent bill proposed by the Conservative party will make use of mandatory minimum sentences for those involved in dealing and producing drugs.

Of course, various groups have decried this as a carbon-copy of the badly failing American anti-drug laws. It isn't, and they know it (but more on this later).

First off, the clear majority of the new Tory plan falls in line with what these people claim to want. in which 2/3 of new funding (approximately $42 million) would be addressed toward prevention and treatment.

Among other things, the program would fund an anti-drug campaign, modernize treatment services, develop new treatment methods, expand the treatment programs available to young addicts, provide provinces with new funding for expanding existing services, and more funding for a youth intervention program.

Of course, none of this is what opponents of the proposed bill want to focus on. Instead, they want to focus on (and distort) the enforcement portion of the proposed bill.

Today, the Conservatives rolled out this portion of the bill.

Those caught and convicted of selling marijuana as part of a criminal operation, or using a weapon, will recieve a mandatory minimum sentence of one year. Two years for selling drugs in the vicinity of a school. Two years for anyone operating an illegal marijuana grow-op of 300 plants or more. Two years for selling hard drugs.

Despite what those who oppose this bill what have you believe, the proposed mandatory minimum sentences actually aren't strong enough. Only in one case, the doubling of the maximum penalty for marijuana production from 7 to 14 years, did the proposed sentencing changes actually go too far.

If these groups want to argue that anyone caught selling drugs to school children shouldn't go to jail, a good number of Canadians would like to hear them try.

Opponents of these changes would like people to believe that this is merely a transplanting of American drug laws into Canada. But it isn't, and they know it.

The problem with mandatory minimum sentencing in the United States is that it's all too often directed merely at users. American prisons are overfilled with users sentenced to life for mere possession under the US' three-strikes laws.

That won't be the case under the Tory proposal, which focuses on treatment for users and punishment for dealers, whereas the American system focuses on punishment for both.

The Tory version, less the weak sentencing prescriptions, is how it should be.

While the party's opponents in this matter can at least safely argue that Canadian law is woefully restrictive toward medical marijuana, they'll only conitnue to fail to make that point if they insist on continuing to lie to Canadians about drug policy.

In the meantime, if the Conservatives want to get tough on drugs, they'd better go ahead and do it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ouch. That Had to Hurt.

Don Martin takes a savage kick to the 'nads

The conspiracy theories alleging Stephen Harper made a letter written to him by Karlheinz Schreiber disappear took a rather merciless kick to the balls today, as Marilyn MacPherson, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Corporate Services at the Privy Council Office, decided to clear the air regarding a recent column written by Don Martin.

In the column, Martin wrote:

"For reasons that defy logic and established process, the Prime Minister's Office insists the incarcerated lobbyist's rant against former prime minister Brian Mulroney never reached Mr. Harper's intensely inquisitive staff.

This just doesn't pass the smell test given the procedural checks in a system that handles roughly a million pieces of mail per year, which must surely represent the only million letter writers left in a nation of e-mailers.
Martin goes on to vaccilate over whether or not Harper ever saw the letter itself. However, he notes, a conversation with Jean Chretien's old "mailbag man" predictably proved to be "constructive":

"There are only two explanations: Either somebody dropped the ball in the bureaucracy or Mr. Harper's office is fibbing when they say Mr. Schreiber's package failed to reach even one of the 82 people listed in the PMO directory.

The standard correspondence form generates a six-digit reference number for every letter that arrives, and scans them into a database for instant retrieval. Bureaucrats can check off one of two options, to forward either the original or copies to one of seven sections in the PMO.

This once-senior official insists all correspondence addressed to the prime minister is routinely forwarded to his office unless the sender falls into the "frequent wingnut" category.

While some may argue that shoe fits Mr. Schreiber, keep in mind most correspondence staff have been there since Jean Chretien was prime minister, and that unique name would still set off a rocket's red glare for special attention.

"There's institutional memory in the unit for this particular file," the Liberal said. "A clerk would not be qualified to take responsibility for that sort of correspondence by themselves. They would need guidance from the PMO."

It probably doesn't matter that Mr. Harper didn't see the letter personally. But there's either a troubling failure to communicate between the two senior levels of government or a deliberate miscommunication with the public.
"Of course there is," Newman would probably want one to agree.

Until, that is, one reads the recent letter by MacPherson to the National Post, wherein she writes:

"I am writing to clarify several issues relating to Don Martin's Thursday column. Firstly, the headline of the column is misleading -- no letter went missing. All correspondence processed by the Privy Council Office is kept on file for the prescribed period of time. The statements attributed to a former supervisor in the correspondence unit of another government, to the effect that "all correspondence addressed to the Prime Minister is routinely forwarded to his office" is not accurate either. Due to the volume and nature of correspondence, in fact the vast majority of it is not forwarded to the correspondence unit in the Prime Minister's Office, but is processed by the Privy Council Office correspondence unit.

As we have stated with other media representatives, the Privy Council Office processes all incoming correspondence to the prime minister. In the case of correspondence from Karlheinz Schreiber, it was decided that replying would be inappropriate as a result of the author being the subject of an extradition hearing, as well as his involvement in other litigation.

Finally, I want to reconfirm here for your readers the accuracy of statements made by the Prime Minister's Office, that the Privy Council Office did not forward the March 29, 2007 letter to the Prime Minister's correspondence unit.

One needs to remember that this is coming from an Assistant Deputy Minister, whom tend not to be elected officials, but bureaucrats selected for the job. When one also considers the remarkable number of deputy ministers not fired by the Harper government, one has to wonder what to make of the following passage from Martin's column:

"Most of my media colleagues would side with the dishonest declaration view. PMO flaks have a well-deserved reputation for non-communication when they're not spinning exaggeration or fabrication.

The level of media distrust in getting the true goods on any issue from Mr. Harper's team is lower than any communications shop I've encountered in almost 30 years of covering politics.

It seems that Martin is forgetting that last particular fact. Whether or not one considers the current batch of deputy ministers to be "Harper's team" is immaterial. The fact is that they were also "Paul Martin's team" in this regard, and as such, one has to wonder what to make of such assertions when the Pricy Council office backs the Prime Minister's Office up, as McPherson has.

At the very least, one pretty much instantly knows what to do with the varying conspiracy theories regarding the Karlheinz Schreiber affair. It just so happens to be the same thing one knows to do with Martin's 15 November column.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

As-Salamu Alakyum

Western Muslims need to provide a beacon for radical Islam

A Saudi Arabian court recently added injury to, well, injury when it sentenced a 19-year-old rape victim to 200 lashes and six months in prison for "being in [a} car with an unrelated male at the time of the [gang] rape".

By contrast, her six armed attackers were merely sentenced to prison.

Predictably, this has provoked a wide range of outrage. But none is more profound than that expressed by Vancouver's Jiti Khanna, who protested the treatment of the young woman in a letter to The National Post:

"The whipping and jailing of a 19-year-old women for being "in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the [gang] rape" shows, once again, the inherent discrimination and violence against women contained within Shariah law. Saudi Arabia practises a specially puritan form of Islam that it has exported worldwide through its funding of mosques and training of mosque leaders. Furthermore, every year Shariah attitudes are reinforced in millions of Muslims when they go on the prescribed Hajj pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. To prevent such practices from finding resonance in Western Muslims, we must express our abhorrence and ask Saudi Arabia to re-form its Islamic practices.

We should also ask Western Muslims to loudly denounce such examples of Shariahbased discrimination and violence against women.

While many in the Western world look upon Islam with a great deal of (arguably well-justified) concern -- or sometimes outright hostility -- it's important to remember that a Westernized, moderate brand of Islam could prove to be a light upon the Muslim world.

People like Jiti Khanna serve as a reminder of this.

Nor is she alone. For a distinctly Western brand of Islam to emerge, people like Irshad Manji will have to continue to challenge Islam, and movements such as the Dawoodi Bohras will have to step up its efforts to engrain progressive values within Islam.

Of course, a westernized, progressive Islam will only emerge through open and honest debate. As such, Muslim conservative movements will need to have an opportunity to have their say, as well.

As for the rest of us, we'll need to provide this modernized brand of Islam room to grow. As such, it will fall to ordinary non-Muslims to protect Muslims from unreasonable discrimination. People like Jiti Khanna need to be given room to advance their cause, and people like Robert Spencer cannot be allowed to cynically denounce Islam into a rhetorical vacuum.

In the meantime, peace be upon you, Jiti Khanna. You're a credit to your faith.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Suddenly, He's Not So Eager to Talk

But the opposition is awfully eager to hear him

In the newly-revived and ongoing Mulroney-Schreiber affair, things took a turn for the even more acrimonious recently when Schreiber stated he wouldn't cooperate with the inquiry were he extradited to Germany.

Following a statement issued by German Justice officials stating they would allow Schreiber to be interrogated by Canadian investigators while in German custody, Schreiber has promised "not a fucking word would I speak".

In other words, Karlheinz Schreiber, the would-be victim of a conspiracy theory, a man more maligned than Maher Arar and disappointed in the Harper government's efforts to clean up Ottawa, has now resorted to attempting to blackmail the government of Canada.

And the opposition, desperate to score whatever political points thay can from the affair, are all too eager to cave in to him.

At some point, the writing on the wall simply becomes all too obvious. Karlheinz Schreiber is desperately trying to delay his extradition to Germany, and he's willing to say absolutely anything to do it.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties and the media, recognizing Brian Mulroney as a slam-dunk case in the court of public opinion, has jumped all over this story, Karlheinz Schreiber, and his most recent non-revelations.

Among those non-revelations, Schreiber states, "The whole thing is much broader than only Airbus and it starts already at the beginning, in the early '80s, when the situation was that Brian Mulroney intended to become the prime minister and needed help."

More humorously, "There are other revelations I intend to make in front of an inquiry which really made me very nervous when I heard about them," Schreiber notes (emphasis added). "You will understand that I want to leave quite a few important things for the inquiry."

What most people understand about the Mulroney-Schreiber affair is that it deals primarily with Mulroney's dealings with Schreiber. So why is Schreiber only hearing such details about his own dealings with Mulroney now? Unless he wants to implicate other people in this tale, in which case the proof would certainly be in the pudding.

Schreiber is desperately trying to write a new lease on his life in Canada, and he's desperate enough to regurgitate old news, rumours, innuendos, and very likely outright lies (let's not forget who we're dealing with here) in order to do it.

That the opposition wants Canada to deny German officials the opportunity to deliver Schreiber to justice there on this basis is actually quite shameful. Moreover, it could imperil future Canadian attempts to extradite criminals from Germany. On this note, it's double-shameful.

If Schreiber doesn't want to talk if extradited to Germany, so be it. If he were really so concerned about justice as he would like us to believe, he would speak regardless.

It will be a truly dark day when the government of Canada bends over backward just to hear the words of a known fraud.

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

The Kingdom reveals the difficulties of winning "hearts and minds" even amongst our supposed allies

Saudi Arabia is officially considered an ally of the United States -- one of the few in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, as Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) discovers the hard way in The Kingdom, the official stance of a state doesn't necessarily reflect the sentiments of its people. Perhaps there is no better case study for this in the world today than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom opens with a brief history lesson in Saudi/American relations. In short: Saudi Arabia is established, oil is discovered, westerners are allowed to develop Saudi Arabia's oil reserves, OPEC, Gulf War, Osama bin Laden spurned by the Saudi royals in favour of the United States, 9/11.

Then, the film gets right down to business, as Saudi terrorists launch a brutal and merciless attack on a foreign housing bloc, where western oil companies accomodate their employees.

With the attack leaving well in excess of 100 people dead, Fleury (Fox) deploys an FBI investigative team to Rhiyadh, consisting of Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner) and Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman). Although they are placed under severe restrictions by their Saudi hosts, they manage to determine who planned the attacks, and essentially get the bad guys.

When worse comes to worst, however, Fleury and his team discover that while the Saudi state may be willing to accomodate them given the proper prodding (read: blackmail), the Saudi people (predominantly Wahabi muslims) really don't like them much, to the extent that Saudi men are prepared to cross-dress if it will give them an opportunity to kill them.

In the end, it all comes down to hearts and minds. While they manage to win the heart and mind of their Saudi bodyguard (read: babysitter), Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhorn), the families of the terrorists killed in the wake of their pursuit of justice certainly aren't so convinced.

Then again, they weren't convinced to begin with, and not likely to be.

The aforementioned (in a previous post) criminological perspective on terrorism often espouses the winning of hearts and minds as a measure of prevention in regards to terrorism.

Often, the programs of prevention suggested embody generous foreign aid programs. The idea is rather simple: if we placate the state while feeding the country's hungry and helping its sick, we can give them an incentive not to attack us. In a sense, it becomes a gentler form of coercion, whereby we can inflict great suffering on their oft-impoverished people by withdrawing that aid in the event of an attack.

Admittedly, this may not apply to Saudi Arabia as much as it applies to other Muslim countries.

Regardless, thinking such as this actually hits a very unpleasant dead-end.

It has recently been estimated that only 10-15% of Muslims actively support Jihad. This 10-15% conceptualizes the suffering of impoverished Muslims (actually, Muslims in general) than mere starvation or sickness.

In the case of Osama Bin Laden, his primary stated goal is to reestablish the Caliphate -- the spiritual post of leadership of all Muslims. As such, Bin Laden regards the association between Saudi Arabia and the United States, in particular, as a form of suffering worse than any worldly suffering any Muslim could endure. He regards it as collusion with ungodliness, and thus living in the absense of Allah's influence, and defiance of (in Bin Laden's mind) his word.

As such, no measure of material aid to Saudi Arabia, or any other Muslim country, could ever convince Bin Laden that the potential benefit (or, conversely, expense) to his people would justify the cessation of hostilities. He believes he's fighting for the welfare of his people in the next life, if not in this one.

As is the case with the perpetrators of the attack in the film.

The Kingdom offers a very profound and satisfying ending.

Unfortunately, this ending falls short in one regard: it tries to portray terrorists and those who pursue them as all too similar in regards to their motives. Simply put, it's suggested that both sides simply desire revenge, and this eternal mutual death struggle merely amounts to a form of post-cold-war MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine.

Of course, there is a difference.

Terrorists, by the virtue of the very tactics they choose, at least make their targets appear to be as random as possible. The polar opposite is what's actually true. In fact, because terrorism is never really aimed at its victims, the idea is to choose victims that are as symbolic as possible, so as to convey a message in support of that terrorist's goal.

The ultimate idea is to actually choose targets as carefully and intricately as possible, while still making it appear as if absolutely anyone can become a target.

Fear is a weapon not unlike any other: it must be aimed if it's to have its desired effect.

On the other hand, counter-terrorist operatives don't have the luxury of making their targets appear indiscriminate. They have a very specific set of targets to pursue. Although their activities may often cause the deaths of innocent civilians (something we all too often simply brush aside as "collateral damage"), those they pursue are themselves the perpetrators of militancy.

Aside from this particular conceptual snag, however, The Kingdom offers a very profound message. Think of it as Syriana without George Clooney's conspiracy theories.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Worst... Idea... Ever...

Online voting is, frankly, a boneheaded idea

In the three-year tradition of Martin Rayner saying incredibly fucking stupid things online, he has, of late, offered up another doozy.

In a post criticizing the Conservative government for tabling legislation that would allow Canadians two days to vote in a federal election, as opposed to merely one, Rayner relies on the speculation of Andre Blais and "Flying" David McGuinty, and instead suggests that Canadians should be allowed to vote via internet.

I shit you not.

What mr Rayner has probably declined to consider is the effect that online voting would have on Canada's electoral security -- our ability to assure that our elections are carried out in an equitable, transparent, and legal fashion. Electoral security is integral to the health of any democracy.

Yet, for some of the best reasons why Canada must not embrace internet voting is actually found in our neighbour to the south, and the debacle that transpired after their introduction of the infamous Diebold voting machines into their elections.

It was eventually discovered that the use of these machines allowed for the manipulation of election results. The machines could be hacked at absolutely any point between storage and use. In one particularly ingenious test scenario, an enterprising young hacker snuck a collapsable keyboard into the ballot booth and hooked it up to an unsecured port.

Once one considers expanding the use of automated voting methods beyond these machines and on to the internet, one encounters a plethora of problems. The internet is significantly less secure than the incredibly insecure Diebold platform, for a number of reasons. First off, one need not be in physical proximity to the machines in order to hack them: they can virtually do it from the comfort of their own homes. Secondly, the relative insecurity of the average user's computer helps them do this. Third, the investment in cyberwarfare technologies by countries such as China certainly renders them able to either outright sabotage an election, or manipulate its results in order to empower a government that would be amicable to them.

In regards to the data collection itself (in this case, the voting), we need to be assured that the data is collected in a secure and private matter. Also, data loss, data destruction, unauthorized access to the data, and improper disclosure all become issues.

Once a ballot is cast, an electronic ballot gives any potentially unscrupulous partisan tabulators an opportunity to change the vote – given that they possess the necessary skills (which, it should be noted are becoming more and more common) –- or even record the vote for a candidate other than whom it was cast in favor of. With no permanent, incorruptible physical record of how each ballot was cast, internet voting undermines electoral security.

At least our current balloting system ensures that our vote will be counted as cast, as opposed to however these aforementioned potentially unscrupulous individuals would prefer they be cast.

Underscoring this are numerous studies (“Loch & Carr, 1991; Anderson, 1993; Parker, 1998; Vardi & Wiener, 1996; Neumann, 1999 ”) show that a significant portion of security breaches –- electronic or otherwise –- can be attributed to an organizations’ own personnel.

An online ballot is not merely susceptible to threats internal to the system – it is also subject to external threat. A study of Australian firms (Dinnie, 1999) revealed that 16% of Australian firms involved in e-commerce either had suffered, or believe they had suffered, one or more violations of their network’s electronic security.
Cyptography –- the practice of encrypting information gathered or distributed online –- is the generally-accepted solution to the risk of online security violation. However, these decryptions are only as good as the individuals who design them, and are no better than the hackers who manage to break them.

Last but not least, there would also be no assurance that the individuals voting are the same individuals registered to vote, or even that they are Canadian citizens.

At least the process of having voters show up to cast a physical ballot on election day presents us with the most basic guarantees that our elections are being conducted in a secure fashion.

And while it shouldn't ever be pretended that there is no possibility for electoral fraud under these circumstances -- history has provided us with many examples -- the current process can at least claim to have withstood the test of time.

Internet voting, like other forms of electronic voting, can not and will not.

That being said, it's pretty safe to say we can send Mr Rayner back to the drawing board.

Everything Old is New Again

Liberals believe they may find old news is good news

If there was anything that became immediately clear following the 2006 federal election, it was that the Liberals were very embittered by their defeat.

Often engaging in freakishly protracted conspiracy theories sometimes alleging that, despite the testimony of dozens of implicated figures and the absence of millions of unaccounted taxpayer dollars from government coffers, the Sponsorship Scandal was purely a work of fiction, many Liberals took it upon themselves to pretend that, somehow, the Conservative party's victory was the result of some great "neo-conservative" conspiracy.

It was, if you believe their rantings, all terribly unjust. Even if the sponsorship scandal did happen, it was surely no big deal.

"Right? Right?"

If one believed them then, one may wonder what to believe now, as they renew a 14-year-old witchhunt for a good old fashioned political scandal. Now, as the stench of political incompetence threatens to overwhelm the stink of corruption, they certainly must hope that the smell is at least as strong as that emanating from the stains left on their once-proud standard by the Sponsorship Scandal.

What has emerged has very closely resembled the conspiracy theory Mulroney referred to in a recent speech,complete with Ralph Goodale winking and nudging toward his theory of a nefarious Conservative plot to cover up the truth.

The most recent allegations raised against Mulroney have a good number of people very excited. Unsurprisingly, most of these people are partisan Liberals.

Yet, when one looks closer at the allegations themselves, all one finds is a suggestion that Mulroney discussed business dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber before he left office.

So apparently, the most recent charges against Brian Mulroney are that he discussed business that he planned to engage in after leaving office while he was still Prime Minister.

Considering that the RCMP could uncover no evidence of criminal wrongdoing into the matter of the cash payments themselves, a good many people may find themselves feeling (and looking) very serious when this is treated largely as an open-and-shut case.

As it turns out, however, Schreiber expects people to believe that he, a known fraudster, is actually a victim in this entire affair. "At the special request of Mr. Mulroney, I wrote a letter to [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] on July 20, 2006 suggesting to Mr. Mulroney that the public rhetoric regarding the sale of Airbus planes by Airbus Industries G.I.E. (the `Airbus Affair') and the conspiracy against me personally amounted to the largest political scandal in the history of Canada," Schreiber wrote.

The suggestion that Schreiber would be extradited to Germany to face fraud charges there amounts to a greater scandal than the abuses perpetrated under the Sponsorship Program, the blatant interference in Canadian politics by John F Kennedy, or the Igor Gouzenko affair?

To put it bluntly, surely this man fucking jests.

Likewise, surely Ralph Goodale, "Flying" David McGuinty and Stephane Dion jest if they feel they can somehow tag Mulroney's alleged and unproven misdeeds upon the current government. In fact, 66% of Canadians feel they can't. The 19% that figure the current government is somehow involved? It just might be safe to suggest that the vast majority of them are probably partisan Liberals.

Of course, there is another side of the coin. If Mulroney truly feels victimized by the proceedings as they have unfolded, he certainly hasn't done himself any favours. Acceping cash payments in a hotel room certainly provokes suspicion, even if Karlheinz Schreiber himself has suggested that the cash payments may have been paid for services rendered ranging from legal services, to consultation in a pasta machine business, to help selling Bearhead armoured vehicles to China (selling weapons to China itself being a fairly unsavoury practice).

As for the Liberals themselves, however, they already took it upon themselves to come after Mulroney once, and cost Canadian taxpayers $2.1 million. Whether or not Canadian taxpayers can buy Mulroney off on their account so cheaply again has yet to be seen.

In the meantime, perhaps the best the Liberals should hope for is a short-term boost at the polls, and the hope that perhaps Canadians will remain annoyed enough with Mulroney to not fall asleep amidst the wild gestriculations of their verious spokespersons.

At the end of the day, the Mulroney-Schreiber affair remains as it was: old news.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Note About the Taser Video

Money to pay for medical treatment

Normally, it would be kind of ghoulish to sell a video like this for money.

That being said, at least the money Paul Pritchard accepted is going toward helping a sick family member. That's certainly enough to make it forgivable, even if a little uncool.

"It was against [my father's] wishes completely and my lawyer's wishes as well. Profit is such an ugly word, and I hope people realize that it's not a personal profit," Pritchard said.

Fair enough.

Canadian Cynic: A Walking, Talking Clerks Bit

'Nuff said

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Modern Crime Requires Modern Enforcement Tactics

No Country for an Old Men underscores need to update policing techniques

Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is a man with a problem.

Approaching the twilight years of his life, Bell is a man who is quickly realizing that he's also reaching the twilight years of his career.

With a certain romantic regard for the days of the old west, Jones is a man who's realizing the face of crime is changing before his very eyes. Feeling that crimes once considered unthinkable are becoming more and more commonplace, Bell is finding himself forced to question whether or not his preferred method of police work has become obselete in the face of modern crime.

The Coen brothers set No Country for Old Men in 1980. Now, the fact that the film is filled with cars built after 1980 and beef jerky and Corona beer packaged as it currently appears on shelves.

Most importantly, however, No Country for an Old Man pits Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) against Anton Chirgurh (Javier Bradern) in a cat-and-mouse battle of wills over $2 million Moss recovers from the site of a drug deal gone seriously wrong, with Bell constantly one step behind.

In Chigurgh, Bell encounters a breed of criminal he's never faced before: an uncontrollable killer-for-hire who turns on his own employers, and covers his tracks by way of what he makes seem like random killings.

In the wake of 9/11, one particular issue has come to dominate the realm of law enforcement: that of terrorism.

The obvious need to address the threat posed by terrorism has led to a myriad of issues: questions regarding how much personal freedom citizens should be expected to surrender in order to ensure society's security, questions regarding how much power should be granted to law enforcement personell, and questions regarding what civil rights will be extended to "enemy combatants" have served as obvious examples.

In retrospect, the occurance of 9/11 alone was enough to demonstrate that law enforcement and security personell have not been up to the task of meeting these threats. Lack of cooperation between varying levels of law enforcement and security/intelligence services failed to collaborate enough to prevent the Al Qaida hijackers from boarding their flights and perpetrating their crimes.

On a fundamental level, part of this failure is a failure to properly conceptualize terrorism in the first place.

Depending upon whom one asks, terrorism is either a crime or an act of war. Both of these ideas are actually correct, but taken separately, each one brings with it a dangerous set of presumptions that actually serve to handcuff both our intelligence/security services and law enforcement services.

Under the "act of war" analysis favoured by intelligence/security services, terrorism is primarily viewed as an aggressive act perpetrated by foreign actors, be they state or non-state.

As such, it's believed that the best way to address terrorism is by performing intelligence work abroad, and forcibly dismantling terrorist networks overseas. This brings with it a necessary foreign policy focus on addressing rogue states and their support of terrorists.

A criminological analysis, as favoured by law enforcement services, addresses terrorism as a criminal act, and requires not only a myriad of police powers in order to help stop terrorist acts before they occur, as well as sufficient legal tools in order to both investigate successful attacks, and catch and convict those responsible.

Of course, the law enforcement perspective requires a focus not only on the detection and prevention of existing terrorist threats, but also the deterrence of future plots. It would also require efforts directed at detecting and dealing with terrorist cells that are both domestic in nature, as well as based in foreign countries.

Given the lack of crackdowns on domestic terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, the integration of criminological thought into anti-terrorist tactics has clearly been neglected.

This can also be confirmed when one considers that, as of 9/11, terrorist acts weren't recorded in criminal statistics, even after the Oklahoma city bombing. In both cases, the victims were simply recorded as "homocide victims", then the inflated homicide figures annotated to note how many had been the victims of a terrorist attack.

Yet, even in the United States, most police officers lack even the most rudimentary anti-terrorist training. One needs to look no further than Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 in which an Oregon state trooper, assigned to patrol the ocean shores watching for potential terrorist threats admits that he hasn't been trained to recognize the signs of a terrorist plot, or in what to do if he does detect one.

Clearly, this is a shortcoming that needs to be rectified. Although it may smack of alarmism, a terrorist plot could be hatched anywhere. As such, every active police officer in North America should have the necessary counter-terrorism training.

Otherwise, all too many police officers could share the fate of Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), a "fixer" hired by the cartel Chirgurh betrays in order to track him down and deal with him. Wells underestimates the threat posed by Chirgurh (whom Wells himself describes as "maniacal"), and pays for it with his life -- and arguably, that of his subsequent victims.

Worse yet, our entire law enforcement system could find itself in the shoes of Ed Bell -- faced with a breed of criminal he's never faced before, constantly finding himself unable to catch up in order to prevent the inevitable bloodshed.

Of course, the issues of what powers to grant to law enforcement and to courts is a much more nebulous issue, one probably left for another place and time.

One thing that is certain, however, is that if we fail to adopt the changes necessary in order to fight terrorism (and it's only natural that there will be a great deal of debate over this -- as there must be), our next encounter with terrorism may have as disappointing an end as No Country for Old Men.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cry Harder, Lindsay

One would think an actor would want the spotlight

Yep. It seems safe that we can now confirm Waterloo actor/waitress (read: failed actor) Lindsay Stewart among our readers here at the Nexus.

Now, I'm sure Lindsay would like to think I spent a lot of time uncovering his (her?) identity. Actually, I didn't. It was actually revealled to me by an individual who will go unnamed here.

And personally, I'm very comfortable with my phsyical proximity to mr (ms?) Stewart -- or, more pointedly, lack thereof. Like many people, I try not to be in the presence of vicious, hateful people. But I digress.

Apparently, what Lindsay wants to take issue with most is me is my characterization of her as a failed actor. That's fair enough. I take issue with her description of the Nexus as "an online toilet".

I mean, hey: I don't attack grieving mothers for political reasons, wish death upon other people, or take obvious pleasure when a political opponent comes under fire in a warzone, but I do my best. Apparently, according to Lindsay, my greatest crime -- aside from refusing to tolerate the bullying directed at others by herself, her blogmate, or their equally vicious (and also unmasked) cohort, Martin Rayner -- is being a "conservative blogger".

And I totally didn't see that coming, either.

As much as Lindsay would like to list her "major motion picture" and "indie film" appearances as evidence of some sort of great success, the fact is that this doesn't really mean much. Hell, I can answer a classified ad and go appear in a "major motion picture" this week, probably in about the same capacity as the totally-not-a-failure Ms Stewart.

To make things even more amusing, however, Ms Stewart has asked me for a list of my acomplishments.

Gee, Lindsay, you only had to ask:

The fact of the matter is that I'm a published writer. If Lindsay's appearance in various indie films and recording projects qualifies as success, I would certainly suggest that she's no more successful than I:

"Lest we forget this Remembrance Day

"Desire Munyaneza should be deported

"Our country's other heroes deserve recognition as well"

"Tories in need of Reform

"So long and good riddance, Ernst Zundel"

"Society has itself to blame for Dawson shooting

"Women in parliament a broad issue" (Please forgive the pun, I don't write the headlines.)

"Much hot air emitted in Carbon tax debate"

"America's Funniest Republican Home Videos"

Of course, this is just a brief excerpt from my published works.

I'd like to think that the fact that I've published this work (and more) while also going to University full-time and recieving (more or less) straight A's, I'd say that I have, to date, been fairly successful in my chosen profession.

So if Lindsay, like Marty and Cynic, want to fall all over themselves looking for something to attack me for, my occupational success, as a student and as a writer, really isn't one of them.

Martin Rayner: Still Stewing

Some classics simply never go out of style

Accepting defeat graciously has never been one of Martin Rayner's strong points.

In the days following the logical shit-kickings he has endured here at the Nexus of late, it would seem that one he endured months ago is still irritating him a little bit.

This particular issue actually pertains to the decisive defeat he suffered at the hands of Richard Evans in the Great Canadian Debate.

Of course, it's tempting to remind Marty that not only did Richard Evans put forth a superior argument, but the "esteemed" mr Rayner failed to actually address the debating issue at all. Instead, he made up his own and debated that.

Mr Rayner's even taken it upon himself to post a poll to his blog asking his readers who they think won.

When his sycophantic corps of groupies concludes that Mr Rayer won, I'm sure the rest of us will at least pretend to be surprised.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Methinks He's a Little Bitter

Careful, Cynic: your wounded pride is showing

In a recent post, Canadian Cynic is apparently rather displeased with the results of the results of the Best Canadian category of the 2007 Weblog awards:

Yes, Steve, these awards were all about quality.

Perhaps Cynic's outrage was exacerbated by the fact that The Galloping Beaver (actually, all together a pretty good blog) was beaten out by not one, not two, or even merely three of his nemeses... but four.

After all that hard work, too. Maybe Cynic isn't quite the influential figure in the blogosphere that he thought he was (thank god).

But at least he's finally starting to wake up to the fact that a large readership doesn't necessarily denote a high-quality blog -- particularly when one, as he, constantly stoops to the lowest common denominator.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Like it or Not, a Clear Case for Consideration of the Death Penalty

Medicine Hat murder accomplice just might fit the bill

A recent decision by the governing Conservative party to not attempt to intervene in the cases of Canadians sentenced to death in foreign countries has brought a good deal of predictable responses, most of them consisting of contempt and revulsion.

There's actually good reason for this. However, many of these individuals have taken it upon themselves to try to push the issue into a larger debate about the validity of the death penalty itself.

In this, they're wrong.

For proof, one needs look no further than the recent media blizzard surrounding the sentencing in regards to the murders of Marc and Debra Richardson, and their eight-year-old son.

On April 23, 2006, the Richardsons were stabbed to death by their 12-year-old daughter and by Jeremy Allan Steinke, then 23 years old, who had been romantically involved with her.

During the subsequent trial, a number of facts emerged. First off, it turned out that the girl herself was severely mentally ill, suffering from both conduct disorder and oppositional defiance disorder.

The girl's sentence, a meagre 4-year term what will be split between prison and a psychiatric hospital, followed by 4 1/2 years of supervised community living, certainly doesn't fit the bill. However, while it's very unlikely she'll successfully rehabilitate so long as she refuses to accept moral or criminal responsibility for her actions, her mental illness just may turn out to be treatable with the proper therapy and medication. The young age of the convicted, furthermore, obligates society to at least give her the opportunity.

But the defense for Steinke isn't nearly so clear.

While the girl's case contains varying mitigating factors, Steinke's case contains the polar opposite.

First off, not only is mr Steinke a murderer, but he's also a sex offender -- a 23-year-old (now 24) having sex with a 12-year-old. The revulsion associated with this act aside, Steinke reportedly joined with her in the murders she planned for two reasons: first, because it was the only way she would accept a marriage proposal from him, and secondly, because she had allegedly cut him off from sex.

Steinke, a grown man, was willing to engage in the act of murder in order to maintain his sexual relationship with someone who was (at the time) 11 years his junior.

Naturally, this is a very disconcerting fact, and for obvious reasons.

This is not actually to say that Steinke should be put to death. Far from it. However, in a case such as Steinke's, the state should have the death penalty on the books for consideration, even if it remains unused.

Those who steadfastly oppose the death penalty all too often forget that the justice system is actually meant to have four purposes, not merely two. Pierre Trudeau himself did this, when he abolished the death penalty, citing that it had dubious merits in terms of either rehabilitation or deterrence.

Aside from rehabilitation and deterrence, the justice system is also meant to embody two other purposes: punishment and, most importantly, the protection of society.

In terms of punishement, the death penalty should be considered inapplicable. For these particular purposes, the death penalty would appear to be too much like state-inflicted revenge. Revenge is not justice. The desire for revenge stems from an emotional response -- our legal system is supposed to be devoid of emotional response.

The protection of society, however, is a quite different matter altogether. In the case of Steinke, the crown should consider how likely Steinke is to reoffend in a similar manner. If they decide he is, the state is left with two options: imprison Steinke for the rest of his life (actually endangering his inmates), or execution.

Although those who oppose the death penalty most stringently may loathe to admit this, the death penalty is actually the more humane of the two options.

Now, all this being said, a reinstated death penalty would require a myriad of restrictions, many of which may result in its disuse altogether.

First off, should an accused's very life be at stake in criminal proceedings, the burden of evidence simply must be tantamount to this reality. Proof of guilt must be absolute, and objectively and scientifically unassailable.

Secondly, the death penalty would always need to remain the punishment of absolute last resort, and only be applied in cases where the accused is not only nearly certain to reoffend, but also certainly irredeemable. (Considering the political pressures that have shelved a psychological diagnostic test for determining whether or not an individual is psychopathic, this would be a doubly hard condition to meet).

Finally, were the death penalty reinstated in Canada, it would be of absolute necessity to guarantee at least one appeal, in order to be absolutely sure that the death penalty fits.

In otherwords, the criteria necessary to execute an individual should be so strict as to almost prevent its use. The death penalty isn't necessarily something that should ever actually be used. However, it's an option that should remain open to Canada's justice system for those cases in which the convicted is simply such an imminent threat to society that they are guaranteed to reoffend in a similar fashion.

This would pretty much restrict those elligible for the death penalty to serial murderers and unrepentant pedophiles. If anyone believes that serial murders and unrepentant pedophiles can safely be released back into general public, they seriously need to give their head a shake.

Whether or not Jeremy Allan Steinke would actually fit the necessary criteria is a matter for debate.

But Canadian courts should be able to consider the death penalty as an option for individuals like Steinke, even if it never actually gets used.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Speaking of Not Suffering Fools...

KeVron gets a much-deserved spanking

The vaccilations of various left-wing commentators over the tasering of Andrew Meyer has apparently continued and unsurprisingly (considering the source) intersects with us here at the Nexus.

In a recent post at Canadian Cynic's blog, Pretty Shaved Ape (reportedly, also known as Lindsay Stewart, a Waterloo-area actor/waiter -- read: failed actor) has chosen to address a disagreement between Dr. Dawg and the ever-petulant and mindless KevRon.

To put it shortly, KevRon -- and if anyone doubts his overall objectability, he recently suggested we "tase Wanda Watkins and her grief" -- accuses Dawg of being a "phrawd". (Apparently, he isn't literate enough to know what letter "fraud" starts with.)

In a number of complaints lodged, predictably, at his hero's lair, KeVron complains about the larger implications of the Meyer incident for "liberals/progressives/Democrats":

"...Phrawd's confabulation puts progressives/liberals/democrats in the indefensible position of having to insist that sparky and his kind should be "tasered for running over his time at a campus meeting", to which, of course, none would ever agree..."
Naturally, there are a few problems with this statement. First off, KeVron is legitimately neither a liberal nor a progressive, although he may claim to be a Democrat so long as that remains merely an indicator of how one votes.

Secondly, while there are a few individuals who have used the Meyer tasering as a rhetorical weapon against the Democrats, it's also rather unfortunate that this isn't entirely unfair.

Simply put: what was John Kerry's reaction to the tasering? "Hey! Stop that!" would have been both simple, and reasonable. Instead, Kerry can audibly be heard in the background of the video continuing to speak to the audience as if Andrew Meyer wasn't being tased right before his eyes.

That's not the reaction one should expect from a man who could (many would probably agree should) have been president of the United States.

In all fairness, however, president George Bush remained quiet about the largely politically-motivated crucifixion of the Dixie Chicks, despite the fact that it happened over a longer period of time. Republicans are clearly no better in regards to defending people's freedom of speech.

Finally, one considers that KeVron himself has taken almost precisely the same stance that he decries in this particular statement, and one would wonder what to think, if they weren't aware of the fact that KeVron rarely thinks at all.

In the end, it's very unfortunate: Dr. Dawg, a legitimate progressive, has managed to make himself into an ideological enemy of the Hateful Left, as led (at least on this side of the 49th parallel) by Canadian Cynic, but definitely embodied in KeVron (who resides south of it).

What was his crime? Questioning the so-called "infinite wisdom" of Cynic and Martin Rayner.

And while Lindsay Stewart may be far from being the belle of the ball in regards to reasonable political discourse (consider the recent ambivalence over "weepy", "unimportant" Peter MacKay's recent Afghan ordeal, or that he (she?) shares a blog with a spectacularly psychologically unbalanced individual who recently, in print, wished death on another individual), one at least has to respect his (her?) ability to make a sound ethical judgement pertaining to the use of tasers.

That's a bit of wisdom he (she?) could stand to share with his (her?) blogging mate. Probably right in the midst of planning his (her?) next performance of Hamlet, which will probably be held in the walk-in freezer of the Wendy's he (she?) probably works at.

As for KeVron, one shouldn't worry much about him: the spanking will build some desperately-needed character.

Need a VP? Barack's The Man For the Job

Obama's mastery of Senate precedents a key skill for Vice President

If one takes polls at face value, there's little question about it: Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democrats' presidential nominee.

She leads her nearest competitor, Barack Obama, by a margin of 44 to 25 percent.

As such, it's probably unsurprising that Clinton has begun searching for a running mate. However, she's had less luck than a politician in her situation should have finding one: her ascendency to presidential candidate is almost assured, and she's almost guaranteed a massive advantage over whomever her Republican opponent would be.

Yet, Senator Joe Biden has, surprisingly, turned Clinton down.

"If I don't win the nomination, the likely nominee is going to be Hillary," Biden, a fellow presidential nominee, said. "And I love Bill Clinton, but can you imagine being vice president?"

Biden currently polls at 3%. Call him brave, call him optimistic, just don't call him opportunistic.

Beyond that, Biden has said he would prefer to continue serving as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden has also noted that Bill Clinton would likely be an omnipresent, overpowering influence in a Hillary Clinton White House (insert sexist who-wears-the-pants-in-the-family joke here). Not to mention Al Gore creeping around every other corner. Perhaps not the most secure position for a Vice President.

This, of course, leaves Hillary Clinton in search of a new running mate, and she shouldn't look any further than her most immediate (however remote) threat -- Massachusetts Senator Barack Obama.

There are many reasons why Obama would make an excellent Vice President (perhaps even a better VP than President).

First off, the buzz surrounding Clinton and Obama would be positively huge. Hell, even Fidel Castro says he has goosebumps at the very thought of it.

Historically, a Democrat's choice for Vice President has turned out to be more important than a Republican's, as a Democrat Vice President has proven more likely (at least in more recent history) to have to take over the Presidency. To this end, the Democratic party would be better off to have its number-two contender serve in the role. If he were forced to assume the presidency, Obama could continue to capture the imagination of Americans in the same vital way he and Clinton do.

Most importantly, however, one of the Vice President's most important jobs is to preside over the Senate.

Obama has spent a good deal of his Senatorial career familiarizing himself with Senate precedents -- which one senior Democratic senator once described to him as "the keys to the kingdom". That alone would make him a force to be reckoned with as Vice President.

There is, of course, the argument that having Obama as a running mate would hurt her ability to attract voters from fickle conservative voters who prefer to vote for white males. This in itself is a silly argument, and for obvious reasons. Not only are the Democrats unlikely to attract these voters, but Clinton herself doubly so.

By running with a black man as her running mate, however, Clinton could reap the benefits of having the force of history as a "third running mate". There would be vast appeal to many voters knowing that not only could they elect America's first woman president, but also its first black vice president.

Of course, this argument is no less fickle than the previous. The difference for Clinton, however, is that it remains pertinent.

In the face of an ongoing campaign, Clinton may not yet be ready to admit that she needs Barack Obama. But she does.

Of course, the greater challenge may be convincing Obama to quit his campaign prematurely; something he would be doing no matter how unlikely the prospects of him closing a 19-point gap between himself and Clinton are.

In other words, both candidates would need to swallow their pride a little bit. The benefits of doing so are very tangible inded.

The greater question is whether or not the're willing to do it.