Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sex crimes laws struck down

A big victory for civil rights as three sections of the Criminal Code of Canada which actually made it impossible for legal sex workers to do their trade were struck down by a lower court.   Judge Susan Himel, ruling in Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada, has invalidated the provisions regarding operating a "common bawdy-house," living off the avails of prostitution, and communication for the purposes of prostitution.   It's important to remember that hiring a sex worker under the age of eighteen remains totally illegal, as it should be.

As troubling as the sex trade is for me, what's worse in my consideration is what happens to those who become victims through no fault of their own.   If you don't believe that, ask the women who were lucky enough to survive being tortured by Robert Pickton.   (Decision in PDF here).

Rather than just gut check and appeal this and short-circuit what's a win for both women and men, let's fix the laws so that those who walk the streets are safe and those who prey on the workers with ill intent are the ones who are punished.

Kudos to fellow blogger Wendy Babcock, who among other women helped me change my mind on this issue.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The registry lives, for now

Now that the bill to eliminate the gun registry has been voted down, can we all get on to more important things ... like the economy, for instance?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Fix the registry, don't abolish it

If as expected the "private member's" bill to abolish the long gun registry goes down to defeat (as I hope it does), then I think it's up to the Opposition parties not just to explain why they voted it down but how they're going to fix the remaining problems with the system while balancing rural and urban interests in advancing gun control.    The Conservatives calling those who support the registry "Toronto elites" is pretty rich, especially considering Harper went to a high school in -- oh my God -- TORONTO!

Perhaps Harper has forgotten that many of those so-called elites actually go hunting on the weekends or for week long outfitting trips?   Actually helping out their rural brothers and sisters in developing their economy?   Oh, I guess he has forgotten about that.   Or the huge license fees that the provinces and territories collect from legal hunters.

Rather than just talking tough on crime, how about also fighting its causes and actually putting money in to fix the broken windows to reduce the number of places criminals have to hide?

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Sun" issues rare retraction for Soros slander

There was a time when newspapers never printed retractions.    This was for one of two reasons:   One, the owners had definite political leanings and to admit even the slightest error (even when yellow journalism had been engaged in) would be tantamount to admitting the publisher's philosophy was wrong, eg. William Randolph Hearst.   Two, the reporters actually did fact checking through multiple sources to ensure there was no error -- even having in house lawyers do a double check, eg. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during Watergate (and even when they briefly fouled up on one attribution in their series of stories, they quickly found another reliable source that backed up the underlying point of that article).

When I briefly worked for a newspaper (not reporting, it was another department) we were taken to the actual newsroom and were introduced both to the cartoonist (who did a very good publishable caricature of Jean Chrétien in less than two minutes) as well as the counsel who told us the paper had recently had to settle with a disgruntled subject for a million and a half because of a missing comma that completely changed the meaning of the story.

So it was a bit satisfying to read today that Quebecor Media Inc. (aka the "Sun" newspapers) has issued an apology to George Soros the Hungarian-born and now American citizen currency speculator and liberal activist.   Soros became infamous when he successfully and single-handedly devalued the pound sterling in 1992 ensuring the UK would not enter the Euro for a very long time to come.

Back on September 5, Ezra Levant wrote a column about Soros that suggested that he survived being exterminated in the Holocaust by collaborating with the Nazis.   Not only inflammatory but outrageously false especially based on a cleverly re-edited interview that Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes did with Soros some years ago.   QMI claims they offered a written apology to Soros' lawyer as early as September 13th in an attempt to head off a lawsuit, but the negotiations have gone nowhere.

Unfortunately, a pre-emptive strike like this, and wiping the Suns and Mr. Levant's websites of the column is insufficient.   It was in print, and the damage has been done.    Soros deserves more than an apology.   He is entitled to every penny a libel suit might draw.

I don't like currency speculators (and personally support the idea of a "Tobin tax" -- having a service charge on currency transactions to deter deliberate manipulation of one currency against another; oddly Soros actually does support the idea in principle).    But no matter how low one's business morals may be, being besmirched as a "Nazi collaborator" when one wasn't is the worst insult of all.    When we are still hunting down the last surviving participants in the worst slaughter in human history, to be falsely called one of them is unspeakable.

No one, Jewish, Christian or "other" needs to be reminded of the command not to bear false witness against one's neighbour -- and neighbour does mean everyone as dozens of giants from Moses to Billy Graham have constantly pointed out.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stand for "Rand"

Since this is my birthday today, I'm going to keep it short and simple.    The other day, two analysts with the Fraser Institute opined in the National Post and suggested that Canada should drop the "Rand Formula" and adopt a "right to work" (READ:  Right to employ the way the employer wants) regime to regain our competitiveness, as 22 US States have done.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Much as I have a beef with unions, they're the reason why so many people -- unionized or not -- have fringe benefits and pay scales better than minimum.   We don't want a race to the bottom.   We need a race to the top.   Besides which, employees do have a choice already whether they want to join or not in most circumstances (those opting out pay an amount equivalent to dues but have the amount donated to charity) -- since everyone gets the benefits, then everyone should pay for them.   If you don't want the benefits, then you should be willing to work for a lower wage (and of course, the vast majority do not want to do this).

I support the Rand Formula (or agency shop, as it's properly called); however the major changes I would make are 1) Union certification votes must be done by written secret ballot, even where a majority have already signed union cards, to give people a second chance to think it over; 2) Since all people pay the dues or the like they should have a say in the contracts, also by written secret ballot; and 3) No more closed shops (you must join whether you like it or not, for obvious reasons some may not want to join).

There need not be a conflict between labour and employer.   If both have a reason to work together then there will be every reason to be more competitive.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Spadina E-way resurrected?

One would have thought the Spadina Expressway died when Bill Davis canned the project all the way back in 1971.   But it's not like the dream has died, after all the exit numbers on the 400 (based on kilometre posts) are numbered such in anticipation of the day when such were to happen (the highway runs from the north end of Toronto up to Parry Sound, and eventually it will to Sudbury as the old #69 is twinned.

But now a Toronto councillor has resurrected the idea.   Well sort of, just a few kilometres east:   Mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi says, just extend and bury Allen Road south of where it ends at Eglinton and run it more or less parallel to the Spadina Subway to Bloor then under the streetcar tracks down to Harbord.

I've heard of insane ideas, but this is just Looney Tunes.   Remember the chaos a number of years back when two subway trains crashed near Casa Loma?    Now imagine a car crash a hundred metres below ground.

Toronto needs more public transit ... it doesn't need more highways.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

9/12: Koran burning postponed but echoes continue

I suppose we should be thankful that the Koran burning planned for yesterday didn't happen ... yet.    Oddly, the mere announcement that the idiot pastor was just thinking about it at all in the first place got precisely the opposite reaction he hoped for -- the vast majority of Americans, including Jews and Christians, said, "No, not in our country."

But attacks against Christians who wanted no part of this hate are themselves the victims of hatred this weekend, in Indonesia for example.   An argument can be made that Terry Jones should face prosecution for inciting politically motivated violence outside the United States.   American courts don't take that lightly -- they were pretty tough on those who aided and abetted apartheid in the late 1980s.

Maybe it would have been just better if we had ignored the guy all together.   This was entirely about getting attention just like Fred Phelps' anti-gay hate group in Topeka, Kansas.   If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it ... well, since it hits the ground and the ground vibrates it does makes the sound, but if no one hears the sound then it's out of sight and mind.

We aren't born hating, we acquire it.   If the haters have no audience then they will only speak to themselves.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Memo to Koran-burning "pastor"

Hey, "Pastor" Terry Jones.   Wanna burn some Korans, eh?

Then you'd also better burn a book that describes in pretty graphic detail brutal rapes, as well as erotic poetry to make some romance writers squirm.  A book where God makes a bet with Satan.   A book where a guy whacks a giant, marries the daughter of the high priest, then commits adultery with not just one but seven women all in the royal court.  A book where an entire generation of first-born were slaughtered with God's permission yet to this day we must not question why they were murdered even though some if not most of their parents had nothing to do or wanted nothing to do with their king's rule.   Finally, even though the eventual hero of the saga tells his posse to abandon their wives and children, most don't -- in fact his immediate successor raises his mother-in-law from death.

The Holy Bible.  PASTOR.   BURN THAT, TOO!!!!   You fucking hypocrite.

Oh and for what it's worth ... Shana Tov and Eid Mubarak.   If you don't know what they mean, run it on a search engine.   You certainly know how to post on YouTube.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BREAKING: Tom Clark quits CTV

After four decades with Canada's largest private network, Clark suddenly quit today, according to The Hollywood Reporter.   The network confirmed this in a "terse" statement.   Apparently Clark was miffed that he was passed over the anchor job he had been groomed for years, for former Kitchener anchor Lisa LaFlamme.

Just yesterday, THR (the main rival to Variety) and with an assist from the Canadian Press noted that Harper had a secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes back in March 2009 to discuss -- well, we don't know.  But the meeting did take place.  Also there -- Mr. Keneycke.

Hmm ... Peter Mansbridge has been the anchor at Mother for 22 years.   Could the CBC be using the chance to get rid of him and bring in someone with "gravitas" to bring its ratings back up?   Or maybe he's going to go to Fox News North.

As for the meeting ... could Fox be asking for "must carry" carriage n Canada for its US network the same as for CNN-US?   Just as a fallback, in case SunTV fails in its bid?   (Remember that Fox News originally applied for extended basic availability back around 2003 in a joint application with Global -- it got turned down; Global then withdrew and Fox reapplied on its own to be a digital channel which got clearance without a fuss.)

Stay tuned.

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It's Gillard, just

After more than two weeks, the stalemate in Australia is finally over with Julia Gillard getting three of the five indies plus the one Green to her side.   Her challenger, Tony Abbott, got only the other two "crossbenchers."

So Gillard wins, but just barely, 76-74.   As usual it was money that did it -- she promised a roughly AUD 10 billion (CAD 9.5 billion) increase in transfer payments for health, education and the all-encompassing "infrastructure."   (Sound familiar, fellow Canadians?)   Mind you, Oz can afford to do it -- with a mass sale of assets during the 1990s the country has a debt load per capita about less than a quarter of ours, less than a tenth of the States.  But while I am glad she won, I don't like the idea of bribes no matter how constituted.

With such a narrow margin, and with the usual attrition that occurs during any parliamentary term (death, illness, resignation -- any of which triggers a by-election), I give Ms Gillard 18 months before she calls another poll (Parliaments Down Under are usually three years) or she herself is ousted in a party coup.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Happy Labour Day

Off until Tuesday.   To all my readers in Canada and the US, Happy Labour Day ... for many of us this is the start of our "real" year so let's hope it's a good one.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Isn't it time we got this coward out of Canada?

With all the talk about refugees as of late, and how many on both the right and the left are trying to make this a political issue and about shaping the kind of country we ought to be and the people we ought to admit, there is one example of a very well known terrorist who has been making a joke out of our refugee appeals process for over twenty years:   Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammed.

Even though we know for a fact he hijacked an El-Al plane in Greece, an incident that led to the death of an Israeli mechanic and got a lengthy sentence (commuted due to a prisoner swap / blackmail), he roamed between several Arab countries and eventually managed to get into Canada in 1987.   When it became obvious who he was -- it was shown that he did not disclose his affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he was ordered deported.  In 1988.   He's still here.

He has used the standard canard that he was not a terrorist but a "freedom fighter" (like the Provisional IRA) and that he was fighting his enemy, Israel, "the enemy of his people."  [his words, not mine]   He also says that if he was sent back to the last country where he apparently came from, Lebanon, he would face almost certain death in a refugee camp -- and in any case, he has been an idea citizen, his daughters have established roots here and it would be a violation of his human rights to be deprived of citizenship due to an "oversight."

Frankly, I do not consider omitting a previous criminal conviction, especially a terrorist act (even if one was pardoned for it) to be an oversight.   Further, the PFLP is a listed terrorist group by Canada, the US and the EU.   It also backed away just a few months ago from endorsing a "two state solution" and has now gone to a "one state solution" which of course would mean the end of Israel as we know it.

While we grant asylum to people who have been convicted of crimes that would never be considered crimes here (such as advocating for a free press or proselytizing) there should be a no brainer on this one:    MMIM is a menace to society.    It doesn't matter he has a family here.    We have a hard enough time hunting down terrorists and organized crime figures who were born here.    We should not be sending a message that we welcome terrorists from foreign shores.

How many "pre-removal risk assessments" do we have to do to figure out the obvious?   The last time I checked, a potential refugee is entitled to go through a Singh process once from application to final appeal once, not five or six times.  MMIM has made a mockery out of habeas corpus -- the evidence against him is overwhelming and proven.   Kick the bum out, now.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Diesel tanker runs aground north of 60, 9 million litres may spill

What a surprise.   And keep in mind, this is a supply ship that's run aground in the Northwest Passage -- these are the very ships that keep communities in the High Arctic alive.

Just a week or so ago it was a cruise ship, and it entered our waters undetected.   How is this possible?

Imagine when terrorists figure out how to get through and southward, undetected.  Or they spill toxic materials into the Beaufort Sea, also undetected.   "Use it or lose it," eh?   Then maybe we should bite the bullet, purchase and re-flag some used Coast Guard vessels from other countries who no longer need them, and actually start defending the entrances to the Passage until we get the Canadian-built ships ready -- and make naval inspections at sea for all ships who want to enter for their seaworthiness, mandatory and at the expense of those who enter.   Just like canals charge tolls for everyone from recreational boaters to aircraft carriers.

Annual visits up North by Harper, or military exercises for the media, just isn't enough.

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Somalia -- lost opportunity

Sometimes it's not the friends you keep, but your enemies.   This week's column by public security analyst Gwynne Dyer discusses the situation in Somalia and how the US and its allies missed an opportunity to reconcile with one significant branch of Islam.   Somehow, the long warring tribes in Southern Somalia managed to get along under the rule of law and there was however briefly economic prosperity.   Perhaps even a hope of reuniting with the northern part of the country, the rather prosperous Somaliland (which operates as a de facto country but is almost totally unrecognized, not even the token recognition most countries give to Taiwan despite the "One China" policy that is generally respected.

What happened?   NATO and other countries with "interests" in the Horn of Africa got cold feet over the idea over the very concept of "Islamic courts" even if this was a rare case where they actually worked   Oh, and "The West" wanted to appease Ethiopia which sees Somalia as a strategic threat to its security and its leading role in the Northeast of Africa.

Somalia is therefore right back where it started.   The South is at war again, the African Union peacekeepers have no peace to keep (sound familiar, say Kandahar City?) and the North remains an unrecognized entity.

I don't always agree with the writer, but most of the time Dyer's right on the money, just as he was earlier this year with the real reasons the UK decided to protect a huge area of the Indian Ocean it owns for "environmental" reasons -- it was really to kiss ass with the US Air Force, which wants to keep its air base at Diego Garcia.

Nice going, Bush, Harper and the rest of the scumbags.    To favour one country over another in the name of the so-called "war on terror", you also gave a victory to the televangelists and in turn made the misery of millions even worse.

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