Monday, December 25, 2006
Merry Christmas... Peace on Earth...
"Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, and will be fuel for the fire. For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
--- (Isaiah 9:5, 6)
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Tony Blair: Fighting Crime in the 21st Century
In an exchange of remarkably candid opinion pieces with Harry Porter of The Observer, Blair advocates (among other measures) the removal from Britain of career criminals as being necessary to deal with the realities of modern criminal activity. This exchange of opinions is truly remarkable in its candidness. Well worth reading.
An excerpt from his first letter follows:
From: Tony Blair To: Henry Porter Subject: Liberty
Dear Henry Porter,
Frankly it's difficult to know where to start, given the mishmash of misunderstanding, gross exaggeration and things that are just plain wrong. A few explanatory facts might help.
You say I have 'pared down our liberty at an astonishing rate', then list a whole lot of fundamental rights, as if these had all been drastically curtailed. We are proposing that the right to trial by jury be changed in one set of circumstances: highly complex serious fraud cases. The reason is simple. The cases last for months, sometimes years - they are incredibly difficult for juries for time and complexity reasons; it is over 30 years since Lord Roskill recommended the change because otherwise such cases often collapse at huge expense and the guilty go free. The estimated number of cases per year is around 20, out of a total of 40,000 jury trials.
It's correct that, again in a small number of cases, we have introduced unusual restrictions to combat terrorists. There are 12 control orders in place. But we did suffer the death by terrorism of over 50 of our citizens last July. In common with virtually every major nation in the world, we are tightening our restrictions but there are, in every case, elaborate mechanisms of scrutiny and oversight.
Go and talk to people living on estates blighted by anti-social behaviour. Until the new laws allowed them to put restrictions on offenders, close down houses used for drug dealing, seize dealers' assets, disperse gangs of youths, fine vandals on the spot, the victims had nothing to protect them except the usual process of the criminal law, which was hopelessly inadequate. Recently I visited East Manchester and Camden, where, I am proud to say, Labour councillors had, with the police and local residents used the new laws to put some respect and decency back into their communities.
When we talk of civil liberties, what about theirs, the law-abiding people; the ones who treat others with courtesy and good manners and expect the same back? Don't theirs count for anything?
You can't deal with the levels of sophistication in today's organised crime by traditional methods. That's why we are giving the new agency new powers to force suspects to disclose information, to open up their accounts; to ensure that their advisers can't conceal evidence; and to track their movements not just in Britain but abroad. But look at what these people do. They traffic in human beings, often, as I heard for myself a few weeks back, young girls sold into prostitution; they deal in drugs, with levels of violence unimaginable in the past.
I am sorry to tell you: I want us to go further in all these areas. The alternative is that they, who do not play by our rules or any rules, get away with it.
Ultimately, for me this whole issue is not about whether we care about civil liberties, but how we care for them in the modern world. If the traditional processes were the answer to these crime and law and order problems ......, then we wouldn't be having this debate. But they're not. They've failed. They are leaving the innocent unprotected and the guilty unpunished. That's why we need them changed.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Who Do You Trust?
According to Time Magazine, Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the U.S. this week spotlights the world's "most important bilateral relationship".
So is China the largest trading partner of the US? Not yet. In a few years probably. But not yet. As the US government officially admits, trade between the United States and Canada makes it the greatest trade relationship in the world: "Canada is the United States' largest trading partner, conducting an estimated $1.5 billion in business daily".
According to George Bush, there's nothing much that can be done to help Canada with the softwood lumber dispute. According to George Bush, there's nothing that can be done to avoid the risks inherent in imposing visa requirements on everyone - neighbours, citizens and strangers alike - who cross the Canadian-US border in the future.
Are there any other Canadians who get the feeling that we're being taken for granted? Maybe we should just increase pipeline taxes to cover the softwood lumber shortfall instead of wasting our breath.
But no! Not Canada. No matter how badly we get screwed, we always play by the rules and insist on treating our ungrateful neighbour better than anyone else in the world.
The US might be well advised to keep the old saying in mind: Be careful what you wish for.... you may just get it.
Well, at least they should have plenty to talk about if they ever get beyond money and trade. Btw, George, Don't forget to ask him about organ harvesting, slave labour factories, democracy in Hong Kong, Freezing Point, internet censorship, religious freedom in Tibet, and all those other neat things that decent people are concerned about. George? George??.....
Friday, April 14, 2006
Memo to RCMP: How To Bust Grow-Ops Legally
Once again it would seem that criminals have more rights than they deserve. An Alberta judge has dismissed grow-op charges because the RCMP "... violated the constitutional rights of the accused..." when a device to measure electrical use was secretly attached to the power line. (This is a widely used method to identify grow-ops and consequently, the judge's well-intentioned decision casts doubt on the legality of similar police operations across Canada.)
How's this for a simple solution? One that won't take 5 years and require an appeal to the Supreme Court? (Or perhaps the learned judge would have the police phone ahead to make an appointment with the owners of the suspected grow op?)
1. When police suspect a building is being used for a grow op, 'somebody' makes a call to the electrical utility.
2. It is illegal to steal energy from the utilities. Therefore, the utility has every right to investigate in order to protect its own interest.
3. If the utility can confirm the theft of electricity (easy to do), then the utility files a complaint with the police to that effect.
4. THEN the police have reasonable grounds to get a search warrrant because there is no reasonable explanation (other than a grow-op) for significant undocumented energy consumption.
5. Then the judge will be happy and be willing to do his job. Problem solved.
While I share the judge's concern for constitutional law, it seems a shame that he has felt compelled to put yet another obstacle in the path of common-sense law enforcement, particularly when it relates to organized crime all too often located in residential neighbourhoods.
33,000,000 Sleepwalkers? (Canada Eh?)
'Fools, he calls them. Well-meaning, but utterly naive fools who one day could pay the price if they don't wake up to the frightening reality of terrorism's tentacles in the world we now live in, no western country safe, and certainly not Dreamland.
He leans across his kitchen table in his apartment. "Have you ever sat in a restaurant and talked about politics with people and criticized the Canadian government?" Yes, I tell him.
"Because you are free," he says. "There is nothing to be afraid of. Could you live in a society where if you did that, you would be killed? Under the Taliban, you would never, never do that. You can't trust anybody. Not even your friends. They might say yes, yes, you are right -- and then tell the Taliban and the next thing there is a knock at your door and you are taken away and killed."
Read this story. See why our soldiers are proud to be in Afganistan. See why all decent human beings should support them.
Wake-up call needed in Dreamland
If you still question why Canadian soldiers are in Afghanistan, then here's another reason to change your mind:
She was married at the age of four into a family where she was treated as a slave, beaten with electric cables, stoned, her limbs broken with an axe handle, starved, burned and doused with boiling water. Once she was used as a human table top. She says her father-in-law tortured her further by literally rubbing salt into her wounds, an experience so painful she says she asked God to let her die.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Thank God I'm Not A Country Boy
A recent study by the National Farmers Union found that agribusiness posted record profits in 2004 while farmers shouldered near-record losses.
The farmer's share of revenue from a $3.64 box of corn flakes currently amounts to less than seven cents, says the study.
It costs farmers eight cents to produce (a loaf of bread) and six cents is all they are currently getting back, according to the Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
Read complete story here.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Of the best rulers,
The people only know that they exist;
The next best they love and praise
The next they fear;
And the next they revile.
When they do not command the people’s faith,
Some will lose faith in them,
And then they resort to oaths!
But of the best when their task is accomplished,
Their work done,
The people all remark, “We have done it ourselves.”
6th century BC