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Jody Wilson-Raybould for prime minister of Canada!

Jody Wilson-Raybould,

Jody Wilson-Raybould

I sent the following email to Jody Wilson-Raybould on Wednesday after her testimony to the justice committee:

Subject: Commendation on your testimony
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2019 22:16:58 -0800

Dear Mrs. Wilson-Raybould:

For the first time in my life, today I watched live proceedings from Parliament. I thought I’d switch off after your opening statement and get on with my day, but six hours later I was still riveted to the CBC video feed and then TV news broadcasts.

In the forty years since I came to Canada at the age of twelve I have never been so impressed at the integrity shown by a politician as I was today. Well done. And except for the repetitiveness of the lines of questioning, I was mostly (but not completely) impressed with the civility of the discourse and our parliamentary system.

When will Canadians have the opportunity to vote for a party with you at the helm? And where can I get my “JWR for PM” bumper sticker?

Craig

It’s ironic that Mr. Feminist himself doesn’t realise that “no means no“. The “grinning legatee” clearly has something to hide, even judging only by his own behaviour. I’m not a fan of the Conservative party, and Andrew Scheer in particular, but I do agree with his call for Trudeau’s resignation. Never thought he’d be a one-term wonder, but I’m hopeful now. Hypocrisy and arrogance are vile.

Charlie Hebdo se souvenait

"Charia Hebdo" cover defaced with a "Keep Calm and Carry On" pencil.

Charia Hebdo: Keep Calm and Carry On

It’s one year on (from 7 January 2015), and I’m remembering the attack on the offices of, and the cold-blooded murder of members of the staff at, Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Also of note is the concurrent murder of the protection officers that were detailed to protect certain Charlie Hebdo staff members after a previous terror attack in 2011 and two bystanders, as well as others who were murdered — another police officer and shoppers at a grocery store in Porte de Vincennes (a suburb of Paris) — in associated attacks in the days following.

I read somewhere recently that Charlie Hebdo was on the verge of closing down when the attacks happened, and that they have experienced a renaissance since. Perhaps that is the point behind their rather graphic tank cartoon, of which I heartily approve. If you believe in a higher power — Allah, God, whatever — I would call the recovery divine intervention. Take note: Your god does not approve of you killing people, certainly not in his name, and he’s not so fucking vain and insecure as to have issues with being drawn.

Vive la presse libre!

Dylann Roof is NOT a Rhodesian!

Screenshot of RhoMail.com from 22 June 2015

Screenshot of RhoMail.com from 22 June 2015

This is a re-post of a statement I published on the RhoMail.com website on 22 June 2015.

This idiot — Dylann Roof — is NOT A RHODESIAN!

He is an American extremist zealot, through and through.

Being 21-years-old, he was born fifteen years after Rhodesia ceased to be a country, and by his own admission in the manifesto attributed to him he is the product of the results of a Google search. He has as much right to wear a Google logo and attribute his murderous thoughts to Google as he does to attribute them to Rhodesia — a country in which he never lived, let alone visited, and which had nothing to do with his warped views and alleged actions. He should be wearing a swastika (itself appropriated from more benign origins), not a Rhodesian flag; in fact, one appears on his supposed home page. Southern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesians (as it and they were at the time) fought against the Nazis and their odious ideology.

By his co-opting the Rhodesian flag he has besmirched a proud people, most of whom would NOT — despite the recent words of misinformed revisionists of history — have any truck with him. The Rhodesian flag was proudly worn by more black soldiers than white in the battle against Communist-backed terrorists in Rhodesia’s civil war.

Dylann Roof is not the so-called last Rhodesian, as he calls himself (there are still plenty of authentic Rhodesians alive and well); he is an American who has (allegedly) perpetrated the uniquely American crime of mass murder in peacetime. He is the product of the United States of America in the 21st century, and has nothing to do with 20th century southern Africa.

Please do not associate him with Rhodesia, nor Rhodesians with him.

We offer our condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed in Charleston, and wish those injured a speedy and full recovery.

I am a supporter of terrorists and other nasty people

I’m a little behind the eight ball, as this is now “old news”, but this week I donated money to Greenpeace Canada for the first time in my life. Why? Well, I’ll explain it this way: When you donate to Greenpeace online they have a field on the donation form that asks why you’re motivated to donate to them. This is what I filled in: “Stephen Harper says you’re terrorists” (not to mention funded by foreign money).

Way to go Stevie. Nothing like using hyperbole to convince people to support those not on your side of what should be a reasoned debate. Maybe you should take a lesson from … uh, yourself.

In other vilify-your-opponent news, there’s your friendly neighbourhood defender against the bogeyman, Vic Toews, Canadian Minister of Public Safety. Didn’t he learn anything from George Bush’s “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” gaffe? (Read or watch George; read or watch Vic.) Really, any thinking person on either side of any argument rejects this kind of useless rhetoric, and some courageous people (like Margaret Wente) have the guts to come right out and say it.

Mr. Toews also took to the pages of the Asian Pacific Post in a full-page editorial that may have been preaching to a choir that probably thinks Canada is too soft on crime anyway, given the regimes in place where many of the readers of that publication originate. (Incidentally, the online version appears to be a slightly reduced version of the printed one.) He also makes the disingenuous comparison of private data (what he calls “basic subscription data”) to “the modern equivalent of phonebook [sic] information”. Mr. Toews, I can’t help but wonder if your personal home phone number is listed in your local telephone directory. Is it? Oh, it’s unlisted? You mean, you want it to be private?! What a radical concept!

A much more reasoned response to Toews’ rhetoric comes in the form of an editorial by John Ibbitson (‘With us or with the child pornographers’ doesn’t cut it, Mr. Toews). He writes:

Privacy commissioners in Ottawa and the provinces will not like being called such vile names. … There are powerful arguments on both sides. None of us want to handicap police in their efforts to track those who would defraud us, harm children or plot acts of terror. But we must also be wary of granting the state new powers that could restrict the sovereignty of citizens. … should the state be allowed to have new powers to know who we are on the web — in effect, to register our online identities — without a judicial warrant or even our knowledge or consent?

But Yoni Goldstein also makes half a point in his editorial (or is it a satire piece?) Stop Pretending to Care About Privacy. He contends that the general public is hypocritical and has already given up any notion of privacy in”tweeting” and “facebooking” the minutiae of their lives, and using Gmail. (Actually, I’ll give him two-thirds of a point, as he also validly points out the hypocrisy of people who wail about their privacy being violated, all while keeping rags like the National Enquirer and websites like TMZ in business so that they can see the nipples and dead bodies of celebrities.) However, he conveniently doesn’t mention things like monitoring private communications like email, instant messaging, voice and video.

Sometimes it takes a cartoon to really get the point across, and so I present these two. The first refers to Bill C-51 (the Investigative Powers for the 21st Century (IP21C) Act, also here), a predecessor to the current Bill C-30 (previously known by its short title Lawful Access Act, tendentiously renamed to Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act to make sure that opponents of the bill are aware that they are supporters of child pornographers), and plays on the well-worn (but completely bogus) argument that if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. The second is clever and speaks for itself.

The innocent have nothing to fear.

The innocent have nothing to fear.

Toews must be an online predator.

Toews must be an online predator.


Update, 15 March 2012: This post was getting long enough, so I had to cut it off somewhere. However, if your impression of “Anonymous” is that they are a bunch of rogue geeks/nerds that are kinda mostly harmless, but they could get out of hand and bring down civilisation as we know it at any moment, you need to read How I learned to stop worrying and love Anonymous.

And probably the most succinct summary I’ve read about why Bill C-30 is bad comes from Ivor Tossell, who writes (in Toews’s ‘child pornographers’ gaffe aside, Bill C-30 has real dangers):

Contrary to what you might have heard, the new bill, C-30, doesn’t invite police to monitor your every online move without a warrant. It does, however, require Internet companies — loosely defined — to cough up your name, Internet protocol address and a few other identifiers if the police ask for them, even without a warrant. This means that the police could conceivably collect a pseudonym you’ve been using to comment on websites, present it to the relevant company, and say, “Who is this person?”

By trading pseudonyms for IP addresses, then IP addresses for real names and addresses, and repeating the process, police could get a pretty clear picture of what you’ve been up to online.

So yeah, without a warrant the cops can “only” get “the modern equivalent of phonebook information”, but to extend that analogy, they can then follow you from your home to see where you work and with whom you socialise, they can peek in your windows to see your taste in the art hanging on your walls (and which one your safe is hiding behind), they can rifle through your garbage and the mail in your mail box, and on the list goes, and all without a warrant just because they managed to obtain your “phonebook information”. In the online world — again, all without a warrant — they can now see that you gripe about (or are blowing the whistle on) your employer, they can see that you have a personal advert on that dating site that caters to cheating spouses, they can see that you regularly bid on and buy old Barbie dolls on eBay (you big tough biker guy you), and so on. This is all personal information that is ripe for abuse in the wrong hands, and that includes the hands of the police.

Now maybe you and I “have nothing to fear” (see cartoon above) or even be just a little bit embarrassed about, but these things violate your privacy, plain and simple, and we should all fear that.

RCMP hypocrisy: The video lies, the video tells the truth

The gall! The unmitigated gall!

As anyone who paid the slightest bit of attention to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police killing of Robert Dziekanski knows, the RCMP did their level best to (first of all) hide the video evidence, and then completely discredit it. Despite the fact that any private citizen (i.e., non-cop) caught on video breaking the law would get a one-way “do not stop, do not collect $200, do not pass go” ticket to jail, no expense or red herring was spared by the RCMP in trying to sell to the public the snake oil that the video didn’t tell the real story, and that Mr. Dziekanski really was a great and credible threat to four burly cops as he brandished his weapon of mass destruction: the infamous stapler. The video, they claimed, was less than useless. (This in addition to all of the lies about Dziekanski and the incident itself [not to mention the post-mortem collusion] that they spewed to the media and the Braidwood Inquiry.)

Yet this week, after the editor of the Osoyoos Times related an incident during which he felt he was humiliated (Google cache, local cache) in a guilty-until-proven-innocent road side stop by RCMP Corporal Ryan McLeod, the Officer in Charge BC RCMP Communications (Superintendent Ray Bernoties), gleefully offered video evidence (local cache, now that the RCMP have apparently deleted this press release) which he essentially claims makes a slam dunk case that refutes the claims of editor Keith Lacey. He even smugly adds, “This is the type of transparency British Columbians expect from the RCMP.”

The hypocrisy! The sheer, bald-faced, fucking hypocrisy of the murdering RCMP!

You might almost think the guy was trying to make a sarcastic joke, or the press release was written by Monty Python, if it wasn’t so serious. Yes, Supt. Bernoties, we do expect transparency from the RCMP; one day I hope we’ll see some.

The hypocrisy continues: “This police officer, who you so freely defame using your position …”. Excuse me while I splutter my morning coffee all over my computer screen! The record shows that the RCMP themselves used their position and access to the media to “freely defame” Robert Dziekanski before the video evidence and the testimony of bystanders came to light, and is a textbook example of why we can’t take as gospel what police officers say in support of a charge. (Being a grammar nazi I can’t help but point out that this cop — the top cop for “communications” in BC — doesn’t even seem to know when to use the word “whom” instead of “who”, and later also uses the word “slander” when he should refer to “libel” — a double blow for someone who is supposed to be proficient in both communications and the law. Actually, the whole “letter” reads as if it was written by an eight-year-old getting a D in English class.)

The hypocrisy concludes thusly: “If there was one positive to your negative article, it was a reminder to me of the many baseless and malicious allegations our members must constantly face while carrying out their duties. Fortunately, in this case, the video removes any doubt that the police officer’s actions were professional and respectful.”

Wow. Poor baby. “[B]aseless and malicious allegations” my foot. Before the outrage set in, I was just left dumbfounded.

Keith, you are wrong about one thing in your editorial. You state, “This is a free country, not a police state.” Sorry, but clearly you haven’t noticed that this is no longer true, especially the moment you drive a car onto a public road.

 


 

Updated, 14 August 2015: Linked to local cache of RCMP press release, seeing as it has either been deleted from their website or moved.

Invincible and invisible cyclists

Cyclist dressed in black. Photograph by Mark van Manen, PNG.

Cyclist dressed in black. (Mark van Manen, PNG.)

The front page story in The Vancouver Sun on 29 November was Cycling’s most dangerous intersections: 10 places cars are most likely to hit bicycles in Vancouver. Illustrating that story was one of the pictures you see here. (For some strange reason, the Sun has two identical versions of the story [here and here] on its website, but with different pictures.)

Now, I realise that the photographs were no doubt posed, but they beautifully — and ironically — illustrate exactly why so many cyclists (and pedestrians) are getting mowed down on Vancouver streets. Note the following:

  • The cyclist is dressed entirely in black, and
  • The picture is taken at night.
Cyclist dressed in black. Photograph by Mark van Manen, PNG.

Cyclist dressed in black. (Mark van Manen, PNG.)

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been driving in Vancouver on a rainy night — which, as you will know if you live in this part of the world, account for about 300 of 365 nights — and a cyclist or pedestrian has almost literally appeared “out of nowhere” and narrowly avoided becoming one with my car. You can point the finger of blame at me if you want, accusing me of not paying attention. But really, even if there was no car traffic on the roads (besides me) and so I didn’t have to be swivelling my head this way and that to look out for them (especially at intersections, which is what the Sun story is about), I’d be hard-pressed to see a damn nearly invisible person (and bike) until my headlights are reflected in the whites of his or her widening eyes. Besides, if I’m doing such a poor job of paying attention, how come I don’t have these close calls during the day in good weather?

Add to that cyclists and pedestrians who think they are somehow exempt from both the laws of the road and of physics — or have a death wish — and you have a recipe for disaster. The onus is on everyone on the roads to do their part to keep them safe, but jeez, if you’re the one likely to be on the losing end of a collision, don’t you think you should invest a little more effort and thought in keeping yourself alive before you even walk out the door?

(Copyright note: These photographs are the copyright of, presumably, Mark van Manen of the Pacific News Group [PNG]. They are used here without permission, but I assert that their use here is in line with the concept of “fair dealing” under Canadian copyright law, in that this article is a criticism of the content of the works themselves and the news story to which they are attached rather than simply being a reposting of a news article. To the best of my knowledge, non-copyrighted versions of these photographs are not available. In any case, these are the pictures the public has seen, so my creating my own similar pictures would negate the nexus of this article.)