Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Mid-Week Post

A lot happening...

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody have been found guilty of plotting to bomb the provincial legislature:

A British Columbia couple has been found guilty of conspiring to commit murder in a terror plot involving a foiled attempt to bomb the provincial legislature.

But the conviction was put on hold while defence lawyers argue that their clients were entrapped in an elaborate police sting operation that led to their arrest.

(Sidebar: there's always a rub, isn't there?)

Did these guys have a problem with Section 13?

Protesters at a rally against Bill C-51 were treated to an unexpected conversation about the legislation with an RCMP officer on watch over the weekend.

Video of the exchange surfaced on YouTube some time after the Saturday afternoon protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In it, the officer and a couple of protesters are seen discussing Bill C-51, the government’s controversial anti-terror legislation.

“People are really scared that they’re going to be taking the law to the worst possible limit. Is that going to happen? I’m not sure,” the officer, so far unnamed, says in the video.

"Whenever you’re attacking the Canadian economy you could be branded a terrorist, right?” the officer says a little bit later. “Which is not necessarily what’s going to happen, but it could happen.”

It’s unknown whether "they" was in reference to the Conservative government, the Department of Justice or law enforcement brass. And it's also unclear whether the officer was relaying his personal opinion about the bill or repeating interpretations and analysis from the media.

I think one can see where this comes from.

I could have told you that:

The October shootings in Ottawa are a "grim reminder that Canada is ill-prepared" to stop terrorist attacks, a long-awaited Ontario Provincial Police report concludes.

The report, one among several released Wednesday, says the RCMP's ability to protect Parliament Hill has been stretched by resource issues stemming from budget cuts imposed in 2012 by the Conservative government.

There were missed opportunities to stop Michael Zehaf Bibeau from entering the Centre Block on Oct. 22, RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud told a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa.

Those missed opportunities were a result of systemic problems, not human errors, Michaud said. "There is nobody from our perspective that is to blame for this."

Going against the UN would only improve the Tories in my eyes:

By voting against an NDP private member’s bill that sought to harmonize Canadian laws with the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, the government has gone against its own endorsement of the UN document, according to indigenous law and human rights experts.

The Canadian government endorsed the UN declaration in 2010 after what critics say was deliberate attempt to derail or weaken it. 

“[But] this Canadian strategy has continued to be implemented for the past 9 years,” said Paul Joffe, a lawyer and international human rights expert, at a panel discussion during the final days of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Monday. 

The endorsement, Joffe said, did not change the way the Canadian government dealt with or treated indigenous issues. 

Joffe referenced a recent bill tabled in the House of Commons by NDP MP and residential school survivor Romeo Saganash that would have forced the federal government to align its laws with the UN declaration. 

Conservative MPs voted against the bill, claiming it’s an impossible piece of legislation to support, “so they went against their own endorsement,” he said. 

(Sidebar: and why should a foreign body tell Canada what to do?)

Did the UN decry the savage murders of the indigenous Tutsis?

Obama signs a bill allegedly reforming the NSA surveillance program:

President Barack Obama signed into law on Tuesday legislation passed by Congress earlier in the day reforming a government surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans' telephone records.

Reversing security policy in place since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the bill ends a system exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The spy agency collected and searched records of phone calls looking for terrorism leads but was not allowed to listen to their content.

Passage of the USA Freedom Act, the result of an alliance between Senate Democrats and some of the chamber's most conservative Republicans, was a victory for Obama, a Democrat, and a setback for Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

After the Senate voted 67-32 on Tuesday to give final congressional approval to the bill, Obama used his Twitter account, @POTUS, to say he was glad it had passed. "I'll sign it as soon as I get it," the tweet said.

 Yes, about that:

Jameel Jaffer, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy legal director, called the bill “a testament to the significance of the Snowden disclosures” but said it’s just a start.

“The bill leaves many of the government’s most intrusive and overbroad surveillance powers untouched, and it makes only very modest adjustments to disclosure and transparency requirements,” he said.

Read more here:

You are still being watched.

What is stunning is that this tragedy pales in comparison to last year's sinking of the Sewol in South Korea in which three hundred and four people died:

Scores of divers continued their search for the missing passengers on board the Eastern Star on Wednesday, in what could be the China's worst shipping disaster in almost 70 years. Of the 458 people on the ship, 18 are confirmed dead and 14 people have been found alive.

It's not like China has great safety standards or anything.

Will FIFA strip Qatar of the World Cup?

Just days ago Sepp Blatter smiled triumphantly after a near landslide re-election for a fifth term as FIFA president and arrogantly declared himself, "president of everybody."

Indictments and extraditions meant nothing. Scandal and open criminal cases on two continents were mere distractions. The howls of the West, where the wealthiest soccer playing countries tried to band together to unseat him, were discarded.

Then Tuesday he up and quit, the 79-year-old running for the Swiss hills for some yet to be known reason … a gathering posse remaining the most likely, but yet unconfirmed choice.
"FIFA needs a profound restructuring," Blatter said Tuesday in Zurich, at a hastily scheduled news conference. ...

So now FIFA will reconvene and do what it should've done last week: find a new president who can bring at least some semblance of order to the organization. Among the favorites would be Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan, a 39-year-old who ran against Blatter on a platform of transparency and forced a second ballot last week before stepping down because he had so little chance of winning.

Would an Ali presidency put an end to every example of corruption and kickbacks? Of course not.
He, or whoever is elected, should at least try.

And the new president should start by focusing on the 2022 World Cup bid process and pulling the event from Qatar while there is still plenty of time. ...

Qatar never should've been awarded the event. Its 14-8 final vote victory over the United States was suspicious at the time and has grown only worse. It had no viable argument other than the World Cup had never been held in an Arab nation. There was a reason for that, however, and not just that summer temperatures that can climb to 130 degrees meant moving the event to November and December, screwing up tradition and messing with professional league seasons.

The real tragedy is an increasing number of deaths by migrant workers brought in from the world's poorest nations – Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma and so on – to build unnecessarily opulent stadiums, rail lines, hotels and even entire cities needed because Qatar had no infrastructure in place at the time of the bid.

Qatar operates under the kafala labor system that is essentially the closest thing to forced labor modern society tolerates. So let's not tolerate it anymore.

It works like this: A young, industrious, driven man from impossible depths of poverty sees no other way to help his family than to go to the small, wealthy nation of Qatar and work construction. He must sign up with a recruiting company that in turn demands a large sum that must be repaid like a loan.
The man gets to Qatar, has his passport taken and his wages docked until the loan is repaid, usually a few years. The small amount of money he makes is even smaller and what's left goes back home to help a little. It's terrible, but there are few good options for workers in those parts of the world.

While working in Qatar he can live in labor camps that western media (from the BBC and London newspapers to Jeremy Schapp at ESPN) have exposed as wretched. The work is long and stressful. It takes place under extreme heat and with few safety precautions.

The results are often fatal – illness, heart problems, sheer exhaustion killing some of these men. There are falls and accidents because labor laws are almost non-existent.

The Qatar government itself said about 1,000 kafala laborers perished during the first two years of construction following the awarding of the World Cup. That put Qatar on pace for 5,000 dead by the time the soccer begins. And that's Qatar's own estimation.

It should happen but it won't. China and Russia were awarded the Olympics. The West trades with Third World crapholes.

I'm afraid nothing will change any time soon.

Kim Jong-Un has replaced his veteran military officers with new defense chiefs:

Kim Jong Un is replacing North Korea's veteran military officers with defense chiefs closer to his age, reported Strategic Digest magazine Tuesday. The generational shift is the supreme leader's latest overhaul of the North Korean military amid reports that Kim, who is reportedly in his early 30s, has ordered the execution of various defense leaders. 

Kim maintains "an extensive and capable internal security apparatus" to remove anyone who challenges his power, Strategic Digest noted. Last month, Kim publicly executed the country's defense minister after the regime accused him of treason, according to reports from South Korea. Hyon Yong Chol, a longtime Kim family loyalist, was reportedly executed with an anti-aircraft gun in Pyongyang.

In all, some 70 top leaders and more than 400 lower-level officials have been executed this year under Kim's orders, the Cato Institute, a right-leaning U.S. think tank, reported. "This brutality towards the power elite sets Kim apart from his father and grandfather. While Kim Jong Un’s apparent penchant for executions may reflect a peculiarly sadistic nature, it more likely grows out of insecurity ... Although there is no sign of organized resistance to the latest Kim, continuing turnover suggests that Kim is not, or at least does not see himself, as yet secure," wrote Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute specializing in foreign policy and civil liberties.

 Three guesses what happened to the older guys.

And now, holidays for the merry month of June:

June 5: Donut Day

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