October 2nd to 8th is Canadian Mental Health Awareness Week. It doesn't seem to be making much of an impact though. Calgarians are more worried about the fact that some bike lanes on a busy thoroughfare to downtown are making them late for work. Typical, self-absorbed middle class suburbanites, ignoring the fact that people who slip through the cracks ultimately end up being jailed or living on the street. Do these people not have children of their own? What would happen if mental health issues affected someone they knew? I think they'd stop worrying about finding a different route into downtown, and start worrying about the fact that the province of Alberta provides absolutely no funding outside of acute care. By that time, it is too late.
Alison Redford won a surprise victory in Alberta's leadership race. She is now the first female premier of Alberta. Her platform is quite moderate, and includes overhauling the Tory caucus, increasing education and social services spending, and working to keep quality health care available to all Albertans. Redford has shown true grit, dealing with the death of her mother during the campaign. I wish her the best of luck in her new leadership role, and hope that she succeeds in changing the Tory "old-boys club" image.
Canada ratified ACTA this weekend. The majority Tory government will pass Bill C-32 soon as well, and Canada will have a DMCA-like law. All that remains is to see if C-32 is constitutional. Law professors such as Michael Geist have put forth arguments that granting a device a right that the device's owner does not have is not constitutional. However, someone is going to have to get arrested under the new law before the Supreme Court will hear any such challenge. Others have put forth arguments about the expense and difficulty of enforcement. I can only hope that the new law is enforced in a reasonable manner -- it is written in such a way that abuses that have been seen in the US are possible here as well.
The CBS fall lineup is in full swing, beginning last night with the season premiere of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Once again, CBS is resorting to dirty tactics to ensure that they maintain absolute distribution control (bwhahahaha). Never mind that Netflix was popular and a good platform to make some money. I guess we all now rely on forward thinkers like EZTV and Icefilms to provide what the commercial services will not. Netflix and all of the television studios can rot in hell. I'm willing to pay for my television like anyone else, but these huge outfits with tons of money would rather spend it forcing people to use their distribution channels instead of providing what people want and increasing their market share. FUCK THE MAFIAA.
The Conservative party is proposing legislation to increase government Internet surveillance in Canada. This legislation has been rolled up with a number of other crime bills that failed during Harper's minority government, including providing funds to build new jails. Specifically, the surveillance would no longer require a warrant, and all Internet providers would be forced to identify the owner of an IP address or device on its network simply for the asking. It would also require all network providers to allow for real time surveillance of all users of an ISP's service. In addition to probably passing the costs of these ridiculous measures onto the consumer, this legislation fails on many counts.
First, the network surveillance components have not even been discussed in Parliament yet. Stephen Harper clearly wants to pass this legislation without anybody finding out. Second, this legislation is unconsitutional, denying people their right to due diligence. If the courts do not review requests for surveillance, then we are trusting increasingly corrupt Canadian police forces to have sound judgement in when to invoke their right to "lawful access". Finally, the proposed legislation is ineffective. It is based on fearmongering rather than improved ability to track down anonymous cyber-criminals who are skilled at hiding their tracks and utilizing the network resources of others.
Harper's majority government represents the beginning of the end of civil freedom in Canada. This crime bill is only the tip of the iceberg.
1999 is calling. They want their "we don't need no steekin' security" Internet back. At what point do people realize that the people who manage large computer networks need to be competent? Let me put this in the simplest possible terms: it is a bad state of affairs when the bulk of technical ability and know-how is lost in the ether. Bad things happen, and huge numbers of people are affected. This "hire-a-scapegoat" IT industry crap has to stop. The real people to blame are the CxOs who pull down the huge salaries and lobby politicians to change laws to allow for more government snooping.
I didn't get the government I wanted. It looks like most people are willing to look past the ethical issues of Canadian conservatism. I am feeling old, tired and despondent. The next time they need a body for Tyburn, it might be mine.
Nearly a decade after "9/11", US troops located and killed Osama bin Laden last night, May 1st. US President Barack Obama said that this killing shows that America will get justice, no matter what the cost. Others say that this is a lesson to crazies out there that they won't get away with terrorism. At any rate, I don't think that anyone could argue that America has symbolically won the "War on Terror".
So let's add up the cost. American dollar now worth less than Canadian dollar. American debt nearly at its Congressional decided ceiling of US$14.3T. 50% of people make less than $8.83/hr. (and probably don't work full-time). And thousands upon thousands dead, the civilian casualties unknown.
To me, what this says is that America will seek revenge no matter the cost to its own people. Perhaps American people were willing to bear the cost. I don't know. All I know is that war is not the solution to any global problem. Nor torture or murder. If we truly wish to destroy Osama bin Laden, we must also be better than him or we will become monsters as we claim he was.
I hope that bin Laden's death brings peace to Americans, and sates their appetite for revenge. I also hope every American looks into his heart and asks himself if there was a better way, a way to be an example the world can be proud of. I have no doubt that killing bin Laden was a solution, but it is not an example I am in any hurry to follow.
Yesterday, the American government avoided a complete shutdown at the 11th hour by finding an additional $38B in spending cuts. Now Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is claiming that Stephen Harper's proposed budget is $11B short. It's becoming clear that there's a real budget crisis in North America. Perhaps it's time to stop profiteering and end all of this military action that we clearly can't afford.
TELUS announced today that they were resurrecting Clearnet to compete with low-priced rivals in BC and Alberta. Sounds like the Tech bubble is about to burst again. I'm glad I was nowhere near it this time...
OpenMedia.ca has become the commoner's lobbyist voice against the CRTC and Big Telecom. The latest CRTC directive, to impose some sort of usage based billing on all Canadian Internet customers through their wholesale pricing is nothing more than a monopolistic price gouge. Through our support of Stop the Meter, we have gained ground against the CRTC. They have backed off UBB in favour of a different model. However, we've not won yet. Elections in Alberta and Canada allow us to choose MPs and MLAs who will see the wisdom in the OpenMedia position, and ignore the wealthy media conglomerates lobbying for legal restrictions on our Internet usage. If you've not signed up for the newsletter, or made a donation, please visit Stop the Meter and make your contribution today.
The elephant in the room in the Calgary Land Use Planning division is the fact that nothing is secret any more. Developers and real estate agents (including the city's own agents) have access to engineering reviews that identify land which will be sold as part of a development agreement. Obviously, having this kind of foresight can make one very rich. But, there's an unexpected downside to this gravy train: the developers can do the same thing and force the free market to be the primary planning control, rather than the City's left-leaning "Growth Philosophy", which is a project that has been ongoing for nearly 5 years now. Clearly this was a case of red tape being cut. However, without a coherent growth management strategy, the City gives its planning control away to the developer. Instead of the government enforcing development rules, the developers tell the government what they want, and the government will bend the rules accordingly. Of course, some of that rule bending has become public knowledge, and will likely continue until someone with a brain decides that electronic records management is a real issue, and assigns someone with talent and a solid background to direct such a project. Until then, it seems it's open season on confidential City of Calgary documents.
The Harper government is now officially the first Canadian government to be found in contempt of parliament. Ignatieff is pushing his ethics and accountability platform very strongly. The Conservative election strategy seems to involve playing on the anti-American sentiments of late and attacking Ignatieff's American citizenship, and connection to Harvard University. They are also campaigning to bolster the economy, though most signs out here in Alberta are that the economy is already improving.
While I've probably been one of the more vocal anti-American voices, I realize that not all Americans are the same, and that democracy has been a real problem for the better part of a decade. Despite Ignatieff's citizenship, he shows that he is a competent leader, and he does stand for the cancellation of the F-35 contract. Ethics and accountability should be big issues for Canadians. If we continue to allow democracy to erode, then we are no better than those we condemn as terrorists.
Democracy has quietly vanished in Calgary, replaced by the covert organizations of a police state. calgaryherald.com, supposedly a social media site allowing comments on most articles, has gone into censorship overdrive. At least three articles I have commented on have disappeared into the morass, nothing left linking to them. Other articles are closed completely to commenting. Articles relating to the Calgary police, or law and order in general do not allow comments. Articles relating to foreign wars do not allow comments. I have already been put through one kangaroo court in an attempt to silence me. I half expect to be murdered every day until this foolish polarization between law and chaos ends. Who could look at the world today and claim that any lawful authority has jurisdiction? There is naught but chaos until a reasonable approach to order is presented. No more wars, censorship, terrorist blacklists, unlawful combat, etc. We cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war, and all our elected leaders do is prepare. In most cases, in direct opposition to the wishes of the people who put them there. I'm tired of being told what the news is supposed to be and how things are supposed to end. It's time for American business interests to stop meddling and give the average citizen their life back.
It has finally happened. The polarization between police and citizen has become so marked that a monster is going free. His name is James Louie, and today, a forensic psychologist declared that he meets the criteria for Not Criminially Responsible (more or less the same as an insanity plea in the US). This testimony will almost certainly move the jury to find Mr. Louie NCR, and he will not spend any time in jail as a result. His crimes are horrific, but preventable. This American-style justice that has pervaded Alberta is based upon persecution and unwarranted invasions of privacy, as well as misuse of process. Complaints to responsible parties go unanswered, save for the denial of any political interference. Here, at last, is the justice Alberta deserves. A monster goes free, 2 children are dead, and a woman is terrified for many years to come. It is time for the police to admit fault and take a different approach. Police Chief Rick Hanson has proposed "safe jails" where mental illness and addictions are considered before the tag "criminal" is applied and left with one for the rest of their life. It's high time the police started acting instead of talking. We do not want another Mr. Louie.