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Comment Re:This is basically how US elections work (Score 1) 214

In Canada it's a requirement to have ID to vote.

Nope. Federally, and in at least some (and possibly all) cases, provincially, you can be vouched for by another elector without yourself showing ID (and until this past election, federally, you didn't have to show ID unless challenged). (For Quebec, for example, see ss. 335.1, 335.2 and 337.)

And it's to stop flagrant voter fraud that runs amok like you have in the US now.

We didn't have flagrant voter fraud when we didn't require ID to vote federally (until 2011). There's also no evidence of flagrant voter fraud in the US.

Here's how it works here: At tax time you are given the option to give your personal information to elections canada via your taxes.

You are also welcome not to. You still retain the right to vote, and the government can get your info from other ways (including provincial election agencies, who get it from medicare and driver's licence data, among other sources). You can also register on election day, federally, and during the election before election day, at any level.

This information is passed to the provincial branch of elections canada.

More often than not, it's passed the other way. And there is no provincial branch of Elections Canada: Elections Canada is an independent body set up by (the federal) Parliament, while the provincial agencies are set up by the provinces. They are completely independent.

If you weren't of age at the time, you can be enrolled when the next election comes along(very rare but it happens).

Actually, this is incredibly common: most people get a card in the mail six months before they turn 18 telling them they will be automatically added to the permanent electoral list, regardless of whether they've ever filed taxes. In fact, I can't think of anyone who wasn't automatically added at 18.

When you show up at the polling station, you show government issued ID. Or two current bills(last 30 days), showing that you live in that district.

Or you get vouched for. If you don't have ID, you have to swear an oath that you are who you say you are and live where you say you do, and someone who lives near you (in your same polling subdivision) has to make the same oath, and they need to show proper ID. You also have to state your name and address out loud for the deputy returning officer, poll clerk and any candidate representatives to hear. That's it. It's faster if you have ID (and the bills don't even have to be within 30 days; the ID can even be expired, in some cases), but it's not required.

Everyone has ID of some form up here. There are also a few other things you can use.

That's generally true, because all citizens have medicare (and nearly everyone gets the card, though it's not a requirement, actually) (citizens who take up residence elsewhere lose their medicare benefits at some point, but they also eventually (usually) lose their right to vote, though the timeframes don't perfectly overlap). In the US, many people do not have medicare. Many do not have driver's licences. And many don't have other government IDs. And the governments often charge for them. This is nothing but a poll tax in another name, which is unconstitutional, but not every judge agrees with this. If you don't give free IDs to all citizens, you shouldn't require them to be able to vote.

Once that happens, your name is stricken from the voter register and the ballot is used up.

Yup, which is how it works in the US too.

No wonder voting in the US is a mess.

Voting in the US is an utter mess; there are countless slashdot articles about this. Voting ID is a miniscule part of this problem.

Hey, someone earlier up wanted a source on that 3 million dead? Here, well it's 1.8 million, give or take a bit. Though it might be more, with 24 million more listed as inaccurate, and several million more registered illegally. Including non-americans.

The claim was that 3 million dead people "vote". That is not what it says at all. In fact, when people proposing voter ID laws are asked if they know of any cases of voter fraud, they often have trouble even naming one. Making huge hurdles that disenfranchise millions for an imagined problem that has a handful of occurrences, if even, does not seem like reasonable public policy.

Voter ID works. GET IT.

Doesn't seem to. Give it for free. Fix the system. Then I'm more than happy to support voter ID.

Comment Media conglomerates collude with each other (Score 1) 244

Though Canadians will easily recognize the conflict of interest, the service providers (cable/satellite) are also more or less the media providers (TV channels). For example, Bell Media owns many of the TV channels in the country, while Bell TV is one of two satellite providers; both are owned by BCE (aka Bell Canada).

"Undoubtedly, a market shake-out, causing many specialty services to exit, would ensue." Great quote; sounds like the satellite company is trying to help save those struggling TV channels. Except that the satellite company('s parent company) owns those TV channels!

This is just a huge money-printing machine:

1. Secure rights to TV programs already produced, conditional on CRTC approval
2. Ask the CRTC for approval to start a new channel with your "new" programming
3. Once you get approval, put the channel on your cable/satellite service
4. Heavily advertise new channel on all your other channels (at cost)
5. Bundle your channel with a whole bunch of other crappy channels and one good channel, making sure you can't get the one good channel without the other crap (often good to bundle another company's channels so they'll bundle yours)
6. Profit!

There's no ... step here.

One idea (that would never fly) would be that only networks that air a high percentage of original programs (not talking about "Canadian content", though I'm sure it'd get mixed in there) can be bundled together; if you're rebroadcasting another network's shows either on first airing or as repeats, you have to let your channel sink or swim in the free market. If you're actually benefiting society by producing a lot of new content I'd be willing to pay a small amount for that even if I have no interest in watching it, but if you're just a rebroadcasting money machine you can get off my lawn.

Comment Re:Unwarranted search and seizure (Score 1) 396

The Canadian Charter only applies to governmental action. (The Quebec Charter does apply to private action.) Further, a search is involuntary on the person being searched; asking for information is voluntary.

However, PIPEDA may be relevant (it's for private action; the Privacy Act is for government action); among other great things, it says an organization can't force you to disclose information that's not necessary for the completion of a transaction. (So, for example, there is no reason any company requires your SIN, postal code or phone number to sell you anything that's not being delivered, though to prevent fraud they may be allowed to revoke their return policy if you don't give at least some personal information (the SIN is also covered by a separate law, and should only ever be given out to anyone giving you income, namely employers, financial services companies and certain branches of the government, so you can demand not to give that but something else).) However, this may not apply to employment, so I would check employment law, which is provincial jurisdiction in most cases and so varies by province.

Comment Re:Rebel propaganda exposed! (Score 1) 458

Okay, I was rushing to work when I mischaracterized Leia as the leader; she was a leader, and a top diplomatic contact in the Senate. If Pelosi screws up Obama won't take all the blame, but you can be sure the Dems will. So that's point 1.

But the topic of rushing is apropos. When Han jumped to light speed it wasn't any normal jump: it was rushed. They were under attack and had to high-tail it. Maybe a small mistake was made in haste, and their calculations were off by an AU or two (or 12 parsecs). Shit happens (especially to someone so nervous around the first sight of an imperial cruiser that he'd drop his smuggling shipments) (point 4). I'm not saying they intentionally destroyed Alderaan (though that "accident" would certainly help their cause if framed the right way); I'm saying they took advantage of the situation that presented themselves. That doesn't mean they broadcast it across the galaxy, or that they even could (if they had been able to spread the propaganda, the Empire would have been defeated much earlier) (point 5); it just means that when Leia met up with them they formed this plan (What do you think all that money for Han was for? Duh, to keep his silence! (Though obviously, for the sake of his reputation, he was happy to go along with the ruse.) So it's not that anyone on the Falcon was part of the Rebellion when Alderaan was destroyed; that happened later, thanks to some backroom deals. (Did you know all the history and files from that time period are either "sealed" or were "destroyed" after the attack on Hoth? Pretty convenient, don't you say?) So there's point 3.)

Then, lo and behold, this "top secret" "Death Star" mysteriously "disappeared" (i.e. the Rebellion said it destroyed it; as if their story of one small fighter destroying a battle station was at all believable (the account reads like something out of Hollywood!)), meaning there was no one to deny the Rebellion's story. It's the perfect PR stunt: "Of course the Empire is denying it; they don't want people knowing their ultimate weapon was destroyed by a couple of proton torpedoes!" The outer planets would eat that shit up!

So, you see, this "First Death Star" didn't even exist; the Rebellion knew of the real first Death Star around Endor, but decided to invent another one to cover the blunder and drum up support for their cause. So point 2 is moot.

Look, I know it's all the rage today to be a Rebel apologist; who doesn't like siding with the eventual winner? But doesn't that story just seem a little convenient? Sure, there are evil elements in any group, but a conspiracy to rule the galaxy that's that widespread sounds too much like fiction. If you review the facts and search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Comment Rebel propaganda exposed! (Score 5, Funny) 458

Remember when the Millennium Falcon jumped out of hyperspace and Alderaan was gone? What we now know is that the dust on the leading edge of the ship is what actually destroyed the planet, arriving just before the ship, leaving it in the middle of an "asteroid field". However, this would have been mighty embarrassing for the Rebellion, so they made up this myth of destruction by the "Death Star" (which wasn't even operational yet!) as the killer. Who do we have to prove otherwise, Leia? She's from the planet that got destroyed and head of the Rebellion; of course she'd lie to protect it (remember, she'd never consciously give it up)! Let's stop the propaganda in its tracks!

Oh, and when Kenobi felt that disturbance in the force: it was a premonition of what they were about to do, but Mr. "I've seen a lot of crazy things" didn't believe in some "force"

Comment Re:Government Contract in Search of a Problem? (Score 1) 329

If you look at the dictionary from the Office québécois de la langue franÃaise you'll find that the "tuque" (n.f.) is a "Bonnet tricoté, souvent en laine, que l'on porte généralement pour se protéger du froid." whose English equivalent is "tuque" while the "toque" is a "Casquette hémisphérique que portent les jockeys et dont les couleurs correspondent à celles de leur écurie." whose English equivalent is "cap" (no internal links allowed).

Further, if you look at the the Commission de toponymie's website you'll see that tuque has 32 hits while toque has three. The Town of La Tuque's description sites its name dating back to the end of the 18th Century, with part of the following description reading: "Par ailleurs, l'explication du toponyme est fournie en 1823-1824 par l'explorateur FranÃois Verreault :  un Portage nommé Ushabatshuan (le courant trop fort pour le sauter). Les Voyageurs le nomment la Tuque, à cause d'une Montagne haute, dont le pic ressemble à une Tuque. Ce portage est d'une lieue, avec des fortes cÃtes à monter.  Le toponyme, également attribué à un bureau de poste ouvert en 1887, a donc pour point de départ l'existence dans le passé d'un énorme rocher dominant les chutes à l'endroit du Saint-Maurice oà la ville a été établie. La forme de cette masse de pierre rappelait le bonnet de laine en forme de cÃne naguÃre largement porté par les Québécois et dénommé ici tuque."

If that's not enough for you, you can always rely on Wikipedia.

(And yes, I'm not pretending this is cut and dry, as the Canadian Oxford English Dictionary lists the entry under "toque (also tuque)", but as much as I love the COED, I always spell it with two u's.)

P.S. Nice to know DNF did indeed beat Unicode support on Slashdot; will Hurd beat it? And no, I'm not changing all those accents; look at the links yourselves if you care to read a website that does other languages properly.

Comment Have to look at the alternatives (Score 5, Informative) 709

Yes, high speed rail is going to be expensive. Yes, it's now projected to cost much more than the original estimate. (The cost has largely increased due to delays (the longer it takes to build a project, the more it costs), particularly fuelled by NIMBY appeasement ("We don't want the train passing near our house!" "But it is much quieter than standard trains and will increase your property values by being near an HSR station." "Build a tunnel!" "Okay, we'll build a tunnel." "The costs on this project are ballooning!").)

But you have to compare the cost to the alternatives. California's freeways and airports are jammed. With increasing population and mobility, something to move people around will have to be built. And the estimated costs to add volume to airports and highways is estimated to be $100-billion as well.

And, to top it off, high speed rail runs on an operational profit. (This means that yearly revenues are higher than yearly costs.) Everywhere. Yes, high speed rail lines run an operational profit in Japan and France, Spain, Russia, Taiwan and car-loving-and-train-hating America. In Britain all rail is private, and for-profit companies are in fierce competition to pay for the rights to run rail services, which are barely at HSR levels if at all. It's a strongly held misconception that rail travel is unprofitable: HSR makes a profit all over the world, and it usually subsidizes local and regional rail transport (which the US has much of).

And though only the Tokyo-Osaka and Paris-Lyon line have paid off all their construction costs, that's because they're the oldest HSR lines; others are on track to in the future. Which modes of transportation don't pay off their construction costs? Oh, that's right, nearly all roads. Remember Carmageddon/The Carpocalypse, when an overpass outside LA was torn down, shutting traffic for the weekend? That was all so they could widen the highway through a mountain pass. Were the anti-HSR people asking for ridership studies for the Sepulveda Pass? Were they asking for the expansion to run an operational profit, let alone an overall profit? Of course not; only rail is subjected to such standards.

Add to this that a train is much more efficient in transporting this number of people, from an energy, environmental and economic perspective, and this is using studies that are assuming that gas prices will be relatively stable over the next few decades.

Obviously there still has to be overview of the project, making sure money is being spent efficiently and for best value. But the entire transportation sector needs to be looked at from this viewpoint. Airlines can work with rail to transport their passengers on their "last mile", freeing up their planes for more profitable medium- and long-haul routes, like done in Germany (Frankfurt Airport has two train stations). Road funds can be diverted to repairing our existing infrastructure as opposed to building more asphalt that needs to be maintained. And everyone will get to where they are going sooner. If this is done, North America will look back 20 years from now, not wondering "How could they do this?", but instead "How did they wait so long?"

Comment Re:They likely made a deal with those ISPs (Score 1) 159

Depends. The English rule, used in most common law and Western jurisdictions for civil cases, except state-level cases in the US, allows the judge to award costs to the prevailing party (FRCP 54 causes this to apply to federal civil suits in the US). The American rule is used for state-level civil suits, and requires each side to pay its own legal fees. (Of course, there are exceptions.)

The rationale for awarding costs is obviously to dissuade frivolous litigation; you're going to be badly hurt if you lose. This could conceivably reduce the mounds of ridiculous lawsuits that come out of the US. On the other hand, allowing the awarding of costs means that people (especially those who have been badly wronged and desperately need compensation) are much less likely to initiate valid lawsuits for fear that they would be even worse off if they lose. Further, after years of litigation, parties may be loathe to settle as then they would not be able to get costs, so will turn down reasonable offers on the hope of getting costs. (I also remember a case (possibly regarding libel) in which one party was found guilty but the judge thought the claim was baseless even if technically correct, so awarded the party one dollar in damages. However, in this case the rule was that the losing party automatically paid the winner's attorney's fees, so the judgement was still for hundreds of thousands.)

Each system has its strengths and weaknesses, and you can find proponents of each; it's not as clear cut a case as it seems on first glance.

Comment Re:Branding (Score 5, Insightful) 264

The US federal government has awful, awful branding. It's just terrible. How could half of social program recipients believe that they have "not used a government social program"?

In Canada, the federal and provincial governments make sure you know what they're doing. Every advertisement/public service announcement from the feds has the Canada wordmark, a simple "logo" with the word "Canada" and a Canadian flag above the last "a" (on TV and radio ads someone always says "A message from the Government of Canada"). But it's not just media advertising -- movies and tv shows that get tax credits from the government show it, correspondence (taxes, welfare, etc.), worksites partially paid for by government funding, and it goes on and on.

That's not to say that the branding gets to politicians' heads: our stimulus had a massive amount of advertising that many thought was flagrant self-promotion of the current government's policy, as opposed to ads which are usually along the lines of "Don't bring things across the border you shouldn't" or "Here's how young people can get help finding a job" or "Come visit our national parks". The current government even made it such that anyone who accepted stimulus money had to purchase a sign at their own cost extolling the benefits of the stimulus and the plan, post it on-site and send two pictures (one wide shot, one close-up) back to the feds before getting the money.

But when I look south, I'm at a loss to figure out who's responsible. Is the national guard a state or federal program? Is the FDIC run by the banks, or is that site run by the government? Who funded that study I read online? And the US government's websites all look completely different, so you don't know if it's the government or some independent agency or someone else (.gov notwithstanding -- who looks at URLs anymore besides /. readers?). Maybe if people knew all the services provided by government they wouldn't hate it as much (or maybe they would hate it more, but at least they would better understand everything they want to cut). It also lets you judge information more easily based on its source (your choice whether that improves your opinion of the information or the opposite).

Up north, I see this great anti-speeding ad and the Quebec flag at the end of the word Quebec and I know where it's coming from. Or this anti-fraud ad. France has their wordmark/logo too.

77% of people interviewed in a 1999 survey reported seeing the Canada wordmark, 60% in the previous 12 months. Over 85% of them reporting seeing the wordmark made them have more confidence in the information and make them "feel proud to be Canadian". And they almost unanimously agreed that the wordmark should be on websites, publications, advertisements, worksites and buildings. The key is that this doesn't happen overnight; the FIP started in 1970, and this is what they were running 10 years later.

If you want people to know that the government does important things besides building roads and national defence, make sure that when you spend tons of money on an ad buy, people know who's spending it. Get some cohesion going, US government; it's in your interest.

Comment Where are the charges? (Score 1) 268

This case perfectly showcases the difference between regular people and those at the top. Let's be honest, here is what would happen if some random Joe broke into that girl's voicemail and deleted messages:

  1. Within hours, the national police would raid Joe's home, arresting him and confiscating every piece of electronic equipment he owns, promising to return it within days (and making this promise every few days for years).
  2. The police would charge Joe with obstruction of justice, bulglary, destruction of property, copyright infringement, the DMCA equivalent of breaking a digital lock, hacking, unauthorized use of a computer, wire fraud, impersonation, collusion, conspiracy, and anything else they could throw at him.
  3. The police, realising their luck, would then add all those charges twice more, first with "...of/to/concerning a minor" and then with "...on/using/with a computer/electronic device".
  4. The victim's family would then sue Joe into oblivion, while the public would cry for his head, settling for life in prison without the possibility of parole and bankruptcy.

Obviously I'm exaggerting slightly, but we could easily see more jail time (at least in theory) for this phone "hacking" than for the actual murderer. Obviously what's been done here is awful, but this is a time to revise sentencing (for all people) to better reflect the actual harm done rather than just yelling "HACKER!!!" and committing these people to decades of hard time. Of course, given how disgusting this was, we'll probably keep pushing sentences the other way.

Comment Re:Stupid french court (Score 2) 141

If I find that my competitor is abusing Wikipedia to boost their search engine ranking, of course I will remove it.

And you would be violating Wikipedia guidelines. The French version is sorely lacking, but as a translation from the English version has been requested, you can read up over there, but for some quick summaries:

This page in a nutshell: Do not edit Wikipedia to promote your own interests, or those of other individuals or of organizations, including employers. Do not write about these things unless you are certain that a neutral editor would agree that your edits improve Wikipedia.

If you have a conflict of interest, then any changes that might be seen as controversial or not strictly neutral should be first suggested on the relevant talk page or noticeboard.

If you fit either of these descriptions:

  1. you are receiving monetary or other benefits or considerations to edit Wikipedia as a representative of an organization (whether directly as an employee or contractor of that organization, or indirectly as an employee or contractor of a firm hired by that organization for public relations purposes); or
  2. you expect to derive monetary or other benefits or considerations from editing Wikipedia; for example, by being an owner, officer, or other stakeholder of a company or other organization about which you are writing;

then you are very strongly encouraged to avoid editing Wikipedia in areas where there is a conflict of interest that may make your edits non-neutral (biased).

Anything you say and do on Wikipedia can have real world consequences. COI editing is routinely exposed and can be reported adversely in the media. All edits are on the public record and remain so indefinitely. You do not control articles and others may delete them, keep them, or add information that would have remained little-known. While Wikipedians generally avoid naming editors and their paymasters, other media routinely do. This has led at times to extreme media embarrassment for the company or organization, dismissal (firing) of those at fault, and at times even court actions or charges, if done in a work or professional context. Editing in the interests of public relations (other than obvious corrections) is particularly frowned upon. This includes, but is not limited to, professionals paid to create or edit Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia is a very public forum, and news of attempts to improperly influence Wikipedia are frequently reported in the media.

Comment Re:Take a cue from Iowa (Score 2) 83

The new map is here (PDF). It was adopted by 90-7 and 48-1 votes in both chambers on April 14, signed by the governor five days later. The population variance is 0.0005%, which is so small I almost don't believe it. (More details here.)

And the guidelines are here, summarized in the redistricting commission report:

1. Districts shall be established on the basis of population and shall each have a population as nearly equal as practicable to the ideal population.
2. For Congressional districts, each district shall be composed of whole counties. For Legislative districts, the number of counties and cities divided into more than one district shall be as small as possible.
3. Districts shall be composed of convenient contiguous territory.
4. Districts shall be reasonably compact in form, to the extent consistent with the first three standards. In general, reasonably compact districts are those which are square, rectangular, or hexagonal in shape, and not irregularly shaped, to the extent permitted by natural or political boundaries.
5. A district shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or member of Congress, political party, or other person or group.
6. Each state representative district shall be wholly included within a single state senatorial district. To the extent possible and consistent with the first five standards, each Senate and House district shall be wholly included within a single Congressional district.
7. A new districting plan shall not be used prior to the primary election of 2012.
8. Each bill embodying a plan shall include provisions for election of senators to the general assemblies which take office in 2013 and 2015, which shall be in conformity with Article Ill, section 6, of the Constitution of the State of Iowa.

Lastly, note the following from the same report: "[N]o political or demographic information other than total population is taken into consideration when creating proposed redistricting plans."

Comment Not exactly (Score 4, Interesting) 63

This Russian company didn't purchase the Canadian company. They purchased Wind Telecom S.p.A., a company owned by an Egyptian family. That company owns 50%+1 of Orascom, which itself has a complicated relationship with Globalive, a Canadian* company that operates Wind Mobile, an upstart wireless telephone service provider in Canada. "Complicated" and "Canadian*" because the Federal Court disagrees it's Canadian, as I wrote last month.

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