Archive for January, 2007

No Passport Will Be A Problem

January 17, 2007

You can be damned sure that there will be someone wintering in Florida or some other warm spot in the U.S. this winter that will get clipped by the new U.S. passport rules.

It is going to be a risk for anyone travelling to the U.S. by car and lacking a passport, not just snowbirds.

The Key To World Safety – Registration!

January 16, 2007

It would seem that police forces (or at least police chiefs) have a major predilection towards registering things. We have cars, sex offenders and guns registered now, so London, Ontario’s police chief feels it is time to go after kegs of beer.

And he’s not the only one.

The idea is the brainchild of London, Ont. police chief Murray Faulkner, who suggests that beer-store clerks should be obligated to record the name, address and other personal information of anyone who buys a keg. Chief Faulkner says that such a record would allow his force to more easily hold someone responsible in the event of noise complaints, underage drinking and other ills connected with keg parties.

As the National Post reported Wednesday, he is backed by Kingston, Ont. chief Bill Closs, whose city devolves into a scene from a Hogarth etching once a year during Queen’s University’s homecoming week. The idea is under review by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, and has already been discussed with the Liquor Control Board and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.

It is certainly within a police chief’s right to suggest ways to address enforcement problems, but too often politicians think that, because of the source, the idea needs to be treated as serious and acted upon. That gives far too much credit to where credit may not be due.

My take on police forces, and thereby police chiefs, is that they are a necessary evil. Only required because we don’t have the common sense to follow some basic rules of society like not stealing your neighbour’s possessions and, even worse, killing him in the process and not running through red lights during rush hour. Most of which are covered under the ten commandments, plus other federal, provincial and regional rules.

What politicians and others should keep in mind is that whenever there is an enforcement problem, real or perceived, there are two basic responses from police forces: larger budgets or more laws and regulations.

The budget response is simple. “We have a problem and you want me to solve it. Give me more money and I will throw it at the problem.”

The second solution is much more dangerous. “We have a problem and you want me to solve it. Give me and my officers more power.”

I googled the phrase, “police want more power” and the first items up were:

* Police want power to crack down on offensive demo chants and slogans …
* Police want power to seize encryption keys …
* Police want the power to freeze the accounts of companies without a court order…
* Police Want More Power to Monitor Internet and Email.

Police in general have no concerns about the need to protect your privacy or your rights. Their goal is to catch criminals and they will use any methods that they can access to make their job easier. Preferably legal but they have been know to stretch the rules of engagement.

I have no doubt that if you were to allow police to set their own enforcement standards you would very shortly see mandatory fingerprinting , “show on demand” identity cards and in this day and age compulsory DNA banks. In most areas of the U.S. they already allow “no knock” raids on residences and it appears that this is also happening in Canada.

This past November when the Minister of Justice, Vic Toews, announced that he would give police a voice in appointing federal judges there was an immediate backlash from numerous sources.

When the Harper Conservatives stunned the legal community by announcing that police would help pick federal judges, it was the latest sign that the law enforcement community has vaulted to one of the most powerful groups in the country when it comes to influence on Parliament Hill.

After years of being bystanders in Ottawa’s corridors of power, police now meet with cabinet ministers while they are crafting law-and-order legislation, often stand at the government’s side when announcement are made, and enjoy generous access to senior politicians who frequently accept invitations to speak at police events.

”There’s obviously a tendency on the part of this government to pander to police interests,” laments Louise Botham, president of the Criminal Lawyers Association, which defends the rights of the accused.

Now that Toews has been moved out of the Justice portfolio it can only be hoped that the New Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson will review and reverse this decision.

Law and order is fine and dandy but governments need to be very careful when they look at reducing the limits they place on police powers.

The Joys of Air Travel

January 15, 2007

Saturday I returned from a meeting in Vancouver and I can say categorically that I am beginning to increasingly find traveling by air a chore. If it ever was fun it sure as hell isn’t any more. And that’s flying with WestJet, which does make an effort.

 

I have reached the stage where I usually make it at point to check through my entire luggage as it just makes it so much simpler when you go through security. This trip, because it was for such a short duration I carried on all of my bags. The problem is you never know for sure what might get rejected, so you sort of offer up your possessions on faith. This trip a partial tube of shaving cream made in through the outgoing security screening but lost out to a more zealous screener going through Vancouver’s security when I was homeward bound.

 

What makes it truly annoying is that with the progression of terrorism, from the hijacking of planes to Cuba many years back up to today’s savage terrorism, you can’t fault the authorities for the measures they have taken to try and make flying as safe as possible.

 

However I did think, as I stood there in my stocking feet watching my shoes go through the x-ray machine, that it was the first time my shoes got past security before I did.

 

Back in the 1960s when I was traveling to handgun competitions things were much more relaxed. We used to build our shooting boxes sized so they would fit under our seats on the plane. There was no security screening and I have seen a traveler get on the plane with a rifle in a soft case and give it to the stewardess (no ‘flight attendants’ back then) to put in the cabin for the duration of the trip.

 

Simpler times that unfortunately are gone forever.

Knocking yourself out for conservation

January 12, 2007

I went down to Keremeos Wednesday to take part in a California bighorn sheep transplant operation, moving some sheep from that herd to the Okanagan Mountain Park.

After a serious die-off of the Vaseux herd a number of years ago a plan was put in place by the wildlife branch of the B.C. Ministry of Environment to try and mitigate any future die-offs by expanding the California bighorn population to different areas in the Okanagan Valley.

Around 50 or more volunteers showed up for the trapping phase. An overhead drop net had been set up previously and the sheep had been baited into the area. When the net dropped the volunteers moved in to subdue the animals, blindfold and hobble them and get them loaded in to horse trailers.

Unfortunately I exited the scene immediately following the net drop. The area was a pretty much a skating rink and when I started towards the trap my feet shot out from under me and I went down flat out, cracking my head on a rock. An ambulance trip into the Keremeos clinic and 6 stitches and a tetanus shot later I was back in the game. However by that time the sheep were hogtied, ear tagged, blood sampled and on their way up the highway for transport across Okanagan Lake to their new home.

I did get to see the horse trailer full of sheep loaded on to the barge and saw it off on its’ trip across the lake and saw the sheep unloaded through the magic of TV on the local news.

Not exactly as I had envisaged the day, but as the old joke goes: Good thing I landed on my head or I could have hurt myself.

Much thanks to the first aid people on duty at the drop site and to the BC Ambulance Service guys who did a great job.

The photos show my particpation. Orientation and seeing the sheep off across Okanagan Lake. In between was all the activity, excitement and fun.

orientation5.jpg

trailertrouble1.jpg

sailing.jpg

Executing With Class

January 9, 2007

Since the cellphone shots of Saddam’s execution hit the internet there has been criticism that the execution was undignified and crude. There are apparently protocols.

But while there is no manual for such occasions — modern history gives us relatively few instances of absolute rulers being deposed, tried and executed — all the talk after the hanging of Saddam Hussein suggests that we viewers thought there was some greater codification of the protocols and proprieties than was apparent in the mocking scene that unfolded.

I rather like small dead animals comment:

This is Iraq, not Switzerland. By their standards his hanging was dignified. He wasn’t tortured in public and his body didn’t get dragged around Tikrit and Fallujah behind a pickup, after all.

Desperate Measures

January 9, 2007

Thanks to small dead animals for this link which reveals how desperate the gun control people are (this one in the U.S.) for an issue that they can use to push their agenda.

 Please note in the following recent article (editorialized in its entirety in order to preserve the context), the statements of one Bryan Jones (highlighted below), and this chilling, revealing, quote:

“I hate to say it but it’s going to take the kind of massacre that kills lots of children. That’s the only way we are going to see progress,” Jones said.“I think it’s got to be worse than (Columbine)….

Sick.

Curry for good health?

January 9, 2007

I may have to start eating curry!

Self defence a hanging offence in Iran

January 9, 2007

When you look at what is called justice in many of the Islamic countries you get more of an understanding to how a murdering despot like Saddam Hussein can be tried, convicted and executed and still be held up as a martyr with some factions in the middle East.

In Iran an 17 year old girl fought off three men intent on the rape of her and a 16 year old relative and in the struggle killed one of them.

Did she get a medal or at least did the other two men get their just desserts? Not a chance. The men went free and the girl was sentenced to hang for the murder of the thug.

Fortunately a former Miss Canada intervened and managed to get a retrial for the girl, now 19.

I would doubt that even with a retrial and some international attention there is any chance that the girl will be vindicated and released. The minute that she was attacked her fate was sealed. She had no options.

If she had allowed the men to rape her and her niece, the girls would have been subjected to 100 lashes under Iranian laws on chastity. If they had been married at the time they were raped they would likely have been found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.

 As I say, no options.

A isolated incident?

Iran is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Charter of the Rights of the Child, which prohibit the execution of anyone under 18. But there are records of 18 executions of child offenders in Iran since 1990. In 2005 alone, at least eight executions of children were recorded.

Iranian authorities have for the past four years been considering a law prohibiting the death penalty for offenders under 18. A recent BBC documentary revealed how on 15 August 2004 Atefeh Rajabi, 16, was hanged in Neka, about 100 miles from Tehran, for “engaging in acts incompatible with chastity”. Her age given in court documents was 22.

Islam is apparently not female friendly.

Hats off to Nazanin Afshin-Jam in publicizing this case and getting a retrial, but you would think that there would be bigger players in the human rights business who would be raising hell, not only about this one case, but the whole issue of women’s rights in these countries.

Afraid of offending someone?

More Idiocy In The UK

January 8, 2007

Just when you think that political correctness can’t get any worse in the UK you see a story like this and this.

The “human rights” of foreign ex-prisoners on the run from police are being put before public safety. Detectives across the country are refusing to issue “wanted” posters for the missing criminals because they do not want to breach human rights laws.

Forces said that the offenders had a right to privacy and might sue for defamation if their names and photographs were released.

This in a country that has a pandemic of surveillance cameras and seems to have no concerns about the privacy of their citizens from that regard.

Yvonne Durelle dies at 77

January 8, 2007

Canadian boxing legend, Yvon Durelle died on January 6th at the age of 77.  

My memory of Durelle is the great fight that he had with Archie Moore in 1958.

Durelle strung together a series of wins and took on the 43-year-old Moore on Dec. 10, 1958, at the Montreal Forum, a fight that would go down in the annals of boxing history.

A prohibitive underdog, Durelle decked Moore three times in the first round and seemed on the verge of a stunning upset. He again floored the champion in the fifth round.

But the “Ol’ Mongoose,” as Moore was dubbed, knew every trick in the boxing book, and summoned nearly all of them to come from behind and batter Durelle for an 11th-round stoppage.

Knocked down four times, Moore looked as though he was finished but he was a very skilled and smart fighter. He  simply covered his head with his arms and let Durelle punch at him until he recovered and took back control of the fight. Durelle was strong but he couldn’t get past Moore’s defense in order to put him away. It was an amazing performance.

Moore was an amazing fighter, having fought successfuly as a middleweight, a light heavyweight and a heavyweight.


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