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Friday miscellany

Been a while since I did a “sum up the week” post, but there’s enough going on in Canada and elsewhere to merit a return.

First up, WikiLeaks.

I’m starting to get suspicious about the motives behind the massive attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder. The Americans accuse him of treason even though he is a foreign national. Financial institutions like MasterCard and PayPal are pressured by the U.S. government to shut down WikiLeak’s access to its accounts. Frontier mentality gunslingers everywhere (but mostly American, it seems) are saying that Julian Assard should get a bullet in the head… if you doubt me, check out the discussion forum on Facebook.

But why? Why has this been whipped into such a religious fervour?

I know some disagree with me, but I don’t see this who thing as much more than a leak of some pseudo-important information (at best) that may cause some embarrassment to some governments and individuals. I noted in an earlier post that governments are loath to give up their control of information access and spin, but the more I think about it, the more I have to wonder if there isn’t something bigger behind this (what I consider to be) over reaction.

OK, Squid-dude – I know you’re going to comment on this! Fair enough to call him a criminal (I don’t quite agree – but it is a legitimate position) but you have to admit that there is much being made of this tempest in a teapot!

Next, the perimeter security agreement between Canada and the U.S.

This could be an issue that has some legs. Although the Harperites will do their best to spin it as a national security matter and that Canadians had better just shut up and do as we are told.

The Department of Public Safety communications strategy for the “perimeter security” deal amounts to a blueprint for selling the agreement to Canadians.

It also provides a rare insight into how the government regards Canadians: as a nation ignorant of the true scale of the security threat it faces and more concerned with privacy rights.

The communications strategy for the perimeter security declaration – which the document says will be unveiled in January, 2011 – predicts one of the biggest potential critics will be the federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. That’s because the deal is expected to increase the amount of data exchanged between law enforcement and other government authorities in both countries.

This is important, folks! A foreign government is about to get access to your personal information and the Harperites think that this is just jim-dandy. We need to pay attention to this as it develops and ensure that our Privacy Commish’s concerns – when they are expressed – are addressed.

And how about that brand spanking new Ottawa city Council?

One of the first decisions to be made was to establish a transit commission. This, in my view, is a positive development as a pseudo arm’s length decision-making body will be able to make the hard choices that are sometimes necessary when dealing with transit issues – and especially the ATU – without a fear of political backlash.

On the other hand, all of the first decisions made by this Council involved spending more money… hopefully THAT is out of their systems!

Stevo sings and dances!

Two words: spring election.

Riots hit London. Royal couple imperilled!

Demonstrators spotted the royal couple in their purple Rolls-Royce as they were riding through London’s theater district surrounded by a cordon of motorcycles. A mob of around 50 demonstrators, many wearing full-face balaclavas, managed to shove through their police escort, which included armed royal security guards. They then hurled paint bombs at the car, kicked dents into its doors and smashed its rear window — all the while chanting “off with their heads!” and “Tory scum!”
And folks, if the economy in Great Britain and elsewhere continues to tank, expect to see more of this. People may get into desperate straits and this begets desperate measures. And if THAT happens, expect to live in more of a police state than we already do.
Lastly, about that student performance thing again…
I take it back. Yes, we could do better, but as Jeffery Simpson correctly points out, we aren’t doing too shabby either. Plus, as the Squid noted, the OECD figure showed only two Chinese cities – Shanghai and Hong Kong – and not the country as a whole. If the whole of China were assessed, I suspect the rankings would be different just as if only one high-performed city in Canada was ranked instead of the country as a whole.


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  1. trashee says:

    Naw… didn’t mean to imply that you were in favour of the bullet option 🙂

    Re: “I disagree with the position that he is some kind of champion or martyr for free speech”… For me, it’s too soon to judge… not yet enough information to push me one way or the other. Time will tell.

    Thanks for the comment, Darin!

  2. Re: Assange

    Just so it’s clear… I’m don’t think he *SHOULD* get a bullet in the head, but I do think that if he continues on the path he is on, he *WILL* get a bullet in the head.

    I also agree, that it is a tempest in a teapot. Objectively viewed, he has revealed essentially no information that people didn’t already know. Civilian casualties in a war? who would have guessed that? Boy, I’m sure glad that was leaked. US torturing people? Dammit, why didn’t we see that in the news for the last 5 years?

    He has, however, embarrased some individuals and governments for no obvious beneficial purpose other than his own aggrandization. That makes him an ass – and a stupid one. You can’t kick hornets’ nests and not expect to get stung.

    I disagree with the position that he is some kind of champion or martyr for free speech. Quite the contrary, I think what he is doing is going to create more and stricter rules about secrecy and privacy in government. His actions will serve to set back the cause of open and transparent government by decades. It seems apparent to me that he has some weird axe to grind with the US government and its allies, and I’m not sure that his true objective has yet been revealed, but I’m going to guess that one of his true objectives is some kind of book or movie deal about the whole thing that he thinks will set him up for life. This whole Assange thing is becoming almost surreal, and is starting to look like it’s being constructed for the big screen.

    Nevertheless, his actions are, in my opinion possibly criminal, definitely irresponsible, and definitely defamatory – that’s right: publishing material (even true material) solely for the purpose of damaging a reputation or insulting a target is one of the tests of libel and slander. To defend against such an accusation he would have to demonstrate the value to the public of these leaks, and I believe that would be very, very difficult to do. It’s one of the places where truth is not a defence to libel/slander.

    Re: Election
    I hope so. Government seems to need a refresh. Even if it turns out the same.

    Re: England
    Not sure what these hooligans expect to achieve. Tearing up the countryside and assaulting public figures and the police is not going to endear the public to lower tuitions.

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