Personal Privacy Obliterated By Canada

 

Federal Government Is Continuing To Destroy Any Rights of Privacy

Are you worried about your privacy? You should be. The Canadian government intentionally exposes every Canadian to breaches of their privacy. Privacy breaches by the government and others are legislatively encouraged and protected. Access to private information is granted upon request, without a warrant or court order. Information that Canadians believe is entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy is intentionally exposed.

There is really only one area where the Canadian government does, in fact, protect privacy. The prerequisite for privacy in this country will not surprise you. It occurs only if the information to be protected concerns the operation of the government. The more important the information is to protecting the Government’s image, the more ferociously they protect it from disclosure. Conversely, private information about you is routinely breached. Your telephone calls, emails, banking records, and personal interactions are not protected. The federal government has insidiously wiped out any hope of personal privacy.

The  government’s latest assault on our privacy rights  is found in its  proposed legislation, Bill C-23. If passed into law  the police would be allowed to secretly collect a citizen’s personal data and use it forever  without restriction .  The proposed law would prevent disclosure of the police activity .  The citizen whose data was collected would never be aware  that his/her data has been  taken and preserved by the police .  The proposed law does not provide any remedy  for the person whose  information has been taken .

 

The Liberals And NDP Incredibly Inept In Challenging New Laws

How could this happen? Canadians allowed it to happen. A once proud and tolerant nation embraced the Federal government’s ‘Get Tough on Crime’ legislation. Canadians were supportive of what was billed as anti-crime legislation that simultaneously and secretly trammeled individual privacy rights. The opposition parties have proven passively irresponsible, refusing to challenge the new laws in any meaningful way. Believing that average Canadians have moved further to the right philosophically, the cowardly opposition parties provide no resistance to these dramatic changes to the reasonable expectations of privacy previously enjoyed by Canadians. Now, the problem is everyone’s problem.

 

The Canadian Government Protects Itself Not Its Citizens

The Canadian government prohibits disclosure of its own information whenever it deems the disclosure is contrary to the Government’s interest. Examples of this are plentiful. Negative reviews of drugs produced by powerful pharmaceutical companies are withheld from the public by the government in the interest of maintaining their financial/political support. Information concerning failings by the government to protect Canadians abroad is withheld. Information is withheld concerning government spending on prisons, fighter jets, the Afghan war, and any other expensive, wasteful government projects. Efforts to obtain government information using Canada’s Access to Information Act are regularly thwarted. Applications for disclosure of information meet with lengthy delays, denials, and refusals to process.

The federal government’s political claims of ‘openness and transparency’ are sheer burlesque. The government’s policies are the antithesis of openness and transparency.  The government claims it has a right to probe your emails, telephone conversations, and private documents. Your requests to access government information conversely require: a money order in an envelope, addressed to a non-efficient governmental office created to obstruct your efforts until the information you seek has been deleted from the government’s server. Your denial will be terse and impolite. The information you seek is ‘unavailable.’

 

The ‘Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act: (PIPEDA)’  And ‘Safeguarding Canadians’ Personal Information Act’ Hide A Darker Purpose

The Federal government is all about appearances. The plan: appear transparent; remain impenetrable. The government has a healthy disrespect for the privacy of its citizens. It trusts that Canadians are ignorant of its intrusions on their privacy rights. The government cleverly couches its laws under misleading titles, aimed at sounding innocuous, or subtler and more insidious, supportive of individual privacy. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) is a prime example. The title suggests protection of personal information. The title is disingenuous. Its provisions support disclosure of private information from all its citizens . This legislation flies under the government’s Get Tough on Crime agenda. Under the guise of fighting crime, the government gathers and examines private information that most of its citizens naively believe are truly private.

The Get Tough on Crime agenda is informed not by principle, but by politics and polls. It exploits and deliberately exacerbates the public’s misguided fears that crime is increasing, when crime is actually decreasing. In fact, crime rates have been decreasing steadily for about 22 years. The smug, self-congratulatory tone conveyed by such titles as the Truth in Sentencing Act, or, Standing Up for Victims of White Collar Crime, this agenda has nothing whatsoever to do with truth in sentencing or standing up for victims. The Get Tough on Crime agenda has the unclean odor of politics all over it. It plays to the public’s irrational fears. It flies in the face of an ever-developing and now overwhelming body of literature going to suggest that harsher sentences lead, if anywhere, to the same or more crime, not less. It flies in the face, too, of the accumulated wisdom of our finest judges, who are now being told, in unmistakable terms, that they cannot be trusted to exercise their discretion reasonably, competently, and compassionately. These legislative amendments represent the government, like the crayfish, crawling backwards into the future.

Unlike the Patriot Act, the U. S. law that unabashedly suspends civil liberties in the name of combating terrorism, Canada’s version, PIPEDA, and it’s proposed amendments in Bill C-29 and Bill C-23 and Bill S-4; are all ostensibly aimed at protection of privacy, not combating terrorism. At least that’s what their titles claim. The titles are sanctimonious. The government’s intentions are disingenuous. To believe that the titles accurately reflect the provisions beneath them is to believe a lie.

 

No Safeguards Against Invasions of Privacy

The government claims PIPEDA is designed to ensure that Canadian businesses, organizations or individuals that collect and use your personal information for legitimate business purposes must also manage your information in a way that safeguards your privacy and protects your personal information from ending up in the wrong hands. PIPEDA refers to “personal information” and “protection”. The short title for its amendments is Safeguarding Canadians’ Personal Information Act. Don’t believe either one of them. Their titles confute their stated goals. These laws suspend civil liberties. They expand, not limit, the circumstances where personal information can be collected, used or disclosed without the owner’s knowledge or consent.

The proposed amendments provide several new circumstances where personal information may be disclosed without consent. If personal information is requested to “perform policing services” it may be disclosed. Apparently, the drafters of PIPEDA were not satisfied with the existing “exceptional circumstances” that allowed personal information of Canadians to be disclosed. The existing law permits disclosure without consent, upon request for, “enforcement of any laws of Canada, Province or a foreign country; intelligence gathering related to enforcement of any laws of Canada, a Province or a foreign country and administration of any laws of Canada or a Province.” It’s difficult to imagine what personal information was not available to the police at their whim (or request) under the existing legislation. But the government obviously thought it too restrictive. The proposed amendments do not require any lofty goal like the enforcement of law.

The proposed amendments make the old provisions seem strict by comparison. The proposed legislation checks civil liberties by provisions that only require investigating officers to be performing “policing services” as they gather your personal information from 3rd parties. The information is to be made available to them “upon request”. For greater truth in legislation the acronym PIPEDA should change to PIDPEA: ‘Personal Information Disclosed to Police Everywhere Anytime’. The new law lacks any form of restraint. It removes all impediments to accessing and using private information in any form. The term, “policing services” is not defined in the Act or in the amending Bill. Ostensibly, the janitor at a police precinct is performing policing services according to this law.

While PIPEDA limited the collection, use, and disclosure of your personal information without consent to circumstances where the police were acting under “lawful authority”, the amendments provide specifically that “lawful authority” does not require a subpoena or warrant from a court or relate to the Rules of Court ordering the production of records. Lawful authority is undefined and open-ended. The amending Bill also permits the organization disclosing the information to provide personal information without having to verify that anyone seeking personal information has lawful authority.

PIPEDA already permits voluntary disclosure of personal information to any government institution without the consent of the person affected by the disclosure,  if the organization has reasonable grounds to believe that any law of the Province or the country is/was or may in the future, be broken. Bill C-29 will allow disclosure to anyone (not just government institutions) including other businesses or organizations, without requiring grounds to believe anything related to an actual crime is, has, or will be committed.

 

Bill C-13: The New Grounds: What Might Be Necessary!

Justice Minister Peter MacKay apparently has no difficulty lumping together cyber bullying law with terrorism law. In the face of criticism from Canada’s interim privacy Commissioner, 2 provincial commissioners and at least one parent of a child who committed suicide after being victimized by cyber bullying, MacKay remained adamant that the government’s broad new police surveillance powers are the government’s response to the suicides of Rehtash Parsons, Amanda Todd, James Hubley and others. He said their deaths were a “clarion call for government action– not further study, not delaying it, not allowing experts who may have some other agenda in mind.” The reader can decide for herself whether or not the proposed amendments should lead to the following government action.

This enactment, according to the government’s own website, amends the Criminal Code to provide:

(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender;

(b) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence;

(c) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things;

(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications;

(e) warrants that will enable the tracking of transactions, individuals and things and that are subject to legal thresholds appropriate to the interests at stake; and

(f) a streamlined process of obtaining warrants and orders related to an authorization to intercept private communications by ensuring that those warrants and orders can be issued by a judge who issues the authorization and by specifying that all documents relating to a request for a related warrant or order are automatically subject to the same rules respecting confidentiality as the request for authorization.

The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that the spouse is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution with respect to the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

It also amends the Competition Act to make applicable, for the purpose of enforcing certain provisions of that Act, the new provisions being added to the Criminal Code respecting demands and orders for the preservation of computer data and orders for the production of documents relating to the transmission of communications or financial data. It also modernizes the provisions of the Act relating to electronic evidence and provides for more effective enforcement in a technologically advanced environment.

Lastly, it amends the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act to make some of the new investigative powers being added to the Criminal Code available to Canadian authorities executing incoming requests for assistance and to allow the Commissioner of Competition to execute search warrants under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

The proposed amendments will, if passed, lead to the most dramatic destruction of privacy in the history of Canada. Privacy as a constitutional right will be extinguished.

Disclosure of private information will be based upon the requesting party’s belief.  The requesting party will always be a member of the  government  or the police. What belief? The information might be necessary to investigate a breach of an agreement, a law, or to prevent, detect or suppress fraud or “to prevent, detect or suppress fraud when it is reasonable to expect that the disclosure with the knowledge or consent of the individual would undermine the ability to prevent, detect or suppress the fraud”. Simply stated, the new law encourages disclosure of private personal information to anyone, for any reason.  The concept of an investigating officer investigating a specific crime  will be gone .

The Canadian government apparently asks, “Who needs terrorism as an excuse to trammel civil liberties?” The Canadian government instead embraces a philosophy that the personal privacy of Canadians will be afforded the disrespect the government believes privacy deserves. Total disrespect. The Canadian government cleverly disguises its disrespect for individual privacy under deceptive legislative titles that refer to “protection” and “safeguarding” personal information. Under these cagey, deceptive banners the government encourages all manner of disclosure of private personal information to anyone for virtually any reason. Disclosures are unencumbered by restrictive provisions. The law represents pre-eminent, unprincipled disrespect for an individual’s privacy.

The Canadian government presumably hopes that Canadians only read their titles. Examination of the contents will prove depressing for anyone who values personal privacy. For Americans, their visceral reaction to 9/11 led to the passage of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is an understandable reaction to the senseless tragedies in New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001. For Canada, however, a country once proud of its reputation for individual freedoms and tolerance, the rationale for its laws ensuring an absence of privacy is scarcely discernible.

 

Is the Supreme Court of Canada The Answer?

The Supreme Court of Canada is about to decide a case that may have profound impact upon police authorities having warrantless access to telecom customer data. The case is R. v. Spencer. Spencer was charged with possessing child pornography. He was 19 years of age at the time of his arrest.  PIPEDA played a significant role in his arrest. Although the Act claims to protect personal digital privacy, under its provisions Spencer’s Internet service provider volunteered Spencer’s digital identification. The Act, even without the proposed amendments in Bill C-23, allowed his Internet provider to voluntarily hand over customer data to the police. The only requirement was that a police officer request it for “the purposes of enforcing any law in Canada, a province or a foreign jurisdiction.”

The police claim they witnessed certain behavior that they suspected was illegal. They went to Spencer’s Internet provider and the provider gave the police his IP address. Under PIPEDA no warrant is required. There is no judicial oversight. There is no disclosure to Spencer that he is under investigation or that his private digital data has been turned over to police authorities. The Act proclaiming  protection of privacy rights instead enhances police powers allowing them to search and seize Spencer’s information without judicial oversight.

The Supreme Court of Canada will be asked to decide whether some or all of PIPEDA’s provisions are unconstitutional. Their decision will have an impact on the proposed amendments to PIPEDA to afford the police even greater authority to search and seize private information.

 

Even Canada’s Victims of Crime Fear The Canadian Government’s Motives in Bill C-23

Bill C-23, the Canadian government’s proposed new law to provide easy access to the metadata that Internet service providers have for every call and e-mail by their customers came under fire recently from a most unusual Canadian;  one parent among the parents of 3 Canadian teenagers who committed suicide after they were bullied online. Seeking to score political points from these three tragedies, the Canadian government promised a tough new law against cyber-bullying. But the government took this tragic set of circumstances as an further opportunity to hide some new draconian laws to erode privacy rights that are completely unrelated to cyber-bullying.

Outspoken  Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, one of the victims of cyber-bulling,  stated, “I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of Canadians privacy information without proper legal process.” Ms. Todd’s concerns should be the concerns of all Canadians. Todd suggested the government remove the more controversial measures from the Bill so that it could pass with broad agreement. Presently, Internet providers may voluntarily disclose personal information they hold on their subscribers, but many insist upon a court order demanding disclosure thereby taking the decision out of their hands. Todd, an obviously articulate and informed Canadian, said this to the House of Commons committee that’s studying the proposed legislation:

“I don’t want to see our children victimized again by losing privacy rights. I am troubled by some of these provisions condoning the sharing of Canadians’ privacy information without legal process.” and,

“We should not have to choose between our privacy and our safety.”

Ms. Todd could not understand why the Canadian government wants to lump together provisions prohibiting cyber-bullying with anti-terrorism measures. Of course, these new measures are precisely that: incompatibly lumped together for political reasons only. Under the guise of protecting our children from cyber-bullying, the government seeks to pass an array of new laws aimed at infringing privacy rights. The government does so hoping that the average Canadian is not nearly as perceptive as Ms. Todd.(1)

Preventing cyber-bullying and combating terrorism are separate and distinct goals. The government fears it will face serious challenges by knowledgeable Canadians to its proposed ‘terrorism legislation’ and so it “hides” its terrorism provisions that permit organizations to disclose subscriber or customers’ personal information without court order under legislation touted as protection for our children. The government’s proposed law would permit the government to obtain subscriber or customer personal information, without a court order. The disclosures would be kept secret from the people whose information is being shared.

Another Bill proposed by the Canadian government, Bill S-4, known as the Digital Privacy Act, would also allow organizations to disclose subscriber or customer personal information without a court order. If these new laws are passed, personal privacy in Canada will also be non-existent for all digital information.

 

The L.S.U.C.’s Rules of Professional Conduct: A Special Problem for Lawyers

Rule 2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits disclosure of confidential information without the client’s permission. This rule requires that a lawyer hold a client’s information in strict confidence, subject only to few exceptions. This obligation conflicts with the open-ended, undefined laws of PIPEDA and the various new proposed laws in support. These laws encourage disclosure of private information in virtually every circumstance. What should a lawyer do? The answer: Challenge PIPEDA and any other legislation that encourages disclosure of private information.

Lawyers should make every reasonable effort to keep privileged-communication privileged. This includes using special methods available to lawyers to ensure that solicitor-client communications remain private. There are some methods available to lawyers to maximize privacy. These methods include private, face-to-face meetings with the client, using specialized equipment and software programs to enhance the privacy of telephone or electronic communications.

Edward Snowden, former CIA agent and contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency (the “NSA”) has disclosed how difficult ensuring privacy, while communicating by electronic means, can be. He disclosed the existence of numerous global surveillance programs; many of them run by and for governments, with the co-operation of telecommunication companies. These same governments prosecute our clients. Against these long odds lawyers are required to maintain confidential information.

For lawyers to ensure that communications remain private while using electronic means of communication, including the Internet, special steps must be taken. These steps include stand-alone computers, open source Internet browsers, and dedicated servers. As Edward Snowden so ably demonstrated, electronically communicated information is only as safe as the weakest link in the chain of electronic equipment. Even encrypted messages that pass through unprotected servers or servers that accommodate multiple users leave the information vulnerable to interception. The “handshake” between interconnected computers often provides the portal of access to private information.

Conclusion

In this age of mass surveillance, government secrecy and privacy-breaching legislation present and proposed,  the balance between individual privacy and government’s ability to surreptitiously spy on its citizens, the scales have tipped distinctly in favor of disclosure of private information and NOT the protection of privacy.

 

 

Notes

1. The Minister of Justice is unable to explain the connection between Amanda’s suicide and the wide-ranging legislation proposed by the government http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/news-video/video-proposed-cyberbullying-bill-touches-on-terrorism-cable-theft/article15537000/#video2id16840402

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The A-Rod Story: No One Worthy of Sympathy: Everyone A Loser

Major Leagues Baseball’s marquee player Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the entire 2014 season including its postseason. It is a fact that he used Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) for several years. While no one knows exactly when he started cheating and he refuses to tell, it likely dates back to at least 2003. A decade of deceit.  He paid huge sums of money to prevent the MLB from obtaining evidence of his cheating. Some will claim his bribes and extortion to prevent disclosure are more heinous than his extensive use of performance enhancing drugs. The drugs provided him with an unfair advantage over other players. Asking which is worse is like asking someone if they’d rather be shot or stabbed to death. Minutes after it’s done it doesn’t matter.

Bud Selig, MLB’s Commissioner for more than 20 years is no better than A-Rod. While he wants desperately to be remembered as the one who cleaned up baseball by creating an aggressive drug-testing program, he will instead be remembered for presiding over its darkest years of steroid-infested performances by the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McQuire and, of course, A-Rod, as MLB’s biggest cheat is affectionately known by his fans. The MLB’s aggressive drug-testing program did not actually materialize until the waning hours of Selig’s tarnished stewardship. He presided over years of lax, ineffective testing. He is no less guilty of “conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interest of baseball” than his prized target. The target he stalked for 3 years could not whitewash 20 plus years of blind ineptitude.

While Rodriguez paid wads of cash in an attempt to buy the evidence that eventually sunk him, Selig’s minions used  a bogus civil lawsuit to obtain that evidence. MLB sued Anthony Bosch, the founder and former proprietor of the infamous Florida-based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. Bosch provided the evidence of Rodriguez’s decade-long insatiable use of PED’s.  All A-Rod’s impressive statistics actually belong to a fake bionic version of himself. Bosch identified his cryptic notes and interpreted his codes of A-Rod’s PED Regiment. It was a code that only Bosch could decipher. Why did Bosch turn against A-Rod despite all the money he had received from A-Rod and despite what he was promising to pay? Bosch turned MLB witness against A-Rod because he feared MLB’s lawsuit alleging his “tortious interference” would be successful. Another legal opinion may have been in order. But it scared Bosch enough to change his story. He had been widely quoted as saying he had never injected A-Rod. He became MLB’s prime witness.

Anthony Bosch believed he was in trouble. Good enough. Lawyers call that a ‘W’. Bosch had lived his life as a con man. He was conned by a lawyer with a nebulous civil claim against him. Makes you want to hug a lawyer doesn’t it? Bosch did keep the money that A-Rod paid him, less, of course, whatever he paid his own inept lawyer. A-Rod was stuck. He could not admit he paid Bosch to obstruct MLB’s investigation of him. But Bosch was a fool. A-Rod would have paid much more. And, MLB’s tortious interference claim against Bosch was as weak as their case against A-Rod before Bosch turned.

There are no winners here. Only losers. A good baseball player is forever tarnished. A-Rod’s drug-enhanced career makes Pete Rose’s gambling lies seem banal. Selig was paid about 300 million dollars for his utter incompetence rendering virtually every record over the last 20 years suspect. And baseball’s claim to be America’s sport should cause most Americans to cringe with embarrassment. This is not an English or Canadian story.  It’s an American story. There are no happy endings in America.

America: A Violent Intolerant Nation

Yesterday Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old software developer, was found guilty of 3 counts of attempted second-degree murder and 1 count of firing a gun into an occupied car. Because the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the most serious charge, first-degree murder, the judge declared a mistrial on that charge. Attempted murder usually means, ‘tried but failed.’ Michael Dunn did not fail. The bullets he fired killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Jordan Davis died because Michael Dunn didn’t like his “thug music.” Michael Dunn’s violent intolerance is commonplace in America today. Dunn was convicted on Jordan’s 19th birthday.

30 years in prison will not defeat Michael Dunn’s arrogance.  He will still think that he should not have been subjected to thug music.  He did not like it. No. Not one little bit. According to the NRA Michael Dunn is a “good guy with a gun.”  In 30 years Dunn will be 77.  Jordan Davis will only ever be 18.

Dunn purchased it legally. He had a constitutional right to carry it. He needed it for his self-protection. America is, of course, a dangerous place to live. There are so many other Michael Dunns in America, armed and dangerous. Michael Dunn would have no way of knowing when another Michael Dunn might confront him. It’s the American dilemma. What do I do if I inadvertently encounter another armed man just like me?  There are so many violent intolerant men in American.

Sound mind only lasts until one of us starts shooting. The NRA defines a ‘good guy with a gun’ as the one who lives to tell about it. His story is always somewhat limited; either insanity or self defense. Better, of course, in Florida. There you get to “stand your ground.”   It’s self-defense with legislative support. Lots of gun-toting, right-wing folks in the Sunshine State.  You better have your wits about you there. Ask George Zimmerman.  Rocket scientists like Zimmerman may get to choose your fate. It’s the law.

If Michael Dunn confronted another Michael Dunn, each bearing their constitutionally-protected firearms, then the quickest to fire would be the “best” guy with a gun.  He’s the one that gets to tell the story. To the NRA this makes sense. To the American politicians that support the NRA, or are afraid to offend their Michael Dunn supporters, this is reasonable. To Tea Party Members, arming up, not down, is coherent political policy. This is democracy. Any nation that does not agree should be bombed into submission, then forced to accept it. It’s the democratic way. Who would not want to be us?

Michael Dunn had a defense. Self-defense. He thought he saw a firearm pointed at him from the SUV. Those were American kids in that SUV. Why would they not be armed? No weapon found in the SUV. You have to be kidding! One wonders: what the hell-kind of kids are these? They can’t be American.  Every one of them could have a gun if they wanted. It’s a constitutional right. There are over 400 million guns in America. Everyone has  a gun right up to the date of their sentencing, or their suicide, if they choose to skip sentencing altogether.

Why would Michael Dunn assume the kids were not carrying? How could he  just assume they were foreigners? They looked American. They were listening to American music. In fact, that’s what pissed him off.  That’s why he fired 10 times.  What’s a good guy with a gun to assume?  Are you telling me they were black foreigners listening to American rap music? Why no guns?  How was he supposed to know?

Perhaps Dunn should have tried the insanity defense. Then he would have had qualified expert witnesses support his bullshit.  There’s strength in more witnesses, specially expert witnesses.  They have impressive credentials and usually haven’t killed anyone prior to testifying. The NRA supports a firm policy of more expert witnesses for good guys with guns.

Michael Dunn didn’t take any chances. Most good guys with a gun know better than to make that mistake.  The NRA supports a firm policy of shoot to kill.  The NRA supports the right to purchase ammunition that expands inside the body to ensure the person shot does not live. Dunn squeezed off 10 shots into that SUV.  The kids were sitting ducks. Immobilized. Ensconced in a motionless vehicle, parked outside a convenience store. That’s more than 3 bullets for each ‘clear and present danger’ confronting Dunn.

Dunn was sure they were American kids. They had to be packing. Foreign kids would never listen to that “thug music.” If Dunn had been a better shot they’d all be dead.  And, there would be fewer prosecution witnesses. The NRA supports a firm policy of fewer prosecution witnesses able to testify against good guys with guns.  It’s the whole idea behind hollow-point ammunition.  The NRA supports a firm policy of the constitutional right to fire deadly ammunition.

The NRA has expressed concern that its gun-toting members should spend more time at the target range improving shooting accuracy. The Tea Party and the Republican base agree. They always agree. The NRA’s campaign on behalf of good guys with guns continues to seek sound policies that protect all Americans from other good guys with guns. Let’s load up they say.  Wonder if they think we should turn the music down.

 

 

Stephen Harper’s Contempt for Constitutional Rights

Stephen Harper’s recent nominee to the Supreme Court Canada exposes his desire to exercise power over the criminal justice system without interference by judges. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with his appointee, Justice Marc Nadon. He is faultlessly ordinary. Ask any Canadian lawyer with the temerity to offer an opinion and with knowledge of the appointee’s judicial history and you will likely find this assessment: Nadon lacks the Promethean ability to be daringly original or creative. His judgments are imitative and uninspired.

So why would Stephen Harper nominate Nadon?  Nadon suits Harper’s political agenda. Harper anticipates that Nadon will staunchly defend his ‘Tough-On-Rights’ agenda. Harper does not refer to his agenda as inimical to civil liberties. Instead, he holds the antiquated notion that harsh penalties and mandatory minimum sentences deter criminal behavior. He smugly refers to his agenda as ‘tough on crime.’ His agenda, regardless of its characterization, abhors a nation that values liberty and democracy. Under the guise of protecting victims of crime it violates the rights and freedoms of  Canada’s citizens that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was designed to protect.

Nadon’s judicial record is antagonistic to civil liberties. His judicial record is that of a governmental ‘yes’ man. He is the quintessential Harper nominee. Lacking in independent thought, he is less likely to challenge any government legislation, even if it is misguided or intrusive of civil liberties. If the government wants something, that will be good enough for him.

Ironically, at Nadon’s nomination hearing in October 2013, he claimed that he most admired two of Canada’s judicial icons, former Chief Justices Bora Laskin and Brian Dickson. Interesting choices. However, stealing the words of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle during the 1980 United States vice presidential debate: “Justice Nadon ‘You’re no Bora Laskin or Brian Dickson’.” Not to suggest that Nadon was attempting to compare himself to these exemplars of judicial talent; but his judgments are the very antithesis of what Laskin and Dickson championed.

Laskin was a liberal jurist with a strong record of supporting civil liberties. While many of his decisions were not popular at the time of their release, they were almost always eventually adopted by judges less creative and less visionary. Dickson was himself an admirer of Laskin. In fact, in their years together on the bench they seldom disagreed. The two of them, together with another staunch protector of civil rights, Justice Spence,  became affectionately known as the LSD line. You could count on all 3 to ensure that an individual’s rights were never sacrificed on the altar of governmental pandering.

Stephen Harper, of course, hopes that Marc Nadon will genuflect at that governmental altar in deference to his Almighty ruler, himself. Harper no doubt was impressed when Nadon sided with the Canadian government in every aspect of their treatment of 15-year-old detainee Omar Khadr. Khadr was interrogated for hours at Guantánamo Bay without benefit of legal counsel. Of the 13 Canadian judges asked to consider the actions of the Canadian interrogators, only one found no fault in their treatment of the young detainee; Marc Nadon. At that moment Harper probably decided who his next nominee to the country’s highest court would be. He had found the man who would unquestioningly support his anti-democratic agenda.

Those that challenge Nadon’s appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada will be impaired by their requirement to demonstrate that his appointment offends constitutionally entrenched laws. There is nothing illegal about the Prime Minister’s ability to appoint a candidate in lockstep with his agenda. He is not bound to follow previous leaders who chose worthy candidates based upon their intelligence and talent. Sadly, Harper is free to choose his candidate based upon the likelihood that he will never dissent from the government’s agenda no matter how repressive it may be.

Harper’s nominee, if appointed, will never be a modern-day Laskin or Dickson. To emulate these judicial luminaries Nadon would need to be a lot more creative and a lot less intimidated by the government that nominated him. The Harper government, like the crayfish, continues to crawl backwards into the future.

Stephen Harper Squirms

The vast majority of Canadians were undoubtedly delighted this week to see Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper squirm under the allegations of his own appointee to the Canadian Senate Sen. Mike Duffy. Mike Duffy, himself no model of propriety having stolen close to $100,000 in expenses that even he acknowledges were illegitimate, aimed his best invectives at the hand that once fed him, Stephen Harper. And, Stephen Harper, Canada’s most hated one, wilted noticeably in the bright light of shame he so sedulously aims to avoid.

The key insult in Mike Duffy’s 30-minute tirade in the house of sober second thought was to call out Stephen Harper on his often-repeated lie that Harper’s former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright acted alone in paying Mike Duffy’s $90,000 debt to the Senate and that he did so in protection of the Canadian public rather than for the purpose of covering up an embarrassing political scandal. Duffy did not mince his words. He said that the 3 met privately and that it was unmistakable from the words and actions of Harper that the aim was to eliminate the political embarrassment. There was not a word spoken amongst the 3 that could be taken as a concern for Canadian taxpayers. The meeting was about saving Harper’s reputation.

Significantly, Harper acted in a predictable way, the way most Canadians believe that he is–an angry, vindictive man who maintains absolute control. Those who challenge him are punished quickly and severely. They are punished not necessarily for their misfeasance but instead for the embarrassment they bring upon him. His recent appointee Duffy was embarrassing him. The money would be paid back immediately or he would be turfed from the Senate. Simple. Harper’s way or the highway.

None of this would surprise any of the 60% of Canadians who loathe Harper’s dictatorial style. Since coming office 7 years ago he has angered not only his enemies but those who previously supported him. They know he has done much to disregard, if not eliminate, civil liberties in Canada. His leadership has amounted to a long walk into darkness. He is Canada’s answer to Dick Cheney. And, he embraces the concept of intolerance as his political stratagem. His brand of ultra- conservatism is despairingly well to the right of the brand espoused by Republican tea party members . His administration  represents the side of anti-democracy. It has been the bane of otherwise temperate, tolerant Canadians who cherish their rights and freedoms and allow their fellow citizens to function without restraint provided they respect others in the same fashion.  If Harper’s latest polling numbers are even remotely close to accurate,  Canadians are poised to throw him out of office, even if the end result is a government run by Justin Trudeau, by all accounts, a political neophyte, lacking somewhat in political savvy.

But compared to Harper, Justin Trudeau is refreshingly committed to protecting the rights of Canadians. Trudeau is certainly smart enough to sit back and watch Harper hang himself on his own petard. Trudeau likely senses that all he needs to do is to allow Harper to self-implode  in a morass of political corruption. Three recent conservative appointees to the Senate  and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, all embroiled in a cover-up of misuse of taxpayer money.   Every one of them appointed by Harper.  Mike Duffy’s latest “defense” was the coup de grace.   His allegation that Harper threatened him with expulsion from the Senate accurately portrayed Harper as the control-freak that everyone knows him to be, and, effectively dragged Harper into the snake pit with the rest of his infamous colleagues.

Mike Duffy’s taunts may be dismissed by some Harper partisans as the ramblings of a Senator about to lose his posh position in the do-nothing Canadian Senate, motivated to strike out at Harper because Duffy perceives Harper as the instigator of the Senate majority’s push to expel him. But Canadians are not buying that. They know that Stephen Harper functions with the sensitivity of a Vladimir Putin. He is retaliatory and cruel. His enemies know his ruthless, spiteful and vengeful ways. If Nigel Wright was only paying Duffy’s $90,000 debt to ensure Canadian taxpayers were not harmed by Duffy’s theft, why would Harper fire Wright? Because Harper slashes and cleaves even those close to him if there is any potential that their smut or indecency has any potential to touch him.

I predict that Mike Duffy will lose this battle. Harper’s cronies will band together sufficiently to toss him from the Senate. Perhaps rightfully so, since he only held that cushy, high-paying job based on Harper’s belief that he would spend the rest of his life singing Harper’s praises. But ironically, Duffy’s speech this week in the Senate served a very worthwhile purpose. It was another step toward exposing Harper as the bitter, self-justifying, iconoclast that most Canadians have come to know and hate . Harper has brought Canadian politics to the point that most right-thinking Canadians see it as a septic tank of trickery and deceit. It is a good thing that both the appointer and his appointee have been exposed simultaneously. Both deserve a similar fate. Unfortunately, Canadians will have to wait another year to rid themselves of Harper. Duffy’s demise is imminent.

Cannabis Plant May Prevent Cancer

The debate in several countries over the legalization of marijuana only serves to cloud a much more important debate: is cannabis a powerful natural plant capable of acting as a health agent that could prevent cancer? There is bountiful evidence that supports its preventative effectiveness.

Legalization of possession and use of marijuana will arrive in the near future to virtually every country that passes laws based on common sense. That, of course, will leave Canada far removed from the avant-garde as Canadians inexplicably continue to elect a Neanderthal-style government bent on passing new laws that play to the public’s irrational fears that crime is increasing and harsher penalties are the answer. But legalization is only the first step in what is really required– full-scale, properly funded, research into the use of the cannabis plant as a preventative agent against developing cancer.

Canada will no doubt be the last to grasp its own stupidity. The majority of Canadians elected the present federal government with its ‘get tough on crime agenda’; an agenda  that includes minimum mandatory jail sentences for possession of cannabis. The Canadian electorate is hopelessly out of touch with the reality that crime in Canada has been decreasing for more then 23 years and more than half their fellow citizens use or have used marijuana. The get tough on crime legislation includes the senseless incarceration of Canadians for possession, sale or production of cannabis through minimum mandatory jail sentences.

Canadians appear mystifyingly unaware that the downward incidence of crime began long before the present government’s primitive notion that harsher sentences lead to less crime.  Canadians are spectacularly out of touch by their support for minimum mandatory jail terms for possession of cannabis. Instead of enhancing its once admired reputation as a benevolent, tolerant society, the vast majority of Canadians have adopted the barbarous notion of becoming an increasingly intolerant society. And, as soon as the United States of America rectifies its failed policies in the same direction, as promised last week by that country’s attorney general, Canada will stand alone at the pinnacle of repression.

Until a few weeks ago the United States of America was the standard-bearer of intolerance toward its citizens. With millions of its citizens incarcerated for long prison terms on convictions for non-violent crimes such as possession of marijuana, the US has recently admitted the error of its own get tough on crime legislation that held no connection to reality. Their failed approach also cost the US billions of dollars housing non-violent US citizens. US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech to the American Bar Association on August 12, 2013 that:

  • “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason”
  • “we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation”
  • “with less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States has almost 1/4 of the world’s prisoners, approximately 2,000,000 inmates, with the rate of incarceration that’s about 6 times higher than China and a correctional tab that’s approximately $80 billion a year”

In effect, Holder was admitting that the US’s get tough on crime legislation, referred to affectionately for years as “the war on drugs”, was an abysmal failure. Holder promised that the US would abandon harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders and that it would eschew prosecutions for non-violent, low-level criminals whose offenses previously mandated minimum jail terms.

One can only hope that Canadians will not require 20 years of a crime initiative destined to fail before throwing the ideologically-driven miscreants who have authored this right-wing initiative out of office. Legalizing marijuana is a very small step in the right direction. Statistically, far more than a mere majority of Canadians are in favor of legalization. But legalization doesn’t go nearly far enough. It only makes possible the ability to study and perfect ways to make the cannabis plant available for prevention of cancer. As long as cannabis remains a part of some misguided war on drugs it can never be seriously considered medicinally.

Some will say that our courts’ recognition of its usefulness in lessening pain for terminally ill cancer patients is a sign that Canadians are somewhat enlightened. Wrong. Allowing a few Canadians, after navigating their way through a labyrinth of useless regulations, to smoke marijuana cigarettes to ease their pain and anxiety before cancer claims their life, is not the answer. It does not even scratch the surface of what could probably be accomplished by the proper medicinal use of the cannabis plant.  Serious and properly funded study of the healing properties of the cannabis plant is needed.

Because the plant grows naturally, it will not enjoy the enormous resources of the big pharmaceutical companies.  In fact, whatever Big Pharma cannot patent they work sedulously to oppose. The proper study of the preventative possibilities of cannabis will be no different. Look to the pharmaceutical lobbyists to purposefully attempt to scuttle any serious effort in that direction. They are not interested in curing cancer–to do so would eliminate the need for their expensive drugs. Big Pharma has infiltrated the medical community and carefully guided it down a failed course of “treatment” that defies logic. Powerful destructive drugs classified as “chemotherapy” have proved to be a thundering disappointment.  The medical community now accepts that we do not cure cancer, but instead, manage it. Big Pharma makes billions in its management.

Real change will only come when the people demand it. Politicians are unlikely to lead the charge for change as long as the pharmaceutical companies continue to control them through political donations and influential lobbyists.  And, the medical community has likewise fallen into lock-step with Big Pharma, pumping out doctors who mindlessly cling to the status quo of cancer treatment despite over 4 decades of dismal failure by treating cancer by burning, cutting and poisoning.   The few that dare to challenge the status quo are quickly labeled as quacks. They are ridiculed out of existence. It was approximately 42 years ago that Richard Nixon declared war on cancer.  Our lack of success in treating cancer then remains the same today.  Small wonder we now humbly claim only to manage, not cure.

We are not speaking here of “smoking” anything. Instead, we’re speaking of wringing from the cannabis plant what many have discovered as its apparent ability to prevent cancer. Obviously, preventing cancer is better than curing it.[1] All of us have cancer cells. Currently, our medical community spends virtually all of its time and money on treating cancer patients and very little of its resources on prevention of cancer.  For at least 4 decades the archaic approach of our medical community to “treating” cancer has been to cut burn and poison. Big Pharma is the only beneficiary of our failed attempts to treat cancer. It is in their interest, and their interest alone, to keep patients alive long enough to use their expensive but ineffective drugs. Chemotherapy kills. It does not cure.

Our medical community needs to balance its approach to cancer if it ever hopes to have any meaningful impact. The cannabis plant may hold the answer. Michael Ducharme writes:

Every cell (including cancer cells) have a cannabinoid receptor (there are two types, called CB1 or CB2). The receptor is similar to a lock that waits for a specific key. In this case the keys are cannabinoids, which are found most abundantly in the cannabis plant, and are also produced in very small numbers by the human body itself and in the cacao plant.

When these locks receive their special key, all 212 cell types are regulated. This means that if the cell is cancerous, it either becomes noncancerous or dies. the noncancerous cells are also improved, not harmed. For example, an overactive immune system (which attacks healthy cells and causes diseases including arthritis and many more) will reduce its activity to a healthy level.[2]

Permitting consumption of cannabis is, we hope, a very small step in the direction of funding scientific research on the medical benefits that might be derived from the cannabis plant. Dr. J. Michael Bostwick has suggested:

…federal policy has failed to keep pace with recent scientific advances” including the recently-discovered endocannabinoid system, which (in an article published by the Mayo Clinic) he called “a finely tuned physiologic modulator.  Michael Ducharme also writes that Dr. Bostwick noted that cannabis may have “analgesic, appetite-modulatory, immunosuppressant, antiemetic, neuroleptic, or antineoplastic effects, among other possibilities.[3]

Consequently, what is needed is for governments everywhere to get out of the way of much-needed research on the potential preventative properties that cannabis may afford.  The debate over legalization is interesting, but far less important than clearing the way to properly funded research. Until that happens governments standing in the way of research in relation to the cannabis plant will be like the crayfish, crawling backwards into the future.



[1] See: Cancer: Causes, Prevention and Cure by Michael J. Ducharme

published at http://www.michaelducharme.com/wp/articles/cancer-causes-prevention-and-cure.

[2] Ibid.

[3] As quoted in note 1.

Justin Trudeau: Canada’s Next Prime Minister

 Justin Trudeau, the brilliant new leader of the Liberal party of Canada, has engaged in valiant efforts over the past several weeks to hold Harper to his lofty promises. But Harper has become Casper the ghost. He hasn’t been around much, and when he is he’s not answering questions. His disappearing act is demoralizing even for his Conservative colleagues. They must wonder why their leader has left to them the challenge of answering questions about Conservative party fraud, exploitation of public funds, political graft, misrepresentation and payola to silence Harper appointments to the Canadian Senate. They are not able to answer Trudeau’s poignant questions, nor should they have to answer them.

The answers to Trudeau’s questions can only be answered by one or all of four persons: Stephen Harper, his former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright, who recently resigned his post in abject disgrace, and two of his recent appointments to the Canadian Senate, Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy.

Stephen Harper, like Richard Nixon before his fall from the Presidency of the United States of America, is in hiding. When Harper surfaces, he is not responding to questions about the political scandal that has rocked the Canadian Senate, other than a feeble mantra that he knew nothing of the fraudulent behavior of Wallin or Duffy until informed about it by the media. While he wears the mantle of ignorance well for many other reasons, in this instance his ignorance is obviously feigned.

As Canada’s next Prime Minister has pointed out so ably in the House of Commons, there are several inconvenient truths that stamp Harper’s claim of ignorance as bogus.

Duffy was appointed by Harper to the Senate. Duffy claimed $90,000 in housing expenses fraudulently. When the news of Duffy’s skimming of the public funds was first reported, Harper expressed his staunch support for his loyal appointee. It was not until it became obvious that Duffy’s expensing practices were false and deceptive that Harper feigned ignorance of his colleague’s malfeasance, and quickly began to distance himself from Duffy and his other wayward Senate appointment, Pamela Wallin. Harper also faked ignorance of the payment of $90,000 to Duffy by his Chief of Staff Nigel Wright. Duffy used the money to repay his false expense claims but pretended the money was his money. He neglected to mention that the money came from Wright. When the media discovered it came from Wright, Harper’s Chief of Staff, Wright resigned.

Pamela Wallin’s skim of the public money is reported closer to $132,000. A large public accounting firm was employed to examine Wallin’s expenses.  They reported that Wallin made scores of entries into her “new” business calendar years after the fact in an effort to cover her tracks and “paper” her fraudulent bilking of public funds.

According to Harper, if not for the media, he would have no clue as to what was happening in his own office. So why did Wright give Duffy $90,000? For Duffy’s silence, of course. The quid pro quo of this payment was that Duffy was to shut up. No more gabbing with the media. Comments on his fraudulent behavior were to remain under the dome of silence. In Nixion fashion, Harper and his less-than-transparent colleagues hoped that silence would make it all go away. But like Watergate, it has not gone away. Instead, the obvious corruption within his ranks, committed by his own appointees, has festered. And sadly for him, Justin Trudeau reminds him regularly and repeatedly of his self-righteous platitudes upon taking office— “abusers of the public trust would go to jail and members of his government who bend the rules will be punished.”

Duffy has voluntarily removed himself from caucus. Big deal! He still remains in the Senate. He still collects his salary and he’s not in handcuffs or in jail. Duffy even vows to return to caucus after “all this” is cleared up. “All this” must refer to the police investigating his expense claims. The Senate has already concluded he stole the money and the Senate has already demanded repayment by him. Duffy pretended he paid the money back personally but we now know Harper’s Halderman, Nigel Wright,  actually paid. The only thing transparent about Harper’s government is that it is now transparent that his office is directly involved in the attempted cover up. If only the Prime Minister’s office was wired for sound in Nixion fashion! Wouldn’t we love to hear the discussions between Harper and Wright!

Duffy’s expense claims relate to fraudulently claiming a residence that was not his residence in order to pad his expense account and steal money from Canadian taxpayers. When it became obvious that his residence claim was false, Duffy said he was “confused” by the rules of the Senate in relation to claiming residency expenses. Only a buffoon could be confused about where he lives. Roaming pigeons and cats know where they live. It is generally an easy question. Where do you live Mr. Duffy? Mr. Duffy: “I’m not sure, these damn rules have me confused.”

How about you, Ms. Wallin, how is it that so many entries of what you did years ago just made it into your calendar a few weeks ago? The ink on these enties appears to still be wet. Ms. Wallin: “I was told to do that by another Senator”. Oh we see, your version of “the devil made me do it.”

The media says to Ms. Wallin, “We’ve spoken to that Senator and he denies ever telling you to make up a list of events that you claim you attended in order to justify your expenses of years ago.” Ms. Wallin: “Well he’s lying!” Surely that Senator is trembling in his boots at the thought of his word being tested against Wallin’s word. Anyone with an intelligence level slightly above that of an amoeba would say, ” Why would any public official tell an already exposed fraud artist like Wallin to create an after-the-fact fraudulent calendar of events?” Pamela, you are also toast. But, you need not worry about Stephen Harper. His promises of accountability and transparency are as phony as your new calendar. Somebody close to Harper is on the way with a bag of money for your repayment. You need not resign from the Senate but you must shut your mouth.

Justin Trudeau, get ready. You sir are Canada’s next Prime Minister.

Calling All Carnivores

Meat eaters everywhere were probably captivated by the story of Backstreet Bully, the well-known Canadian racehorse that was slaughtered in early January 2013 as meat for human consumption. As a competitive racehorse, his meat would be laced with potentially deadly performance-enhancing drugs. But for Health Canada, the agency charged with the responsibility of protecting humans from meat not fit for human consumption, Backstreet Bully was no different than many racehorses slaughtered every year then packaged for human food. The same can be said for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), operating under the Department of Justice for the Federal Government and responsible for the administration and enforcement of Canada’s agricultural products. No apologies or explanations from either organization. They sure know how to make us feel safe!

Ignore for the moment the abuses heaped upon these poor animals during their competitive lives. Ignore the fact that race folks fill these horses with nasty cancer-causing drugs such as nitrfurazone and bute in the interest of entertainment. Ignore that these horses become living pharmaceutical train wrecks, destined for painful, disease-ridden deaths. The real question for the moment is what drugs are the Health Canada and CFIA inspectors consuming? Apparently, it is not bad enough that they allow our horses to become drug junkies, but then they allow their dead carcasses to be packaged up for our dining pleasure! We owe a debt of gratitude to these inspectors for having our backs when it comes to food safety.

According to Health Canada’s website, they are the arm of the Federal government responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. Really? This is a maintenance and improvement program we could do without. These horses are not suitable for human consumption. Health Canada’s mandate is to enforce legislation in place to prevent these occurrences by conducting investigations, inspections, seizures and prosecutions.  We know this because their website proclaims it to be so.  Unfortunately, their investigations and inspections are seldom, sporadic and obviously far from thorough. They are mostly negligent. And, as a result, Canadians and other nations that buy our meat products risk the health of their citizens assuming incorrectly that Health Canada and the CFIA are functioning properly and responsibly.

And, it’s a mistake to assume that the negligence of these government agencies is limited to drug laden horsemeat. Canada has an unenviable record of discovering other forms of tainted meat long after outbreaks of E coli contamination. In October 2012, for example, XL Foods of Alberta dumped hundreds of tonnes of frozen beef into a landfill in the Brooks Alberta but not until they were ordered to do so after a massive outbreak of E coli erupted in late August and early September of that year. The fall out from this catastrophe and others caused the Federal Government enough embarrassment that Government officials began to claim that they were prepared to pass legislation aimed at making the food system safer. So its more legislation they need! I would’ve thought it was more competent inspectors.

The promise of legislation should be completely unnecessary according to Harpreet Kochhar, executive director of the CFIA who boldly boasts that, “no meat enters the food supply unless we actually tested it and make sure that it is safe”.  Apparently tainted does enter the food supply—and in significant quantities.

Sadly, Kochhar presides over an inept organization that lacks the manpower or systems to protect anyone. In fact, it took this E. coli outbreak to “review its observations of deboning and cutting activities, specific E. coli controls, meat hygiene, sampling techniques and overall sanitation in the plant” according to CFIA spokesman Paul Mayers. It is not clear how any new legislation is going to improve this process.  One suspects this rhetoric is the type nonsense spewed by the government hoping to allay the fears of its citizens while carrying on as though it’s business as usual. In fact, XL Foods was back in business in a few weeks.

Canada does not have the only impoverished system of protection for the public. Last year at a public fair in Cleveland 38 people were infected with E. coli, including a 2-year-old boy who died and at least 7 more people suffered kidney failure. 3 of those suffering kidney failure have now been placed on dialysis permanently. This past February France’s agricultural minister confirmed that 3 horse carcasses tainted with a veterinary drug harmful to humans had entered France’s food chain. The 3 carcasses were among 6 sent to France from the UK that contained the drug phenylbutazone, also known as bute–used as a pain killer in horses, especially racehorses like Backstreet Bully.

France’s president François Hollande promised tighter controls and mandatory labeling so as to advise consumers of the origin of meat presented for sale.  Perhaps Canada could send France it’s new legislation when it’s drafted.  Based upon recent Canadian legislation it’ll probably have a high-sounding title, something like, “The Safe Foods Act.”  The new law will fit nicely alongside “The Safe Streets Act”  and “Stand Up for Victims of Crime” and other lofty sounding law titles that sound good and lack substance. Substance requires performance. Government talk is virtually always cheap.

Big companies are now confessing to having sold products containing the DNA of horsemeat although none should exist in their products. After Irish investigators found horse DNA in hamburger products sold to the public, that government launched a major investigation. The UK Food Standards Agency recently released results that found 6 new beef products that tested positive for horsemeat. A follow-up investigation by the same agency discovered another 29 beef products that contained horse DNA. Nestle, Sodexo and Birds Eye, all major worldwide food producers, have launched massive recalls of their products based on similar testings.  Apparently no one uses old horses to make glue anymore.

Where does all this leave the consumer? It should leave them wary of their government’s ability to ensure their safety from foods that are readily available for public consumption. While the problem exists across the entire food industry, nowhere is it more pronounced than in the beef industry. Oh, excuse me, perhaps we should now refer to it as the horse/pig/poultry/E coli industry. If Popeye’s sidekick Wimpy were still around, he would be borrowing money from Popeye for something other than a hamburger.

 

North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un Is Certifiably Insane

Kim Jong Un considers Dennis Rodman intelligent and entertaining. This could possibly be true if one defines those terms in relation to one another, as in, Rodman is entertaining based upon his distinct lack of intelligence. Un’s praise of Rodman as an intelligent statesman is more likely a sign of Un’s own mental illness. North Korea’s Supreme leader, annointed on December 30, 2011 after the death of his enigmatic and unstable father Kim Jong-il on December 17, 2011, lands squarely on at least 12 disorders in the DSM-IV Code of recognized diagnostic mental disorders.

Un this week ordered his missile units to be ready to strike the United States and South Korea. In fact, he apparently called an emergency meeting to advise his military commanders and the leaders of his artillery units to be on the highest alert. He is said to be contemplating retaliation against the joint military exercises of South Korea and the United States. This, any good shrink would tell you exhibits distinct elements of extreme grandiosity and a total break with reality. It may also be that he is also suffering from transference, juxtaposing in his mind his country’s military strength with that of the United States.

North Korea’s Scud missiles are of the same variety utilized by Iraq in its very brief and very unsuccessful encounter with the United States–once fired, no one, absolutely no one, not even those responsible for the firing of the Scud missile, has any clue where it might land. Scuds are the antithesis of today’s “smart bombs”. They instead epitomize the concept of “dumb bombs”. Scud is apparently short form for ‘pot luck.’

To give North Korea’s Supreme leader his due, he also has a few Musudan missiles. If his military commanders drive them to the very edge of North Korea’s borders they might actually have a range sufficient to place the West Coast of the United States at least within target range. But no one really knows, because they’ve never been tested at that range or any range. As of the date of Un’s ascension to power the world has had no indication that this missile system has ever been tested or is actually operational. In military terms it might be wise for North Korea to test these missiles in some fashion before they are launched in the direction of the world’s only superpower. History tells us nothing ticks off a superpower quite like launching a missile at it.

Once ready to launch, Musadan missiles must be launched within a few days or not at all because failure to do so will lead to tank corrosion caused by the red fuming nitric acid used as an oxidizer in its fuel/oxidizer combination.  Failure to launch a Musadan missile promptly could lead to North Korea blowing itself up. The likelihood of corrosion in the Musadan also means that these missiles must be transported by land and fueled at launch site. With today’s satellite surveillance, by the time the North Koreans get these missiles in place for launch, the United States could, and probably would, obliterate all of North Korea’s missile sites with actual smart bombs—you know the kind that land somewhere in the vicinity where those that launch them intend them to land.

In any event, Kim Jong Un would never initiate a 1st strike missile launch against the United States  for several reasons. First, he knows his friend Dennis Rodman lives in the United States.  Launching a nuclear missile at the home of your friend is definitely a recognized mental disorder in the DSM-IV Code.  Remember that Un is trying hard to avoid an official certification of insanity. Secondly, Kim Jong Un knows that the United States is home to the Harlem Globetrotters.  In fact, Un believes, and should not be dissuaded from this erroneous thought, that the Harlem Globetrotters are a real professional basketball team.  Lastly Un, despite his mental state, suspects that a 1st launch by North Korea would likely lead to his own untimely death. Kim Jong Un probably suspects that he is more likely to play in the NBA than to have any meaningful impact on United States as the world’s only superpower.  If he doesn’t, Kim Jong Un is definitely certifiably insane and the world is about to witness some more Shock and Awe.

Prosecutor’s Swashbuckling Bravado May Have Caused HIs Death and Death of His Wife

The words of Mike McLelland, the District Attorney of Kaufman County Texas, as he stood before the cameras promising to find the murderer(s) of his colleague, Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse and that he would, “pull you out of whatever hole you’re in” to bring the full weight of our law to bear on you were probably soothing to the residents of Kaufman County. Their District Attorney was not going to let the senseless murder of his friend and colleague Hasse go unpunished–and impliedly McLelland would personally see to it that the punishment was severe, commensurate with the dastardly deed that took his friend’s life. As District Attorney McLelland might be in a position to do exactly as he promised. District attorneys are given considerable power to affect the outcome of trials and the sentences that follow conviction.

Mr. McLelland’s words, however, were sadly reminiscent of another law official’s swashbuckling bravado several years ago in Fort Myers Florida. There, a sheriff’s deputy promised to bring some drug dealers to justice. He would hunt them down. They would not be allowed to roam in his district or place the citizens of his area in jeopardy because of their criminal ways. I remember thinking as I watched the not very subtle threats of this sheriff’s deputy that he was either wittingly or unwittingly making himself the target of the very people he threatened to hunt down. That same evening the police station in Fort Myers Beach was burned. Officials estimated millions of dollars of damage. It struck me that law-enforcement officials, although imbued with significant power, are ill-advised to speak of that power in public as though it were a personal device that can be ratcheted up when they are personally affected by crime. They are, after all, public officials, only entrusted with these significant powers because the public sees fit to entrust them.

This is not to say that Mr. McLelland brought about his own death and the death of his wife. It is only to say that he was an experienced prosecutor. And, as such, McLelland would know that the business of prosecuting crime is not personal. He represents the people of the entire District.The District belongs to the people, not him.

Any eventual prosecution would not be about McLelland’s  personal feelings for his colleague Mark Hasse. Instead, the prosecution would be about a fair representation of the evidence gathered by investigators without regard to his personal relationship with the victim.

Otherwise, Mr. McLelland’s public duty would be to turn the case over to another prosecutor, one less involved and less impassioned by the identity of the victim. Only then does the system operate fairly. Professionally Mr. McLelland would have to exercise a duty of fairness toward the accused, presenting evidence both favorable and unfavorable to the accused as long as McLelland concluded that the evidence was true.

The criminal justice system is not supposed to be about vengeance. Members of the bar, both prosecutors and defense lawyers, are taught that they have a duty to the court. Their duty requires fairness and balance. It requires that they never knowingly mislead the court in any fashion, either factually or in law.

The criminal justice system is therefore never meant to be personal. It is to be just the opposite, fair and impartial. When lawyers find selves in positions where their personal feelings prevent calm reflective independence, they are well advised to disengage themselves from the proceedings. They are unable to fulfill their duties professionally.

There is a well known saying in law. It is: “Justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done.” This phrase encompasses the idea that even the appearance of injustice is not to be tolerated. A prosecutor who threatens to make persons pay heavily for their crime, even before the accused are apprehended and charged might be seen by the court as presenting the appearance of injustice in the role of prosecutor at a later trial.

Unfortunately Mr. McLelland may have paid for his lack of professional distance with his life. But the circumstances of this case will hopefully remind all lawyers functioning in the criminal justice system that they have a duty of dispassionate professionalism.  Nothing less will suffice.